Vol. 12, No. 3,009 - The American Reporter - October 19, 2006

Make My Day

by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
Syracuse, Indiana

Printable version of this story

SYRACUSE, Ind. -- Let's say you're a professional big game hunter hunting lions in Tanzania.

And let's say that you shoot a charging lion from 90 feet away (that's the distance from home plate to first base in professional baseball). Then let's say that the lion doesn't actually die, or even stop, and mauls you instead.

Whose fault is it? Yours? No, because you actually hit the lion the first time. The lion's? Probably, because he didn't have the good manners to die when you shot him. How about the bullet manufacturer's? Absolutely! They didn't make a bullet that killed the lion the way it was supposed to.

If you're Rolf Rohwer of Scotland, that's the approach you'll take.

Rohwer is a professional game hunter who takes clients on hunting safaris in Tanzania. They hunt lions, elephants, and hippos, among other animals.

It was while Rohwer was trying a new type of ammunition on August 11, 2000 that he was mauled by a wounded lion. Rohwer managed to shoot it a second time, while the lion was letting Rohwer know how he felt about being shot the first time.

Rohwer suffered permanent damage to his legs, arm, and back in the attack, but has since returned to hunting. The lion, on the other hand, suffered permanent bodily harm, and probably has his head hanging on the wall of some Tanzanian bar.

So Rohwer filed a federal lawsuit against the Federal Cartridge Company of Anoka, Minn., for making ammunition that was not suitable for all big game.

According to the lawsuit, the bullet - a .458 Winchester Magnum, 500 grain Trophy Bonded Bear Claw - is supposed to expand upon impact, killing an animal quickly. And that would work fine on a rhinoceros, elephant, or other thick-skinned animal. But with a lion's thin skin, the bullet passed through with minimal damage.

Louis Franecke, Rohwer's lawyer, told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "We think the company makes good ammunition, but not all of it is good for every application. Therein lies the problem. This bullet is not suitable for all big game."

So how is this the manufacturer's fault? Rohwer has 30 years of big game hunting experience, so he should know if a bullet is suitable for thick-skinned animals or thin-skinned animals. And as a professional, he already knows hunting has risks.

Besides, hunting is an activity where there should be some danger involved. It's never struck me as fair that we humans use our vastly superior intelligence and technology to kill animals whose idea of a good day is to "use the jungle" without being eaten.

Now before anyone accuses me of being anti-hunting, let me just say for the record that nothing is further from the truth. While I'm too much of a wuss to be a hunter myself, I respect hunters, and support their right to do it. I just can't bring myself to shoot an animal that's been the star of a Disney motion picture. But you're more than welcome to.

What I really don't understand is why hunting is considered a challenge at all. You hide in the trees, or drive around in a Jeep. You stake out a watering hole where animals will gather, and wear camouflage so you can't be seen. And you use a gun large enough to, well, kill an elephant. Where's the challenge? Doesn't the animal get a fighting chance, or is there just a loud bang, a sharp pain, and then total blackness?

If you go on one of Rohwer's safaris, you will also be housed in "classic safari camps" in a place where you can " ... experience the truly wild hunting experience of ... (Ernest) Hemingway and (Robert) Ruark."

According to Rohwer's Website, these classic camps have "spacious tents (that) are insect proof and are equipped with en-suite flush toilets and hot showers." And like any classic safari camp, "gourmet meals are served with the finest available vegetables and condiments." There is also " ... a staff to meet your every need."

You know, typical safari hunting - like Hemingway used to do.

Hemingway: I say, Jeeves, is there any more goose liver pate?

Jeeves: Of course, sir. Would you also like a nice glass of Burgundy?

Hemingway: Absolutely. And could you please swat that fly that has entered my tent?

So how does hiding in the bushes to pick off animals like a sniper constitute a challenge? At least in Rohwer's case, the lion got a fighting chance. There was truly a struggle between man and beast. And while I'm glad Rohwer wasn't killed, I do appreciate the irony that the hunter was the hunted, even if it was only for a few seconds.

Rohwer should just chalk this up to a learning experience. He should have tested the bullets on a target before he tried to shoot something that could eat him.

My neighbor's safety light that shines right in my bedroom window at two in the morning would be a great target.

Copyright 2006 Joe Shea The American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.

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