Title: In Africa: Hunting Adventures in the Big Game Country by John Tinney McCutcheon
Location: Google Books Date: 1910
Fans of Chicago Tribune cartoonist, John T. McCutcheon, will be particularly interested in his personal account of his African adventures. The book is filled with his whimsical prose and sketches plus many of his personal photographs. What is most interesting to note is that eleven years later, McCutcheon would be elected the first president of the Chicago Zoological Association. In his autobiography, Drawn From Memory, McCutcheon credits his African expedition as the reason he was chosen to be president of the new Brookfield Zoo.
THE PREPARATION FOR DEPARTURE. EXPERIENCES WITH WILLING FRIENDS AND ADVISERS
Ever since I can remember, almost, I have cherished a modest ambition to hunt lions and elephants. At an early age, or, to be more exact, at about that age which finds most boys wondering whether they would rather be Indian fighters or sailors, I ran across a copy of Stanley’s Through the Dark Continent. It was full of fascinating adventures. I thrilled at the accounts which spoke in terms of easy familiarity of “express” rifles and “elephant” guns, and in my vivid but misguided imagination, I pictured an elephant gun as a sort of cannon—a huge, unwieldy arquebus—that fired a ponderous shell. The old woodcuts of daring hunters and charging lions inspired me with unrest and longing—the longing to bid the farm farewell and start down the road for Africa. Africa! What a picture it conjured up in my fancy! Then, as even now, it symbolized a world of adventurous possibilities; and in my boyhood fancy, it lay away off there—somewhere—vaguely—beyond mountains and deserts and oceans, a vast, mysterious, unknown land, that swarmed with inviting dangers and alluring romance.
One by one my other youthful ambitions have been laid away. I have given up hope of ever being an Indian fighter out on the plains, because the pesky redskins have long since ceased to need my strong right arm to quell them. I also have yielded up my ambition to be a sailor, or rather, that branch of the profession in which I hoped to specialize— piracy—because, for some regretful reason, piracy has lost much of its charm in these days of great liners. There is no treasure to search for any more, and the golden age of the splendid clipper ships, with their immense spread of canvas, has given way to the unromantic age of the grimy steamer, about which there is so little to appeal to the imagination. Consequently, lion hunting is about the only thing left—except wars, and they are few and far between.
And so, after suffering this “lion-hunting” ambition to lie fallow for many years, I at last reached a day when it seemed possible to realize it. The chance came in a curiously unexpected way. Mr. Akeley, a man famed in African hunting exploits, was to deliver a talk before a little club to which I belonged. I went, and as a result of my thrilled interest in every word he said, I met him and talked with him and finally was asked to join a new African expedition that he had in prospect. With the party were to be Mrs. Akeley, with a record of fourteen months in the big game country, and Mr. Stephenson, a hunter with many years of experience in the wild places of the United States, Canada and Mexico. My hunting experience had been chiefly gained in my library, but for some strange reason, it did not seem incongruous that I should begin my real hunting in a lion and elephant country.
I had all the prowess of a Tartarin, and during the five months that elapsed before I actually set forth, I went about ray daily work with a mind half dazed with the delicious consciousness that I was soon to become a lion hunter. I feared that modern methods might have taken away much of the old- time romance of the sport, but I felt certain that there was still to be something left in the way of excitement and adventure.
The succeeding pages of this book contain the chronicle of the nine delightful months that followed my departure from America.