How To Hunt A Caracal

(And Keep A Sound Mind)

Successful caracal hunting, like hunting any of the other small African creatures of the night, can be a hard nut to crack. The caracal is very shy and being nocturnal, is rarely seen in the day, so you'll have to use all your hunting skills to outwit this crafty cat.

Caracal Trophy Minimums

Felis caracal (Caracal)
RW Minimum RW Record RW Measurement Method SCI Minimum SCI Record SCI Measurement Method
71/2" 113/4" 17 6" 126/16" 15

Where To Hunt A Caracal

  • Caracal are available to hunt in South Africa and unlike serval, you don't need a TOPS permit.
  • Within South Africa, the best areas for caracal occur in Mpumalanga, Eastern Cape, Free State and Limpopo. So if you are going to be hunting a likely caracal area and get a chance at one while on a plains game hunt, feel free but don't forget you will need a CITES II export permit. The landowner will probably be quite pleased as caracals can be voracious killers of young antelope and young domestic animals.
  • Hunting a caracal in Namibia does require a special hunt permit which must be obtained by the outfitter before the hunt.
  • You can also hunt caracal in Zimbabwe, Zambia and in Ethiopia, providing you buy the non-refundable hunting licence ahead of time. In Ethiopia there is also a strict annual quota of 6 trophy-hunted caracal.
  • Mozambique banned all small African cat hunting, including the caracal, in 2010.

Caracal Hunting Prices

  • There is quite a variation in trophy fees for caracal from US$300 up to US$1500. You'll be looking at US$2000 trophy fee if hunting with hounds. The least expensive caracal are to be found in Namibia.
  • The best advice if you are very interested in hunting caracal, is to first check whether there are frequent sightings of the cat in the hunting area. Then ask whether the outfitter/PH has got a good track record of hunting these cats. Just because they appear on a trophy list doesn't mean they have ever been actively hunted by anyone.
  • Some hunting companies have gained a good reputation for hunting those small animals that nobody usually hunts, so it is a good idea to seek out one of these outfits. They really know their caracal habit and have developed hunting methods that generally work for them.
  • Also check if you have a realistic chance of getting a caracal within your hunt time using whatever hunting method is advised. You might be better timing a caracal hunt when there is not a glut of young antelope about, particularly if you are going to do a bait and blind hunt.
  • There are outfitters in South Africa who offer caracal hunts using dogs which may improve your chances of success.

Caracal Hunting Methods

  • As said earlier, caracal hunting is not easy and in many ways, is similar to a leopard hunt, where you need to think like the cat to outwit him.
  • You can be lucky and bump into a caracal while hunting something else, get a good shot off ... job done!
  • Another caracal hunting method would be still hunting in a likely spot at night and using a lamp and a predator call.
  • Caracals do sometimes react to predator calling but the chances will be slim, even with the most skilled caller. Like a tom leopard, a tom caracal makes regular rounds in a very large territory and you might be calling for all your worth and the caracal is miles away. Even if the caracal is in the immediate area, he just may not respond to the call.
  • The same slim odds apply if you just randomly bait without any fresh sign of the caracal in the area. You could get lucky though, particularly if the antelope have stopped dropping their young. Having said, this very young antelope are easy pickings for a caracal. A large tom caracal is quite capable of bringing down a full grown impala ram or domestic sheep.
  • The best chance of success comes if you find the remains of a fresh caracal kill. A caracal, like a leopard, will return to a kill, so building a blind in the vicinity just might work.
  • In South Africa, trophy hunting may take place at night and is allowed with artificial light, provided that the hunter has a night hunting permit. Unless the landowner has an exemption, the night hunting permit is only given on special request, after the hunter has clearly stipulated the reason for night hunting.
  • In other countries such as Namibia, trophy hunting may only be done between half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset and no artificial light is allowed. So caracal hunting will be best attempted at dawn or dusk.
  • Caracal hunting can be done using dogs in South Africa. The hunting companies that offer this often claim a close on 100% success rate on caracal. The hounds will be set on the scent and after sometimes, a several kilometres chase, will bring the caracal to bay in a tree, after which you will shoot it.
  • In Zimbabwe hunting with hounds is only allowed on private land with a dog hunting permit which costs extra. Hunting with hounds is not permitted in Namibia, Tanzania or Ethiopia.

A Good Caracal Trophy

  • Any obviously full grown caracal tom will be a good trophy.

Caracal Shot Placement

  • Cats have their hearts very slightly further back than most animals and as usual, heart and lungs are the largest target area.
  • If the animal is standing at right angles to you, bring your crosshairs up the foreleg and divide the body in half and then in half again and the centre of the heart will be found at the top of that first (lowest) dividing line, but just behind the foreleg The lungs extend to slightly above the mid way line.
  • If the animal is at an obtuse angle to you, remember the previous rule and aim at the opposite shoulder and you'll hit the same area.
  • If the animal is standing facing away from you, and you feel confident of the shot, aim at the root of the tail where it joins the body.
  • If the animal is facing you, aim for the central chest area where the bottom of the neck leaves the body.

Caracal Male Vital Statistics

  • Shoulder Height: 18" / 46cm
  • Weight: 30-38lbs / 13-17kg

Caracal Habitat and Requirements

  • Caracal are not habitat specific and adapt to a variety of areas provided there is a good supply of prey animals. They are not found in rain forests.

Caracal Social Structure

  • Caracal are usually solitary cats which patrol a territory and come together in pairs only for mating. Some caracals will stay in pairs occasionally.
  • Caracal travel quite widely each night in search of food. They have a varied diet of small mammals, birds, juvenile antelope, lizards, snakes and insects.
  • Caracals make a variety of vocalizations such as purring, hissing, snarling and barking.

Caracal Gestation Period

  • After a gestation period of around 78 and 81 days, usually 2 offspring are born.

Caracal Gender Identification

  • The males are taller and heavier than females.
  • Both sexes have large, tufted ears like a lynx. The caracal has short, dense, reddish-brown fur with white areas on the the abdomen, chin and throat. Black stripes run from the eye to the nose.

Caracal Image Gallery

Click Images To Enlarge
Caracal Caracal Caracal

Caracal Trophy Permits (2015)

Felis caracal (Caracal)
CITES II Export Permit CITES II Export Permit Annex B CITES II Export Permit & Import Permit

Caracal Trophy Taxidermy

  • The only way to display the caracal is as a full mount with habitat.
  • As caracal are not commonly hunted, try to find a taxidermist with some experience with small African cats.
Click images to enlarge
Caracal Full Mount Caracal Full Mount Caracal Pedestal Mount
Taxidermy photos courtesy of Life-Form Taxidermy

Recommended Viewing

Kudus And Caracals DVD

Kudus & Caracals is a Ken Wilson DVD about hunting 3 record book caracals and 4 record book kudu.

Hunting Other African Animals

Big Five Hunting

Waterside Hunting

Other Plains Game Hunting

Spiral Horned Antelope Hunting

Large Antelope Hunting

Medium Antelope Hunting

Small Antelope Hunting

African Pig Hunting

Other Cat Hunting

Animals Of Opportunity

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