African Crocodiles and How to Hunt Them
Hunting the African Crocodile
A big ‘flattie’ as crocodiles are often referred to by professional hunters, is a supreme test of stalking ability, patience and rifle accuracy.
Interestingly enough, the Nile crocodile is not widely thought of as a sporting animal in most hunting circles. But that is slowly changing, and with good reason. The crocodile is extremely intelligent, wary, and better adapted to a home that man finds it difficult to hunt in: water.
He is widely distributed in Africa and even small pools of water should be approached with extreme caution because you just never who’s at home. Usually, crocodiles are hunted from a ground blind on the bank once a big male has been found. Have your rifle sighted in “dead nuts” because you have to hit the brain, or the spinal column just behind the skull and neither is a large target. Crocodile hunts are often done as a crocodile, hippo combo hunt. It’s surprisingly challenging and you should plan on at least 10 days to find and take a big one.
Most crocodiles are taken by baiting.
Big males are territorial, which hunters can use to their advantage. Our PH in Mozambique enlists the help of local tribesmen who will know where every big croc lives, along with his preferred basking sites. They are more than happy to help. Cruising by boat using good optics is another good way to find a trophy crocodile.
Once a good male has been found, either a bait will be put out (usually a hippo) or a stalk will be made if the crocodile is on the shore. A basking croc is a prime candidate for a stalk, as that is when they are at their most vulnerable. Bait will be chained up near the basking site and blood and entrails will be thrown into the water.
A very well concealed blind (crocodiles have amazing eyesight) will be built nearby, usually within 80 yards. Once a big croc finds the bait, he will defend it vigorously… and now it’s time to hunt.
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Shot Placement for Crocodiles
No other game animal on the planet requires such precise first shot placement.
Hunting crocodiles requires precise shot placement, and an accurate, scoped rifle is an absolute must. Do not try to take on crocodile with an open-sighted rifle under any circumstances. Only two shots are effective in anchoring a Crocodile; a shot placed into his golf ball sized brain or one that hits the spinal column just behind the head.
Large crocodiles are truly enormous, and will break up all but the best of bullets. Only premium soft-points should be considered when hunting crocodiles. Some pros suggest solids for the tough bone structure of a really big croc, but today’s premium bullets are capable of killing the largest of crocs, provided they are shot with an adequate cartridge.
I have tackled big crocs with my 7mm magnum, which is fine for the brain shot, but the .375 is a better choice for the neck shot, and probably the best choice for a really big crocodile. As always, consult your P.H. on caliber selection prior to your trip and heed his advice on what gun and ammo to pack for this unique safari.
Bowhunting Shot Placement
If you are bowhunting, shoot your croc just front of mid-body.
If your arrow hits a bit high, it will still be solidly in the lungs, and if you are a tad low you will hit the heart. When you shoot a croc through the lungs they quickly crawl out of the water so they don’t drown. A lung shot crocodile is easily recovered.
A shot just behind the shoulder as if you are shooting a North American animal misses everything.
The most deadly existing reptile, the crocodile has always been on the “Man’s worst enemies” list.
The African crocodile evolved over 170 million years ago as an efficient killing machine. More people are killed and eaten by crocodiles each year in Africa than by all other animals combined. Their instinct is predation, to kill any meat that floats their way.
Native’s in Africa won’t eat crocodiles because they feel they are eating their relatives. That’s how many man eating crocodiles there are in Africa. To a crocodile, we’re just part of the food chain, and man-eating crocodiles are fairly common. Crocodile hunters often discover bracelets, bits of jewelry and human remains in the stomach of crocodiles when they clean them.
A hunter shot this man eating crocodile in Africa and when they were cleaning him, they found a partially digested person inside. If you have a weak stomach, beware. These photos are graphic to say the least.
Africa Safari Gear List
Preparing for your first African Safari can be intimidating, but there’s no need to worry. The truth of the matter is that packing for a hunt in Africa isn’t all that difficult. We have worked together with our P.H.’s on a safari gear list for your upcoming hunt.
- Valid Passport (South Africa requires your passport to be valid for an additional 30 days after your return date to the USA. No exceptions.)
- Airline ticket.
- Proper weapon documentation.
- Email the date and time of arrival to your P.H. for pickup at the airport.
- Inoculation (if needed in the area you are hunting).
- Deposit paid and confirmed.
- Traveler’s checks and enough cash for gifts, tip, etc.
- Travel Insurance.
Keep it simple. Bring a few changes of light hunting clothing (most places will have a daily laundry service). Odds are you will be riding in the back of a truck on a high rack to and from hunting areas, and that can get chilly. So bring a good jacket along. During the day, temperatures should be pleasant.
*When hunting in Mozambique it is important to note that you are allowed to bring realtree type camo but it is against Mozambican law for an ordinary citizen to wear military style camouflage.
- 2 pairs of light hunting pants
- 2-3 hunting shirts
- 2-3 pairs of socks and underwear
- 1 pair of insulated underwear (tops and bottoms) *we recommend Merino wool
- Light jacket for stopping wind
- Wide brim hat or cap
- Good ankle boots/shoes that are very comfortable (you don’t need heavy mountain boots)
- Comfortable shoes for lounging at the lodge
- Light stocking hat and gloves
- Light rain gear
If you are hunting from May to August, be sure to bring some heavier clothing as well as temperatures can occasionally drop below freezing. If you are hunting during this time add the following items:
- 1 pair of insulated hunting pants
- 2 pairs mid-weight socks
- Insulated coat
Get the best optics you can afford. Don’t skimp here.
- Binoculars (Quality 8’s or 10’s)
- Spotting Scope
- Bino Harness
- Phone Skope – Mount your phone to your optics
- Lens Cloth and Cleaning Equipment
Firearms and Ammunition
Clients always ask us what type of rifle and caliber they should bring to Africa. Our advice is always, bring the rifle that you are most comfortable shooting with, shot placement and premium quality bullets are more important than caliber choice. For plains game, we recommend any caliber between 270 and 375. However calibers for dangerous game, the minimum requirement by law is no caliber smaller than 375H&H. We recommend using premium quality soft point ammunition like Swift A-frame, Woodleigh, Norma or Barnes. For elephant and hippo it is advisable to use heavy caliber solid ammunition.
When hunting dangerous game, use a good quality low powered variable scope of 1.5 – 6 x 25 power. We recommend a higher powered scope of between 3 – 9 x 40 magnification for plains game. When transporting your rifle it should be transported on the airline and on any major road in a solid, lockable, hard case. Whilst travelling between hunting areas or on the back of the hunting vehicle we recommend that you bring a soft padded rifle bag.
- Ammo (40-60 shells should be adequate for a typical hunt)
- Gun case with locks
- Soft gun case
- Bow (talk to your Agent or PH about poundage requirements)
- Arrows and good broadheads (2-3 dozen arrows should be adequate for a typical hunt)
- Bow case with locks
- Soft bow case
- Valid Passport
- Airline ticket
- Proper weapon documentation
- Certified copy of your Passport for the taxidermist.
- Tip your P.H.
- Pay trophy fees and final payments for the animals you take on your Safari.
- Make arrangements for your trophies.
The standard tip for a guide is 10% to 20% of the cost of your trip. Remember to tip the cooks and other help in the camp as well. The amount you give reflects your appreciation for your guide’s hard work and effort.