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Big-game hunting

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Title: Big-game hunting  
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Subject: Hunting, The End of Eden, John Biddle (yachting cinematographer), Wild boar, Smithsonian–Roosevelt African Expedition
Collection: Hunting, Hunting in the United States
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Big-game hunting

Big-game hunting is the hunting of large game for meat, other animal by-products (such as horn or bone), trophy or sport. The term is historically associated with the hunting of Africa's "Big Five" game (lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros), and with tigers and rhinoceroses on the Indian subcontinent. The numbers of white rhinoceros are considered too low to support hunting (a permit for hunting a black rhinoceros was issued in Namibia in 2014), but the other four species are still hunted in Africa, as well as other species such as kudu, antelope, hartebeest, moose, elk, and deer.

Big-game hunting occurs in Africa, North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In Africa, lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, giraffe and other large game animals are hunted. In North America, animals such as bear, alligator, moose, elk, boar, sheep and bison are hunted. In South America, deer and other species are hunted. In Europe, sheep, boar, goats, elk, deer, and other species are hunted. In Asia, several species of deer, bear, sheep and other species are hunted. In Australia, several species of deer and wild boar are hunted.


  • History 1
  • Methods 2
  • Weaponry 3
  • Famous big-game hunters 4
    • Africa 4.1
    • Asia 4.2
    • North America 4.3
  • See also 5
  • Further reading 6
  • References 7
  • External links 8


Hunting of big game for food is an ancient practice, dating back thousands of years. Based on cave paintings, it appears that early man hunted mammoth in groups, using a combination of spears or large rocks, or alternatively running the animal over a cliff.

Native Americans hunting bison, from an 1855 illustration


Big-game hunting is approached in many different ways. A popular way to hunt is by using a tree stand.[1] A hunter will set up a tree stand and wait for the prey to approach. The same technique is also used on the ground, but because animals tend to be more aware of things on the ground, stealth is more important.

Another common approach is stalking. While stalking, a hunter will approach his or her prey using stealth, with the intention to get into range with their particular weapon and ensure a clean hit.[2]

Driving is another method. The shooter or shooters take position stealthily, using the natural landscape of the area to choose a spot that will help ensure a wide view. Then the drivers move toward the shooter in a line, making a lot of noise with the intention of forcing the animal to run toward the hunter, giving him a chance to kill the animal. This technique only works well when there is cover, and if there is a natural feature to help corral the game.

Helicopter hunting is sometimes done with large, swift animals because they may be too wary to approach otherwise especially in wide open terrain. It is not done for sport, but by game management officers. Ivory poachers sometimes shoot from their vehicles as well.


Hunter with a bear's head strapped to his back on the Kodiak Archipelago.

Almost every kind of firearm has been used to successfully hunt big game. Handguns are quite popular for big game in North America, but are not used as often in Asia and Africa. Shotguns are used to take big game, being safer in flat country as the large but relatively slow moving slug loses velocity quickly compared to the rifle bullet. With the advent of saboted, sub caliber projectiles for use in shotguns, there are questions about whether there is any practical difference in range compared to often identical bullets fired at similar velocities from a rifle. Rifles are perhaps the most common weapon for taking big game. In North America, the .30-06 is probably the most popular caliber and is often used for everything from pronghorn to grizzly bears although grizzly bears and Alaskan brown bears are usually taken with more powerful cartridges. In Africa larger cartridges such as the Nitro Express series, or other elephant gun chamberings are frequently used, and can take even the largest game. African hunters often prefer to use a double rifle as a stopping rifle (a rifle intended to incapacitate a charging dangerous game animal as quickly as possible) since these double rifles provide the possibility for a very quick second shot, but bolt-action rifles also take the largest game.

Bows and crossbows are also used to take big game all over the world. Bowhunters and black-powder shooters generally obtain earlier access to hunting grounds, making those kinds of hunting popular even for people who also hunt with modern firearms. Alternative weapons such as the atlatl are also being explored by big-game hunters, and are legal in some states in the US.[3]

Famous big-game hunters



North America

See also

Further reading

  • Foa, E. After Big Game in Central Africa. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-03274-9.
  • Drawings by Douglas Hamilton
  • Herne, Brian. White Hunters: The Golden Age of African Safari, Henry Holt & Co, New York, 1999.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^

External links

  • Shotguns for Protection in the Field
  • Rifles for Protection in the Field
  • Rifles for Dangerous Game
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