Hunting Nile Crocodile

Nile Crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) are opportunistic apex predators; a very aggressive species of Crocodile, they are capable of taking almost any animal within their range. These prolific dinosaurs are a treat to hunt, seeing that you must literally outsmart them. They grow to over 18ft and can disappear under water in an instance.

Crocodiles have receptors under their head and body, feeling the vibrations of animals or hunters approaching them. You usually wait for them during the mid-day to come out and bake in the sun. A very slow walk-and-stalk or waiting for them in a specific location is the way to hunt them. You never shoot a Crocodile in the water, as they will not float like a Hippo. A kill shot on the bank is necessary for them. Coming up close to a predator that have survived for millions of years will always be a special moment.

Our Caprivi concession is loaded with large Crocodiles and we often hunt them together with Hippos. Talk about an adventure!

Natural History
One of Africa’s most unusual trophies. Known locally as Ngwena, “crocs,” “flat dogs,” or simply ” flatties.” Shy, wary, and cautious, egg-laying reptiles; cold-blooded. Nocturnal feeders; spend hours of darkness in water. Diet primarily fish. Bask in sun to “re-energize.” Long-living, slow-growing creatures. Trophy-sized specimens will be 75 to 100 years old. Bull crocodiles are territorial. Patrol territories regularly. Extremely difficult to approach on foot to within a reasonable shooting distance.

Sex Determination
With young crocodiles, virtually impossible; easier with trophy-sized crocs. Big bull crocodile will have a large, noticeably broad head and wide, well-rounded, V-shaped muzzle. Entire head will have a knobby appearance, gums receded, teeth distinctly visible. Neck thick, broad, and muscular, with well’ developed, fleshy jowls to the sides. Eyes relatively far apart. Female’s head more slender, muzzle parallel sided. Females rarely longer than 12 feet.

Trophy Assessment
Difficult to estimate body length accurately. A really big croc will just look “big”; back and neck extremely wide; large and round belly; fleshy, well-developed jowls, Estimate straight-line length, in inches, from nostrils to eyes; this length in inches approximately equal to total body length in feet. Regardless of sex, 12 feet= good trophy, >13 feet = really good, >14 feet = exceptional, >15 feel = phenomenal. SCI method (16C): Length of body along line of body. Roland Ward method (18): length of body peg to peg.

The Hunt
Extremely challenging to hunt; see, hear, and smell extremely well; also able to detect ground vibrations and have “feathered watchdogs.” Absolutely precise first-shot placement essential to “anchor” a big croc successfully. Ambush known basking site. Baiting the most successful hunting method. Secure bait at water’s edge. Use any form of meat as bait. Replenish daily until territorial bull has eaten his fill and lies next to bait to guard it. Build blind downwind. Shooting distance: longest range at which a golf-ball-sized target can be hit with the chosen rifle/calibre/scope combination (50-80 paces). Stable shooting rest essential (sandbags). Measure blind/bait distance carefully. Sight rifle in at this distance.

Rifle, Calibre, and Bullet Selection
Trophy-sized croc requires surgically precise first shot placement. Selection must be capable of this. The .338s or .35s and 250-grain premium-quality soft point bullets a sensible minimum. Larger calibres, 9.3mms and .375 H&H, a better choice if sufficiently accurate. Quality expanding bullets essential. Scope also essential: 1.5-5X variable a good choice.

Shot Placement
“Anchoring” first shot requires knowledge of skull and neck. Brain golf-ball sized and lies midway between eyes and ear ridges, two inches below eye level.

  • Side-on brain shot: Depending on angle, place shot just above the bend in the “L” of the smile.
  • Side-on neck/spinal shot: Place shot at end of smile or in middle of neck along its length, compensate for downward shooting angle when the croc is below eye level.
  • Full frontal shot: Place bullet on midline, slightly behind eyes.
  • Full going-away shot: Place shot behind head, on midline.
  • Backup shots: Place through shoulders and hips.

Shot placement on any of the dangerous game in Africa is vital. Below are some images from a very well-known author, Kevin Robertson’s Book – Perfect Shot Placement for African Big Game. If you would like to buy a copy of this book, which we would recommend, you can get it on Amazon, by clicking here