The Eland is the largest Antelope species that can be hunted in Africa. The largest member of the spiral horned family with mature males easily weighing in excess of 2000 pounds. Eland are no easy quarry, and their mere size and presence should not be overlooked. Males and females both carry horns, but the males horns grow thick with prominent spirals. Male’s coats-with age go dark around the neck and they start to grow a big tuff of hair on their forehead in-between the base of their horns, this is what I look for in a good trophy, never minding that these characters often have worn down horns due to fighting with other males and territory marking. Found in many different terrains, from open savannahs, mountains, dense bush and even dry river beds, hunting these huge creatures is always exciting!
I remember Hunting Cape Eland on a low fence property located in the Coetzeeburg mountain range in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, it was early in the season, and my client and I were determined to connect with a good bull. It was his third safari to South Africa and every year the eland had eluded him. I had seen several good bulls on the property a few days before he arrived in camp, but knew that I would need luck on my side to make it happen.
We spent four days glassing hillsides at first light every morning, Looking for that thick neck and dark blue coat to show itself while coming out to catch the early morning sunlight. After Putting up a good couple of younger bulls in groups of ten to fifteen animals I remained adamant we would get our chance as I knew there were some real good specimens in the area.
After day five the thought of getting the chance on a truly unique specimen, one that I would be proud of,was keeping me up at night. Day 6 of safari we were up at first light once again, after harvesting an excellent Kudu the day before my levels of excitement were contagious and I just had a good feeling that it was D day.
We arrived at my pickup outside the lodge to find my tracker with a smile from ear to ear, His first words were not good morning or a simple hope you slept well , he just simply said “Nkulu Mpofu” which is Xhosa for Big Eland!! He explained that on his way to the lodge he had found a single eland bull track heading towards the area where we hunted the day before.
A 20 minute drive and brisk 35 minute walk brought us to the spot which we had glassed from the day before. There he was, standing at 180yards from where we stopped feeding on some thorn bushes below, he didn’t have a clue of our presence. The first thing I noticed was the dewlap hanging from his dark blue neck, and then the big tuff of hair in-between his worn down horns.
Trying to act calm I put out the shooting sticks and before I knew it my ears were ringing from the shot. The bull dropped in his tracks-sigh of relief. My client was overwhelmed and gave my tracker probably the biggest hug he had ever received. I think the whole hunting team couldn’t actually believe everything played out as well as it did. The bull was a true warrior and exactly what we had been looking for. After retrieving the 2000lbs carcass we dropped it off at the butchery to be cut up for a nearby village,and then went back to the lodge to enjoy a well-deserved Cuban. This was truly one to be proud of.