The Golden Age of the Travelling Hunter

The classic trek in a wagon was a slow and expensive business

So you think you were born a hundred years too late. You read about adventures of W.D.M. “Karamojo” Bell or the Maharaja of Cooch-Behar and think they had themselves a better deal. Guess what… you’re wrong. Of course, legends like John Hunter or Jim Corbett wouldn’t probably want to trade their lives for yours or anyone else’s. But an average hunter from 1919 could’ve died with envy if they knew what hunting opportunities we enjoy today!

Need evidence?

Suppose today is Tuesday February 27, 2018, and you, for any reason, decide you’ve got to go hunting on Saturday, March 3, for a few days to a couple of weeks if the deal’s good. Open the hunting map at, set the dates from March 3 to March 18 and see there are as many as 1310 (one thousand three hundred and ten) hunts to choose from – and the prices for most are well below a “golden parachute” of an average mid-level manager. The offers cover virtually the whole world, from Argentina to Zimbabwe, and most of these countries have a liberal visa regime for travelers. You can take your pick of the species, from rabbits to dangerous game, at any corner of the planet, hit
“Book now”, and two to three days from now you’ll be hunting it.

Nobody – not even King George V or Vladimir Lenin – could do the same in 1919!

Any hunter from 1919 would envy your ability to cover ground in almost no time. A hundred years ago, it would take at least three weeks just to reach Cape Town from New York, and you wouldn’t possibly be back in less than three months. That’s why before jet airplanes an African safari or a trip after a Marco Polo sheep was typically a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Equally rare were people who could take two or more international hunting journeys a year. Now nobody is surprised to hear that such-and-such trophy hunter made twelve record book entries from different locations in as many months.

You could pop your eyes out at the prices of international hunting trips today, but as compared to 100 years ago, they decreased by order of two or three. Drooling over the magnitude of the old safaris, modern hunters tend to forget they were maddeningly expensive. What’s more, today we enjoy consumer protection, guarantees from any unexpected price changes or extra charges from an outfitter, and 24/7 high-quality support. We can predict, within a few dollars, how much our hunting trip is going to cost, and so we can budget for it.  An international hunter in 1919, between fluctuations in greed of various traders, rising and falling prices of pack animals, etc. etc. etc., usually had only the vaguest idea.

Really, you had to be a Rockefeller or the Prince of Wales to see the bottom line without even a twitch to the corner of your mouth. Ernest Hemingway, the best-selling writer of his day, couldn’t actually afford his own safari without a little help from his rich second wife. J. K. Rowling wouldn’t even notice the dent in her royalties equivalent to the cost of hunting the Big Five.  Ex-President Theodore Roosevelt had to ask Smithsonian to sponsor his African safari. Ex-President Barack Obama could – if he cared to – pay for an average modern safari out of his pocket change. And for an average hunter, online marketplaces like that guarantee the best available prices offer the most accessible and cost-effective way of discovering and booking the broadest selection of hunting opportunities across the globe.


Early hunters in East Africa used human porters to carry their loads

The variety and abundance of animals you can be hunting three days from now has also grown manifold. True, back in 1919 there were still a few isolates spots like the Kilimanjaro crater, where you could find countless herds of animals who’d never heard a rifle shot. But aside from these relatively small and absolutely inaccessible places, the situation with biodiversity was pretty sad. To quote our partners Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, in 1907 only 41,000 elk remained in North America. Thanks to the money and hard work invested by hunters to restore and conserve habitat, today there are more than 1 million. Whitetails grew from 500,000 in 1900, to more than 32 million today. These success stories are not only true about North America. If you arrived in South Africa in 1919, you’d find most of the country “thoroughly shot out”. That is, almost totally devoid of any wildlife worth hunting. Today, South Africa is swarming with game of all description.

The number of available destinations has grown, too. There were no wild mammals to speak of in New Zealand in 1919. Now, it’s a paradise for chamois, tahr, red deer, and many other species of game. You can no longer hunt a jaguar in Argentina, but there are free-ranging buffalo, black antelope, red deer and more. Believe it or not, there weren’t any moose in Kamchatka until 1974. Now Kamchatka produces record-breaking trophies. The list could be continued.

Not only did the number of destinations increase in the last 100 years. A hunter from 1919 couldn’t have for love or money the ease and speed of finding and booking the right hunt we enjoy today. Around the WWI, hunting books listed only a few general destinations, such as “India”, or “East Africa”, and maybe half a dozen of outfitting companies such as the Cook’s. Today, only on there are some 3500 hunts from over 450 outfitters in 45 countries, and each comes with precise and specific information and customer reviews. A hundred years ago a hunters was basically left wondering in a mist of opportunities and disasters. The handful of people who were able to find their way about without assistance became the legends we’re reading about now. The majority had to rely on assistants of unknown qualities and reputation. This freedom may be precisely what attracts us today, but 9 out of 10 hunters in 1919 would have gladly exchanged it for the certainty a modern hunter enjoys.

Very little information was available about guides and outfitters – perhaps a magazine article here, a barroom rumor there. Verifying any information was hard and took a long time – a telegram of any useful length was too expensive, and an exchange of letters took weeks if not months. In practice, the client had to make the choice in the dark. Today, all information and references can be readily accessed, all questions asked and answered via modern communication tools such as BookYourHunt’ chat, which enables hunters and outfitters to negotiate a hunting trip terms directly and in a real time mode. Making the right choice has never been easier.


You could be hunting in any of these places in 48 hours.

Not all changes in the last 100 years have been for the better, as far as a hunter is concerned. There are no longer any truly uncivilized places, and you can’t hope to discover a new river or species. Some areas, such as India, are no longer open for hunters. Some species, like the rhinoceros, have been driven to near extinction by poaching and habitat loss.

But on the whole, an average modern hunter is much better off today than 100 years ago. Never in history could so many people enjoy hunting in so many places, at such down-to-earth prices, with such abundance and variety of game, speed of travel, and ease of booking a hunt! So why cry over the old days that will never return? Use the opportunities that the modern times provide – to the utmost! So what are you waiting for? Start making your own legendary memories in what may very well be the Golden Age of hunting. Book your next hunt now!

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