Regional Names

Afrikaans: Gemsbok French: L’oryx gazelle / Gemsbok
German: Spießbock Nama: ǁGaeb
Portuguese: Órix / Guelengue-do-deserto Sesotho: Nyamatsane
Shangaan: Mhala Shona:
Spanish: Órice de El Cabo / Gacela órice / Pasán Swahili: Choroa
Tswana: Kukuma Xhosa: Inkukhama
Zulu: Nkukhama
Average Body Dimensions Trophy Dimensions
Average male mass:  529 lb (240 kg) Rowland Ward Minimum: 40” (101,5cm): Method-7
Average shoulder height:  3.9’ (1,20m) Rowland Ward Record: 49½” (125.7cm)
Spoor size front:  4.3” (110mm) SCI Minimum (Rifle):  81 / SCI Record (Rifle): 1115/8: Method-1
Spoor size rear: 4.1” (104mm) SCI Minimum (Bow):  72 / SCI Record (Bow) – 102


South-western Angola, Botswana, North-western South Africa*.
* Top trophy destinations


Gemsbuck cows and young live in herds of a dozen individuals or so. Between the ages of 5-7 bulls establish territories the size of which depends on the habitat, but which can be as small as 7,6km2 to 25.7 km2 and which they hold for up to 3 years. Gemsbok are nomadic and home ranges can be massive – 552 mi2 (1430 km2) in unfenced areas. They crawl under but do not jump fences. Adult males are solitary and territorial, but small bachelor herds from 3-5 young males are sometimes formed. Gemsbuck are keen of sight, aggressive and will vigorously defend itself even when hurt. There exists a dominance hierarchy amongst both sexes in a herd. Grazing takes place during the cooler hours of the night when the moisture content of vegetation is at its highest with some early morning or late afternoon grazing. More than half of daytime is spent resting in shade if available.

* Read more in Game Animals of the World by Chris & Tilde Stuart

Hunting tips

These animals occupy regions that offers sparse cover for stalking. In dune areas it is possible to remain in dead ground and find them in the ‘streets’ when one crawls over the horizon. Their keen eyesight picks breaches of the horizon up extremely quickly. Techniques such as using portable brushes sometimes work. Normally dunes tops are charged with the hunters on a vehicle, a hard stop executed and quick shots taken before the animals start moving. Quick shooting at range is the norm and it requires practice. In wooded areas gemsbuck, like blesbok seem to grow stupid and can be stalked.

Sexual Differentiation

Both sexes have horns. Males are of marginally heavier build but females have longer and more slender horns. It is difficult to distinguish the sexes, but the use of strong binoculars with range-finding capability is recommended to seek for genitals and penis sheaths and to calculate shot compensation.

Habitat & Food

It thrives in arid and semi-arid open grass-, open scrub- and open woodland habitats and is perfectly adapted to the Kalahari and Namib desert regions of the south-western African subcontinent. It is a grazer, but also digs for roots, bulbs and tubers for moisture. It browses if really necessary. Minerals are sought after and intake is derived from consuming soil and salts at water holes.

Rifle & Cartridge Recommendations

Bolt Actions : Only very accurate bolt action rifles chambered for high velocity, wind-resisting cartridges are recommended.

Bullets : Streamlined, high ballistic coefficient bullets that retain weight and momentum in terminal phase are recommended.

Typical Cartridges :

6,5x68mm 140-gr bullets
.264 Winchester Magnum 140-gr bullets
.270 Winchester 150-gr bullets
.270 Weatherby Magnum 150-gr bullets
7 x 64mm Brenneke 150-gr bullets
.280 Remington 150-gr bullets
7mm Magnums 150-gr bullets
.300 Magnums 168-gr bullets
.338 Magnums 225-gr bullets

* Read more in African Medium Bore Cartridges by Pierre van der Walt