Waterbuck: One Of Africa’s Underrated Trophies

In my last few articles I’ve profiled the eland, kudu, the cape buffalo, the impala, the warthog, the zebra, and the blue wildebeest. Today, I’m writing about one of Africa’s most beautiful, but underrated animals: the waterbuck.

Though they are not as big as eland or as visually stunning as kudu, they are still a magnificent animal and can be lots of fun for trophy hunters to pursue.

waterbuck featured

Waterbuck Description & Distribution

Scientific Name: Kobus ellipsiprymnus

Waterbuck are a large species of antelope that live in wooded and marshy areas of Africa. While not as big as eland, they are still relatively large animals, with bulls weighing 500-600 pounds and cows weighing 400-500 pounds. Their coats are shaggy with hair ranging in color from reddish brown to grey with some white on their faces and necks along with a white “bulls eye” of hair on their rump. Other than size, the only substantial difference between bulls (top) and cows (bottom) is the fact that only bulls have horns.

waterbuck bullwaterbuck cowsThey are primarily grazing animals and inhabit at least some portion of virtually every country in sub-Saharan Africa. While waterbuck seem to prefer grasslands, they are sometimes found in wooded areas. Regardless, they will never be found far from water. They must drink water daily and do not tolerate drought conditions well.

Waterbuck are herd animals, with herds ranging in size from a handful of of animals to a dozen or more. Females normally live in herds with other females and their calves. Young males usually live in bachelor herds. Mature males are often territorial, and they are known to fight, sometimes to the death, other males who intrude onto their territory.

Waterbuck Hunting Methods

Virtually all waterbuck are hunted via walk and stalk. Since mature bulls are very territorial, they will often be encountered in the same place over and over again. Because of this, hunters will often slowly walk through promising waterbuck habitat with the wind in their favor. If that area is a historic hangout for waterbuck, the odds of encountering one are very high.

Recommended Waterbuck Cartridges

Even though they are pretty big animals, waterbuck are not incredibly tough animals. However, that does not mean that you should take them lightly. Since a big bull may weigh up to 600 pounds, cartridges in the 7mm Mauser, .270 Winchester, 7mm-08 Remington, 7mm Remington Magnum, 280 Remington, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, and .300 Winchester Magnum range are ideal choices. Many hunters also hunt them with larger cartridges like the .375 H&H, the .416 Rigby, the .458 Lott, or even the .338 Federal as well, and there is nothing wrong with that either.

With good shot placement, even handgun cartridges like the 10mm Auto and .44 Magnum are acceptable choices for waterbuck at close range.

The Remington 700 UML and CVA Paramount are both widely considered to be among the best muzzleloaders for those who want the chance to pursue waterbuck with a smoke pole.

Waterbuck Shot Placement

Even though they are not especially tough animals, waterbuck are still pretty big and will surprise you with their endurance if you place your shot improperly. However, good shot placement on waterbuck is relatively simple, when the animal is standing broadside, aim at the center of the shoulder, about one third of the way up the body.

waterbuck shot placement broadsideAlso, don’t forget 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 it is quartering towards you.

waterbuck shot placement quartering towards

The Perfect Shot by Kevin Robertson was used as a reference for shot placement.
Thanks to Big Game Hunting Adventures for the waterbuck hunting photos.

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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.