Identifying Antelope at Stone Creek Ranch
If you've ever heard the old ballad, Home on the Range, you probably know the opening lines:
"Home, home on the range. Where the deer and the antelope play…."
In our previous blog, we discussed the identifying characteristics of the various types of deer you'll find at Stone Creek Ranch. So, now that we've addressed the deer, it is time to discuss the antelope. After all, in our (admittedly cliched) opinion, you can't have a hunt in Texas without both deer and antelope. Keep reading to learn more about the unique characteristics of different types of antelope, so you'll know what to look for when you join us for a hunt.
What is an Antelope?
The term antelope is a very broad one. It describes certain members of the Bovidae animal family (which also includes cattle, buffalo, and goats).
Like many other types of Bovidae, antelope are horned mammals noted for their two-toed cloven hooves. These herbivores are generally found in grasslands, and most are native to Africa, the Middle East and western Asia. Their sizes and weights can differ considerably, with some antelope weighing well over 1,000 pounds.
Perhaps the most notable feature of antelopes is their horns. Antelope horn shapes can vary significantly, and the animals typically renew their horns yearly. Depending on the subspecies, only males or both males and females have horns.
There are approximately 91 species of antelope worldwide, and you'll find several of them here at Stone Creek Ranch. Indeed, there are many types of antelope that you may not realize are antelopes because they go by different common names. Still, they are all part of the same family. Let's look at some of the features that will help you identify the type of antelope you are looking at when you are here at the ranch.
Identifying Blackbuck Antelope
The blackbuck antelope is native to India, Nepal and Pakistan. They have white fur around their eyes and chins, strikingly contrasting with the black stripes on their faces. The color of the rest of their fur can vary based on the sex of the animal. Males have two-tone coats, with dark brown to black upper bodies and white undersides. Females and the young are typically yellowish and tan in color. Male blackbucks sport long, ringed horns, which can grow up to 30 inches.
This large, often aggressive, Oryx is a native of Southern Africa and is notable for being the only animal of its kind with rounded ears. While it is born a yellowish tan, a Gemsbok's color evolves into a pinkish tan as it ages. They have black and white markings on their heads and legs. Additionally, adults have broad side stripes and black tails, with black docks and long brushes. Gemsboks grow long, straight, ringed horns that average approximately 33 to 36 inches. Longer horns can range from 41 to 48 inches in length.
Another antelope native to Southern Africa is the Blesbok, which is noted for its relatively small size compared to its relatives. Generally, it weighs only about 150 pounds and stands approximately three feet tall. Its glossy coat can be a mixture of gray and reddish brown, and its underbelly, chest, inner rear, and lower legs tend to be white. Its nose and face also generally have a white hue. With their S shape, the Blesbok's horns are easily identifiable. They tend to be approximately 20 - 24 inches long, with females' horns being the thinner of the two.
Primarily abundant on the Indian subcontinent, the Nilgai is the largest antelope in Asia. Indeed, it is almost as revered as the sacred cow to Hindus, and Nilgai, in fact, translates literally to "blue cow."
This horse-like antelope is usually gray, with light gray or white fur around its rear and tail. A white patch is often present on its neck, with white speckling around its chin and cheeks. The lower legs may sport gray and white bands.
The Nilgai is noted for its sturdy build, stocky legs, and shoulder hump, making it seem bulky and quite strong. Interestingly, the antlers on males are quite short compared to those on other antelopes. Usually, they are only six to eight inches long.
Identifying Scimitar Horned Oryx
Native to North Africa, the Scimitar Horned Oryx has been hunted for centuries precisely for its unique horns. Both males and females have very long horns, which are slightly curved toward the back of the animal. These horns can grow several feet long, and they are so magnificent that many people believe they may have inspired the myth of the unicorn.
While Scimitar calves are born with yellow coats and no markings, adults sport white coats with reddish-brown chest and back markings. Black markings can also be present around their foreheads and noses.
Interestingly, the Scimitar Horned Oryx was once considered extinct in the wild. However, extensive repopulation efforts have been successful. In 2016, the species was re-released into the wild, where it still flourishes.
Identifying Arabian Oryx
The Arabian Oryx—preserved from extinction through remarkable conservation efforts—is native to the Middle East, including the Sinai Peninsula, Palestine, Transjordan, much of Iraq, and most of the Arabian Peninsula.
Many call the Arabian Oryx the most beautiful of all antelope, and for a good reason. They sport striking white coats with patches of gray or black on their snouts and around their eyes. The fur on their legs tapers from white to dark brown, gray or black as it approaches the hooves. Their ears are pointed and large, and their beautiful horns are long, straight and pointed at the ends. These impressive horns can reach up to 150 inches (~13 feet) long.
Not to be confused with the small weasel-like creature of the same name, Sable Antelopes resemble horses with their standing manes. Sables hail from the grassy savannas and woodlands of Southern Africa and are noted grazers that prefer neither barren landscapes nor heavily forested areas.
Sables are usually born brown but turn rust-colored as adults, and their fur tends to darken again as they age. Adult males can even turn black, while females tend to remain dark brown. Their underbellies may be white or tan-brown, and their faces usually have white markings. Like many other species of antelope, male and female Sables have pointed ears and striking horns, which are sickle-shaped and can be more than three feet long on males.
Hunt Antelope at Stone Creek Ranch
The exotic nature of antelopes of all types makes them great additions to every hunting trophy collection. As you can see, the antelope family's many subspecies stand unique from one another. As a result, harvesting one will likely make you want more.
You can find many fantastic antelope specimens here at Stone Creek Ranch. Our sprawling property in the heart of the Texas Hill Country offers a near-perfect habitat for antelope of all kinds. Plus, with varying terrain throughout the property, you’re definitely in for an adventure when you join us for a hunt. So, what are you waiting for? Book your hunt today.