Outdoor Life correspondent Gayne Young looks to the past and the present to find the outdoor personalities that prove just how wimpy the rest of us really are.
Alexander “Sasha” Siemel took over 300 jaguars in his hunting career.
With a spear.
In the very confining quarters of the South American jungle.
How many cats have I taken? One. A bobcat, in the South Texas Brush Country with an old hound man that was more interested in telling me about his recent prostrate operation than he was in running his dogs. I actually shot the bobcat in an effort to get away from my guide and his constant warnings to get checked “soon and often.” For putting up with my guide as long as I did I don’t know that I can truly label myself a wimp. But compared to Sasha Siemel and his life, yeah, I’m a wimp.
Born in the small European country of Latvia (Yes, I had to look up where Latvia is) in 1890, Siemel moved to the jungles of Brazil at age 24. While working as a gunsmith and mechanic in the diamond mine boomtowns, he met and trained with a native who showed him the ways of the Tigrero – a person that hunts tigers (jaguars) with only a spear. When his training was completed Siemel moved to the Pantanal region where he became a spear for hire to ranchers losing cattle to jaguar. It was during this tenure that he faced the most dangerous cat of his career; a man killer known as Assassino.
Meaning assassin in Portuguese, Assassino was responsible for killing between 300 to 400 cattle. Ranchers, hunters, and vaqueros alike had all tried to kill him and failed. When Jose Ramos went after him with a muzzle loader, Assassino circled back on his trail and took the man from his horse. One lightning-fast bite to the skull ended his life. Siemel found his body the next day in his search for the famed killer. With Ramo’s body a fresh kill it didn’t take Siemel long to find him.
Siemel and his dogs trailed the cat to a narrow opening. The monstrous animal lunged forward and Siemel caught him the neck with his spear. The cat broke free from the tip knocking Siemel off balance and to the ground. He scrambled to his feet just as the huge cat lunged again. Siemel thrust his spear forward to meet the animal and caught him once more in the neck. A frenzy of thrashing pain and taunt muscle spun the animal toward Siemel as he fought to push himself and the spear forward. The metal tip drove downward and into the chest. Blood frothed and spurt taking with it the cat’s strength and giving promise that the melee would soon end. Only when the cat fell and his strength returned did Siemel realize just how large the animal was. At over 10 feet in length it was one of the largest cats he had seen let alone killed.
For more than three decades after, Siemel’s exploits appeared in books, articles, and even in the 1937 movie Jungle Menace with Frank “Bring ’em Back Alive” Buck. Siemel parlayed his fame into many ventures including The Sasha Siemel Museum and Store which he opened in Perkiomenville, PA in 1963. Siemel’s fame continued until his death at age 80 in 1970.
So, what do you think? Could you take a 10 foot jaguar at close quarters with a spear? Should Gayne get his prostate checked – again? Comment below!