Hippo Hunting in Zimbabwe and South Africa

Hippo hunting can be a very challenging hunt. When out hunting, you may see big pods of hippo lying inertly around on river banks. They are extremely sharp-eyed and will make a run for the water if they feel threatened in any way.

Although not part of the Big Five, the hippo can be extremely aggressive when disturbed and accounts for more recorded human deaths on the African continent, than all of the other dangerous game. They can also reach speeds of up to 40km per hour and getting away on foot will be a challenge if in open areas.

Most hippo are shot in the water and occasionally, if lucky, you can hunt them on land. If you do shoot them in the water, it’s a good idea to pay some attention as to feasibility of the recovery of the carcass beforehand as they may be crocodile nearby.

If you shoot a hippo in the water, the carcass will immediately sink. As the gases in the stomach expand, the carcass will float to the surface. This usually takes between 15-45 minutes. Hunting a hippo is as much a test of marksmanship as it is a test of hunting skills due to the small kill zone when in water.

Some hunters are determined to hunt a hippo on land, in which case, building a blind is usually necessary after determining the place where hippos routinely like to lie when they come out of water.

Hippo gender identification is not as easy as you might think, especially when they are bobbing around in the water. The bulls are generally bigger than the females and usually have considerably more scarring due to dominance fights. Adults average 1,500 kg (3,310 lb) and 1,300 kg (2,870 lb) for males and females respectively. Bulls tend to have bigger heads and stronger necks in comparison to their body size.

The easiest way though is to look at the eyes of the animals. Male hippos have hooded eyes and the females look like they are wearing pink framed spectacles and have slightly popping-out eyes.

Rely only on large caliber rifles with solid bullets for this hunt. As always, the .375 should be considered as the minimum caliber. Rather use one of the .40 calibers or even larger if possible. A well-placed shot on the shoulder will anchor the hippo if you have used sufficient gun; in a charge, the brain shot will be your only guarantee of stopping it.

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