Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/215

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WILD YAK-SHOOTING.

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its horns broken off close to the head. I leave my readers to imagine how terrific the crash must have been to break off the huge thick horn of one of these animals. What powerful heads to receive and deliver such a blow!

The Mongols said that during the rutting season the bulls constantly uttered a grunting noise; this is most probable, because the domesticated yak grunts like a pig; but we did not hear it once; indeed, at any other season except the pairing time it is very uncommon.

The Mongols say that the calves are born in June, and that a cow will only bear every alternate year.

Gifted with enormous physical strength, the yak in its native deserts, far from the haunts of men, has no dangerous enemies, and dies generally of old age. But he is subject to a kind of mange, called in Mongolian 'homun,' which spreads over the whole body, and causes the hair to fall off. I cannot say whether they ever recover from this complaint, or whether in time it proves fatal, but I myself shot two yaks which had lost a great deal of hair and were covered with the scab.

Wild yak-shooting is as exciting as it is dangerous, for a wounded beast, especially an old bull, will often attack his pursuer. They are the more formidable owing to the uncertainty of killing them outright, however great both skill and nerve may be. A bullet aimed at the body very seldom wounds