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Sun. Dec. 17, 10:00 AM ET

6 Hazardous Hunts That Could Kill You

Let’s start with a couple of basic assumptions. First, hunting is supposed to be fun. Getting scared out of your wits may be memorable, but it isn’t necessarily fun. Getting seriously hurt may also be memorable, but there’s nothing fun about it either. I’ve been fortunate; I’ve never been seriously hurt on a hunting trip by an animal (touch wood), and during a fairly long and extremely active hunting career I’ve had very few genuine close calls. I definitely don’t seek them, and I don’t think they’re fun.

A second assumption: Almost any wild animal can be dangerous when it’s injured or cornered. More people in North America are hurt by semi-tame deer every year than hunters in Africa are injured by the entire Big Five put together. Even the animals we consider “dangerous game” are generally not dangerous until you mess with them. You usually don’t get into serious trouble unless mistakes are made, and the most common mistake lies in not shooting straight the first time around.

I’ve never been particularly comfortable in ranking various game animals in order of ferocity or the inherent danger in hunting them. I’m personally more afraid of lions than all the rest, and I’m convinced that a leopard is the most likely to get to you. But the real danger is always somewhat situational. Going after a wounded brown bear in thick alders, for instance, strikes me as a lot hairier than following a wounded buffalo or even lion in open country. Make it tall grass and things change! The question posed, however, wasn’t what animals are the most dangerous, but rather my opinion on some of the most hazardous hunts. The answer to that one is suddenly very situational: The environment or the hunting methodology (sometimes both) combines with the animal to create, er, interesting circumstances. Here’s my spin on hunts that could kill you—in no particular order—that you shouldn’t go on unless you’ve got plenty of good insurance.

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