Saturday, August 09, 2008


"Baboons Are Simply Too Small For Leopard Bait"

I'm in Slate this week with the 10 Oddest Travel Guides Ever.

For instance:

1. The Truth About Hunting in Today's Africa, and How To Go on Safari for $690.00, by George Leonard Herter (1963)
Equal parts Hemingway and Cliff Clavin, mail-order hunting goods retailer George Herter was one of America's great oddball writers. His self-published guide—bound in leopard-print cloth—is a malarial fever of anecdotes, family safari photos, and horrifying advice: "Baboons are simply too small for leopard bait. ... A live dog is one of the best leopard baits." Hunting with a phonograph of distressed goat calls is encouraged; so is the importation of animals: "Leopard farming would be far more profitable than mink farming," he proposes. As the corpses of rhinos, lions, elephants—and one of their guides—pile up for more than 300 pages, Herter never misses a chance to sell his sporting goods with such photo captions as: "A Masai warrior admires a pair of Hudson Bay two point shoes."

Space kept me from delving into all the insane goodness of Herter in my article, but here's a few more Herter quotes for your edification:

• "Buy five pounds of hard mint candies for every 30 days of your safari."

• "Africans know nothing about pancakes or pancake syrup."

• "Cheetahs are large cats that look like a cross between a cat and a dog. They are easily tamed and make good household pets. The only trouble with them is that they will attack dogs."

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