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Lion: Shot Placement and Hunting Techinques
Hunting Lion
Lion are unusual in that they are very much two animals in one. They are extremely lazy and spend the greater part of their life simply resting and watching. In daylight lions tend to be rather shy, giving way to man (except when a lioness is protecting her cubs or other exceptional circumstances). At night though, they are definitely king, and give way to nobody. Even cow elephants bunch together at night when lion are around, and the numbers of young elephant killed by lions is much higher than many people imagine. Similarly when hunting them. In general they succumb easily to any well placed shot, and many of the professional lion hunters in the early years of this century, who were employed to rid the cattle ranches of lion, used only military surplus .303 rifles with nary a hitch. Wounded or annoyed though, and the lion becomes a very different beast. LG (OOO Buck) buckshot and even .458 Winchester ‘Lion Load’ have been repeatedly documented as failing to penetrate the massive chest muscles of a charging lion. 9" of hard, sinewy, tensed muscle is a difficult challenge to any bullet. It is the other ‘animal’ that makes lion hunting sport. Make a mistake and the ‘role’ of hunter and hunted can quickly become reversed.

Young male.
A young male comes to investigate the contents of a hastily erected blind, near a buffalo the lions had killed earlier. The sides and back of the blind need to be secure against such intrusions, and even the last twenty or so metres of the approach protected by thick bush.

There are two traditional ways to hunt lion. The first is the bait and blind method. This is the usual (and often only) technique applicable to any area with hard or stony ground. As lion will scavenge in preference to killing their own prey, they will readily come to a bait provided they have not been ‘educated’ and shot at repeatedly and badly at baits in the past. There is a whole art to successfully laying a bait and building a blind or tree stand (see Vol 5 No 4), but if done correctly in an area where lion are present in reasonable numbers, the hunter is virtually guaranteed an easy shot at a lion. Where lion are reasonably common or little hunted, it is usually possible to keep the lions on the bait until daylight. In many areas in Africa it is illegal to shoot at night and so every effort has to be made to keep the animals feeding. Again location and size of the bait are crucial to this.

In some areas it is legal to shoot at night. This is a whole different ball game to shooting in daylight. Yes its easier to get the animals on the bait, yes the lions are dazzled by the light, giving the hunter a sitting target for a few seconds, BUT the chances of a mistake are much higher, and the lionesses may well join the fray, particularly if the male is wounded and decides to fight. The hunter himself needs to decide what is ethical, right, and the levels of risk that are worth taking.

Article continues below.

The other method of hunting lion is to track them down on foot in daylight. This is only applicable to sandy areas where the spoor is easy to follow. In brief, one dives around the hunting area until the spoor of a large male is detected and then one sets off in pursuit. The lions will spend the greater part of the day resting in the shade, and so are unlikely to be more than a few miles from where they were hunting the previous night, and a good tracker, in favourable terrain, will catch up to them within a few hours. The lion are unlikely to run away and a careful stalk should bring one within easy shooting range before any response from the pride is elicited. Unless there is a particular problem (such as very young cubs), the pride will run when the male is shot. A missed shot will put the lions on their guard and you are very unlikely to catch up with them that day or even for the next few.

Go to Page: 1 2 3 4 Related Articles: Hunting Lion Part 1
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African Hunter Vol.5 No.6 December 1999
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