« Bourjaily on Goose Hunting with a Rake | Main | Some Political Notes »

June 04, 2008

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Gun Nut at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut.

A Kind Word For Fisi*

*Which is Swahili for hyena.

I haven't read anything nice about the hyena for ages, so I guess it's up to me to fill the void. I've seen a number of them at work and play in Africa, and there are few creatures that are odder or more interesting. Hyenas have been around for many millions of years, and were once far more widespread than they are now. There was a European hyena that weighed 400 pounds (twice what a big modern one weighs) and a long-legged North American hyena that could run 60 miles an hour.

Today, the hyena is the most common carnivore in Africa. It is a skilled hunter, has a bite far stronger than a lion's, can eat carrion, and is fiercely territorial. The hyena is Africa's Minister of Death. Man or beast, when you perish, Fisi will pay you a call. Or he may help you along beforehand. What the werewolf is to Europe, the were-hyena is to Africa.


Lions and hyenas hate each other, and there is nothing a big male lion would rather do than kill hyenas. However, when that same lion is old, toothless, and unable to fight, the hyenas come and eat him alive.

I have fond memories of two hyenas in particular. One was running ahead of our Land Rover at night in Zambia in 1981. It had either just eaten an entire zebra, or was pregnant, or both, because it had the biggest gut of any animal I've ever seen, and its frantically churning legs could not move its massive stomach out of the way until the last second. It was a scene from the Roadrunner and the Coyote.

The other was a baby hyena peering out of the mouth of a culvert in Kruger National Park. It couldn't have been more than a few weeks old, was coal black, had an intelligent, curious face, and beady little eyes that stared without fear. It is possibly the cutest animal I've ever seen.

It would grow up to be a monster, of course--but an interesting one.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference A Kind Word For Fisi*:



"It would grow up to be a monster, of course--but an interesting one."

Sounds like a good description of Hillary to me.........

Black Rifle Addict

I think my .308win would get the job done on Mr.Fisi ;o)


I have seen hyenas in Africa but didn't have desire to shoot them. It is inexpensive trophy $100 per animal, if remember well. They are really ugly but fascinating at the same time.
First mammals appeared on Earth 200 MYA, hyenas at least 10 MYA. I was surprised that evolutionary they are closer to cats than dogs.

Rocky Mtn Hunter

I was raked over the coals and called many names because I made mention of Politics. Was told by many on this blog to get off, this was a hunting/guns Blog/ Now I see what is not good for the goose is good for the gander. So guys, decide, arer we to discuss the who may win the WH or GUNS?HUNTING.On that subject, just ask your self, was I beter off in the 92 to 2000 time frame or 2000 to present? You decide, facts are there, just read them.AS for Hyenas, we already have them here, they 2 legged, with a sharp tongue and no guts, lots of Money and want more. I recall some years ago, the Pres of Russia making a speech and he stated that a 3rd world country would someday take over the USA and never fire a Shot.) Will it be Mexico, China or Iraq,Iran? From labels on mdse we buy appears to already be China. If I heard correct on TV news we just sent l00 Million Dollars in food to China due to the Flood or what-ever they just had.Maybe they will replace that will OIL to USA, we good enough of their other junk already.Agree, we need a 3rd political party in the USA, but who has the nerve, $$$, brains, effort to get the ball rolling. Ross has the $$$$ but no brains. A few hunters on this Blog would do ok, as some appear much smarter than thoe in teh WH now. Now guns, was the Colt 45 the first single action revolver made and used by gunfighters and outlaws in teh old west? I'm reading a book about a gunfighter (2 guns) but never mentions brand name of his guns.He also carried a Winchester rifle for long shots, he states, but no brand on his 6 shooters?If by chance you looking for a clone of a Colt and short on $$$$ look over the Uberti Line, they exact copy of a Colt in cae harden and blue bbl , walnut grips. Cost about 600.00. With a 5 l/2" bbl shoot like a dread. Can put 5 holes in a 4-5" circle at 25 yds.Hopefully can entise a W-tail to get in range this fall, would love to kill a Deer with a Handgun.The old Gunslinger

Jim in Mo.

As for the first subject on your post about politics, I almost said something too. Can't figure how that topic could get in here about an African wild animal.
Go to a Hillary blog.
Talking about cowboy shooting pistols of the real old days, I'd say the 44-40 and 44 Russian was the sidearm of choice before the 45 colt even.

I think a DINGO just eat your Baby.

Rocky Mtn Hunter

Jim in Mo: I thin it's very odd, that I was singled out on Politics to make a monkey of on this Blog. Now they want to discuss it again. Sorry, but I will refrain from the subject other than my reply above. On six shooters. Glad to hear the 44-40 was the gun or choice, as i bought a new Uberti in 44-40. I wanted something diferent than most guys had. Unless I draw a Rocky Mtn hunt soon, doubt I ever use a lot. As i stated, would love to kill a w-tail her at home with mine. I use a ground blind, and many deer doget in range for a 25 yd shoot.Think I could take him at that range.I got one state left on the draw, thats in KY. But no word as of yet on teh draw, so assume i failed all 3 states. With the cost of everthing now, not even sure i want to burst my hunt account at present to go West. Would love a nice Mulie or Lope. Lope tags in Wy not hard to gt, oly problem, is getting permssion to hunt and get guide.Never ate any Lope, the one I killed in 2006, darn packing house mailed before I got home and was ruined when i got home 2 weeks later. Now I want another to try the meat and the hide for a rug.As far away as i am from the Rockies, hard to get meat here with out it melting. O well, got the mount on the wall, looks great. But needs a matching Buck beside him. Take care. The Old Gunslinger PS; to the article above this one, what does the guy mean, a Dingo just ate my Baby? Thought we were discussig Hyenas? And the Dingo's were in Africia. But appears we got both here now.My thinking is we got a bunch of JAck-Asses on this Blog, Agree?

Del in KS

Rocky Mtn Hunter,

Antelope is excellent table fare as long as it's not a rutting buck. IMO better than deer.

Jim in Mo.

I never cooked antelope but an acquaintace who does says the cooking process has a peculiar smell you must accept. Do you know what he's talking about?

Peter H.

Blue Ox,
the unamed blogger asking for that info was me buddy. I got a new computer and I hadn't set my name yet. Yes Im well aware of that they conceal info like that in books. WHICH ONE!

Dr. Ralph

Yeah, they also conceal information about hyena's on the web, and you don't have to get off your butt plus you can drink beer in the morning while doing so, unlike your local library which is full of homeless people surfing porn sites anyhow...

Peter punch my name and the wonderfull world of prehistoric hyena's will magically appear.

Del in KS

He may have had a rutting buck. The meat I had was from a doe shot by a friend and it was superb. I do not recall any strange smells at all. I might add that the best venison I ever had was Alaskan Sitka Blacktail. The worst was also a trophy Sitka BT rutting buck. It stunk up the kitchen and I could not eat it.


Don't know if I've just been lucky or whut, but I don't think I've ever killed a deer that was inedible!
Some of the best venison I've ever had was a bruiser (body, not antlers!) of a buck. Butterflied loins were almost as big as my two hands1 Tender as butter and absolutely delicious battered and fried!


Peter H.

Dr. Ralph,
Thanks for the link, very interesting. and yes I DID READ IT!

And just to clear things up I wasn't so much asking where this information was as much as I was trying to compliment Dave P. for being so informative and knowledgeable. I mean prehistoric hyeanas arn't exactly an every day topics that you read. Unless your Dave.

Peter H.

And then he ties it into something practical ..brilliant. Hey dave have you ever thought of being a gunwriter or something. Maybe for field and stream..youd be perfect.

Dr. Ralph

Dave you should start your own blog... the advertising alone would bring in more than you could imagine. How many sites have 100 comments on any subject, much less most? And how many hits on a site does it take to get 100 comments? If nothing else point this out to F&S and demand a huge raise and an expense account to cover the essentials... you know like all the newest rifles, exotic hunts and of course they should pay for all expenses involved in transporting said trophies and the astronomical taxidermy bills... Plus incidentals like five star hotels and first class air travel not to mention lessened work hours... hell it takes me three days to get over sitting in a tree stand for two days!

O Garcia

hyenas would also make for a scary poster for women's lib. except hillary already got that job (she's scarier, with that FAKE smile).

hyena society is dominated by females. as with most birds of prey, females are larger than males in the hyena world. females also have the final word in everything, from mating to getting pregnant, to hunting, to rearing the young. the males are small, are bullied, and their only significant job is to provide sperm. even the alpha male (the one who breeds with the matriarch) is subordinate to the lowest of the females. it's that bad.

also, it's hard to tell the sexes apart, because both their genitals look like penises. (score one for the male gender.)

as Robert Ruark and a ton of other writers have said long ago, without hyenas, Africa's game fields would look like New York before the garbage trucks arrive. Dirty and stinking.

When lions and hyenas collide, as shown in National Geographic, it's abbreviated genocide. The pride's lion (the male, obviously) instinctively goes after the hyena matriarch, and kills her. It's devastating for the hyenas, it's like killing the queen bee.

hyenas have a mixed reputation (cowardice, scavenging) because they have mixed behaviour. they can be intimidated by small but spirited jackals. but they could also intimidate leopards and solitary lions on their best day(the smart cats would do the sensible thing and leave, getting bitten by a hyena is bad news anytime). because they are primarily nocturnal, most of their excellent hunting is hidden from view. so most observers see only the 'lowly' carrion eating in daylight.

Our Blogs