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Big game shooting. Vol. I 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 I.    BIG   GAME   SHOOTING
BY
CLIVE   PHILLIPPS-WOLLEY
WITH CONTRIBUTIONS  BY
SIR SAMUEL W. BAKER, W. C. OSWELL,   F. J. JACKSON
WARBURTON PIKE, AND F. C. SELOUS
VOL. I.
WITH ILLUSTRATIONS BY CHARLES  WHYMPER, J.  WOLF
AND H. WILLINK, AND FROM PHOTOGRAPHS
LONDON
LONGMANS,    GREEN,    AND    CO.
1894
All   rights    reserved  DEDICATION
TO
H.R.H.   THE PRINCE  OF  WALES
Badminton : May 1885.
HAVING received permission to dedicate these volumes,
the Badminton Library of Sports and Pastimes,
to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales,
I do so feeling that I am dedicating them to one of the
best and keenest sportsmen of our time. I can say, from
personal observation, that there is no man who can
extricate himself from a bustling and pushing crowd of
horsemen, when a fox breaks covert, more dexterously
and quickly than His Royal Highness ; and that when
hounds run hard over a big country, no man can take a
line of his own and live with them better. Also, when
the wind has been blowing hard, often have I seen
His Royal Highness knocking over driven grouse and
partridges   and  high-rocketing  pheasants  in   first-rate  *t*j
J»K£3£
BADMINTON
PREFACE
A FEW LINES only are necessary to explain the object
with which these volumes are put forth. There is no
modern encyclopaedia to which the inexperienced man,
who seeks guidance in the practice of the various British
Sports and Pastimes, can turn for information. Some
books there are on Hunting, some on Racing, some
on Lawn Tennis, some on Fishing, and so on ; but one
Library, or succession of volumes, which treats of the
Sports and Pastimes indulged in by Englishmen—and
women—is wanting. The Badminton Library is offered
to supply the want.    Of the imperfections which must x BIG  GAME SHOOTING
be found in the execution of such a design we are
conscious. Experts often differ. But this we may say,
that those who are seeking for knowledge on any of the
subjects dealt with will find the results of many years'
experience written by men who are in every case adepts
at the Sport or Pastime of which they write. It is to
point the way to success to those who are ignorant of
the sciences they aspire to master, and who have no
friend to help or coach them, that these volumes are
written.
To those who have worked hard to place simply and
clearly before the reader that which he will find within,
the best thanks of the Editor are due. That it has been
no slight labour to supervise all that has been written, he
must acknowledge; but it has been a labour of love, and
very much lightened by the courtesy of the Publisher,
by the unflinching, indefatigable assistance of the Sub-
Editor, and by the intelligent and able arrangement
of each subject by the various writers, who are so
thoroughly masters of the subjects of which they treat.
The reward we all hope to reap is that our work may
prove useful to this and future generations.
THE  EDITOR. contents
OF
THE   FIRST   VOLUME
CHAPTER
I.   On Big Game Shooting Generally .
By Clive Phillipps- Wolley.
II.   South Africa Fifty Years Ago    .      .      .   .
By W.  Cotton Oswell, and Biographical Sketch  by
Sir Samuel TV. Baker.
PAGE
I
26
88
III. Second Expedition to South Africa
By W. Cotton Oszoell.
IV. Later Visits to South Africa     .       .      .   .    119
By TV. Cotton Oswell.
V.   With Livingstone in South Africa.      .       .142
By TV, Cotton Oswell.
VI.   East Africa—Battery,   Dress,   Camp   Gear,
and Stores 154
By F. J. Jackson.
VII.   Game Districts and Routes     ....    166
By F. J Jackson.
VIII.   The Caravan, Headman, Gun-bearers, etc.  .   176
By F. J. Jackson.
IX.   Hints on East African Stalking, Driving, etc.   185
By F. /. Jackson.  ILLUSTRATIONS
in the
FIRST   VOLUME
{Reproduced by Messrs. Walker &° Boutall)
FULL-PAGE  ILLUSTRATIONS
The Lion's Last Charge .
A Close Shot       ....
Molopo River   ....
Odds—3 to i.
Feeling both Horns of a Dilemmj
The Drop Scene
Elephants—Zouga Flats    .
Threatening of Elephantiasis
A Difficult Stalk
' Teeming with Game '
Camp with Boma at side   .       .
The Bushman's Stratagem
Resting the 4-bore on the falle
Tree	
I.
ARTIST
C. Whymper
Fro7itispiece
Major H. Jones   .
to face
/•    8
Joseph Wolf.
99
lo
"                                   •   "
99
go
"                     *
T9
116
99
i s
120
99
99
128
9 9
; )
140
C. Whymper
•           s >
166
99
99
174
( From a photograp
{    by E. Gedge
)   "
176
C. Whymper
9 J
198
Y  A Baby Elephant    ....
Dead Elephant	
Bull Buffalo	
Blissful Ignorance ....
* Often attended by Birds'       .    .
The Buffalo was close upon him
Dead Rhinoceros and Gun-bearer
11 was knocked over '        ...
* In this awkward position ' .
Dead Hippos    -
C.  Harveyi,  G.   Petersi,   N.   mon- ]
r
tanus, and c, bohor
Plan of an Oryx Stalk    .       .    .
Plan of a Gazella Grantii Stalk )
on Rombo Plain
Plan of an Hartebeest Stalk	
Bubalis Jacksoni C. Whymper
Oryx Collotis and Bubalis Cokei ,,
Kobus Kob    	
Adult    and    Immature    Gazella )
Grantii )
The Walleri	
B."senegalensis .        .        .        . C. Whymper
My best Lion	
* Springing upon his Victim '     .    .     C. Whymper
My best Koodoo	
Puma (Felis concolor)        .        .        .    .      C. Whymper  BIG   GAME   SHOOTING
CHAPTER I
ON  BIG  GAME SHOOTING  GENERALLY
By Clive Phillipps-Wolley
It may be asked, as to these volumes, why ' Big Game
Shooting' should find a place in a series devoted to British
sports and pastimes, whereas, except the red deer, there is no
big game in Great Britain ?
It is true that there is no big game left in Britain ; but if the
game is not British, its hunters are, and it is hardly too much
to say that, out of every ten riflemen wandering about the world
at present from Spitzbergen to Central Africa, nine are of the
Anglo-Saxon breed.
It may be asked, again, what justification there is for the
1 Springbuck.    2Steinbuck.   5 Blesbuck,    * Reedbuck.
I. B
<»
«* BIG  GAME SHOOTING
animal life taken, and for the time and money spent in the
pursuit of wild sport ?
That, too, is an easy question to answer. Luckily for
England, the old hunting spirit is still strong at home, and
the men who, had they lived in Arthur's time, might have
been knights-errant engaged in some quest at Pentecost, are
now constrained to be mere gunners, asking no more than that
their hunting-grounds should be wild and remote, their quarry
dangerous or all but unapproachable, and the chase such as
shall tax human endurance, human craft, and human courage
to the uttermost.
If in these days of ultra-civilisation an apology is needed
for such as these, let it be that their sport does no man any
harm ; that it exercises all those masculine virtues which set the
race where it is among the nations of the earth, and which but
for such sport would rust from disuse ; that if the hunter of big
game takes life, he often enough stakes his own against the life
he takes ; and if he be one of the right sort, he never wastes
his game.
Incidentally, however, the hunter does a good deal for his
race and for the men who come after him ; something for
science, for exploration, and even for his worst enemy—civilisation.
In Africa, hunting and exploration have gone hand in
hand ; in America the hunters have explored, settled, and developed much of the country, replacing the buffalo with the
shorthorn and the Hereford ; while in India, not the least
amongst those latent powers which enable us to govern our
Asiatic fellow-subjects is the respect won by generations of
English hunters from the native shikaries and hillmen.
From Africa to Siberia the story of exploration has never
varied. The world's pioneers have almost invariably belonged to
one of two classes. It has been the love of sportj or the lust of gold,
which has led men first to break in upon those solitudes in
which nature and her wild children have lived alone since the
world's beginning.    Hunters or gold prospectors still find the ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING GENERALLY
mountain passes, through which in later days the locomotives
will rush and the world's less venturous spirits come in time to
reap their harvests and make fortunes in the footsteps of those
who ask nothing better than to spend their strength and wealth
in the first encounter with an untrodden world, living as hard
as wolves, and content to think themselves rich in the possession of a few gnarled horns and grizzled hides.    As for us
who are Englishmen, it is well for us to remember that in most
lands in which we shoot we are but guests, and the beasts we
hunt are not only the property of the natives, but one of their
most important sources of food supply.    Bearing this in mind,
we should be moderate in the toll we take of the great game
and considerate even of those who may not be strong enough
to enforce their wishes.    The recklessness of one man in a
country where foreigners are few may suffice to damn a whole
nation in the eyes of a prejudiced  people, and it is worth
while to recollect that any one of us who strays off the world's
beaten tracks may serve for a type of his nation to men who
have never seen another sample of an Englishman.
Looked at from any point of view, the wholesale slaughter
of big game must be condemned by every thinking man. The
sportsman who in one season is lucky enough to obtain a dozen
good heads does no harm to anybody, and probably does good
to the bands of game in his district by killing off the oldest of
the stags or rams. But the man who kills fifty or a hundred
foolish * rhinos' (beasts, according to Mr. Jackson, which any
man can stalk) in one year, or scores of cariboo at the crossings
during their annual migration in Newfoundland, or deer and
sheep by the hundred in America, shocks humanity and does
a grave injury to his class. The waste of good meat is quite
intolerable ; kindly natured men hate to hear of the infliction
of needless pain, and waste of innocent animal life ; good
sportsmen recoil in disgust from a record of butchery misnamed
sport, for, according to the very first article of their creed, it is
the difficulty of the chase which gives value to the trophies.
If there were no difficulties, no dangers, no hardships, then the
B 2 BIG  GAME SHOOTING
sport would have no flavour and its prizes no value. The mere
fact that a man can kill as many of any particular kind of animal
as he pleases should be sufficient to make him let that beast
alone, unless he wants it for food, as soon as he has secured
(say) a couple of fine specimen heads. Finally, to look at this
question from the lowest and most selfish standpoint, the
wholesale slaughter of wild game in foreign countries should
be discouraged unanimously by all who love the rifle, since
men who kill or boast of having killed exceptionally large bags
of big game in any country are extremely likely to arouse the
natural and proper indignation of local legislators, who have it
in their power to close their happy hunting grounds to all
aliens for the fault of a few individuals, not by any means
typical of, or in sympathy with, their class.
On the other hand, it would be well if some of those of our
own race, who should know better, would be less ready to call
other men butchers merely because they have killed large
quantities of game. Everything depends upon the circumstances connected with the slaying. If a man needs and can
utilise a hundred antelope, surely he has as good a right to
kill them as if he were killing a hundred sheep for market.
There are occasions when not only does the hunter's skill win
the regard of savages who value nothing in friend or foe
more than real manhood, but it is absolutely necessary to kill
game in order to keep a native following in food. Without
the hunter's skill, food would have to be bought or looted
from hostile natives, a feud engendered which might end in
the shedding of other blood than that of the beasts, and a
serious obstacle be thus raised in the path of the pioneers of
civilisation and trade.
Our big game sportsmen have made more friends than
foes, have always contrived to feed their men, and the very
greatest of them have never shed a drop of native blood.
Where gallant Oswell or Selous have been, there are no blood
feuds against the English to hamper an expedition of their
countrymen. ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING  GENERALLY
So much for the ethics of Big Game Shooting | as to the
practical side of it, let it be said at once that it is impossible
upon paper to teach any man to become a successful big
game hunter. Upon the hillside or in the forest, with an
expert to guide him, with the floating mists to teach him something of the way of the winds, with game tracks or the game
itself before him, each man has to learn for himself, and even
then he learns more from his own mistakes than from anyone
else. To be really successful a man wants so many things;
he needs so many qualities combined in his own person. To
be a good shot means but little. The man who can win prizes
at Wimbledon may be a successful deer-stalker, but it by no
means follows that he will be. He has one good quality in his
favour, but even that quality varies with the varying conditions
under which he shoots. With his pulses steady, his heart
beating regularly, his wind sound, his digestion unimpaired, his
eyes free from moisture, with the distances measured off for
him, and with a bull's-eye to shoot at, he may make phenomenal
scores ; but when he has been living upon heavy dampers and
strong tea taken at irregular intervals, his digestion may become
impaired. When he has toiled all day and come fast up a steep
incline at the end of a long stalk, his pulse will not be steady,
his sides may be heaving like those of a blown horse, his eye
may be dimmed by a bead of sweat which will cling to his eyelash and fall salt and painful into his eye just when it should
be at its clearest. The distances are not marked for him, and the
atmosphere varies so much at different altitudes, that it is not
always easy to judge how far he is from his quarry, and that
quarry, instead of being marked in black and white for his convenience, has an awkward trick of being just the colour of the
hillside, with an outline which at 200 yards melts into the
background and becomes one with its surroundings.
Many a man who shoots well at a mark is a poor shot in
the woods ; but luckily the converse of this proposition is also
true.    Again, strength and endurance, steady nerve and quick BIG  GAME SHOOTING
eyes count for much, but they alone will not make a man successful.
The strong young hunter is often the worst. Likely enough
he does the work for the work's sake, laughs at mountain-sides,
and, like a friend of our own, starts at dawn, travels all day, tells
us at night of peaks at fabulous distances on which he has
stood, but comes back empty-handed, simply because he is too
strong, too fast, and runs over ground leaving behind him, or
'jumping' out of range, game which a feebler man might have
seen when crawling slowly over the hillside or sitting down for
a frequent rest. One really good Western sportsman we know
advocates a very different system. ' Camp,' he says,' near where
game is, look out for likely places, and then go and sit about
near them all day long. If the game comes to you, you'll probably get it; if it don't you won't, and you wouldn't any way.
Somehows,' he generally adds, 'them bull elicks alius did have
longer legs than mine, d—n 'em.'
Perhaps a knowledge of natural history is almost better than
either great physical powers or exceptional skill with the rifle.
If you watch a first-rate tennis-player, it will seem to you that
tennis is a very easy game. The second-rate player performs
prodigies of activity to get into the right place in time, but the
first-rate man never seems to be obliged to exert himself at all.
He always is where he ought to be. So it is with the good man
to hounds. His place at the fence is the easiest, and yet he
never seems to swerve or pick his place. In every case it is
the same. Knowledge of the game helps all the men in the
same way, and each in his own fashion picks his place ; but he
picks it long beforehand. The tennis-player knows where the
return must come, the hunting man sees the weak place by
which he means to go out at the very moment that he comes
in to a field, and in like manner the big game hunter gets to
where the big game is because he has calculated beforehand
where it ought to be, and experience and knowledge of the
beasts' habits, and a certain instinct which some men have, do
not mislead him. ON BIG GAME SHOOTING GENERALLY
First, then, study the habits of wild animals generally. They
are much the same all the world over, and a man may learn a
great deal by the side of an English covert, when the rabbits
and pheasants are running before the beaters, which he can turn
to good use when hunting bigger game.
Why do you suppose some men always seem to get more
shots than others ; why do the birds always rise better to them
than to you ? Pure luck you think, and they perhaps don't
deny it. Don't believe it. The true sportsman knows by
instinct what tussock of grass will hold a rabbit as he goes by
it, and if a rabbit is there he won't let it lie whilst he passes.
You won't see him swing round, saving himself a bit and leaving the likeliest corner in a big field unbeaten. The birds
would have sneaked down into the ditch and stopped there
whilst you wheeled by thirty or forty paces off, but our friend
puts them up ; and if when those rabbits at the covert-side were
bolting just out of range between you and him, you think he
dropped his white pocket-handkerchief on the drive by mistake,
you don't know your man. That handkerchief just turned
them enough to bring them close by him, and he had awful
luck you know, and fired six shots to your one.
That is the way in big game shooting too. Partly from experience, and partly by instinct, some men know where to look
for a beast, and know the ways of it when found. Study then
the habits of beasts generally to begin with, and then those of
the particular beast you are going to hunt. Learn what it feeds
on at different seasons of the year, and where its food is to be
found ; learn at what time of day it feeds, and at what time it
lies down. Most animals feed early and late, just at dawn and
just at the edge of night, sleeping when the sun warms them,
using what Nature sends them instead of supplying the place
of the sun with a blanket as we do. Many beasts are almost
entirely nocturnal in their feeding hours, and these not only
such as one would naturally expect to prowl by night—tigers,
lions and suchlike—but ibex and mountain beasts which feed
on nothing worse than grass.   Just at and before dawn most BIG  GAME SHOOTING
beasts are up and feeding, probably because that is the coldest
time in the twenty-four hours ; the beasts become chilled and
restless, and Nature warns them that food and motion are the
best cures for the evils they are suffering from.
Learn too, with the utmost care for yourself, upon which of
its senses each particular beast relies, for all do not rely upon
the same sense. The sense of smell is perhaps the most universal safeguard of the beasts which men hunt, but all are not
as keen of scent as the cariboo, nor all as wonderfully quick
and long-sighted as the antelope, of whom Western men say that
he can tell you what bullet your rifle is loaded with about as
soon as you can make him out on the skyline. A bear is so
short-sighted as to be almost blind on occasion, and no beasts
seem capable of quickly identifying objects which are stationary,
though all catch the least movement in a second. This ot
course is where the man who rests often gets an advantage. It
a beast is stationary in timber, for instance, you may often look
at him for a minute after your Indian has found him before
making him out; but if he but flick his ear or turn a tine of his
antler ever so little, it will catch your eye at once.
In still hunting for wapiti or other timber-loving deer, a
broken stick will warn every beast within a quarter of an hour's
tramp; but on a-mountain-side, where stones are constantly
falling from the action of sun and wind and rain, ibex, sheep
and other mountain beasts will often take but little or no notice
of the stones you dislodge during your climb. Only be
careful that these stones do not fall too often or at too regular
intervals.
In Scotland stalking is almost the only form of hunting
deer ; in America and other wild countries there are two principal forms of sport—stalking and still hunting; the one practised in comparatively open country and in the mountains, and
the other in those dense forests where, partly from choice and
partly because it has been much hunted, most of the big game
now harbours. In this series stalking has already been dealt
with, so that with this form it is only necessary to deal briefly   ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING  GENERALLY
here. The wind is the stalker's deadliest foe, and in many
of the countries known best to the writer (sheep countries for
the most part) there are days in each week when it is wiser to
stay in camp or hunt in the timber down below, rather than
risk disturbing game when the winds are playing the devil in
Skuloptin. Take your Indian's advice, and stop at home on
such days as these ; play picquet with your friend, look after
your trophies, or write up your diary.
To any but the youngest hunters it seems superfluous to
say that you must hunt up or across the wind ; to remind
them of what a score of authorities have said before about
the lessons to be learnt from the drifting mist-wreaths ; to
warn them to take care that they see the beast before the
beast sees them, and to this end to be careful in coming
over a rise in the ground ; to put only just so much of their
head above the skyline as will enable them to see the country
beyond, and even then to bring that small part of their
body up very slowly and under cover of some friendly bush-
tussock or boulder. In eighteen years' hunting the writer
has met many men who might be forgiven for believing that
wild game never lies down, for whenever they have seen it, it
has been on its feet, looking at them. And no wonder, for
some of them would even ride up to the top of a bluff before
looking to see what lay in the valley beyond. And yet, even
after such a mistake as this, there is a chance sometimes of
retrieving your error if the wind is in your favour. If, for instance, in riding from camp to camp you suddenly come in full
view of a stag, with a hind or two, walking in the early morning
along the ridge of the next bluff to that upon which you and
your Indians are riding, say a word to your men, and let them
either ride slowly on or stop absolutely stationary in the same
spot, whilst you slide out of your saddle and creep away on
your belly amongst the grass. Above all, they must keep in full
view of the stag, and if they do this, in nine cases out of ten the
stag will not notice that you have gone, and whilst he stares
intently at the strange objects which he knows to be at a safe IO
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
distance from himself, you will have time to get round and make
a successful stalk. Even the hinds will be too intent on watching the other men to keep a proper look-out in your direction.
And this brings up another point. Take care of the hinds and
of those lean grey-faced ewes. The ram and the stag are
blunderers and reckless, especially in love-time ; but the ewes
are as suspicious and wary as schoolmistresses, and must always
be watched carefully. If for a moment you see the grey faces
turn in your direction, keep still; keep still as a statue, even
though you have raised yourself upon your hands to peer over
and have found out too late that your palms are pressing upon
the thorny sides of a bunch of prickly pears. It will come to
an end at last, though that fixed regard seems never ending; but
in any case, if you want a shot you must be still, for if you try
to lower your head and hide whilst they are looking at you,
you might just as well go home. This rule applies in another
instance. If you should by chance come upon a beast unawares, stand stock still at once ; don't try to hide if it is a deer ;
don't try to bolt if it is something more dangerous. If you
stand still, beasts are slow to identify objects, and your deer
may not be badly scared or your bear may pass on with only
a suspicious stare; but if you attempt to hide, your deer will
certainly show you his paces over fallen timber, or your bear
or tiger if bad tempered may charge.
But you ought very seldom to run into beasts in this way, if
you keep your eyes open for ' sign,' i.e. tracks, droppings, freshly
broken twigs, and places where deer have been browsing, and
if, as you ought to, you take a good long time to scan every
valley carefully before you enter it. Of course you must not
keep your eyes on the ground looking for tracks—this is a fatal
trick of a \ tender foot'—but you can see tracks well enough with
eyes looking well ahead of you ; and indeed, if you are following
a trail, you will find it more easily by looking for it yards ahead
of you than you will by searching for it at your feet.
Again, in looking for game you have at first to learn what
to look for.    The deer you are likely to see will not be stand-
I ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING GENERALLY       n
ing broadside on, with head aloft like Landseer's ' Monarch,'
but will be a long blur of brown on a hillside, with head
stretched out almost flat upon the ground in front of it, crouching.-(if it has seen you) more like a rabbit than a lordly stag, or
else it will be but a patch of brown which moves between the
boles of the pines, or a flickering ear, or a gleaming inch or so of
antler, or, worse than all, a flaunting white flag bobbing over
the fallen timber if it is
a deer, or a dull white
disc moving up towards
the skyline if it is a
sheep which you have
stirred from amongst
those grey boulders for
one of which you mistook it.
A common error
which men make is to
depend too much upon
the eyes of their gillie.
That an Indian has
better sight than a white
man is an article of
many a man's creed.
I believe it to be a mistake. The Indian is trained, he knows
what to look for, and is looking for it. The average white
man who takes an Indian with him does not know what to
look for, and is relying upon his Indian's eyes. Consequently
the Indian sees the game first, tries to point it out to his
master, who finds it just about the time that the beast has stood
as long as it means to, and is on the move by the time that the
white man, flurried by his Indian's oft-repeated' Shoot ! shoot !'
has found out what he is to shoot at. Of course the result is a
miss. If, instead of allowing his Indian to go ahead and do the
spying, the gunner had gone ahead, he would in the course of
a few weeks have learnt to find his own game, and when he had
Over the fallen timber 12
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
found it he would have secured for himself those first invaluable seconds when the beast was still standing uncertain of
danger and for the moment at his mercy. If only a man is
enough of a woodsman to find his way back to camp and to find
again the game he has killed, he will do far better to go alone
than with the best of guides. Two pair of eyes may be better
than one, but one pair of feet make less noise than two, and
the man who finds his own game, and chooses his own time to
shoot, is far more likely to kill than the man who presses the
trigger at the dictation of an excitable redskin. That ' Shoot,
shoot' has lost many a head of game.
Don't be in a hurry when you have sighted game. If it has
not seen you it is not likely to move, and if it has you can't
catch it. Take your time. Light a pipe if the wind is right,
and if it isn't the deer will object to your smell quite as much as
to the smell of tobacco. Having lighted your pipe, con the
ground over carefully, and plan out your stalk at your leisure.
It may be that you have come across sheep in an utterly unapproachable position, lying down for their midday siesta. If so,
lie down for yours too, keeping an eye open to watch their
movements. Towards evening first one old ram will get up and
stretch himself (and perhaps turn round and lie down again) and
then another ; but eventually they will feed off slowly over the
brow, and then you can run in and make your stalk. If there is
a good head in the band your patience will not be without its
reward. Again, when you have made your stalk and are
safe behind your boulder at 150 or 200 yards from your beast,
don't be in a hurry. If your eyes are dim and you cannot see your
foresight clearly, shut your eyes and wait. There is no more
reason why the beasts should see you now than half an hour ago.
Wait till your hand is steady and your eye clear ; don't look too
much at the coveted horns (as my gillies always said that I did);
shoot not at the whole beast, but at the vital part behind or
through the shoulder ; and remember that you have worked
days perhaps for the chance you will either take or miss in the
next few seconds. Remember that a man shoots over three times ON BIG GAME SHOOTING GENERALLY       13
for every once he shoots too low. Put your cap under your
rifle if you are going to shoot from a rock rest; shoot from a
rest whenever you can, and if you miss the first shot, do as the
Frenchman wanted to when pheasant shooting, i.e. wait until
he stops. If it is a ram or a deer, unless he has seen or winded
you, it is a thousand to ten that he will stop within 50 yards or
so to look back to see what frightened him before leaving the
country. When he stops you will get another chance at a
stationary object, and one shot of this kind is worth a good
many ' on the jump.' If a beast does not look likely to stand
again after the first shot, a sharp whistle will sometimes stop him.
You will hear, especially from Americans, who very often
can shoot uncommonly well with the Winchester, and from
Indians, who are the poorest shots in the world, of extraordinary shots at long ranges. Pay no attention to them.
If you cannot get within 200 yards of game, except antelope
in an open country, you are a poor stalker '• and rely upon it
more game is killed within 80 yards than is fired at over 200.
Indians get what game they kill, not by their fine shooting at long ranges, but by their clever creeping and stalking.
At the same time, there is a limit to everything, and if you
attempt to get too close, a glimpse of your cap, which would
only make a deer stare at 150 yards, will make him dash off
as if wolves were after him at 50 yards.
Having dropped your stag, lie still (if you have wounded
him only, this is still more necessary) and reload, as many a
man has been terribly disappointed at seeing a deer which he
considered was ' in the bag' get up and go off from under the
very muzzle of an unloaded rifle. But your stalk may end without your getting a shot. Some puff of wind of which you had
no suspicion may warn your quarry before you get within range
of him, and if this happens, watch which way he goes, and do
you go by another way, for he will put every beast he passes in
his flight upon the ' qui vive.'
In case of wounded game do not be in too great a hurry
to follow it.    A wounded beast which is pressed will go on  Mi
ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING  GENERALLY       i
and not spoil the neck. If, when you kill, you are far from
home, and want to pack your venison home yourself, the
Indian fashion of packing and carrying is the simplest that
I know.    It is done thus :—
After grallocking, skin your deer and cut off his head.
Skin well down the legs, cutting off the feet at the fetlock joint,
and spread the skin out with the hair downwards. Now cut
from a bush near by a stick about as thick as your thumb,
about three inches shorter than the width of the skin just
behind the forelegs. Lay this on the skin and stretch the skin
over it, driving in the points of the stick so as to hold the skin
taut at the width of the stick. Next cut two or three little holes
in the skin of each hind leg, and sew the two legs together by
pushing a small twig through alternate holes in the skin of either
leg. This will make the hind legs into a loop or handle. Now
cut up what meat you want into joints of convenient size, pack
them neatly on the skin behind the stick, fold up your pack
and bring the stick through your loop, so that the ends of it
overlap and hold against the loop ; put the loop over your
forehead or your shoulders, and there you are with a fairly convenient satchel full of meat on your back, the hairy side of the
skin against your coat, and a sufficiently soft strap of skin across
forehead or chest to carry the weight. All this can be done
on the spot with no more adjuncts than your skinning knife
and a bush to cut twigs from. The only difficulty is that the
head must be arranged as an extra pack or must be called for
on a subsequent occasion.
But your beast, though down, may not be dead, and apart
from the caution already given to load before going up to a
fallen beast, there is another worth giving. Many a man has
lost his life by being too anxious to handle his prize. One
instance of a fine young fellow maimed for life by a panther
whose mate he had killed, and whom he was too anxious to
handle without sufficient investigation of the position, occurs to
me as I write, and an attempt of my own to turn over a wapiti
which was not quite dead elicited such a vigorous kick from the i6
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
leg I was hauling upon as sent me flying some yards into the
scrub. If the deer had had free play for his leg, he might have
done worse than make me a laughing stock for my Indians.
When you get your shot be careful where you place it, and
if the beast is moving towards you, let him pass before firing, if
possible. If it is only a deer, a raking shot, striking him even
-a little far back and travelling transversely through him, will be
much more likely to go through vital organs and stop him than
■one fired from in front; and, besides, a shot of this kind is not
so likely to reveal the shooter at once to the beast and elicit a
charge, if the beast is a dangerous one, as when fired right into
his face.
Don't, unless absolutely compelled to, fire at dangerous
■game above you. A wounded beast naturally comes down
hill, and you are likely to be in its way if you fire from below ;
besides, a wounded beast will come quicker down hill than up.
If your beast should charge you, stand still and go on shooting.
Your chance may be a poor one, but in nine cases out of ten
it is the best you have got.
But if after all your care, and even after you have heard (or
think that you have heard) the bullet smack upon your stag's
shoulder, he should show absolutely no sign of being hit, except
perhaps a slight shiver or contraction of his muscles—if even he
should turn and bolt at headlong speed—do not beat once discouraged ; no, not even if you should follow him for many
hundred yards without finding a single splash of blood upon
the trail. Don't listen to your Indian, if you have reason to
think that you held straight, even though appearances justify
his assertion that you made a clean miss. That little spasmodic
shiver is a hopeful sign. When you see your stag do this, you
may be very sure that he is hard hit in a vital spot, and he will not
go far. It he starts off at racing pace, he will probably pitch
over on his head, dead, at the end of a hundred yards ; and
even if he does not bleed at first, follow him persistently : flesh
wounds often bleed more freely than more dangerous ones,
and it is quite on the cards that you will at last find that your ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING  GENERALLY       17
stag was hit after all (far back, perhaps), and you may get
him, although the shot hardly deserved such a prize. In
any case it is your duty as an honest sportsman to do
your utmost to find
out whether you have
wounded a beast, and,
if so, to do all in your
power to secure him
and put an end to his
pain, rather than leave
him to take a better
chance which may offer.
The greater part of
what has been written
/so far applies either
to shooting big game
to stalk-
a word or two
may well be devoted to
still hunting—a form of the chase much practised in
and other well-wooded countries.
generally or
mg
Interlaced antlers
America
Still Hunting
Almost every fresh form of sport brings a fresh set of
muscles, a hitherto little used sense or mental quality, into play,
•so that an all-round sportsman should be that very exceptional
animal, a man in the full possession of all his faculties.
On the mountains a man depends upon his feet and upon
his eyes ; in the woods he has to place at least as much reliance
upon his ears as upon his eyes ; whilst his feet in still hunting
are to the beginner the very curse and bane of his existence.
Except in wet weather or to a redskin, still hunting is an
impossibility in any true sense of the term. When for weeks
in Colorado there has not fallen one drop of rain, when sun
and wind have parched the whole face of Nature, every twig
and every fallen leaf upon the forest floor become absolutely
1. c i8
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
go off'
with a
explosive, and the merest touch will make them
report loud enough to be heard in London.
Damp weather is, then, the first essential for successful still
hunting ; but even then, when the leaves crush noiselessly under
foot and fallen twigs bend instead of snapping, the utmost
patience and care are necessary.
With a pair of good shooting boots, English made, with
wide welts and plenty of nails in them—boots, for choice, which
would run about two to the acre—with his rifle over his shoulder,
and a handful of loose change in the pocket of his new
American overalls, any average young man may go confidently
into the best woods in America, certain that in a fortnight
of hard work he will see nothing except what Van Dyke calls
' the long jumps' (i.e. tracks of startled deer) or those waving
white flags popping over the fallen logs which those gunners
only may hope to stop who habitually shoot snipe with a
Winchester.
The man who is generally successful as a still hunter is he
who knows the haunts and habits of the deer, who travels
slowly in the woods, constantly stopping to listen and look
ahead, who not only takes care to wear clothes of the softest
material, with moccasins or tennis-shoes upon his feet, but who
always has a hand ready to move an obstinate briar or obstructive rampike gently out of his way before it has time to rasp
against his clothes or trip him and pitch him upon his head.
The first thing to remember in entering upon this sport is
that every live thing in the wroods is watching and listening at'
least three parts of its waking life, and that your only chance of
success is to catch it off its guard in those rare moments when
it is either feeding or moving, and therefore making a noise
itself. A moving object is more easily seen than a stationary
one, therefore do you stand or sit still from time to time
among thick cover on some ridge or other commanding position, and watch the woods, peer through the thickets, and make
certain that they are untenanted, before you blunder through
them.    When a log upon which your eyes have been dwelling ON BIG  GAME  SHOOTING  GENERALL Y
idly for several minutes gets up as you move, and goes off with
a snort, before you can get your rifle to your shoulder, you will
realise more thoroughly how hard it is to distinguish stationary
game in cover. Keep your ears, too, on the alert: a bear will
move through a dry azalea bush, when he pleases, almost less
noisily than a blackbird, and his great soft feet make far less
sound on the dead leaves than yours do. Slow ears are almost
as bad as slow eyes in still hunting; but do not condemn either
your eyes or ears as worse than the natives' until the eyes
have learned from experience what to take note of, and the ears
which are the sounds worth listening to. In time the language
of the forest will become plain to you, whether it is spoken in
the voices of birds and beasts, in the rustlings and scurryings
amongst the bushes, or written in tracks upon the great white
page of new-fallen snow at your feet; but at first your ears will
send many a false message to your brain.
In the intensity of the stillness the fir cones which the squirrels drop make you start, expecting to see the bushes divide
for a bull moose at least to pass through them : at night, when
you are watching by the river for bear, you think that you
hear distinctly the ! splosh, splosh ' of the grizzly's feet as he
wades down the shallows towards you. Not a bit of it : it is
only a foolish kelt who has run himself aground and is trying
to kick himself off again into deep water. On the other hand,
that grating of one bough against another which you fancied
that you heard may have been a ' bull elk' burnishing his
antlers against a cottonwood-tree, that far-away whistle of the
wind may have been a fragment of a forest monarch's love-call,
and that angry squirrel across the canyon was actually chattering not because he had seen you, but because he was disturbed
by a bear passing by the log on which he was sitting.
But the language of the woods can only be learnt by residence amongst them, and this is especially true of the written
language of tracks, which is to my mind one of the few things
utterly beyond a white man's powers ever thoroughly to master.
Such proficiency as a man may acquire in tracking he must
C 2 20
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
acquire for himself in the woods, since any essay upon it
would need more illustrations than words to make the meaning plain.
Fishing is said to require patience. Believe me, still hunting
requires more. Although you have toiled all day and seen
nothing; although you are hot, 'played out,' and therefore
intensely irritable (perhaps you have even a touch of fever upon
you) ; although every log on your way home ' barks ' your shins,
and every tendril clings to your ankle—you must keep your
temper ; and even when that thorny creeper hooks you by the
fleshy part of your nose, you must not swear—at least, not
aloud. If you do, at the very moment that the words leave
your lips, the only beast you have seen all day will get up with
a contemptuous snort from the other side of the bush in front
of you.
But when all is written that can be written upon ' still hunting,' there is still much which can only be taught in the woods—
or, if on paper, then it has been done already, as well as man
could possibly do it, in the pages of the best book ever written by
an American, Van Dyke's ' Still Hunter.' I am glad to have
a chance of acknowledging my indebtedness to this author.
Whatever I know of still hunting I have learned from his book
and from experience, and have never yet known my two
teachers disagree.
There is only one word which I would add here, but it is
the most important that I shall write. There is one danger in
still hunting in the woods more terrible than any other which
the big game hunter can encounter : the danger, I mean, of
accidentally shooting his fellow-man.
Make a rule for yourself before you go into the woods,
and keep it as the first of sylvan commandments :   Never,
under any pretence whatever, pull your trigger until you know
not only what you are shooting at, but also at what part of
your beast you are shooting.
Once in a while the observance of this rule may lose you a
beast which you might have crippled, and eventually secured if you ON BIG GAME SHOOTING  GENERALLY      21
had taken a snap shot at the grey thing wrhich you saw moving
in the bushes. But, on the other hand, instead of killing a bear
or a buck, it is much more likely that your snap shot will wound
some poor devil of a hind, who will sneak away to die in
anguish somewhere in the thick covert where none but the
jackal will benefit by her death ; or else you may do as I once
actually did—hit a bear in the seat of his dignity, thereby
arousing his very righteous indignation in a way that is dangerous
to the offending party ; or, worse still, you may (as I nearly did)
fire upon your own gillie or friend, whose moccasined footfall
is very like a bear's tread, and whose sin in wandering across
your beat would be too severely punished by death.
In all seriousness, it has always seemed to me that any man
who, whilst out shooting, kills another in mistake for game deserves to be tried for his life, unless he be a very young beginner—
and young beginners should hunt by themselves. There is no
excuse for shooting a man. If the shooter could not tell that
that at which he fired was a human being, much less could he
tell at what part of his beast he was shooting, and a random
shot ' into the brown' of a beast is unsafe, unsportsmanlike,
and brutally cruel.
Finally, do not be tempted to use complicated sights in still
hunting. When you have followed deer under pines heavy
with snow, through sal-lal bush which looks like deep billows
of the same, only to find, the first time, that your Lyman sight
is down, and the second time that though erect the peephole is
full of ice, you will recognise the merits of a Paradox with the
simplest sights for wood shooting in any weather as thoroughly
as the writer does, and whilst admitting the merits of the
Lyman sight for long-range shooting in the open, eschew all
but such simple sights in timber.
There are, of course, other ways of hunting big game
besides those already dealt with. Almost any game may be
driven, from lions in Somaliland and tigers in the Terai to
chamois in the Alps and sheep in North America, and there is
no doubt that sufficient excitement and a good deal of sport BIG  GAME. SHOOTING
may be got out of the day's work ; but, after all, the beaters who
out-climb the Spanish ibex (as described byTVEr. Chapman in
his 'Wild Spain') and the natives who risk their lives in the
driving, have always seemed to the present writer to be the men
who did the work, and were principally responsible for the
success of the day's sport. To the guns who are posted by the
organiser of the beat little advice can be given, except to obey
orders, stick to their posts, be careful not to shoot at anything
until it has passed them—or, at any rate, at anything which
is in such a position with regard to the beaters and other
guns as to make it unsafe to fire—to keep their attention concentrated upon the business in hand, to make all arrangements for
concealment and ease in shooting directly they are posted,
and then to keep quiet. There is not quite enough in this
form of sport for the gun to do to please some men, but de
gustibus non est disputandum. |||||
Night shooting is another form of sport, sometimes rendered necessary by the shyness and nocturnal habits of such
beasts as the grizzly and the Caucasian ibex. There are
charms in night watching peculiar to the hour, which appeal
particularly to the naturalist and lover of outdoor life ; there is
a certain fascination in the mystery of the night, the gloom of
the great woods, and the awful stillness of the white peaks; while
the children of the forest always seem more natural and less suspicious at night than at any other time. But it needs every
charm which the night can boast to tempt a man to sit hour
after hour in the shadow, without stirring, without speaking,
without even thinking of anything except the sport in hand,
whilst the rain runs down his spine in a strong stream, or a cold
wind catches his body, heated by the tramp to the ambuscade,
and slowly freezes it. If you must shoot at night, be careful
about the wind : find out as well as you are able from what
quarter you may expect your bear, and take care that your wind
does not reach him before he reaches the carcase by which you are
hidden. Choose a spot where you have some chance of making
out his outline against the sky if he should come, and whether ON BIG  GAME SHOOTING GENERALLY       23
you are watching by a carcase or by a salmon pool, be satisfied
with a. distant inspection of the bait, i.e.—don't go and walk,
about all round it, &c.
Bears are especially shy of returning to a carcase when they
know that men are about, one grizzly that I know of in British
Columbia having defeated a very well-known Indian sportsman
by making a circuit round the carcase before coming in to feed.
If in that circuit he caught no taint of human kind upon the night
air, he used to come in and sup ; but if he found that I y
was on guard, he used to go quietly home to a canyon down
below, and wait for a more favourable opportunity. The tracks
in the morning told the whole story, of course, as plainly as
if the unfortunate sportsman had been a witness of the performance.
The principal difficulties in this kind of shooting are to
keep sufficiently quiet to induce your bear to come, and to see
your sights sufficiently to kill him, even at short ranges, when
he has come.
Go to the spot as lightly clad as possible, carrying any spare
things you can on your arm ; don't hurry or overheat yourself
on the way to your ambush, and put on a spare flannel shirt or
coat, or whatever it is you are carrying, before you begin to feel
chilled. Take a little sheet of macintosh with you to secure you a
dry seat, and if you have no fancy night sights on your rifle, you
can make a rough but serviceable one by twisting white string
or cotton with a large knot in it round the muzzle of your rifle,
while the thumb and finger of your left hand, as they embrace
your rifle barrels, may be held a little apart to make a very
coarse backsight. This is only a more or less clumsy Indian
device, but it is considerably better than nothing if you get
caught in the dark with no better appliances. After all, a sport
which keeps you up all night, and in camp without any exercise
all day, and which depends for success so entirely upon the good
will of the bear, is not one to hanker after.
By the way, when you have shot your bear (if you should
shoot him), and when you have taken his hide off,, be careful /
24
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
how you pack it upon any ordinary pony. A spark applied to
a powder magazine is hardly more astounding in its effects than
the application of a fresh bear-skin to the back of some of the
meekest of cayuses. A perfect Dobbin which belonged to the
writer shook his faith in horseflesh for ever by cutting his legs
from under him as if they had been carried away by a round
^
*v
Poor old Sam
shot, merely because Dobbin had been asked somewhat suddenly to carry the hide of a two-year-old black bear.
In all American sport, dogs are used from time to time by
the trappers and meat hunters who make hunting a business,
and a thoroughly broken collie, such as accompanied the writer
and Mr. Arnold Pike in an expedition to Colorado, would
be invaluable to any still hunter, as this dog would not run in
without orders, would precede his master at a slow walk in ON BIG GAME SHOOTING GENERALLY      25
timber, regularly pointing in any direction from which he got
wind of a deer, would take his owner up to it at a walk, would
run a wounded beast to bay, follow and worry at the heels of a
bear, and keep the camp secure from the inroads of inquisitive
strangers or the all-devouring burros of our train. But such dogs
as ' Pup' are rare, and the old gentleman to whom he belonged
informed me that an offer of $500 for him would not be entertained, though his own whole ambition in life was to make
double that sum to buy a farm and settle down, as at 65 he
was beginning to think that he was almost too old to stay all the
year in the woods. Poor old Sam .' When one is too old for
the woods, it should be almost time to ' turn in' for that last
sleep.
WmtW///£ffl^"-fa- >■
.". mifff/Ai 'a. . \*/^w   x_
/'" SPURS 26
BIG  GAME. SHOOTING
CHAPTER II
SOUTH  AFRICA   FIFTY  YEARS  AGO
By W. Cotton Oswell
WILLIAM COTTON OSWELL:  A  BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
By Sir Samuel W. Baker
One man alone was left who could describe from personal
experience the vast tracts of Southern Africa and the countless
multitudes of wild animals which existed fifty years ago in
undisturbed seclusion; the ground untrodden by the European foot; the native unsuspicious of the guile of a white
intruder. This man, thus solitary in this generation, was the
late William Cotton Oswell. He had scarcely finished the pages
upon the fauna of South Africa when death seized him (May i,
1893) and robbed all those who knew him of their greatest
friend. His name will be remembered with tears of sorrow
and profound respect.
Although Oswell was one of the earliest in the field of South
African discovery, his name was not world-wide, owing to his
extreme modesty, which induced him to shun the notoriety that
is generally coupled with the achievements of an explorer. Long
before the great David Livingstone became famous, when he
was the simple unknown missionary, doing his duty under
the direction of his principal, the late Rev. Robert Moffat,
whose daughter he married, Oswell made his acquaintance
while in Africa, and became his early friend. SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS AGO
At that time Oswell with his companion Murray allied
themselves with Livingstone to discover a reported lake of the
unknown interior, together with Mrs. Livingstone and their
infantine family. This expedition was at the private cost of
Oswell and Murray; but, in grateful remembrance of the assistance rendered by Livingstone in communicating with the natives
and in originating the exploration, Oswell sent him a present of
a new waggon and a span of splendid oxen (sixteen' animals)
in addition to a thorough outfit for his personal requirements.
Livingstone, in the 'Zambesi and its Tributaries,' dwelt
forcibly upon the obligation imposed upon him by Oswreh"s
generosity ; but, having submitted the manuscript to his friend
for revision, Oswell insisted upon disclaiming the title of a
benefactor. After the discovery of the Lake 'Ngami by Livingstone and his party, Oswell received the medal of the French
Geographical Society ; he was therefore allied with Livingstone,
who was the first explorer of modern times to direct attention
to the lake system of Africa, which has been developed within
the last forty years by successive travellers.
Oswell was not merely a shooter, but he had been attracted
towards Africa by his natural love of exploration, and the
investigation of untrodden ground. He was absolutely the
first white man who had appeared upon the scene in many
portions of South Africa which are now well known. His
character, which combined extreme gentleness with utter
recklessness of danger in the moment of emergency, added to
complete unselfishness, ensured him friends in every society ;
but it attracted the native mind to a degree of adoration. As
the first-comer among lands and savage people until then unknown, he conveyed an impression so favourable to the white
man that he paved the way for a welcome to his successors.
That is the first duty of an explorer; and in this Oswell well
earned the proud title of a ' Pioneer of Civilisation.'
As these few lines are not a biography, but merely a faint
testimony to one whose only fault was the shadowing of his 28
BIG GAME SHOOTING
Own light
I can sincerely express a deep regret that his pen
throughout his life was unemployed. No one could describe
a scene more graphically, or with greater vigour ; he could tell
his stories with so vivid a descriptive power that the effect
was mentally pictorial; and his listeners could feel thoroughly
assured that not one word of his description contained a particle of exaggeration.
I have always regarded Oswell as the perfection of a
Nimrod. Six feet in height, sinewy and muscular, but
nevertheless light in weight, he was not only powerful, but
enduring. A handsome face, with an eagle glance, but full of
kindliness and fearlessness, bespoke the natural manliness of
character which attracted him to the wild adventures of his
early life.
He was a first-rate horseman, and all his shooting was from
the saddle, or by dismounting for the shot after he had run
his game to bay.
In i86i,when I was about to start on an expedition towards
the Nile sources, Oswell, who had then retired from the field
to the repose of his much-loved home, lent me his favourite
gun, with which he had killed almost every animal during his five
years' hunting in South Africa. This gun was a silent witness
to what its owner had accomplished. In exterior it looked like
an ordinary double-barrelled rifle, weighing exactly ten pounds ;
in reality it was a smooth-bore of great solidity, constructed
specially by Messrs. Purdey & Co. for Mr. Oswell. This useful gun was sighted like a rifle, and carried a spherical ball of
the calibre No. 10 ; the charge was six drachms of fine-grained
powder. There were no breech-loaders in those days, and the
object of a smooth- bore was easy loading, which was especially
necessary when shooting from the saddle. The spherical ball
was generally wrapped in either waxed kid or linen patch ; this
was rolled rapidly between the hands with the utmost pressure;
the folds were then cut off close to the metal with scissors, and
the bullet was again rolled as before. The effect was complete ;
the covering adhered tightly to the metal, which was now ready for SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS AGO
29
ramming direct upon the powder-charge, without wads or other
substance intervening. In this manner a smooth-bore could
be loaded with great rapidity, provided that the powder-charge
was made up separately in the form of a paper cartridge, the end
of which could be bitten off, and the contents thrust into the
barrel, together with the paper covering. The ball would be
placed above, and the whole could be rammed down by a single
movement with a powerful loading' rod if great expedition
should be necessary. Although the actual loading could thus
be accomplished easily, the great trouble was the adjustment
of the cap upon the nipple, which with an unsteady horse was
a work of difficulty.
This grand old gun exhibited in an unmistakable degree
the style of hunting which distinguished its determined owner.
The hard walnut stock was completely eaten away for an inch
of surface ; the loss of wood suggested that rats had gnawed
it, as there were minute traces of apparent teeth. This appearance might perhaps have been produced by an exceedingly
coarse rasp. The fore-portion of the stock into which the
ramrod was inserted was so completely worn through by the
same destructive action, that the brass end of the rod was
exposed to view. The whole of this wear and tear was the
result of friction with the ' wait-a-bit' thorns !
Oswell invariably carried his gun across the pommel of
his saddle when following an animal at speed. In .this
manner at a gallop he was obliged to face the low scrubby
' wait-a-bits,' and dash through these unsparing thorns, regardless of punishment and consequences, if he were to keep the
game in view, which was absolutely essential if the animal were
to be ridden down by superior pace and endurance. The
walnut stock thus brought into hasty contact with sharp thorns
became a gauge, through the continual friction, which afforded
a most interesting proof of the untiring perseverance of the
owner, and of the immense distances that he must have traversed at the highest speed during the five years' unremitting
pursuit of game upon the virgin hunting-grounds of Southern BIG  GAME SHOOTING
Africa. I took the greatest care of this gun, and entrusted it
to a very dependable follower throughout my expedition of
more than four years. Although I returned the gun in good
condition, the ramrod was lost during a great emergency. My
man (a native) was attacked, and being mobbed during the act
of loading, he was obliged to fire at the most prominent assailant
before he had time to withdraw his ramrod. This passed
through the attacker's body, and was gone beyond hope of
recovery.
There could not have been a better form of muzzle-loader
than this No. 10 double-barrel smooth-bore. It was very
accurate at fifty yards, and the recoil was trifling with the considerable charge of six drams of powder. This could be increased if necessary, but Oswell always remained satisfied, and
condemned himself, but not his gun, whenever a shot was unsatisfactory. He frequently assured me that, although he seldom
fired at a female elephant, one bullet was sufficient to kill, and
generally two bullets for a large bull of the same species.
Unlike Gordon Cumming, who was accustomed to fire at
seventy and eighty yards, Oswell invariably strove to obtain
the closest quarters with elephants, and all other game. To this
system he owed his great success, as he could make certain
of a mortal point. At the same time the personal risk was
much increased, as the margin for escape was extremely limited
when attacking dangerous game at so short a distance as ten
or fifteen paces. When Oswell hunted in South Africa, the
sound of a rifle had never disturbed the solitudes in districts
which are now occupied by settlers. The wild animals have
now yielded up their territory to domestic sheep and cattle ;
such are the rapid transitions within half a century ! In those
days the multitudes of living creatures at certain seasons and
localities surpassed the bounds of imagination ; they stretched
in countless masses from point to point of the horizon, and
devoured the pasturage like a devastating flight of locusts.
Whether they have been destroyed, of whether they have
migrated to far distant sanctuaries, it is impossible to determine; SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS AGO 31
but it is certain that they have disappeared, and that the
report of the rifle which announces the advance of civilisation
has dispersed all those mighty hosts of animals which were
the ornaments of nature, and the glory of the European hunter.
The eyes of modern hunters can never see the wonders of the
past. There may be good sport remaining in distant localities,
but the scenes witnessed by Oswell in his youth can never be
viewed again. Mr. W. F. Webb, of Newstead Abbey, is one of
the few remaining who can remember Oswell when in Africa,
as he was himself shooting during the close of his expedition.
Mr. Webb can corroborate the accounts of the vast herds of
antelopes which at that time occupied the plains, and the
extraordinary numbers of rhinoceros which intruded themselves
upon the explorer's path, and challenged his right of way. In
a comparatively short period the white rhinoceros has almost
ceased to exist. \%<
Where such extraordinary changes have taken place, it is
deeply interesting to obtain such trustworthy testimony as that
afforded by Mr. Oswell, who has described from personal
experience all that, to us, resembles history. He was accepted
at that time as the Nimrod of South Africa, ' par excellence,'
and although his retiring nature tended to self-effacement, all
those who knew him, either by name or personal acquaintance,
regarded him as without a rival; and certainly without an
enemy : the greatest hunter ever known in modern times, the
truest friend, and the most thorough example of an English
gentleman. We sorrowfully exclaim, ' We shall never see his
like again.' 32
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
INTRODUCTION
By W.  Cottox Oswell
I have often been asked to write the stories of the illustrations
given in the chapters on South Africa, but have hitherto declined,
on the plea that the British public had had quite enough of
Africa, and that all I could tell would be very old. As I now
stand midway between seventy and eighty I trusted I might, in
the ordinary course of nature, escape such an undertaking ; but
in the end of'91 the best shot, sportsman and writer that ever
made Africa his field—I refer to my good friend Sir Samuel Baker
—urged me to put my experiences on paper; and Mr. Norton
Longman at the same time promising that, if suitable, he would
find them a place in the Badminton volume on ' Big Game,' I
was over-persuaded, made the attempt, and here is the result.
The illustrations are taken from a set of drawings in my
possession by the best artist of wild animal life I have ever
known—Joseph Wolf. After describing the scene, I stood by
him as he drew, occasionally offering a suggestion or venturing
on two or three scrawling lines of my own, and the wonderful
talent of the man produced pictures so like the reality in
all essential points, that I marvel still at his power, and feel
that I owe him most grateful thanks for a daily pleasure. Many
of the scenes it would have been impossible to depict at the
moment of their occurrence, so that even if the chief human
actor had been a draughtsman he must have trusted to his
memory. Happily I was able to give my impressions into
the hands of a genius who^let them run out at the end of
his fingers. They are rather startling, I know, when looked
through in the space of five minutes \ but it must be remembered that they have to be spread over five years, and
that these are the few accidents amongst numberless uneventful days. I was once asked to bring these sketches to
a  house where I was  dining.    During dinner  the  servants SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS   AGO
33
placed them round the drawing-room, and on coming upstairs
I found two young men examining them intently.    ' What's all
this ?' one asked.    ' I don't know,' the other replied.    ' Oh,
I see now,' the first continued, 'a second Baron Munchausen ;
don't you think so?' he inquired, appealing to me.    We were
strangers  to  each  other, so I corroborated  his  bright  and
certainly pardonable solution ; but they are true nevertheless.
I have kept them down to the truth : indeed, two of them
fall short of it.    I am very well aware that there are two ways
of  telling a story, one with a clearly defined boundary, the
other with a hazy one, over which if your reader or hearer pass
but a foot's length he is in the realms of myth.    I think I had
my full share of mishaps; but I was in the saddle from ten
to twelve hours a day for close upon five seasons, and general
immunity, perhaps, induced carelessness.    I may say now, I
suppose, that I was a good rider, and got quickly on terms
with my game.   I was, however, never a crack shot, and not very
well armed according to present notions, though I still have
the highest opinion of a Purdey of io-bore, which burnt five
or six drachms of fine powder, and at short distances drove
its ball honle.     This gun did nearly all  my work.     I had
besides a 12-bore Westley-Richards, a light rifle, and a heavy
single-barrelled one carrying two-oz. belted balls.     This last
was a beast of a tool, and once—I never gave it a second
chance—nearly cost me my life, by stinging, without seriously
wounding, a bull elephant.    The infuriated brute charged nine
or ten  times wickedly,  and  the  number  might  have been
doubled had I not at last got hold of the Purdey, when he
fell to the first shot.    We had no breech-loaders in those days,
save the disconnecting one, and that would have been useless,
for we had to load as we galloped through the thick bush, and the
stock and barrel would soon have been wrenched asunder or so
strained as to prevent their coming accurately into  contact
again.
The Purdey gun has a second history which gives it more
value in my eyes than the good work it did for me.    I lent it
1. D 34
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
to Baker when he went up the Nile, and it had the honour, I
believe, of being, left with Lady Baker to be used, if required,
during her husband's enforced absences. Baker returned it to
me with a note apologising for the homeliness of the ramrod—
a thornstick which still rests in the ferrules—adding that
having to defend themselves from a sudden attack, his man
Richarn, being hard pressed whilst loading, had fired the
original ramrod into a chiefs stomach, from which they had no
opportunity of extracting it.
I am sorry now for all the fine old beasts I have killed ; but
I was young then, there was excitement in the work, I had
large numbers of men to feed, and if these are not considered
sound excuses for slaughter, the regret is lightened by the
knowledge that every animal, save three elephants, was eaten
by man, and so put to a good use. I have no notes, and
though many scenes and adventures stand out sharply enough,
the sequence of events and surroundings is not always very
clear. If my short narrative seems to take too much the
form of a rather bald accownt of personal adventure, I must
apologise ; and I may add that the nature and habits generally
of the animals I met with are now so well known, and have
over and over again been so well described by competent
writers, that my relations with a few individuals of their families
must be the burden of my song.
I spent five years in Africa. I was never ill for a single
day—laid up occasionally after an accident, but that was all.
I had the best of companions—Murray, Vardon, Livingstone—and capital servants, who stuck to me throughout.
I never had occasion to raise a hand against a native, and my
foot only once, when I found a long lazy fellow poking his
paw into my sugar tin. If I remember right, I never lost anything by theft, and I have had tusks of elephants, shot eighty
miles from the waggons, duly delivered. One chief, and one
only, wanted to hector a little, but he soon gave it up.
And with the rest of the potentates, and people generally, I
was certainly a persona grata, for I filled their stomachs, and SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS AGO
35
thus, as they assured me, in some mysterious way made their
hearts white.
There is a fascination to me in the remembrance of the
past in all its connections : the free life, the self-dependence,
the boring into what was then a new country ; the feeling as you
lay under your caross that you were looking at the stars from
a point on the earth whence no other European had ever seen
them; the hope that every patch of bush, every little rise,
was the only thing between you and some strange sight or
scene— these are with me still; and were I not a married man
with children and grandchildren, I believe I should head
back into Africa again, and end my days in the onen air. It is
useless to tell me of the advantages of civilisation ; civilised
man runs wild much easier and sooner than the savage becomes
tame. I think it desirable, however, that^ne should be sufficiently educated, before he doffs his^clothes, to enjoy the
change by comparison. Take the wdfd of one who has tried
both states : there are charms in thjpwild ; the ever-increasing,
never-satisfied needs of the tame my soul cannot away with.
But I am writing of close upon fifty years ago. Africa is
nearly used up ; she belongs no more to the Africans and the
beasts ; Boers, gold-seekers, diamond-miners and experimental
farmers—all of them (from my point of view) mistakes—have
changed the face of her. A man must be a first-rate sportsman now to keep himself and his family; houses stand where
we once shot elephants, and the railway train will soon be
whistling and screaming through all hunting-fields south of the
Zambesi.
D 2 36
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
FIRST  EXPEDITION   TO  AFRICA
Reduced from 12 st. 2 lb. to 7 st. 12 lb. by many attacks of
Indian fever caught during a shooting excursion in the valley
of the Bhavany River, I was sent to the Cape as a last chance
by the Madras doctors ; indeed, whilst lying in a semi-comatose
state, I heard one of them declare that I ought to have been
dead a year ago ; so all thanks to South Africa, say I ! I
gained strength by the voyage, and, shortly after reaching Cape
Town, hearing that a Mr. Murray, of Lintrose, near Cupar
Angus, had come from Scotland for the purpose of making a
shooting expedition to the interior, I determined to join him.
The resolve was carried out early in the spring of 1844 (the
beginning of the Cape winter); we started out from Graham's
Town to Colesberg, buying on the way horses, oxen, dogs,
waggons, and stores, crossed the Orange River, and set our
faces northwards. We were all bitten in those days by Captain
—afterwards Sir ■ Cornwallis—Harris, whose book, published
about 1837, was the first to give any notion of the capabilities
of South Africa for big game shooting, and, Harris excepted,
'we were the first that ever burst into that "sunny"sea'—as
sportsmen. Murray was an excellent kind-hearted gentleman,
rather too old perhaps for an expedition of this kind, as he felt
the alternations of the climate very much ; and no wonder, for
1 have known the thermometer to register 92° in the shade at
2 p.m., and 300 at 8 p.m. I was younger, and though still weak
from the effects of fever, the dry air of the uplands daily gave
me vigour, and the absolute freedom of the life was delightful
to me. Just at first I had to become accustomed to the
many little annoyances of missing oxen, strayed horses, &c. \
but when our waggons became our home, and our migratory
state our life, all anxious care vanished. Things would be
put right somehow ; there was no use worrying ourselves >
what had been yesterday would be to-morrow.    What though SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS AGO
37
the flats between the Orange and Molopo Rivers were full of
sameness, they were also full of antelope, gnu, and quagga.
These, with the bird and insect life, were all fresh, and made
the world very bright around us. These upland flats have
been so often described, that I will not bore the reader unnecessarily with an account of them, and besides, I am not
writing of the country or its appearance, but have merely undertaken to try and give some idea of the game that once held
possession of it; and, indeed, I doubt very much if I could
convey any notion at the present time of what it was some
fifty years ago, for all the glamour of the wildness and abundant
life has long passed away.
On these plains the springbucks were met with in vast
herds ; for an hour's march with the waggons—say two and a
quarter miles—I once saw them to the left of the track, along
a slightly rising ground, thicker than I ever saw sheep. I suppose they must have been trek bokken ; that is, a collection of
the herds over an extended area on the move for pasturage.
The Hottentot waggon-drivers shot many of them, frequently
killing two at a time, they were so closely packed. They were
to be counted only by tens of thousands. Formerly, they used
often to invade the northern outlying farms of the Boers, and
destroy their crops ; and though shot in waggon-loads, they
would still hang about as long as there was a green blade of
anything. They were nearly as bad as the locusts, a flight of
which wTe saw, by the way, a few days after leaving Kuruman,
near the ' Chooi,' or large natural salt-pan. We were at breakfast, when far down on the south-east horizon I noticed a
wTeath as of dark smoke rising rapidly, broadening as it advanced. In a very short time it enveloped us in the form
of a locust storm ; the whole earth and air were full of them ;
tens of myriads settled, and myriads of myriads rode on
clanking in mimicry of armed cavalry, and crackling like
a flame devouring the stubble. Look which way you would—
nothing but locusts ; they did not hide the sun, but they
so  obscured his rays  that  you  could look straight at  him. BIG  GAME SHOOTING
No simile seems so apt to me as that of a heavy snowstorm with large flakes, and this uninterruptedly for two or
three hours. Though the land before them was not exactly
as the Garden of Eden, verily behind them it was a desolate
wilderness. As the cold of night came on, they collected on
the bushes in enormous masses, eight or ten feet through, for
warmth, weighing them completely to the ground, and they
took flight again the next morning after the sun was well up.
For two days my oxen never put their heads down ; there
was nothing found for them to eat. The swarms pass through
waste and cultivated land alike, bringing dearth and destruction, and men's hearts fail; but the adversary has arrayed his
forces against them, and through the dense flights sweep the
wedge-shaped squadrons of the springkhdn vogel, or locust
birds : dark and long of wing like swifts, with white patches
beneath the pinion. As squadron after squadron wheels and
passes over you, the husks of the locusts fall like hail. The
birds are in very large numbers and do their work deftly ;
before long the air above you is clear, and though the evidence
of the curse is upon the earth, and remains, the locusts themselves are soon got rid of, for everything on two legs and four
eats them. The Bushmen follow the flights, feed on them, dry
them, and keep them in store. One night, Livingstone and
I lost our way, and seeing the light of a fire, made for it.
Around it sat a family of Bushmen \ so, heralding our
approach from a safe distance, for fear of a flight of arrows,
we introduced ourselves. They welcomed us, and offered us
guides and a snack of dried locusts. I ate two or three, and
they were not so nasty ; something like what old shrimp-shells
without the insides might be. These insects are bad enough
in their winged, but worse in their early wingless, form, when,
as the dreaded lfoot-gangers' of the Dutch farmer, they roll in
living waves over his land, defy all attempts at extermination
from their multitude, climb walls, quench lines of small fires
placed in the hopes of turning them, cross rivers, millions
jumping in, and millions getting over on the living raft.    In SOUTH AFRICA  FIFTY  YEARS AGO
39
both the winged and wingless state they are wonderfully
described in chapter ii. of Joel.
On these choois, of which there are many, some of them
twenty miles long and half as broad, the effect of mirage is
more wonderful than I have ever seen it elsewhere. What
seems an antelope grows into an elephant, and with the waving
of the gauze returns to its actual form—a bush. By nearly
all these salt-pans there is a spring which may perhaps have
once played its part in their formation, or be the relic of
the cause.
At one period of its history, Africa must have been a
better watered country than it is now. In the driest tracts,
in the waterless woods, you light unexpectedly on deep
eroded channels, coming no whither and going nowhere. It
gave me the impression that there had been a gradual uplifting of the surface, and a consequent sinking away of the
old torrents and streams. The Bushmen and the elephants
dig in these courses for water, which is now never seen on the
surface, though the sides are sometimes worn away by its former
action, twenty feet down. Over a large area the rainfall is
exceedingly small, and in it the trees and grass have adapted
themselves to their surrounding conditions. The former all
send down long tap-roots through the upper soil to the close
substratum, utilising them as the Bushman does the reed in his
sucking-holes mentioned elsewhere; the latter grows with
fleshy roots, and from the joints are thrown out delicate fibres
ending in small tubers which, through the excessive drought
and heat, act as reservoirs of moisture, thus sustaining vitality
and enabling a bright green carpet to be spread two days
after the fall of the rain. The animals, instinct led, follow the
waterfall of the storm, and migrate to and fro in narrow zones.
The birds do likewise; one beautiful hawk—happily called
from his graceful movement Molela shoouan, ' he flows as he
turns'—is a most assiduous attendant in the green-room of
nature. But the thunderstorms are very partial. For two
days I have passed through country so drought-stricken that 40
BIG  GAME SHOOTING
the bushes were leafless, the twig