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A Hunter's Hunter

Robin Hurt


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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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