Hunting the Gray Ghost in South Africa
Jopie said, let’s follow him, and we did, up and down the hill, across the valley. My father, back in the truck, radioed that he had seen with his binoculars a big Kudu crossing the valley heading to a small wooded hill and that we were right behind it. We never saw him again that morning and returned back to the truck for lunch and to make our plan for the afternoon.
The Fall afternoon was hot and sunny not a cloud in the sky. We drove for miles scanning the valley and now the cooler shaded portions of the hills for our Kudu. Jopie wanted to check out a “hotspot” for the evening hunt, so we loaded the truck again and slowly headed for the Eastside of the ranch where the hills were steeper and the brush more dense. For the first time I began to have doubts; what if we don’t find him, what if I’m not quick enough on my shot?
The silence of my fears was broken by a whisper, “there he is”. We looked and we strained, but at first I could see nothing, except trees and leaves, thorns and brush. Jopie said, just look behind the large silver colored bush on the right, you’ll see an ear flickering. Through my binoculars I
saw the ear, and that’s all I saw. We quickly and quietly dismounted the truck and tried to close the distance of approximately 150 meters across a small open field to the bush with that flickering ear. As we proceeded less than ten meters into the field, we stopped suddenly as an ivory tip of a Kudu horn could be seen shining in the sunlight above the bush.
Instantly Jopie set up the hunting sticks as I chambered a round and seated the rifle at the apex of the crossed sticks.
Jopie had made the height perfect for me and I now trained my 6X Zeiss scope on that big bush with the flickering ear and the shining point. We stood frozen still and we waited. The seconds seemed like minutes, the minutes like hours, as we waited for the Kudu to make a move and give me a target. Every few minutes, Jope whispered, close your eyes, rest them. I did so and I was able to maintain focus.
By my father’s stop watch, back in the truck, twelve minutes had expired before the bush moved ever so slightly as it seemed that the bull was going to to turn around and return to denser brush behind it and not move forward through a narrow gap in the bushes. I could see the muscles on the neck strain as he turned his large head backwards. This was a big bull and I was not going to risk a neck shot at dusk through the bush. I closed and rested my eyes again as Jopie confidently whispered, HE WILL STEP OUT!