A mature Livingston eland weighs as much as a moose and an elk combined, and is the bulldozer of the African bush. With an affinity for thick cover, these huge beasts are one of Africa’s toughest challenges. Many rifle hunters use .375 H&H solids to hunt them. I passed a shot at a non-typical eland bull with one horn up and one horn down in 1994 and had been wanting a shot at a big bull for the next 20 years. These often drink at night or at the last bit of shooting light, making them a very difficult trophy to see.
Denny Steiner and I each wanted a mature bull when we hunted together in Namibia in 2013. Steiner saw two bulls the first day, yet they came to a waterhole directly, drank facing head-on, and then quickly walked away. Given the size of these brutes, an archer needs to be patient and wait for the perfect shot angle. Luckily, Steiner would not only get a second chance, but take a heavy horned bull with a thick brown ruff (the patch of brown hair on its forehead). As the photo at left shows, this animal was enormous, yet it went down with one well-placed arrow. Despite excellent arrow placement, Steiner took no chances and waited in this blind for help to arrive. Incredibly, in just minutes, a large gemsbok came to drink and Steiner made the morning a double-take.
Shot Placement Matters
Steiner was hunting with Agagia Safaris. The company makes it a practice to include a copy of The Perfect Shot in every hunter’s lunch cooler so that he or she can review the best shot placement during the day. The pocket guide of this book will pay for itself many times over in prevented aggravation and shorter blood trails; it’s available in bookstores and online. The Perfect Shot North America is a must for all big-game hunters and is available at craigboddington.com.
One of the unique features of eland hunting is the sound the animals make as they walk. Tendons in the knees of a mature eland make a clicking sound; the larger the animal, the louder the click. The approach of a mature bull eland may be audible 100 yards away. Eland often drink early in the morning, at dusk, or after dark; it’s every bowhunter’s dream as the day draws to a close to hear that special “clicking” sound. Since eland are the largest of the antelope, they often approach in a bullish fashion, pushing other animals from the water so they can drink. This beast is a dream animal; once you encounter one, the quest may be on for a lifetime.