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What is Big Game Hunting

Updated: Feb 20, 2021

Big game hunting is a catch all phrase that hunters use when referring to hunting large mammals. This article will help you understand some of the main types of big game animals hunters can find in the different continents with a little more detail on the North American species than others.

Big game hunting options in North America

When looking at the big game hunting options in North America we can refer to a list commonly referred to at the North American 29. This list of 29 species is broken down into 10 separate categories often referred to as the Super 10. If you become a goal oriented hunter you may at some point look towards harvesting either one species out of each of the 10 categories which you would then get your Super 10 award from Grand Slam Club Ovis, or you may choose to go all the way and harvest all 29 species and earn your North American 29 or Super Slam award from Grand Slam Club Ovis.

Big game hunting categories in NA

The 10 big game hunting categories are broken down like this:

  1. Deer

  2. Elk

  3. Antelope

  4. North American Wild Sheep

  5. Caribou

  6. Mountain Goat

  7. Bears

  8. Mountain Lions

  9. Moose

  10. Bison/Musk Ox

When we look closer we will find that a few of these categories only include one species, these are antelope, mountain lion, and mountain goat. Meanwhile if you harvest either a Bison or a Musk Ox you will have completed the requirement for this category.

All the other categories have multiple options that will qualify and count towards your completion of that category.

Deer are broken down into 5 options: Mule Deer, Whitetail Deer, Coues Deer, Sitka Blacktail deer, and Columbia Black tail deer.

The Elk are broken down into 3 options: Rocky Mountain Elk, Roosevelt Elk, and Tule Elk, which are only located in a few specific locations in California.

Caribou are broken down into 5 options: Mountain Caribou, Woodland Caribou, Quebec Labrador Caribou, Barren Ground Caribou, and Central Canadian Barren Ground Caribou

Moose have 3 options: Alaska Yukon Moose, Canadian Moose, and Shiras Moose which are primarily located in the lower 48 and in the western United States

Bears have 4 different options: Alaska Brown Bear, Grizzly Bear, Polar Bear, and the most common the Black Bear

There are 5 options for North American Wild Sheep to consider: Desert Bighorn, Rocky Mountain Bighorn, California Bighorn, Stone/Fannin Sheep, or the most common and affordable option the Dall Sheep located in Alaska, The Yukon and NorthWest Territories, and northern British Columbia. The Sheep category is often the hardest category for most hunts as it takes either a lot of money to accomplish this goal or a lot of luck in the different draw processes across the western United States.

Big game hunting outside of North America

When looking outside of North America big game hunting is more commonly reserved for the dangerous game hunting while the smaller and more common species like Kudu, impala, warthog, and sable are usually referred to as Plains Game. Another term used when speaking of Africa Big Game hunting is the Big 5 or the Dangerous 7.

The Big 5 is broken down by these five species: Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard.

The Dangerous 7 species: Cape Buffalo, Elephant, Lion, Rhino, Leopard, Croc, and Hippo to the list.

When we speak of Big Game hunting in South America the number one species often pursued is the Red Stag or Red Deer that was introduced to Argentina, primarily the La Pampa and San Luis provinces, and the Andes Mountains in northern Patagonia in the late 1800’s. Other notable species many hunters pursue in these areas of the world are the South American Water Buffalo, Black Buck antelope, and many different small sheep and goat species that have gone feral throughout the region.

Big game hunting in Europe and Asia

Europe and Asia have an overlap of many different species, some of this the result of the species spreading out across the entire range, while others were introduced throughout history. There are a vast amount of species found on these continents and it would take some serious time to list them all, but it is suffice to say there are a number of different deer species including Red Deer, Roe Deer, Fallow Deer, and Maral stags and many other, there are also many different species of goat or Capra species including different types of Chamois, Ibex, Tahr, as well as smaller species including Mouflon, Aoudad, Blue Sheep, Urail, Markhor, and many more.

There are European Moose, and Bison as well as in the far eastern portions of Russia you will find Moose, and Bears that look very similar to their closely related Alaskan cousins.

Big game hunting in Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand are often lumped together when considering a Big Game hunt in the South Pacific and offer many types of experiences from the Deserts of western Australia, to the more intense heat and jungles of the northern province and all the way to the tops of the mountain in New Zealand where you will be often in the snow, and above timberline. There are a number of Big Game opportunities to consider when hunting this area of the world.

The deer you can find are:

  • Red Deer,

  • Sambar Deer,

  • Rusa Stag,

  • Hog Deer,

  • Chital,

  • Fallow Deer,

  • Sika, and more

There are Southwest Asian Water Buffalo, Feral or Bush Ox, and Banteng. You can find Chamois and Himalayan Tahr on the tops of the mountain in New Zealand as well as lots of different feral sheep and goats throughout the region. The unique thing about this part of the world is no matter which style of hunting or terrain you prefer, this South Pacific very likely has an experience that will fit the bill.

What is the point of big game hunting?

The point of big game hunting is the hunting of large animals for meat, trophies, valuable by-products to sell or recreation. When on a strategic hunt, most professional and legal hunters help by conserving and balancing the ecosystems. Simultaneously, they discourage illegal hunters from hunting or capturing large wild animals for pure profit.

So in conclusion when asked “What is Big Game Hunting” this is truly a pandora’s box with many different answers and variations depending on which part of the world you are referring too, but all of them are exciting and unique in their own way. If you are looking for more specific information about one species or the other, or maybe looking for a type of hunting and which species you can expect to hunt within that style let us know how we can help and please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions.

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