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6. Gemsbok---South Africa

map showing gemsbok range in south western AfricaAlso known as oryx, they live in small herds in very dry areas and can go many days without water. They are tan in color, with a striking black and white facial pattern, and black stripes on the spine, legs, thighs and rump. The horns of the female are often longer, but thinner than males. These horns are lethal weapons against predators. A good bull will have horns over 36 inches, and anything over 39 inches is a dandy. Telling bulls from cows can be tricky. The female’s horns may not be evenly straight. One horn may bend slightly near the tip. One horn may be uneven, compared to the other. This bull had horns that were 41 inches long.


Samuels with a gemsbokThis great bull was taken on a bowhunt in South Africa in 1999. I sat in a tree blind near a water hole and spotted this gemsbok when he was over 400 yards away. It was the first gemsbok I’d ever seen in the wild. Over the next hour he worked his way through the brush to the water. When he got there, and I was totally sure it was a bull, I took the 29 yard shot. It was late in the evening, so we did not retrieve him that night. Leaving animals out overnight in Africa is “iffy” because there are so many predators that can find and consume them. However, we got lucky and found him in perfect condition the next morning. He went 400 yards, but the trackers in Africa have uncanny ability to follow animals and we made the recovery.