Africa has always been a place that I truly hold dear. There is just something mystical about the entire hunting experience there that is very hard for me to describe in words. To me, Africa is a place that one must experience to understand what it truly has to offer.
On the trip that I killed my first kudu, we planned a 41-day safari in two countries, South Africa and Tanzania. We had been in South Africa for ten days when we jumped on a charter flight and traveled a huge concession. Rayno Egner would be my professional hunter on this hunt and I was beyond excited to get started. The concession we would be hunting was called Pidwa. This location was thick with brush and dry sand riverbeds mixed with rolling terrain. Prior to this hunt, I had taken several species, but the kudu had eluded me, and I was anxious to get after them. On the first day, we had seen quite a few kudus as well as countless other species, but nothing mature enough to consider. For the most part, our second day went like the first. However, day three would change into good luck albeit it would be almost dark when it did.
Day three started like all of the other days in Africa, up early, breakfast, and start driving and looking. We hunted through the morning seeing several cow kudu with calves but no luck on finding a bull. We stopped under a huge tree for lunch and just as we finished we saw a kudu in the distance and he looked good with the naked eye. Binoculars confirmed that this was one that we needed to go after so we set out on foot from there. The kudu was slowly moving down a small hill into a draw where Rayno knew that there was a waterhole in the trees. We surmised that certainly this bull was going to water and we would meet him there. Getting the wind right, we circled around and started our very slow and quiet maneuver to this water hole. From down in the draw, our visibility was limited to 100 yards but the hills on either side were clear. If the kudu should start back up either side we would see him and be well within range for a shot. As we approached 150 yards from the water our already slow pace slowed to barely moving. We would take a few steps, glass, grab some sand to check the wind, and move forward a little more. We did this until we were within fifty yards of the waterhole and didn’t see the kudu. Upon reaching the waterhole our trackers walked circles around it getting wider with each circle until they were a hundred yards from the water and found nothing. Undoubtedly, our assumption that the kudu was heading for water was very wrong. By now, it was getting to be later in the evening, so we called it a day and started toward the truck. After driving toward camp for about a half hour, we saw something standing in the road ahead of us about 350 yards away. It was standing under some tall trees making him even in less light and light was fading quickly. Rayno said that he was 99% sure it was a kudu bull and he was almost positive that it was a giant. The wind was in our favor so we started up the road in hopes of having a better look. I knew that the light under those trees was going to be hard for me to get a shot with my scoped rifle so I took my double rifle with iron sight. When we walked up to the track that had crossed the road in an angle away from us the tracker said that it was a kudu. Rather than follow the tracks into the bush, Rayno thought we should continue down the road in hopes of being able to spot him standing under the tall trees that precluded the underbrush from growing. We had only walked about thirty yards past the tracks when one of the trackers stopped and slowly raised his finger to the right. Since the tracker didn’t raise his arm to point but merely rotated his hand leaving it at his side, I knew he saw something and that something was very close. I looked through the maze of trees and saw a brown animal with white stripes but I couldn’t see his head. Rayno was three feet in front of me and from that vantage point he could see him and his head. Rayno slowly turned to me and said,” Dan can you see that kudu?” I said that I could. If I live to be 199 years old I will never forget the next thing Rayno said. “Dan, that is the biggest kudu I have ever seen, raise your rifle and take him.” I still couldn’t see his head but I had a clear shot at his vitals at a distance of sixty-five yards. I lined up the double rifle’s sights on the kudu’s shoulder, moved back about five inches, and pulled the front trigger. I immediately knew the bullet was where I wanted it because it literally picked the bull up and shoved him over five feet or so and slammed him onto his side. That was the very last movement that bull ever made. As I walked up to this kudu I could tell he was both beautiful and magnificent but what really made me realize it was Rayno’s excitement. Arguably, the most gorgeous animal I have ever seen from nose to tail. Long spiraling horns going up and back mixed with a color pattern that could only be made by God. As it turned out, my bull was 59.75” on his right horn and 60” on his left. I had taken a giant and I couldn’t have been any happier. Africa is one of those places that literally stays with you when you leave. One can’t simply go to Africa and be done; if you go once you will return. Africa addicts you to its wildness and it beauty captivates your heart.