review: hunter

Title: Hunter

Author: J. A. Hunter

Genre: autobiography, nonfiction

Form: hardback, out of print

Recommended: Definitely

Thoughts: This is an amazing book. Amazing because Hunter tells his own story in his own own way of a land that he watched change and no longer exists. Born in 1887, he traveled to East Africa in 1908 and subsequently watched and took part in the taming of vast amounts of land. Yes, he talks more about guns than I care for, but this is balanced by observations of the tribes he worked with, cultural practices like pointing with one’s lips, and places that I have been to (e.g., Ngorongoro Crater) that seem nothing like what he describes. The land he walked in was truly wild in such a way that I doubt exists today, which is wonderfully refreshing. If you can track down a copy of this book, you should read it. Thank you Josh for sharing this book with me.

elephantGiven that you might not have ready access to this book and that every now and then I post ‘safari photos’, I thought I should share a few quotes from Hunter on photo safaris. Also, just for the record, safari means trip or journey in Swahili – nothing more.

“In my youth, the only animals that were photographed were dead animals. This made the problem of animal photography very simple. After your client had shot his trophy, he posed on the dead beast while you clicked the camera. But today people are determined to secure pictures of living animals. The animals seldom care to cooperate.”

“I must admit that animals are sometimes remarkably tolerant of picture taking. I have watched in amazement while a group of photographers ducked in and out of brush within thirty yards or so of a heard of elephants, taking light readings, changing lenses, and assuming the most incredible poses to get unusual ‘angle shots.’ The elephants must have known that they were there and still the big brutes put up with their antics very patiently. After considering the matter carefully, I am convinced that the elephants thought that the photographers were a herd of baboons. Elephants are short-sighted, so this is a natural mistake for them to make under the circumstances.”

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