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Coopwood: Hunting Season in Full Swing

death in the long grass

Like many hunters in the Delta, from here until mid-January, I will also be in the woods every chance I can get.

This deer season, I’m going to take advantage of these excursions to again read several of Peter Capstick’s hunting books while sitting on a stand. Capstick is known for his books about hunting in Africa. Some of his more famous works are Death in the Dark Continent, Death in the Long Grass, Safari: the Last Adventure, and A Man Called Lion.

Capstick, who died in 1998, was raised in New Jersey and went to school at the University of Virginia. At the height of a successful career on Wall Street, he walked away from it all and decided to become a professional hunter. Capstick first moved to South America where he learned to speak Spanish and found a job as an assistant to professional hunters. A few years later, he returned to New York and started a business arranging professional guided hunting trips. Several of those hunts included Capstick taking clients to Africa. He fell in love with Africa and moved there where he started another hunting service. From New Jersey to Wall Street, to the African bush, is a pretty amazing journey.

Captstick discovered he had a talent for writing about his African adventures. He submitted short articles to hunting magazines and that led to him contributing hunting columns to newspapers that were syndicated across the U.S. In 1977, he published his first book, Death in the Long Grass, which became a commercial success and established his reputation as an author of true adventure stories. Today, Capstick and his books are compared to Ernest Hemingway and Robert Ruark.

I first read Death In the Long Grass back in 1994 after learning about him from several Bolivar County hunters who hunted in Africa in the 80s and 90s. In fact, here in my county, we still have several who hunt in Africa every year or so.

Death In the Long Grass is about leading safaris through dangerous lion country in Africa and tracking man-eating lions and other dangerous game in tight spots with almost zero visibility. Just before the animals charge the hunters, the hunters either take a stand aiming their loaded rifles toward the incoming lion or they run for cover as the lions race out of the thickness from all directions. In this particular book, Capstick also writes about witnessing lions attack hunters as well as in-camp attacks where he describes lion maulings that took place in the middle of the night. Pretty gruesome stuff for sure, but true accounts of the dangers of hunting in Africa their Department of Tourism will never mention for fear it will hurt their tourism and hunting industries.

This particular comment has stayed with me: “…Once we found the lions, then getting ready for their incoming attack, waiting for the lions to charge us like an express train out of control – was almost unbearable at times,” says Capstick. “Some clients were so afraid they could not pull the trigger on their guns and we had to with ours. The speed at which the lion races directly toward you with a roar so loud it shakes the grown you are standing on, can shatter the nerves and paralyze the strongest man.”

For any hunter in search of some great books to read this season, any of the Capstick books will do the trick.

scott coopwood

Scott Coopwood, a seventh generation Deltan, lives in Cleveland, Mississippi, with his wife Cindy and their three children. Scott is the publisher and owner of Delta Magazine, one of the South’s leading lifestyle publications, the Delta Business Journal, the first business publication in the Mississippi Delta; and Cleveland’s weekly newspaper, The Cleveland Current.

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