Experience is sometimes a harsh teacher. I had roamed the woods behind our rural Texas home throughout the summer of my twelfth year, scouting for deer. Back then because of screw worms our whitetail population was, to say the least, minimal. Seeing deer was possible but not very probable.
One August morning shortly after first light, with the promise to my Mom and Dad I would be home by breakfast so I could start my chores of feeding our animals before it got too hot, I was in the woods sitting watching a field between a stand of white oaks on the hillside, and the dense youpon thickets next the creek bottom. I was watching a trail coming into the opening which lead to a waterhole when I spotted movement coming into the opening. The first to step into the clearing was a young four point. He was followed by a bigger four-point. A third buck stopped a bit farther back into the brush. I could see he was a buck. Like the other two he was still in velvet. But from what I could see, his antlers were considerably bigger. My heart started beating. No doubt this was the biggest buck I had ever seen. He stepped clear of the brush. My heart started beating an alarming rate.
I do not remember the date, although it had to in the early 1960’s. Nor do I remember the country, but it was in Africa. I do remember the photo of my hero Jack O’Connor long the “Dean of Gun Writers” with a monstrous greater kudu, a great gray ghost bull with spiral horns measuring over 60-inches. The photo and story made a huge impression on me.
Shortly after the photos and story appeared in Outdoor Life, I made a promise. Some day I would hunt Africa for greater kudu and take one no less big than the bull taken by O’Connor!
Little did I know doing so would take the better part of a lifetime!
I had worked for a solid week to make the 35 cents necessary to purchase a copy of the “True Hunting Annual”. I had been eyeing it on the newsstand at our local “drug store”. It rested there with numerous hunting and shooting magazines. I really wanted those too, but knew I would get to see at least some of them after my uncle had finished reading his copies. “True Hunting Annual” was full of articles about hunting distant lands, and article I wanted to read was about hunting roe deer in Germany. I am not sure what drew me to that particular article. It could have been the European style painting of a “great” roe deer “stag” that illustrated it, or a photo of one of the buck’s antlers the author had taken. Or may it had to do something with my German heritage? Regardless I was fascinated by full-grown deer that were about the same size as one of our four-month whitetail fawns living in the woods behind our rural home.