Here at Squaw Mountain Ranch we are pleased to offer more than 30 species of native and exotic big game. Our ranch, nestled in the oak canyons of picturesque Jacksboro, Texas is home to a variety of popular species such as red stag, elk, and whitetail deer. We are also proud to be one of the ranches offering trophy Gemsbok hunts in Texas.
The Gemsbok, also called Gemsbuck or South African Oryx, is a large antelope native to the Kalahari Desert and the more arid portions of Southern Africa. The name “gemsbok” comes from the Afrikaans word for Chamois, a very small breed of goat-antelope that bears some resemblance to the much larger Gemsbok. An estimated 373,000 Gemsboks roam the plains of Africa. The Gemsbok is an important symbol for the people of Namibia. Being a popular trophy hunt, hunters traveling to the country for a chance to hunt this beautiful creature contribute significantly to the country’s economy. In Namibia, the Gemsbok is also a symbol of elegance, courage, and pride and is prominently featured in the country’s coat of arms and on their currency as well.
The Gemsbok was first introduced into the United States in 1969 when the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish released a small herd into the Tularosa Basin. Only 93 Gemsbok were released into the basin, and without any natural predators, the herd now numbers somewhere around 3,000 individuals. The species has now been introduced to a number of other states, making trophy gemsbok hunts in Texas a popular pass time.
The Gemsbok has some unique markings on their face and body that makes them easy to spot and identify. Similar to the European Chamois, Gemsboks have a white face with a black stripe running from the eye down the sides of the face to the chin. There is another stripe that runs down the center of the face and across the forehead, forming a butterfly-shaped white patch. They have a black stripe that runs down the neck and wraps from the chest, around the sides of the body. This stripe continues roughly halfway down the back legs and up the haunches, meeting at the rump in a long black tail and dorsal stripe. They have tall, white ‘sock’ markings on all 4 legs.
In some cases, a Gemsbok’s black markings are lighter in color, almost a golden brown. This is a rare mutation called “Golden Oryx”. Both male and female Gemsbok are brownish-grey to light tan in coloration with short, coarse hair. As they do not grow a thick winter coat, regardless of the time of year, you are sure to bring home an excellent hide from your trophy Gemsbok hunt in Texas.
The Gemsbok is the largest species in the Oryx genus, standing between 3 and 4 feet tall. They have a thick muscular neck and wide body. As with most other species, the males tend to be larger than the females and usually weigh between 400 and 530 lbs. Females are roughly half the size, weighing between 220 and 460 lbs. While both the males and females of the species are horned, it is the female’s horns that tend to be longer, typically measuring around 33 inches. The longest Gemsbok horns on record were from a female whose horns measured an impressive 50 inches. The females use their long, thin horns to protect their young. Males, however, almost exclusively use their horns for displays of dominance so their horns tend to be shorter and thicker to withstand headbutting.
The Gemsbok’s natural habitat consists of grasslands and savannas. They are well suited to life in both flat and hilly terrain. The grounds here at Squaw Mountain Ranch are a combination of oak canyons, prairie, and grasslands, making our ranch prime grazing land for our Gemsbok herd.
The Gemsbok also adapts quite well to life in extreme conditions. They are able to raise their core temperature to as high as 113°F, aA H body temp that would kill any other mammal. They also have evolved a highly specialized circulatory system through their broad neck that ensures blood pumped from the heart has time to cool down to a safer temperature before it reaches the brain to ensure it does not overheat.
Being native to the savannas of Southern Africa, the Gemsbok manages well in conditions that are extremely hot and dry, with very little vegetation. They typically eat coarse grasses and thorny shrubs, grazing mostly in the early morning and evening to optimize the moisture content of their food. Gemsboks get the majority of their water from the foods that they eat, sometimes digging down as deep as 3 feet to eat moisture-rich roots and tubers when conditions are especially dry.
The Gemsbok does not have a definitive mating season, though the estrous cycles of the females in any given herd do tend to synchronize. They live in relatively small herds, usually 10 – 50 individuals. Most herds form when a male asserts his dominance over a mixed or nursery herd, chasing out any rival dominant males. Males and females reach sexual maturity at approximately 18 – 24 months. Females will usually carry 1-2 young per pregnancy with gestation lasting around 270 days. Pregnant females will leave the herd to give birth. They remain hidden for 6 weeks before rejoining the herd.
There are no seasonal restrictions on trophy Gemsbok hunts in Texas.
Gemsboks tend to congregate around bodies of water and prefer wide, open space. In Africa this allows them to keep a close eye on any approaching predators. They also have excellent eyesight and spook easily, so with a top speed of around 60 miles per hour, they can herd up and disappear quickly if they sense danger. While hunters are able to choose from a variety of takedown methods, we recommend using a combination of safari-style hunting from a high rack vehicle and spot and stalk. These animals are definitely one of our more challenging hunts and hunters will need to bring their A-game if they hope to bring down a trophy on their Gemsbok hunt in Texas.
It is also important to be familiar with gemsbok anatomy to ensure you get proper shot placement. The large shoulder hump on their back can make finding a good placement on a Gemsbok difficult. The half-body height rule used for a number of other big game runs the risk of placing the shot somewhere between the lungs and the spine. For better placement, aim for a third of their body width up the shoulder crease and slightly forward. This placement has a higher chance of a clean takedown.