Book Review: Between the Elephant’s Eyes!
By Colonel Robert L. Scott, Jr.
(Review by Ralph Schneider, aka “Hoppy&rdquo
Although he is certainly famous as the WWII pilot and author of God Is My Co-Pilot, Colonel Scott might be best known among shooters for his African hunting autobiography—in which he describes the early life events that led to his fascination with African hunting, his hunting philosophy, and ultimately his later pursuit of a great bull elephant. In the beginning, he was a gutsy kid from Georgia who was influenced by a number of mentors and, at the ripe old age of sixteen, took a job on a freighter bound for Mombasa. In later years, this train of events eventually led him to participation in an extended safari with gun designer Roy Weatherby, professional hunter Pitcairn Holmes, and (perhaps most important of all) guide and tracker Borana Gholo.
Much of the safari narrative is both eye-opening and typical, detailing successful hunts and shots that produced trophies and meat for the pot. Scott was already a creditable woodsman and a good shot, as well as something of a naturalist learning about the animals themselves, their relationships with each other, and their environments. But he continued to learn, especially from his tracker and companion Gholo, a man he greatly admired and respected. But eventually that standard safari narrative gives way to Scott’s interest in—and pursuit of—the almost-mythical bull elephant which is eventually named Samburu.
In this pursuit, Scott disconnects from much of the motorized support of the standard safari and shifts to a “walking safari” mode of operation and carries only the barest necessities: his rifles (a scoped .300 Magnum and a .475 Rigby double), a briefcase with his camera and other items, and a ground cloth to sleep on and under. He catches up with the elephant twice: once when his shot is thwarted by water on the scope’s objective lens, and once when—but no; I’d better not tell that part of the story, since only Scott’s own narrative and writing can give it justice. Experience it yourself from Scott’s own words; you’ll find it well worth the trip.
But believe me: if you can find a copy of this book and read it, you’ll value the experience. Colonel Scott’s story is one that hunters, nonhunters (and even some antihunters) can appreciate and find admirable. Although written in the 1950s, the story, the outlook, and the lessons learned are ageless.