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Big game shooting. Vol. II Phillipps-Wolley, Clive 1894

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Array     The Badminton Library of
SPORTS  AND   PASTIMES
EDITED  BY
HIS  GRACE  THE" DUKE  OF  BEAUFORT,   K.G.
ASSISTED BY ALFRED E. T. WATSON
BIG  GAME SHOOTING    BIG   GAME   SHOOTING
BY
CLIVE   PHILLIPPS-WOLLEY
WITH  CONTRIBUTIONS  BY
LIEUT.-COLONEL   R.  HEBER   PERCY,   ARNOLD   PIKE,
MAJOR ALGERNON C. HEBER PERCY, W. A. BAILLIE-GROHMAN,
SIR HENRY POTTINGER, Bart., EARL OF  KILMOREY,  ABEL CHAPMAN,
WALTER J. BUCK, AND ST. GEORGE LITTLEDALE
VOL. II.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS  BY CHARLES   WHYMPER
AND   FROM   PHOTOGRAPHS
LONDON
LONGMANS,    GREEN,    AND    CO.
1894
All   rights    reserved  CONTENTS
i\ OF
THE  SECOND  VOLUME
 »Ot	
CHAPTER PAGE
I.   Arctic Hunting i
By Arnold Pike.
II.   The Caucasus 22
By Clive Phillipps- Wolley.
III. Mountain Game of the Caucasus    .       ...     48
By Clive Phillipps- Wolley.
IV. Caucasian Aurochs 65
By St. G. Littledale.
V.   Ovis Argali of Mongolia j$
• By St. G. Littledale.
VI.   The Chamois yy
By IV. A. Baillie-Grohman.
VII.   The Stag of the Alps 112
By W. A. Baillie-Grohman.
VIII.   The Scandinavian Elk 123
By Sir Henry Pot linger, Bart.
IX    European Big Game 154
By  Major Algernon  Heber Percy,   and  the Earl   of
Kilmorey.  ILLUSTRATIONS
IN THE
SECOND  VOLUME
(Reproduced by Messrs.  Walker &r> Boutall)
FULL-PAGE  ILLUSTRATIONS
ARTIST
Hand to hand Work     .        .        .    .    C. Whymper      Frontispiece
Death of a Polar Bear
The Corpse Rocks ....
Mr.   St.   G.   Littledale's   Caucasian
Bag for the season of 1887
« Standing like Statues '
Ibex (Hircus cegagrus)
The Spectre    	
to face p.    16
C. Whymper
<• From a photograph
C. Whymper
Chamois
Spanish Ibex
r From an instanla-)
\ neons photograph )
[C.W., after a sketch)
{    by A. Chapman   )
The First Stalk of the Season
A Fair Chance at Black Bears   .    .
' The front rank and part of the )
f
SECOND ALONE  STOOD  FIRM '    . .   I
A Charging Gaur
C.  Whymp
>er
20
36
48
52
62
80
180
184
186
208
242  ILLUSTRATIONS IN  VOLUME II
Snow-Bears
A Glorified Comet   .
Major H.Jones
I C.   W.,  after sketches
\   by Capt. Razvlinson
Howdah Shooting	
Landing a Ghayal	
'he gave him a tremendous punishing'
Hogdeer Shooting	
Rucervus Duvaucelli .        .        .    .    From a photograph
Rucervus Schomburgkii.        ... ...
Panolia Eldii	
A Stalk in the Open
Specimen Heads of Ovis   oli and Ovis
j C. W., after Major
(    H. Jones
From photographs
Karelini	
Specimen Heads of  Ovis Ammon  and |
Ovis Nivicola J
( C. W., after sketch
[ by Capt. Rawlinson
From photograph
C.  Whymper .
The Astor Markhor .
Varieties of Markhor  .
In his Summer Coat .
Specimen   Heads   of   Capra   sibirica, \
Capra    jEGagrus,    and    Capra   si- \ From photograph
NAITICA ....
A Dream of Ther Shooting
The Serow gallops down hill
budorcas taxicolor   .
Saiga tartarica
Tame Decoys
Ovis Poli	
Our Camp    ....
(C.W., after sketch
(by Capt. Rawlinson j
C. Whymper .
From photograph
C. Whymper  BIG   GAME   SHOOTING
CHAPTER  I
ARCTIC    HUNTING
By Arnold Pike
Arctic hunting embraces an enormous  field, the extent of which is
not yet realised, and I should begin
by remarking that my experience, as here set forth, is limited
to the seas around Spitzbergen, and that I propose to confine
myself to the pursuit of the walrus and the polar bear.
Although the vast herds of walrus which formerly inhabited
the Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya* seas have been sadly BIG  GAME SHOOTING
thinned by persistent—and often wasteful—hunting, first by
the English and Dutch in the early part of the seventeenth
century, then by the Russians, and at the present day by
the Norwegians, yet enough may still be killed in a season's
hunting to satisfy most sportsmen. The fact that the expeditions after walrus and polar bear which are made to these
waters are often partially, or wholly, unsuccessful is due not to
the scarcity of game but to the manner in which it is sought.
The sportsman usually sails in a yacht—a vessel totally unfit
for the work before, her—and at Tromso or Hammerfest picks
up an ice pilot, who is also supposed to show where sport is
to be obtained, at a season of the year when all the best men
are engaged to, or have already sailed with, the professional
walrus hunters. The consequences are that the voyage is
confined to the open, and therefore easily navigated, waters of
the western coast of Spitzbergen, or else that if good hunting
grounds are visited much of the game is not seen; for no
matter how keen a look-out a man may keep, he is sure to
pass over game if he is not used to hunting, and does not
know exactly what to look for and where to look for it.
The best way, therefore, in the writer's opinion, is for the
sportsman to hire one of the small vessels engaged in the
trade, sailing either from Hammerfest or Tromso (preferably
from the latter port). He could hire a walrus sloop of about
forty tons burden for the season, completely fitted out with all
the necessary gear and boats, and a crew of nine men (seven
before the mast) for about 450/. This amount would cover
everything except tinned soups, meat, &c, for his own consumption ; and the expenditure is not all dead loss, for if he
allows one boat's crew to regularly hunt seal, whilst he devotes
himself principally to bear and walrus, he will probably realise
a sum by the sale of skins and blubber, at the conclusion of
the voyage, which will meet the greater portion, if not the
whole, of the amount paid for the hire of the vessel. There is
no difficulty in disposing of the ' catch.' If, however, a sportsman decides to go in his own yacht, with an English crew, he ARCTIC HUNTING 3
should engage during the winter, through the British vice-
consul at Tromso, a good harpooner and three men used to
arctic work, and buy a hunting boat (fangstbaad), to the use
of which they are accustomed, together with the necessary
harpoons, lines, lances, knives, &c.
En either case he should sail from Tromso early in May if
bound for Spitzbergen, where he would in ordinary seasons be
able to hunt until the middle of September. In that time,
with fair luck, he may expect to kill from five to ten bears,
about twenty walrus, thirty reindeer, and from three to four
hundred seals. If only small attention is paid to the seals, the
number of walrus and bear obtained should be considerably
larger.
No especial personal outfit is necessary.
As most of the shooting will be done from a boat that is
seldom stationary, the rifle to which the sportsman is most
accustomed is the best. A '450 Express, with solid hardened
bullet for walrus, and \ small-holed' for bear, is a very good
weapon. A fowling-piece for geese and a small-bore rifle for
practice at seals would also be useful. Whatever weapons are
taken, they should be of simple construction and strongly
made, for they are liable to receive hard knocks in the rough,
wet work incidental to walrus hunting.
As regards clothing, a light-coloured stalking suit (the writer
prefers grey), underclothing of the same weight as the sportsman is accustomed to wear during an English winter, and
knee-boots, will answer every purpose. For hand covering the
mittens ('vanter') used by the Norwegian fishermen are most
suitable. The sportsman had better lay in his stock of canned
provisions and tea in England, but coffee, sugar, &c, can be
obtained of good quality and equally cheap at his starting
point in Norway.
I.    WALRUS (Rosmarus trichechus)
The walrus is one of the largest animals still extant, and
although the  element of personal  danger is not as great in
b 2 BIG GAME SHOOTING
hunting it as in hunting some beasts of lesser bulk, yet the
conditions under which the sport is pursued, as well as the
nature of the sport itself, are such as will probably tempt one
who has once tried this form of sport to return to it.
An average-sized four-year-old bull walrus will measure
10 ft. in length and about the same in girth. The weight is,
of course, difficult to determine, but it is probably about
3,000 lbs., of which 350 lbs. may be reckoned as blubber, and
300 lbs. as hide. A large old bull will probably weigh and
yield half as much again. The blubber, to be utilised, is-
mixed with that of the seals which may be obtained, and the
oil which is extracted by heat and pressure sold as c seal oil' -T
the hide, which is from 1 in. to i^'in. in thickness, and makes-
a soft, spongy leather, is exported principally to Russia and
Germany, where it is used for harness, ammunition-boots, &c.
The walrus is a carnivorous animal, feeding mostly upon
shellfish and worms, and is therefore generally found in the
shallow waters along a coastline, diving for its food on banks
which lie at a depth of from two to twenty fathoms below the
surface. Deeper than that the walrus does not care to go ; in
fact, it generally feeds in about fifteen fathoms. The tusks-
are principally used to plough up the bottom in search of food,
but are also employed as weapons, and in climbing on to ice.
They are composed of hard, white ivory, set for about 6 ins.
of their length in a hard bony mass, about 6 ins. in diameter,
which forms the front part of the head ; the breathing passage
runs through this mass, and terminates in two \ blow-holesr
between the roots of the tusks. The tusk itself is solid, except
that portion which is embedded in the bone, and this is filled
with a cellular structure containing a whitish oil. Both sexes
have tusks, but those of the cow do not run quite so large as-
those of the bull. The yearling calf has no tusks, but at the
end of the second year it has a pair about 2 ins. in length,
which grow to about 6 ins. in the third year. The largest pair
I have measure i8| ins. round the curve of the tusk from skull
to point, and girth y\ ins. near the base; but I have seen ARCTIC HUNTING 5
them much larger, and do not think that anything under
22 ins. can be considered a good head. Cows' tusks are
generally set much closer together than bulls', and sometimes
meet at the points. There are some good specimens illustrating
this peculiarity in the Tromso Museum.    The bulls', on the
stlrtMlillllli
Ml WW
...
^
(B^*
HPi
jfc£
A walrus' head
contrary, generally diverge, and are often upwards of a foot
apart at the points. I have read and heard that in rare cases
the tusks diverge in curves, but have never seen any. I have
one head (I was not in the boat when the walrus was killed)
with three tusks, two of which spring apparently from the same
socket, and there is no doubt that there are heads with four; 6 BIG GAME SHOOTING
but such cases are, of course, very rare. The comparatively
small size of the tusks makes the ivory useless for the manufacture of billiard balls and other things of considerable size,
and it does not, therefore, command so high a price as elephant ivory, but it is largely used in the manufacture of small
articles.
A walrus killed in the water immediately sinks \ even if
mortally wounded, it will in nine cases out of ten escape, and
sink to the bottom. When on the ice, walrus always lie close
to the water, and it is therefore necessary to kill them instantly,
or they will reach the water and be lost before the boat can
arrive within harpooning distance. This can only be done by
penetrating the brain, which is no easy matter. The brain
lies in what appears to be the neck ; that which one would
naturally suppose to be the head being nothing but the heavy
jaw bones, and mass of bone in which the tusks are set. In
reference to this point, I cannot do better than quote Mr.
Lamont, who on this and everything else connected with walrus
hunting is a most accurate authority. It is with the kind permission of his publishers, Messrs. Chatto and Windus, that I
reproduce his plate 'How to shoot a Walrus.' In his 'Yachting in the Arctic Seas,' page 69, he says :—
No one who has not tried it will readily believe how extremely
difficult it is to shoot an old bull walrus clean dead. The front or
sides of his head may be knocked all to pieces with bullets, and
the animal yet have sufficient strength and sense left to enable him
to swim and dive out of reach. If he is lying on his side, with his
back turned to his assailant (as in the upper figure), it is easy
enough, as the brain is then quite exposed, and the crown of the
head is easily penetrated ; but one rarely gets the walrus in that
position, and when it so happens it is generally better policy to
harpoon him without shooting. By firing at an old bull directly
facing you, it is almost impossible to kill him, but if half front to
you, a shot just above the eye may prove fatal. If sideways, he
can only be killed by aiming about six inches behind the eye, and
about one-fourth of the apparent depth of his head from the top ;
but the eye, of course, cannot be seen unless the animal is very ARCTIC HUNTING
close to you, and the difficulty is enormously increased by the
back of the head being so imbedded in fat as to appear as if
it were part of the neck. This
will be understood by a reference to the plate. If you hit < v*i£
him much below that spot, you
strike the jaw-joint, which is
about the strongest part of the
whole cranium. A leaden bullet
striking there, or on the front
of the head, is flattened like a
piece of putty, without doing
much injury to the walrus ; and
even hardened bullets, propelled
by six drachms of powder, were
sometimes broken into little
pieces against the rocky crania
of these animals.
What becomes of the walrus in the winter it is hard to
say, but I have heard them
blowing in an open pool of
water among the ice on the
north coast of Spitzbergen in
the month of December. In
the spring, however, when the
ice begins to break up, they
collect in herds on their feeding grounds around the coasts,
where they may be found divi ng
for shellfish, or basking and
sleeping, singly or in ' heaps '
of two or three (often five or
six) together.    They seem to
prefer to lie on small cakes of flat bay ice ; a single walrus will
often take his siesta on a cake only just large enough to float
him, and it is among such ice therefore, rather than among
Where to shoot a walrus 8
BIG GAME SHOOTING
rough old pack and glacier blocks, that they should be sought,
although I have seen them lying on heavy old water-worn ice,
four and five feet above the water. In this case, however,
they had no choice. Later in the year, in August and during
the autumn, particularly in open years, they collect in some
bay (formerly they were found in herds thousands strong), and
lie in a lethargic state on the shore. I suppose that this is their
breeding season, as the young are cast in April and May, and
even in June. In former years, the walrus hunters, if they had
experienced a bad season, would hang around the coasts as
long as they dared, visiting the various places which were
known to be favourite spots for the walrus to 'go ashore,' and if
they found one occupied, a few hours' work would compensate
them for the bad luck of the whole season.
Massing their forces—if, as customary, several sloops were
sailing in company—the hunters attacked the walrus with the
lance, and, killing those nearest the water first, formed a rampart
behind which the rest of the herd were more or less at their
mercy, which quality indeed they did not appear to possess ;
for, fired by excitement and greed, they would slay and slay, until
there were far more of the poor beasts lying dead than they
could ever hope to make use of. The remnant of the herd
would escape, never to return ; they would seek each year
some spot further towards the north, and therefore more difficult of access to their enemies. Although, doubtless, the
walrus still go ashore late in the autumn, they probably
choose some of the islands in the Hinlopen Straits, or the
coasts of North East Land and Franz Joseph Land, where the
hunters cannot approach them, or would not dare to if they
could, at that season of the year ; and thus it is rare to hear of
a herd being found ashore at the present day. This opportunity of having an inaccessible breeding ground will save the
walrus from the fate which has overtaken the American bison,
of being almost wiped from the face of the earth ; and the
species will therefore probably continue to exist in large
numbers in the far north, after its scarcity in the more acces- mm
ARCTIC HUNTING g
■sible waters has caused the professional walrus hunter to
abandon his calling. The most likely localities for walrus
around Spitzbergen at present are the coast of North East
Land, Cape Leigh Smith (Storo), Rekis-oerne, Hopenoerne
on the east coast, and the Hinlopen Straits.
Although the staple food of the walrus consists of mollusca,
it also preys, to some extent, upon the seal. I remember that,
on opening the stomach of the first walrus I shot, we found it
full of long strips of the skin of a seal, apparently Phoca his-
pida, with the blubber still attached.1 As the death of this
walrus was fairly typical of the manner in which they are now
captured, I will try to describe it; but it would be better perhaps
to first sketch the boats and implements which are used in
-walrus hunting.
The boats, called 'fangstbaade,' are strongly, yet lightly,
built of three-quarter-inch Norwegian ' furru.' They are carvel
built and bow shaped at both ends ; the stem and stern posts
are made thick and strong in order to resist the blows of the
ice, and the bow sheathed with zinc plates to prevent excessive
chafing. They are most commonly 20 ft. or 21 ft. in length,
and have their greatest beam, viz. 5 ft., one-third of their
length from the bow. It is most important that they should
be easy and quick in turning, and this quality is obtained by
depressing the keel in the middle. They are painted red
inside and white outside, so that they may not be conspicuous
amongst ice, but the hunters stultify this idea to some extent
by dressing themselves in dark colours. Inside the bow there
are small racks guarded by painted canvas flaps, in which the
harpoon-heads are fitted, usually three on either side of the
boat. The harpoon, the point and edges of which are ground
and whetted to a razor-like sharpness, is a simple but very
1 The harpooner on this occasion, whose word I have never doubted, told
me that once when he was hunting in King's Bay, on the west coast of Spitzbergen, he saw a walrus take a ' Hav-hest,' i.e. fulmar petrel, which was
sitting on the water, and was actually engaged in eating it when struck by
the harpoon. IO
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
effective weapon. When thrust into a walrus or seal, a large
outer barb ' takes up' a loop of the tough hide, whilst a small
inner fish-hook barb prevents it from becoming disengaged, so
that when once properly harpooned, it is very seldom, if ever,
that an animal escapes through the harpoon' drawing.' The harpoon-shafts, which lie along the thwarts, are made of white pine
poles, 12 ft. in length and from i in. to \\ in. in diameter,
tapered at one end to fit the socket of the harpoon-head, in
which the shaft is set fast when required by striking its butt
against one of the ribs of the boat, or a small block fixed
in the after end on the starboard side. The harpoon is used
almost entirely as a thrusting weapon, but a good man can set
one fast by casting if the occasion demands it, up to a distance
of 20 ft. The harpoon line, which is ' grummeted' round the
shank of the head, consists of sixteen fathoms of two-inch
tarred rope, very carefully made of the finest hemp, ' soft
laid'; each line is neatly coiled in a separate box placed
beneath the forward thwart. When a walrus is ' fast,' it is most
important that the line should not slip aft—if allowed to do so
it would probably capsize the boat—and to help to prevent
this, deep retaining notches are cut in two pieces of hardwood-
fixed one on each side of the stempost, the top of which is also
channelled.
The lance also lies along the thwarts, its broad blade contained in a box fixed at the starboard end of the forward
thwart. The head weighs about 3^ lbs., and the white pine
shafts 5 lbs. to. 7 lbs., according to length. It is generally
about 6 ft. and tapered from z\ ms- at tne socket to i| in.
at the handle. The head is riveted to the shaft; two projecting
ears run some way up, and are bound to it by a piece of stout
hoop iron, for additional security.
Along the thwarts also lie a mast and sail, and several
'hakkepiks,' a form of boathook, most  useful for ice work.
Another box, fastened to the starboard gunwale, holds a telescope.    In the bottom of the boat are twenty-four fathoms of
rope,  two  double-purchase  blocks, and an  ice anchor;  in ARCTIC HUNTING
ii
addition to its ordinary use, this anchor is employed as a
fulcrum by which, with the aid of the blocks and rope, a boat's
crew can haul a dead walrus out of the water on to a suitable
piece of ice, to be flensed.
The fore and after peaks are provided with lockers, which
should contain a hammer, pair of pliers, nails, and some sheet
lead—for patching holes which a walrus may make with his
tusks—matches, spare grummets, cartridges, &c, and a small
kettle—a small spirit lamp would also be useful—together
with coffee and hard bread sufficient for two or three days.
An axe and one or two rifles, which lean against the edge of
the forward locker, in notches cut to take the barrels, skinning
knives, a whetstone, and a compass, which should be in a box
fitted under the after thwart, and one or two spare oars complete the list of articles, without which a ' fangstbaad' should
never touch the water. Nevertheless, it is usual to find that
two most important items, viz. food and a compass, are missing. This is surprising, for in this region of ice and fog no
one knows better than the walrus hunter when he quits his
vessel's side how uncertain is the length of time which must
elapse before he can climb on board again, even though he
may merely, as he thinks, be going to 'pick up' a seal, lying
on an ice cake a few hundred yards away.
A boat's crew consists of four or five men, and the quickness with which they can turn their boat is greatly accelerated
by their method of rowing and steering. Each man rows with
a pair of oars, which he can handle much better than one long
one when amongst ice. The oars are hung in grummets to
stout single thole-pins, so that when dropped they swing alongside, out of the way, yet ready for instant action. The steersman, called the ' hammelmand,' sits facing the bow, and
guides the boat by rowing with a pair of short oars. I think
this is preferable to steering either with a rudder or with a
single long oar, as the whalers do, as it not only enables a crew
to turn their boat almost on her own centre, but economises
nearly the  whole  strength  of one  man.    As  there  are  six 12
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
thwarts  in  the  boat  the ' hammelmand' can,  if necessary,
instantly change his position, and row like the others.
The harpooner, who commands the boat's crew, rows from
the bow thwart, near the weapons and telescope, which he
alone uses. It is he who searches for game, and decides on
the method of attack when it is found. ' No. 2,' generally the
strongest man in the boat, is called the ■ line man' j it is his
duty to tend the line when a walrus is struck and to assist the
harpooner, while ' stroke' and the ' hammelmand' hang back
on their oars, to prevent the boat from ' overrunning' the
walrus.
In such a boat, then, one lovely September morning, we
are rowing easily back to the sloop, which is lying off Bird
Bav, a small indentation in the east face of the northernmost
point of Spitzbergen. The skin of an old he-bear, half covering the bottom of the boat, proves that we have already earned
our breakfasts, but no one is in a hurry. The burnished surface of the sea is unmarked by a ripple save where broken by
the lazy dip of the oars. Northwards, beyond the bold contour
of North Cape, the rugged outlines of the Seven Islands stand
out sharply against the blue sky; behind us the hills of the
mainland, dazzling in their covering of new snow, stretch away
to the south. Bird Bay and Lady Franklin's Bay are full of
fast ice, which must have lain there all the summer, but the
blazing sun makes it difficult to see where ice ends and water
begins. Around us and to the east the sea is fairly open,
except for the flat cakes of ice broken off from the fast ice,
and several old sea-worn lumps, which, from their delicate
blue colour (sea ice is white), we know have fallen from the
glaciers of the east coast, or, perhaps, have travelled from some
land, out there beyond Seven Islands, which no man has yet
seen. The harpooner is balancing himself, one foot on the
forward locker and one on the thwart, examining through a
telescope something which appears to be a lump of dirty ice,
about half a mile away. Suddenly he closes his glass and
seizes the oars.    ' Hvalros,' he says, and without another word ARCTIC HUNTING
?3
the ' hammelmand' heads the boat for the black mass which, as
we rapidly approach (for no one is lazily inclined now), the
mirage magnifies into the size of a small house. Now we are
within a couple of hundred yards, and each man crouches in the
bottom of the boat, the harpooner still in the bow, his eyes level
with the combing, intently fixed upon the walrus. The ' hammelmand ' alone is partly erect on his seat, only his arms moving,
as he guides us from behind one lump to another. Suddenly the
walrus raises his head, and we are motionless. It is intensely
still, and the scraping of a piece of ice along the boat seems
like the roar of a railway train passing overhead on some
bridge. Down goes the head, and we glide forward again.
The walrus is uneasy ; again and again he raises his head and
looks around with a quick motion, but we have the sun right
at our back and he never notices us. At last we are within a
few feet, and with a shout of ' Vcek op, gamling !' (' Wake up,
old boy!'), which breaks the stillness like a shot, the harpooner
is on his feet, his weapon clasped in both hands above his
head. As the walrus plunges into the sea, the iron is buried
in his side, and with a quick twist to prevent the head from
slipping out of the same slit that it has cut in the thick hide,
the handle is withdrawn and thrown into the boat. No. 2,
who, with a turn round the forward thwart, has been paying
out the line, now checks it, as stroke and the ' hammelmand/
facing forward, hang back on their oars to check the rush.
Bumping and scraping amongst the ice, we are towed along
for about five minutes, and then stop as the walrus comes to
the surface to breathe. In the old days the lance would finish,
the business, but now it is the rifle. He is facing the boat, I
sight for one of his eyes, and let him have both barrels, without much effect apparently, for away we rush for two or three
minutes more, when he is up again, still facing the boat. He
seems to care no more for the solid Express bullets (I am
using a "450 Holland & Holland Express) than if they were
peas; but he is slow this time, and, as he turns to dive,,
exposes the fatal spot at the back of the head, and dies. H
BIG GAME SHOOTING
It does not take us long to fix the ice anchor in a suitable
cake, and with the blocks and rope we drag him head-first on to
the ice, and skin him. On examining his head, I find that the
whole of the front part has been broken into small pieces by
the first four shots, one tusk blown clean #way, and the other
broken.    So much for shooting a walrus in the face !
Of course, the walrus does not always allow the boat to
approach within harpooning distance. If it is very uneasy
(which it is more likely to be in calm weather than when there
is a slight breeze blowing), the beast will begin to move when
the boat is, say, fifty yards distant. Then is the time for a
steady wrist and a clear eye, for the creature must be shot, and
shot dead, or, no matter how badly it is wounded, it will reach
the water, and, dying there, sink like a stone to the bottom.
Although the walrus does not often show fight, it is not,
on the whole, a rare thing for him to do so. The harpooners
say that three-year-old bulls are the most liable to attack a
boat, especially if it is allowed to overrun them when fast to a
harpoon line.    The following incident illustrates this.
One sunny night, towards the end of May, we were running
for Black Point, Spitzbergen, as the skipper did not like the
look of a heavy black bank of clouds which a freshening
breeze was blowing up out of the south-west. Suddenly, as
we were threading our way through some heavy old ice, we
found that we were among the walrus, and we determined to
lie aback for a few hours and take some. They were lying
about in twos and threes on the ice lumps, and in a good
mood to be stalked, so that we soon had the skins of three
young bulls in the bottom of the boat; but the fourth, a
three-year-old bull, gave trouble. He did not like the look of
the boat, and a rather long shot only wounded him. After
diving off the ice he rose quite close to the boat, and when the
harpooner gave him the weapon, instead of making off he
immediately charged. It was hand-to-hand work then : lance
and axe, hakkepik and oar, thrust and slashed, struck and
shoved, while the white tusks gleamed again and again through ARCTIC HUNTING
15
the upper streaks of the boat; for a walrus can strike downwards, upwards, and sideways, with much greater quickness
than one would imagine possible. After a while he drew off,
and, slipping a cartridge into the Express (which I had emptied
as soon as the struggle began), I put a bullet through his brain,
and he hung dead on the line. We were lucky to escape with
no more damage than a few holes in the boat and a couple of
broken oars. There were many walrus around us, both on the
ice and in the water, but the breeze had freshened into a gale,
and snow began to fall heavily, so that we were glad to get on
board again and run for shelter into Kraus Haven, a little inlet
in the mossy plain which stretches from the foot of Black Point
to the sea.
Few men are likely ever to forget the first occasion on
which they found themselves amongst a herd of walrus in the
water. Scores of fierce-looking heads—for the long tusks,
small bloodshot eyes, and moustache on the upper lip (every
bristle of which is as thick as a crow quill) give the walrus an
expression of ferocity—gaze, perhaps in unbroken silence, from
all sides upon the boat. See ! the sun glints along a hundred
wet backs, and they are gone. Away you row at racing speed
to where experience tells you they will rise again. ' Here they
are ! Take that old one with the long tusks first !' A couple
of quick thrusts, right and left, and away you go again, fast to
two old bulls that will want a lot of attention before you can
cut their tusks out. Indeed, unless one has served his apprenticeship, he had better not meddle with the harpoon at all.
The old skippers and harpooners can spin many a yarn of lost
crews and boats gone under the ice through a fatal moment's
delay in cutting free from the diving walrus.
II.    THE  POLAR  BEAR (Ursus maritimus)
As a ' sporting' animal the polar bear is, to the writer's
mind, somewhat overrated ; the walrus affording more exciting,
and in every sense better, sport than does the bear. i6
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
Although the history of Arctic exploration and adventure
contains accounts of many a death laid to its charge, yet the
' polar' makes but a poor fight against the accurately sighted
breechloaders of to-day, and it is very rarely that one hears of
the loss of a man in an actual encounter with a bear. And
this for several reasons. Unlike the grizzly, the polar has
generally to fight his man at a disadvantage. Seen first at a
long distance, he commonly requires but little stalking. A
boat full of men creeps along the ice edge until within shooting
distance, and if when merely wounded the bear has the pluck
to charge, he has not the opportunity, for his enemies are on
the water, and once he leaves the ice he is completely at their
mercy—no match for a man who can handle even a lance or
an axe moderately well. Should a man happen to encounter
a polar on land or ice, however, the brute's great size and
marvellous vitality naturally make him a somewhat formidable
foe, especially as the soles of his feet are covered with close-set
hairs, which enable him to go on slippery ice as securely as
upon terra firma. This characteristic of having the sole of
the foot covered with hair is peculiar to Ursus maritimus. But
even when encountered on ice, nine bears out of ten will not
fight, even when they have the chance, unless badly 'cornered/
As a rule, Ursus maritimus is purely carnivorous, preying
mostly on seals, which bask on the ice with their heads always
very close to, if not actually over, the water, a habit of which
the bear takes advantage in approaching to within striking
distance, by dropping into the water some way to leeward and
swimming noiselessly along the ice edge. Even if the seal
perceives the white head, the only visible portion of the swimming bear, it probably takes it for a drifting splinter of ice,
and pays no more attention to it, until a blow from the heavy
forepaw of the bear ends sleep and life together. I am told that
the bear manages to secure seals lying at their holes on large
flat expanses of ' fast' or bay ice, but imagine that such cases
are rare, as anyone who has tried to stalk a seal basking at its
hole knows how extremely difficult, if not impossible, it is to   ARCTIC HUNTING
approach within rifle-shot of it. I once, however, killed a
large blue seal at the fast ice edge, along whose back, from
* stem to stern,' were five parallel gashes, freshly cut through
hide and blubber, marking the passage of Bruin's paw as the
seal had slipped beneath it into the water. The walrus is also
attacked, of course on the ice only; for in the water both
walrus and seal can sport around their enemy with impunity;
indeed, if the professional hunters are to be believed, the
former sometimes turns the tables, and under these circumstances it is often the bear which comes off second best in the
encounter.
Although carnivorous, the polar also appears to be able
to exist on a vegetable diet, like other bears. Nordenskjold
observed one browsing on grass on the northern coast of
Siberia (he remarks that it was probably an old bear whose
tusks were much worn), and it is on record (' Encyclopaedia
Britannica,' ninth edition) that one was fed on bread only for
some years. From its manner of life this bear is naturally
almost amphibious, ' taking' the water as a matter of course,
and, no doubt, frequently making long journeys by sea to
regain its habitat, from which it has been carried on some
drifting ice-lump. Captain Sabine found one 'swimming
powerfully, forty miles from the nearest shore, and with no ice
in sight to afford it rest.' No beast on the earth leads a harder
life than the polar bear. Relying solely on the chase for its
support, it roams continually amongst the ice. Even during
the winter it does not retire from the battle of life, like its less
hardy congeners, but wanders on through the storm and lasting darkness, for this species does not as a rule hibernate. It
is alleged elsewhere that the female differs in this respect from
the male, hibernating whilst he remains out, and the fact that
all the bears (between sixty and seventy) killed in the winter
months during the Austrian expedition under MM. Weyprecht
and Payer were males, supports this statement; but, on the
■other hand, the only bears, two in number, which we killed in
midwinter (on December n and 19, 1888), while wintering on
11. c i8
BIG GAME SHOOTING
Danes Island (north coast of Spitzbergen), were both females,
accompanied on each occasion by a cub. I think it possible,
therefore, that it is only the females which are about to cast
their young in the spring that lie dormant during the winter.
Why the rest are roaming in the darkness, or what they find to
eat in that land of death, I cannot tell; for the seals do not lie
on the ice in the dark time (at that season of the year we
could not distinguish day from night), and, as has been said,
the bear is no match for the seal in the water.
Even if the records of gigantic grizzlies—brutes weighing
2,000 lbs. and upwards—are trustworthy, the polar must yet
be allowed to be, upon the average, the largest of his tribe.
Most Londoners know the old beast in the Zoological Gardens
in Regent's Park (presented by Mr. Leigh Smith), which is a
good type of a big male ; and it is not too much to say that a
large full-grown male bear of this species will measure from
8 ft. to 8 ft. 6 ins. from snout to tail, and weigh, probably,
1,500 lbs. The largest I have myself killed measured 8 ft.
(Norwegian measurement) in length in the flesh, but I have
seen a skin, now in the possession of Mrs. Dunsmuir, of Victoria,
British Columbia, which measures 9 ft, 10 in. from the snout to
root of tail.    This must have belonged to an enormous bear.
The reasons why some of the expeditions after polar bear
are unsuccessful have already been referred to. If the bears
are sought for in the proper places, there is no reason why they
may not be found and killed. Around Spitzbergen the most
'likely' places are in Stor Fjord, along the south-east and
east coast (which indeed is but seldom accessible), and on the
north coast east of Wiide Bay,.and in the Hinlopen Straits ;
the number of bear to be found in these localities depending,
of course, on the state of the ice. In the spring of 1889, the
south-east coast was more or less open, and the bears were so-
numerous that the skipper of one of a fleet of seven walrus
sloops, which arrived from Norway during the last week in May,
told me that he liad counted upwards of twenty bears on the ice
at one time, near Half-moon Island.    In the same spring, one ARCTIC HUNTING
sloop killed or captured fifty bears in the locality.    When a
bear is discovered on the ice by the look-out in the crow's-nest,
a ' fangstbaad' is lowered, and the hunt begins.    It is often
but a tame affair.    If one of the hunters can manage to show
himself between the main body of the ice or land and his quarry,
the bear will generally take to the water, when he may be pursued and dispatched at leisure, for he is not a fast swimmer,
although a powerful one.    The carcase of a bear, unlike that
of the Walrus or seal, always floats.    Among rough old pack or
on ' hummocky' fast ice, however, the affair assumes a more
sporting turn, as the bear must then be carefully stalked amid
the ice lumps, either by boat or on foot, great attention being
paid to the direction of the wind ; for Ursus maritimus is one
of the keenest-scented animals in creation, and if he once winds
the hunter, the chase may be abandoned unless there is a
chance of driving him into the water.    The chief danger of
such a hunt is from the ice, which is liable to be ' working,' or
which, in the case of bay ice, may be rotten in places at the
season of the year when most  of the  hunting is done.    In
many cases a man should not venture on a floe or big sheet of
bay ice to chase or intercept a bear without a pair of Norwegian
snow-shoes and a 'hakkepik,' and should be careful also in
stepping on to the ice from a boat, as the edge is often undermined by the action of the water, and will break beneath his
weight, although to the eye it looks as solid as the rest of the
block.
There is another phase of hunting. When the darkness of
an Arctic winter has settled down on the ice fields, wrapping
some ice-bound crew in its pall, then one of the few excitements
which is granted to these men, left out of the light and
warmth of the world, is the silent coming of some old white
bear.
Early one December morning, when wintering on Danes
Island, we heard bears about a mile away among the loose
ice near Amsterdam Island. The men judged that the cries
were made by a cub which was being punished by its mother
C 2 20
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
for not being able to keep up with her, and this proved to be
the case ; for before noon an old she-bear, and what seemed to
be, from the tracks we afterwards saw, a three-parts-grown cub,
were ' nosing' about some old seal carcases which, frozen into
stony hardness, were lying a few yards distant from the snow
wall surrounding the house. I crept up to them, but with an
overcast sky and no moon there was not light enough for a fair
aim, even at a few feet distance, so that the heavy balls from
the Paradox gun struck her too far back to stop her at once,
and with a low roar both she and the cub made off.
For some way along the shore there was an open space, a
few feet in width, between the ice and rocks, caused by the rise
and fall of the tides, and we saw the phosphorescent light flash
up as the old bear struck the water in crossing it. The cub
kept along the shore-line, and the skipper and myself followed
his trail in deep snow until it ran on to the ice. As we
retraced our steps we saw a spurt of flame apparently about
a quarter of a mile away, near the Corpse Rocks ; but the
report of the rifle never reached us, being lost in the rending
and groaning of the ice, which was grinding its way out of the
Gat. This shot we found was fired by the mate, who was out
on the ice after the old bear, with whom he had evidently
come up, for we saw his rifle flash again and again, and had
just decided to go to him, dragging our smallest boat with us,
when the ice must have become jammed in the mouth of the
Gat, for it began to close again. We were soon up with hinu
and did not stop to skin the bear, but dragged it head first over
the ice to the house. The mate had found her lying down, and
in twelve shots, two of which were miss-fires, had in the darkness
put six bullets into her, the last of which had pierced her heart.
She was in fair condition, although giving suck, but the stomach
was quite empty, save for an old reindeer moccasin which one
of the men had thrown away. One of my shots had almost
filled the abdominal cavity with torn entrails and debris, but,
with this terrible wound and a broken hind leg, the bear had
fought her way for more than a quarter of a mile through loose M
o
o
A
ft
«
o  ARCTIC HUNTING
ice, before lying down on the spot where the mate found her.
A few hours later a south-west gale was cutting the crest off
the heavy seas which were rolling where the trail we made in
dragging the dead bear had been.
In conclusion, I may mention a ruse we employed during
the winter months to attract any bears which might be roaming
in our vicinity. A small quantity of seal blubber was kept
burning and simmering in an iron pot, placed without our snow
wall and replenished every few hours. Towards the end of
February, two days after the re-appearance of the sun, a large
old he-bear wandered about within sight, for the greater portion
of two days, apparently sniffing up the fumes from our blubber
pot, without daring to approach within four hundred yards of
the house. At length we killed him, and after taking the skin
decided to utilise the flesh, to the sparing of our blubber stock.
With this idea, we filled the cavity of his chest with shavings
and coal oil, and set the mass on fire. The odour of the dense
black vapour which poured from the carcase may have attractions for bears, but was too pungent and powerful for human
nostrils. The men were quickly of the opinion that ' bear
would not eat bear,' and the following morning we were compelled to cut a hole in the ice, and commit the charred body of
the last of our winter visitors to a watery grave. BIG GAME SHOOTING
CHAPTER  II
THE  CAUCASUS
By Clive Phillipps-Wolley
I. INTRODUCTORY
Although the Caucasus is within a week's journey of Charing
Cross, to the average Englishman it is as little known as
Alaska. As a hunting ground for big- game it is infinitely less
known than Central Africa. The men who have shot in Africa
and written of their sport in that country may be counted by
the score ; but, as far as I know, up to the present moment no
book has been written (except my own)1 upon the sport of
the Caucasus, and in this chapter I am obliged to rely upon my
own experience and some rough notes sent me by Mr. St. George
Littledale. That being so, it may well be that much has been
omitted which may hereafter become common knowledge ; I can
only affirm that the statements made are trustworthy, as being
the outcome of actual personal experience, unvarnished and
undiluted.
To me the Caucasus is an enchanted land. The spell of
its flower-clad steppes, of its dense dreamy forests, of its giant
wall of snow peaks, fell upon me whilst I was still a boy, and
will be with me all my life through. It was the first country
in which I ever hunted, and it may be that I am prejudiced
in its favour on that account, or it may be that I am right,
that there is no country under heaven so beautiful and none
in which the witchery of sport is so strong.    Let my confession
1 Sfort in the Crimea and Caucasus and Savage Svdnetia.   Bentley & Son. THE CAUCASUS
of prejudice be taken into consideration by all who read this
chapter, and with it the verdict of my quondam companion
in Svanetia : \ The Caucasus is an accursed country to hunt
in, a country of ceaseless climbing and chronic starvation, in
which the sport is not nearly worth the candle.' This was the
honest conviction of one who is no mean sportsman, and who
since his Caucasian experiences has done exceptionally well
in India.
But men define sport differently. To those whose ambition
it is to kill really wild game in a wild and savage country in
which they will get but little help from any but their own right
hands, to them I say, try the high solitudes round Elbruz and
the ironstone ridges of Svanetia.
The best time for sport in the mountains is the end of June,
July, August, and the first week in September, after which
another month may be spent profitably hunting bear and boar
in the chestnut forests on the Black Sea; for aurochs the
hunter should be in the sylvan labyrinths at the head of the
Kuban in August.
Taking London as your point of departure, you can reach
the Caucasus by four different routes : either by Paris, Marseilles, and thence by one of the boats of the Messageries
Maritimes (running once a fortnight) via Constantinople to
Batoum; or by Calais, Cologne, Vienna and Odessa, to
Batoum ; or by the Oriental Express vid Paris and Constantinople; or by Wilson's line of boats from Hull to St. Petersburg,
and thence by rail vid Moscow and Voroneze to Vladikavkaz.
The first route takes about eleven days, and costs about
16/. i6.y. ; the second takes (roughly) nine days, and costs
about 20/. The third route is, I believe, the quickest and most
expensive, but I have not tried it.
My own favourite route is the fourth, by adopting which you
gain the advantage of a quiet and untroubled journey, with few
vexatious changes, only one custom-house (and that with a
consul-general at hand to help you through), and the possibility
of alighting from the train within a drive of the outskirts of 24
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
your hunting ground. The cost of the journey from London
to Vladikavkaz by this route is about (including food, &c.) 20/.,
or as much more as you like to make it. From St. Petersburg
to the Don the level lands of Russia glide by your carriage
window unbroken by a single hill—I had almost said by a single
tree. After "Voroneze you enter the steppe country proper, a
sea of flowers in spring, a perfect hell of dust, or mud, or wind,
for all the rest of the year. From Voroneze these steppes roll
right up to the foot of the main chain of the Caucasus, and standing on the plains near Naltchik you may see at a coup dceil
some hundreds of versts of snow-capped mountains rising like a
sheer wall drawn from the north-east to the south-west of the
peninsula. These snow-capped mountains and the' black hills I
(as the natives call the densely wooded foot-hills) constitute
the principal game preserve of the country, and resemble, in
their appearance and in the varieties of game with which they
abound, the hill country of India, to such an extent that an
old friend of mine, whose happiest days had been spent in
shikar in the Himalayas, used to allege that all the game beasts
found in the Caucasus were mere varieties of the Indian fauna.
Before dealing with the different districts and the game
found in each, a few general hints to the traveller may not
come amiss.
The Caucasus is the arena of the hardest fight Russia ever
fought, and, having partially depopulated the country, she still
holds it by force of arms. That being so, the more unpretentious a traveller is, the better is his chance of passing unquestioned about the country. Strong introductions from
home and from the Foreign Office are more likely to hamper
than to help,, and if you want leave to go to any little
travelled district, the best way is to take it. If you ask for
it you are likely to be refused, but if you go in quietly, with
a small outfit, and devote yourself exclusively to hunting, no
one is likely to interfere with you.
The best outfit in the Caucasus is that which comes
nearest to the hunter's beau ideal, i.e. as much as he can carry THE CAUCASUS
25
himself. This of course, like all ideals, is unattainable, but
you may come very close to it; and as there are many places
in which, when in pursuit of mountain game, you cannot use
horses, your baggage must be such as one, or at most two, men
can pack in a bad place. Now a man should pack 50 lbs.,
and if your means are unlimited, your baggage need only be
limited by the number of men you can persuade to accompany
you ; but the more men you have with you the less work you
will get done per man, as the chief luxury of the Caucasian is
gossip, and with a 'crowd of followers the temptation to loaf
and talk would prove irresistible.
Two men, one as a guide and gillie, and one to leave in
camp (both of them taking their share of packing whenever
camp is moved), should be sufficient for anyone. Of course,
where it is practicable, ponies should be used, as with them
ft greater weight can be packed, and packed too more expeditiously, than with men ; and in most cases it will be found
easy enough to take pack ponies to establish your main camp,
proceeding from that on foot for short expeditions of three or
four days. It is as well to remember that 200 lbs. is a good
load for a pony in rough country, more, probably, than he
could carry on most of the Caucasian trails, and from 50 lbs. to
60 lbs. quite enough for a man, although I have known one of
my own men carry nearly double that weight during an ordinary
day's tramp, arriving at camp towards sundown brimful of
spirits and devilment. I remember that when his load was off
he stood on his head,.and 'larked' about with the other
fellows to relieve his exuberance of vitality. A tente d'abri,
to weigh about 15 lbs., is the best tent for Caucasian travel,
because it is the lightest and handiest to carry. My old
tent used to weigh about 20 lbs., and this with an express
rifle (about 10 lbs.), cartridges, field glasses, a revolver and a
few sundries, used to constitute my own 'pack.'1
When travelling with Caucasian porters and hunters it is as
* The revolver was a useless encumbrance, and the tent can be made many
pounds lighter.—C. P.-W. 26
BIG GAME SHOOTING
well to treat them as comrades and not as servants. Although
they work for hire, they do not understand the relation of
master and servant, and, though perfectly ready to help you
when you need help, expect you to help yourself when you can,
whilst in all matters of food and camp comfort they expect to
share and share alike with the head of the expedition. May I
digress here for a moment to say that this is one of the most
important secrets of travel ? Never allow yourself any luxuries
in a ' tight place' which your men have no share in. If you have
only one pipeful of tobacco, when provisions are short, share it
with your men, and in the Caucasus at any rate you will not
lose your reward. It is a good many years ago now, but the
memory of one chilly night among the mountains is with me
still, when I woke at 3 a.m. to find myself warm and snug
under two extra bourkas (native blankets). The owners of the
blankets were squatting on their hams, almost in the fire, and
talking to pass the long cold hours until dawn. Having rated
them for their folly and made them take back their blankets
and turn in, I rolled over and slept again. When I next woke
—it was 7 a.m. (shamefully late for camp)—the men were still
crouching over the embers, helping to cook breakfast, their
bourkas having been replaced upon my shoulders. I had paid
those men off the day before this happened, and they left me
next morning with a hearty 'God be with you,' utterly unconscious that they had done anything more than the proper
thing towards their employer and companion who, 'poor
devil, could not sleep unless he was warm, and became ill if he
did not get a meal every day in the week.'
A sleeping bag such as Alpine Club men use would be
an excellent substitute for blankets, and with that, a pipeful of
tobacco, a little bread and bacon and a small flask of whiskey,
any reasonably keen and hearty sportsman should be able to
hold out for a few nights among the mountain-tops in August.
Indeed, if this is too much hardship for the wrould-be ibex
hunter, he had better give up ibex hunting.
In all the best districts for mountain game round Elbruz THE CAUCASUS
the traveller will find smoke-blackened lairs amongst the rocks,
and round beds amongst the fallen pine needles at the base of
B^cr^r
Waitingr for the dawn
some great tree just on the timber limit. In these, for generations, the ibex hunters of Svanetia have rested from their
labours and waited for the dawn. •28 BIG GAME SHOOTING
As to general camp outfit, any light outfit for a hunter's
camp in a temperate region (e.g. Europe or North America)
will suffice ; extreme portability being the principal thing to aim
at, as the trails are infamously bad in the best game districts.
Eschewing luxuries, let the hunter take with him all the
flour he can carry, as round Elbruz and in all the best mountain districts the only flour obtainable is of villanous quality,
and the bread made from it will damage the most cast-iron
digestion.
As to foot-gear, English hobnailed boots may do excellently well for mountaineers, and may be the best possible
things on ice. I would as soon wear rings on my fingers and
bells on my toes as attempt to hunt in boots. For still hunting of any kind, whether in the mountains or in the forest,
moccasins of some sort are essential, whether they be soled with
india-rubber like tennis shoes, or simply soled with, a double"
sole of deer's hide, like those used in North America. For
the ' tender foot' old tennis shoes are excellent things, but a
pair per diem would not be too much to allow for ibex shooting in the Caucasus, the rocks cutting any foot-gear to pieces
in the shortest possible time.
The native moccasin is the best after all ; a sock of deer
skin or some other soft tanned hide, made large and loose, with
a split down the middle of the sole from toe to heel, which is
laced up with raw hide laces, the laces running across and
across each other thus XXXX. The moccasin is stuffed with
fine mountain grass, and is then put on damp and tightly laced.
By these means a comfortable fit is ensured, the tender hollow
beneath the instep is protected from, sharp rocks, and a firm
grip in slippery places is given by the kind of network made
by the laces. In boots a man has no chance of using his toes
to cling with ; even to bend his foot is beyond his powers, and
a boot once worn out cannot be repaired in camp, whereas a
moccasin may be patched until none of the original article
remains.
A sling for your rifle is a necessity in all mountain shooting ; THE  CAUCASUS
so, too, is an alpenstock, which should never be shod with
metal, the ring of which against the rocks would proclaim your
approach half a mile away. Choose a good stout pole of some
hard wood for yourself; harden it (and especially the point) in
the fire, and test it carefully before using it, as it may have to
carry your weight in awkward places.
Wages in the Caucasus vary according to the amount of
travel in the district. If the sportsman is unfortunate enough
to run across a district in which foreign tourists are common,
the charges made for men and horses will be excessive, but in
remote districts, off the main lines of travel, you could (in 1888)
hire a man and his horse for $s. a day, and a porter to carry
your food and blankets in the mountains at is. a day.
In 1882 I travelled and shot for three months in the
Caucasus with a friend. During the whole of that period I
carried the money-bags, and at the end of the trip, I believe
that I was able to return a little small change to my companion
out of the 100/. with which he had entrusted me, as his share
of our joint purse. Out of our 200/. I paid railway fares, hotel
bills, and all camp expenses ; and it is only fair to add that when
in a town the best room in the best hotel, and its best bottle
of wine, was only just good enough for us. Luckily, we spent
very little time in towns.
Those days, I am afraid, have already passed away, but two
roubles a day should still be ample pay for any of the men who
accompany a shooting party, a'nd-less than that would probably
be taken gratefully. The chief difficulty of the Caucasus as
a shooting ground for Englishmen lies in the language of the
country, which varies in every district. Either Russian or
Georgian would probably be sufficient to carry a man through
the whole country between the Black Sea and the Caspian, as
he would generally find some one who spoke one or other of
these tongues in every village he entered, and even if now and
again, he came to a hamlet where no one could understand
his speech, the ordinary Caucasian is wonderfully apt at the
language of signs. 3°
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
An interpreter can be hired at T'iflis or Kutais, but he will
be more trouble than a valet and more fastidious, besides
doubling the expense of the expedition and causing constant
trouble with your men. There may, of course, be good interpreters \ if so, I have been unfortunate in never meeting any.
My last word of advice shall be, try to do without them, pick
up a little Russian for yourself, and then trust to luck and
good temper to pull you through.1
II.    NORTH-WEST  CAUCASUS.
The Caucasus includes not only the great range which
gives its name to the isthmus, but also a district as large as
France, bounded on the north by Russia, on the east by the
Caspian, on the south by Armenia and Persia, and on the west
by the Black Sea and the Azov.
In any similar area you would expect to find districts varying
considerably in their fauna, but in the Caucasus the districts
to the north and south of the chain vary to such an extent, that
the naturalist Eichwald speaks of the ' tall peaks of Caucasus,'
as putting the most distinct limits to the fauna of Asia and
Europe.
The northern side of the chain, from what is called the
Manitch depression to the foot-hills of the main chain, is
simply a continuation of the steppes of Russia, a land without
trees, and, until you get near the foot-hills, devoid of all game
except feathered game and wolves.
To the north-west of the mountains, the great game district
is that which lies along the banks of the Kuban, a river rising
in the main chain near Elbruz, and flowing thence due north
for a space, after which it turns sharply westward, and flows
parallel to the main chain, finally emptying itself into the Black
i To deal exhaustively with all subjects connected with mountain hunting,
in the Caucasus or elsewhere, would be to repeat much which has already
been written by experts in the Mountaineering volume of this series. Rather
than do this, I strongly recommend anyone who meditates a hunt in Alpine
regions to procure that volume and read it carefully. —C. P.-W. THE CAUCASUS
Sea. On its road from Elbruz to the sea it receives the waters
of every stream which drains to the north-west of the chain ;
and it is here, between the Kuban and the mountains, and
upon the banks and head waters of the Kuban's tributaries, that
the hunting grounds of Northern Caucasus are to be found.
Going east from Taman along the line of the Kuban, the
country is broken up by huge beds of a tall reed called kamish
by the natives (Arundo phragmites of the naturalists), which
grows to such a height as to hide a man riding through it. In
places these reed beds stretch for miles, and through them the
Kuban runs, a dull sluggish flood, more like a great canal
than a mountain-born river.
Its banks of black mud, however, are interesting enough to
the sportsman, written over as they are with the ' sign ' of the
beasts which find safe harbour in the adjoining jungles.
Of these beasts the commonest is the wild boar, an animal
which I believe grows to larger proportions, and exists in
greater numbers, in the Caucasus than anywhere else on earth.
A pair of tusks, the tracings of which are before me now (the
originals being in the possession of Colonel Veerubof, Governor
of Naltchik), measure round the outside edge \\\ ins. and
n£ ins. respectively.
Like the European wild boar, the Caucasian beast is of a
blackish-grey colour, covered with a long coat of stiff bristles,
which he erects along his spine when irritated, making him
appear some inches taller than he really is. Professor Radde,
of the Tiflis Museum, has been kind enough to supply me with
the following particulars. 'The largest solitary boars,'he says,
' measured at the shoulder and measured straight, stand about
105 centimeters, and their total weight not dressed rarely
exceeds 15 puds (600 lbs.).' These are undoubtedly big beasts,
but in the chestnut forests of Circassia, and in the reed beds
of the Kuban, there are such rich feeding grounds that in
them even a 600-lb. bOar seems possible. In India, I suppose,.
to shoot a boar is as vile a crime as vulpecide in Leicestershire, but, except on the plains of Kabardah, there is no place BIG  GAME SHOOTING
in the Caucasus where the boar could be hunted on horseback,
and even there the hunting would be but a very short scurry
at early dawn from the maize fields to the foot-hills, the shelter
of which once gained, the quarry would be absolutely safe from
any mounted" enemy.
Enormous as their numbers are, wild boars would be even
more numerous between the Black Sea and the Caspian, were
it not for their nocturnal raids on the maize fields of the
natives, most of whom, .being Mahommedans, only hunt the
marauders in self-defence, not deigning to so much as touch
them when dead. The Cossacks, of course, have no such
scruples about pork, and the principal object left in life to the
old scouts (' plastouns'), who were wont to keep the Kuban
red with Tcherkess blood, is the pursuit of the boar.
In the great reed beds in which they used to lurk waiting
until the men of some native ' aoul' went out to harvest, that
they might give the village to sword and flame, these same
scouts wander to-day, grey as the boars they hunt, rough,
savage, and uncouth as their quarry, wounded probably in a
score of places, but silent-footed, enduring, and as well acquainted
with every game path in the reeds as the very beasts which
made them. These are the men to obtain for guides if you can
get them, but beware of paying them a single kopeck as long as
there is a cabak (whisky shop) within a day's march of you.
As a rule the plastoun shoots his game at night, waiting
by some wallow7 or by the side of some swine path leading to
water or fruit trees, until he hears a rustling among the reeds,
sounding strangely loud in the moonlit August night, and
growing nearer and nearer until between the watcher and the
skyline comes a great dark bulk. Round the muzzle of his old
musket the plastoun ties a white string with a large knot in it,
where the foresight should be, and aiming low into the middle
of the dark mass, pulls his trigger when the boar is almost on
the muzzle of his rifle. My first experience of boar shooting
was connected with such a shot as this ; but on that occasion
the victory rested with the boar.    Through a long summer urn
THE CAUCASUS
33
night I waited for my gillie to come back from his vigil by the
Kuban, and at dawn he came, four men carrying him. He
had wounded the old grey beast on a narrow path through the
kamish, and had lain still while the boar gnashed his teeth and
glared about for his foe. But the tall reeds hid the hunter,
and the boar turning retraced his steps, leaving a broad blood
trail as he went. Until the grey dawn the Tcherkess waited,
and then, confident that he would find his enemy cold and stiff
not far away, he got up and followed the tracks.    Before he
The boar's   charge
had gone far, there was a crash among the reeds behind him,
followed by a fierce rush along the trail, and as he turned to
face his foe, the keen white tusks ripped him from knee to thigh-
joint and across and across his stomach, until his bowels rushed
out and he lay across the pathway nearer death than the boar.
When his companions found him he had still life enough
left to tell the story, and an examination of the scene of the
•encounter proved the extraordinary cunning of the wounded
boar, who, failing to ' locate ' his enemy when first struck, had
retraced his own steps along the trail, had entered the reeds at
II. d 34
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
a point higher up and on the opposite side to that from which
the shot had come, and, returning by a line parallel to the
trail, had lain in hiding opposite to the ambush of the hunter.
Only once in eighteen years' wanderings have I seen anything to match this in cunning, and as it was in the same
neighbourhood, I may be allowed to allude to it here.
In the Red Forest, near Ekaterinodar, the wood is cut up
into square versts, divided by rides. The snow had fallen,
and in one of these squares old Colonel Rubashevsky, the
forester, showed me where a pack of wolves had surrounded
a small band of roe deer, having taken up positions along the
four sides of the square, from which, on some preconcerted
signal, they appeared to have converged simultaneously upon the
centre where the deer lay. They had surprised in this manner
four or five roe deer, whose remains we found. But to return
to the boar. If anyone should care to hunt this beast specially,
the best plan to ensure success is to sit up for him at night when
the pears round some Cossack settlement are fresh fallen, or
else to hunt him with a small pack of hounds. Half a dozen
curs will suffice, and with these, in the chestnut forests on the
Black Sea, or in the lovely pheasant-haunted woods near
Lenkoran, very good sport may be obtained, for not only will
the boar, shifting rapidly from holt to holt in an almost
impervious tangle of thorns, tax the endurance of the hunter
to the utmost, but should that hunter be tempted to take a
snap shot at the black quarters and crisply curling tail of
which he gets a glimpse as it vanishes into dense covert, it is a
thousand to ten that the next thing which he sees will be
the other end of the gallant beast coming straight for him
at something less than a hundred miles an hour. There is
no beast alive for whose uncalculating courage I have so much
admiration as I have for the boar's. I have seen him scatter
a pack of hounds nearly as big as mastiffs (they were mongrel
harlequins) and go straight for the hunter. I have seen a sow
with her back broken trying to worry with her teeth a hound
nearly as big as herself, and  fighting till death stiffened her THE CAUCASUS
muscles, and I have also seen an old boar, with a bullet in
his neck, trying for my wind like a pointer trying for birds,
and as angry as a drunken Irishman who can find no one
to fight with. Luckily, he gave me a broadside shot at him
before he had discovered my whereabouts.
As to a locality suited for hunting boar, it is hard to choose
in the Caucasus. Wild swine swarm on the coast of the Caspian ;
they are the road-makers and chief denizens of the kamish
jungles on the Kuban ; they abound in all the scrub oak districts among the foot-hills, but perhaps they are most numerous
where Circe tended her herds of old, on the wooded slopes
near the Phasis, between Sukhoum and Poti. Like most
beasts, they are more or less nocturnal in their habits, coming
out to feed on the peasants' crops, wild fruit, oak-mast, chestnuts, or the roots of the common bracken at dusk, and retiring
during the day to the densest thorn thickets, where neither sun
nor* man can molest them, and where the thick black mud is
most moist and dank.
A smoothbore (No. 12), with a round bullet in it, is
the handiest weapon for shooting wild boar over hounds, as
with it you can make better practice snap shooting in the
dense jungle than you could possibly hope to make with a
rifle.1
But the kamish beds and the foot-hills hold nobler beasts
of chase even than the wild boar. Besides the tracks of the
roe and the wild swine, the hunter's eye will be gladdened now
and again by the big track of the ollen, although the proper
habitat of this noble beast is in the foot-hills and the lower
ridges of the main chain.
The ollen is the red deer of the Caucasus, and is found
from the Red Forest (' Krasnoe Lais'), near Ekaterinodar on
the Kuban, to the snows on the mountains of Daghestan.
Naturalists may be able to detect some points of difference
between this deer and the red deer of Europe and the wapiti of
1 This was written before the author had had experience of the Paradox,
the best of all weapons for bush shooting.—C. P.-W.
D 2 BIG  GAME SHOOTING
the New World. To the ordinary hunter he is the same beast,
only that in size he more nearly resembles the great stag of
America than our Scotch red deer.
Mr. St. George Littledale puts the ollen midway in size
between the bara singh of Cashmere and the wapiti,, whilst
Dr. Radde, curator of the Tifiis Museum, maintains that the
quality of their food makes the only difference (a difference
merely of size) between the wapiti, bara singh, ollen and red
deer. When I hunted the ollen I had no notion that I should
ever be called upon to carefully discriminate between them
and their kin in other countries, so that I am obliged to rely
upon my memory for any points of difference, and memory
only suggests that whereas the wapiti rarely (if ever) has ' cups '
on his antlers, the ollen royal has the peculiar cup formation
• as often as the red deer. Again, the call of the Caucasian stag
in the rutting season (September) is similar to that of the
Scotch stag, and does not resemble the weird whistle of the
wapiti. In size both of body and antler the ollen comes very
near to the great American stag. The dimensions of four heads,
obtained by Mr. Littledale at one stalk, will give a very fair
idea of the average size of ollen heads, and a glance at the
illustration taken from a photograph of this gentleman's bag
for 1887 will convey an idea of the general character of ollen
heads as well as of the sporting capabilities of the Caucasus.
In this photograph, to make it a complete record of his year,
Mr. Littledale should have included trophies of boar and bear
which also fell to his rifle.
On the day upon which Littledale's four heads were
obtained, this fortunate sportsman, lying on a ridge near the
summit of the divide, looked down at one coup (Tceil upon a
dozen old male tur in an unstalkable position, two bears whose
skins (it being in August) were not worth having, a chamois
scorned as small game, and the stags which he ultimately
bagged.
The following are the dimensions of three of the four heads
referred to;  the fourth,  a 12-point head, had some of the   THE  CAUCASUS
37
velvet still clinging to it in shreds, and the dimensions I see
are not given.
Points
Girth of beam
Length of brow
antler
20 inches
i6|   „
13*    »
Length from skull to
tip along the curve
of antler
(0
(2)
(3)
H
13
13
6| inches
7       „
/ 4      "
44| inches
46*      „
48       „
Compare these measurements with those of the biggest wapiti
exhibited at the American Exhibition of 1887, belonging to
Mr. Frank Cooper, of which the length along the curve was
62^ ins., the girth of the beam 8 ins., and the number of
points 16, and it will be seen that, given as large a number of
picked Caucasian heads to choose from as there were picked
American heads in England in 1887, the probability is tfiat the
ollen would not be very much surpassed by the wapiti.
Like the latter, the ollen is daily growing scarcer. In Min-
grelia, before the Russian conquest of that province, this grand
red deer abounded, and for some time after that date the
Russian peddlers did quite a lively trade in antlers, which they
obtained by the cartload for a mere song from the natives.
But ill-blood arose between the Russian officers and the native
princes, which led to a wholesale slaughter of the ollen, so that
to-day it is comparatively scarce in its old haunts, although
on the head-waters of the Kuban and its tributaries, and in
Daghestan (where the natives call it \ maral'), the ollen still
exists in sufficient numbers to satisfy any honest hunter. The
worst characteristic of the beast is that, as a general rule,
he is as fond of timber as a wapiti in Oregon.
The Caucasian ollen has his antlers clean from about the
middle of August, and his rutting season is (in the mountain
regions near Naltchik) about the middle of September.
The only other deer.in the Caucasus is the roe {Cervus
capreolus), a pretty graceful little beast, which is plentiful on
the  Black Sea coast, amongst the foot-hills, and forms the 38
BIG GAME SHOOTING
principal item in the bag made at the big drives in the Imperial
and other preserves of the district. The sharp bark of these
little bucks, as they bound away unseen from some thicket
above you, or a glimpse of a group of roes standing as still as
statues, dappled with the shadows of the foliage above them,
are incidents in most days' still hunting in Circassia.
In the Crimea, round Theodosia and Yalta, men may hunt
specially for roe, as there is no larger game (except, they say, a
few red deer near Yalta), but in the Caucasus he is only looked
upon as useful for filling up the void in one's larder.
After all, in big game hunting half the charm lies in the
mystery of the dark silent forests and the mist-hidden mountain peaks. Once well away from the haunts of men, you are
in a land of romance, and if you do not actually believe in the
eternal bird who broods upon Elbruz, at the sound of whose
voice the forest songsters become dumb, and the beasts tremble
in their lairs ; if you don't believe, as the natives do, that the
tempests are raised by the flapping of her hoary wings ; if you
scout the camp-fire stories of the tiny race seen riding at night
upon the grey steppe hares ; you have still some superstitions
of your own—you look for some wonder from every fresh ridge
you climb, in every dim forest that you enter. In America it
is the hope of a 2,000-lb. grizzly or a 20-in. ram which buoys
up the hunter ; on the head-waters of the Kuban, on the
Zelentchuk, on the Urup, on the Laba, and especially upon
the Bielaia river beyond Maikop, in the least known and most
unfathomable wooded ravines from which the Kuban draws
his waters, it is the rumour of a great beast, called zubre by the
natives, which draws the hunter on.
If the zubre differs at all from the aurochs,1 he is the only
beast left, now that Mr. Littledale has slain the Ovis poli, of
which, no specimen has fallen to an Englishman's rifle.
That a beast nearly allied to the great bull of Bielowicza
does exist, and in considerable numbers, in the districts in-
1 Since this was written Mr. St. G. Littledale has killed the aurochs as he
killed the Ovis poli. wmmem
THE CAUCASUS 39
dicated, there can be no doubt. A fine is imposed by the
Russian Government upon anyone who slays a zubre, and this
in itself goes a long way to prove the beast's existence; but
there is better evidence than this. In 1879 I knew of two
which were killed as they came at night to help themselves in
winter to a peasant's haystack, and in 1866 a young zubre was
caught alive on the Zelentchuk and sent to the Zoological
Gardens of Moscow, where the savants decided that he was
identical with the aurochs of Bielowicza. Unfortunately the
chance of adding the head of a zubre to the sportsman's collection is becoming more and more remote, as, in addition to
the law protecting the beast, the districts in which he is most
common are now included in a preserve set apart for the sons
of the Grand Duke, who formerly ruled at Tiflis.
III. SOUTHERN  SLOPES  OF THE  CAUCASUS
The black hills and the pine forests on the northern side
of the chain are the favourite haunts of the red deer and the
aurochs, as the reedy bed of the Kuban is the favourite home
of the boar and the pheasant; but though bears are found on
the northern slopes in fair numbers, occurring sometimes even
above the snow-line, the true home of Michael Michaelovitch
(as the peasants call him) is on the sunny slopes of the
southern side of the chain, as for instance in the great wild
fruit districts of Radcha, between the Kodor and the Ingur, or
in the sweet-chestnut forests and deserted orchards of Cir-
cassia.
The change from one side of the main chain to the other
is as marked to-day as ancient legend made it. It is a change
from a northern land of storm and mist and pine forest to a
land of tropical luxuriance, of rank vegetation, of enervating
sunshine. Vines and clematis, and that accursed thorny
creeper which the Russians call ' wolf s-tooth,'form impenetrable veils between the trees, while huge flowering weeds,
thickets  of  rhododendron and azalea,  and jungles  of the 4o
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
umbelliferous angelica pour down dew upon you in the morning
until every rag of your clothing is soaked through, or later on
in the day impede your progress and render every footstep
noisy.
Through all this wild tangle of forest growth run the brown
bears' paths. Down below are tracts of wild currant bushes ;
in the gullies made by the mountain brooks are patches of
raspberry canes, and leading to them, from the cool lairs
higher up (which he affects at noontide), are the broad pathways down which the lazy old gourmand half walks, half
toboggans, just as the sun goes down, when you can hardly
tell the outline of his clumsy bulk from the other great silent
shadows which people the gloaming.
The natives of Radcha and the mountain forests to the
north-west of that province, having but little arable land, clear
small patches in the forests and grow crops of oats amongst
the charred stumps. These are the places in which to wait for
Bruin at night, and earn the thanks of your neighbours, as well
as the brown coat of the old thief himself. I well remember
once in Radcha, when the moonlight was so bright that I could
read a letter by it, waiting with my Tcherkess until it grew so
late that we gave up all hope of a bear that night. Suddenly
a bough snapped in the forest above us, and within ten
minutes a great brown shadow was biting at a bullet hole near
its shoulder, after which it galloped off into the rim of gloom
which hedged in our little oat-field. Within half an hour from
that time the field seemed full of bears, four or five of which
we could distinguish plainly, their backs moving about slowly
just above the level of the crop, and all of them as silent as
spectres. We got a bear eveiy night we stopped at that camp,
and left feeling sorry for the local agriculturists.
Amongst the chestnuts and old orchards between Tuapse
and Sukhoum bears are as numerous as in Radcha, and I have
frequently seen half a dozen in a day's still hunting. Being
undisturbed, they feed or wander almost all day long through
the still, shady forests, and though early morning and evening ■"■"amp"!
THE CAUCASUS
4J
are the best times to look for them, the man who with
moccasined feet will \ loaf' slowly upward, standing still from
time to time to listen and to watch, will rarely go half a day
without a shot, at any rate in late autumn.
Still hunting in October is the best way of obtaining game
in the forests by the Black Sea; but later on in December,
when the berries are over, the fruit rotten and the chestnuts
eaten, the bears' house up ' (or hibernate), and the only chance
of getting any sport at all is with hounds ; even then pigs
and roe deer will be your only quarry, and nine times out of
ten you will waste your day hunting wild cats or jackals, your
pack appearing to prefer these beasts to nobler game.
The common bear of the Caucasus is a small brown bear,
like, but not as large as, his cousin of Russia, although I have
once killed a young specimen (full grown, but with teeth unworn) as light in colour and as large as the ordinary Russian
bear. As a rule the Caucasian bear is an inoffensive brute,
but, like all his race, he will every now and then turn upon his
assailants. I said above ' the common bear' of the Caucasus,
and I said it advisedly; for, although I am aware that I may meet
with contradiction from high authorities, I am myself firmly persuaded that there is another variety of bear found, for the most
part in the highlands of Central Caucasus about Radcha,
Svanetia, and on the uplands of Ossetia, and the head-waters of
the Baksan, Tchegem and Tscherek, tributaries of the Terek.
It may well be that these bears occur elsewhere in the
isthmus, but I have never seen them or their skins in the lowlands by the Black Sea. The highland bear of the Caucasus,
whose tracks I have found over and over again among the
snow and ice far above timber level, is called f Mouravitchka *
(the ' little ant-eater') by the natives, who allege that he is as
savage as the common bear is pacific ; that he preys upon the
flocks and herds, which the ordinary bear never does ; that he
is much smaller and more active than his fruit-eating cousin
of the lowlands, and that his skin is greyish in colour, with a
broad white collar round the neck.    The coat altogether re- 42
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
minds one rather of the Syrian bear than of any 'other variety
of the tribe.
Unfortunately, I have never killed one of these bears myself.
Every man who has shot bears anywhere knows that it is a
good deal a matter of chance whether you meet one or not, and
with this particular kind of bear chance has been against me ;
but I have found their tracks above the snow-line ; and I have
had exactly the same story repeated to me year after year in different villages by the natives. On the Balkar pastures in 1888
the herdsmen told me that they had suffered very severe loss
from this beast's depredations, and sold me a fresh skin of a
bear of this kind which they had slain on one of the high passes
between Svanetia and Balkaria, after putting eleven bullets
into him. I have seen some dozens of skins, among them
those of bears in every stage from cubhood to toothless old
age, and in all the marking was like the marking of the skin
I bought in Balkaria, a coat of silvery grey with a broad pure
white collar round the neck.
The coats of bears, I know, vary enormously. I have in my
own library at this moment skins of the same variety which
differ in hue, from a brown which is nearly black to a pale
straw colour ; but amongst them all the Caucasian mountain
bear's skin looks distinct. The native hunters all believe as
firmly in the existence of two distinct varieties of bear in their
mountains as Western trappers believe in the grizzly as distinct
from the black bear; and I agree with and believe in the
hunters.
In a Western camp the tales told at night are invariably
of the \ grizzly.' He is the devil of the mountains. In the
Caucasus and in Russia it is otherwise.
The Russian peasant makes Mishka (a pet name for the
bear) the comic character of his stories. The ' bogey' of the
woods on the Black Sea coast is the ' barse,' of whom all sorts
of terrible yarns are spun. Most of them, I fear, are lies. In
nine cases out of ten the barse is merely a lynx, of which
there are very many all along the coast, and in the foot-hills mmmmmim
MK
THE  CAUCASUS
43
on the southern slope of the Caucasus. Now and again, as
you come home late with your hounds, you may be lucky
enough to tree one, but you don't see them often. The tenth
time the barse may really be what he is supposed to be, a
leopard, but whether this leopard is Felis pardus or Felis panther a, I don't know.
Professor Radde mentions both in his list of Caucasian
mammals. All the skins of barse which I have ever seen were
similar to the leopard skins of India and Persia, on the borders
of which country, near Lenkoran, the Caucasian barse is most
common.
In spite of the stories told in his honour, I am inclined to
think the Caucasian leopard as great a cur as the panther of
the States, which he resembles a good deal in his habits. My
own experience of the beast is, however, limited. In a district which I used to hunt a certain barse had his regular beat,
appearing even to have a particular day of each week allotted
to each little district in his domains. One moonlight night I
was obliged to sleep by myself in a ruined chateau, once the
property of General Williameenof, standing where the shore
and the forest met. The old Caucasian fighter had made no
use of the land given him by a grateful government, so the
roof had come off the chateau, the trees had climbed in through
the empty frames of the great low windows, and I flushed a
woodcock in the nettles which grew on the hearth.
At midnight I woke, the moonbeams and the shadows of
the boughs making quaint traceries on floor and ceiling, whilst
underneath the window, a barse was expressing his earnest
desire to taste the flesh of an Englishman, in cries in which
a baby's wail and a wolfs howl were about equally represented.
The brush was too thick for me to be able to get a shot
at my visitor that night (though I got a shot on a subsequent
occasion), and though I wandered about among the trees
looking for him, and went to sleep again lulled by his serenade,
he never dared to attack me. Hence I fancy that the Caucasian bogey is as harmless as other bogeys. 44
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
Everything on the southern slope of the Caucasus warns you
that you have left Europe behind you. It is not only the
jackals' chorus at sundown, or the antelopes' white sterns bobbing away over the skyline, but now and again a report comes
in that somewhere down by the Caspian a man has killed or
been killed by the tiger.
I have even seen the tracks of ' Master Stripes' myself, and
sat up for nights over what a native said was his ' kill,' not very
far from Lenkoran.
Still tigers are too scarce to take rank amongst the great
game of the Caucasus.
IV.   PLAINS  OF THE  CAUCASUS
I have said that the Caucasus is divided by nature into
several distinct districts : the plains of the North, the deep
forests of the Black Sea coast, the great wild region at the top
of the ' divide,' and the arid eastern steppes, deserts such as
Karias and the Mooghan.
Each district has its typical game. On the barren lands
outside Tiflis, where nothing will flourish without irrigation,
except perhaps brigandage, and on the great wastes through
which the Kur and the Araxes run, there is a short period,
between the stormy misery of winter and the parching heat of
summer, when the steppe is green with grass and dotted with
the flocks of the nomad Tartars.
Later on the sun burns up everything; the Tartars move off
to some upland pastures, and the natives of the steppes have
the steppes all to themselves. These natives are the wolf, the
wild dog, and two kinds of antelope, not to mention the turatch,
a sand grouse as fleet-footed as an old cock pheasant and as hard
to flush as a French partridge. The two antelopes are Gazella gut-
turosa and Antilope saiga, of which the former is by far the most
plentiful; indeed, in stating that A. saiga is found at all in the
Caucasus, I am relying upon the authority of a Russian author
(Kolenati), upon whose authority, too, I have enumerated the THE CAUCASUS
wild   dog  (Cam's karagan)  as among  the denizens of the
steppe.
Wolves, djeran (Gazella gutturosa) and turatch I saw daily
in 1878, when I crossed the steppes from Tiflis to Lenkoran,
before the Poti-Tiflis line had been extended to Baku. The
saiga antelope, unless misrepresented in drawings and badly
stuffed in museums,1 is an ill-shaped beast, with a head as ugly
as a moose's, the ' mouffle' being, like that of the moose, abnormally large and malformed. But the djeran is a very different
creature, built in Nature's finest mould, with annulated, lvre-
shaped horns, coat of a
bright bay with white rump,
■of which the hunter sees
more than enough, always
■on the skyline, receding as
the rifle approaches.
In the young djeran
the face is beautifully
marked in black and tan
and white, but the old
lords of the herd get white
from muzzle to brow. The
illustration is from a photograph of a full-grown young
buck shot at Karias.
There are many beasts
in the world which are
hard to approach. It is not easy to creep up to a stand of
■curlew, or to induce a wood-pigeon to get out of your side of
a beech-tree : it is fairly hopeless to try to stalk chamois from
below when they have once seen you—but all these feats are
•easy compared to the stalking of djeran on the steppes of
Karias.
Nature has given the pretty beasts every sense necessary
for their safe keeping, and, like wise creatures, they generally
rstay together in herds, so as to have the benefit of united
wW
A gutturosa 46
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
intelligence, some one or other of the herd being always on the
look-out while the rest are feeding.    They do not appear to
want water often, as no one ever tries to waylay them at their
watering places (indeed, I never met anyone who knew where
they went to drink), and the country they live in is flatter than
the proverbial  pancake, and  as  smooth as a billiard-table.
There is hardly a tree in the whole of it; not a reasonably sized
bush in a mile of it j I almost doubt if there is a tuft of grass
big enough to hold a lark's nest in an acre of it.    I remember
once finding cover behind a bed of thistles on Karias, and the
incident is indelibly fixed upon my memory, I suppose, by the
rarity of such comparatively rank vegetation in that country.
Add to this scarcity of cover the fact that a floating population
of shepherds, Tartars and outlaws from Tiflis, hunt the djeran
incessantly, and it is easy to imagine that a shot at anything
less than 500 yards is difficult to obtain.    The Tartars have a
method of their own for circumventing these   shy beasts.
Knowing that under ordinary circumstances even the longhaired Tcherkess greyhound would have no chance of pulling
down G. gutturosa, the dog's master manages so to handicap
the antelope that the greyhound can sometimes win in the race
for life.    Choosing a day after a thunderstorm, when the light
earth of the steppe will cake and cling to the feet, half a dozen
Tartars ride out on to the steppe, each with his hound in front
of him on his saddle.    Having found a herd of antelope, the
hunters ride quietly in their direction.    Long experience has
taught the antelope that at from 500 to 1,000 yards there is no
danger to be apprehended either from man or horse, so that
for a little while the herd fronts round, calmly staring at the
intruders, and then quietly trots away, turning again ere long
to have another look.    From the moment the herd is first
found the Tartars give it no rest, nor do they hurry its movements unduly, but are content to keep it moving at a slow trot,,
not fast enough to shake  the caked mud off the  delicate
legs and feet of their quarry.   In this way they gradually weary
the poor beasts (who seldom have wit enough to gallop clean 3=
THE  CAUCASUS
47
out of sight at once), and then, as the weaker ones begin to
lag behind, the Tartar's time comes, and, slipping his great
hound, man and dog rush in upon the tired creatures. The
antelope of course is half beaten before the race begins, whereas
the dog is fresh and would at any time get over the sticky soil
better than the antelope ; so that, thanks to this and to the aid
of other hounds and men who head the devoted beast at every
turn, one djerati at any rate is pretty sure to reward the Tartars
for their pains. To us this always seemed unfair to the
antelope, besides which we had neither hounds nor horses at
Karits, so that we had to resort to stalking pure and simple.
Long before the dawn we used to rise, and, with some local
Tartar for our guide, steal out silently across the level lands.
Arrived at what our guide considered a favourable spot, we
would lie down and wait for dawn. As the morning approached,
the cold increased; then the sky grew lighter, and the mists
began to roll off the plain. By-and-bye a long string of laden
camels, which must have started from camp by starlight, would
appear upon the horizon, and then the sun came up and it was
day. The Tartar's idea was that when the sun rolled up the
mist-curtain for the first act, a band of antelope would be seen
feeding within rifle-shot; but, as a matter of fact, we only used
to see those antelopes as usual making their exit over the skyline. One of the two I killed I shot at over 400 yards, going
from me, and the other was found feeding behind what I think
must have been the only ant-heap in Karias. As I had spent
some days going as the serpent goes in a vain endeavour to
approach a djeran unseen, I found no difficulty in stalking this
comparatively confiding beast. On the Mooghan steppe the
djeran is less hunted than at Karias ; there is more cover, and
the game is less shy. It may be worthy of remark that, having
tasted game flesh of many kinds, including bear in America
and Russia, deer of all sorts from Spitzbergen to Elbruz, white
whale and a score of other questionable delicacies, I consider
that there is no meat which I have ever tasted to be at all
compared with that of G. gutturosa. 48
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
CHAPTER  III
MOUNTAIN  GAME  OF  THE  CAUCASUS
By Clive Phillipps-Wolley
Wild and beautiful as they are in their way, it is not in the
■deep mountain gorges at the head of the Kuban, nor in its vast
reed beds, neither is it in the rich forests of Circassia, or the
dreary steppes of the Mooghan, that the true spirit of the
Caucasus dwells, and the finest sport of the country makes
slaves of natives and aliens alike.
■ Round the Mamisson Pass, in the wild and beetling precipices
of Svanetia, wherever nature is most cruel and most forbidding,
lives a race of men to whom, not only luxury, but every ordinary
comfort of the most primitive forms of civilisation, is unknown.
Stronger tribes than theirs drove them, in the dark ages,-
from the rich plains below into the mist-hidden fastnesses in
which they now dwell.
Their villages are perched at heights varying from 6,000 to
9,000 feet; their pastures are such dizzy slopes as lowlanders
would hesitate to climb ; their harvests travel down to the
villages in rough log toboggans, the impetus afforded them by
their own weight, and the precipitous nature of their descent
being their only motive powTer ; while the houses in which the
natives crouch for shelter from the bitter blast are mere
irregular cairns of grey stone, without windows, smoke-
blackened, unfurnished, unmorticed even, and lit only by a
flaring pine knot carried uphill from the nearest straggling
group of stunted trees. A Russian writer says of these men
that ' as children they learn the lessons of fife from the lammer- 'STANDING   LIKE   STA.TUES  MOUNTAIN GAME  OF THE CAUCASUS
49
geiers wheeling round their mountain-tops, until robbery and
the chase become for them all that makes life worth living.'
It is to their hunting-grounds that a true sportsman's eyes
will always turn from plain or forest; to the region of desolate
ironstone peaks by the snow-line and above it, where, amidst
the chaos of an unfinished world, the tur and the ibex, the
chamois and the mountain goat, share the solitudes with the
vultures and the Ossetes or Lesghians.
If the truest sport is that into which most dangers and most
hardships enter ; in which the odds are longest in favour of the
quarry and against the hunter ; in which the sportsman hunts
for the love of the chase alone and not as a pot-hunter, still
less for any reward of ' filthy lucre,' then is the ragged Ossete a
prince amongst sportsmen. Unless Nature has given a man a
good head, the mere sight of the Ossete's hunting-ground is
enough to turn him dizzy.
Starting at midnight from Teeb, or Tlee, or 'any other of
those grim but shattered citadels of the mountain-men in the
Valley of the Mamisson, you may climb until the stars fade
and the dawn comes, and then, having started at a height close
on 9,00c feet above sea-level, you will reach the ragged ironstone crags amongst which your game lives, just half an hour
too late, although since the moment you started you have had
but one short breathing space, and have plodded bravely on in
the steps of the lean grey hunter who is your guide, by a track
which seems to lead as persistently upwards as the flight of a
skylark.
It is almost impossible to give any adequate idea of the
weird desolation which surrounds the home of the Ossete and
the tur. At Alaghir, a village of the plains, some seventy-three
versts from the summit of the Mamisson, there are good houses
and orchards and many of the comforts of life. A few miles
from Alaghir the road enters a gorge full of the fumes of
sulphur, the stream becomes a milky blue, the road grows
steeper and steeper, hour after hour vegetation becomes more
beggarly, until at last there is no timber on the side of the
II. E ■a
50
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
gorge, only half of which gets the light of the sun at any one
time ; the features of man and of nature are pinched as if by
the cold and misery; everything is hard and grey, and the
chill of the glaciers seems to have got hold of the very heart of
life.
In old days the Caucasian mountaineer had two pursuits
open to him—brigandage and the chase. The shattered keeps,
which no one has troubled to repair, tell the story of the first
of these.
Russian cannon has knocked the eyries of the mountaineers
to pieces, and cut short their career as warriors. It is for sport
alone that the best of them still live, and their one sport is the
chase of mountain game.
With a skin of sour milk over his shoulder, and a few thin
cakes in his bashlik (hood), the Ossete will disappear for days
and days among the crags which overhang his miserable home.
To him the ironstone rocks are as familiar as Piccadilly to a
Londoner, and wherever dark or the mountain mists may catch
him, he knows of some lair under a boulder where he and his
predecessors have passed many a night before. After two or three
days of lonely hunting, the man comes back, if empty-handed,
uncomplaining ; if successful, just as silent and undemonstrative
as the stones he lies down amongst. By a custom of his country,
the very game he kills is not his own, but must be given to his
fellows, his own share being but the massive horns, which he
hides away among the blackened rafters of his hovel, or hangs
on a post before the door of his tiny church.
There are, as far as I know, four varieties of mountain game
between the Black Sea and the Caspian, but the country has
been but very superficially explored by sportsmen, and the
reports of naturalists who base their theories upon the stories
of the natives are not worth much.
On the lower ridges, and on the high grassy shoulders of
Svanetia, and elsewhere, chamois abound, identical in all
respects with the common chamois of Switzerland and the
Tyrol.    Being less hunted than the European variety, the ^ffig
MOUNTAIN GAME  OF THE CAUCASUS
Caucasian chamois is generally found fairly low down, just
above timber limit, or in summer round the lower edges of the
glaciers. There is seldom a day in the mountains when the
hunter will not hear that long whistle so strangely human in
its note, and, turning, find that he has been detected by the
mountain sentinel. In Svanetia I have seen chamois in large
herds (one herd which I remember numbered at least fifty head),
and every ' sakli' has its crevices or its roof adorned with the
little black horns.
But the tur is the mountain beast, par excellence, of the
Caucasus. The chamois is looked upon as comparatively small
game.
' Tur' is a native name, and is applied to several different
beasts indiscriminately.
When a Svan, or an Ossete, or any man, native or Russian,
talks to you of tur in the main chain between Kazbek and
Elbruz, he means either Caucasian ibex or Caucasian burrhel.
Of the two in Svanetia the ibex is the commoner beast, while,
judging by the horns found in the saklis, the burrhel is commoner in the Mamisson district. I have, however, seen the
burrhel in Svanetia, and any intelligent native hunter will tell
you that there are two kinds of tur in his country, one with
notched and one with smooth horns. There are now specimens
of both in the Natural History Museum at Kensington, and any
one who will take the trouble to compare them will find abundant
points of difference, though their general similarity of appearance is enough to account for the confusion which exists among
native hunters. The burrhel (Capra pallasi or cylindricornis)
stands about 3 feet high at the shoulder (a big ram would stand
higher), and measures from shoulder to rump about 3 inches
more than that. His horns are something like the Indian bur-
rhel's, not being indented, and turning out laterally before bending back. The coat of the burrhel is hard and deer-like, in
colour closely resembling that of the ibex, both beasts being
furnished by nature with coats of reddish brown to match the
ironstone rocks amongst which they live.    In the ibex (Capra 52
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
caucasica) the colour and the size vary very little from the colour
and size of the burrhel, but the horns are true ibex horns,
curving back at once from the head towards the quarters, and
deeply indented. A glance at Mr. Littledale's trophies of 1888
will give an idea of the head of C. caucasica, while the little
sketches of horns in my possession and of the head in the
Kensington Museum will illustrate the difference between C.
cylindricornis and C. caucasica. Before dealing with the hunting
of any of these mountain beasts, all of which live in the same
kind of country and are hunted in the same way, let me describe
the fourth variety to which I have alluded.
C. cylindricornis and C. caucasica are found in Central
Caucasus, and from personal knowledge I know that the
former, C. cylindricornis or pallasi, is found also in Daghestan;
but it is only in Daghestan and the neighbouring mountains,
and I believe in Ararat, that that splendid wild goat, Hircus
cegagrus, is to be found.
Unfortunately Ararat is an impossible country for the sportsman, as a gentleman named Kareim was in 1886, and perhaps
still is, actively engaged in the native industry of brigandage; and,
moreover, what few natives there are in the mountains are perpetually at war with one another, in consequence of which the
Russian officials will not permit sportsmen, with or without an
escort, to wander about Ararat. In Daghestan, in 1878, there
were also brigands, and, if you believed the resident Russians,
some of those with whom I associated were distinctly no
better than they ought to have been ; but to me they were the
kindest of hosts, and in the part of Daghestan in which I shot, life
was absolutely luxurious compared with the life in the villages
of Central Caucasus, and, indeed, quite as comfortable as any
healthy man need desire. The whole population is composed
of shepherds and hunters; the half of their flocks being of
goats, so like Hircus cegagrus in type that the suspicion that
he himself was but a tame goat \ gone wild' would force itself
upon one. The reverse of this may be the truth; but undoubtedly there are among the herds which the little Lesghians IBEX
(Hircus &gagrus)  MOUNTAIN GAME  OF THE CAUCASUS
drive up to the mountain pastures every morning many old
he-goats which it would be hard to distinguish from those so
well set up at Kensington, or those others which I saw wild in
the mountains about the Christmas of 1878.
Hircus cegagrus is somewhat smaller in size and lighter in
build than either C. caucasica or C. pallasi. He is a rich creamy
brown in colour, with a dark stripe along the spine and what a
saddler would call a ' breast-plate' of the same colour, and dark
knees and dark markings on the legs. The beast described
and figured as Capra ozgagrus by Mr. Sclater in the Proceedings
of the Zoological Society for May 1886 seems to me to represent the animal in question.
There are three ways at least in which the mountain game
of the Caucasus may be hunted. First, there is the royal
method practised by the Prince of Mingrelia, who was good
enough to invite me to participate in a mountain drive with
him in 1887. This gentleman owns a large tract of country
between Kutais and Svanetia, in which tur and chamois are
preserved. Once a year the Prince and his friends assemble
their retainers, of whom every Caucasian chieftain keeps and
feeds a vast number ; and, having stationed the guns in the
passes and runways of the mountains, the beaters drive the tur
and chamois past the guns. On one occasion I am informed
that a bag of forty tur was thus made in one day's driving. To
those who prefer grouse driving to walking up the wild old
birds later on in the season, this may be fine sport. For my own
part I don't consider it so. But it is a mere matter of opinion.
Then there is a second method which appeals strongly to
those who care to watch Nature and her wild things closely,
when they are most off their guard. This is the shepherd's
way. Wherever there are tur, there are what the natives call
springs of bitter water, in some cases mere yellow licks on
almost inaccessible crags, in others big springs of water very
strongly impregnated with iron. The natives are extremely
fond of this water, believing that it cures all ailments and endows a man with every physical virtue, and the mountain goats 54
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
are as fond of it as the men. Wherever there is such a spring
or lick, the tur will, if possible, come down to it at least once
in every twenty-four hours, and the shepherds, knowing this,
lie in wait for their coming. All day long, at any rate during
the warm months of the year (June, July, and August), the tur
keep well up in the crags above the snow-line, where neither
man nor insects nor the broiling heat of a Caucasian sun can
annoy them. But as night begins to approach, the listening
hunter will hear the rattling of stones upon the moraines
above the glacier. The tur are coming down to the little
patches of upland pasture to feed. . By-and-bye he may catch
sight of them as one by one they come slowly on to a knifelike ridge of rock looking down upon the patch of sweet grass
below. But they are in no hurry, and the probability is
that they will stand there like statues, gazing into the gulf
below, for what seems to the watcher to be half a day, and
really is half an hour, while the chill mist wraps him round,
numbing him with cold and gradually hiding his game from his
sight. Later on, if he has crawled up to his eyrie opposite the
bitter-water spring, where he has just room to curl himself up
on a ledge overhanging a hideously dark profound, he may
watch the moon sail up over the peaks, and towards morning
he may hear again that rattling of .falling stones displaced by
unseen feet. Peer as he will into the silvery mists on the
other side of the ravine, he can see nothing; but the falling
stones continue to set his heart beating, and at last he hears
that shrill bleat from which the tur gets its local name, djik-vee.
Straining his eyes to the utmost as cry after cry comes from the
' lick,' he at last makes out shadowy forms moving like flies
across the face of the sheer rock opposite, and, praying to his
patron saint, he startles the solemn night with the sharp ring
of his rifle. In nine cases out of ten, if he kills anything it will
be a ewe or a young ram at best; for, though the young rams
and the ewes go in large herds, the old beasts keep themselves
apart, retiring, so say the natives, to inaccessible fastnesses
above the snow-line, and not coming down until later on in the MOUNTAIN GAME  OF THE CAUCASUS
55
season. This is to some extent corroborated by a note of
Mr. Littledale'iS to the effect that in 1886 he found the old
rams in a certain remote district on the south side of the chain,
13,000 feet and more above sea-level.
But the only true way to hunt ibex is to follow them to
their own haunts, and if they will go high up, then must you
gohigher.     There is  but one top to  a mountain,   even tur
cannot get above that; and the man who, having got to the
crest of the ridge, has the hardihood to sleep there (no great
hardship if he has a sleeping bag with him) is pretty sure of
success, even with Capra cylindricornis. The first rule in hunting
mountain game is, that if you want to get near them you must
hunt them from above.    A few hawks, an occasional eagle, and
the great snow-partridge are the only living things which share
the mountain peaks with the tur, and from these they have
nothing to fear.    But watch  them before they lie down for
their midday siesta, and you will see how they stand and stare
from their dizzy resting-place down on to the lower slopes of
the mountain; notice, too, how the old solitary rams choose
their beds on some narrow ledge commanding every possible
approach from the lowlands.    They know that man, their one
enemy, lives below them, and it is for him that they are incessantly on the watch.    The smoke of a camp fire on the edge
of the pine forest in Svanetia, if seen, as it probably will be by
some of the sentinels of the mountain herds, is sufficient to
scare every beast from that side the ridge for days ; for, remote
as his haunts are, the tur has been hunted by the natives for
generations, and is alive to every move in the hunter's game-
But from above the tur expects no danger, and is therefore
comparatively easy to approach, always provided that no eddying gust of wind brings the scent of man to his keen nostrils.
If this happens the hunter's next view of him will be on a skyline which it would take human feet a couple of hours to reach,
and the direct road to which appears impossible for anything
without wings.    There is only one sense in which the tur is
inferior to the lowland beasts, and that is in his hearing.    A 56
BIG GAME SHOOTING
broken twig will disturb half a forest; but stones may go rattling
away from under your feet, making a noise like volley-firing,
and the tur will hardly turn their heads. Presumably stone
slides and the fall of single detached rocks from natural causes
are so common that the ibex become indifferent to the noise.
Having then found a country, about the end of August, in
which tur are said to be plentiful, make your permanent camp
just inside the edge of the forest where a tiny stream trickles
from the glacier through the pine-trees. It is ten to one that,
if the country chosen is really a good one for game, you will
find traces of an old camp near at hand, if it be but a smooth
round nest among the fallen pine-needles.
Leave your supplies and a man to look after them here, and
see that the man left behind understands that if he shows himself outside the forest, or goes hunting on his own account, he
will forfeit his pay.
If you can persuade a Caucasian to submit to such a thing,
it would be safer to leave your man without firearms, and
therefore out of the reach of all temptation to wander. As
this is difficult to do, I always prefer to simply ' cache' my
supplies and leave them unguarded. Even if they should
happen to be found by some wandering Tcherkess, they will
not be touched. The supplies having been cared for and a
central camp established, take a sleeping bag for yourself (your
man very likely will not even trouble to take his bourka with
him if it is only for a couple of nights), as many flat cakes of
bread as you can manage to pack, some cooked meat in the
most portable form you can devise, an extra pair of moccasins,
and a suit of flannel for night. This last item takes up very
little room, and is worth more than all the whisky you could
carry.
Let your clothes be of good stout tweed, as near the colour
of the rocks as possible. Wear knickerbocker breeches, made
very loose at the knee, so as not to stop your stride uphill, and
get from your man a pair of the stout felt gaiters which he himself wears, to save your shins from" the sharp edges of the rocks. MOUNTAIN GAME  OF THE CAUCASUS        57
I find that a spare bourka (native blanket) and a tanned skin
are useful things to take into camp with your other stores, for
making and repairing gaiters and moccasins. A pair of loose-
fitting deer-skin gloves, with (at any rate in September) another
pair of woollen gloves inside them, are generally worn by the
native hunters, and are almost a necessity. Even with two new
pairs of gloves to protect them, I came home, after my last
twenty-four hours in the ironstone rocks of Ossetia, with my
palms badly cut and bleeding. However, that was an exceptionally rough twenty-four hours in an exceptionally rough
bit of country, even for the Caucasus. Add to the above outfit an alpenstock (the point fire-hardened, not iron-shod), your
rifle, with a sling to carry it over your shoulders, your stalking
glass and your cartridges, with a small coil of rope, a compass,
matches, tobacco, a knife for skinning, and any other small
luxuries which you feel inclined to ' pack' on your own
shoulders, or which your man offers to carry. Don't let him
have a rifle if you can help it. A Caucasian is as keen after
game as a terrier after rats, and if he has a rifle it is quite on
the cards that at the critical moment he may think your movements too slow, outpace you in getting to your game, or even
fire over your shoulder.
I have had this happen once in my life, at the end of a
long day of hard work, and think I know now what is the
utmost which a man can be called upon to endure at the hands
of his fellow-man.
Equipped as suggested, a man should be able to stay on
the top of the ridge for three or four days, and in that time it
is hard indeed if he cannot get a shot, at fairly close range,
at a really good - head.' In such quarters as he will have to
sleep in, there is no fear that the hunter will lie abed too long;
but it is worth remembering that ibex, especially, are somewhat
nocturnal in their habits, and that as soon as ever it is light
you should be on some point of vantage from which you can
see your game returning from their feeding grounds to lie down
for the day.    An old tur, when he has once settled himself for 53
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
his siesta, is very hard to distinguish from the red rocks
amongst which he lies, and even when you have found one or
more of the really big fellows the probability is that they will
be lying in some spot to which it is impossible to approach
unseen.
By sleeping, as suggested, at the top of your ground, or
near it, you avoid the necessity of rising at midnight; of forcing
your way in the dark through thickets of tall weeds, which
soak you with rain or dew ; you are sure of being at your lookout station in time ; you can examine several faces of the
range at once, and choose that on which you see game in the
most approachable position ; you begin your day's work
fairly fresh, instead of being dead beaten by a stiff climb before
dawn; you get a chance of stalking your game from the only
point from which it can be stalked with any reasonable hope
of success, and all at the price of a somewhat uncomfortable
and chilly night's rest.
There is one other point worth noticing before I tell the
story of a day's stalk as illustrating tur-hunting generally, and
my last point is this : Having fired your shot, lie still until you
know certainly what the result of it has been. If you have
missed, you may, if you do not show yourself, get a second
shot, and this is especially the case with mountain beasts like
the tur, which do not seem to ■ locate' sound as accurately or
quickly as lowland beasts.
If the animals fired at move off at a run, wait a few moments
before firing again, and you will be rewarded by seeing them
pull up and stand at least once more before they are out of
range. Unless you are a very first-class performer, one chance
at standing game is worth a dozen at game \ on the jump.'
Again, in any case lie still at first, for if your beast is wounded
he may either lie down before going very far, or even come
towards you if he has not seen you. I have had a brown bear
blunder almost over me when wounded, and that not because
he meant mischief, but because he had not seen me and did
not know where the shot came from.    Even when badly scared, MOUNTAIN GAME OF THE CAUCASUS
game will sometimes stop for a second in full flight if the
unseen hunter gives a shrill whistle. But once a tur, unhit or
wounded, has discovered the hunter, nothing will induce him
to stop travelling for the next quarter of an hour, and no beasts
which I know will take so much lead with them (uphill even)
as rams generally, and more especially Caucasian rams.
Having elsewhere published the story of most of my own
best days amongst the tur, I have drawn upon some notes of
Mr. Littledale (the most successful hunter, I verily believe, who
ever carried a rifle between the Black Sea and the Caspian) for
a story illustrative of tur shooting, and have told it almost in
his own words.
Being camped at the extreme limit to which it was possible
to take horses, even with half-loads, and having his wife in
camp with him, Mr. Littledale was obliged to rise every day by
starlight and do half a day's work before getting to his shooting
grounds. In order to lighten the work for his hunters, he had
sent them on to a spot higher up, some four hours' walk from
camp, there to await his coming every morning.
The interpreter he had with him was an untrustworthy sort of
fellow, and the camp was full of half-wild natives, good enough
men in their way, but as troublesome and mischievous as boys.
This state of affairs in the main camp made it essential that,
instead of sleeping where he shot, Littledale should return to
camp every evening.
On the first day he rose at 2 a.m., and, guided by a native
over some extremely bad going, reached the hunters' camp by
6 a.m. Here Littledale left his guide and went on with the
hunters, who were up and ready for him.
That first day Littledale saw a band of tur feeding on a
slope above his party, but as the day grew older the band made
for the crags, and, in spite of all the hunters' efforts, reached
their regular haunt on an inaccessible ledge and lay down
there. An attempt to get at them by making a wide detour
only resulted in moving the game, although the hint of man's
proximity conveyed to them by some eddy of wind was not 6o
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
sufficiently strong to make them move far or fast. However, it
was enough to render any further attempt useless that day ; so
that, after making another detour and killing a chamois on his
road home, Littledale reached his camp and turned in by 8 p.m.
Next morning he and his guide were delayed at starting by
the mountain mists, which hid everything, so that they did
not reach the hunters' camp until 6.30 a.m. Going at once to
the spot at which they had seen the tur the day before, they
hunted high and low without success, and then took a line
along a ridge, which they stuck to until it grew so steep and
dangerous that the guides showed signs of striking and Littledale had to give the order for ' home.' On their way back the
party saw their old friends the tur far away below them, with
such a yawning gulf between them and the hunters as to render
any attempt to reach them that day absolutely hopeless. That
night Littledale reached camp at 9 p.m., and at 2 a.m. next day
was again on foot. But on this third day the tur were not
upon their usual ground, and, weary with incessant early rising,
hard work and hope deferred, the hunters gave way for a time
to disappointment. But honest hard work generally gets its
reward, if there is only enough of it, and as Littledale's glass
swept slowly over the crags and snow-fields round the point on
which he lay, luck turned, and lo ! there was the herd not half
a mile away in a place where they could apparently be stalked
with ease, whilst even the wind for once was in the right direction.
At first all went well; too well, Littledale thought. Experience had taught him that such luck could not last. Nor did it.
When the stalk seemed almost at an end and success assured,
he came to a sheet of snow at least 100 yards in width, set
between him and the tfir, and within full view of the latter.
In vain he sought for a way round, or for some covert, however small, behind which there would be some chance of
crawling across; but it was no use, there was absolutely no
way for him except across that glaring white patch in full view
of his game. It seemed, after all his hard work, too cruelly
tantalising even for that sport of which the Russian says that MOUNTAIN GAME OF THE CAUCASUS
61
it is c harder than slavery'; but, unfortunately, there was no
help for it, so there the hunters lay, the game almost within
range of them, and yet hopelessly inaccessible. As they lay
silently watching, the heat which exercise had generated in
their bodies slowly oozed away, the wind began to twist and
shift dangerously, so that at any moment they might expect to
have their presence betrayed, and down below the mist-wreaths
began to gather. All at once one of these detached itself from
the rest and came floating up towards ,the peaks. Nearer and
nearer it crept up the mountain-side, until, to Littledale's inexpressible delight, it rested for one moment upon that odious
snow-patch.
That was all that was wanted, and in a moment Littledale
and his companions had taken advantage of it, had flitted like
ghosts through the shifting veil before it had time to pass on,
and had thrown themselves, with a sigh of thankfulness, behind
a huge boulder on the other side of the snow-field. They were
only just in time, for as they gained their shelter the little mist
floated off the snow, and the tur, which were still above the
party, began to show unmistakable signs of uneasiness.
From the boulder Littledale tried to worm himself still
nearer to his quarry, but as he did so, first one and then the
whole herd got slowly up, one big fellow standing, broadside on,
upon a little pinnacle above the rest. Putting up the 150 yards
sight, and taking the foresight very fine, as the shot was uphill,
Littledale pressed the trigger, and the great ram sprang from
the rock with a stagger which looked as if he had got his death-
wound.
As the first beast left it, another big ram took his place
upon the rock, and as the left barrel rang out he too vanished
on the other side of the rock.
Uncertain as to the result of his shots, Littledale hurried
to the spot, to find one tur in extremis and the other gone.
However, the hunter, following at his leisure, pointed out
the second beast, dead, within ten or fifteen yards of the first.
The fact that Mr. Littledale (no novice, mind you) overlooked 62
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
the second dead beast, although so close to him, gives some
idea of the way in which a tur's rusty hide matches his surroundings.
But the game was not bagged yet, although Littledale had
settled down to skin one beast, and the hunter was preparing
to skin the other.
In turning his ram over, on the steep incline upon which
it lay, the hunter lost control of it, and, in spite of his efforts,
the dead beast broke away from him, rolling over and over at
first, and then going in great bounds down the mountain until
it lay on a snow-bank several thousand feet below, upon which
it appeared, even through the field-glass, a mere speck. This
misfortune complicated matters, and in order to save both
heads, Littledale Was obliged to let both hunters go down to
the fallen tur and pass the night alongside of it, whilst he was
left to find his way back to camp alone. This generally sounds
much easier than it is, and so Littledale found it upon this
occasion. As evening approaches, the mists begin to sail about
among the crags, first like great ostrich plumes, and then growing larger and more dense, until they make the smooth places
difficult and the difficult places impossible. I have myself
a very vivid memory to this day of a certain rock to wThich I
had to cling for half an hour until one of these mist-wreaths
floated away, leaving me almost too stiff and tired to climb
down, and far too tired to climb up any higher, though a wounded
ibex was above me. As for Littledale, upon this occasion he
put his best foot forward and made all the speed he could to
get off the ridge, and on to better going. For hours he had
to grope his way along a precipitous ridge, in dense fog, throwing small stones down either side from time to time to tell by
the sound whether he was still upon the main ridge or not.
Only now and again did a gleam of sunshine break through the
mist, and in a few hours the sun would set.
It was a horrible position for a lonely man, uncertain where
his camp lay and tired with three days' hard work ; but Littledale's cup was not yet full. THE    SPECTRE  MOUNTAIN GAME  OF THE CAUCASUS
63
The Caucasians, like all mountaineers, are full of superstitions. Gods and devils haunt their mountains now as they did
when the ancients only knew them as a part of misty Turan,
the home of storm and evil, or at least the mountain men so
believe. And what wonder ? As Littledale stopped to scrape
together a few more fragments with which to sound the abysses
on either side of him, he noticed with a shudder a huge figure
crouching in the mist beside him. As he sprang to his feet
the awful shape reared up, and small blame to a level-headed
and cool man if he did not remember, until his express was
pressing against his shoulder, that there was such a thing as
the spectre of the Brocken, and that this huge shape which
followed and mimicked his every action was, after all, only his
own shadow in the clouds.
It was long after this that, lying at the top of a ravine
which had taken him an hour and a half to climb, he struck
a light to find a few more pebbles and get a drink, and found
as he bent down his own track of that morning.
He says the sight of it made him feel years younger, and
those who have been in such tight places and found their way
out of them will know the feeling ; but it was 10 p.m. when he
got back to his camp, and here are the last words in his notes :
' Reached home a little after ten, had some food in bed, and
registered a vow that I had done my last solitary scramble in
the Caucasus.'
I have registered that vow many times, when cold, and
starving, and dead tired, with hands and feet bleeding, and no
massive ' head' to compensate me for my toil; but I have
never kept my vow, and I venture to doubt whether my much
more successful fellow-sportsman will keep his.
The great peaks are sorcerers whose spells no man may
resist, and the feeling that every manly quality in you has been
tried to the utmost, and has borne the strain, is worth more
than all the cruel toil endured.
In conclusion let me say that there is so much confusion as
to the correct classification of the Caucasian goats, that before 64
BIG GAME SHOOTING
venturing to publish this contribution I went for information to
the British Museum, considering that the nomenclature used by
that Museum should be the standard for British sportsmen. At
the Museum I learned that on this particular subject even our
savants are in some doubt, whilst in Russia the leading
naturalists of St. Petersburg and Moscow disagree. However,
Mr. Thomas courteously supplied me with the following definitions, which may be sufficient for present purposes.
Capra cylindricornis, or pallasi, is the name properly applied to the Caucasian burrhel, a beast with smooth cylindrical
horns; C. caucasica is applied to the Caucasian ibex, a beast
with horns recurved and modulated as in the true ibex ; while
C. cegagrus is an animal with horns of the common goat type,
with sharp front edges irregularly modulated. The best horn
measurements of these three beasts known to me are :
Length
Circumference
C. cylindricornis
J 38\ inches
(36       „
I2| inches
•      15
C. caucasica   .
4°i     »
I2I      »
C. cegagrus
48}     „
8^
°8         "
These measurements  have been kindly supplied by Mr.
Rowland Ward from his notebook. Dead aurochs
CHAPTER IV
CAUCASIAN   AUROCHS
By St. G. Littledale
Bos bonasus is the scientific name for the aurochs, the great, ox
that roamed in bygone ages over the whole of Europe : its remains are found in Spain and Great Britain on the west. How
far east it ranged I cannot say, but when on the Upper Irtish
in Siberia, close to the Mongolian frontier, I obtained a skull
which had been dug up from the river bank. Like the
American bison, it has been driven from the low ground forests
and open plains, and has tried to find refuge in a secluded
mountain range; and thanks to the inaccessibility and impenetrable nature of its chosen retreat it is still to be found, though
in very limited numbers, in as wild and savage a state as it was
in the days of Caesar. In the forest district of Bialowicza in
II. f 66
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
Lithuania, belonging to the Emperor of Russia, there are a
number of them living under very efficient protection ; but the
Caucasus is the only place where they are still found absolutely
wild. On my first visit to the Caucasus in 1887, the natives
told me about the aurochs, and, fired with the idea, I made
several attempts to get one ; but we were too late in the year,
and were, so our guides informed us, in imminent danger of
being snowed up in the mountains, so we had to leave without
my ever seeing a fresh track. Mrs. Littledale and I returned
the following year, and for three months not a week passed
without my making two or three excursions after the aurochs.
We were camped just about the timber-line at an elevation of
(approximately) 6,000 feet, and we only found their track in the
densely timbered valleys below. There were no means of getting our camp pitched lower down, for the valleys were quite
impassable for horses, and even if possible it would have been
questionable policy, as such extremely shy and retiring animals
would certainly not have remained within a feasible distance of
our tents. The only way we got into the country at all was by
following up a ridge : when the ridge ceased to be practicable
then we had to stop. In the early morning I used to descend
into the timber, sometimes trying the higher ground, on other
days the lower; and I frequently crossed the valley and up the
other side, which entailed a descent of about 3,000 feet, a similar
ascent up the corresponding side, and the whole thing over
again on returning to camp. We rarely saw a fresh track.
The aurochs seemed to love a level piece of ground, perhaps
because when the ground was level there was always a swamp
with facilities for wallowing, or because, being originally a plain
animal, some latent hereditary instinct made them feel more at
home there than on the steep hill-side. But whenever we
were able through an opening of the trees to look down and
see a level spot, we used to make straight for it, because we
found from experience that if there were any of the animals
near at hand we should find traces of them there, and if there
were no tracks then it was almost useless spending any more CAUCASIAN AUROCHS
67
time in that neighbourhood. I had with me Tcherkess hu-nters
—we ha