Book Review – Footsteps of an Ivory Hunter By Ian R. Nyschens And Cheryl Nyschens Morck

Footsteps of an Ivory Hunter takes the reader back to the Africa of legend.
Footsteps of an Ivory Hunter takes the reader back to the Africa of legend.

Before hunting in Africa became as well regulated as it has become in recent decades, it was big enough, areas of it remote enough, and cultures diverse enough to allow lifetimes of hunting by free spirits in a free setting.

There were rules, even in those days, but following them was not what some folks did on a regular basis, and even when they were caught, punishments often were not much more than slaps on wrists.

This is Ian’s second book, in a way. His first book, Months of the Sun, should be considered a “must read” for anyone interested in intricate details about hunting and Africa in a now-bygone time. Ian surely was the greatest ivory poacher of the 20th Century.

The reason I say that this book is “in a way” Ian’s second is that for this specific presentation, his daughter helped put together a number of his notes, writings, etc. that were not in the first tome, but which are of interest to anyone who studies the transitional period between the time most of Africa was still pretty much wide open, and when varying degrees of order were still in their evolutionary stages.

Within the pages of this book, the authors relay experiences tied to the more traditional free hunter, as well as experiences of that same hunter during the time when things had changed forever. It is among the better efforts ever done to tie to two “worlds” of Africa together, thus making it easier to understand many of the nuances, as well as the more obvious differences in time for places both well known and obscure.

Ian understood animals in ways that only someone who literally lives with them can. He discusses many of the different species, putting his own perspective on how he viewed those species, how those animals behaved and how to avoid unnecessary problems with them.

Ian discusses the tsetse-fly belts, and the book explains how these areas generally in Mozambique and Zimbabwe/Rhodesia historically delayed migration of Europeans northward and Bantus southward.

“It is fair to say that no man since World War II has had a more compelling tale,” Safari Press reports…. “Some of the new and fresh hunts include: his time with Faanie Jooste when they find themselves in a region infested with snakes and cankerous elephants. This is vintage Nyschens at his best….

“A good deal of the book is devoted to Ian’s final field days in the Rhodesian Game Department where he was obviously a round peg in a square hole. Finally, and most insightfully of all, Ian’s daughter, Cheryl Nyschens Morck, gives us a very thorough look into who Ian was a what made him tick and how he dealt with people from all walks of life.”

In the end, Ian likely was a man out-of-step with his surroundings by at least a hundred years – perhaps millennia. He was a true hunter in every respect.

Although many of the things he did would not pass muster these days, they were part and parcel of how it was in the not so long ago when not just Africa, but the world, as well, were different places than they are now.

Buy direct from SCI: PRICE: $85

SPECS: 296pp, photos, map, 6×9, hardcover. Ltd. Edn. Of 1,000 numbered, signed by daughter, Cheryl Nyschens Morck, and slipcased. Not sold in bookstores.


Volume 79 in the Safari Press’s Classics in African Hunting Series.

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