Great sporting lives
Shooting Times & Country|September 01, 2021
Celebrating the achievements of the most remarkable Shots of yesteryear
David Tomlinson

Decorated British soldier, skilled intelligence officer, brilliant ornithologist — Richard Meinertzhagen was all those, but he was also a fraud and quite possibly a murderer, too. What is beyond dispute is that he was a fascinating and complex character — and the more you learn about him, the more intriguing he becomes.

Though he was born into a wealthy and well-connected merchant-banking family, he was uninterested in a career in banking and instead joined the Army, starting his career in India where he had his first opportunity to go big-game hunting before going to Burma.

However, his ambition was to go to Africa, finally joining the King’s African Rifles in Kenya in 1902. He shot his first Thomson’s gazelle within a month. He was a great advocate of small-bore rifles, relying “on my first shot at dangerous game to place them hors de combat”. It was a technique that didn’t always work, such as the occasion when a crocodile he thought was dead sent him sprawling in the sand.

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