Bushbuck – the solitary warrior

Posted by on Feb 8, 2014 in The Faraway Blog | 0 comments

The Hunting Blog -

Lots of guys go to Africa with a bushbuck in mind, but many give up on them when they find out what’s involved. Some get plumb lucky and simply chance across a nice one…but more often than not a good ram will mean days spent spooking around thick riverine growth and pussyfooting through gloomy thickets.

Challenge is the name of the game with the little bushbuck. There are many species and subspecies, ranging from the dark, almost black specimens of the Cape to the exotic Menelik’s bushbuck of Ethiopia. They survive in patches of cover and on farms long after the more vulnerable species have gone, thanks to their excellent senses and furtive habits. There’s something very pure and classical about hunting them – heavy cover, sharp hearing and an intimate knowledge of terrain versus your own skills. Spot and stalk works, and so does still hunting. Either way you will earn your trophy and may even find that the little sharp-horned buck punches way above his weight when the safari is over and the trophies are in the salt.  To me the heavy horned old fighters are a great trophy, but for others the longer, less worn youngsters might be preferred.

They are interesting animals. Color and markings vary wildly, though the harness-like rub mark around their necks does not. Their characteristic deep bark is the signature sound of thick African cover. Horns and faces are often marked by savage fighting, and many a hunter or his dogs has been neatly skewered by those dagger horns. Not a joke – bushbuck will charge if wounded or cornered and they can make it stick too. I have yet to meet a PH or tracker who has found a mature ram killed by leopard or other natural predator, though they are unfortunately often taken in poacher’s snares. Like some deer there is no such thing as a fully tame bushbuck ram.

Choice of rifle is very personal. In theory a .243 would probably do the job nicely, but I prefer a larger, heavy projectile at moderate speed. It’s not needed for the game itself, but the plain fact is that such a bullet has the best chance of getting through twigs and other vegetation without varying off course. There’s another good reason – bushbuck are often hunted in a nightmare of cover, frequently by watercourses. That’s the same sort of country that holds large predators and surprise encounters. I had just that experience with a female elephant and her new calf, which thankfully resolved itself without anyone getting hurt.

You don’t need a .375 or .416 for bushbuck, but it wouldn’t hurt if you walk onto a nasty situation in their home patch. A low powered scope that gathers plenty of light would be just about ideal. There may be limited opportunity to judge the trophy and shots can be fleeting, but that’s part of the challenge of the solitary little warrior – pound for pound the punchiest of all the spiral horns.

Pete Ryan