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Crocodile Hunting in the Australian Outback in the 1940s

Three types of crocodile hunting, one with greater danger than the other two, are on display in this vintage film from 1949.

Crocodile hunting in Australia’s Northern Territory was a bit different in 1949 than it is today, 67 years later. This film shows three distinct methods, with the first being certainly the most dangerous.

Three men head out in a dugout canoe. One, in the rear of boat, serves as paddler; one, in the bow, mans the harpoon and searches for the croc, looking for the telltale bubbles that indicate its presence; the third stands waiting in the center of the craft until the croc is harpooned.

At the moment that the crocodile is harpooned and thrashing on the end of the line, the man in the middle dives into the water and brings the reptile to the surface where it is dispatched by the man in the bow. Incredible!

I cannot imagine that this method is still being practiced today, for it seems to be unnecessarily dangerous. But were it not for films such as this we would not be privy to how crocodile hunting was undertaken by native peoples.

The second and third methods involve shooting the crocodiles with modern rifles, one from a boat and one from land. These practices were primarily undertaken to secure the hides of crocs, which were valued for their unique patterning and durability.

The sport of hunting crocodiles has become popular with big game hunters who look to bag one of the giant reptiles for the wall. The flesh of the croc is also seen as highly desirable these days.

It is doubtful, however, that any of today’s big game hunters dive into the water to grapple with a crocodile as those mad aborigine’s did close to 70 years ago.

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Crocodile Hunting in the Australian Outback in the 1940s