The impala or rooibok (red buck) as it is known in Afrikaans, is the most common antelope species in sub-Saharan Africa, and it is typically included in the itinerary of every hunter's trip. There are three subspecies too, namely the Black Faced Impala, the Southern Impala and the East African Impala.
Impala rams weigh around 140 pounds and have beautiful, large, rimmed, lyre-shaped horns. Ewes are slightly smaller, weighing in at around 100 pounds and they don't carry horns. They use their teeth to remove bugs and dead skin from their reddish golden-brown hides, resulting in a shiny, sleek appearance. Male and female impalas have a black patch on the lower hind leg, which is the spot where their scent glands are located.
The impala is a graceful and beautiful antelope of medium size and can be found in the bushveld, mopane scrub, or in open woodlands. It is a mixed feeder, which means that it is both a grazer and browser that generally remains near permanent water sources.
Impala herds, similar to that of other antelope species, consist of ewes and their young, led by one mature ram as the dominant male. Other rams remain in bachelor herds. A good ram will have horns with thick bases that extend upwards and outwards some way before curling backwards and upwards. The tips should flare outwards and be shiny with age.
Hunters tend to use the impala as camp meat, leopard bait and to practice the art of hunting. However, the impala is the perfect first hunt for the newly initiated African hunter. It offers delicious meat and a beautiful trophy.
The Impala is the most common antelope species in sub-Saharan Africa
|Scientific Name:||Aepyceros melampus|
|Gestation Period:||183 - 213 days|
|Male Weight:||40 - 75 kg|
|Female Weight:||30 - 50 kg|
|Height:||70 - 92 cm|
|Horn Length:||45 - 92 cm|
The best rams are typically found during the autumn rut when they congregate with the breeding herds. They are more active in the morning or late afternoon, especially in the feeding areas.
The impala has a fantastic eyesight, smell and hearing, which means that the stalk needs to be calculated and cautious. When the animals are alarmed, they tend to herd together tightly, which can make it difficult not to wound more than one animal with a single shot.
The minimum legal requirement is a .22 centerfire, but anything from a 6mm or 7mm and up to a 30 caliber would be a much better choice for putting an impala down in one shot. While it is slender, it is incredibly strong for its size. Opt for high quality round-nose bullets that are heavy-for-caliber when you hunt impala in the bushveld.
Only professional experienced hunters or cullers should attempt headshots, and not by meat hunters.
The high heart / lung shot is ideal if you want to spoil as little of the meat as possible. Aim directly up the foreleg, just a couple of inches below the horizontal mid-line, and just slightly to the rear.
A neck shot can be placed at any point along the length of the neck.