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 Tiger-Man

by Cliff Huntington


My interest in the Tiger-Man was spawned about 1961 when I purchased a used book for ten cents with the intriguing title, "Tigrero." The book chronicles one of this century's greatest adventurers, Sasha Siemel, explorer, jungle guide, prospector, soldier of fortune, photographer, author, master of six languages and tigre hunter. Tiger-Man is best known for his skill and daring with a spear in dispatching Brazilian jaguars or tigres, powerful cats weighing up to 350 pounds and he thrilled thousands of people with his incredible stories and motion pictures lecturing in the United States and Europe during the forties and fifties. One of my most prized pieces is an autographed flyer announcing his return to the lecture tour in the late fifties.

In "Tigrero" Sasha gives scant attention to archery, but one photo of him posed with a jacare, or marsh crocodile taken with bow and arrow hints of a deeper involvement. The bow and arrows are the give-away. On close examination of the bow, we find not the primitive sort you would expect in the wilds of Brazil, but a powerful appearing weapon one more associates with Art Young, Erle Stanley Gardner or Dr. Robert Elmer. The long bow looks to be set back in the handle indicating a spliced billet, probably of yew. The arrows are nice looking, crown dipped, crested with what appears to be parabolic grey barred turkey fletch. Not your ordinary Brazilian bow and arrow but archery tackle with a distinctive American influence. A letter published in the December, 1937 Ye Sylvan Archer mentions a yew bow given Sasha by Bob Faas. It's a good chance this is the bow in the photo.

Knowing the interest archers have in adventure, it's easy to figure how Dr. Robert Elmer became acquainted with the Tiger-Man during one of his lecture tours. Dr. Elmer is the man responsible for introducing Sasha Siemel to American archery and gave him his first lessons in proper, modern shooting techniques and skill. He also put Sasha in touch with Art Young and the two would develop a close life-long friendship. The two had much in common and George Brommers put it well, "Not so much in manners, Art was more reserved, in fact, quite shy on occasions. But he had the same genuineness, understanding and simple courtesy and sincerity that characterizes Sasha Siemel. To have been in the presence of either for as much as five minutes is to feel that you have known them for years. Instinctively you felt in both cases that these men really liked you as you liked and respected them. And both of them compelled respect. Gentlemen do."

Sasha would become well known within the archery community during the thirties, forties and fifties and his visits to the United States provided opportunity to spend time shooting with Erle Stanley Gardner, George Brommers, Ken and Walt Wilhelm and others. He enjoyed his membership in the Lower Bracket boys and never passed a chance to needle his friend Gardner, "I have not forgotten that I am titular head of the Lower Bracket Boys, and I can assure you that never was a distinction more worthily bestowed. From the last issue of Ye Sylvan Archer I learn that my colleague, Erle Stanley Gardner, has once more distinguished himself by missing the moose. He is a wonderful marksman, Erle is, as long as he isn't shooting at anything." or the Wilhem brothers, "P. S. What got into that guy Ken Wilhelm? Last I heard of him he and his brother Walt had the presumption to challenge me for the world's basement championship. I showed the two upstarts where to head in."

Tiger-man accounted for over 270 jaguars during his career, taken with rifle, bayonet, spear and bow. He came to prefer the combination of bow and spear over the rifle, as the following comments suggest, "It is only logical and natural that I should. The spear is a primitive weapon, so is the bow. While I would not want to say that hunting big cats with a rifle can not be plenty dangerous and exciting under all circumstances, particularly so in our Matto Grosso jungles, where vision is extremely limited, it seems to me that the bow complements the spear. If I now had any use for a shield besides, I should be perfectly equipped."

While lecturing at the University Club in Philadelphia in 1936 Sasha would meet Edith Bray. Edith, a mere eighteen years of age, became so impressed with Sasha that she convinced her parents to give permission to join Sasha in the Matto Gross on a jaguar hunt. Helen Post accompanied her as chaperone and the two women accounted for three jaguars, a mountain lion, marsh deer, tapir and much small game. During this hunt Sasha's pistol would accidently discharge as he fought a jaguar with his spear and inflict a grievous wound to his leg. The two young ladies and some of Sasha's native helpers would require two weeks by packhorse, oxcart and dugout canoe getting him to a hospital, barely beating deadly gangrene. Edith would make another trip to the Matto Grosso as Sasha's girl photographer and eventually convince Sasha that their 28 years age difference shouldn't be a factor. They were married in 1940.
Edith would write and publish her account of their life together in the wilds of the Matto Grosso in "Jungle Wife." She became quite skilled with the bow and later joined a select group of archers who have taken the mighty tigre with bow and arrow. Her bow? A fifty pound yew made by Dr. Klopsteg and given the Siemels as a wedding present.


history menu
Hunting with the Bow - Will Thompson
The Clout Shoot
Horace Ford - Britains Greatest Archer
The Glory Years
Bill Sweetland
Thoughts on...
Bofari
The Three Merry Bowmen
Ben Pearson
Sasha Siemel - "Tiger Man"
The Trinity
The history of Roving
Maurice Thompson, The Early Years
Maurice Thompson - The War Years
Maurice Thompson - The Sylvan Years
Maurice Thompson, - The Final Years
Howard Hill
Dr. Saxton Pope
Art Young
Will Compton

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