All big game animals can be dangerous when injured or cornered, the following list shows the top 15 most perilous animals to hunt, where the hunter may become the hunted!
African Bull Elephants
For the seasoned African hunter, the elephant is a coveted trophy hunt. But, as the world’s largest land animal, he can be a challenging and dangerous target. African elephants differ greatly from their Chinese or Indian cousins in size and temper. Male African elephants (bulls) stand up to 13 feet tall and can weigh over 7,000 pounds. Elephants are also exceptionally intelligent.
Combining their weight, size and intelligence, elephants also have an aggressive streak and have been known to go on rampage or charge hunters.
The spotted hyena is Africa’s most common large carnivore. Over the years, humans and hyenas have come into close contact in Africa, leading to mutual predation. Reputed to be cowardly and timid, the hyena can be bold and dangerous, attacking humans and other animals. Hyenas will readily feed on human corpses and may develop bold behaviour towards living humans, having acquired a taste for human flesh.
Hyenas stand about 36 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 150 pounds, depending on the animal’s origin in Africa.
Leopards are nocturnal hunters and hunting them with a light is illegal. This makes them incredibly challenging to catch in the dark and all the more dangerous for the hunter.
A leopard’s diet varies greatly, depending on what’s available, from dung beetles to adult elands weighing up to 2,000 pounds. These large cats will also take domestic livestock when other food sources are scarce. Leopards are the kings of stealth and will stalk close to their prey and then run a short distance to take it down. They kill through suffocation by grabbing their prey by the throat and biting down. Leopards have been known to take humans as prey.
Although known to be less aggressive than the larger crocodile (which is illegal to hunt in North America), attacks by alligators are not unheard of, especially in or near cloudy waters where the attack can often be a case of mistaken identity. Alligator bites are serious injuries, due to the reptile’s bite force and risk of infection. As human populations increase, and as they build houses in low-lying areas or fish or hunt near water, incidents are inevitable where alligators invade, or appear to invade, human life.
As with all crocodilians, and as opposed to many mammals where size eventually diminishes as the animal gets older, healthy alligators continue to grow throughout their lives and the oldest animals are the largest. Very old, large male alligators reach an expected maximum size of up to 15 feet in length, and weigh up to 1,000 pounds. But larger specimens have been reported.
Found in many countries around the world, the wild boar has a long history with humans. While domestic pigs, both captive and feral, have been in North America since the earliest days of European colonization, it wasn’t until the 19th century that wild boars were introduced to the New World. Wealthy landowners released the boars as big game animals.
A wild boar is very a tough animal and hunters need to make sure the shot is in the kill zone. An injured wild boar can turn on a hunter and become very dangerous. Although they don’t have claws, they do have sharp tusks, which can cause a lot of damage if the hunter is gouged.
Although their size varies greatly depending on environment, a western wild boar can reach up to 440 pounds.
Adult male polar bears can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and reach almost 10 feet in height, making them the largest predator on Earth. Given their massive size; a sense of smell that is second-to-none, being able to detect seals up to 1.6 kilometres away and under three feet of ice; and sprinting speeds up to 40 kilometres an hour, the polar bear is one of North America’s most dangerous animals to hunt. Although their typical prey is seal, polar bears will kill and eat pretty much anything they can stalk and catch – including people.
For hunting, the polar bear has a few tricks to rely on. When still-hunting, the bear uses its excellent sense of smell to locate a seal breathing hole and crouches nearby, waiting in silence, for a seal to appear. The bear may lay in wait for several hours. When the seal exhales, the bear smells its breath, reaches into the hole with a forepaw and drags it out onto the ice. The polar bear kills the seal by biting its head to crush its skull. The polar bear also hunts by stalking seals resting on the ice, getting in close and then rushing the last 30 or 40 feet for a surprise attack. With hunting methods such as these, and a coat that helps the bears blend seamlessly with the surrounding snow, hunters need to be acutely aware of their surroundings.
Also known as a mountain lion, puma or panther, this North American big cat is intelligent and curious, known to stalk hunters just to observe their behaviour. In the majority of cases, cougars mean no harm and fade away into the background before a hunter can take notice. But on occasion, when a cougar attacks a human, he usually has no hint of the cat’s presence until it’s on top of him. The primary danger from a cougar is not being charged while hunting – it’s being stalked and attacked before you have time to bring your gun to your shoulder.
Cougars are the fourth largest cat, with adults standing up to 35 inches at the shoulder and adult males reaching 7.9 feet in length. Males typically weigh between 115 and 220 pounds.
The North American bison is one of the largest of the world’s bovines, known for its vitality and unpredictable temperament. Herds of bison were slaughtered for their hides during the 19th century, similar to elephants hunted for their ivory in Africa, but hunting these animals one-on-one is a potentially dangerous adventure.
Bison are generally not as aggressive as their African cousin, the Cape buffalo, but they are much bigger and can be difficult to kill. If they feel threatened or take exception to a hunter’s behaviour, they have been known to charge. With the bison’s massive frame and horns, this could spell disaster for the hunter standing in the way.
There are two subspecies of bison in North America – the plains bison and the wood bison. A bison has a shaggy, long, dark brown winter coat, and a lighter-weight, lighter brown summer coat. Plains bison are often in the smaller range of sizes, and wood bison in the larger range. Head-and-body length ranges from 6.6 to 11.5 feet long, the tail adding 12 to 36 inches. Shoulder height in the species can range from 60 to 73 inches and weight can range from 700 to 2,000 pounds.
Tuskless African elephants
After hundreds of years of being hunted for their ivory, there is a shift happening in the gene pool of African elephants and a larger population is tuskless, both male and female.
In areas where elephants are overpopulated, some parks have permits for hunters to take tuskless elephants of either sex, but generally hunters will be looking for cows. Cow elephants are notoriously more aggressive than bulls and protective of not only their own young, but also other young in the herd. Tuskless bulls also tend to be more aggressive than tusked bulls.
Lions and other African big cats are some of the most challenging and dangerous animals to hunt. With exceptional night vision, keen intelligence, fearlessness, speed and agility, a hunter can quickly become the hunted. There have been several documented cases of man-eating lions in Africa – lions that specifically target humans as prey.
Lions range in size from about 380 pounds to 420 pounds, depending on where they are found in Africa, with lengths up to eight feet, two inches.
Hippos are considered to be one of the most dangerous large animals in Africa. They are, by nature, extremely aggressive and territorial, and female hippos are protective of their young. Attacks against humans are well documented, with hippos tipping over boats that enter their water space or chasing humans on land with no apparent provocation.
The hippo is the third heaviest land animal, after the rhinoceros and elephant. Despite their weight and stocky legs, hippos have been recorded as running at 30 kilometres an hour over short distances. Combine these characteristics with their aggressive and unpredictable nature and you have an exceptionally dangerous animal.
Unlike it’s Asian counterpart, the water buffalo, the African Cape buffalo has never been domesticated and is only distantly related to other larger bovines.
Known as “The Black Death,” the Cape buffalo’s unpredictable nature makes it hazardous for humans to hunt and has been known to gore or kill over 200 people every year. A wounded Cape buffalo will ambush and attack its pursuers.
Cape buffalo can stand up to 5.6 feet at the shoulder and weigh as much as 2,000 pounds.
Grizzly and Brown Bears
Grizzly and brown bears are actually the same species – the division is geographical, not genetic. On the coast, they are brown bears. Inland, they are grizzly bears. Abundant forage, particularly the Alaskan salmon runs, provide the opportunity for the coastal brown bears to reach their phenomenal size. An adult grizzly might weigh up to 700 pounds, 400 pounds for a female. A very large brown bear might weigh 1,000 pounds and an exceptional example can tip the scale at 1,600 or more pounds. That is bigger than most buffalo, which in prehistoric times were dinner for grizzlies.
Both grizzly and brown bears are temperamental, ferocious and can be very unpredictable. They are also intelligent and curious.
A rhino’s size and speed once made it one of the most dangerous animals to hunt. Due to excessive poaching, however, most species of rhinoceros are now threatened with extinction. The exception is the white rhino, which can be hunted in South Africa and Nambia. These brawny beasts can measure about six feet at the shoulder and weigh up to 7,700 pounds. Despite their weight, rhinos can charge at speeds of almost 50 kilometres an hour.
Even though they are such large creatures, they are very good at hiding on the African landscape. Big game hunters consider them one of the most difficult and frustrating game to hunt.
Hunted for their fur and for the threat they pose to wildlife, livestock and people, the wolf has been a targeted quarry for hunters for thousands of years. Wolves are generally taken in the late fall or early winter, when their coats are at peak quality, and when the snow makes it easier to track them.
A shot wolf must be approached with caution, as they have been known to play possum. A wolf that has been trapped or cornered by hunters may act aggressively, and older, more experienced wolves may fight savagely.
Male North American gray wolves, also known as a timber wolf or western wolf, can reach a weight of up to 100 pounds and is a species that has adapted well to today’s challenges, capable of hunting large prey.