Red Hartebeest Hunting in Africa

Interesting facts about the red hartebeest

  • The name “hartebeest” could have originated from the obsolete Afrikaans word ‘hertebeest’, literally deer beast. The name was given by the Boers, based on the resemblance of the antelope to deer.
  • Pictorial as well as epigraphic evidence from Egypt suggests that in the Upper Paleolithic age, Egyptians hunted hartebeest and domesticated them.
  • They have been reported from altitudes on Mount Kenya up to 13,000 feet above sea level.
  • It has a particularly elongated forehead and oddly shaped horns, short neck, and pointed ears.
  • The Hartebeest is made up of eight subspecies including the Northern Hartebeest, Red Hartebeest, Coke’s Hartebeest, Lelwel Hartebeest, Lichtenstein’s Hartebeest, Western Hartebeest, Swayne’s Hartebeest and the Tora Hartebeest.
  • The true difference between the subspecies can be found in their horns. The Red Hartebeest horns are Z-shaped, the Lichtenstein’s are S-shaped, the Swayne’s and Tora’s Hartebeest have wide set horns, the Lelwel’s Hartebeest are V-shaped, and the Western Hartebeest has U-shaped horns.

The difference between a male and female red hartebeest

Both males and females have horns. The male however has thicker and heavier horns. The male is also bigger with a more pronounced neck.

Red Hartebeest male with thicker horns

Red Hartebeest Male

Red Hartebeest female with thinner horns

Red Hartebeest Female

Background information for African Red Hartebeest Hunting

The red hartebeest, it is the most colorful hartebeest, with black markings contrasting against its white abdomen and behind. It has a longer face that other subspecies, with complex curving horns joined at the base.

The average weight of a male is about 300 – 400 pounds. The life expectancy of a red hartebeest is around 19 years. Little difference is noted between males and females, showing no distinct identifiable physical features, but body size is slightly affected. Horn size, however, expresses more dimorphism between males and females, as males fight and defend themselves for sexual selection. Thus, male skull weight and circumference is slightly greater than that of the female.

Hartebeest have an excellent sense of hearing and smell, although their sense of sight is poor. When alarmed, hartebeests elude confusion before running, by which they can reach a maximum speed of 35 miles an hour. Their evasion tactic is to run in a zigzag pattern, making it difficult for predators to catch them.

Red Hartebeest trophy bull. Where to place your shot when red hartebeest hunting in Africa.

Shot Placement for Red Hartebeest Hunting

Red Hartebeest Hunting in South Africa

Your red hartebeest trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 48 inches, weigh about 350 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 22 inches. The Safari Club International minimum score for a red hartebeest is 62. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

One of the fastest plains game species in Southern Africa. In some areas, Hartebeest can be incredibly weary and very alert when being hunted. When judging the trophy quality of Hartebeest, it's important to look at the size of the boss and the space/gap between the bosses. Often the bosses will be grown closed making skinning very difficult.

Mature bulls will stand out in the herd with their shoulder height being much higher than that of the cows and young bulls, at times turning a darker richer color with age. Look for a heavy boss with very little or no gap between the horns.

Hunting red hartebeest will demand a good flat-shooting rifle. Distances may be a bit longer so we would recommend the 7mm or 300 magnums.

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.

Be cautious of those 'humped withers' when hunting red hartebeest, as they have caused more than one experienced hunter to shoot too high.

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

Red Hartebeest vital organs for shot placement

Gregarious; forms herds of up to 20 animals. Big herds, territorial males, harem herds, bachelor herds and solitary males exist. Harem herds are stable and consist of a territorial male as the leader, young males, females and their offspring. Active in the early mornings and late afternoons; lies in the sun to rest except at midday when it is very hot.

When hunting the red hartebeest, be patient. He is highly inquisitive and even after set in motion the herd will often pause to mill around and survey the situation. His fatal mistake - take the shot. The hartebeest has a strong herd instinct, forming herds of 20 or so but herds numbering in the hundreds are not uncommon.

The bulls are extremely territorial and will defend their turf against all comers at all cost. In the absence of a herd bull, leadership of the herd will be passed temporarily to one of the adult cows. Commonly found in the arid savanna, the hartebeest prefers the open plains. While he may be found in the sparse bush country, he avoids the dense bushveld. Primarily a grazer, he is partial to 'red grass' and will sometimes browse on leaves. He drinks when water is available.

Hunting Red Hartebeest is best accomplished by first glassing from the high ground. He is relatively easy to locate in open country. Set up an ambush near the approaches to a shady resting place, as he is apt to retreat there during the hottest parts of the day.

IDENTIFICATION: Glossy reddish-brown. The tail, blaze on the face and the outside of the legs are black.

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

Red Hartebeest Trophy taken with Nick Bowker. Your Professional Hunter and Outfitter