Kill or Be Killed in Africa


The uncertainty of hunting is part of its appeal. We’ve all felt a chill when a pack of coyotes howls in the darkness, or take a deep breath when a black bear crosses our path. These slight elements of danger add spice to the outdoor experience and make great camp stories in the days ahead. But what if your quest will aggressively kill you? What about a beast so deadly that one paw swipe will break your back or crush your skull with a single bite? Although native lion populations in Africa are on the decline, hunting operations have become very selective, targeting only “expendable” males. The substantial income generated from hunting companies actually helps preserve populations by giving the animals value.

One of the greatest hunting stories I’ve heard involves three working-class men from  New York who decided to hunt adult male lions in Africa with bow and arrow. Although it sometimes generates hate male on my website, it’s a tremendous test of courage for anyone contemplating dangerous game.

Caracal safari 5 gemsbok and lions 089“Lions don’t maim or maul, they kill,” said Professional Hunter Phillip Mostert, looking each of his three clients directly in the eyes. “If we are successfully charged one of you or I will die, there’s no doubt about it,” he continued in dead earnest. If we have to kill the lion with a rifle on a charge your tag is filled and the hunt is over. That happened to the last client and he was very disappointed, yet a lion can cover 100 yards in six bounds. One swipe or bite and you are dead. I don’t mean to scare you but you must understand how treacherous this hunt will be. Probably, it’s the most dangerous thing you’ll ever do.”

Despite this “pep talk,” the two plumbers and a retired fireman from New York stayed the course and were somewhat encouraged by Mostert’s next statement. “On the positive side, male lions are the alpha predator. Usually they avoid humans or ignore us as if they are impervious to danger. Especially for archers, this works in our favor.”

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Joe Byers
Joe Byers has more than 1,000 magazine articles in print and is currently a field editor with Whitetail Journal, Predator Xtreme, Whitetails Unlimited, Crossbow Revolution, and African Hunting Journal magazines. He’s spent the last three decades depicting the thrill of the chase and photographing the majesty of all things wild. Byers is a member of the Professional Outdoor Media Association and numerous other professional and conservation organizations.