Hunting the Gray Ghost in South Africa
August 17, 2012 —
Having hunted in South Afrika in 2009 for the first time when I was 16 years old at the Fourie Ranch in the Afrikaner Free State, I dreamed of one day returning and hunting the magnificent Eastern Cape Kudu, which are as large as an American Bull Elk, yet with their stately black spiraling horns that had seemed to touch the sky, with their gray and slightly whitish stripped bodies, so they were perfectly camouflaged in the gray African Bush and dusty terrain!
High school came and went and I left home to start college at Saint Bonaventure, in cold, snowy Western New York. I still dreamed of those Kudu I had seen in the Bush, or standing on
a rock cut from a hill, who would show themselves, but only for a moment, and then vanish back into the bush as a Gray Ghost.
The college semesters also came and went, and I returned home to a snow covered Wurtsboro, NY, last December, to enjoy the warmth of our family’s traditional Christmas celebration. On December 25th, when the living room was littered with wrapping paper and opened boxes, our tree, green and decorated, by the fireside, I noticed a lone red sealed envelope placed carefully on Santa’s red slay decoration near the top of our 9 foot balsam fir tree.
The envelope was addressed to Ms. Erika from the Gray Ghost. I instantly thought of my Kudus and hoped for a great photo. My hope for a photo was dashed–since only a Christmas card from
the Fourie Family was inside. But, inside the card was a gift for a Kudu! A scream of joy broke the calm of our Christmas morning as, I shouted out “I’m going to hunt the Gray Ghost!” My frugal father said, “Yes, only in your dreams!”-- Not this time – the Christmas gift from the Fourie Family of South Afrika was real and I would be returning to Amanzi again to hunt the Ghost I had left behind three years earlier.
The following July we left JFK for hour 16 hour flight on South African Airlines to Johannesburg. Arriving in perfect Fall weather, my father and I, after securing our rifles from
Customs at the airport, rented a car and headed out to the Amanzi Safari -- a half day’s drive, 500 kilometers away. Guided by our GPS we easily made it to the small town of Brandfort, but quickly got lost when the pavement ran out and we were on red clay roads with no names on the plains and no GPS signs.