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DVD Review: 'The Essence of Elephant Hunting'

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May 02, 2012

DVD Review: 'The Essence of Elephant Hunting'

By David E. Petzal

The late Finn Aagaard, who was a PH for many years, claimed that elephants were the greatest of all African dangerous game, and among people who have hunted the Big Five, I doubt you’ll find much disagreement. “The Essence of Elephant Hunting” is a DVD put together by Charlton-McCallum Safaris, and after watching it I doubt you’ll disagree either.

The photography is professional (except for when the cameraman is running for his life along with everyone else) but the disc is devoid of the shuck and jive that you see in the hunting programs produced for television. As one example, mopane flies swarm in front of the camera lens, and everywhere else. The little bastards are a fact of life in Africa, and no attempt is made to hide it.

What you get to see is elephant hunting as it really is, and also, in the course of events, some very good shooting, largely with double rifles. Buzz Charlton’s clients are experienced with elephants, and very proficient with their guns. Getting off two fast aimed shots with a .500 while something that weighs 6 tons is bearing down on you at 5 yards takes a certain degree of skill, and possibly a change of underwear. 

“Essence” is more expensive that a conventional DVD, but on the other hand you’re not going to see anything remotely like it anywhere else. For information on ordering, go to the website.

 

Comments (31)

Top Rated
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from RES1956 wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

Since I have no desire to shoot one of these since they are Alabama's State Pachyderm (the Red Variety only), but do have a taste for armchair adventure, I think it would be worth a watch,,,

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

"...Getting off two fast aimed shots with a .500 while something that weighs 6 tons is bearing down on you at 5 yards takes a certain degree of skill..."

Much easier to accomplish with a double rifle than a bolt gun!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

RES1956

Now Tigers is a whole 'nother story1

RTR

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Amen to that Dave. On a scale of 1 to ten on the pucker scale I'd say that is a 12. Having a 6 ton angry elephant about to stomp you into bloody mashed hunter would certainly make one appreciate life a little more

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

When I worked in hospital security, I met an ER Doc that liked to hunt, having taken as elephant trophy to his name, he claimed this big animal made the most memorable impression on him out of all the game he had taken.
He watched a few hunting shows before going on his hunt, but nothing, he said, "Could prepare him for the God Awful helplessness" he felt right before his shot dropped it. He bolted another shot in it before the smoke settled. It had been 5 years since his hunt, and he said he could recall every second of it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I will be entertained with the downing of both a bengal and an elephant. WPS. Fayetteville 2012

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from MICHMAN wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Africa is an amazing place to hunt. The vast variety and high number of game available is truly incredible. I did not see any elephants while there but I do KNOW that HUNTING is a NEEDED tool to regulate populations so that the habitat is preserved for all of the other great creatures that share in this paradise. Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great DVD!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Hey Dave, Do you think that elephants clean the goo from between their toes when they are done stomping on a person lol

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

@ AJMc

In your dreams and wildest fantasies!

RTR

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from reb7 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

that would be fun if you had the money to get there

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from reb7 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

that would be fun if you had the money to get there

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

deadeye: pachyderm pedicures

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Mopane flies make life miserable, and often sweat bees thicken as you approach herd animals. These bees do not bite, they attack every drop of moisture they can reach. Trackers forefingers move like windshield wipers in an effort to keep them from their eyes, they mat your hair. Hot sun, forced march trek, these elements all part of a good elephant hunt. No prowling along park lines in a vehicle hoping for tembo to make a mistake. No; pick up a good track, usually at a muddy water hole, argue, strategize, strip down to essentials, load all the water you can carry, and walk, walk, walk. At the end, occasionally, the big track turns into a big bull. No matter how isolated it may appear, eventually the locals begin to show up and the celebration begins. So much meat for all and a real party with prizes, something they don't get too often

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I have ordered the DVD. Must confess I feel it will be hard to capture the essence of elephant hunting, because it is such a personal experience. I recall reviewing years later random thoughts written in my diary the evening after taking my first elephant. In retrospect, I was startled how emotional they were, bear in mind,I was a seasoned international hunter at the time of that first elephant hunt. If I can dig them up, will see if there may be some thoughts to share.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Happy, you really need to write that book!

WAM

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RipperIII wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

As a fellow "Roll Tide" guy,...I'd find it hard to shoot my mascot.
but I will look into the DVD,...I may never make it to Africa to hunt, but it is on the list.
There is a guy in a tiny non-descript town in middle Alabama, pop. of about 300, who owns a gun shop.
People come in from all over the south east to buy guns,look at all his African mounts, and photo journals, his Son-in-law is a S. African guide...great stories.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Too bad we couldn't get a preview. It looks like a great vid. For some reason killing elephants seems kind of strange to me. They are very intelligent and I don't guess you eat them. I mean if they are rogue elephants tearing up villages and crops it is different, but to me killing an elephant is kind of like all the bad things associated with trophy hunting times ten.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from VanhetHof wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

As a result of reading an article on elephant hunting by Richard Starnes years ago in Field and Stream (mid 1970's?), I'd have to agree with Dr. Ralph. If I remember correctly, the whole gist of Starne's article was that after witnessing firsthand how intelligent elephants were and the almost humanlike qualities of care exhibited within their family groups (at the risk of sounding anthropomorphic), he would never hunt elephants again. And he did not.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Ripper III, this would not be a bait and tackle on Hwy 82 would it? What is it, in Autaugaville I think? Help me out on this one, time has stolen my memory.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

AJ,
You remember what happened the last time you started talking smack on this site,,,,,,
RTR

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

RipperIII,
Make that Highway 14, not 82, maybe and the guy's name is Leonard, I think???

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

RipperIII
Try the Minnow Bucket??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RipperIII wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

RES1956
Luther
Minnow bucket
you are correct sir!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph,
I remember Finn Aagard writing that he had no desire to kill a bear. He did guide for bears, but he only anchored fleeing animals that have been shot by clients already.

DP,
Every time I watch the Stewart Granger version of "King Solomon's Mines" I always get a smile at the scene where Allan Quatermain's clients ask him isn't the lion the king of beasts (as Greek philosophers long ago must have ordained it)? Allan Quatermain's answer is that the lion is not strong enough, not fast enough AND not smart enough.

The true king, of course, is the elephant.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I never wanted to kill an elephant or a lion unless I was hunting plains game and got invited to hunt a rogue beast hurting the natives, then I would be all in with a vengeance.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Captjim wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I know this post is not going to be very popular but I'm saying it anyway. I personally feel that elephants are too majestic of an animal to kill. They are one of the few animals that understand death and will mourn for days after a mate or offspring dies. They are the closest thing to have a "soul" besides ourselves. I'm the last person to condemn any type of hunting but I believe elephant hunting is more about a cheap adrenaline rush for rich people who want a trophy elephant to go with their trophy wife and a good story to tell at the Polo Club. If they are that desperate for excitement go shoot a lion with a bow and leave the poor elephants alone. There are just too many other wild game animals to hunt that don't go on and off the endangered list. If there was ever a time not to take the shot, this would be it. There I said.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Captjim wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Captjim,

I for one agree with your sentiments about elephants, but I don't condemn those who do hunt them. Too many are poached for their ivory already. But, none of them are squishing my kin between their toes, eating my crop, or knocking down my hut either...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Captjim wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

WA, I agree that a dangerous rouge animal should be taken to save lives but it should be done by a park ranger or government official. I would think that the percentage of rouge elephants taken by hunters would be small if any because they are looking for a trophy animal. I do respect the right for a hunter to do it but I don't think it advances the cause for hunting as seen from non hunters. Killing an elephant is about the same as killing a whale to many people. I think it's pretty selfish for someone to do it. That's just my opinion. I also don't understand why it's sporting to shoot one. It's a big slow target that's going to show up at the water hole sooner or later. They can't see you well so as long as you are downwind it's pretty easy to pick one off at 50 yards. I know they will tell you that you have to stalk them in dense brush and it's dangerous but I don't think people have to hunt them like that they choose to hunt like that for the excitement. I also feel the same way about hunters that shoot Giraffes. It really doesn't help the hunting cause. I say go after the warthogs.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

In parts of Botswana the elephants are eating themselves out of food. So they need control,plus the game fees go right to the people now. Those poor bastards need all the help they can get.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Africa needs the money. I guess that is the long and the short of it. It is yours if you can afford it, everyone else is crying sour grapes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Too bad we couldn't get a preview. It looks like a great vid. For some reason killing elephants seems kind of strange to me. They are very intelligent and I don't guess you eat them. I mean if they are rogue elephants tearing up villages and crops it is different, but to me killing an elephant is kind of like all the bad things associated with trophy hunting times ten.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Mopane flies make life miserable, and often sweat bees thicken as you approach herd animals. These bees do not bite, they attack every drop of moisture they can reach. Trackers forefingers move like windshield wipers in an effort to keep them from their eyes, they mat your hair. Hot sun, forced march trek, these elements all part of a good elephant hunt. No prowling along park lines in a vehicle hoping for tembo to make a mistake. No; pick up a good track, usually at a muddy water hole, argue, strategize, strip down to essentials, load all the water you can carry, and walk, walk, walk. At the end, occasionally, the big track turns into a big bull. No matter how isolated it may appear, eventually the locals begin to show up and the celebration begins. So much meat for all and a real party with prizes, something they don't get too often

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from VanhetHof wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

As a result of reading an article on elephant hunting by Richard Starnes years ago in Field and Stream (mid 1970's?), I'd have to agree with Dr. Ralph. If I remember correctly, the whole gist of Starne's article was that after witnessing firsthand how intelligent elephants were and the almost humanlike qualities of care exhibited within their family groups (at the risk of sounding anthropomorphic), he would never hunt elephants again. And he did not.

+3 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

RES1956

Now Tigers is a whole 'nother story1

RTR

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Happy Myles wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I have ordered the DVD. Must confess I feel it will be hard to capture the essence of elephant hunting, because it is such a personal experience. I recall reviewing years later random thoughts written in my diary the evening after taking my first elephant. In retrospect, I was startled how emotional they were, bear in mind,I was a seasoned international hunter at the time of that first elephant hunt. If I can dig them up, will see if there may be some thoughts to share.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from hutter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

In parts of Botswana the elephants are eating themselves out of food. So they need control,plus the game fees go right to the people now. Those poor bastards need all the help they can get.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carney wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

"...Getting off two fast aimed shots with a .500 while something that weighs 6 tons is bearing down on you at 5 yards takes a certain degree of skill..."

Much easier to accomplish with a double rifle than a bolt gun!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Captjim,

I for one agree with your sentiments about elephants, but I don't condemn those who do hunt them. Too many are poached for their ivory already. But, none of them are squishing my kin between their toes, eating my crop, or knocking down my hut either...

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Jim in Mo wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I never wanted to kill an elephant or a lion unless I was hunting plains game and got invited to hunt a rogue beast hurting the natives, then I would be all in with a vengeance.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Ralph the Rifleman wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

When I worked in hospital security, I met an ER Doc that liked to hunt, having taken as elephant trophy to his name, he claimed this big animal made the most memorable impression on him out of all the game he had taken.
He watched a few hunting shows before going on his hunt, but nothing, he said, "Could prepare him for the God Awful helplessness" he felt right before his shot dropped it. He bolted another shot in it before the smoke settled. It had been 5 years since his hunt, and he said he could recall every second of it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from O Garcia wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Dr. Ralph,
I remember Finn Aagard writing that he had no desire to kill a bear. He did guide for bears, but he only anchored fleeing animals that have been shot by clients already.

DP,
Every time I watch the Stewart Granger version of "King Solomon's Mines" I always get a smile at the scene where Allan Quatermain's clients ask him isn't the lion the king of beasts (as Greek philosophers long ago must have ordained it)? Allan Quatermain's answer is that the lion is not strong enough, not fast enough AND not smart enough.

The true king, of course, is the elephant.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Amen to that Dave. On a scale of 1 to ten on the pucker scale I'd say that is a 12. Having a 6 ton angry elephant about to stomp you into bloody mashed hunter would certainly make one appreciate life a little more

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 50 weeks ago

Since I have no desire to shoot one of these since they are Alabama's State Pachyderm (the Red Variety only), but do have a taste for armchair adventure, I think it would be worth a watch,,,

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Ripper III, this would not be a bait and tackle on Hwy 82 would it? What is it, in Autaugaville I think? Help me out on this one, time has stolen my memory.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Longbeard wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

deadeye: pachyderm pedicures

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MICHMAN wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Africa is an amazing place to hunt. The vast variety and high number of game available is truly incredible. I did not see any elephants while there but I do KNOW that HUNTING is a NEEDED tool to regulate populations so that the habitat is preserved for all of the other great creatures that share in this paradise. Thanks for sharing, sounds like a great DVD!

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Captjim wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I know this post is not going to be very popular but I'm saying it anyway. I personally feel that elephants are too majestic of an animal to kill. They are one of the few animals that understand death and will mourn for days after a mate or offspring dies. They are the closest thing to have a "soul" besides ourselves. I'm the last person to condemn any type of hunting but I believe elephant hunting is more about a cheap adrenaline rush for rich people who want a trophy elephant to go with their trophy wife and a good story to tell at the Polo Club. If they are that desperate for excitement go shoot a lion with a bow and leave the poor elephants alone. There are just too many other wild game animals to hunt that don't go on and off the endangered list. If there was ever a time not to take the shot, this would be it. There I said.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Captjim wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

it.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Captjim wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

WA, I agree that a dangerous rouge animal should be taken to save lives but it should be done by a park ranger or government official. I would think that the percentage of rouge elephants taken by hunters would be small if any because they are looking for a trophy animal. I do respect the right for a hunter to do it but I don't think it advances the cause for hunting as seen from non hunters. Killing an elephant is about the same as killing a whale to many people. I think it's pretty selfish for someone to do it. That's just my opinion. I also don't understand why it's sporting to shoot one. It's a big slow target that's going to show up at the water hole sooner or later. They can't see you well so as long as you are downwind it's pretty easy to pick one off at 50 yards. I know they will tell you that you have to stalk them in dense brush and it's dangerous but I don't think people have to hunt them like that they choose to hunt like that for the excitement. I also feel the same way about hunters that shoot Giraffes. It really doesn't help the hunting cause. I say go after the warthogs.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

@ AJMc

In your dreams and wildest fantasies!

RTR

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from WA Mtnhunter wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Happy, you really need to write that book!

WAM

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Tim Platt wrote 1 year 48 weeks ago

Africa needs the money. I guess that is the long and the short of it. It is yours if you can afford it, everyone else is crying sour grapes.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RipperIII wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

As a fellow "Roll Tide" guy,...I'd find it hard to shoot my mascot.
but I will look into the DVD,...I may never make it to Africa to hunt, but it is on the list.
There is a guy in a tiny non-descript town in middle Alabama, pop. of about 300, who owns a gun shop.
People come in from all over the south east to buy guns,look at all his African mounts, and photo journals, his Son-in-law is a S. African guide...great stories.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RipperIII wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

RES1956
Luther
Minnow bucket
you are correct sir!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Drew McClure wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

I will be entertained with the downing of both a bengal and an elephant. WPS. Fayetteville 2012

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from deadeyedick wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

Hey Dave, Do you think that elephants clean the goo from between their toes when they are done stomping on a person lol

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

AJ,
You remember what happened the last time you started talking smack on this site,,,,,,
RTR

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

RipperIII,
Make that Highway 14, not 82, maybe and the guy's name is Leonard, I think???

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from RES1956 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

RipperIII
Try the Minnow Bucket??

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from reb7 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

that would be fun if you had the money to get there

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from reb7 wrote 1 year 49 weeks ago

that would be fun if you had the money to get there

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment