Steenbok Hunting in Africa

Interesting facts about the steenbok

  • Steenbok form mating pairs which share a defended territory. However, they forage and rest away from one another. They may act in this way as it is less conspicuous in the open habitat where they live.
  • Both male and female steenbok will scrape the ground before, during and after defecating and urinating. Sometimes this will bury the dung but not always. This is believed to be a territorial action performed by both the male and female steenbok.
  • Despite steenbok having large glands below their eyes they do not like other antelope use them for scent marking. Instead they will use glands between their hooves for this purpose.
  • Steenbok browse and graze depending upon what is available due to their location and the season. When grazing they are able to rapidly increase the micro-organisms in their stomach that are required to breakdown the fiber.
  • Steenbok are known to hide in old aardvark holes when cover is sparse.
  • The steenbok name is derived from the Afrikaans word “Steen” meaning brick due to its brick-red coloration.

The difference between a male and female steenbok

Steenbok males have horns while females do not.

Steenbok male with horns

Steenbok Male

Steenbok female with no horns

Steenbok Females

Background information for African Steenbok Hunting

Steenbok resemble small Oribi, standing 18-24 inches at the shoulder. Their pelage (coat) is any shade from fawn to rufous, typically rather orange. The underside, including chin and throat, is white, as is the ring around the eye. Ears are large with "finger-marks" on the inside. Males have straight, smooth, parallel horns of around 4 inches. There is a black crescent-shape between the ears, a long black bridge to the glossy black nose, and a black circular scent-gland in front of the eye. The tail is not usually visible, being only an inch or so long.

Steenbok are active during the day and the night; however, during hotter periods, they rest under shade during the heat of the day. The time spent feeding at night increases in the dry season. While resting, they may be busy grooming, ruminating or taking brief spells of sleep.

At the first sign of trouble, steenbok typically lie low in the vegetation. If a predator or perceived threat comes closer, a steenbok will leap away and follow a zigzag route to try to shake off the pursuer. Escaping steenbok frequently stop to look back, and flight is alternated with prostration during extended pursuit.

They are known to take refuge in the burrows of Aardvarks. Known predators include Southern African wildcatcaracaljackalsleopardsmartial eagles and pythons.

Steenbok are typically solitary, except for when a pair come together to mate. However, it has been suggested that pairs occupy consistent territories while living independently, staying in contact through scent markings, so that they know where their mate is most of the time.

The steenbok is a browser and is very selective of greens such as flowers, fruits, shoot tips, new leaves and various plants. Its selective feeding habits enable the steenbok to not be dependent on open water sources. During dry months, it rakes and digs (at times digging shoulder-deep) for tubers, roots and bulbs that contain moisture and are high in nutrients.

After a gestation period of about seven months, a single lamb weighing 1 kg is born. The mother hides her lamb for the first three or four months after birth, only making contact with her young in the early morning and evening for feeding and grooming. During her visits, she eats her young’s dung and drinks its urine to eliminate odors that make it detectable to predators.

Steenbok trophy ram. Where to place your shot when Steenbok hunting in Africa

Shot Placement for Steenbok Hunting

Steenbok Hunting in South Africa

Your steenbok ram trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 22 inches, weigh about 25 pounds and have a horn length of approximately 4 inches. The Safari Club International minimum score for a steenbok is 4. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

A hugely underrated trophy, mainly due to its size or the fact that so few people notice them or have the time to study them before they disappear over the horizon. The steenbok gets its name from the very first Dutch settlers who travelled to Africa. The word "Steen" means brick - as you can well imagine, the color of the steenbok resembled that of a red building brick, and thereby got the name steenbok. All in all, a magnificent trophy to add to any trophy room.

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

Steenbok vital organs for shot placement

Both rams and ewes can be extremely territorial, defending their territory against all invaders. Juveniles take flight when adults approaches. When hunting steenbok, stalk carefully, as your quarry will lie flat in the grass to avoid detection. He will only flush at the last moment, running away with great speed.

As a caliber, we would recommend the 243. 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 243 fitted with a Swarovski Z8 tactical scope. We use Sako factory ammunition.

 If you can get your heart 'jump-started' after this fleeting encounter, be ready, as the steenbok is sometimes known to pause for a moment to look back before continuing his flight; there is his mistake, and there is your shot. Mainly a browser, the steenbok will occasionally graze on newly sprouted grass. Patience is key when hunting steenbok; like the other mini antelope, his super refined senses, relative small size, neutral coloring and his tendency to stay hidden, make him a real challenge to hunt.

IDENTIFICATION: Small antelope, slim and elegant with a short head with large ears and long legs. The general color is a reddish brown with light colored to white underparts. The insides of the ears are white with black stripes. There is a black stripe on top of the muzzle. Females can be slightly heavier than males. The hindquarters and lower parts/belly are pure white.

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

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