The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maturity?

The grey ghost comes into the light

In my opinion the kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) is the greatest of Africa's "plains game" trophies, and after reading Ernest Hemingway's "Green Hills of Africa" and Robert Ruark's "The Horn of the Hunter" the desire to hunt kudu took me to Africa on my first safari in 2005.

I got a beautiful Southern Cape Kudu during that safari, and I vividly remember each moment of that trip, especially when my kudu materialized from the bush into the lens of my scope.

Last year I had the opportunity to once again hunt in Africa, even if it was for a very brief  weekend. My friend Fanie Venter made arrangements to have me invited to hunt at Falmouth, a private bow hunting preserve in the Limpopo. The goal was to hunt an impala or warthog, and I already told you that story before (see "The Best Blind I Ever Hunted From").

While hunting at Falmouth I saw a great amount and variety of game, which just served to remind me why Africa is the most desired hunting destination in the world, and early in the afternoon I noticed that a large shadow fluctuated inside a mopane bush, a short distance from the property's only water hole.

I focused at that shadow and tried to be even quieter than I had been before, and then, suddenly, the shadow came out in the clear and became a marvelous kudu bull. What a magnificent site!

The kudu is a very shy animal, and he stood still a long time, not trusting the apparent peace of the water hole. After what could have been an eternity he started to approach, danced around and before he started drinking he lowered and raised his head three times, always ready to bolt away in case of any danger.

When he finally relaxed, if kudus ever do that, and started drinking the tepid water he presented a perfect broadside shot, and I had a knocked arrow at a range of eighteen yards!

I just had to draw my bow and release the arrow. But I did not do that.

Although fully grow in body size, this kudu was not yet a mature trophy. Its horns did not have that last curve that make them "point forward", and the ivory tip was just beginning to show in one side.

I admired that wonderful animal for a long time and never even raised my bow. I had no desire to just kill such a gorgeous animal before he could become an unforgettable trophy that would forever live in the hunter's memory.

Yes, I will hunt kudu again. I will pursue them with all my energy and soul, but I have no intention of pulling the trigger unless I have earned that right. Have I matured as a hunter?

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