Over pre-dinner beverages, Francois Rudman asked “So, how many times have you hunted Africa?” “This is my first time”, I replied. I’ll give Francois credit, it would have been completely appropriate for him to follow-up with, “Does insanity gallop in your family?!” Instead, he carried out a slight spit-take and asked bemusedly “You chose to hunt the vaal rhebok as your first African animal?”
This was one of many, nearly-identical, interactions first between myself and my PH, Arnold Claassen, and subsequently with every PH and every client with previous African experience. Simply put, they thought there was something seriously off, maybe even pathological, reflected in my insistence – as a first-time African hunter – to hunt the South African Cape Mountains for the “Vaalie”; an animal that would likely require longer shots than I’d previously attempted, and even worse, would probably go no more than 50 pounds soaking wet, with a two-pound weight strapped to each hoof. But, as I explained at each successive inquisition, it wasn’t my fault. It was Craig Boddington’s. Apparently, he felt compelled to write the wonderful stories relating the challenge of hunting and the joy of collecting this strangely attractive pygmy antelope. The photos of his trophies showed the completely ridiculous bulbous nose and eyes, woolly coat and outrageously disproportional horns that seemed to be as long as the diminutive animal’s neck. For me, it was love at first sight.
(excerpt from ‘The Strangest Client’, Africa’s Sportsman Magazine, 2019, July/August/September)