Hippo Hunting

Hippo Hunting

Sometimes while hippo hunting, you’re paddling in a canoe to close the distance or you might be stalking through the grass hunting a solitary old bull. You might even hunt out of a blind…and usually, you’ll be hunting crocodiles at the same time. Hippo hunting can be a fun add-on to your African Safari.

Where to Hunt Hippos

The best countries to go to for hippo hunting safaris are Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Botswana. You can go to South Africa however unfortunately it is rather expensive compared to the other places, like hippo hunts in Mozambique.

Hippo Shot Placement

Hippo’s are almost always found in the water, so most of the time the only option will be a headshot.

Hippo SkullThe brain is very small, so make sure you’re rifle is “dead nuts” and know where to aim.  Use big, solid bullets for hippos.

A hippo shot in the water with a good brain shot will just sink out of sight, but the dead animal will float after a few hours due to the vegetation in its stomach producing enough gas to float the carcass.

A missed brain shot will usually knock the animal out, and then you will need to take back shots as quickly as possible being careful not to wound another hippo.

  • Headshot facing away – The best angle is when the animal is facing directly away from you, exposing the back of it’s head. Draw an imaginary line between the base of the ears, and shoot in the middle.
  • Headshot quartering towards – Aim directly at the eye, angling the bullet through the brain. Always keep in mind where the brain is.
  • Direct facing head shot – This shot is very difficult because of the heavy bone of the skull, but with a modern caliber of a sufficient size, you should be fine. Look at the aiming charts below.
  • When out of the water a body shot can be used with a large caliber and solid bullets.

Field Judging a Hippo Bull

Trophy hippos are determined by the size of their 12 tusks.

The longest canine tusk length is the measurement recorded by the record books. As far as trophy assessment goes we are looking for a mature bull and hope for the best on its tusks. You can make an educated guess on the teeth size by evaluating the ‘pockets’ on the top of the hippos jaw. These can indicate tusks size. If time is available you can wait for it to open his mouth for a visual confirmation.

The fun is in the hunt, it can be equated to pig hunting in that the size of the trophy is not considered to be of the utmost importance. Any mature hippo is going to be a huge animal and a pleasure to hunt on a safari. Hippo are CITES II animals and are allowed to be imported into the USA.

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