Saturday, March 30, 2013

Episode 66: Big Game Hunting

So, I met a South African who is into hunting big game. Where I grew up, hunters hunted things like deer, rabbits, squirrels, and the occasional mailbox. None of those things qualifies as big game. From what I gather, big game is anything that is just as likely to kill you as you are to kill it. In fact, if you don't have a rather large gun, and you find yourself out in the African bush facing any one of the many big game animals, your chances of survival are only slightly better than the next slowest person in your party.

Hunting, as I remember it growing up, involved trying to sneak up on or chase animals that ran away as soon as they saw, smelled, or heard you. Hunting in the big game world involves hunting animals that very well may be hunting you at the same time. This sounds rather insane, so I figured I should read up on big game hunting.

Well, I am through the Lion, Elephant, Leopard, and Cape Buffalo chapters of Death in the Long Grass, by Peter Capstick and have learned it is even more insane than you would think if you weren't sure exactly what to think about big game hunting, because you don't know exactly what it is. 

Capstick was a big game hunter back in the 1960s and 1970s, and he has all kinds of gruesome stories, because it seems lots of big game hunting involves being so close to the animals that if you miss your first shot, you will very likely end up in a mouth, on a tusk, under a gigantic foot, or hurtling through the air before ending up in a mouth, on a tusk, or under a gigantic foot. A 1-pound kitten can scratch me to bits, so I have no desire to be a scratching post for a 450-pound angry lion, or even a playful lion for that matter, or even a 160-pound leopard. Actually, I really don't like sharp-clawed kitten attacks either. I probably do not have a future in big game hunting.

It's not just danger from being attacked by the wild animals you have to consider. You might also get shot by another hunter, like the guy who accidentally shot his son-in-law's hand to bits. Granted, the hand was in a lion's mouth at the moment and the guy was just shooting at sounds because he couldn't see on account of the skin of his head being flapped over his eyes and his hands being broken after being attacked himself by the lion only moments before. I'm sure that affects your aim, even if you are an experienced hunter.

I tell you all this because I am very often amazed at how different life is depending on where you live. As I write this, my arms are itching and smarting a bit from being scratched by aggressive twigs in my back yard as I wrestled them into the trash can. They put up as much fight as they could, but I persevered. There's a guy out there who survived having his hand shot while it was being chomped on by a lion! He probably hangs out in a bar with a bunch of other guys who have scars on various appendages that have been in the mouths of various big game animals and talks about the guys who didn't get their appendages back out again. The other night I hung out in a basement with a few guys and talked about how I hurt my back, and I am not even sure how.

Alright, back to the Hippos chapter for more on the photographer who survived having his leg chomped by a curious and rather aggressive hippo. Well, maybe a break first to walk around because I think my butt is numb from sitting, and I won't even have to worry about any big game hunting me, although sometimes I don't see my kids coming, and that can hurt. Very different lives indeed.

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