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Prothero’s sage, The Dangerous Game, tells us of modern day, true-to-life actual encounters with dangerous animals in Africa, North America, and Asia. As he says, “when a tracker in Mozambique gets tossed into a thorn tree by an enraged buffalo, this is sensational however you tell it. The simple truth is often more sensational than anything we can construct with words.” With his flair for writing, Prothero weaves his tales of sacrifice, bravery, misfortune, and stunning success on the hunting fields around the world.
The common thread of danger, real and potential, and mortality, immediate or not, binds together the stories in this tome, even though the focus of the danger is not always obvious or immediately apparent. Still, hunters face danger at every turn. In a “Treeless Land,” Prothero faced no polar bear charges, the bad weather wasn’t insurmountable, and the hunters weren’t forced to swim open leads in the ice pack. Still, on an open ice pack in winter, frostbite, hypothermia, storms, ice-lead openings, shifts, and danger from bears were always potential threats…to the extent that the Inuit guides slept in their clothes.
In other stories, people get killed or very nearly so. Elephant charges in Africa or grizzly charges in North America often force you to face mortality, however they turn out…as does getting lost in a frozen British Columbia forest, or a rattlesnake bite, or a dunking in an Arctic river. True, few hunters think of the dangers of climbing around after sheep or shitting on a saddle mule, but they are, nevertheless, real and present. Perhaps, too, we’ll find that the most dangerous beast isn’t an African lion, Cape buffalo, elephant, or grizzly, but rather a thoughtless moment or just plain bad luck. Whatever it is, true adventures and danger are still plentiful on a big-game hunt in the Twenty-first century.