The Heart’s Hartebeest
February 13, 2024

I dream of the Grey Ghost of the Namibian bushveld

The landscape of the Namibian bushveld is like a grand theatre: an expansive, sun-baked stage where dramas of life and survival unfold. My greatest dream as an avid hunter is to one day fell a stately old kudu bull. With weekends frequently spent out in the Namibian wilderness hunting for mostly subsistence, the dream is fuelled by the beauty of nature and being surrounded by the rugged bush. After each successful hunt my subconscious mind is fuelled further and the dream becomes vivid in my slumbers. The pursuit of an elusive old kudu bull known as the Grey Ghost.

From first light the bushveld seems to pulsate with life. The mighty camel thorn trees stand sentinel in the morning haze, while the delicate twitter of birds echoes through the vast scenery. The air is laden with the scent of dust and shrubs, a fragrance familiar to anyone who has spent time in the African wild.

We stalk through the bush with hushed footfalls, our eyes scanning the environment for the slightest hint of our quarry. A sense of respect lingers in my heart for this majestic creature, a symbol of survival and tenacity. It is his kingdom, and I am an outsider – a hunter seeking him not just for the thrill, but to acknowledge the intricate dance between man and nature.

Suddenly my guide’s hand gesture freezes me in my tracks. A rustle in the bush. Something darts away in the distance, its eyes wide with alarm. A profound silence follows. The only sound is the pounding of my heart, matching the rhythm of this ancient African land. Then, he appears – the Grey Ghost, materialising from the bush like a spectre, its spiralled horns rising like a crown.

Looking at him through my binoculars, I marvel at his majestic aura. The spiralling horns speak of battles won, of seasons survived and of a wisdom only granted by time. His eyes hold a calmness that belies the harsh realities of the bushveld, a testament to the Ghost’s endurance. The moment seems to stretch into an eternity as we hold our breath, appreciating this venerable relic of the wild.

As the Ghost starts to move away, I raise my rifle. A brief moment of hesitation sweeps over me, but my guide’s quiet nod reassures me. This is not merely about sport. It is a matter of balance, of giving and taking. By hunting we participate in the cycle of life that has been in motion since the beginning of time.

The shot echoes, mirroring the harsh reality of the wild: it is a dance of life and death, a game of survival. And suddenly I am ripped away from the tranquillity of the bushveld, the sharp edges of reality coming into focus as I awake from my dream. The Ghost, elusive as ever, stays behind in the realm of my slumbers, a silent spectre roaming free in the theatre of my subconscious.

In the cold light of day I am again a hunter without a trophy, left with the echoes of a dream that feels as real as the Namibian soil I have tread so often. But each dream of the Grey Ghost strengthens my resolve, fuels my passion. It isn’t just about the thrill of the hunt. It is the connection with nature, the raw correlation of life and death that calls me back time and again.

The Grey Ghost, even in my dreams, is more than a target – it is a symbol of resilience, of the unfettered beauty of life, of the ruthless truth of the wild. Every pursuit in my dreams, every rustle of the bushveld, every stare-down with those ancient, wise eyes – it is all part of a primordial dance that connects me, not just as a hunter, but as a participant in this grand, unscripted theatre of the wild.

And so, each morning, as I awake from dreams of the Grey Ghost, I carry with me a piece of the Namibian bushveld. I carry the scent of the dust, the heat of the African sun, the thrill of the chase. For in my heart I know the essence of hunting. It is more than a sport, more than a pastime – it is an acknowledgement of life’s continuous ebb and flow, a tribute to our ancestral roots and the harsh, splendid nature of the wild.

Even in the confines of the city, I remain a part of the wild, a part of the Namibian bushveld’s story. Each dream is a whisper, a call back to the bush, to the dance with the Grey Ghost. And one day, I know I will answer.

By Elzanne McCulloch

From the 2024 issue of Huntinamibia

Read the full 2024 issue here