Monday, January 14, 2013

What's the manliest thing a man can do?


Some ideas:
  • Nailing a girl
  • Siring a son
  • Driving a race car
  • Playing in the NFL
  • Shooting guns
  • Hunting
  • Building a house
  • Bull riding
  • Boxing
  • Exploring
I'm sure we could think of a few more possibilities.  But I want to make the case that big game hunting is the manliest activity that there is.  By "big game hunting" I mean hunting the African "big five" or maybe hunting lions or tigers.

F.C. Selous
To read of Selous' accounts of his time in Africa is to read about him walking around the wilds of Africa and shooting at elephants from 30 to 100 yards away.  He would follow the "spoor" of elephants until he came upon a herd and then he'd shoot the one with the biggest tusks first with a gun with 1" diameter ball from a muzzleloader. It seemed to take more than one shot, usually.  So what he was doing was walking to a herd, shooting one, shooting it again, and again, then running after the rest and shooting some more.  Realize that these are the largest land animals on earth and have often been known to crush people, and elephant hunters are walking up to them and shooting them with single shot guns that first annoy the elephants before they are killed.

Note that when hunters like Selous were hunting big bored muzzleloaders were all that was capable of downing an elephant.  By the time of 'Karamojo' Bell gun technology had advanced to the point where Bell used guns that are now too small to be legally used to hunt big African game.  With his small rifles he utilized a brain shot to drop the elephants in their tracks.

Once his primer didn't ignite the power and his gun bearer loaded over the top of it.  When he shot the double charge the gun literally picked him up, spun him around, and threw him backwards.  He also got a cut on his cheek and he was unable to raise his right arm for the next six months.  Do you suppose that he stopped at this point, or waited a few minutes before picking up his other gun and running after the wounded elephant?

He often lived on whatever meat he shot, corn meal, and muddy water for months at a time.  And slept out amongst the leopards, hyenas, and lions.

Occasionally race becomes a topic of discussion.  We sometimes hear that blacks are known to be more physical or less civilized.  Until very recently some Africans weren't considered men until they killed a lion with a spear.  And, apparently, the way some Africans hunted elephants was to find a sleeping elephant and then use an axe to hit a leg to slow it.  Do you suppose that more than a few people have been killed while hunting elephants with axes?  I won't comment on race relations today, but hunting lions with spears is a whole lot more manly than whatever our white ancestors did.

Death in the Long Grass has several stories about hunting dangerous game.  Apparently most professional hunters in Africa get mauled by leopards, but manage to get away.  The author described one case where a wounded leopard left its blood trail down a path, then retraced its steps to climb a tree over its own blood trail.  The author said that he was lucky that he waited an hour before going after it because this leopard had set a trap using its own blood as the bait, but died before the hunters followed its trail.

Going willingly out into the African bush, or Indian in the case of tigers, after dangerous game has got to be the manliest thing to do.

Jim Corbett with a famous man-eater

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