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July 21, 2023

Vintage Photographs Prove That Ernest Hemingway Was Also a Fanatical Big-game Hunter

Ernest Hemingway (July 21, 1899 – July 2, 1961) is considered one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Best known for his novels and short stories, he was also an accomplished journalist and war correspondent. Hemingway’s trademark prose style—simple and spare—influenced a generation of writers.

Hemingway was also a fanatical big-game hunter. During the early 1930s he spent months living and hunting on the fringes of Yellowstone National Park, where he successfully hunted mule deer, bighorn sheep, and elk. Hemingway also obsessively hunted grizzly bears, developing a great respect and admiration for the animal.

In a letter he wrote to his friend, Henry “Mike” Strater, trying to get him to come hunt alongside him, Hemingway reflected his passion for the area and the hunting. “Hunting in the mts. is more damn fun than anything you can imagine. I can guarantee you shots at elk, deer, bear, and sheep… I wish to hell you’d come. This is the most beautiful country you ever saw.”

It was during his experiences in the West that Hemingway was inspired by the influence of another great hunter—Theodore Roosevelt. Wishing to follow in Teddy’s footsteps, Hemingway went on two infamous safari trips to Africa. Both of these trips were documented in his novels, “The Green Hills of Africa” and “True At First Light.” It was during his first African safari in 1933 that Hemingway truly found his inspiration from the sport of hunting, producing some of his best writing while spending three months in Kenya and Tanzania. During the trip Hemingway was guided by the great Philip Percival, who also guided Roosevelt, and took almost every trophy imaginable. From lions and leopards to rhinos, elephants, buffalo, and perhaps his favorite game species, the kudu.

During his second safari 20 years later, Hemingway had earned such a reputation as a hunter that he was left temporarily in charge of an entire hunting district as an honorary game ranger. His job was to remove problem lions and elephants from the area that had been attacking villagers and harassing local farmers.   


  1. I love his shot. It's so classic and very beautiful! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Nothing like a manly man killing for the pleasure of killing, not out of necessity. Truly reflects our society.




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