Horn of the Hunter

By Brian Smith

 Horn of the Hunter is one of my favorite pieces of safari literature by one of my favorite authors, Robert C. Ruark. This book tells of a safari that Ruark and his wife Virginia embarked upon in the early 1950s. They were guided by Harry Selby who began his career under the tutelage of the legendary hunter, Philip Percival, regarded by many as the Dean of African Hunters. Percival was part of Theodore Roosevelt’s famed 1909-1910 safari, as well as guiding for Baron Rothschild and Ernest Hemingway on African hunts. 

“The hunter’s horn sounds early for some, later for others.  For some unfortunates, poisoned by city sidewalks and sentenced to a cement jungle more horrifying that anything to be found in Tanganyika, the horn of the hunter never winds at all.  But deep in the gut of most men is buried the involuntary response to the hunter’s horn, a prickle of the nape hairs, an acceleration of the pulse, an atavistic memory of their forefathers, who killed first with stone, and then with club, and then with spear, and then with bow, and then with gun, and finally with formulae.”

I have been to Africa on several safaris and hunted dangerous game. In my opinion, Horn of the Hunter captures the spirit and the romance of the African safari as well as any book I have read on the subject. There’s an understanding here that hunting is more than killing. The dialogue is interesting and Ruark is witty and talented. His descriptions of the animals and the country are superb. The book is also illustrated by Ruark, and the drawings are quite good. In the text, you will discover fear, anxiety, restlessness, pride, triumph, and in the end, respect and joy.


Brian R. Smith is an avid outdoorsman passionate about fly fishing, wing shooting, Safari hunting, and equestrian activities. He lives with his wife Gretchen in Alabama, and together they enjoy spending time with their horses and sporting dogs on trails, rivers, and in the sporting field. To read more of Brians adventures, you can follow him on Instagram @bohemianadventure