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African Animal of the Week: Gemsbok [PICS]

gemsbok running
Unless Otherwise Specified, All Images From Big Game Hunting Adventures

The gemsbok is a large species of antelope that lives in the arid and semi-arid regions of Africa. Read on to learn all about gemsbok hunting in Africa.

The gemsbok is a relatively common antelope that calls the deserts of southern Africa home and is another extremely popular species of plains game to hunt in Africa, particularly in Namibia.

Read on to find out more about these amazing creatures.

Gemsbok Description

Scientific Name: Oryx gazella

The gemsbok is a large species of antelope that inhabits the arid and semi-arid areas of southern Africa where they are often found in the company of springbok. Their habitat is centered primarily on the Kalahri Desert and the surrounding areas. They are very tough and resilient animals and are well adapted to survive in harsh climates.

Interestingly enough, a handful of gemsbok were introduced to the deserts of New Mexico in the 1970s, where they have thrived. Their population has exploded and there are now thousands of gemsbok in New Mexico and west Texas, where they may be hunted by those lucky enough to draw a special permit.

Full-grown gemsbok stand around four feet tall at the shoulder. Females usually weigh 300-500 pounds and males tip the scales at 500-650 pounds. Gemsbok have light brown or grey-colored coats with a black stripe along their lower flanks and white “socks” on their feet. Their faces are white around the eyes and muzzle and black elsewhere.

Gemsbok Sex Determination

Telling male and female gemsbok apart can be challenging. Both males and females have horns. Females (top, closest to camera) normally have longer, more slender horns that curve to the rear.

Males (bottom) are usually larger in the body and have thicker horns than females. Fortunately, gemsbok tags are usually issued without regards to gender (similar to zebra tags).

trophy gemsbok hunting in south africa female

trophy gemsbok hunting in south africa male

Females (like the 42-inch monster in the photo below) usually score better than males and many of the top spots in the record books are occupied by female gemsbok.

Trophy Gemsbok Hunting In South Africa 1

Gemsbok Shot Placement

Probably because of the brutal conditions in the areas that they call home, gemsbok are very tough animals. They are also not afraid to use their long, sharp horns as a defense against predators and can be quite dangerous when injured or cornered.

Because of these factors, shot placement is very important when hunting gemsbok. Like with most antelope, aim at the center of the shoulder approximately a third the way up the body. Just be careful not to aim too high, which is easy to do on gemsbok.

Trophy Gemsbok Hunting shot placement In South Africa

Recommended Calibers for Hunting Gemsbok

Because gemsbok are such large and tough animals, they should be hunted with appropriate rifle cartridges. Flat shooting cartridges like the .30-06 Springfield, .300 Winchester Magnum, and .338 Winchester Magnum are all great choices when shooting distances are likely to be long, such as in the Kalahari Desert.

These cartridges will also work well when hunting in other parts of Namibia and South Africa where the vegetation is much thicker and shooting distances are shorter. However, cartridges such as 9.3x62mm Mauser, .375 H&H Magnum, or even the .416 Rigby are also good choices and are absolutely not “too much gun” for hunting gemsbok.

Bowhunting gemsbok can be extremely challenging in the open desert since there is so little cover and shooting distances are often long. However, it is much more feasible to bowhunt gemsbok in other areas with more vegetation.

Those who want to bowhunt gemsbok should use a heavy (at least 600 grains) arrow with a sharp, fixed blade broadhead shot from a bow with at least a 70-pound draw weight.

Gemsbok Hunting Methods

Walk and stalk is the most common method used for hunting gemsbok. When hunting in very dry areas with little vegetation, they can be spotted at long range. Close range encounters are much more common in habitats with more vegetation. Regardless of the terrain, you need to be prepared to do some serious walking.

Cost to Hunt Gemsbok

Gemsbok are relatively common animals in the areas surrounding the Kalahari Desert, especially in Namibia, and therefore aren’t very expensive to hunt. Their cost varies slightly between different countries and outfitters, with prices in Namibia generally being lower than in other countries where they aren’t quite as plentiful.

Their trophy fee usually ranges from $600-$1,750, with an average of around $600-700 in Namibia and about $1,200 elsewhere.

Ready to go gemsbok hunting?

Unless otherwise specified, all images from Big Game Hunting Adventures

Like what you see here? You can read more great hunting articles by John McAdams at The Big Game Hunting Blog. Follow him on Twitter @TheBigGameHunt.

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African Animal of the Week: Gemsbok [PICS]