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Hunt With One of the World’s Greatest Big Game Hunters

In the latest release from the Boone and Crockett Club’s Classics Series, Frederick C. Selous takes you back to early 1900s North America to hunt moose, sheep, caribou, and more. 

The author “tracking” up the North Fork. Photograph by Charles Sheldon.

There was one man Theodore Roosevelt referred to as the “greatest of the world’s big game hunters.” His life was so outrageously adventurous that writers in the late nineteenth century would base their best-selling fiction novels (King Solomon’s Mines) on his non-fiction tales of death-defying adventure and intrigue. This real-life Allan Quatermain was none-other than the British-born Frederick C. Selous (pronounced See-loo). Lucky for us, he lived long enough to write about his hunts, including early expeditions in North America. 

The level of detail in Selous’ accounts of hunting in North America is nothing short of sensory magic.

First published in 1907, Recent Hunting Trips in North America transports readers with Selous to hunt moose in Central Canada, caribou in Newfoundland, as well as hunts for moose, sheep, and caribou alongside his friend Charles Sheldon “in the almost virgin hunting grounds of the Yukon Territory of Northwestern Canada.” Selous returned there to hunt solo in 1906. On one hunt, he trods landscapes surveyed by the Canadian Geological Survey only a few years prior. 

The level of detail in Selous’ accounts of hunting in North America is nothing short of sensory magic. While hunting with Sheldon, he describes a massive beaver dam, 22 paces around and six feet high. Even his modes of transportation exemplify the problem-solving mentality of his day. When he can’t find a canoe in all of Newfoundland to navigate its smaller rivers, he imports a 16-foot bass wood canoe from Canada and a canvas folding canoe from America. “No British or native white sportsman had I believe ever shot there before, and, indeed, much of the country I traversed was, I believe, wholly unexplored,” he wrote. 

In camp, Plateau Mountain.

If you’re a hunter who doesn’t quite get out in the woods as often as you’d like, take comfort in knowing that Selous feels your pain— well, kind of. “My thoughts still often wander back to a past of stirring and glorious memories,” he writes. “Nor is it surprising that I sometimes grow restless and dissatisfied with life in this highly civilized country, and long with an irresistible longing to taste the joys of a hunter’s life once more.” 

For us modern-day hunters, though, that’s about as close to relatable as we’re going to get with Selous’ life. He was born into the British upper class, then educated in England, Germany, and Austria. He was a fan of adventure and the life of Dr. David Livingstone, a Scottish physician and explorer who was the first European to set eyes upon “the smoke that thunders,” otherwise known as Victoria Falls in southern Africa. 

The canoe launched on Lake Kippewa.

At 19, Selous himself traveled to South Africa. From 1872-1890 he hunted. In what is now Zimbabwe, he killed elephants for museums, private individuals, and their ivory. He made first contact with various tribes, and he worked as a guide for British colonization efforts. He chronicled these adventures in A Hunter’s Wanderings in Africa in painstaking detail. He was elected a member of the Boone and Crockett Club in 1902. 

By the time World War I broke out, Selous was 63. Even though he was initially rejected entry into service of his country, he persisted and was commissioned as captain. He returned to Africa and won the Distinguished Service Order for gallantry. In 1917, he was killed in action fighting the Germans near Kissaki. 

Frederick C. Selous lived a life we twenty-first century types can only imagine. Thanks to his prolific and detailed writing, though, readers can hunt alongside him, sharing in his triumphs (and misery) from the comfort of our couch. 


More About the Classics Series 

In 2012, the Boone and Crockett Club launched our B&C Classics series of hunting and adventure books, including works from Theodore Roosevelt and George Bird Grinnell, as well as William T. Hornaday, Charles Sheldon, Frederick C. Selous, and other adventurers from the late 1800s through the early 1900s. Each title in the B&C Classics series is selected by a committee of vintage hunting literature experts and is authored by a Boone and Crockett Club member. Unlike other reprints of these hunting and adventure books, the B&C Classics series has been meticulously converted resulting in high-quality, digitally remastered eBooks and paperback editions. Many are complete with vintage photos and drawings not found in other editions. This attention to detail helps transport readers back to a time when hunting trips didn’t happen over a weekend but were adventures that spanned weeks, months, or even years.

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"The wildlife and its habitat cannot speak. So we must and we will."

-Theodore Roosevelt