In recent months, hunting has been the subject of much controversy. In either sport or necessity, there are moments in time where the tides turn, and the seemingly strong, stealthy predator becomes the prey.
Whether this occurs in real life or as the subject of online vigilantism (which is becoming more and more prevalent as our way of communicating advances through social media), it is as shocking to the victims as it is to the observers, and the reactions to each instance are widely varied. The stories here all range in scope, size, outcome and species (yes, there is an account in which a human being is a predator who received his comeuppance from a hapless crime victim), but they are nonetheless all surprising. From the dentist who remains in hiding after killing a beloved African lion, to the fisherman who went toe-to-toe with a large tuna, check out these ten tales in which the hunter became the hunted.
10 Unnamed Hunter vs. Fox
An unnamed hunter in Belarus tried to kill a fox by pounding it with the butt of his gun after shooting it from a distance. But somehow, the hunter became the hunted as the fox shot him with his own gun. After hitting his target, the man approached the wounded fox to finish it off. He struck it with his gun and a struggle ensued. To his surprise, the fox hit the gun’s trigger with its paw. It managed to escape certain death while the injured and humiliated man was then rushed to the hospital. Foxes are not protected in Belarus—they are thought to transmit rabies.
9 Ian Gibson
A young bull elephant killed a big game hunter, Ian Gibson, as he scouted his prey in April 2015. Gibson was tracking the animal in a rugged area of Zimbabwe, for an American client, who was present at the time of his death. The tragedy occurred when the hunter approached the elephant to measure its ivory tusks. The animal, which was in “musth” (a high testosterone period) charged. He shot once, but it was too late—the elephant knelt on Gibson, crushing him. Gibson was not only killed by the animal on the hunt, but animal lovers around the world were largely unsympathetic and without pity, saying he “got what he deserved.”
8 Minnesota Hunting Party
In 2014, a Minnesota hunting party legally tracked and wounded a 525-pound black bear with an arrow. The injured bear fled. The hunters waited four hours before tracking the bear's blood trail through swampland and were quietly approaching the angry and wounded animal when it struck. They ran, but the bear grabbed one of the men in the hunting party. With one arm in the bear’s mouth and the other free, the anonymous man was able to grab his knife and stab it approximately 20 times before it ran off. A fellow hunter, who is also a first responder, saved his life. The victim suffered two broken arms and wounds to his face, torso and legs, but made a full recovery. The remaining hunters found the dead bear approximately 50 yards from the scene of the attack.
7 Dr. Walter Palmer
After Dr. Walter Palmer, a prominent Minnesota dentist and trophy hunter, paid poachers in Zimbabwe to illegally kill Cecil the Lion, he became a target of internet vigilantism. In July 2015, Cecil was lured away from his sanctuary home and onto a nearby farm, which is separated from the protected area by a railroad crossing. Once there, Palmer and two associates shot Cecil with a bow and arrow before finishing him off with a gun. The beloved lion was then beheaded and skinned.
When news of the Cecil’s death hit the media, Palmer immediately went from hunter to hunted. Despite his apology for killing the lion (“I had no idea that the lion I took was a known, local favorite, was collared and part of a study, until the end of the hunt. I relied on the expertise of my local professional guides to ensure a legal hunt.”), he endured everything from online death threats to protesters holding vigil outside his dental practice. Palmer closed his practice and went into hiding with his family to ride out the storm. It has since reopened, but Palmer has still not made an appearance. Zimbabwe wants the U.S. to extradite him for his crime, but officials have not responded to the extradition request.
6 Elderly Man vs. Doe
Deer are usually pretty docile, but when wounded they are a force to be reckoned with. Just ask a 72-year-old hunter from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. He was out bow hunting with a crossbow in January 2015, when he spotted a doe and fired. He wounded the animal, but it ran. The elderly hunter waited a while before tracking it. As he crept quietly through deep brush, the animal attacked. She leaped out at him and struck him in the head with her hoof. The wounded man was taken to the hospital by ambulance in serious condition, and the doe appears to have gotten away.
5 Two Hunters vs. Giant Anteaters
Due to deforestation and human encroachment, giant anteaters are considered threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN.) They are generally not aggressive towards people. However, they have poor vision and if they are frightened, they will use their claws to defend themselves.
Two hunters in Brazil were killed in two separate incidents by the anteaters they were hunting. The first, a 47-year-old man, was hunting with his sons and dogs when he happened upon the exotic animal. When he drew his knife, the anteater stood on its hind legs. It grabbed and clawed at the man, causing deep wounds. He bled to death on the spot. The second man, a 75-year-old hunter, was gored, but survived. Giant anteaters can weigh as much as 100 pounds and range in length from 4-7 feet.
4 Fisherman Anthony Wichman
Even at sea, the predator has a good chance of becoming the prey if he is not careful. Hawaiian fisherman Anthony Wichman, was fishing off the coast of Kauai. Wichman was in a 14-foot boat when he caught a 230-pound tuna on his line. He managed to get the giant fish onto the boat and stabbed it with a gaffe, but the tuna proved to be too much for him. It jumped off the boat and back into the sea, dragging Wichman with it and capsizing the boat. Daughter Anuhea Wichman, watched in horror as her dad went down. Surprisingly, he was able to phone his daughter from the water. She, in turn, alerted the Coast Guard. Wichman made it out with a rope burn and a few bruises but was otherwise fine, and the tuna was still hooked to the line.
3 Anonymous Elk Hunter vs. Bear
While hunting for elk in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest in Idaho, an archer was attacked by a mother grizzly protecting her three cubs. According to an Idaho Fish and Game spokesman, the encounter appears to have been by chance. The hunter was carrying a spray that deters bears, but couldn’t use it because the bear bit his hand. He was instead able to grab his gun and shoot at it at point blank range, but there’s no evidence he hit anything. Officials are investigating but have only found a deer nearby, which they believe to be a food source for the grizzly family. The archer hiked out of the woods and was transported to a hospital with no life-threatening injuries.
2 Joe Oriente
In 2014, a hunter who served two terms in Vietnam was attacked by a rabid coyote in New Jersey. Joe Oriente was out looking for deer with his brother-in-law, when he was spotted by the coyote. He was unaware that there had been two previous attacks on a path in the Black River Wildlife Management Area, in Chester Township. He heard the rustling in the brush before the coyote leaped out and bit his arm. He defended himself with the weaponry he had on him and yelled, but the coyote remained unfazed. It didn’t make a sound as it attacked. It kept biting, and he kept slashing away and screaming every chance he got. He finally pinned the ailing animal to the ground and slashed its throat. State officials later confirmed that the coyote tested positive for rabies. Oriente received rabies shots and made a full recovery.
1 Neal Falls
Sometimes a predator can be human, and occasionally find him/herself on the receiving end of an attack. In July 2015, a Charleston, West Virginia woman, known only as “Heather,” fought off her attacker. In doing so, the assailant, 45-year-old Neal Falls, died after losing control of his gun. Falls intended to sexually assault Heather at gunpoint, but the terrified woman grabbed the weapon and blindly fired it, killing Falls in self-defense. She was not charged in his death, but investigators were shocked to discover that he may be linked to several murder cases involving women. They found a “kill kit” in Falls’ car, which included four sets of handcuffs, an ax, a machete, bulletproof vests, knives, a box cutter, a large container of bleach, and a large number of trash bags.