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,
- Except in New Zealand, where red-deer have, however, been introduced and afford magnificent sport.