Humans love stories of homicidal bears, dogs, tigers, snakes, sparrows … whatever. If it’s man-eating and it has fur, feathers, scales, or sells croissants for a living, it’s worthy of our attention. The entertainment industry picked up on this a long time ago, but it isn’t just fiction that has the monopoly on stories of hunters who became the hunted — it happens in real life, too. So sit down and enjoy these stories of real-life hunters who were either taken down by their own prey, or by some random person/animal who just thought they deserved to be taken down, full stop.
Don't kick logs in swamps
The Everglades. Beautiful. Muggy. Full of giant mosquitoes and vultures that will literally eat your car. And alligators. But a lovely place for duck hunting, right? If you’re insane.
In 2016, 50-year-old duck hunter Krit Krutchaiyan was about to get in a kayak so he could be one with the swamp creatures or something, when he saw a log in the water and kicked it. Because that’s what you do when you see logs in the water. The log turned out to be an alligator, and it bit him. Because that’s what alligators do when people kick them.
Fortunately, Krutchaiyan was with a friend who tried to use the kayak to separate him from his attacker. According to CBS Miami, the pair’s cries for help attracted an off-duty firefighter, who helped get the wounded man to Alligator Alley (a rather desolate segment of Interstate 75), where he was picked up by a sheriff’s helicopter.
Krutchaiyan’s injuries weren’t life-threatening, and now he’s got a great story to tell about the log that bit him.
Does this hoofprint make my forehead look fat?
The scariest animal in North America is not the mountain lion or the grizzly bear. Mountain lions and grizzly bears are cuddly compared to this animal, which looks pretty danged majestic and cool until it’s stomping all over your head.
When Rodney Buffett spotted a large bull moose on the south coast of Newfoundland, he did what a moose hunter is supposed to do — he raised his rifle and shot it. Twice.
Maybe the moose thought something like, “What are these irritating mosquito bites? Now I must have my revenge,” because he rolled over and pretended to be dead, with all four legs in the air. Then, when Buffett got close enough, the moose got back up and charged. According to CBC News, the moose caught Buffett with his antlers, “flicked him up in the air,” and then stomped all over him. “I’ve got hoof prints on my forehead,” Buffett later told a local morning show.
Buffett managed to kick his foe a couple times before the moose finally said, “Whatever, dude,” and trotted casually off into the woods. Buffett was flown to safety and miraculously survived with only a few stitches and staples and no internal injuries. And out there in the woods somewhere, a cunning bull moose waits for his next victim.
Shere Khan's revenge
Amur tigers (popularly known as Siberian tigers) can weigh up to a quarter of a ton. According to NPR, a big one might be 10 feet long from nose to tail, yet it can jump an astonishing 25 feet, which means there’s really no such thing as a safe viewing distance.
Russian poacher Vladimir Markov wasn’t trying to safely view the tiger that ate him in 1997; he was hunting it. He shot it, wounded it, and then just to be extra-obnoxious, took part of the kill the tiger had been munching on. Then something terrifying happened — instead of cutting its losses and lying down to die somewhere, the tiger decided to get revenge. In what can only be described as an act of premeditation, it followed Markov’s scent to the cabin he was living in, destroyed everything that belonged to him (just for fun), put a horse head under his blankets (not really but you almost believed it for a second), and then sat down by the front door and waited for him to come home. For two days.
Markov wasn’t ready for what met him when he got home. The tiger killed him and ate him, and that was that.
Moose attacks, tiger attacks, alligator attacks — they make for dramatic stories, but no one is really surprised when they happen. Tigers and alligators are predators, and the killing instinct is just part of their genetics. Moose aren’t exactly predators, but they can weigh up to 1,500 pounds and totally could be predators if they wanted to be. But owls … owls are supposed to sit around in trees and be wise and ask questions about identity. They’re not supposed to turn into flying, feathered projectiles.
In the fall of 2013, Mike Adney was hunting deer when an owl decided to be the hero of the forest creatures and take down the mighty hunter with nothing but his talons and the channeled spirit of a World War II kamikaze pilot. According to a local news station, Adney was camouflaged in a tree stand when the barn owl flew at his face, catching him in the right eye and leaving eight puncture marks. For his trouble, he also fell out of the tree stand.
Presumably Adney stopped hunting at least temporarily, so the owl totally got what it wanted.
Justice for turkeys
Turkeys don’t usually get to win — just ask the millions who have given up their lives for Thanksgiving dinner. Because turkeys just can’t catch a break, a hunter in Virginia decided he was going to start hunting them out of season. But instead of being stealthy about it, he was pretty brazen. The local news said he wasn’t just killing turkeys at the wrong time of year, he was also trespassing, shooting way more than one person could possibly put on a Thanksgiving dinner table, and just generally being a total jerk.
Police knew who he was because he was apparently a serial turkey killer, so his car was pretty easy to find even though he parked it behind someone’s barn where it couldn’t be seen from the road. But police couldn’t find him, so they sent in a K9 unit. The dog, a Labrador named “Justice,” tracked the poacher over 3 miles and caught him with a rifle and a silencer because apparently he thought he was being stealthy when he was really just being obvious.
The poacher was charged with some pretty hilarious-sounding crimes, like “fail to check turkey” and “illegal possession of turkey.” It all amounted to fines of $873, which incidentally is enough money to buy around 63 20-pound frozen turkeys at Safeway, depending on whether they’re on sale.
The serial killer who hunted his prey
You probably thought serial killers who hunt people are just fodder for crappy Hollywood gore fests. And while it’s true that serial killers who hunt people really are fodder for crappy Hollywood gore fests, it’s also true that there are some cases of that sort of thing happening in real life. Now go lock your door and check all your closets.
According to the New York Times, in the 1970s, a mild-mannered bakery owner named Robert Hansen abducted women (usually adult entertainers and ladies of the night because fewer people would miss them) and flew them out into the remote wilderness in his private plane, where he’d drop them off, let them get a little head start, and then hunt them down with his rifle.
Unfortunately for the adult services community of Anchorage, police barely seemed to notice any of this was happening until one of his potential victims ran away before he could get her into the wilderness. When cops finally hunted the suspect down and searched his home, they found some of the missing women’s jewelry as well as a map that showed exactly where 17 of his victims were buried. Fortunately, no one ever told Hansen that serial killers pretty much always get undone by the trophies they keep.
Death by hippo
Like elephants, hippos are beloved. We think of them as lovable, cuddly, and slow because anything that enormous must be out of breath after about three and a half steps, right?
We hate to burst your cuddly animal bubble, but hippos are actually the opposite of lovable. For a start, have you ever seen a hippo drop a load? You can’t unsee it. And second, International Business Times calls the hippo “the deadliest animal in Africa.” Yes, cuddly, lovable hippos have killed more people over the years than crocodiles, poisonous snakes, or even lions. And also they can run up to 20 miles an hour, which is roughly one-third the speed of a cheetah. So not only are they not especially lovable, they are also a 1-ton projectile with a giant mouth.
Spencer Tyron found this out the hard way when hunting on Lake Rukwa in Tanzania. A bull hippo flipped his boat and bit off his head and shoulders, probably before he had much idea what was happening to him. The moral of this story: Hippos aren’t cuddly. Hippos suck.
Poaching doesn't pay when you get caught
Of all the world’s criminals, perhaps none are so delightfully despised as poachers, who usually kill beloved and endangered animals for a couple valuable parts and leave the rest of the carcass to rot away on the savanna or in the forest somewhere. According to the Independent, around 20,000 elephants are killed for their ivory every single year.
In the summer of 2017, undercover investigators were hunting a trio of poachers who were in turn hunting the biggest, oldest elephants they could find. The men were finally captured while trying to sell a pair of elephant tusks so large that they couldn’t be “stuffed into the boot of the poachers’ car.” The tusks weighed 154 pounds, were worth about $126,000, and probably came from a bull elephant that was at least 40 years old.
An undercover investigator tracked down the poachers by posing as a buyer. After the arrest, investigators made the suspects pose for photographs in handcuffs while holding the tusks they’d been trying to sell, which seems like an especially weird form of punishment. Maybe shaming busted poachers will help deter others from taking up the deplorable profession.
Wolf meets snowmobile, man gets in way
When you’re riding around the Alaskan wilderness on a snowmobile, it’s comforting to know that nothing will attack you because you’re on a big, noisy machine and most animals (intelligently!) fear big, noisy things. Except for this one wolf, who maybe thought the snowmobile was a charging, defecating hippo because they do sort of sound similar.
According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, in December 2012, a trapper named Lance Grangaard was driving down a frozen creek when a wolf jumped him. The animal locked onto his arm with its jaws and tried to pull him from the snowmobile. Grangaard leaped off the machine, pinning the wolf on hard ice. The wolf yelped and let go, then retreated.
Authorities don’t know why a healthy wolf might attack someone on a snowmobile, which is why Grangaard had to get a series of rabies vaccinations after the event. A state wildlife biologist called the attack “a very weird deal.” Good thing we have state wildlife biologists to explain these things to us.
Attack of the killer Bambi
Okay, so what about deer? Deer are totally mellow. No one has to worry they’ll one day be killed by Bambi. Right? Wrong! Sorry, but deer can also be deadly, especially when they’ve got everything to lose.
According to the Independent, Regis Levasseur was acting as a “beater” during a deer hunt about 50 miles northeast of Paris. The beater is the guy who does all the work and gets none of the glory, flushing out the prey and driving it to a spot where it will be easy to kill. Because he was a beater, he didn’t have a gun, which turned out to be quite a sucky little detail for him.The cornered deer charged him and gored him to death with its antlers.
“The antlers of the stag are like many knives piercing you,” said the president of the local hunting federation. “There’s an inherent risk with hunting.” So now that deer are no longer peaceful woodland creatures, what’s next? Bunnies? Not if you’ve ever seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Bunnies can be homicidal, too. Nothing is sacred.
Polar bears make terrible campers
In 2003 an Inuit hunting guide was attacked and mauled by a polar bear while leading a group of American caribou hunters into the Canadian wilderness.
Witnesses said the bear entered the camp then ripped open Kootoo Shaw’s tent and attacked him. The 46-year-old tried to run, but the bear chased him and then mauled him a second time when he tripped over a rock and lost his footing. The animal bit him on the head, broke a few ribs, and slashed his back, arms, and feet with its claws.
The hunters Shaw was guiding shot the bear, ending the attack. According to CBC News, Shaw believed he was under legal obligation to remain unarmed while acting as a guide, which isn’t strictly true — guides can carry weapons as protection, they’re just not allowed to hunt with them. That probably would have been useful information at the time, but hey, being unclear is what laws do best.
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