Hunting elephants is like shooting parked ups trucks. can sports hunters give insight why their body parts could be called a trophy – quora 5 gases found in the environment

I am not a particularly big fan of trophy hunting, although I dont grudge those that do it on fair chase basis. But hunting elephant is nothing like shooting parked UPS trucks at all, for the simple reason that an elephant is a living, breathing wild animal with excellent senses, great intelligence, high speed and is quite frankly VERY DANGEROUS!

Now you might think that dumbo in the cartoon movie looks like a perfectly harmless and cute creature, but elephants are among the most dangerous wild animals in Africa (well, you can say that malaria bearing mosquitoes are, but lets not go there), accounting for hundreds of deaths per year. An elephant is huge (duhh!!!), and an animal that big has no need to be afraid of particularly anything in the wild (sort of, certain lion prides in Botswana had learned to panic elephant herds at night to pick off its weak members). Because of that an elephants reaction when coming upon an African villager is not quite like a deer; it might bolt in fear, but its just as likely to reduce said villager into a some bloody goo on the sole of its feet! Bull elephants in ‘must’, or mating craze, typically completely forgot the the ‘flight’ part of ‘flight or fight’ instinct and instantly try to curb stomp anything that annoys it during his period of hormonal instability.

Now, an ideal succesful elephant hunt is definitely still A LOT of hard work. The most succesful professional elephant hunter in history, Walter Darlymple Maitland Bell, estimated that he averaged about eighty African miles walked for every one of the one thousand bull elephants he bagged. He generally wore off two dozen pairs of tennis shoes a year on his hunting trips. Why is that? Because elephants ate A LOT, so they have HUGE home ranges and they are constantly on the move, so finding one in fair chase hunting is a total pain in the ass! Now compare that to a lot of hunting done in the USA, where a hunter sits inside an air conditioned blind near a cornfield until a whitetail or a turkey plop over, which one is closer to shooting parked UPS trucks, eh, eh?

In modern trophy elephant hunting you will still likely walk this long to bag your elephant; the hunt typically takes days as you and your professional hunters scanned many square miles of thorny jungles to look for a shootable bull. This is typically done under the pitiless African sun with temperatures in 90 F range, often with all sorts of insects (tsestse flies in particular) and creepy crawlies biting you, often crawling through bushes with inch long thorns that could put out your eyes, never mention sunburn, thirst and getting rained on! Does this sound like a picnic to you? One can be forgiven for thinking that elephant hunters (or hunters in general) are gluttons for punishment.

Suppose after all that hellish rambling you do find the tracks of some big old bulls that look like they might have good tusks. Now you CAREFULLY make a stalk to get a closer look at the bull, to see if its tusks are really worthwhile. Elephants have incredibly bad eyesights, but their hearing and sense of smell totally make up for this. So knowing the direction of the wind is incredibly important, and professional hunters often carried socks filled with talcum powder that they can squeeze without a sound to see where the wind is blowing.

During the stalk you must limit your talking to an absolute minimum, be absolutely careful where you place your feet, and watch out for the “askari bulls", or younger bull elephants who typically accompany the big old ones as sentries, as you do not want to end up shooting them! Because elephants walk as they eat and walk pretty darn fast a stalk cannot be done at low speed only, occasionally one must sprint in order to keep pace with the elephant. Stepping on a twig or a sudden change of wind can totally blow a stalk, the elephant took off at high speed and then you have to start all over again!

Suppose you manage to get to visual distance to a good bull, and you see that its tusk is good, something in the 50-70 lb range. You then creep in close without blowing the stalk, get into a shooting position, and put a bullet into its ear, just as your professional hunter has taught you, and the elephant crashed into the earth like a ton of bricks. Or you put one bullet into its shoulder and it took off in a mad dash for a hundred yards, whereupon it collapsed and crashed into the ground like a ton of bricks. All well and good, time for some high fives and break out the cameras!

Except, maybe while you are squeezing the trigger of your Brno .458 lott rifle a tsetse fly bit you and you yank it, causing the bullet to hit the elephant at the top of its head. Or you suddenly got performance anxiety (“buck fever") as so many hunters do, and end up putting the bullet of your .375 H&H Winchester Model 70 into the elephants ass instead of the ventricles on the top of its heart. Now you have a ravening, maddened creature who weight five tons, can run at 25 mph and is out for payback! And it will absolutely seek to destroy you, and given its size and strength will absolutely succeed if it managed to get anywhere near you!

You cant run away, your only hope is to drop it with a brain shot. Now an elephants head might be enormous, but its brain is the size of a loaf of bread! Try hitting that while the elephant is screaming blood curdling noises, shaking the earth as it gets closer and closer, and your piss pouring down your legs. You must get the angle right as the creature move its massive head about, or your shot might not have the slightest effect. Most men would lose their composure and run, a mistake that should be fatal, which is when the professional hunter would try to save the day by giving the wounded beast its coup de grace. If he fails then its likely that he and his client would be so much mass of broken pieces on the African savanna.

Now after all that, your gang of African trackers hacked off the tusks and tail (a well respected elephant hunter tradition) and you are off to celebrate. And the rest of the elephant, it goes to waste right? A huge rotting carcass, a symbol of human greediness? Not a chance. This is dirt poor Africa, and within half an hour a horde of villagers will likely show up and start hacking the carcass into pieces that they will carry away on their heads. Protein is at a premium here, and none of it goes to waste. Free range, hormone-free, GMO-free organic meat for everybody! Hurray!

Obviously if you use an airplane to stalk elephants and simply gun them down without even dismounting then the whole exercise is a cakewalk, but no self respecting elephant hunter does that. Just like in mountain climbing, the pain, the suffering and the sheer danger and adrenaline rush is what make the whole experience (costing up to $ 100,000!!!) worth it.