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THIRTY YEARS OF SHIKAR.
fifteen years in Oudh to be had in the wheat and grain I enjoyed a fair amount of sport fields, and in dry grass cover of a other than that of the Terai. My certain kind, from December to official duties while I was in that April; but in this branch of sport province involved a six months' the shooter had to compete with tour through the twelve districts the man of nets—the native who into which Oudh was divided, and caught the birds alive for the into every portion of them, where quaileries of Anglo-Indians. And there might be an office or dis- one may well pardon the purtillery to inspect or a jheel to chasers of these netted fowl ; for shoot over. Every year I rode and when in the summer solstice the drove distance of about 3000 Anglo-Indian is a close prisoner miles; and this nomadic life gave within the kus-kus tattied walls, me opportunities of visiting all the and below an ever-swinging punbest shikar country, whatever the kah ; when his eye cannot bear distance from my headquarters the light of mid-day, and his jaded might be. Unfortunately for me, appetite cannot tolerate the gramI could not always ensure being fed mutton or gun-bullock beef of first in the field at every point. his healthier days—the quail, round It frequently happened that other and tender, served in a vine-leaf men, similarly inclined with my- wrapper, comes as an appetising self, arrived before me, and got the delicacy, and saves that man from first and best of the shooting. sheer starvation. The teal or wild These rivals sallied forth from duck, similarly kept and fattened every district sudder station, many in a tealery, is another possible of them from many quarters
, and, article of food when the luxurious single-handed, I could not cope Anglo-Indian feels that without with them in the race; so went some tremendous tonic he is unthe cream of the shooting to them, equal to the consumption of a roast and the skim to me who followed. butterfly-wing. Oh, they are truly
But when fortune was good a luxurious people, those Angloenough to smile upon me, I made Indians, as so many Englishmen fairly good bags of snipe between believe! Even if they have not November and March while the as everyday incidents of their daily season lasted. I did not expect life the plashing of cool fountains, to beat that Kanchrapara record the waving of fans by ox-eyed of 51, couple : 20 couple satisfied houris, and other delights of the me, and when I reached 30 couple kind commonly credited to them, I considered that there was nothing they have quail and teal as aforeleft to wish for immediately in the said, and the splashing of the water way of snipe. And very frequently upon the tatties, and much disI shared the good things of the turbance of moistened air by wavjheel with friends who came from ing punkahs, and rheumatism inLucknow or elsewhere to join my cidental to that artificial moisture, camp; and a possible big bag for and prickly heat, and mosquitoes, a single gun became a very modest and white ants in that final stage one for three or four.
of their existence when, rising from Fairly good quail-shooting was the floor on ephemeral wings, they
knock against and fall upon or into this practice: we in Oudh were everything, and shed their wings satisfied with 15 to 30 brace that everywhere before they perish. fell to us haphazard in the course All those delectable things, and of much patient beating of cover, others of much the same sort, are and, after two or three years' given to the Anglo-Indian, and yet modest shooting of this kind, I he does not understand that his only shot quail when they rose life is full of delight and sensuous from my path to a snipe jheel, or joys ( Arabian Nights' passim), when, during the last hour of the and allows thoughts of furlough day, five to ten brace were to be and the decline of the rupee to got out of the grain or wheat fields cast their shadow upon him. close to my tent.
Those - white ants, by the way, Hares, black and grey partridges, if not sportive themselves, are the and (in the Transgogra districts) cause of sport to others—the crows florikan, were occasionally to be and kites, to wit. They are not got in small numbers, and of intellectual things, even to the larger game antelope, neelghai, moderate level of the elephant, and hog-deer. and in the absence of any restrain- Black-buck (antelope) shooting I ing instinct they often swarm out found very fascinating for a time. of their earthen homes while it It is a form of shikar that generis yet light; and while they are ally exercises all one's patience, fluttering in the air seeking for and accuracy of hand and eye, something to knock their heads and frequently exercises all one's against, the birds of prey assemble, muscles. Native shikaris stalk and swooping hither and thither them from behind a with among the insect battalions, devour eminent success ; but it is not them wholesale. This comes by given to every European to be way of just retribution to the competent to manage an Indian white ant, in that that insect cow, and I never tried that method. shares with Time the discredit of I have shot them from behind my being edax rerum. It devours the horse, with rifle rested upon the beams and roof, and walls and saddle, but mostly I followed them floor, and mats and furniture of on foot; and I think the more the Indian household. It is said open attack, when made with due to have devoured the rupees in a caution, is the more efficacious. Government collectorate—that is, My plan was that of oblique
— the native treasurer alleged that attack. When I sighted a blackthis had happened when his balance buck at a distance, I walked in hand showed a considerable straight for it, until it took notice deficit.
of me (say at 200 yards' distance); Revenons à nos cailles. In Oudh then I faced slightly away from the gunnist was satisfied with the it, and walked for a point that moderate bags of quail that came lay a hundred yards to right or to him in the ordinary course. left of it: when for a few moments He did not resort to the em- it resumed grazing, I made a crabployment of call-birds, as is the like advance that brought me fashion of the Punjab, where these something nearer to it on a direct decoy-birds are put down over- line, but always with averted face; night to attract all the wild quail and when that black-buck started, I within earshot. Bags of 50 and brought my rifle (hitherto held con100 brace are the consequence of cealed behind me) to the present, and
fired a snapshot, aimed, for choice, as seen one in Deoghur. But very at a point just behind the shoulder. little neelghai went a long way I found that I succeeded better with me in every sense: as meat with this snapshooting at a run- it was only a partial success when ning buck than with the more none other was to be had; as an deliberate sighting of a standing object for the rifle it was only one; and, at any rate, I succeeded preferable to that domestic buffalo so well in my judgment, that I which I killed, in that it could be sickened myself of black - buck killed for nothing; as a creature shooting on any large scale. I be- to be ridden down it was, when, came blasé as to this form of sport after its habit, it got into heavy after killing twenty-two buck in tussocky ground and swamp, and three consecutive days. I might the thick-growing reed, distinctly possibly have escaped from this a disappointment, and, moreover, feeling but for the result of the a disappointment that caused me third day of those three; albeit, one or two heavy falls. I gave up on the second, suspicion whispered neelghai after killing two or three within me that I was converting of them. myself into the meat-purveyor for This animal known as neelghai the villagers round about. But (or blue cow) in Oudh, and deemed on the evening of that third day, by Hindoos of that province to be when the carcasses of eight black- sacred, as one of the bovine tribe, buck and a doe (killed by a bullet was known in Deoghur as Ghoraroz, that first penetrated and killed a and counted by the local Hindoos buck)—nine carcasses in all- as one of the deer species, which hanging from the branches of trees it was lawful to kill and eat,—as around my tent, I felt that I a fact it is, I suppose, one of the was a butcher undisguised, and antelopes. This divergence of that my slaughtering hand had views, entertained by Hindoos of converted that tranquil grove into different localities, is nothing, as a butcher's shambles. From that
From that an anomaly, compared with the time out I never made a business varying treatment extended by of pursuing them, but shot them Hindooism universally to different only, one at a time, when I or members of the bovine kind : on my followers wanted venison. the one hand, the veneration for
And however ardently the Brit- the cow, which makes that animal's on's longing to kill something may life something sacred, and only burn in one's breast however permits of the twisting of the much one may “see red "-one venerated creature's tail; on the may well be spared the pain of see other hand, the general practice at ing some of the black-buck's death the Doorjah Poojah, and on other agonies. It is well enough when occasions, of sacrificing buffaloes the animal falls dead at the first to the gods by beheading them shot; but when it flies before one before the altars. on legs broken by ill-directed bul. Among the game () that I perlets, running on the stumps of those mitted myself to shoot, or shoot shattered limbs, the sight is apt to at, during my wanderings in the sicken one, and bring shame upon Oudh districts, were alligatorsone's handiwork.
the ghurrial, or long-nosed saurian, As for neelghai, I was wild to whose prey was fish, and the mugkill one when I went to Oudh, if gur, whose prey was man or cow, only because I had never as much or any animal that it could catch, VOL. CLVI. —NO. DCCCCXLVII.
with fish on fast days. Neither of neck would be if this saurian had these is of attractive appearance, a neck, will stop an alligator, but I think the latter is the most and it is by such a shot that I repulsive member of the animal have killed and bagged them. creation. Of the muggur it may Muggurs and ghurrials, with an be said, indeed, monstrum horren- occasional wild goose, were the only dum informe; all the epithets things I had to shoot what time signifying forms of ugliness may I went down the Ganges in a be fairly applied to this brute: small covered boat to visit certain shapelessness is the main charac- trade registration posts on the teristic of its blunt head, the Oudh frontier. Alligators aboundbloated carcass, and those legs ed there : small ones
were to be that, curtailed of their fair pro- seen by the score on the churs portions, are merely flappers. and sand-pits, and every now and When it lies stretched along the then a big one-a muggur of 16 ooze or sand of a river bank, or by feet, or a ghurrial of 20 feet-was some stagnant pool, it may well be to be observed, all of them with taken for a harmless, if hideous noses pointed towards the river, and very dirty log, but it is not and most of them doubtless much harmless or as useful as that dere- more wide awake than they looked. lict timber, and its disposition is There, upon the sand, these reptiles evil as its body. Yet has that basked in the genial warmth of a monstrous form something in it December mid-day sun, and there which is precious to somebody, I now and again killed and landed even as the less ugly toad is said to bear a jewel in its head. There But the place for shooting at is a portion of the internal struc- them was the bridge of boats across ture of the muggur which is greed- the Gogra, on the Bharaich road. ily seized upon by natives as I have stood on that bridge (not charm, whenever the muggur is at midnight) and fired at twenty given over into the native's hands or thirty of them within the hour; for autopsy.
but always I had to take them as When I corrected the term they rose out of the depths, and “shooting” into “shooting at” '
shooting at” when they presented only their muggurs, I did so advisedly, be- heads as targets. Over and over cause shooting seems to convey the again I have seen them sink in idea of bagging the creature shot, response to my shot, and the clear and this is by no means the ordin- water of the river incarnadined by ary result of firing at an alligator; what might well have been their for, as far as my experience goes, life’s blood; but only once did I the alligator is never to be seen bag one in that way, and then I save in the water or on the edge succeeded as a consequence of bad of it, and even when it is lying shooting. I hit a ghurrial on the asleep on a sand or mud bank projecting jaw instead of in the some feet from the water, no bullet head : instead of sinking in the that does not paralyse it on the water to die, it emerged upon the instant will prevent it from lum- bank, and there was disposed of by bering (the word gliding would a shot in the vital spot. convey the idea of too graceful But the shikar of each year from movement) into its aqueous home. 1863 to 1876 (save 1869, when I A bullet in that point where the was home on sick-leave) to which head and body join, and where a I always looked forward with the
keenest interest and anticipation Division, Westmorland, R. E., and of enjoyment was that of the Mitchell (who was doing India Terai. Would that I had kept with Sir William Ffolkes). But some sort of diary in those days, then some whom I have named were to which I could refer at this with me more than once,-Peters, juncture, for my memory, chal- for instance, three times, and Jacky lenge it as I may, utterly declines Hills even more frequently. to serve me in some particulars My memory is green enough, that might be deemed worthy of however, when I think of the mention. By a process of exhaus- pleasant life and splendid sport tive analysis I can affirm that I that it was my good fortune to made thirteen expeditions into enjoy so often under the shadow of that region, and I arrive at that the Nepaul hills; and although, positive result by a process which doubtless, the more agreeable featis as simple as exhaustive, for I ures of those jaunts are most prowent to the Terai regularly every minent in my reminiscences, I can season from 1853 to 1876— save without difficulty recall those that that of 1869, when I was not in may be regarded as drawbacks, India. Then, as
Then, as I usually spent and, having arrayed all the disfrom four to six weeks there, I agreeable characteristics before my make out with tolerable
I should even now be that I gave in the aggregate some glad to encounter them all for the sixteen months to the pursuit of sake of one more month after tigers thereaway; but when I try tiger. to recall the total number of tigers For many of the minor trials of killed on those occasions, I am Terai sport not yet mentioned the utterly at a loss. I can remember intelligent elephant is directly or that in 1863 I got ten, and I indirectly responsible. It is weary suppose that score remains indel work riding one, whether on pad ibly fixed in my mind because at or howdah (pad-riding being the the time it seemed to me highly easier of the two), for eight or ten satisfactory for a novice in the hours at a stretch; and starting Terai methods; but I cannot fix from our camp at 10 A.M., it often any total for any subsequent year, happened that our home-coming and can only say in that regard was delayed till 8 P.M. Perhaps that the annual total was more we had to travel eight or ten than once below ten, and, indeed, miles to reach the swamp where as low as five or six.
our day's work was to be comAnother point as to which my menced. Possibly we were drawn memory will not be jogged to any away from camp by a tiger's trail purpose is as to my companions in something incidental to the some of those thirteen expeditions. business in hand which drove that Two or three times I went out camp out of our minds; or, worst alone, but even as to ten or eleven of all, it chanced now and again occasions I cannot make up my that we lost our way in the forest. parties; and in addition to those I With what gruesome import the have already named as my com- announcement fell upon my ear panions of the Terai, I can only that the way was lost when, being think of Colonel M‘Bean, chief benighted in those trackless forests, of the Lucknow commissariat, E. we were ten miles from our tents J. Lugard, aide-de-camp to the and dinner and bed, and some General commanding the Lucknow unknown distance from any other