Category Archive 'Big Game Hunting'
25 Mar 2013

David Chancellor’s “Hunters”

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South African photographer David Chancellor’s new book on African Big Game trophy hunters, Hunters was scheduled for publication on March 15, but must have been delayed since Amazon does not have copies yet.

Slate recently published a preliminary review, offering a sample of Chancellor’s photographs which are certainly worth looking at.

Big Game trophy hunting is an extremely expensive activity, and its end result is commonly the personal trophy room, a grandiose display of taxidermy testifying to levels of wealth and superbia which almost inevitably provoke a negative reaction. Today’s popular culture is pathologically hostile to both, and is even more predictably hostile to hunting, especially the hunting of large, charismatic, and commonly classified as “endangered” Big Game species. So the cards are obviously stacked against the human subjects of Chancellor’s photography from the beginning.

I get the impression that Chancellor succumbed a bit by contagion to some understanding of the hunting instinct, but his careful phraseology seems determined to maintain an “objective,” supposedly neutral, perspective on all this.

I suppose the photographer must have found himself on the horns of a grave dilemma. On the one hand, it would obviously be totally unacceptable to the community of fashion to be found unreservedly celebrating killing animals for sport, and, worse, for trophies! Yet, who but the members of the Dallas Safari Club and others of the same ilk are going to be buyers of such a book? Describing his subject matter in terms agreeable to PETA would not be such a good idea either. So Mr. Chancellor is clearly obliged to walk a very careful prose line.

David Chancellor’s book, Hunters, is a collection of work from photographer, who is based in South Africa, on the world of tourist trophy hunting.

“For many years I’ve been interested in the increasing overpopulation of man and how that clashes with wildlife,” Chancellor said about his initial interest in photographing Hunters.

Hunters examines the actual hunts as well as the end result, where hunters return to their homes filled with their “trophies.”

He also examines local African communities who benefit from the large amounts of money hunters pay to go on these hunts. Chancellor’s images bring to life a hot topic that has divided hunters, conservationists, and animal-rights activists. He isn’t making any judgments about any of the groups and hopes his images will allow for a better understanding of the process from all sides.

“I was working with hunters who were saying hunting and conservation go hand-in-hand, and that was when things got interesting to me,” he said.

To gain access to the hunters, Chancellor needed the help of individuals who accompanied mostly Americans and Eastern Europeans on hunts around Africa. …

Chancellor quickly discovered while trailing the hunters that he needed to be present with them throughout the entire length of the hunt in order to create the most accurate and emotional images.

“You need to be there the second after they’ve done what they’re going to do because that is the moment they will react to an animal after a kill,” Chancellor said. …

To complete the cycle, Chancellor wanted to photograph the trophy rooms of the more seasoned hunters and spent time in Dallas with members of the Dallas Safari Club.

“I found myself documenting these guys who say they’ve hunted for 25 years and want to hunt a leopard or lion, and I photographed them … but at best what I’ll produce from that hunt is an individual with a lion … the only way (to complete the book) was to go back to where he actually has all of his trophies and produce a portrait that would complete the task, to show his entire career in one portrait,” Chancellor said.

23 Aug 2012

Shooting An Elephant

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An elephant hunting video in which the professional hunter very competently stops an unexpected charge. I’d call that a pretty good moment of excitement. It would be nice to know in what country they were hunting, what caliber rifle (probably a .458) that professional was carrying, but they never properly annotate these.

And, yes, Virginia, there are a number of African countries in which elephants can legally be hunted, in which elephant numbers are excessive, elephant populations are rising, and in which elephants create serious problems by coming into conflict with human beings. Trophy fees for elephants are extremely high, and the monies raised fund the conservation departments which control poaching.

Poor jumbo did bite the dust but, before shedding big salty tears, do take note that in the seconds prior to his demise he was advancing purposefully on the humans in the video with lethal intent. The elephant initiated hostilities against people who had every bit as much right to be walking in that African bush as he did.

Shooting a charging elephant at close range is an experience most of us will never have. In many cases, I expect just as well, because not everybody could shoot as fast and as straight as that professional hunter.

21 Jun 2011

Peter John Kingsley-Heath, December 4, 1926 – May 12, 2011

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Kingsley-Heath with lioness shot in Ethiopia for killing livestock.

John Kingsley-Heath was educated at Monkton Combe School and Trinity College, Cambridge. He was commissioned into the Welsh Guards at age 18. He was wounded during service in both France and Palestine during WWII. After the war, he joined the Colonial Administration in East Africa. His passionate interest in wildlife and travel led him to hunt extensively in nearly all the countries of the African Continent. He became an Honorary Game Warden and Park Warden in several countries and played a major part in opening Botswana to tourism. He accompanied many famous people on safari and was a director of Ker & Downey Safaris and Safari South. He was closely involved in securing some of the extraordinary photography in the films ‘Hatari’ and ‘Sammy Going South’. He was a licensed professional hunter for 45 years and a bush pilot for 30 with some 5,000 flying hours, and continued to lead safaris at the age of 80. He was Director of Field Operations of the East African Wildlife Heritage Fund and donated to that organization the proceeds of the sale of his rifles at Christie’s on April 24, 1996.


The Telegraph‘s obituary recalls Kingsley-Heath’s hand-to-hand encounter with a lion:

[I]n August 1961, when Kingsley-Heath was leading a private safari along the Kisigo river in Tanganyika[, f]rom inside a blind (a shelter for hunters), he turned to see a huge, maned lion crouching behind him not 15ft away. As it gathered itself to spring, Kingsley-Heath shot it, and the lion fled. He and his gunbearers gave chase and found the wounded creature lying on its side, breathing heavily.

It was down, but not out. When Kingsley-Heath’s client opened fire, the lion made a single bound of 22ft towards the two men. Kingsley-Heath dropped to the ground and smashed the barrel of his .470 rifle over the animal’s head, breaking the stock at the pistol grip; the lion staggered. As his gunbearers and client ran for cover Kingsley-Heath struggled on to his elbows to get clear.

“Too late,” he recalled, “the lion was upon me, I smelt his foul breath as, doubling my legs up to protect my stomach, I hit him in the mouth with my right fist as hard as I could. His mouth must have been partly open as my fist went straight in.”
With a single jerk of its head, the lion broke Kingsley-Heath’s right arm; as he punched it with his left fist, the lion bit clean through his left wrist, breaking the left arm and leaving the hand hanging by its sinews. Next it clamped his foot in its jaws, crushing the bones in it by twisting his ankle.

One of the gunbearers arrived, threw himself on the animal’s back and stabbed it repeatedly with a hunting knife. With Kingsley-Heath’s foot still locked in its mouth, the lion was finally shot dead. The client reappeared, and with his rifle blew the creature’s jaws apart so that Kingsley-Heath’s foot could be removed.

“I was bleeding heavily … shaking uncontrollably, felt cold, and was likely to lose consciousness,” he wrote later. “I knew that if I did so, I might die.” Instead, after an agonising and protracted medical evacuation, followed by surgery and a bout of malaria, he eventually recovered.

05 May 2009

Keeping Europe Pleistoscene

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Heck bull

The Nazis were pretty bad, but they weren’t all bad. They invented the Volkswagen and the Superhighway. Leni Reifenstahl made terrific films, and Adolph Hitler was a superb designer of military uniforms. Hermann Goering, in his capacity as Reichsforst- und Jägermeister (Reich Master of the Forest and Hunt), was a keen conservationist eager not only to protect endangered species of big game, but ambitious enough to promote attempts at breeding backward in order to restore especially desirable extinct species, including most notably the aurochs (Bos primigenius).

Reuters reports that one British aficionado has brought a herd of the Heck cattle resulting from Hermann Goering’s breeding project to Britain. According to Wikipedia, there are roughly 2000 Heck cattle in Europe these days. The last known aurochs, a female, died in 1627 in the Jaktorów Forest in Masovia (Poland).

A conservationist has re-introduced to Britain a modern relative of the ancient ancestor to domesticated cattle.

The shaggy, russet-colored “Heck” cattle imported into Britain from The Netherlands by Derek Gow are the product of a Nazi-sponsored breeding program intended to bring back the aurochs,” an ancient beast mentioned by Julius Caesar, British newspapers reported on Wednesday.

The ancient species were immortalized tens of thousands of years ago in ochre and charcoal cave paintings in the Great Hall of the Bulls at Lascaux in southwest France.

The modern-day British herd brought to Devon, England is the product of Nazi breeding, an attempt to bring back the extinct aurochs, the last of which died of old age a Polish forest nearly four centuries ago. …

The herd has Herman Goering, the head of Hitler’s Luftwaffe, to thank for its existence. Goering hoped to recreate a primeval Aryan wilderness in the conquered territories of Eastern Europe. Two zoologist brothers, Lutz and Heinz Heck, took on the task of scouring Europe for the most primitive breeds of cattle they could find in the belief that by “back breeding” they could resurrect the extinct species.

Heinz Heck, based at Munich Zoo, cross-bred shaggy Highland cattle with animals from Corsica and Hungary, while his brother in Berlin was crossing Spanish and French fighting bulls. The success of the Hecks’ breeding program is as disputed as the techniques they used.

Hat tip to the News Junkie.

06 Jan 2009

Bow Hunting Tule Elk

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Tule Elk

There were 28 categories of Big Game animals taken by archery in the Pope and Young record book before the Tule Elk (Cervus canadensis — or elaphus– nannodes), a subspecies of Roosevelt Elk (Cervus canadensis roosevelti) was recently added.

The New York Times (of all sources) describes one hunter’s attempt to complete the new North American Archery Big Game Grand Slam.

20 Dec 2008

Charging Lion

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This video, apparently shot in South Africa, shows what a wounded lion is capable of. After the initial shot, which appears to be a good hit and which definitely knocks the lion down, the (unusually large) hunting party approaches the lion, which rises and proceeds to charge at a speed resembling a fast car. The lion probably would have done more harm to the shooter if he had contacted his target at a slower speed. There is no way of knowing the result, but the person hit by 400-500 lbs. (182-226 kg.) of fast moving lion was undoubtedly injured. And was the second person hit, or did he fall to the ground leaping away from the lion’s path of exit? The fusillade of close range and desperately hasty high-powered rifle fire that occurred when the lion was in the midst of the hunting party looked pretty hazardous to me as well.

That was quite a lion. I expect Major Parker would have said that particular lion was a gentleman.

1:29 video

12 Dec 2007

Davy Crockett’s 10th Great Grandson Kills Bear at Age 5

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Renowned hunter, frontiersman, Indian fighter, and Congressman David Crockett of Tennessee, who died fighting for the Liberty of Texas at the Alamo in 1836, was reputed to have begun his hunting exploits by killing a bear at the age of 3.

Davy Crockett’s hunting prowess as a toddler is usually thought to have been only a legend, but as ABC7 News reports:

Dewitt, Ark. A 5-year-old Arkansas County boy killed a black bear Sunday weighing more than 400 pounds.

Tre Merritt, a descendant of Davy Crockett, was hunting with his grandfather Mike Merritt when a black bear happened upon their stand.

“His 10th great-grandfather was Davy Crockett,” Mike Merritt said. “And Davy supposedly killed him a bear when he was three. And Tre is five and really killed a bear. I really doubt if Davy killed one when he was three.”

Mike Merritt was in the stand at the time but said Tre did it all by himself.

“He came in about 40 to 50 yards,” Mike Merritt said of the black bear, “and when he got in the open, I whistled at him and he stopped and I said, ‘Shoot Tre.'”

Tre confirmed his grandfather’s account.

“I was up in the stand and I seen the bear,” Tre Merritt said. “It came from the thicket and it was beside the road and I shot it.”

At first, Mike Merritt didn’t think Tre had hit the bear with his youth rifle.

“I said, ‘Tre, you missed the bear,’ ” Mike Merritt said. “He said, ‘Paw-paw I squeezed the trigger and I didn’t close my eyes. I killed him.”‘

The bear turned out to be 445 pounds; 12 times the weight of Tre. Mike Merritt said tears rolled down his cheeks when he found out his grandson killed the enormous bear.

Tre Merritt’s father said he began teaching his son to shoot when he was just 2 .5 years old, and said Tre killed three deer last year.

The family plans to get a life-sized mount of the bear, but where they will put has yet to be determined.

DeWitt is in rural eastern Arkansas, close to the Mississippi River bottoms and near Stuttgart, the Duck Hunting Capitol of the World.

2:15 KATV video

Let’s hope the kid runs for Congress someday.

10 Jun 2007

Female Archer Takes Elephant

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I didn’t report on the giant pig story, because I didn’t believe it when I first encountered it. This one looks like it could well be authentic.

Bud Bolen of Jacksonville, Florida says he received the above photo from a friend (presumably the lady herself), and posted it on Archery Talk.

Bolen identifies the bow used to slay the elephant as a PSE X-Force.

He quotes her saying:

I was pulling 85 [38.64 kg.] on the bow before I left. When I got over there, I lowered it to 83 [37.73 kg.]. It was getting 103 ft lbs of kinetic energy at 83. The bow was awesome. I think it fit me well.

I had been hunting hard for 8 days before I got a chance to draw back. I had to hold the bow for a minute before I could take a shot. I shot the elephant at 12 yards with one arrow. It was shot near dark. We went back the next day and found him. I was in the middle of 37 elephants when I took my shot. This was my first bow kill and first woman to take an elie with a bow. The safari will be on Versus at the end of Sep or beginning of Oct. It is suppose to be the premiere show of the season. I will let you know the date when I find out.

The huntress is also quoted here:

The Outfitter was Tshabezi Safaris – Dudley Rogers. If anyone would like to book a safari with him, I can set it up.

The main camp was in Gokwe north.

As for the equipment, PSE set up the bow including stabalizer (sic), rest and site. I used a Little Goose release. The broadheads were also set up by PSE. They [the arrow shafts] were Black Mombas [sic] 550 grains. The broadheads were German Kinetics at 180 grains. The total grains equaled 730.

I wore Danner boots and Foxy Huntress clothing.

Mike Christianson was my bow mentor. Dr. Hugo Gibson was my chiropractor. I had to have him along because the heavy bow was pulling and pushing my shoulders out.

I trained for 14 months to be able to pull the big bows.

Her hunt probably cost $800 per day on a 10-16 day safari plus a trophy fee of $8000. Minimally $16,000 plus air fare.

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