Kudu: The Grey Ghost

In my last five articles I’ve profiled the cape buffalo, the impala, the warthog, the zebra, and the blue wildebeest. Today, I’m profiling perhaps the most popular animal to hunt in Africa: the kudu. They are beautiful, graceful, and incredibly challenging to hunt. For those reasons a good kudu is one of the most highly sought after trophies in all of Africa.

kudu featured

Kudu Description & Distribution

Scientific Name: Tragelaphus strepsiceros, also known as the “grey ghost.”

The kudu is a large, graceful antelope that lives is most of southern and eastern Africa. There are two recognized species of kudu: the lesser kudu and the greater kudu. Of these, the greater kudu is much more common and is much more popular among hunters. Greater kudu are found in Botswana, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

A full grown greater kudu bull will usually stand around 4 feet tall at the shoulder and weigh over 600 pounds. Kudu have greyish-brown coats with vertical white stripes on their torso. They also sport a white chevron on their face between their eyes.

Kudu are right up there with elk and red stag as far as beautiful and highly desirable trophies go. This is because Kudu bulls possess a set of impressive, long, spiral horns. They grow these horns over the course of their life and a really big bull will have 2 1/2 or even 3 full curls. Adult bulls often have horns that measure between 40″ and 60″ long around the curl. Any kudu with horns longer than 50″ is very nice and anything over 60″ is a truly once in a lifetime trophy!

Kudu Hunting Methods

The vast majority of kudu are hunted walk and stalk. They are usually active during the day, primarily during the early morning and late evening, so this can be a very productive way to hunt them if there is a good kudu population in the area. Kudu must also drink water every day, so some hunters have a great deal of success hunting them from a blind over a water hole and ambushing them when the kudu come in to drink. This is especially effective during the middle of the day when temperatures are at their hottest.

Recommended Kudu Cartridges

Because they are so big, hunters going after kudu should think of the .308 Winchester and .30-06 Springfield as the minimum cartridges on a kudu hunt. Cartridges such as the 7mm WSM, 280 Remington, .280 Ackley Improved, 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, .338 Winchester Magnum, and 8mm Remington Magnum will also work very well. Heck, even the old .30-40 Krag or the 7-30 Waters will get the job done too!

Don’t be afraid to go with a larger cartridge on a kudu. You may only get one shot at the kudu of your dreams, so make sure that you are using a powerful enough cartridge.

Kudu Shot Placement

Kudu are known for being very elusive and shy, so when you get a good shot on one, you’d better make it count. When the kudu is standing broadside to you, aim at the center of the shoulder about one third of the way up the body. This shot will hit the heart or lungs and a kudu hit as indicated with a high powered rifle cartridge will not run very far at all.

kudu shot placement

Just remember to adjust your shot placement if the animal is presenting a quartering shot. Aim slightly behind the shoulder if it is quartering away from you and slightly in front of the shoulder if the animal is facing towards you.

kudu shot placement quartering

Kudu are beautiful animals, have a very unique trophy, and are actually quite delicious to eat during a hunt. Though they are challenging to hunt, it is reasonable to expect to take a good kudu trophy after several days of hard hunting, as long as there is a decent kudu population in the area. Because of these factors, kudu are an incredibly popular animal to hunt and are the centerpiece of any plains game safari in Africa.

Finally, all hunters should bring a gun cleaning kit consisting of some CLP, a bore snake, and perhaps even a gun cleaning mat with them to Africa. This is especially important if hunting during the rainy season, but is just a good all around piece of gear for hunters. Shots at big kudu don’t come easy, so it’s important that your rifle is functioning properly and shooting accurately at the moment of truth.

For more information on kudu hunting, there’s a great article about Big Game Hunting Adventures and how they helped sponsor a wounded veteran on a hunt in South Africa for kudu and impala that’s really worth your time to check out. You can also watch the video they made of the wounded veteran while he was hunting in South Africa as well as this promotional video (which some have called the best Africa hunting video they’ve ever seen), both of which prominently feature kudu.

The Perfect Shot by Kevin Robertson was used as a reference for shot placement. This book is one of the best gifts for hunters that have an upcoming hunt in Africa.

Learn more about the South Africa hunting safaris Big Game Hunting Adventures offers on their web site or follow them on Facebook, YouTube, & Instagram.

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Posted in: Pro Staff Blog, Scrolls
Big Game Hunter

About the Author:

I was born and raised in Texas where I started hunting white-tailed deer and hogs at an early age with my father and grandfather. Under their tutelage, I developed a strong respect for wildlife and the outdoors, as well as an appreciation and interest in firearms. Since then, I've hunted big game all over the United States as well as in Namibia and Zimbabwe. As a strong supporter of conservation as well as gun rights, I'm a member of Safari Club International, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, and the National Rifle Association. I live in Washington state with my wife where we both enjoy taking advantage of all the outdoor opportunities available in the Pacific Northwest. I currently serve in the United States Army and have served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a mortar platoon leader and cavalry troop commander. I was born in Texas and have hunted big game all over the United States as well as in Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. I served served on active duty in the United States Army for over 7 years and served combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as a mortar platoon leader and cavalry troop commander. I live in Washington with my wife and I am currently serving in the Washington Army National Guard. My passion for the outdoors led me to create The Big Game Hunting Blog and Big Game Hunting Adventures in order to share my hunting experiences with others and to help them fulfill their hunting dreams.
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