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A Hunter's Hunter

Robin Hurt


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Robin Hurt grew up in Kenya and shot his first buffalo and leopard before he was in high school.   Once he started hunting professionally, he did not shy from taking on risks. He guided clients to where the largest heads were, and that included Zaire when it was wild and dangerous and Sudan when rival tribal factions were at war.  He hunted during the “golden era” of the African safari when Kenya was in its heyday, Zambia was renowned for its hunting fields, and the entire Big Five could be shot in Tanzania in a few days.  And wherever he went, he got exceptional trophies for his clients.

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A Lifetime of African Safari
by Robin Hurt

512pp, color and B&W photos, 12x15, hardcover, dj

ISBN: 978-1-57157-506-7

Robin Hurt grew up in Kenya and shot his first buffalo and leopard before he was in high school. He was a licensed PH in Tanzania and Kenya by age 18. Once he started hunting professionally, he did not shy from taking risks. He guided clients to where the largest heads were, and that included Zaire when it was wild and dangerous and Sudan when rival tribal factions were at war.  He hunted during the “golden era” of the African safari when Kenya was in its heyday, Zambia was renowned for its hunting fields, and the entire Big Five could be shot in Tanzania on a safari.  And wherever he went, he got exceptional trophies for his clients. The late Tony Dyer, the doyen of East African professional hunters, called Robin Hurt "The Hunter's Hunter," hence the title of this book.

Many years ago a prominent member of the safari scene came to our Safari Press booth and said he really wanted a forest sitatunga (one of Africa’s hardest and most elusive trophies).  He went on to say, “I have spent forty days hunting, have seen nothing, and have failed twice.  I am through messing around; I am going with Robin Hurt to Sudan. The one time I hunted with him he brought an intensity and focus to the hunt, the likes of which I have never seen in any of my more than three dozen African safaris.” Such is the well-deserved reputation of Robin Hurt; a PH par excellence and, as important, a fair-chase-only professional who always keeps wildlife conservation in the forefront of whatever he’s doing. Robin Hurt has been indefatigable with his community wildlife conservation work, which has turned poachers into anti-poachers and has helped previously disadvantaged communities—ensuring healthy game populations and hunting opportunities for the future. This new book includes a chapter by Robin’s wife, Pauline, on her efforts in protecting rhinos in Namibia so these magnificent animals will be preserved for future generations.

Some professional hunters in Africa are known as “buffalo PHs,” having guided their clients to buffaloes with  45- to 47-inch spreads; some PHs have specialized in elephants and, if they are old enough, have taken very heavy tuskers, some possibly approaching  100 pounds.  Then there are the cat specialists who have guided for heavy chuis and large lions with heavy manes. There is only one PH who can genuinely say he has done it all—Robin Hurt.  He has taken 50-inch-spread buffaloes, 100-pound tuskers, 200-pound leopards, 10-foot lions with heavy manes, and 30-inch-plus rhinos back in the day.  His clients have shot numerous, superlative free-range trophies of the entire Big Five with dozens of those heads qualifying for Rowland Ward’s Records of Big Game.  Robin’s record is an unsurpassed accomplishment in the history of African hunting.

Having been in the field for a lifetime—he still hunts today from his home in Namibia—he has enough stories to fill up five books.  In his Hunting the Big Five, which we published, he gave us highlights of his hunts for the Fabled Five of Africa.  In this book, he rounds out the rest of his career:  being savagely and horrifically attacked by a wounded leopard; shooting the world-record bongo; operating in Zaire when it was wild and lawless; hunting a Kenya bongo in an area so remote that it required a fifteen-mile walk in by foot while hacking a trail with machetes.  When a client got injured on this hunt, the crew spent a day cutting a clearing in the forest with axes so a helicopter could land. 

A significant portion of the book is devoted to the trackers and other camp staff without whom an African safari is impossible. He tells the tale of his Kenyan tracker, Joseph Sitiene, who while hunting in the C.A.R. was forced by a local chieftain to marry a young girl.  Then there is the story of a PH who tied the bed of a sleeping, drunken associate PH to a zebra carcass, and hyenas dragged the bed out of the tent while fighting over the meat.  Read the tragic and gripping tale of another PH who was burned in a grass fire during the filming of the famous In the Blood movie. 

In addition, sons Derek and Roger Hurt contributed chapters on near-fatal leopard and buffalo attacks they encountered while hunting.  Robin has always been a passionate international hunter himself and he tells us of his own hunts for Marco Polo and Asian ibex, as well as birds and stags in the British Isles.  

A superb book deserves a superb production, and this one has it all:  The book is printed in an extra-large format, 12x15 inches (30 x 38 cm), on the highest quality paper, with 400-plus pictures in color and black and white over a whopping 512 pages. The outstanding cache of historical photos of giant trophies the Dark Continent has yielded in the last 100-plus years with Robin’s insightful comments are alone worth the price of the book.

Foreword written by Ross Perot Jr. and Dr. Knut Bellinger, both recognized hunters and conservationists.

Customer Reviews

Magnum Magazine Book Review Review by Gregor Woods
THIS IS A BIG book – in every sense. It measures 39x30cm and has 512 pages. And it is big in that it’s all-encompassing. It’s not only about professional hunter Robin Hurt’s life and lengthy career; it spans pretty much the entire African hunting scene from the late ‘golden era’ to the present day, covering most east and central African countries, and includes all the PHs involved, trackers, clients, gun-makers, wildlife artists and many more. Its dissertations on practical conservation measures and the future of Africa’s wildlife and the hunting industry offer crucial information. I can’t think of any other single volume in the hunting genre which encompasses so broad a spectrum of subjects and personalities.

ROBIN’S PATERNAL ANCESTORS are of England’s landed gentry whose properties include a pub that has run continuously for 400 years. His maternal grandparents, Col Donald Williams, Kenya’s Chief Medical Officer, and Emma Aggett, were among Kenya’s first settlers, owning a farm near Naivasha. Their daughter Daphne, Robin’s mother, was born in Nairobi in 1918. Robin’s father, Lt Roger Hurt of Alderwasley Hall, Derbyshire, was a career soldier posted in Kenya and seconded to the Kings Africa Rifles in 1929. He served in the Ethiopian Campaign and WWII, to become Lt Col Roger Hurt, DSO. He married Daphne Williams in Nairobi in 1944 and Robin was born in 1945. Roger Hurt was then appointed as Military Administrator of Somalia. He later became a Kenya game warden. This book contains many historically valuable photos of East Africa’s pioneer days.

Robin spent his boyhood hunting on his mother’s ranch at Naivasha, an area teeming with game. Their immediate neighbour, Gilbert Colville, often invited young Robin to cull buffalo on his land. Robin shot all of the Big Five before his 17th birthday. On graduating from the Duke of York School, he entered an apprenticeship with Ker, Downey & Selby Safaris, and by the age of 18 was a fully licensed professional hunter. After a spell hunting with the Tanganyika and Uganda Wildlife Corporations, he re-joined Ker & Downey until 1973 then established Robin Hurt Safaris. So began a safari outfitting career which spanned Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan, CAR, Zaire, Botswana, Zambia and Namibia. And Robin is still at it – on his ranch in the foothills of the Gamsberg in Namibia.

IT IS IMPOSSIBLE to do justice to Robin’s career or the contents of this massive book within the confines this review. In a nutshell, Robin has done it all – everywhere. If you want hunting adventures, it contains those aplenty. Readers will recognise some which Robin contributed to Magnum over the years. His career pretty well represents the history of the African safari industry in post-independent Africa – with all its wonder and its anguish. He experienced the overnight banning of hunting safaris in Kenya, Tanzania and Zaire. This book covers in detail the most sought after game species – the Big Five (including black rhino, of which few living PHs today can write with experience and authority), hippo, crocodile and the non-dangerous species including rarities such as mountain bongo. It also has chapters on bird shooting and deerstalking in the UK and Europe. And all this is supported with seemingly limitless photographs of everything – trophies, wildlife, landscapes, fly-camps, clients, fellow PHs, trackers, game wardens, safari vehicles, rifles, PHs mauled by leopards and other nasties (both Robin and one of his professional hunter sons in Tanganyika were mauled by leopards).

Robin gives statistics of PHs killed or injured by dangerous game: 54% by leopard, 25% by buffalo, 5% by lion, 4% by elephant and the remaining fraction by hippo and rhino. This doesn’t include trackers, gun-bearers or clients. However, since leopard attacks seldom prove fatal (thanks to antibiotics) these figures do not represent the danger potential of these species to the hunter, which he ranks from most dangerous to least: 1: buffalo; 2: forest elephant; 3: leopard; 4: savanna elephant; 5: lion; 6: hippo; 7: black rhino; 8: white rhino.

In 1990, in Tanzania, Robin and Joseph Cullman established the Cullman & Hurt Community Wildlife Project, renamed the Robin Hurt Wildlife Foundation after Cullman’s death. Their philosophy: for humans to be encouraged to steward wildlife and conserve wilderness habitat, they had to benefit financially from the use of wildlife. Detailed figures showing the amount of money contributed to community development activities and conservation efforts via the foundation between 2006 and 2018 are hugely impressive. Figures showing the rate of destruction of wildlife populations due to poaching in countries where safari hunting has been banned are shocking. However, the rate of recovery of wildlife in countries where such bans have been lifted, such as Tanzania, is most encouraging.

This one-of-a-kind book is beautifully presented in hardcover on quality paper. It will be of added interest to lovers of modern African hunting history and Africana. Price: R2 900 plus postage ex-Gauteng. Phone 076-664-9276; email – Gregor Woods/Published in the Jan/Feb issue of Magnum Magazine (Posted on 2/3/2021)
Captivating storyteller, True conservationist, and a Hunters Hunter for certain. Review by J. E. “Rick” Martin, Jr. M.D.
When I saw the movie “In the blood”, in which Robin Hurt was the key Professional Hunter, I knew then that he was a man we all should emulate. This book chronicles his hunting life story, and does so very eloquently, and thoughtfully, and with tremendous passion for the animals we all so very much love. He also is very complimentary to everyone with whom he has hunted and especially to his camp staff , trackers , and to other PH’s. This book will be remembered for many many years to come! Truly a MUST read for all who love hunting, but especially those holding African hunting close to their hearts. God bless Robin Hurt for this wonderful book. (Posted on 3/21/2020)
Amazing Book Review by P & N Beard
The book looks amazing, and we are excited to look at it together. (Posted on 2/28/2020)
Most epic achievement Review by B. Feldstein
Most epic achievement Robin! I am presently immersed in the book. Very
impressed how you amassed all the photos and after doing as such , in a
most artful manor you encapsulated each photos with words of great interest.
A monumental undertaking! Thank you for taking me on your legendary hunting
career. Modern Africana has been waiting until your monumental book published.
Thank you Robin for sharing such an interesting career.
(Posted on 2/28/2020)
It is a true MASTERPIECE Review by R. Sand
It is a true MASTERPIECE. And I see it as important on this subject as African Hunter (by James Mellon) was when it came in the late seventies. I am eating all 550 pages again and again and keep looking in this treasure box of lovely photos of huge Buffalos, Bongos etc. (Posted on 2/28/2020)
best I have put my eyes on Review by J. Yuren
Maybe the best I have put my eyes on... (Posted on 2/28/2020)
One of the best book on hunting Review by Bryan Coleman
I have just finished reading Robin Hurts book The Hunter's Hunter and read it from cover to cover.and I think that it is one of the best books on hunting that I have ever read, and the name alone tells it all. I have known Robin for may years and in fact knew him when he was a teenager and lived with his mother just down the road from me near lake Naivasha Kenya, I remember then how he used to love to hunt and would see him driving down the dirt road on a motorcycle with his gun bearer sitting on the back to go hunting. The has book brought back many old memories to me.

In later years Robin and I did a number of Safaris together both in Kenya the Sudan and Zambia, and got to know each other even better. It was then that I realized that Robin was not just a Professional Hunter, but also a strong conservationist as well, but also had hunting in his blood and enjoyed every moment of any hunt even when he was hunting with clients unlike most Professional Hunters that did it for a living only.

I quit Professional hunting in 1981 and moved to the USA and lost contact with Robin for a while, so did not know until reading his book how he had expanded in the hunting field, to many other parts of Africa. Robin I think is among the top Hunters to have tract and hunted many Elephants with his clients with Ivory weighing over 100 lbs and this alone is in my opinion a big achievement they don't come that easy to find, likewise judging Ivory is one one the hardest things to do.

Until reading his book I did not know that Robin had also hunted for himself in so many other countries in the world, one being the Marco Polo Sheep hunt perhaps one of the hardest hunts and dangerous hunts in the world, in that he did it twice before he was able to achieve what he wanted, this alone tells me his love for hunting, and I admire him for this. I don't know of many other professional Hunters that take hunting for themselves so seriously as Robin does.

I am now eighty one and perhaps coming to the end of an era, but I wish Robin and his dear wife Pauline all the best in their project with the wildlife and Rhino conservation at their new home in Namibia.
(Posted on 1/31/2020)

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Robin Hurt