Kudu in the Brush

In May of 2001, my wife and I went on our first African hunt to northwest Namibia with Okatjove Trails outfitters. We planned on hunting jackal and other varmints, but primarily plains game. My most desired plains game was a greater kudu, and I looked forward with great anticipation to the chance to take one of those magnificent animals.

Kudu are known to hang out in very rough country, and that was the case on this hunt. On our second day hunting kudu, we finally spotted a magnificent bull high up on a ridge in this ultra-rugged country. He was 550 yards away with a lousy crosswind, so we (Ebi—the PH, Timo—the tracker), and I went off the backside of the mountain and back up the other side. It was very rough climbing and we had to go down and start back up many times before we got into position. Unfortunately, I still didn’t have a reasonable shot. We then decided to get off that mountain, go across the valley, and up the backside of the mountain, the kudu was on. It was incredibly rough rock and shale climbing to the top, with several false starts yet again. We finally got to the top and VERY cautiously crept over.

Just before we went over the top Ebi whispered to put a round in my chamber and to stay right with Timo as we went over, and to shoot the first bull I saw, because the good one was the only one on the small crest of the mountain. To say I was nervous would be a gross understatement. I wanted that kudu so bad I could taste it, and my heart was pounding like a trip hammer.

As we crept higher and higher over the top, we saw no sign of the bull. Talk about disappointment! We all quietly looked around on the small crest, and Ebi said we would find a way down the front of the mountain where the bull must have gone. It was so steep I took the round out of my rifle’s chamber and handed the rifle to Timo. I wasn't so worried about going up the mountain, but going down, I was afraid I might fall, so it would be better for the sure-footed Timo to carry it down.

Just as Timo and I were starting down, Ebi took one last look from a big rock slab jutting out over the ledge. He was about 25 feet away, and he immediately began whispering and gesturing frantically at me. I knew he must kuduhave seen the kudu, so I turned to Timo and gestured for him to throw me the rifle. He immediately did, and as I ran up onto the slab beside Ebi, I rammed a round into the chamber. I saw the kudu running hard across the short valley below, and crashing down hard on the rock I realized I had only a few seconds before the kudu got into cover where we would lose him for good. As the rifle came up, I decided my only chance was a running shot. I can still see the crosshairs sweep across his body and past his head as I let the shot go. Luckily, the shot went true, and he rolled hard, right into the edge of the cover where he would have disappeared forever. We later lasered the shot backwards to the slab and found it to be a little over 150 yards. Just to be certain, I put another round into his shoulder, at which point Ebi put his hand on my back and said, “he’s done” WOW!  What a thrill! 

It took a massive effort to get the truck down into the small valley to load the kudu, and the drive back up the mountain was a bit hairy as well, with both left-side wheels and then both right side wheels off the ground several times. We all got out of the back and walked on many occasions fearing the truck would roll off the mountain, but we made it and had a victorious ride back to camp.

This had to be one of the most exciting hunts, stalks and kills I've ever had on big game. Although I took over a dozen beautiful plains game on this hunt, the effort, the tension, and the successful shot on this running kudu were overwhelming and made the entire adventure worth the long trip. What a memory! ~ Ray

Ray Oeltjen
Ray is the President of High Sierra Consulting, and was the former Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Leupold Rifle Scopes, where he was also the Chairman of the American Shooting Sports Council. Prior to his time at Leupold Ray was the Director of Sales for the Southern United States for Federal Cartridge Corporation.  Ray shot professionally for Federal Cartridge, and was honored as a First Team All American Trapshooter.

Ray is a Patron Member of the National Rifle Association, and has worked for individual gun rights his entire business career. In 2002 Shooting Industry’s Academy of Excellence named Ray as one of the three most influential people in the shooting sports Industry.  Ray has hunted and shot competitively all over the world, and continues to enjoy all aspects of the shooting sports.