Kudu Hunting in Africa

Interesting facts about the Kudu

  • The kudu or ‘koodoo’ is the Khoisan name given to this antelope.
  • Kudu form part of the spiral horn family which also included Eland, Nyala and bushbuck.
  • From a standing position, the kudu can jump six-foot-high fences and when fleeing from danger they can clear obstacles as high as 10 feet.
  • Fighting may occur when two kudu bulls are equally matched. Fights would take the form of lunging, horn clashes and wrestling with locked horns. The latter may result in the death of both animals when their horns become locked together.
  • There are twice as many adult female kudus than there are males. This is due to greater predation of the bulls and deaths at the end of the breeding season caused by exhaustion, malnutrition and injury.
  • If a kudu is spooked by a predator when it is in the open it will run for cover, turn so it can see the threat and then freeze which allows its camouflage to take effect.
  • Whilst kudu bulls become sexually mature at three years old they can’t compete with the older males for access to the females until they are 6 to 8 years old.
  • Kudu are notoriously alert and hard to approach. Kudus can point individual ears in different directions to help detect threats which may be nearby.
  • Some plants, notably acacias, will increase the amount of bitter tasting tannin in their leaves. This happens within 15 minutes of an animal browsing, and as a result kudu have learnt to move onto the next plant after only a short time of feeding.
  • Kudu give a hoarse alarm bark when they flee.
  • Kudu horns have long served traditional communities as musical instruments.
  • The traditional sport of dung spitting is practiced in the Afrikaner community. The winner is the contestant who is able to spit the animals hard dung pellet the furthest.
  • The East Cape Kudu is a subspecies of the Greater Kudu.

The difference between a male and female kudu

The key difference between a male and female kudu is that the female does not have horns and is smaller and lighter than the male with very prominent ears. In addition, they have no beard or nose markings.

Kudu male with horns, beard and nose markings

Kudu Males

Kudu females

Kudu Females

Background information for African Kudu Hunting

Their habitat includes mixed scrub woodlands. They will occasionally venture onto plains only if there is a large abundance of bushes, but normally avoid such open areas to avoid becoming an easy target for their predators.

Like many other antelope, male kudus can be found in bachelor groups, but they are more likely to be solitary. When threatened, the kudu will often run away rather than fight. Wounded bulls have been known to charge the attacker, hitting the attacker with their sturdy horn base rather than stabbing it. Wounded Kudu can keep running for many miles without stopping to rest for more than a minute. They are good jumpers and can clear a 6-foot fence from a standing start.

Kudu bulls tend to be much larger than females. The bulls also have large manes running along their throats, and large horns with two and a half twists, which, were they to be straightened, would reach an average length 45 inches. 

This is one of the largest species of antelope. Bulls weigh 300–450 pounds, and stand up to 60 inches tall at the shoulder. The ears of the greater kudu are large and round. Cows weigh 200 –300 pounds and stand as little as 39 inches tall at the shoulder; they are hornless, without a beard or nose markings.

The kudu is a browser and feeds on a variety of leaves of trees and shrubs indigenous to South Africa. It also feeds on various fruits, pods, forbs and creepers during different seasons. The kudu is also known to eat South African succulents such as spekboom or bacon tree and aloes. 

For male kudu, the rutting season occurs between April and May in South Africa. New-born calves aged 4-6 weeks old are hidden away and nursed by their mothers who visit. Kudu are normally active in the morning and late afternoon. In developed areas or when under pressure from hunting, they have learned to become nocturnal to avoid humans.

Kudu trophy bull. Where to place your shot when kudu hunting in Africa.

Shot Placement for Kudu Hunting

Kudu Hunting in South Africa

Your kudu bull trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 54 inches, weigh about 340 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 43 - 47 inches. The Safari Club International minimum score for an Eastern Cape kudu is 98. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

Kudu are always one of the first animals on any hunters list. A truly graceful and beautiful trophy. Kudu bulls can be extremely difficult to hunt throughout the year. Be prepared for long stalks and plenty of failed stalks. Kudu have an amazing eyesight and the nickname "Grey Ghost" is for good reason, a kudu is able to vanish into thin air. It's rare for a hunter to shoot a kudu on the first stalk. You may well have to take a longer shot to get your kudu. 

Kudu are indigenous to the Eastern Cape South Africa and occur in great number. The kudu tends to browse in the early morning and late afternoon, usually resting during the heat of the day. Like many of the antelope species, this majestic giant tends to form family groups of 6 to 12 individuals; mostly cows and calves, with the bulls only joining the herd during mating season. Trophies bulls however are hard to find. 

Where to place your shot when kudu hunting in Africa. Vital organs of a kudu for shot placement

Kudu vital organs for shot placement

Hunting kudu with less than 7mm would not be recommended. For those hunters who do not wish to go through the red tape of having to bring a rifle in to South Africa Nick Bowker Hunting has available a Sako carbon light 300 Winchester Magnum fitted with a suppressor. The rifle is mounted with a Swarovski DS with a built-in rangefinder. We have hand loaded Hornady ELD-X 200 grain ammunition. This set up including ammunition is available as part of all hunting packages free of charge. As with most African animals shot placement should always be in the bottom third of the shoulder. 

The Eastern Cape Kudu have smaller horns than their cousin the Southern Greater Kudu. The minimum SCI score for a Southern Greater Kudu is 121. Southern Greater Kudu are available in fenced areas in the Eastern Cape but cost substantially more. The Eastern Cape Kudu boasts a much darker coat than that of its cousin the Southern Greater Kudu, and at times the males will carry a very impressive beard running down the front of the neck.

During the rut, from April to June, bulls will lose fear for open country and travel great distances in search of females. Judging the trophy quality of kudu bulls can prove to be very difficult at times: always ensure the shapes of the horns are of a mature shape with good white tips. Consider the spread of the first curl in comparison to the tips of the ears; look at the depth of the curl as this is where the genuine hidden length lies. Any mature bull is an impressive trophy to harvest and the pride of many hunters around the world.

IDENTIFICATION: Large, elegant antelope with impressive SPIRAL horns and white stripes on the flanks. With age, the males become darker against the neck when hair loss occurs. 

A Kudu trophy hunted in South Africa with Nick Bowker Hunting. One of Africa’s leading hunting safari outfitters

Kudu Trophy taken with Nick Bowker. Your Professional Hunter and Outfitter