Eland hunting is surprisingly difficult considering that they are the largest species of plains game in Africa. They are smart, shifty and elusive! A mature bull can weigh over a ton, having a thick neck, hump, and a dewlap reminiscent of a Brahma bull. Color is grayish-brown with older males developing a bluish-gray around the neck. Some specimens exhibit faint, vertical stripes down the flanks. Both bulls and cows carry horns, the bull’s horns being noticeably shorter but heavier.
One of Africa’s most sought after spiral horned trophies, a trophy bull eland is a nervous creature, leaving the country at the first sign of danger. Herds of eland gather in the open woodlands and the scrubby flat veld where they graze during the day.
When Eland Hunting, Take Enough Gun!
When you are eland hunting, just as in with the cape buffalo, be sure to use a large enough caliber rifle… a .375 would not be considered overkill! The best choice would be a quick pointing double rifle, if you have one available. The 9.3 X 74R is an excellent choice, as is the .375 H&H with 286 grain or 300 grain bullets. Consider using solids for back-up shots, as a big eland bull will not go down easily. Most bulls will be taken at relatively close range in heavy cover.
How to Field Judge Eland Bulls
While field judging eland, body size and appearance is the easiest way to confirm the maturity of a possible trophy bull.
While field judging eland, body size and appearance is the easiest way to confirm the maturity of a possible trophy bull. For some reason, eland aren’t high on most hunters wish list until they see one in person. Species such as kudu, or sable get all of the attention. But that’s ok, because in Africa, you can add an animal to your safari at any time.
Field Judging Eland:
Eland bulls usually carry well matched symmetrical spiral horns with prominent visible raised and steady ridges along the two twists. The spread of the horns can vary greatly, from a narrow almost parallel look to a “V” shape. Most often, mature bulls have considerably thicker bases, more massive and straighter horns compared to female horns that are significantly thinner with less apparent ridges and a tendency to become crooked the older they get.
- Mature bulls are nearly twice the size of a female and stand out due to their massive, muscular bodies.
- Mature males have large, prominent dewlaps on their throats.
- Mature eland have a darker tan coat with a blueish gray tint.
- Trophy males often have some areas of hair loss. Brush or “rugs” on the forehead is a distinctive characteristic seen only on some older males. If an eland has a heavy brush it is a reliable sign of maturity, however the lack of one does not mean it is not mature.
- An great indicator of a very old eland bull is a massive body, bulging neck and horns that appear small (does not mean that the horns are actually small).
- Eland horns must be thick, have prominent ridges, and have good length.