A few years back, I was doing some work for a doctor in Minnetonka, MN. As I walked around his home I couldn’t help but notice that he had one of just about every huntable animal in the world in his collection. They were hanging from the walls, the ceiling and standing on the floor everywhere.
I asked him about the lion’s head above the fireplace, and just like that, the eighty-year-old man started telling me his story. “First of all”, he explained, “you need a guide, someone who’s done it before and is good at it. The guide goes out and finds out where the lions have been feeding. Then the guide finds a small 30′ by 30′ clearing in the jungle close by or he cuts one himself. He also builds a platform 20 feet up in a tree and outfits it with spotlights. Then you need an ox, a big one, for bait that you tie to a stake in the middle of the clearing.”
So the doctor and his guide were up in the tree stand above the clearing, staying perfectly quiet. With the lion’s keen sense of smell you couldn’t smoke or eat anything with a scent. About three o’clock in the morning he felt the guides elbow smack into his arm and it woke him up. The ox was pacing back and forth nervously when a big growl came from the jungle straight ahead of them. A minute later the big oxen screamed a sound that Doc had never before heard come from any animal. The guide slapped the switch for the spotlights and said, “shoot, Bawana shoot”! Doc said he looked down and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. The huge male lion was on top of the oxen’s back with all four sets of claws stuck deep into its hide! With one swat of his right front paw, he almost took the oxen\’s head off! The oxen fell to the ground and didn’t move again. Doc lifted his gun and shot, and kept shooting till the lion ran back into the dark cover of the jungle. He wasn’t sure how many shots he had got off or if he had hit him or not. It had all happened so fast.
Doc excited to start tracking turned to go down the ladder but the guide stopped him. “We wait for light”, he said. Light came three long hours later. Once on the ground they found a blood trail. The guide and Doc slowly tracked the lion for 500 yards, listening and looking, finding a blood drop here and there, not knowing if the lion was dead or just wounded. Then they came around a bend in the trail and there he was, not moving at all, one bullet into his back, through his heart and back out his chest.
The doctor finished telling his story to me by slowly petting the lion on his head and said, “back then, in those days, it was cool to shoot a lion”.