Harry Selby Died At 92 — Saying Farwell To A Hunting Legend

“To deny the instinct to hunt,” he says, “is to deny the instinct to exist.”

Written by Outdoor Beasts Staff on January 23, 2018

“To deny the instinct to hunt,” [Harry Selby] says, “is to deny the instinct to exist.”

There are some words that get thrown around way too freely. Legend is one of them because a title like that needs to be earned. Here is one example where it is totally deserved.

Here are some excerpts from the tribute written to him in the New York Times:

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Harry Selby, one of the last of Africa’s renowned white hunters, who took rich and famous safari clients into the interiors of Kenya, Tanganyika and Botswana for a half-century to shoot game, photograph exotic wildlife and search for elusive adventure in the bush, died Saturday at his home in Maun, Botswana. He was 92.

…His death was confirmed by his friend Joe Coogan, an American writer and hunter who had worked on safaris with Selby. Coogan said he was notified in a message from Botswana by Selby’s daughter, Gail. No cause was given.

Selby grew up on a ranch astride the equator in Kenya, watching enormous herds of zebra and impala, whiffing lion and Cape buffalo, listening to an elephant scream and hyenas giggling at sundown. In the burning heat, he learned to track an animal over rocky ground, and to avoid the rhino laid up in the dusty shade of an acacia tree. He shot his first antelope at 8, his first elephant at 14.

Selby was a postwar protégé of the East Africa hunter Philip Hope Percival, who took Theodore Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway on safaris, and he became a professional hunter himself in the late 1940s. He took the American author Robert Ruark on safari in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and with the 1953 publication of Ruark’s best-selling book, “Horn of the Hunter,” Selby became one of Africa’s most famous hunting guides.

Drawn to the romance of treks to kill lions, elephants and rhinos and to photograph native tribes and storybook landscapes, clients flocked from around the world to Selby safaris, which were booked for years with clients like Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, the Maharajah of Jaipur, Prince Stanislaus Radziwill of Poland and Western tycoons, industrialists and chief executives seeking thrills and self-fulfillment.

…John Henry Selby — Harry was his universal nickname — was born in Frankfort, South Africa, on July 22, 1925, the youngest of six children of Arthur and Myrtle Evelyn Randall Selby. When he was 3, his family moved to a 40,000-acre cattle ranch near Mount Kenya.

Surrounded by a game-rich countryside, the boy learned to hunt from an old Kikuyu tribesman. “He taught me to use my eyes and ears as well as my nose, and to be patient in order to remain motionless for long periods of time waiting for an animal to come within range,” Mr. Selby told The American Rifleman.

Mr. Selby attended local schools, traveling by ox cart, and later the Prince of Wales, a boarding school in Nairobi. After World War II, he worked for Mr. Percival, who recognized his potential as a hunter-guide, and in 1949 he joined East Africa’s foremost safari outfitter, Ker & Downey, based in Nairobi. In 1956, after Mr. Ruark’s book had made him famous, he formed his own safari company, Selby & Holmberg.

In 1953, he married Maria Elizabeth Clulow, known as Miki. They had two children, Mark and Gail. Mark died in 2017. Mr. Selby is survived by his wife, daughter and a number of grandchildren.

[in times of political upheaval, he left Kenya and found a wonderful opportunity in Bechuanaland — later renamed Botswana]

… “What we found exceeded our wildest expectations — a land which the passage of time had passed by, where nature had remained unchanged in the 20th century,” Mr. Selby said in a 2013 interview for this obituary. “The vast savannas were teeming with huge herds of elephant, buffalo, kudu, zebra, wildebeest and sable. Lions were everywhere, showing little fear of man.”

For 30 years, Mr. Selby ran company operations in Botswana, and guided hunters and photographers into leased concessions covering thousands of square miles in the Okavango Delta in the north and the vast Kalahari Desert in the south, home of the click-talking Bushmen. He cut tracks and built airfields in the wilderness.

In 1970, he established Botswana’s first lodge and camps for photographic safaris. He hired guides and a large support staff for what became a dominant safari business in Southern Africa. After Ker, Downey and Selby was bought by Safari South in 1978, he remained a director, and even after resigning in 1993 he continued to lead safaris privately until retiring in 2000.

In 2007, President Festus Mogae of Botswana awarded Mr. Selby the Presidential Certificate of Honor in recognition of his contributions to hunting and photographic tourism.
Excerpted from: NYT, by ROBERT D. McFADDEN

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He was featured in ‘People’ back in 1976:
The Breed Is Vanishing, but Harry Selby Holds Out as Africa’s Great White Hunter

Get Doug Giles’ book, Rise, Kill and Eat: A Theology of Hunting from Genesis to Revelation today!

If a person looked to Scripture and paid particular attention to the passages within the Bible that address the topic of hunting, then they’d walk away thinking not only is hunting animals tolerated but it is endorsed by God. And that’s exactly what this little book is about: proving that God, from Genesis to Revelation, is extremely cool with hunters and hunting. I’ll go out on a biblical limb and claim right off the bat that you cannot show me, through the balance of the Bible, that the God of the Scripture is against the responsible killing and the grilling of the animals He created. ~Doug Giles


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