H. Appelius.

The Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes, Volume 11 online

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— for gazelles they are — are certainly the most graceful of all
the South African prairie antelopes. It would, indeed, be
difficult to find more beautiful animals, or any more engaging
as pets, for the young ones are very easily tamed. Watching
them through a telescope, or when lying up at a scherm waiting
for more important game, their movements never failed to
fascinate one. They spring and bound about in a very lively
and graceful manner, and this habit has given them their name,
but their full capabilities in this way are best seen when they
come to a road or waggon-track, which seldom fails to arouse
their suspicions. The leaders, after careful reconnoitring, jump
it first, and their example is followed by the rest of the herd —
a pretty and most peculiar sight, for they do not take it flying,
but jump almost straight upwards in a remarkably sudden
manner, like the hopping of a flea. These bounds are prodi-
gious. It is, of course, difficult to judge of their height at the
distance the buck must necessarily be from the observer, but I
remember on one occasion trying to estimate it by the size of
the animals themselves, and putting it down at about iift.,
but it would not astonish me to learn that they are capable of
considerably more.



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190 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

The Boer plan of hunting the springbok and other game of
the flat country was (one must use the past tense) simple
enough. Even in those days it was too shy to permit a nearer
approach than four hundred yards or so, and stalking is not an
amusement which commends itself to the mind of the Boer,
who likes to ' mak sikker ' and wants to husband his cartridges.
Moreover, no one goes on foot in South Africa, so our friend
Oom Piet, let us say, who is willing to show us some sport,
mounts his wiry little pony, which is trained to stop on laying
a hand on its neck, and when we have sighted the game com-
mences operations by slowly riding towards it. The buck soon
take the alarm, run together, pause, make off in one direction
for a moment or two, stop again, and then change their course,
finally streaming off in a line which is seldom right away from
their pursuer but generally more or less at an angle. This
gives our friend his opportunity, for, knowing that, like sheep,
they will stick to their course without changing, he rides to cut
them off. His pony understands the game as well as he does,
and often takes his own line himself, keeping one eye on the
buck and another on his going, which is none of the best, for,
to say nothing of ant-hills, the veldt is literally riddled with
porcupine and ant-bear holes, invisible till one is upon them,
when they have to be jumped or swerved, as the case may be.

The world is sometimes a not unpleasant place, when, for
example, one has just landed a forty-pounder after a two-hour
struggle, or made a right and left at cock ; but, take it all round,
this racing after these great herds of game is as exciting a business
as anything I know. There is something, too, in the air, and
in the sense of boundlessness and freedom which these vast
plains give — a something that one gets nowhere else. The
psychological moment is reached when you rein your horse up
and jump off just as the herd comes thundering past, enveloped
in clouds of dust, which render it anything but easy to pick
your shot. In this way one sometimes gets the blesbok and
springbok, but more especially the former, within a few yards ;
indeed, I have been on more than one occasion actually amongst
them.

Now, if you are a tyro, somewhat blown, and above a bit
excited, it is as likely as not that you will discover, when the
rush is past, that you have had the 200 yds. sight up ; but you
may be quite sure that Oom Piet has not, and that there are
two bucks on the ground as the result of his operations when
the herd has swept on. There is no time to be lost, however,



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ORANGE RIVER GAME IN OLD DAYS 193

and you make a dash for your horse, who, well trained to the
work, has been standing motionless meanwhile, but is now as
anxious as you are to be off after them again. Mounting a fidgety
brute with a heavy Express in one's hand is not always an easy
matter, and you will probably find yourself careering over the
veldt spread-eagled over your saddle, wondering when you* will
get your stirrup and whether you slipped the safety-bolt forward
or not. Fortunately all is right, and as you sit down to a
steady run of a quarter of an hour or so — this time a stern-
chase, for you will scarcely get another cut-off again — you will
have time to wonder how on earth you are going to find the
two buck left behind on a plain so devoid of landmarks.

You need not worry, for Piet will lead us to them pretty
straight after we have tailed out the one that, in spite of that
200 yds. flap having been up, you have managed to wound.
By-and-by the pace becomes too much for him, and he separates
out from the rest of the herd. When you see this it will not
be very long before you get him, and while you dismount and
give him the coup de grdce your companion will press on and
get another shot, perhaps, before giving up the chase. Springbok,
however, like most of the South African antelopes, are pretty
tough, and one may sometimes hit them very hard and yet not
get them. I remember once stalking up to the edge of a little
cliff-surrounded pan near the Valsch river, and getting a broad-
side shot at a fine old buck barely fifty yards off with a '360
Express. He fell at once, and going back for my horse, which
I had left at some little distance, I returned with it to pack him.
I found the buck hit immediately behind the shoulder, and had
actually laid my hand on his horn as a preliminary to giving
him his quietus, when to my astonishment he sprang to his feet,
nearly knocking me over, and made off at top speed. I mounted
and gave chase, when he joined a large herd of his fellows, and
although I rode this for some time he never tailed out. The
herd then separated, and I think I must have followed the wrong
lot, for I never got him after all.

I have never seen any explanation of the use of the long
white infolded hairs, which are arranged in the form of a
stripe down the lower part of the back and over the rump of
this species. They can erect this at will, and very often do so,
and the sight of a number of these graceful creatures flashing
these tossing plumes of white in the sunlight is a curious and
pretty one. I do not know if any other gazelle has this peculiar
characteristic, but Mr. Holder describes something similar in



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194 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

the prongbuck, and thinks that it is used as a signal of alarm ;
but this, I feel quite sure, is not its explanation in the case of
the springbok. The meat of Gazella euckore, to give it its
scientific name, is, like that of most African antelopes, very dry.
One's boys know this, and scramble for the vet-damt or tripe
— the lower part especially, as this is fat and juicy. A still
more prized object is the tail, the skin of which is used to mend
the stems of pipes, so often broken in camp. Pulled on while
fresh, like the finger of a glove, it sets like iron, and answers its
purpose admirably. The under surface of the tail, which is
bare, is put uppermost, and the little snow-white tuft of hair of
the upper side makes a neat adornment to the pipe beneath.

The blesboks and bonteboks were in even larger herds than
the springboks in 1877. They are, indeed, more truly gre-
garious than the latter, for one seldom sees them in small
groups of three or four only, as one not infrequently sees
springbok. They are much alike — so much so as to be
indistinguishable at a distance — the colour of both being a
sort of lilac-brown. The chief difference between them is that
the white blaze, which characterises both and gives the bles-
bok its name, is, in the latter animal, crossed by a dark bar on
the forehead, while in the bontebok the face is of an unbroken
white. The Boers, who regard the game not for the sport it
affords, but for the amount of meat there is on it, prefer these
animals and the wildebeest to the springbok, and as they were
quite as easy, if not easier, to get, ridden down in the manner I
have just described, it is not wonderful that they were the first
to be cleared off. Both species are often — indeed, as far as
my experience goes, almost always — affected by curious and
most unpleasant-looking parasites, huge maggotlike creatures
as large as one's thumb, which inhabit the nasal passages and
frontal sinuses, but, in spite of their size, they do not seem to
cause their hosts much inconvenience. Africa is the true
home of parasitism — fowls, hares, birds, and indeed almost all
animals swarming both inside and out, and the skinner's task is
apt to arouse all sorts of uncomfortable reflections in his mind.

Though the blue wildebeest used to be found well south of
the Limpopo, it is in reality not a true South African species,
and ranges up as far as the Victoria Nyanza, so it is not likely
to be exterminated just yet. Its cousin, the black wildebeest,
on the other hand, is almost certainly doomed to extinction,
for it is essentially a creature of the plains, and never went
very far north. Even in the palmy days of Harris and Gordon



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ORANGE RIVER GAME IN OLD DAYS 195

Cumming they do not seem to have existed in the vast numbers
the springbok and blesbok did, and a quarter of a century ago
they had ceased to be at all common in the Free State. The
veldt is certainly the poorer for their absence, for they were
distinctly the liveUest of its inhabitants and the most interesting.
More extraordinary creatures surely never greeted a hunter's
eye. While the springbok may be best described as sportive
and graceful, and the blesboks and bonteboks as rather stupid and
sheeplike, the wildebeest can only be characterised as lunatic.
No one could call them responsible for their actions, they must
have been hopelessly non compos ever since their existence as a
species, for anything more absurd than their antics cannot be
imagined. They rush round and round in circles, fling their
heads and legs about, and engage in sham-fights with an
energy that is wonderful, now and again varying the perform-
ance by what seem to be attempts to stand on their heads ;
indeed, there is scarcely any strange attitude which they do not
assume. I have never remarked these curious antelopes in
large herds, but always in small packs, so I presume this is
their usual habit, though quite possibly it may have been due
to the inroads upon their numbers. Solitary individuals used
often to be seen — an uncommon thing with the blesbok or
hartebeest. This latter ungainly-looking animal can no longer,
I should imagine, be reckoned among the game of the Orange
River Colony, where it used once to be so common.

To the lesser game, the rheeboks — who, like the Boers,
love the stony kopjes — the steenboks, and others, I need not
here allude. As a rule one sees but little of them, owing to
the superior attractions of their larger relatives. They are,
moreover, by no means easy to get, presenting a small mark as
they go away at a great pace among the rocks, a little too far
for a shot-gun and ' loopers,' and rather too much of a snap
shot for a -500 Express. It is the game of the plains on which
one's memory chiefly dwells in recalling long past days in
South Africa. And now little remains of it but millions of
whitening bones, lying side by side with the carcases of horses
and oxen, the paper, and the glittering biscuit-tins which our
vast army has left upon its trail.



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A MONTH IN NORWAY

BY THE HON. W. A. ORDE-POWLETT

We were young, and kind friends had told us we were idiots to
take a cheap fishing in Norway, an advertisement of which had
appeared in the Field; nevertheless we stuck to our guns and,
what is more, never regretted we had done so, in fact after our
first sojourn there we made arrangements to take it on for five
years, and wish it had been for twenty. Neither of us had
fished for salmon in Norway before, but we knew enough,
aided by the advice of numerous friends, not to expect much
for the small rent we were paying. July was the month we had
selected, and the 2nd found us comfortably installed in our
Norwegian home, at a farmhouse in one of the loveliest of the
many lovely valleys of that country ; one which, although so
beautiful, has so far been mercifully spared from the hordes of
tourists, thanks to its being somewhat inaccessible. Our beat
was a good way up the river, and we had been warned that,
unless the season was an early one, we could not expect many
fish till near the middle of the month, as many a heavy rapid
had to be ' negotiated ' before they could enter the sacred pre-
cincts of our water. This proved to be the case ; unfortunately
for us the season was an extremely late one, so for the first
fortnight we devoted ourselves to the trout, and rare fun we
had. They ran up to 31b., the average being about ^Ib., and



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A MONTH IN NORWAY 197

many a bag of thirty and even fifty apiece did we manage to
get.

Notwithstanding that our energies were turned troutwards
we never neglected to cast over the best of the salmon pools at
least once a day and generally a great deal oftener. Nothing
rewarded our efforts till the 20th. I had just finished cast-
ing over what we considered the best pool, and was holding
the rod behind my back, like a billiard cue, while my gillie
was rowing to shore, when a violent pull as nearly as possible
snatched my rod out of my hands. Somehow or other I
managed to get it to its right position with the fish still on.
He sailed about quite quietly for some time, when he suddenly



OUR NORWEGIAN HOME



came to the top of the water and began lashing it into foam
with his huge tail. Then we saw what a monster he was, quite
351b. my gillie muttered, and I did not think he was far wrong.
Having dashed about to his satisfaction, he retired beneath
the surface and went headlong for the heavy rapids at the foot
of the pool. Alas ! I did my best to stop him, but my efforts
were futile ; the line flew back in my face minus fly and fish.
Brother anglers, a fellow feeling will enable you to sympathise
with me ; here was the first fish I had hooked in Norway, and
by far the biggest I had ever had hold of anywhere, gone —
gone for ever ! My gillie, Halva, and I said little, but looked
many things as we wearily and sadly wended our way home.

However, better luck was in store ; next day I landed my
first Norwegian fish, a beauty of 21 lb., and my friend did ditto.



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198 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

The day after that was a blank, the river being rather too high ;
but on the following morning I jumped early out of bed with an
instinctive feeling that it was to be a great day, for had I not the
best pool again and, moreover, my companion had seen a big
fish rising there the previous evening. It certainly is a lovely
spot for a fish, a heavy rapid at the top gradually calming down
to a deep, swift stream, with enormous boulders, broken off the
hills above, scattered over the bed of the river. The morning
was dull but fine, and, putting on a double-barrelled 2/0 Jock
Scott, I was soon afloat at the head of the pool. ' Rather too
deep and rapid there at present,' I thought, and for some ten
yards or so I cast in vain. Just about half-way down, a sure
place for a rise as has been proved by us many a time since, a
great fish fairly flew at my fly, displaying the whole of his vast
proportions as he did so. ' Meget, meget stor,' ejaculated Halva,
and I agreed with him though saying nothing. How a big
salmon can make one's heart beat and one's arms ache too for
that matter ! At first he did not appear to realise the situation
and allowed us to row quickly ashore and get on to the bank.
My tackle was sound I knew, and if it only were not for those
rapids below — but no time to think of that now, for off he went,
and for a quarter of an hour we had a very lively time of it.
Up and down that pool he flew, at one moment out of the
water at the far side of the river, at the next trying to get behind
an enormous boulder about the size of an ordinary room close
under my feet, which manoeuvre the crystal clearness of the
water enabled us to see and frustrate. Off again to the top of
the pool he dashed and then came rolling down, more or less
tired — he rather less and I rather more, for it was a warm
morning and the perspiration began to pour off me. Right
under our bank he came, where the water was six or eight feet
deep. * Gaff him now 1 ' 1 shouted to Halva, but he apparently
was quite unnerved and stood motionless. Meanwhile, the fish
recovered himself and went down stream with sullen jerks.
Oh those jerks ! I thanked my stars I had carefully selected my
tackle before starting, but nothing would save the situation if
he once got into those swirling waters, where I had lost his
brother three days before. Right to the brink of them he went
and then he hesitated. Slowly and step by step I persuaded
him back into the pool again. One more rush and he had had
enough ; I guided him to the bank where Halva cleverly gaffed
and drew him ashore. I was about as done as the fish, but
what mattered that when my steelyard, which registers up to



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A MONTH IN NORWAY 199

4olb., was unable to weigh him ! Triumphantly we bore him
home, where he turned the scales at a trifle over 41 lb., the biggest
fish that had ever been caught on the beat. His cast, excellently
made in Bergen, now adorns my room, and although I have
since then caught many a fish in that particular pool, none ever



IfY 41 LB. SALMON

has, and I do not suppose ever will, come up to this one in size,
the second that fell to my rod in Norwegian waters.

One more occurrence which seems noteworthy took place
on this same water. Our lowest pool was a typical one for
salmon ; a strong torrent at the head gradually calming into a
broad clear stream and fishable from both sides, requiring a
long line to reach the centre from either of them. Immediately
below it were some famous rapids, where the river rushes
through a narrow gorge, which it is said the fish take at least
NO. LXI. VOL. XI August 1900

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200 THE BADMINTON MAGAZINE

a week to pass. Hence, our pool, the first they reached
after their troubles, was almost bound to be a favourite spot
where they would rest awhile to recuperate their energies ;
but no, every day we tried it carefully with fly, minnow and
prawn without ever even seeing a fish. The natives said they
used to catch salmon there, but careful research only discovered
one trustworthy capture which took place two years previously.



THE RESULT OF AN HOUR AND A HALF S FISHING

So, as you may imagine, it was with no very pleasurable
anticipations that I sauntered down to Lopol one afternoon in
the last week of July. The weather, too, did its best to
dishearten me, the rain coming down in torrents and a bitterly
cold wind blowing right up stream.

Halva was not with me that day ; but I had Iver, as good
a boatman and gaffer as could be found, and he talked English
too ! I mounted a 3/0 Jock Scott and we began about half
way down the north side of the cast, the water being too high
to afford any chance farther up. My wife was sitting cold and



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A MONTH IN NORWAY 201

wretched on the bank, resting a few moments preparatory to
walking home again, when, strange to say, at my fourth cast I
was fast in a fish, and, at the same moment, saw another rise
in the middle of the stream a few yards lower down. My fish
was not a very stout-hearted one, and I soon had him, or
rather her, on the bank, a hen fish of 12 lb. Ofif we went
again and I just managed to get my fly right over the one we
had seen rising. He fairly flew at it and lucky it was he came
so well, for I had a very long line out and the stream had
instantly bagged it in the centre. However, I had him fast
enough, and a strong one he was, but after a quarter of an
hour's exciting tussle he joined his lady friend on the bank, a
cock of 131b. There was, by this time, little water left to fish
on the north side and another dozen casts finished it. Iver
rowed up and crossed the rapid at the top to the other side.
Rather ticklish work it is too : a false stroke would land one in
eternity, for the chance of getting out of the boiling waters is a
very remote one indeed. However, we crossed safely, barring
a thorough drenching, and almost before I had fairly got my
line out I was into another fish, which proved to be a grilse of
61b. Ten yards lower down and yet another pull, but this
time I only just felt him and he would not come again.
Nearly at the bottom of the cast another came up and him also
1 had fast. A sulky beast he was and took me a long time to
get out, but patience has its reward and at length I brought
my fourth fish to shore, 1 2lb. The rain and wind had become
unbearable, so home we went to find that my companion had
got three in another part of the water, and these seven fish
together with one I had caught elsewhere in the early morning
form the subject of the accompanying photograph. Why this
pool had never yielded us a fish before is a mystery, but its
glories now revived for did not my companion beat my record
the very next morning by killing five therein and losing several
more ? I killed two in half an hour, weighing 361b. between
them.



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THE RULES OF GOLF, AS THEY ARE
UNDERSTOOD

BY WILLIAM PIGOTT

In most games which a man undertakes to play a good work-
ing knowledge of the rules is considered essential at the outset.
It is not common to see a man playing cricket who is unaware
that if he walks out of his ground he is liable to be stumped, or
engaging in a friendly set at lawn-tennis without appreciating
that he must not volley the serve, and who, moreover, con-
tinues habitually to do this without any remonstrance from his
opponent. It is otherwise at golf. A man usually begins with
no further idea of the rules than that it is necessary to cover the
ground between the tee and the hole in as few strokes as possible,
and, what is much more remarkable, continues to a fair pro-
ficiency without considerably augmenting his knowledge. The
other day I was watching two men play up to the home green on
one of the links near London. To judge from their drives, they
were by no means inexperienced performers. It happened that
the ball of one of them, which was lying in dangerous proximity
to a hazard, was accidentally kicked by some boys on to the
green. After administering an exceedingly mild rebuke to the
delinquents, the player appealed to his opponent as to what he
should do. ' Oh,' said the opponent, rather gloomily, ' play it
where it lies, I suppose ' ; a piece of advice which the other
proceeded to follow, after murmuring something about 'bad
luck for you.' The point, of course, is that neither of the
players evidently had the least conception of Rule XXII., which
says distinctly enough : ' If a ball at rest be displaced by any
agency outside the match, the player shall drop it or another
ball as nearly as possible at the spot where it lay.'

At another time, I was a spectator while two equally sound
players were approaching the same green. The second
approach chanced to fall upon the ball already on the green,



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THE RULES OF GOLF 203

considerably impairing the latter's position. The rule, of
course, in such a case gives the owner of the displaced ball the
option of replacing it in its original position. On this occasion,
however, the two opponents, after mutually agreeing that they
had * never seen such a thing happen before,' decided that the
ball must be played where it lay. That is the invariable
resource of golfers who don't know the rul^s : ' Play it where
it lies.' I once knew a man whose ball had stuck in the top of
a tree gravely called upon 'to play it where it lies.' As the
player was neither particularly young nor remarkably slim, the
stroke presented obvious difficulties.

Breaches of the rules occasionally occur, however, so blatant
that mere ignorance is insufficient to account for them ; these,



Online LibraryH. AppeliusThe Badminton magazine of sports and pastimes, Volume 11 → online text (page 15 of 49)