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African Animal of the Week: Steenbok [PICS]

steenbok featured
All images via Big Game Hunting Adventures

The steenbok is a small species of antelope found in many countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Keep reading to learn all about steenbok hunting in Africa.

The diminutive steenbok is a relatively common species of antelope that is found in eastern and southern Africa. Don’t be fooled by their size though: steenbok can be challenging and satisfying to hunt.

Fortunately, they are relatively common across their distribution and are pretty inexpensive to hunt. Because of these factors, they are a great animal to pursue as a visiting hunter and are perhaps the most commonly hunted antelope in the Tiny 10.

Steenbok Description

Scientific Name: Raphicerus campestris

Steenbok are relatively small antelope and usually weigh around 20 pounds. They typically have a coat of orange or light brown hair, though they have white bellies and white circles around their eyes and mouth. Typically, steenbok are solitary animals and are usually found by themselves outside of the mating season.

Steenbok are commonly hunted in Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe. In these countries, they seem to prefer areas that are not densely vegetated, such as the edges of deserts, though they are found in a variety of habitats.

Because they are so small (adults only stand about 20 inches tall at the shoulder), steenbok are almost exclusively low-level browsing animals. They are well-adapted for life in arid conditions and get the majority of their water from their food, so they do not need to drink water to survive. However, they are extremely vulnerable to food shortages, since they cannot reach anything more than about two feet above the ground.

Steenbok Sex Determination

Fortunately, it is pretty simple to distinguish between male and female steenbok, as you can see in the photo below. Though males (right) are slightly bigger than females (left), the primary difference between them is that only males have horns.

steenbok male female

Recommended Calibers for Hunting Steenbok

Since steenbok are such small, fragile animals, their hides are easily ruined by high-velocity bullets. In a perfect world, hunters pursuing steenbok would use lower powered cartridges, such a .22 Hornet, the .243 Winchester, and the 6.5mm Mauser. However, this is not always practical since steenbok are often taken when encountered on a hunt for something else.

With this in mind, perhaps the best load for hunting steenbok is a .375 H&H loaded with non-expanding solids. This will reliably anchor the animal and cause surprisingly little damage to the animal’s hide or trophy.

Because they are such small animals, hunters going after steenbok with archery equipment can get away with using a light archery setup with an arrow weighing around 300 grains shot from a bow with a 45-pound draw weight.

Steenbok Hunting Methods

Virtually all steenbok hunting is conducted on foot via spot and stalk. In fact, the vast majority of all steenbok are taken incidentally while hunting other animals, such as impala or kudu.

Steenbok Shot Placement

When hunting steenbok, I recommend aiming for the heart and lungs and trying to avoid the shoulder blade at all costs. If your shot is placed properly, the bullet will cause minimal damage to the animal’s hide and the steenbok will not run very far.

When the steenbok is standing broadside, aim just behind the shoulder, about one third of the way up the body.

steenbok hunting shot placement broadside

Cost to Hunt Steenbok

Since they are relatively common animals and the demand for them is not very high, steenbok are relatively inexpensive to hunt. Their trophy fee varies between different countries and outfitters, but usually ranges from $350-$500, with an average of around $400.

Ready to go steenbok hunting?

NEXT: 6 Animals in Africa You Need to Hunt

All images, unless specified, courtesy of 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: Steenbok [PICS]