Pero Jelinic's love of big game hunting took him all over the world, but most recently to South Africa, where he hoped to bring down a lion. It was to be the "crown" of the Croatian's trophy hall, filled with "everything that could be hunted in Croatia and Europe," his friend, Slavko Pernar, told reporters, per Yahoo. But though Jelinic apparently managed to nab that crown, it was only shortly before Pernar says he met "the ugliest end." The details are murky, but police say 75-year-old Jelinic was fatally shot Saturday while hunting with two friends at Leeuwbosch Game Lodge, where lions are bred in captivity some 40 miles from the Botswana border. The group had killed one lion and was tracking a second when Jelinic was hit by a bullet and died after being airlifted to a hospital, reports the BBC.
Police aren't sure who fired the fatal shot and while they don't suspect foul play, they've opened a culpable homicide (manslaughter) investigation and are considering charges of illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition, reports the Week. One of the men present maintains the guns were legal, however, and describes the shooting as an accident that came after "a series of unfortunate circumstances," per the Mirror. According to one account, a tired Jelinic handed his guns to other hunters in his party before he was accidentally shot in the shoulder, per Total Croatia News. A separate account suggests Jelinic was shot while aiming at a lion. Either way, Pernar says Jelinic—a hotel owner who leased the building to fund his retirement and hunting trips—died "doing what he loved." (Read more hunting stories.)