Another small excerpt from the book I am finishing. Most of the story does not involve hunting, but after working on this for two years now it's nice to be able to get a bit of feedback! Thanks for reading. KUDU - EASTERN CAPE We have killed several animals, and although all have been significant, we have been thwarted in our search for a particular kudu. We are on a high plateau when Greg finally spots him grazing by a creek in a distant valley. We are very far away, and I can hardly make him out through the spotting scope. Once I do, I see that he is magnificent. “There’s a lot of country between here and there,” Greg tells me, “There’s deep brush behind him, and if he senses we are coming he’ll know how to use it. My guess is that he spooks by the time we get there, but he’s our kudu. I say we have a look.” “Let’s go,” I tell Greg. According to some African legends, the animals have two kings, the python and the kudu. The python represents wisdom, while the kudu embodies skill. Over the past few days, Greg has told my Dad and I that a kudu uses his skill to frustrate and confound his human adversaries, and that they are known as Africa’s grey ghost due to their elusiveness and ability to disappear without a trace. His warning that we will probably lose this kudu before we get into shooting position is based on years of his hard-earned experience. It takes us a few hours, but after slowly and quietly navigating a series of descending steps of rocks and thorny brush, we arrive at a position parallel with the kudu. The huge antelope is now just 100 yards away, and from our vantage point we have a clear view of the large bull. His body is the color of rusted iron – delicate yet taunt - and broken only by a half-dozen or so vertical white stripes. A shag of hair hangs from his throat and what looks like almost a juvenile lion’s mane rolls off the apex of his back. Striking mahogany horns erupt from his huge ears and spiral gracefully past his shoulders. At the end of the curls, tips reflect the sun like small flames flickering in a dimly-lit room. He is the most elegant, regal animal I have ever seen in my life. “He’s a good shooter,” Greg whispers. “I’d say 500 pounds at least. Maybe forty-five to fifty-inches. Tips worn clean. He’s an old male, exactly we are after. Settle and take the shot.” The kudu is facing directly towards me and is oblivious to my presence. I center the crosshairs of my rifle’s scope on the tuft of hair that grows over his heart. We have searched for him so long, how can we have gotten so close? Still, although I have what seems to be an easy shot, I estimate that even if I my aim is perfect, he is so big and powerful that he will be able to run several hundred yards before death will take him. I take a full breath, exhale a bit, and squeeze the trigger. The hammer drops, striking the primer, igniting the gunpowder, and the bullet is set free of its casing. As soon as I hear the crack of the shot, I also hear the telltale "thud" of a clean hit. The kudu disappears from the field of vision in my scope, and I am sure that he has run. When I lower my rifle though, I see that the huge beast has simply collapsed in a heap where he stood. There will be no tracking of this animal, and I am left shocked by the speed of his death. “Perfect, perfect!” Greg shouts. We set out to cover the final distance to the animal behind an excited Podgy. When we reach the kudu, we find that the bullet made a textbook strike right into the heart of the huge, old ram and seems to have passed through and shattered his spine. He died instantly without pain or struggle, and I can’t help but find something beautiful about the precision and focused energy of this kudu’s death. I feel his body and his horns, and my eyes well up with both gratitude for his life and my own sadness for taking it. I know that if I return home and tell this story, most people will never understand. Instead, there will be hatred of what I have done – even horror – but how many times have those who will so easily judge me eaten the flesh of an animal without owning the death that makes such a meal possible? I say a quiet prayer over his body, I know that at this moment I appreciate him more than anyone ever has and ever will again.