The bushbuck is the smallest member of the spiral-horned family. They are a medium-sized antelope with impressive dark brown to grey coats and white side markings. Hunting these animals can be challenging as they are extremely elusive and generally shy. Bushbuck are primarily browsers they feed on leaves, grass, fruits and flowers early mornings and late afternoons. Bushbuck are found in various types of terrain but prefer areas where there is thick brush with lots of cover.
The scientific classification of bushbuck is an interesting mess. Years ago there were well over 40 subspecies recorded. This was due to luminary hunters harvesting specimens with slight colour variations as another in the area or an individual with hair loss on its neck and then naming it a sub-specie. Today there are only seven recognised bushbuck subspecies: The Chobe, Cape, Limpopo, Nile, Abyssinian, East African, Harnessed and Meneliks Bushbuck.
The Chobe bushbuck occurs in the Zambezi river drainage areas. As well as in stretches from the Caprivi strip in Namibia, across Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, northern Zimbabwe and the adjacent areas to Tanzania They are also found in the northern areas of Mozambique. In Namibia they only occur far up north in the Caprivi strip and the Okavango, the rest of Namibia has no bushbuck.
The Cape Bushbuck can be taken in The Eastern Cape and Western Cape of South Africa. The Cape bushbuck can be recognised by the dark grey coats which males develop with age.
The Limpopo bushbuck can be hunted in the Limpopo river drainage areas. They occur in Northern parts of South Africa, Southern Mozambique, Botswana and Southern Zimbabwe.
The Nile Bushbuck has a relatively wide distribution but may not be hunted on licence throughout their distribution. This bushbuck occurs from the eastern parts of Congo, through to Uganda, Kenya, Southern Sudan and Western parts of Ethiopia. They are available to hunt in Uganda.
The Abyssinian Bushbuck as well as the Meneliks bushbuck both occur in Ethiopia. Usually, these two species are taken while on a mountain nyala hunt. The Meneliks bushbuck is found in the Ethiopian highlands same areas in which the mountain nyala are found. The Abyssinian bushbuck inhabits areas lower down in and around the Omo Valley and the Danikal. Recently the Shoan bushbuck which is also found in the Ethiopia highlands has been classified to be the same specie as the Meneliks.
The East African bushbuck, also known as the Masai bushbuck is found in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. This bushbuck sub specie may only be hunted in Tanzania on a strict license.
The Harnessed Bushbuck is found in Cameroon, Congo and the Central African Republic. There are also small populations in Gambia and Senegal, Benin and Burkina Faso where they occur in more savannah type terrains.
Hunting the bushbuck is challenging, this is due to these animals being so evasive and solitary. Many hunters actually refer to the bushbuck as Africa’s whitetail, this is due to their habits which are similar to those of whitetail, saying this: similar hunting methods can be used to take bushbuck. A well-used game trail where bushbuck activity has been found is a good starting point; one can build a blind and wait for the bushbuck to walk by. The most common way of hunting bushbuck is by stalking them along river beds or along thick brush. When hunting bushbuck this way, you will need to shoot fast and accurately! Glassing hillsides early morning and late afternoon is just as successful, these animals come out of the thick stuff at these times to feed and often present a good shot.
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