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Game hunting is a hobby, passion, and even a career to many. The question of whether big or small game hunting depends on personal preferences. In the United States, hunting is a popular culture embraced by many. But, can you hunt hyena? Please give it a thought. I know that sounds weird. As weird as it may seem, the answer is yes, you can hunt hyenas. It can be so much fun and also an opportunity to hone your skills too.
Although hyena hunting is not common in America, it is in Africa. The most common hunted hyenas are the spotted hyenas. In fact, some African countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, among others, have bounties tagged on hyena hunting. That is unbelievable. This article will provide you with some insights into hunting hyenas, mainly from South Africa.
The Spotted Hyena
Spotted hyenas are social omnivore mammals that live in large clans of up to 80 individuals. These unique animals with shorter back limbs can weigh between 110 to 190 pounds when mature. On average, their life span is 25 years in the wild.
There are three known hyena species, namely, brown, striped, and spotted hyenas. The spotted hyena (Crocuta Crocuta) species is the largest of them all. The famous scavengers mostly depend on leftovers from other predators. Besides, they also make skilled hunters. They can take down big animals such as antelopes and wildebeests and birds, snakes, and insects.
On a physical front, spotted hyenas are dog look-alikes, but on the contrary, they are more related to cats. They are easily found across much of Africa, Arabia, and India. Unlike most wild animals that live in groups led by males, spotted hyena clans are led by females.
Spotted hyenas are characterized by sharp eyesight at night and good hearing that aid them in hunting. The animals hunt by hearing, sight, and sell. With their incredible hearing ability, they can hear another predator eating a prey six miles away. They are relatively fast and also run over long distances before tiring. Packs work in tandem to isolate ill are infirm animals from herds, and eventually, pursue them to death.
These creatures are quite vocal and are known to have a variety of sounds, such as laughing, among others. Actually, at times spotted hyenas are referred to as laughing hyenas since their sounds are similar to human laughter. For first time hunters, most of them think there could be some crazy person in the bush.
Are Spotted Hyenas Hermaphrodite
For centuries now, many people tend to believe in a defaming stereotype that spotted hyenas are hermaphrodites. Somehow, it is understandable but not justifiable. On seeing a spotted hyena with distended mammary glands, you assume it is female. In another instance, you see another one carrying a massing phallic erection, and doubts begin to kick in. But no, this one of hyena myths. Hyenas are not hermaphrodites.
The female pseudo-penises and false fat-filled scrotum that is as big as the male penis result in confusion. It is, therefore, hard to identify hyena’s sex because of their similar genitalia. Also, the fact that female hyenas are larger than the male ones makes it trickier. You can easily shoot a female hyena, whereas shooting the females might be prohibited.
Spotted Hyena Hunting in Africa
In Africa, the spotted hyenas were a source of traditional medicine. For instance, In Burkina Faso, people believed that the hyena’s tail had magical and medicinal importance. Tanzanians and Malawians used the genitalia, nose tips and the tails for traditional medicine. This led to the hunting of the animals almost across the continent.
In some countries such as South Africa, spotted hyenas are only hunted when one has a TOPS permit. This is a permit issued before hunting any of the threatened or protected species. Before you even start hunting, you have to inform your outfitter of your intentions so as to obtain the permit.
The permit outlines the hunter’s personal information alongside the hunting area and the timings of the hunt. When successful, you have to sign the permit in order to obtain an export permit. It is essential to double-check every detail in the TOPS permit since errors might significantly delay your trophy exportation.
Hyena Hunting Restrictions
It is worth noting that hunting without a TOPS permit in your possession is illegal. Do not take chances of hunting under the premise that when your hunt is successful, you can acquire the permit later. It is also illegal to hunt captive-bred spotted hyenas. Hyenas are considered fair game if they have lived for at least two years with no human intervention.
Use of bows in hunting any large predator spotted hyenas included is prohibited too. Therefore, no automatic weapons, handguns, and shotguns, .22 caliber rimfires, or air guns can hunt the spotted hyena hunting tools.
For large predators, hunting lights can only be used for hyenas and leopards. Hunting with motorized vehicles is not allowed except for hunters with physical disabilities. No airplanes are also not allowed for hunting large predators. Hunting is only done by horsebacks or on foot.
Baiting spotted hyenas is allowed but strictly with no calls or scents.
Different countries have set different license and trophy fees. For example, in South Africa, the trophy fee for a spotted hyena would range from $1250 – $2950.
The good thing with spotted hyena hunting is that it is not limited by seasons. It is done all year round, but the ideal time is between late April and November.
Hyena Hunting Methods
There are no particular or unique methods applied in hunting spotted hyenas. In most cases, successful hyena hunts are lucky chances that occur in the process of hunting other animals. You simply bump into a spotted hyena when on a different mission, manage a good shot, and that is it.
You can also decide to spot, walk, and stalk their habitats. In wildernesses such as the Serengeti in Tanzania, stake out spots where bones are thrown after skinning the trophies. By watching vulture activity, you would also likely spot hyenas around.
Baits and some blind techniques like those used for cats would yield a successful hyena hunt.
In South Africa, the best rifle caliber for hunting spotted hyena is the one you use for your plains game hunts.
I recommend using medium to large rifles with which you can make accurate shots and still be comfortable using. However, a 7mm is the recommended minimum rifle caliber to take down hyenas. They include 7mm WSM (Winchester Short Magnum), 7mm RM (Remington Magnum), or 7mm – 08.
The .308 in the .30 caliber is a fantastic choice. The .330 calibers are more suitable then used for more massive plains games. The best would be either the .300 H&H, .300 Winchester Magnum, or the .300 Weatherby Magnum. Other larger calibers will be more than enough. In case you would want to target other animals such as sable or eland, a .375 rifle caliber will set you best.
When choosing a rifle, a 4×9 power is adequate. Besides the magnification, light transmission properties are very important. This is because your shots can be at dawn or dusk when light is not enough.
Premium grade ammunitions are the best for hunting hyenas in South Africa. The main reason to hammer for premium grade ammunition is:
- If blood is drawn after shooting an animal, South Africa’s relevant laws consider it paid for and bought. Therefore, the chances that cheap ammunition would be inferior are high. This would cause blood to be drawn; hence you get to pay for the animal whether we find it or not. Do not wait to learn that cheap is expensive from your encounter.
- With premium-grade ammunition, you are sure of consistent performance. The guaranteed mushrooming of petals creates wide wound channels leading to quicker deaths. Just to let you know, a “click” sound from your rifle after pulling a trigger on a trophy animal is quite depressing.
- The average shooting range for spotted hyenas varies between 60 -80 yards. Shots from longer distances would still yield successful hunts, but the closer, the better.
Check out this ammunition accessories table.
Game hunting is not limited to hyenas. With this article, it is now evident that hyenas are not just the silly scavengers they are deemed to be. On the contrary, they are smart, social, and unique. They are among the largest predators in Africa. Although America does not have many of them, there is much to learn and borrow from Africa, especially South Africa.
Once you get a chance to travel to Africa, take advantage of the opportunity, and diversify your hunting. It is a simple activity only to engage your mind and test your skills without involving heavy firearms. Most probably it will cost you some extra cash but trust me you will enjoy the value for your money to the last cent.
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36 years old, been hunting and fishing my entire life – love the outdoors, family, and all kinds of hunting and fishing! I have spent thousands of hours hunting hogs and training hunting dogs, but I’m always learning new stuff and really happy to be sharing them with you! hit me up with an email in the contact form if you have any questions.