Exotics: Eland Cartridges

By Chuck Hawks

.338 Win. Mag.
.338 Win. Mag. Illustration courtesy of Hornady Mfg. Co.

The Eland is the largest of the African antelope, a huge animal about the size of an Alaskan moose. Like most antelope, in their native habitat eland are herd animals. They are quite agile for their size, capable of impressive leaps. Eland bulls can average approximately 68" tall at the shoulder and 1400 pounds in weight.

Both male and female eland bear horns, the bulls' horns being thicker and shorter, the cows' being longer and thinner. Horns can be up to 44" long.

Eland
Eland, photo ourtesy of South African Tourism.

Eland are distributed across southern Africa and have been imported into the U.S. by game ranches, particularly in Texas, where they are classified as exotics. Eland are one of the most desirable and expensive of the exotics. An Eland hunt on a private ranch with acreage measured in the thousands is an adventure that can rival the base price of a South African safari. However, the hassle, expense, tedium and jet lag of a long international flight is avoided, U.S. dollars are legal tender in Texas, the cuisine and accommodations are American and you can drink the water.

These impressive animals have a lot of vitality and deserve to be hunted with serious cartridges and loads. Medium bore calibers are favored by many experienced African outfitters, although the all-around calibers are also suitable.

Bullets with a sectional density (SD) of at least .270 in the small bore calibers, .250 in the medium bore calibers and .235 in the big bore calibers should be selected. Examples of such bullets would be 180 grain in .30 caliber, 225 grain in .35 caliber and 350 grain in .45 caliber. Muzzle energy should be no less than 1500 ft. lbs. at impact.

Naturally, the cartridge recommendations below assume the use of a bullet intended for large game. Examples of suitable bullets include the Barnes TSX, Hornady InterLock, Nosler Partition, Remington Core-Lokt, Swift A-Frame and Winchester XP3.

Assuming the use of bullets of sufficient SD and construction and that the hunter shoots only within the effective range of the cartridge and load selected, the following are examples of suitable exotic eland calibers:

7mm Magnum, .308 Winchester, .30-06 Springfield, .300 Magnum, .303 British, 8x57JS, 8x68S, 8mm Rem. Magnum, .338 Federal, .338-06, .338 Magnum, .358 Winchester, .35 Whelen, .350 Rem. Magnum, .358 Norma Magnum, 9.3x74R, 9.3x62, 9.3x64, .375 Magnum, .405 Winchester and .450 Marlin.

More important than caliber and load is proper shot placement, which usually means a solid hit in the animal's heart/lung area. No cartridge is powerful enough to guarantee anchoring an eland with peripheral, non-vital hits. Use enough gun, but use only as much gun as you can handle. Experience has shown that a solid lung shot with a .303 will quickly prove fatal to even the largest bull eland, while a hit in the ham with a .375 Magnum will not.




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