1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Shooting
SHOOTING, as a British field sport, may be said to have existed for at least two hundred years, though it is only within the last half century that it has attained its present importance. In many parts of Great Britain the importance of the sporting rights of an estate now more than counterbalance its agricultural value, while enormous sums are annually devoted to the artificial production of game. Taking all contingent expenses into consideration, the average cost of every head of game killed may be taken as not less than three shillings. A hand-reared pheasant can scarcely be brought to the gun for less than seven to eight shillings; and these birds in particular—and partridges and wild duck to a lesser, but steadily increasing, extent—are reared in tens of thousands every year. So far, the grouse alone among recognized British game-birds has defied all attempts at artificial production, but it is probable that in course of time this will also yield to the modern taste for big bags.
The enormous head of game now preserved, and the correspondent development of the art of gunmaking, has to a great extent revolutionized the sport of shooting, the modern tendency being all in favour of “driving,” i.e. bringing the game to the sportsman, instead of the sportsman to the game. While this has undoubtedly raised the standard of marksmanship, it has equally deteriorated the exercise of such minor woodcraft as is required for small game shooting under present conditions.
In this article it is only possible to touch on the various forms of the sport of shooting most in vogue. First must be placed grouse-shooting, admittedly the finest form of sportGrouse-shooting. with the gun obtainable in the British Islands. It is customary to speak of this as though it were merely confined to Scotland, but grouse are found in every English county north of the Trent, as well as in Shropshire, Wales and Ireland, while in a good season as many are probably killed in Yorkshire alone as in any two Scotch counties put together. Practically all English grouse are killed by driving, the practice of which is fast extending to Scotland. On the undulating English and Lowland moors this has undoubtedly resulted in largely increasing the stock of grouse, but it is questionable whether it has been equally successful on the more rugged hills of the Highlands. Save in a few specially favoured localities, such as the Moy Hall moors in Inverness—shire, grouse-driving in Scotland has by no means produced the marvellous results achieved on the English moors, while far too many lessees of Scottish shootings resort to the suicidal policy of only driving their birds when the latter have become too wild to lie to dogs.
In laying out a moor for driving care should be taken to avoid placing a row of butts against a sky line: where possible these should be placed in a depression of the ground, which not only serves to conceal them from the birds, but also ensures higher and more difficult shots. For these reasons, on very flat stretches of ground the butts are sometimes excavated after the manner of a rifle pit with a low parapet, but in the writer's experience these are not to be specially recommended. It is in all cases advisable to refrain from placing a line of butts on very stony or rocky ground, owing to the possibility of an accident from glancing or deflected shot-pellets. Much of the success of a day's grouse-driving depends on the manner in which the drivers-are handled, and especially on the “ flankers,” whose business it is to turn in such birds as show a tendency to break away from the butts.
A few simple rules for the guidance of the shooter may be mentioned in connexion with grouse-driving. He should remain motionless in his butt, without attempting to conceal himself by crouching, until the moment arrives for him to throw up his gun, when he should refrain from dwelling on his bird, or reserving his fire until it is close upon him-the latter a very common error among beginners. An excellent method of determining the range at which to open fire is to mark some conspicuous object, a tuft of heather or a stone, about 40 yds. in front of one's butt, before the commencement of a drive. Above all the shooter should concentrate his attention only on birds coming at him, and not concern himself with those that have passed his butt: in nine cases out of ten by the time he has turned to fire they will be 60 or 70 yds. away, and the only result of his shot will be to wound, but not kill; apart from the cruelty of such a proceeding, it should be remembered that these “ pricked ” birds are a fruitful source of grouse disease. A good retriever is essential to enjoyment in grouse-driving, where only a limited time is available for picking up dead birds. The modern fashion is in favour of spaniels for this work, but a large wavy-coated retriever is usually preferable, as being less likely to tire or “ potter.” It is customary on some moors to burn the heather round the butts with a view to facilitating the recovery of dead birds, but this has also the disadvantage of rendering the butts more conspicuous to the grouse, which soon come to know the dangerous zone. In August grouse can be driven without much difficulty, but later in the season, and especially in a high wind, pack after pack will go straight back over the beaters' heads sooner than face the guns. Enormous bags of driven grouse are occasionally made on the Yorkshire and Durham moors; over 1300 brace have been killed in a single day at Broomhead near Sheffield, and there are several other well-known moors where, in a good season, 1000 brace are obtainable in a day's shooting. Grouse driving is believed to have been first practised in a very modified form on the English moors as early as 1805, but its usage did not become general until fifty or sixty years later.
Grouse-shooting over dogs, though lacking the excitement of grouse-driving, and not requiring the same high standard of skill in shooting, is none the less incomparably the higher form of sport. Owing to the almost universal wildness of all modern game-birds, its general practice is now almost entirely confined to the Highlands, where, especially on the western seaboard, grouse will lie to dogs practically throughout the season. Except on very ill-watered moors, where they suffer more than other breeds of dogs from thirst, large big-boned setters are preferable to pointers for grouse-shooting, as the latter are more easily affected by cold and damp, and in the writer's experience are more easily fatigued. Care should of course be taken always to work one's dogs up wind when possible, and in hot, still weather to beat the higher ground thoroughly, with a view to killing down the old cocks and barren hens which resort there. In stormy weather grouse naturally seek the lower slopes of the moors.
Partridge-shooting over dogs is a most delightful form of sport,
popularly supposed to be extinct nowadays, but there are happilyPartridge-
shooting. many parts of England where it is still practiced in suitable localities. None the less, modern agricultural conditions do not lend themselves to the use of dogs in partridge-shooting, and the most general custom is to drive the birds off the pastures and stubbles into the root crops where they can be walked up in line, a rather uninteresting method of shooting. Care should of course be taken always to walk across the drills; and where birds are wild, and time does not press, it will occasionally be found advantageous to work a field in a series of gradually diminishing circles. Much valuable time is often wasted in partridge-shooting in the search for dead and wounded birds; this can be obviated to a large extent by observing the golden rule that as soon as a bird is down the line should halt, and the dogs, whose business it is to retrieve the game, be allowed to do so, unassisted—or more correctly unhampered. If the bird cannot be found within reasonable time, the line should proceed, leaving a keeper and a steady dog behind to search for it. Where game is plentiful it is always advisable to employ one man with a couple of retrievers for the sole purpose of remaining behind the line to retrieve lost or running birds. As with all game, the modern tendency is to drive partridges: a form of shooting that of all others exacts the highest test of skill, not only on the part of the shooter, but also of the keeper who organizes the proceedings. To these requirements must be added a suitable tract of country for the purpose, and a large head of game; given all these essentials, partridge driving is a delightful amusement; without them it is usually a fruitless and wearisome undertaking.
In driving, the birds should be gradually and quietly collected into one large root-field, and sent from this over the guns, who should, when possible, always be placed in a grass-field where dead or wounded birds are more easily retrieved. Another field of roots should be at a convenient distance behind the guns for the purpose of gathering the birds, which, unless the wind be specially unfavourable, can then be brought back over them in a return drive. Long drives are not advisable; the more partridges can be kept on the wing, and the coveys broken up, the better. Where partridge-driving is carried on on a large scale, it is a good plan to supplement such hedge-rows as are convenient for the purpose by narrow belts of coniferous trees. These, if wired in to prevent disturbance by foxes, dogs, &c., not only provide admirable nesting-ground for winged-game, but afford better concealment for the guns, and cause the partridges to offer higher and more attractive shots. In shooting driven partridges, the sportsman should stand as far as practicable away from the fence, and concentrate his attention on the bird which first tops it. A driven grouse or rocketing pheasant will fly straight towards the shooter without swerving when he raises his gun, but not so the partridge, which can twist in the air almost like a snipe; it is this peculiarity, coupled with their startling scream, that proves so disconcerting to the young sportsman. Especial care should always be taken that the guns stand in a perfectly straight line within sight of one another: neglect of this precaution has often led to serious accidents.
Frequent change of blood is beneficial on estates where a large head of partridges is preserved, and it is advisable to kill of superfluous cock-birds before the commencement of the breeding season, though when partridges are reared artificially a better plan is to catch them alive, and use them as foster-mothers, a duty they perform admirably.
The pheasant, once one of the rarest British game-birds, has
now, thanks to artificial production, become almost the commonest,
and to shoot it over dogs among the hedgerowsPheasant-
shooting. in October, as was formerly the practice, would sbooting be a manifest absurdity. Under modern conditions it can only be dealt with satisfactorily' as a “ rocketer,” i.e. a bird flying high and fast towards the shooter. As such, the pheasant has no superior, provided only it fly high and fast enough, but otherwise it is a rather uninteresting sporting-bird which invariably elects to seek safety by running rather than flight. Like the modern pheasant itself, the rocketer is a more or less artificial creation, and considerable organization is necessary to produce it in perfection. It is only of late years that keepers have recognized that sportsmen place little value on the mere magnitude of a day's bag, as compared to the difficult or “pretty” shots they may obtain. Much, therefore, depends on the management of covert-shooting, the handling of the beaters, the disposition of the “ stops,” and the pains taken to ensure high-flying pheasants, or the reverse. When the configuration of the coverts permits of it, pheasants should always be driven down-hill to the guns; on fiat ground the latter should stand at such a distance from the covert-side as to permit the birds to rise high, and get well on the wing. This is sometimes attained by cutting away the undergrowth at the end of the covert where it is purposed to flush the birds, but this is also liable to make them break back over the beaters. Where pheasants exist in large quantities, “ false coverts ” of spruce or fir loppings should always be placed at the flushing-point; the birds should be collected as quietly as possible in these, and then sent forward over the guns in small quantities at a time.
Of other recognized British game-birds—as distinct from
wildfowl—it is only necessary to dwell on the most beautiful ofBlack-
game. them all, blackgame. These, though far more widely diffused than the red grouse, are not nearly so numerous. This is possibly due to altered agricultural conditions, the laying to pasture of much of the arable land which formerly fringed the Lowland moors, and the consequent surface-drainage which is responsible for the destruction of many young birds; but the chief cause lies in the wholly ineiiicient close-time afforded, which should be extended by at least a month. Blackgame- and grouse-shooting differ in no way in their methods, though the former are far more difficult birds to handle by driving, while really fascinating sport can be obtained by stalking the old cocks with a miniature rifle.
Ptarmigan are practically confined to the summits of the
higher Scottish hills, which are usually reserved for deer-forests,Ptarmi-
gan. and, therefore, offer no opportunity for sport with the shot-gun. In mild still weather they give but poor sport, running persistently in front of the dogs, or sitting until they can almost be knocked down with a stick, but on stormy days they rise wild, and afford splendid sport, especially in conjunction with the wild and romantic scenery in which they are found. They are of course invariably shot over dogs.
Capercally, once extinct in Great Britain, were reintroduced
into Scotland about 1835, and now exist in tolerable numbers,Caper-
cally. chiefly in Perthshire. Being a forest-haunting bird, they are usually driven to the guns like pheasants, but apart from their rarity and size, they are not held in great favour as sporting birds, while owing to the great damage they do to young coniferous trees, they are not encouraged to multiply on estates where there is a large acreage of growing plantations. Capercally are very courageous birds, and the writer has seen a winged cock attack and hold at bay a dog sent to retrieve it.
Snipe and woodcock, though properly wild-fowl, are usually regarded as belonging to the category of game-birds. ThoughSnipe. both the full-snipe and the woodcock breed to a limited extent in the British Isles, they may more correctly be described as autumn and winter migrants to them. The varieties then to be shot are the full-snipe, the jack-snipe and the great or solitary snipe; but the latter is exceedingly rarely met with, and the jack-snipe is becoming scarcer every year. Neither of these latter varieties breeds in the United Kingdom. Snipe are exceedingly erratic in their movements, which are largely influenced by the weather; like the woodcock they are here to-day and gone to-morrow. They haunt moist, or marshy localities, and the finest snipe shooting in the British islands is to be found on the Irish bogs. In hard frosts they should be sought near running water. As a general rule a dog is not used to find snipe, but where this may be considered necessary, a well broken Irish water-spaniel is to be recommended. These are the most intelligent of dogs, can be trained to point and retrieve as well, and are capable of standing wet and cold with impunity. It is a generally accepted axiom that snipe should be walked up, down wind, since they offer an easier mark when rising against it, but in the writer's experience this is more than counterbalanced by the fact that snipe, which are particularly susceptible to noise, lie far better when approached up wind. To kill snipe well is the most difficult knack in shooting, and one to which few men, however good shots they may be at other forms of game, rarely attain.
Woodcock are rarer birds than snipe, and even more erratic in their movements. Large quantities of them usually arrive in England with the first November combination of an easterly gale and a full moon, but they cannot be depended on to stay more than a few hours in the locality where they alight. In Ireland, however, they are far more constantWoodcock. in their habits, and it is here that the largest bags of woodcock are made in the United Kingdom. Though woodcock are properly forest, or covert-haunting birds, in many parts of Ireland and the Western Highlands of Scotland they frequent the open bogs and moors, where they are shot over pointers or setters. Otherwise no particular rules can be laid down for their pursuit, beyond the fact that they are very conservative. in their choice of a haunt, and that year after year cock may be found in the same spot. Woodcock are usually esteemed difficult birds to shoot, but more are missed from over-eagerness on the part of the shooter than from the difficulty of the shot they present. Still in thick covert they undoubtedly require a quick hand and eye acting in unison, to kill them neatly.
Of quadrupeds or ground-game, only three varieties, the roe-deer, the hare and the rabbit, are preserved for sport with the shot-gun in the United Kingdom. The first-named,Roe-deer. though found in a few widely distant districts in England and Ireland, is chiefly associated with Scotland so far as shooting is concerned. It is essentially a forest-loving animal, and is usually killed by driving it up to a line of guns, when, if close enough, it will drop to an ordinary charge of No. 5 shot; but a heavy load of B.B. or No. 1 is a far preferable, and more merciful, gauge to use. Roe-deer are not easy animals to move in a direction in which they suspect danger, and the more quietly a drive is conducted, the greater the chance of success. A few men walking carelessly through a wood, i.e. as if beating were not their object, will drive roe, and especially the cunning old bucks, with far greater certainty than an array of shouting, stick-rapping beaters.
Far finer sport, however, in every sense of the expression, can be obtained by stalking roe-bucks during the summer months with a small-bore rifle, carrying a hollow-nosed, and not a solid bullet. The most suitable opportunity for this is at sunrise or sunset, when the roe will be found feeding in the more open spaces in the woods. The same animals will nearly always be found in the same locality, but they are exceedingly wary creatures, and the old bucks are quite as difficult to stalk as a red-deer stag.
The hare no longer exists in the same quantities as formerly; indeed in many parts of Great Britain it is practically extinct, the result of the Ground Game Act of 1881. NoHares. special methods are employed for shooting hares, nor is any great skill requisite for doing so, but sportsmen should always bear in mind that unless hit in the head or heart hares are not easily killed dead, and should, therefore, refrain from firing long shots at them, especially when they do not offer a broadside shot.
It is to be presumed that the Ground Game Act was specially directed—and with reason—against rabbits more than hares, but the former show little or no evidence of beingRabbits. affected by it. Yet from every point of view, except perhaps that of shooting, they are far less valuable, and more noxious, animals, which ravage alike the young plantations of the landlord and the crops of the tenant farmer. Where they are preserved in large numbers, the most usual method of shooting them is to ferret them out of the burrows as short a time as possible before the day fixed for shooting, and then fill in the mouths of the holes with well beaten soil, which should also be drenched with parafiin or tar to deter the rabbits from digging their way in again. If this be carefully done, and plenty of covert-coarse grass, bracken or gorse—be available, in fine dry weather the rabbits will lie out for two or three nights, but in the event of heavy rain or especially snow, nothing will prevent them going to ground again. Where natural covert is scarce, it can be supplemented by strewing brushwood and fir-loppings under which rabbits will readily shelter. In beating for rabbits, the beaters should not merely tap with their sticks, but should thrust them into the clumps of grass and Underwood; otherwise many rabbits will be passed over. When rabbits are driven up to a line of guns in covert, the latter—if no winged game is expected-should stand just inside the edge of the wood, with their backs to the beaters, and take the rabbits after they have passed. This not only induces the rabbits to face the open, but precludes the possibility of an accident to the beaters. Capital sport can be enjoyed in the summer evenings by stalking rabbits with a pea-rifle in a suitable locality, i.e. where no danger to human beings or live-stock can be caused by a stray or deflected bullet. A disused quarry or sand pit is an ideal place for such sport.
One branch of shooting remains to be touched on, namely, wild-fowling, which again must be classed under two totally distinct headings, shore or flight shooting, and shooting afloat with a swivel punt gun. In flight shooting, the sportsman stations himself at a point over which theWild-fowl. birds will probably pass at sundown or daybreak in their passage from or to the sea, when going to or leaving their inland feeding places. Success in flight-shooting must, therefore, depend very largely on chance or luck, but given a fair proportion of the latter, it is a fine, wild sport. One essential requirement is a well-trained and thoroughly intelligent dog, and here again no better can be selected than an Irish water-spaniel. No special rules of guidance can be laid down for shore-shooting; the districts are unhappily few and far between where even a moderate bag of edible wild-fowl can be made nowadays, and experience alone can give that knowledge of their habits which is essential to success. Wild stormy weather which drives the birds off the sea is best for shore-shooting.
Punt-gunning or wild-fowling afloat is a sport confined to an exceedingly small number of people, professional or amateur, and is as distinct from ordinary inland shooting as deer-stalking from pigeon-shooting. It may be briefly described as the art of shooting wild-fowl on the sea, or in estuaries of rivers, from a flat-bottomed punt carrying a heavy, fixed gun, weighing anything from 70–170 ℔, the muzzle of which rests in a revolving crutch in the bow of the boat, and firing a charge of 1–2 ℔ of shot. A punt may be either single- or double-handed, i.e. to contain one or two people, and it is perhaps unnecessary to add the fowl are shot sitting, or just as they rise from the water. It is a sport that contains a considerable element of danger, and requires great powers of endurance and a strong constitution no less than good nerves, and it has been rightly termed a science in itself, only to be learnt by a patient apprenticeship under an experienced teacher.
The art of shooting cannot be learnt theoretically, and can only be acquired by experience and practice. The beginner should, however, from the first seek to avoid an ugly or cramped style, which, once developed, is very difficult to get rid of, and should bear in mind that, in firing atThe art of shooting. a moving object, his purpose should be not to place his charge of shot where such object is at the moment he pulls the trigger, but where it will be by the time the shot reaches it; in other words the game should run or fly into the circle of pellets. Nor should he seek to effect this by dwelling on his game with his gun at his shoulder—a practice not only clumsy but exceedingly dangerous—but by firing at an imaginary point in front of it. Practice alone can teach the knack of doing this properly; to some men it seems a natural gift, while others do not acquire it in a life-time. A sound digestion is the surest aid to successful shooting, for unless the nervous system be in perfect tune, brain, eye and hand cannot act in that spontaneous sympathy necessary to quick and pretty marksmanship.
None the less a good deal depends on the gun, as well as the man who uses it, and in choosing a fowling-piece it will be found an advantage, no less than an ultimate economy, for the young shooter to place himself in the hands of a London gunmaker of repute, and pay a good price for a good article. A 12-bore is the generally accepted gauge for modern shot guns, and this should weigh from 612–634 ℔. Of late years it is gradually becoming customary to reduce the length of the barrels from 30 to 28 in., a most decided improvement, as without diminishing the killing-power of the gun it improves its balance, and so lessens the probability of shooting under game, a very common fault among sportsmen. Excessive choking is to be deprecated; a pattern of 140 for the right and of 160 for the left barrel will be found amply sufficient, and a load of 40–42 grains of nitropowder with 1 or 118 oz. No. 512 unchilled shot will meet, all ordinary requirements of the shooting field. A thoroughly good hammer less ejector gun can be obtained from a first-class London gunmaker for 35–45 guineas, and a pair for £75 to £100, but these prices are capable of considerable modification or the reverse. Single-trigger guns are the latest fashion, but no special advantage can be claimed for them.
The bibliography of shooting is very extensive, but the following works may be cited as standard ones on the subject: The “Badminton Library” Shooting—Hints to Young Shooters, by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey; “ The Fur and Feather ” series of publications; The Gun and its Developments, by Greener; and for wild-fowling, Colonel Hawker's evergreen Instructions to Young Sportsmen; The Art of Wildfowling, by Abel Chapman; The Fowler in Ireland, by Sir Ralph Payne-Gallwey; and The Wildfowler, by Foulard.
The pursuit of large game, whether for food or sport, has ever exercised the greatest fascination for mankind, and with the rapid opening up of vast continents hitherto unexplored, and the introduction of breech-loading rifles, it has assumed an importance within the last few decades that bids fair to render it a thing of the past before the end of the current century. The present generation has seen the bison, which formerly roamed the American prairies in countless millions, wiped off the face of creation; the veldt of Southern Africa, 'which teemed in equal proportions with big game of every description, has become a pastoral country, where a few of the commoner varieties of antelope are suffered to exist under much the same conditions as the semi-wild deer of the Scottish Highlands; and even the jungles of Hindustan, save where jealously preserved by native potentates, show signs of exhaustion as regards the larger fauna. True, wherever the white man holds sway, the danger of extinction has been recognized; close-times have been instituted-; reserves set apart wherein the animals may breed unmolested, and the number of each species that may be killed, restricted; but it is doubtful whether these laws, wholesome and well-intentioned as they are, can do more than retard the ultimate destruction of big game outside such reserves as the Yellowstone Park in North America. Within the pale of this no rifle is ever fired, and the game has prospered correspondingly, but once let a single head of it wander outside the restricted area, and its doom is sealed. Moreover, there are still vast tracts in Africa and to a limited extent in other parts of the globe, where big game forms the staple meat supply of the aboriginal inhabitants, who, in addition, are no longer dependent on their primitive weapons of the chase, but are equipped with more or less efficient firearms. Great regions are however still to be found, of which sportsmen have as yet barely touched the fringe. The dense forests of Western Africa are practically unexplored, much less shot out, and Central and Eastern Asia, the Dutch East Indies, and Borneo and Sumatra, offer an almost virgin held for sport with big game. Save for the Barren Grounds of the Arctic regions and some parts of the extreme north-west—though Alaska now enjoys particularly stringent game laws—the North American continent is fast becoming denuded of big game; but in Europe, within a week's journey of London, the mountains of the Caucasus and the forests at their feet are only known to a handful of intrepid explorers. It will thus be seen that although good trophies, whether of hide or horn, are yearly becoming scarcer, fair sport is yet obtainable in those parts of the world where big game is indigenous, though the days are long past when a sportsman could shoot at his own discretion over the whole of Africa or North America, or when the globe-trotter visiting India could count on big game shooting as forming part of his programme.
Indeed, in view of the increased, and increasing, facilities for world travel, and the prevalent fashion for sport, it is probable that in course of time big game shooting will be universally conducted on modern European lines; i.e. wild animals will be carefully preserved by the state and private owners, and where the latter do not care to exercise the sporting rights they will be let to the highest bidder, and big game shooting will, as with Scottish deer-stalking, become exclusively a pastime of the wealthy or luxurious classes. Already large tracts in the wilder parts of the Eastern States of America have been acquired by rich men, over which they jealously preserve the sporting; and with the opening up of railway communication in the south of Africa to the Zambezi, and in the north to Khartum, the dawn of another century may not improbably see shooting-boxes advertised “ to let for the winter months,” dotting the very countries where Oswell, or Baker, found a virgin held for their rifles within the last few decades. Distasteful as such a state of things may seem to the present generation of sportsmen, something more or less approaching it will inevitably come to pass; and where climatic conditions or inaccessibility forbid its adoption, big game will become extinct at the hands of native races or white “ professional ” hunters. Carpe diem must undoubtedly be the motto of the big game shooter of the present day, who requires genuine wild sport under the highest possible conditions. Even at present it is essential that he should obtain the fullest information as to the existing game laws in the part of the world in which he proposes to hunt, the whole of North America and practically three-fourths of Africa being governed by stringent regulations respecting the preservation of big game. Every state in the North American Union, and in some cases every county in a state, has its own close-times and game laws, and the same is true of Canada. Moreover, heavy fees for licences to kill big game are now exacted in all parts of the world where game laws exist. In the United States the cost of this varies very much, the present highest charge being $50 for a “ nonresident ” sportsman, while in addition in some states he is not permitted to hunt unless accompanied with a qualified guide. Full information on these points can be obtained gratis on application to the Board of Agriculture at Washington, where every assistance is given with the greatest courtesy, and which further issues admirably compiled pamphlets dealing with the whole question of game-preservation. Infringement of the United States Game Laws entails exceedingly heavy penalties, amounting in the most extreme case to two years' imprisonment plus a fine of $5000.
In Canada the highest charge is $100 in Manitoba, while in Africa it varies from £50 in the Sudan and British and German East Africa to £100 in Bechuanaland. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that these fees only permit the killing of a limited number of specified animals. Still, excellent as these laws undoubtedly are, their value must remain enormously discounted as long as the sale of game and skins by aboriginal or professional hunters is permitted; it is they, and not the heavily taxed foreign sportsman, who are responsible for the threatened extinction of big game.
So far as Asiatic sport is concerned, British India, save to those furnished with credentials to native potentates or high government officials, offers scant opportunity as regards big game to the itinerant sportsman, who must now wander farther afield into Central or North-Eastern Asia, Borneo, Java and the wilder parts of Assam or Burma; but the greater portion of the first-named locality is only open to persons duly authorized by the Russian government.
Although South America and Australia offer little attraction for sport with the rifle, big game of varying species is thus indigenous in every part of the world. It is obviously impossible within our limits to deal at any length with either its habits or the various methods of hunting it. Brief allusion will be made, however, to the chief varieties of it found in the various continents and the necessary equipment for their pursuit.
Europe contains big game in greater variety and quantity than is generally supposed. The last survivors of the aurochs or European bison still roam the forests of Lithuania and the Caucasus: elk are found in Scandinavia, Russia and Eastern Prussia, and red-deer are common to the whole of the continent. Of the more Alpine kinds of big game, reindeer exist Europe. in Norway; chamois in the mountainous districts of Central and Southern Europe; wild sheep in Corsica and Sardinia; while a few of the European ibex still linger in the royal preserves of the Italian Alps. A variety of ibex is fairly plentiful in Spain, and wild goats are found in South-Eastern Europe. Of the carnivore, bears, wolves and lynxes, though not often met with, still exist in fair numbers in most of the mountainous countries of Europe, though the first-named animal is practically the only one affording opportunity for sport with the rifle. Gluttons or wolverines are found in Scandinavia and Russia, and so-called wild-boar are plentiful in the carefully preserved forests of Central Europe. The reason for this continued supply of big game is that the whole of the European continent has been for centuries under private, communal or state preservation. The Caucasus, which though geographically in Europe, can hardly with fairness be held to be so as regards sport, further contain such purely Asiatic varieties of big game as tigers, leopards and tahr, and but for the savage character of the country and its inhabitants, and the obstacles thrown in the way of foreign travellers, would probably be far more visited by English sportsmen than is at present the case. In civilized Europe, Scandinavia, Spain and the Mediterranean islands probably offer the best field for the big game hunter of moderate means, though the last named localities still enjoy an unenviable reputation for brigandage.
Among useful works of reference dealing with big game shooting in Europe the following may be cited: Wild Spain, by Chapman, and Wild Norway by the same author; Flood, Fell and Forest, by Sir Henry Pottinger; Savage Svanetia and Sport in the Crimea and Caucasus, by Phillips Woolley; Tyrol and the Tyrolese, by Baillie-Grohmann; the volumes of the “ Badminton Library ” dealing with the subject, and especially Short Stalks, by E. N. Buxton.
The physical geography-of so vast a continent as Asia, no less than its varying climatic conditions, naturally produce many different species of big game, ranging from the Alpine Asia. to the purely tropical. When it is remembered that the continent includes the frozen tundras of the Arctic Circle, the steaming plains of Hindustan, the treeless wastes of the Pamirs and the dense jungles of Burma, together with the highest mountains in the world, it will be readily seen how varied must be its fauna. Among the carnivore, the tiger and the leopard or panther are found practically throughout Asia, save in the extreme north and north-west; while lions, though exceedingly rare, still exist in Guzerat and parts of Persia and Mesopotamia. The usual methods of tiger-shooting in British Asia are, when the game has been located, either to drive it to the sportsmen by means of natives acting as heaters, or else to force it into the open with a long line of elephants, which also serve to carry the shooters; the choice of methods must, of course, depend on local conditions. The second practice is not a form of sport wi thin the reach of men of moderate means, who, indeed, except as the guests of some native potentate, are not likely to have the opportunity of indulging in tiger-shooting at all. In localities where neither of these methods is feasible, it is usual to tie up a live animal as a bait, and sit up over it during the night in a machān or platform lashed to the nearest tree; but this is usually an unsatisfactory and disappointing proceeding. In parts of Asia other than British possessions, tigers are found as far apart as the shores of the Caspian Sea and the island of Saghalien. Europeans recover with difficulty from the bite of a tiger, since blood-poisoning is the almost inevitable result owing to the septic condition of the animal's teeth and claws, and a supply of antiseptic lint and solution should always form part of the tiger-shooter's equipment. Panthers, though more plentiful than tigers, are less frequently bagged, as they are exceedingly difficult animals to beat out of covert; they are usually killed by sitting up over a bait, or by smoking them out of the caves they frequently make their homes. A wounded panther has the reputation of being a more dangerous animal than a tiger. Other varieties of the felines are the cheetah, the clouded panther, the lynx, and most beautiful and rarest of all, the ounce or snow leopard only found above the snow line.
Of other Asiatic carnivore the bears are the most important from the sportsman's point of view. A great variety of them exists, ranging from the great Kamchatkan bear to the small blue bear of Thibet, but the methods of their pursuit call for no special mention.
The Indian elephant is rather smaller than the African variety, and has other well-marked differences, the chief as regards shooting being the fact that the cavity at the top of the trunk is not protected by the roots of the tusk as in the African elephant, thus enabling a frontal shot to reach the brain. This point, one at the side of the temple, and another at the back of the ear, are most usually selected for their aim by Indian sportsmen, who do not favour the shoulder shot so commonly employed in Africa. A charging elephant can often be turned by a well-planted, though not necessarily fatal, bullet, but a really determined animal, especially a female with a calf, will not cease its attack until either it or the hunter be killed. Though elephants will usually fly from the report of a rifle, the sound of a human voice will often make them charge.
Four varieties of rhinoceros, of which two are one-horned, and two double-horned, are found in Asia, ranging eastwards from Assam through Burma and Siam as far as Sumatra. The rhinoceros is almost invariably found in heavy grass swamps, and can consequently only be hunted by means of elephants, It is usually beaten out by means of a long line, but is occasionally tracked to its lair on a single elephant. In common with many animals of the deer and antelope tribes, the rhinoceros always deposits its droppings in the same place, a peculiarity which enables native shikaris to locate it with tolerable ease. Although a rhinoceros, even when wounded, will rarely charge home, it has a peculiarly terrifying effect on tame elephants, and specially trustworthy ones are necessary for this sport. The Indian rhinoceros differs in many important details from the African variety.
Of bovines, Asia produces the buffalo, three species of the gaur—miscalled the Indian bison—and the yak, the latter a rather uninteresting beast of the chase only found on the open ground of the Tibetan plateau. Very different is the pursuit of the gaur in the dense forests of India and Burma, where it is usually stalked on foot; and to track a wounded bull through thick jungle affords one of the most exciting experiences of big game shooting. Such an animal will almost invariably turn at right angles to its trail, and Watch for its pursuer, whom it will charge from a distance of perhaps a few yards, even feet. The wild buffalo, too, is an exceedingly plucky animal, and will on occasion even attack a European—whose smell appears distasteful to it—unmolested, a peculiarity it shares with the tame variety.
The numerous species of deer and antelope scattered over the continent of Asia are usually obtained by stalking, but the former being essentially forest-haunting animals, while the latter are usually found on open ground, the methods of approaching them naturally vary with local conditions. Of deer the best known are the sambar, the chital and the swamp deer, but the Hangul or Cashmere stag, the Altai wapiti and the Maral or Asiatic red-deer afford the finest trophies. Of Asiatic antelope the handsomest and commonest variety is probably the black buck, found practically all over India as far east as Assam.
To many sportsmen the most fascinating form of Asiatic big game shooting is the pursuit of the many varieties of wild goats and sheep, common to the various mountain ranges and high lying plateaus of the continent. While such sport lacks the risk of attack from the animal hunted, it exacts remarkable powers of endurance and perseverance on the part of the hunter, coupled in most cases with the dangers inseparable from Alpine climbing. There is scarcely a mountainous or elevated part of Asia which does not contain some variety of wild goat or sheep, of which the best known are the ibex and markhor of the Himalayas and Hindu Kush among the former, and the Ovis Poli and O. Ammon of Tibet among the latter. As a general rule all wild goats can only be obtained under conditions which exact the highest mountaineering qualities on the part of the stalker, but with regard to the sheep of the vast tablelands of High Asia-" the roof of the world ”-a good deal of work has to be done on pony back, as the rarefied atmosphere of these great altitudes precludes much physical exertion. Exception, however, in this respect must be made of the burhel—Otis Nohura—which haunts the same inaccessible crags as the ibex or markhor. The sportsman who essays to bag an Ovis Poli, or O. Ammon, will probably have had ample opportunity of testing his climbing powers on the march from India to his shooting-ground.
Ibex-shooting begins with the melting of the snows on the lower slopes, and ends in June, when the flies and the flocks of native herdsmen, driven to the Alpine pastures, force the wild animals to seek ground absolutely inaccessible to man. “ First come first served ” is a recognized rule in Himalayan shooting, and once a sportsman has claimed a nullah, or mountain valley, by priority of possession, it is his alone as long as he chooses to retain it; consequently the “ race for the nullahs ” in early spring is not the least exciting part of Himalayan big game shooting. In addition to ibex, markhor and such animals, the season's bag should also include two varieties of bear, and, with extreme good fortune, an ounce or snow leopard.
Like the fox in Great Britain, the wild boar is never shot in
any part of British Asia where it can be hunted on horseback.
Thanks to the improvements in modern firearms, and particularly
to the adaptation of cordite ammunition to sporting rifles,
the battery necessary for Asiatic big game shootingEquip-
ment. has been considerably reduced, both in weight and number of weapons required. It is not long since or even 4-bore rifles, weighing respectively 18 and 24 lb, or at least a .577 Express, were considered indispensable for the pursuit of the pachyderms and larger bovines, yet nowadays a .450 ride of 11 lb weight, in conjunction with cordite powder, is held amply sufficient for the heaviest or most dangerous game, the penetration or expansion of the bullet being regulated by the extent of its covering of cupro-nickel or steel. For soft-skinned animals, deer and mountain game, a .256 or .303 magazine rifle is the most useful weapon, and it may be confidently said that the introduction of these and similar small-bore rifles has extended the killing zone in stalking by at least 100 yds. For forest or jungle shooting a 10- or 12-bore Paradox gun is an admirable weapon, capable of use as a rifle against large and dangerous animals, or as an ordinary shot gun for small game. A double barrelled rifle is essential for dangerous game, the saving of time, short as it is, in merely shifting the finger from one trigger to another, being an enormous advantage as compared with the action of ejecting and re-loading from a magazine. Finally it may be said that a sportsman would be completely equipped for big game shooting in Asia, or indeed any part of the world, with a battery consisting of a .450 cordite rifle, a 10- or 12-bore Paradox gun and a .256 or .303 magazine rifle.
As regards the rest of his outfit, if he propose to shoot in any part of British Asia, he can procure this on the spot, as well, and far cheaper, than in England.
Useful works dealing with big game shooting in Asia are: Baldwin, Large and Small Game of Bengal; Forsyth, Highlands of Central India; Sanderson, Thirteen Years among the Wild Beasts of India; Kinloch, Large Game Shooting in Thibet, &.; Maclntyre, Hindu Koh; Steindale, Natural History; Demidoff, Sport in Central Asia; Ronaldshay, Sport and Travel 'neath an Eastern Sky; A Shooting Trip to Kamchatka; and Fife-Cookson, Tiger-Shooting in the Doon and Ulwar.
The main feature of African big game is the antelopes, which exist in great variety; such widely different animals as the noble sable antelope and the tiny dik-dik being classed among Africa. them. African gazelles and antelopes may be roughly divided into two classes, those found on plains or open ground, and those frequenting forest or bush, and the methods of hunting them naturally vary with the locality. Still, as a general rule, the antelopes of the plains are not only the finer animals, but afford more enjoyable sport in the stalk, combined with the advantage of a climate free from malaria. There is practically no part of Africa where antelopes do not exist in one variety or, another, but probably British East Africa or Somaliland offer the best field for sportsmen. On open ground a good deal of hunting can be done on horseback—except in those districts where the tsetse fly exists—and antelopes are occasionally ridden down, but a very stout-hearted horse is required to overtake such animals as sable antelopes, eland or gemsbok. Caution should always be exercised in approaching the larger varieties of antelope when at bay, whether wounded or not, as some of them, notably the roan and sable, and the oryx, are inclined to be very savage, and will charge desperately home. It is said that even a lion is chary of attacking the oryx, owing to its long rapier-like horns.
The African carnivore include the lion, leopard, cheetah, hyena and other smaller varieties, but it is only necessary to deal with the first named, which, where not exterminated or driven away by civilizationngnay be said to be common to the whole continent. As with all game, big or small, the conditions of lion-shooting vary with the locality; thus, on the open plains of Somaliland, lions can be spied from a distance and stalked on foot, or even ridden to bay on horseback, while in densely bushed districts, unless chanced on in open ground, the most usual method is to sit up at night over a bait or kill, inside a zareba of thorn bushes. This method, however, makes aiming with any degree of accuracy a matter of difficulty, but a German, Herr Schillings, has demonstrated the use of a flashlight in such circumstances. Lions frequently lie up or shelter in detached patches of scrub, whence they may be driven by a “ bobbery ” pack of dogs, or as a last resource the bush may be set on fire, the sportsman having previously concealed himself down wind. Lions when emboldened by hunger will fearlessly attack human beings, especially at night, and, like tigers that have once developed a taste for human flesh, become positive scourges of their neighbourhood. Mr F. C. Selous, than whom there are few better authorities, considers the lion the most dangerous of all African big game, a distinction that other writers award to the buffalo.
Of the pachyderms the commonest is the rhinoceros (R. bicornis), usually termed the black rhinoceros to distinguish it from the so-called “ white ” variety now almost extinct. Though the first-named is by no means so widely distributed as formerly, it is still plentiful in Equatorial Africa, and to a lesser extent in Somaliland. It bears rather a mixed character for ferocity, but most hunters agree that while it will charge with little or no provocation, it does so blindly, and rarely turns to renew the attack. This is probably due to its exceedingly poor sense of sight, but its sense of smell is correspondingly extraordinarily acute, while an additional cause that renders it a difficult beast to stalk is the presence of the “ rhinoceros birds " which are its almost invariable companions, and which warn it of danger. Though so huge an animal, the rhinoceros is easily killed by a bullet in front of the base of the ear, or midway along the neck; the shoulder shot is only employed when the hunter has stepped aside to avoid a charge. The hippopotamus is still plentiful throughout most parts of uncivilized Africa. In narrow rivers where they can be shot from the bank, they are easily killed by a brain-shot, the best spot to aim at being the base of the ear. If the bullet be properly placed the animal will sink to the bottom of the stream and rise to the surface within a few hours. Hippopotami are nocturnal feeders, and can be occasionally shot at night when at a considerable distance from water; but owing to the difficulty of placing the bullet accurately, they are apt to escape wounded. Hippopotamus shooting does not rank high as a sport, but the meat, when young, is excellent, and the huge size of the animal enables a hunter to provide a large number of followers with food; this can be the only excuse for killing these comparatively harmless animals in any number.
Elephants still exist in considerable numbers in parts of Africa, but, unless more stringent methods of protection are afforded, their ultimate extermination at the hands of professional ivory hunters, white or coloured, is inevitable. What can be done in the direction of preservation is shown in Cape Colony, where elephants, which have been rigidly protected for many years, now exist in considerable, and increasing, quantity. Elephants have an extraordinarily keen sense of smell, which, coupled with their habit of roaming over vast expanses of country, forms their chief safeguard against the relentless persecution to which they are subject. They may be hunted either on foot or horseback; where feasible, the latter is the preferable method, as it not only enables the hunter to follow up his quarry with greater ease—and when startled, or wounded, elephants will travel enormous distances—but in open country gives him a better chance of escape from a charge. The heart, or broadside, shot is usually employed. Incredible as it may seem, these enormous creatures can be killed by a single pellet of hardened nickel, discharged from a .303 rifle. A weapon of heavier calibre is, however, to be recommended, and a .450 rifle, or 10 or 8 bore Paradox gun, are most suitable; the closer the hunter can safely get to the animal the better. A charging elephant can usually, but not invariably, be turned by a shot in the chest; to fire at the head is useless.
The buffalo (Bos caffer), formerly one of the commonest of African wild animals, has been practically exterminated in many parts by the plague of rinderpest, but is still plentiful in the malarious swamps between the mouths of the Limpopo and the Zambezi, and even more so in the Beira district of Portuguese East Africa. Like most wild animals, the buffalo is naturally disinclined to take the offensive, but when roused to action, it will pursue a hunter with relentless ferocity, and is held by many authorities to be the most dangerous of African big game. The greatest care should therefore be exercised in following up a wounded animal, or in approaching one that is apparently dead, for as long as a spark of life lingers in it, it will endeavour to destroy its destroyer. A wounded buffalo will nearly always make for the nearest thicket, where it will await its pursuer, and in such circumstances, it should be left alone for an hour or two, when it will probably lie down, and be less active in attack owing to its wound having stiffened. A charging buffalo always carries its head at such an angle that a frontal shot is useless, unless the bullet penetrates through the nose into the throat or chest. A .500 or .450 rifle with a solid bullet, or an 8-bore Paradox gun is the best weapon for buffalo-shooting. Other varieties of the African bovines are the smaller, Abyssinian, the Senegalian, and the dwarf, or Congo buffaloes.
The only other species of African big game calling for special mention is the giraffe, which is usually ridden down, and killed by a raking shot at the root of the tail; but except when required for food or specimens, the destruction of this inoffensive animal, which offers no trophy of the chase, is to be deprecated. Great numbers are annually destroyed by professional skin hunters, and their carcases left to rot. Bears, though little known, exist in North-West Africa, and the ubiquitous wild goat, or ibex, is also found in the north of the continent. A .450 cordite rilie, a .303 small bore, and a 10 or 8 bore Paradox gun, is an ample battery for African big game shooting.
Useful books of reference for African shooting are: Selous, A Hunter's Wanderings in Africa; Travel and Adventure in S.E. Africa, by the same author; Baker, Wild Beasts and their Ways; Swayne, Seventeen Trips through Somaliland; Powell Cotton, Travel and Adventure in the Congo Free State, A Sporting T rip to Abyssinia; Melliss, Lion Hunting in Somaliland; Willoughby, East Africa and its Big Game; Neumann, Elephant Hunting in East Equatorial Africa; Hay, Western Barbary; Bryden, Aloof and Karroo; Millais, A Breath from the Veldt; Thomson, Through Masai-Land, and Theodore Roosevelt, African Game Trails (N.Y. 1910).
Big game in North America has been rapidly disappearing for
several decades before the advance of civilization armed with
breech-loading rifles. Among the carnivore, bears andNorth
America. pumas are the only species that need be taken into account as far as shooting is concerned. Of the former three varieties exist, the grizzly, rarely found east of the Rocky Mountains, the brown bear, and the black bear, common to practically the whole of the continent, though now rarely killed in the Eastern states. The best country for bears is Alaska, where the grizzly grows to an enormous size, and the Kodiak Island bear is probably the largest variety of its genus in the world, except perhaps the Yezo bear of Japan. In Alaska, bears are frequently shot along the river-banks, to which they resort in autumn to feed on the salmon which then crowd the rivers. Otherwise no fixed rule can be laid down for American bear-shooting; the quarry may be hunted with dogs, which “ tree ” the black bear, or bring the grizzly, which is unable to climb, to bay; it may be killed over a bait; it may be spied and stalked, or, most common of all, it may be accidentally “ jumped ” and shot by the hunter. The neck or heart is the most vulnerable spot to aim for, but bears are very tenacious of life, and astonishingly active, despite their clumsy appearance. Their eyesight is bad, but their sense of smell and hearing very acute. The biggest of grizzlies will rarely charge unprovoked, unless it be a female with cubs, but when molested or wounded it will push its attack home with the greatest temerity, and caution should always be exercised in approaching a wounded animal, even when apparently dead.
Of North American Cervidae the finest is the wapiti, invariably miscalled elk, once as plentiful as the bison, but now extinct east of the Rockies, where, though still fairly abundant, it is found in sadly diminished numbers. It is especially common in Vancouver, but as is almost invariably the case with insular deer, the heads are small compared to those of the mainland. Wapiti-hunting is probably the finest sport in America, not only from the magnificent trophy these splendid deer afford, but also on account of the beautiful country they frequent in the United States; open rolling ranges of hills interspersed with patches of timber. Wapiti are almost invariably killed by stalking during the rutting-season, when the big bulls betray themselves by their defiant challenge. The largest deer in the world is the North American moose, which, except for a difference in size, is precisely the same animal as the elk of Northern and Eastern Europe. It is essentially a forest-haunting animal, which in the Eastern States and Canada is frequently killed by “ calling ” i.e. imitating the call of the cow, and so attracting the rutting bull to within shot of the hunter. This is usually effected by means of a species of trumpet made of birch-bark, and in this art of “ calling ” both white men and Indians become exceedingly skilful. In Alaska, where the finest moose are found, they are usually stalked or “ still-hunted ” on foot, and to “ still-hunt ” these animals in dense timber successfully is a most delicate piece of wood craft. Unless struck in a vital part a wounded moose will travel enormous distances, but a single shot in the heart, or better still, the neck, is usually fatal. A wounded moose can be dangerous and should be approached with caution.
The North American caribou, which is practically the same animal as the European and Asiatic reindeer, may be divided into two varieties: the Barren Ground caribou, found in the north, and the Woodland caribou, found all over the forests of Canada, and in a few localities in the United States. The former is probably the only wild animal existing on the American continent in practically the same numbers as formerly, while the latter, thanks to careful preservation, is still abundant. The Barren Ground caribou of the northern regions of North America are frequently hunted by white men. They form the staple food of the natives of Arctic North America, and huge quantities of them are killed during the spring and autumn migration, especially when swimming lakes or rivers. The woodland caribou is easily stalked in fairly open ground, and a bullet in the heart or neck will kill the largest bull. Caribou and reindeer are the only animals of the Cervidae in which the females have horns as well as the males. The two most widely separated districts of Canada, Newfoundland and British Columbia, probably afford the best ground for woodland caribou. Other American deer are the mule, or black-tailed, and the Virginian, or white-tailed, both widely distributed throughout the continent, but the latter, which is essentially a denizen of thick forest, is much the most difficult beast to stalk. It is occasionally “ hounded ” or hunted with dogs, which drive it to runways where the hunter has previously concealed himself. A smaller variety of the black-tail is found on the Pacific coast.
The prongbuck, invariably, but incorrectly, styled an antelope, is a sporting little animal only found on open plains. It was formerly exceedingly plentiful, but is now sadly diminished in numbers. It can only be obtained by fair stalking, and the shot has almost invariably to be taken at long range. It affords excellent sport when coursed with greyhounds. It is the only hollow horned rurninant which annually sheds its horns.
Now that the bison is extinct as far as shooting is concerned, the only bovine of North America is the musk ox of the Arctic Circle, but few sportsmen care to undergo the discomforts attendant on the pursuit of this animal, which moreover is an exceedingly uninteresting beast of sport and offers but a poor trophy. The same may be said of the Rocky Mountain goat, a curious animal, which zoologically is an antelope, and which, though its pursuit exacts great powers of endurance and mountaineering ability, is so stupid, or self-confident a creature, that practically no science is required to stalk it. Very different is the chase of the magnificent big horn or wild sheep, now scarce in the United States, but fairly plentiful in the Kootenay district of British Columbia, and which, when killed by fair stalking, affords a trophy that may be considered the Blue Ribbon of American big game shooting. It is occasionally hunted with dogs, which hold it at bay until the hunter can get within range, or it may be killed by watching the so-called “ licks,” or beds of limestone clay, to which these animals are fond of resorting, and which they lick or gnaw, presumably as a form of corrective. Big horn, varying according to locality, are found as far north as the shores of the Bering Sea, and south to Northern Mexico. The only other wild animal of North America that needs mention is the puma or panther. This is invariably hunted with dogs, which “ tree ” it or hold it at bay until the arrival of the hunter, while a good pack of staunch hounds will kill it themselves. To seek it without the aid of dogs is useless, and it is therefore an uninteresting beast of sport. Certain American writers have claimed a rather spurious courage for the puma, but the general consensus of opinion is that it is a skulking, cowardly beast.
No special battery need be taken to America; a .303 rifle is sufficient for all the big gameof the continent, but a .400 or .450 cordite rifle is probably preferable for dealing with the big Alaskan grizzlies.
Useful works of reference for American shooting are: Roosevelt, Hunting Trips of a Ranchman; Van Dyke, The Still-Hunter; Pike, The Barren Grounds of Northern Canada; Grohmann, Camps in the Rockies; Caton, The Antelope and Deer of America; American Big Game Hunting (edited by oosevelt); Davis, Caribou Shooting in Newfoundland; Buxton, Short Stalks; Whitehead, Camp Fires of the Everglades; and the volumes of the “ Badminton Library " dealing with the subject.
Although two or three sorts of unimportant deer are found in
South America, as well as the puma and jaguar, it doesSouth
America. not call for special mention in respect of big game ifggm shooting, an extraordinary fact in view of the enormous size of the continent. The best work of reference is Kennedy, Sporting Sketches in South America.
Arctic big game shooting appeals to such a small class of
sportsmen, and is so limited in its variety of game,Other
areas. that it need not be touched on here. Full information on the subject can be found in the works of Lamont, Nansen, and other Arctic explorers.
Some of the finest deer stalking in the world can be obtained in New Zealand, by those able to spare the time for so long a journey.
Big game shooting is not only an exceedingly expensive
amusement, but one of which the cost has been continually
increasing, and no expedition of any length outsideGeneral
tions Europe could be enjoyed under an expenditure of from £300–£500; but in View of the enormous difference in local conditions, no less than individual requirements, no hard and fast scale can be laid down. East Africa, and Somaliland are probably the most expensive localities in which to hunt, on account of the numbers of porters, and followers, with which a sportsman is obliged to encumber himself, while British India is relatively the cheapest. South of the Zambezi in Africa, it is usual to transport stores and equipment in an ox-wagon, and though the initial cost is heavy, great part of this can be recouped by selling the equipment at the end of the trip. No matter in what part of Africa it is purposed to hunt, it is advisable to bring everything, camp-equipment—Weissman tent, mosquito curtains, camp bedstead, table and chair—and all stores from England. These latter should be packed in strong boxes, each branded with the nature of its contents, to weigh when full 65 lb, the weight an African porter can conveniently carry. Beads and presents for natives should not be overlooked. In India, on the other hand, nearly everything can be procured cheaper and better there than in England, while as regards North America, as indeed everywhere, the expense of a shooting trip varies largely with locality; the outfit of wagons, horses and attendants requisite for Wyoming or Montana, being useless in British Columbia, or Alaska, where everything has to be “packed” on Indian porters. Of Central or Northern Asia it is difficult to speak with any degree of accuracy as regards expense; but on this important point, no matter in what part of the globe an expedition may be planned, information should be sought from only the latest and most reliable authorities.
The hunter’s personal equipment, rifle, clothing, saddlery, &c., should be the best procurable. Where a camp bed is not practicable, a sleeping-bag of three partitions and waterproof back should be taken. Clothing must of course be adapted to the climate, but flannel must always be worn next the skin, and a cholera belt is a necessity. It should be remembered that clothing should err on the side of warmth; a chill can be contracted in the tropics just as easily as in a temperate clime, and is far more dangerous in its effects. A small medicine-chest should form part of the equipment, and most medicines can now be obtained in easily portable tabloids. Warburg’s fever tincture, and quinine, are essential in tropical or malarious districts. Cheap rubber-soled shoes, to be thrown away when worn out, are excellent for rock work, otherwise no footgear can equal a well-made English shooting boot. Good field-glasses are preferable to telescopes, on account of their hanciiness. Now that big game shooting has become the “fashion,” and facilities for world travel are increasing every year, people are prone to enter on the sport with but vague ideas as to its dangers, hardships and responsibilities. Presumably no one not of sound constitution would undertake an expedition to, say, Central Africa, or Asia; but even granted this necessary qualification, he may be naturally unfitted by temperament to deal with the discomforts and drawbacks inseparable from big game shooting, even under the most favourable conditions. He may be able to plant shot after shot on the bull’s-eye of a stationary iron target, yet this is a very different matter from finding the shoulder of an animal moving through surroundings which closely assimilate with its own colouring, or from placing his bullet in exactly the right spot to stop the charge of an infuriated wild-beast. In such a situation, if eye, hand, or nerve fail him, the odds are that the creature will kill him instead of his killing it, for, as has been truly said, dangerous wild animals when wounded, or provoked beyond endurance, will hunt a human being as a terrier does a rabbit. In dealing with coloured retainers, whether Asiatic or African, the hunter should above all remember that he is a white man, and exact implicit obedience and respect, by combining firmness with scrupulously fair treatment. Again, to instance a minor, but none the less important, essential, how many would-be big-game hunters are there who can trust themselves to find their direction by a compass, or steer a course at night by the aid of the best-known constellations? Yet this is merely one of a hundred other requirements necessary to travel in a wild country. (P. St.)
- ↑ Except in New Zealand, where red-deer have, however, been introduced and afford magnificent sport.
- ↑ The Polar bear may be claimed as a fourth species, as it is found on the mainland of the ice-bound north, but it can hardly be included as far as big game shooting is concerned. American naturalists recognize many sub-varieties of both the grizzly and brown bear.