Blesbok Hunting

Blesbuck hunting is commonly done by novice African hunters on their first safaris to South Africa, before they take their training wheels off for the dangerous stuff.

"...I resolved to recross the Vaal River, and bend my course for the land of blesboks, a large and beautiful violet-colored antelope, which is found, together with black wildebeests and springboks, in countless thousands on the vast green plains of short sour grass..." Roualeyn Gordon Cumming, 1892

Blesbok Trophy Minimums

Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi (Blesbok)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
161/2" 205/8" 7 39" 563/8" 1

Where To Hunt Blesbok

  • In the mid 1800s, countless thousands of blesbok were to be found in highveld of South Africa where they were hunted for meat and skins nearly to extinction. They were then protected and since have proliferated, mainly on private South African game farms. So the blesbok is once again one of the most abundant antelopes in South Africa.
  • So South Africa is the true homeland of the blesbok and it can be found available to hunt practically anywhere in the country. As their preferred habitat is open grassland, they thrive on the open plains of the Free State, the Karoo and the Northern Cape.
  • Blesbok have also been introduced into Namibia and can be hunted here too.

Blesbok Hunting Prices

  • Blesbok hunting prices are really all over the place in both South Africa and Namibia, no matter which region of the country. Usually where a species would naturally live and flourish (rather than being stocked in a possibly less than ideal habitat), you might find cheaper trophy fees but it isn't necessarily so with blesbok.
  • If a blesbok is a priority animal for you to hunt, you will need to decide whether you want the standard, 'common' blesbok. But a blesbok is a blesbok unless it is a bontebok, you say! No, some imaginative blesbok breeding entrepreneurs have given them different custom paint jobs with commensurate custom trophy fees.
  • The trophy fees for common blesbok in South Africa range widely, the lowest around US$350 through to US$650 on a 'pay-as-you-shoot' hunt.
  • You might find a better common blesbok hunt deal if you look at all-inclusive package hunts. The blesbok is listed on practically every South African plains game package or build-your-own hunt package. Read more on package hunts
  • In Namibia the common blesbok trophy fee will go from US$500 up to US$900.
  • If you fancy hunting a blesbok of a different colour, do your homework carefully. Not every hunting area offers the all the possible blesbok colour variants. Some hunting companies may have a limited number available to hunt in a specific colour, so always check first and get your name put down on the 'quota' list.
  • White blesbok are not albino but just a white mutation which can vary from bright white, a greyish white or reddish white. In South Africa the white blesbok trophy fee will range from US$620 up to US$1100. In Namibia the white blesbok fees are about US$850.
  • Yellow blesbok are in most trophy lists as POR (Price On Request) in both South Africa and Namibia. Where trophy fees are quoted, they range from US$750 to a whopping US$2100. The yellow blesbuck tends to have pale yellowish or cream coloured areas on the flanks and rump, while retaining the normal brown colour on the head, neck and back. Be careful if you specially want this colour blesbok because some outfitters call a yellow blesbok, a golden blesbok. Others sell golden blesbok as a separate and very rare colour category of its own.
  • Copper blesbok trophy fees are a bit of a mystery being only available as POR. Like beauty, colour is in the eye of the beholder but these copper blesbok look remarkably similar in body colour to normal blesbok, especially when they darken with age. The main difference is they have a brown blaze on a predominantly white face, which is the other way round in the common blesbok.
  • Painted blesbok are another 'design' variant rather than just a colour. They have a distinctive brown 'saddle' area which extends to the head, neck, chest, round the base of the tail and a lateral strip along the belly. The rest is quite a bright white. Do not confuse the painted blesbok with the bontebok - in Afrikaans bont blesbok is the 'painted blesbok' and bontebok means 'colourful buck'. As with the copper blesbok, the trophy fee for the painted blesbok is always POR.

Blesbok Hunting Methods

  • Blesbok prefer open areas and tend to stand around in a herd, facing into the sun, so care needs to be taken when selecting the ram you want and waiting until he is clear of the others. When they move off, they do so in single file, so your chance may come then when they stop.
  • Stalk in as close as possible and be prepared for a fairly long shot of about 200 yards.
  • Blesbok hunting can be one of those awkward hunts when both you and the PH need to understand which animal you are both looking at and picking out to shoot. Try to listen to your PH and not shoot until you are certain you are both on the same animal...sixth from the left, just to the right of the green bush, in line with that tree, oh no, he is fifth from the left now, do you see him?...and so on. By which time the herd has moved to Botswana. When it's like this, don't feel pressured into taking a shot and possibly getting the wrong animal - you will usually get another chance shortly.

A Good Blesbok Trophy

  • Look for good horn length and thick bases. Horns around 14-15" would be a good representative trophy, anything bigger will be an excellent trophy.
  • An old blesbok ram will have worn horn ridges and tips.
  • Note that blesbok ewes also have horn which are generally thinner.

Blesbok Hunting Shot Placement

Blesbok Ram Vital Statistics

  • Shoulder Height: 38" / 95cm
  • Weight: 132-180lbs / 60-82kg

Blesbok Habitat and Requirements

  • As blesbok are predominantly grazing animals, they prefer open grassland areas with water. They have been successfully introduced into woodland and bushveld areas.

Blesbok Social Structure

  • Blesbok live in mixed herds and bachelor herds. The rams are territorial and often display dominance by strutting around and sparring with other rams.
  • They are particularly active in early mornings and late afternoon. They rest in shadier spots during the hottest part of the day.
  • The alarm call is a short, sharp snort.

Blesbok Gestation Period

  • After a gestation period of around 7-8 months, one offspring is born.

Blesbok Gender Identification

  • Blesbok rams are larger than the ewes but in general appearance, both sexes have a short reddish brown coat with an iridescent sheen. The underparts and insides of the legs are white. There is a white blaze running down the nose with a patch on the forehead.
  • Both rams and ewes carry ridged lyre-shaped horns. Ewe horns are thinner and more spindly, whereas the ram horns have obvious thick bases and are longer.

Blesbok Gallery

Click images to enlarge
Blesbok Ram
White Blesbok Yellow Blesbok Copper Blesbok Painted Blesbok

Blesbok Trophy Permits (2015)

Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi (Blesbok)

Blesbok Trophy Taxidermy

  • Blesbok are most commonly displayed as shoulder mounts or skull mounts.
  • Don't forget to tell your taxidermist not to blacken and polish the horns, if you want the horns to look natural.
Click images to enlarge
White Blesbok Wall Pedestal Mount Blesbok Ram Shoulder Mount Blesbok Skull Mount Blesbok Full Mount
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

What About The Name?

  • Why is this antelope called a blesbok? Bles is the Afrikaans word for a blaze or mark, relating to the flash of white on the animal's nose. Bok is Afrikaans for buck.
  • There is some discrepancy with the blesbok's scientific name and you will find both used on hunting websites. It was formerly classified as Damaliscus dorcas phillipsi, then the Smithsonian Institute reclassified it as Damaliscus pygargus phillipsi.
  • So who was Mr Phillips? Dr John Charles Phillips (1876 - 1938) was an American physician and traveller. He travelled widely across the world, particularly Africa, collecting zoological specimens for the Harvard Museum of Comparitive Zoology. He became a prominent conservationist but his views were those of a sport hunter. In 1935, his particular interest was the creation of a scientific review of existing knowledge on vanishing species in order to pinpoint those mammals and birds which might be saved from extinction. At that time the blesbok was close to extinction and it was named in Dr Phillip's honour in 1939.

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