The admiration a large kudu bull kindles in a hunter will prevail as long as kudu exist. Market demand for yet bigger kudu bulls has led to the intensive breeding of some truly breath-taking specimens. Kudu hunts make the most amazing stories and for some hunters it remains the ultimate plains game hunt. However in most stories, success follows only after numerous experiences where the big bull with his thick bluish neck and crowning spiral horns disappears like a grey ghost, merely providing a fleeting glimpse but leaving a lasting impression.
These elusive beasts have proved a tough challenge for many a hunter. Their iconic image has been coloured in by writer hunters like Ruark, and more recently Peter Flack, and will continue to infatuate. My first ingrained impression also involved the one that got away; such experiences haunt us but at the same time keep us coming back for more, forever in the hope of finally taking the big one.
My admiration for kudu started long before I even began thinking about girls. I thought about deep curls and long horns and how it must feel to take a record-book bull. From an early age I tried to hunt one of these elusive antelope but to no avail, and eventually I made peace with the fact that one day when I don’t plan it, I will get the chance. Until then I would have to be content hunting other game.
When the opportunity to go kudu hunting finally arose, I was mildly ecstatic but knew the harsh truth about hunting kudu bulls and the familiar taste of disappointment. I was always amazed when I heard or read about someone who took a good bull as if buying a loaf of bread at a store. Where were these guys hunting? Were these bulls locked up in a camp or was the hunter just lucky? This was certainly not the kudu hunting experience I knew. However, I firmly believe that experiences such as mine lead to greater admiration and appreciation of the animals and the hunt.
Almost nothing went as planned on the hunt and to this day, I struggle to believe that I actually managed to shoot my first kudu bull. We succeeded through luck alone and I am grateful it worked out. This story is not about the perfect shot or about the 60-inch super bull that fell, it’s about how ‘grey ghost fever’ almost got the better of us. I am slightly embarrassed by the whole ordeal but now I can smile humbly about it.
Read the full article in the July issue of Magnum.