Sable Antelope Hunting

Sable antelope hunting should be any hunter’s dream, with both sexes having long sweeping scimitar-like horns. The sable bull horns are exceptional and the longest of any African antelope, except the kudu. A pitch-black mature sable bull is one of the finest trophies Africa has to offer. No hunter should leave without one.

Sable hunting - Shot placement for Sable antelope hunting
Shot placement for Sable antelope hunting
How to hunt sable antelope and how much does it cost?

Hunting is done by walk and stalk. A sable antelope will cost around $4000. An all-inclusive package with a sable antelope and six other trophies including a nyala will cost $7500. Packages include accommodation and meals.

Interesting facts

  • Sable congregate in herds of 15 to 20 individuals with matriarchal social structure. The group will have a dominant female who will be the leader.
  • The herd has only one bull and jealously guards his harem against intruders. The juvenile males are exiled from the herd at about three years old.
  • All the female calves remain. When the herd gets too large, it divides into smaller groups of cows and young.
  • These groups will form new herds and again with only one adult bull.
  • The young males, which have been separated from the herd, form bachelor groups.
  • The most dominant bachelor will be the first individual to join a new group of females when the position is open.
  • Very seldom, during their fights for supremacy, are they able to inflict bodily harm to the contender.
  • If threatened by a predator, including lions, they will confront it, using their scimitar-shaped horns. Many of these big cats, for example, lions have died while trying to bringing down a sable.
  • In Ernest Hemingway’s book, The Green Hills of Africa, he describes the habits of sable antelope, which he used to hunt.
  • Sable antelope hunting should be on every hunter’s bucket list. Like gemsbok and wildebeest, sable is a uniquely African trophy.

The difference between a male and female sable antelope

A male sable is jet black with a white underbelly, and the female is dark brown. The local Dutch dialect name for the sable can be translated as “the black antelope with white underpants” Males have longer and heavier horns.

Sable Antelope male drinking water. Botha males and females have horns. The male horns are longer and heavier.
Sable Antelope male drinking water
Sable Antelope female. Females have shorter horns and are lighter in color.
Sable Antelope female

About the Sable Antelope

Description of the sable antelope

The sable antelope is sexually dimorphic, with the male heavier and about one-fifth taller than the female. The length of the sable is typically between 75 and 100 inches.

Males reach about 46–55 inches at the shoulder, while females are slightly shorter. Males will weigh around 550 pounds and females approximately 490 pounds.

The sable is characterized by a thick neck and tough skin and a compact and robust build,

It has an upright mane on its neck and a short “beard” on the throat. Coloration is rich chestnut to black.

Females and young are chestnut to dark brown, while males begin darkening and turn black after three years.

However, in southern populations, in particular, the Eastern Cape females have a brown to black coat.

This is the result of the vegetation they eat, which causes skin pigmentation to be much darker.

Information for sable antelope hunting

Calves less than two months old are a light tan and show faint markings. The underparts, cheek, and chin of the sable are all white, creating a great contrast with the dark back and flanks.

The sable has long, white hairs below the eyes and a wide, black stripe running over the nose.

Both sexes have ringed horns that arch backward. In females, these can reach 24–34 inches, while in males, they are 32–48 inches long.

The average lifespan of the sable antelope is about 17 years in the wild and longer in captivity.

They live in savanna, woodlands, and grasslands during the dry season, where they eat mid-length grasses and leaves.

Sable antelope hunting will involve a careful stalk through the savanna and woodlands.

Sable antelope visit salt licks and are known to chew bones to collect minerals.

They are diurnal but are less active during the heat of the day.

We offer a dedicated sable antelope hunting package which includes a nyala

Sable Antelope Hunting in South Africa

Your sable antelope trophy should have an average shoulder height of around 50 inches, weigh about 550 pounds, and have a Horn Length of approximately 38 inches.

The Safari Club International minimum score for a sable antelope is 96. This is measured by adding the length of each horn as well as the circumference of the bases.

Nick Bowker has his own sable herd. Sable is not indigenous to the Eastern Cape but has been introduced.

They are now widely spread across the Eastern Cape, and prices are now much more reasonable.

Sable antelope hinting should be on every hunter’s wish list.

 A sizeable magnificent antelope with shoulders higher than hindquarters.

Facial markings and underparts are white, with both sexes having long sweeping scimitar-like horns.

The horns of the sable bull are exceptional and the longest of any African antelope, except for the kudu.

Dependent on water, they prefer open and sparse woodland areas close to grasslands.

Like the roan, sable bulls can be very territorial, and the herd bull will engage with the challenger in a ferocious battle.

Hunters should also be mindful of the sable. He can be very aggressive when wounded or cornered and will not hesitate to charge.

When sable antelope hunting, look for the bull somewhere on the sideline and not amongst the cows.

Trophy Judgement and Rifle Caliber

Vital organs for Sable antelope hunting. Horn length should be approximately 38 - 40 inches.
Vital organs for Sable antelope hunting

The side-on presentation calls for the high heart/lung shot directed straight up the foreleg about one third into the body. We recommend the 300 magnums for sable hunting.

For those hunters who do not wish to go through the red tape of bringing a rifle into South Africa, Nick Bowker has available a Sako carbon light 300 Winchester Magnum fitted with a suppressor.

The rifle is mounted with a Swarovski DS with a built-in rangefinder. We have hand loaded Hornady ELD-X 200 grain ammunition.

The rifle including ammunition is available as part of all hunting packages free of charge.

A jet black mature Sable bull is surely one of the most impressive African trophies.

The color of the skin indicates trophy quality; always ensure the bull is of jet black color and not a tanned chocolate color, thus showing immaturity.

The horns must be solid black with dominant ridges following the length of the horn.

Look for the climb from the base, the hook backward, and lastly, the length of the tips.

All in all, sable antelope hunting is every hunter’s dream.