Oliver Howard] [Wolfe.

Back log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club online

. (page 21 of 26)
Online LibraryOliver Howard] [WolfeBack log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club → online text (page 21 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

the interesting and profitable knowledge of natural history
by the experiences in the jungles. Not only is it our duty
and pleasure as sportsmen to make careful observations
of the life of the big-game animals, to preserve them and
the record of their habits by the use of photography, and
by the careful preservation of the hunting trophies for
ourselves and our contemporaries, but we ought to do this
also for the benefit of coming generations, who will prob-
ably not be able to find much big game in any part of the



BiG-game hunting, and particularly the pursuing of
powerful and dangerous animals, such as the elephant,
buffalo, lion, rhinoceros, leopard, with either camera or
gun, is certainly one of the most fascinating pastimes the
lover of Nature and animal life can have. It not only
brings the hunter into the closest touch with the wonder-
ful animal creation, but also enables him to enjoy the
most varied scenes of Nature. It takes him over seemingly
endless plains, with their vast herds of all sorts of game,
and into the stillness and majesty of the virgin forest,
where the grandest of all game, the elephant, loves to
roam. It takes him up to the cool hills and high plateaus
with their crystal-clear, rushing mountain streams, as
well as to the hot and mosquito-infested lowlands and
swamps with their deadly climates.

The outfit, therefore, of the big-game hunter must of
necessity be well chosen, and so carefully selected that
with the minimum of bulk he will have the maximum of
safety, comfort, and pleasure. On the proper and not too
cumbersome outfit depends not only the big-game hunter's
comfort, health, safety, and pleasure, but also, to a very
large extent, his success. On my first trip to Africa, in
1906, I met a man who had gone out to do some big-game



hunting and who ridiculed the idea of having a mosquito-
proof tent, a proper bed and bedstead, emergency rations,
etc. He was going to do without such " unnecessary "
things, would rough it instead, and so with " less trouble "
and in shorter time bag all the game he wanted. But he
landed worn out and sick in the Nairobi hospital a few
weeks later, and had to return home without the coveted
trophies. Another young man, a German baron, made
the opposite mistake of taking so many really unnecessary
things, including whole boxes of beer and wine, that he
was greatly hampered thereby, and thus also failed to
attain what he had set out to accomplish within the limits
of his time.

The outfit should, therefore, include only the things
really useful and exclude everything that civilized man
can dispense with without in any way depriving himself
of what is absolutely necessary for his health, pleasure,
and success. For the true big-game hunter does not go
into the wilderness to live sumptuously but to enjoy a
complete rest and change from the products of " over-
civilization " and the whirl and rush of business, to have
a chance to study wild animal life, and experience a
certain amount of hardships in obtaining his coveted
trophies, the memory of which in after years will belong
to the happiest moments of his life.

To those who intend to go out to Africa for the sake
of photography and big-game shooting, but who as yet
have had no experience in tropical countries, I here ven-
ture to give a few hints which may be useful to follow :

I. The tent is one of the most important parts of the
outfit and should for East Africa, where all of the outfit



has to be carried on porters' heads or backs, be so small
that, with fly and poles, packed in a waterproof tent bag, it
does not weigh much more than sixty pounds, when dry.
When packed wet, a tent will generally weigh fully ten to
twenty pounds more, which makes it very heavy to be car-
ried by one porter. If the tent is larger, one man carries
the inner tent and ground sheets and another the fly, poles
and stakes. I have found the former way much handier,
for it will allow the hunter to have an inner tent seven
feet high by six feet wide and seven feet long, with water-
proof ground cloth sewed on all around and a fly extend-
ing to the ground seven and a half feet long by twelve feet
long at the bottom.

Such a tent gives ample room for one person, and in
an emergency can easily accommodate two. Both ends of
the inner tent should be provided with mosquito nets ; the
rear end with a large " window," and the front with a loose
net to be lifted up, when any one goes in or out, or else
have the net fastened all around the edges of the tent's
" door," with an opening in the middle, which may be
closed with a string in the same fashion as a lady's sewing
bag. A tent thus made gives perfect protection from
mosquitoes, flies, ticks, ants, lizards, snakes, and all kinds
of " creeping things," with which the tropics swarm. The
waterproof ground cloth, sewed on to the tent, gives ex-
cellent protection from the dampness of the ground, or
even water, in which it is sometimes necessary to pitch
the tent after or during a heavy rain storm. An extra
" dining room extension," to be buttoned on to the fly in
front, is very useful and can be carried, with its pole, as
an extra cover for the sleeping bag, or complete bed, which



generally does not make more than half a load. This
extension should not reach quite down to the ground, thus
allowing for more circulation of air. Of the different
materials that I have tried for tents, nothing seems to be
better than the green, medium-weight, imported water-
proofed canvas.

The smaller sized tent is much to be preferred, when
there is a great deal of continuous marching to be done,
as it is very quickly put up and taken down. If the hunter
plans to remain in the same camp for several days, he
simply lets his men put up a " grass shade house " in front
of the tent to serve as a dining room and resting place,
such house being much cooler than even a double tent, and,
if reasonably well made, will not let any rain through.

Of course, if the sportsman only intends to visit the
healthy portions and high plateaus of British East Africa,
the mosquito net is not so much a necessity; but it will
always prove a source of great comfort, if the hunter some-
times wants to rest in the daytime without having to be
bothered with flies, wasps, or spiders, of which there are
great numbers.

2. Provisions in sufficient quantity should be taken
from home, as the local supply is very much inferior, and
things like the splendidly prepared American breakfast
foods, such as Puffed Rice, Shredded Wheat, Force, and
other kinds cannot be obtained in East Africa at present.
A reasonable amount of these breakfast foods will be
found very useful, particularly as nowadays good fresh
milk can often be obtained from settlers and natives. It
is also important to take a few pounds of the so-called
dehydrated fruits and vegetables, so light to carry and



really necessary with the different kinds of meat which
the hunter usually secures in abundance. In any tropical
country it is not good to live too much on a meat diet,
and as fresh vegetables very rarely can be obtained in
Africa, these dehydrated peas, spinach, cranberries, and
a good many other varieties serve as most excellent

A few small tins of different potted meats, perhaps
half a dozen for each month one expects to be out on the
shooting trip, should be carried, as sometimes in going
through farms, or thickly settled countries, no game can
be procured for a few days at a time. Another very useful
article is the " Erbswurst " for soup, the emergency food
of the German army, some kind of meat extract for beef
tea, as well as Borden's condensed, unsweetened milk, far
superior to anything obtainable in East Africa. Other
food stuffs, such as tea, coffee, sugar, rice, and flour, can
be obtained in good quality locally.

3. The personal clothing is another very important
part of the big-game hunter's outfit. Beginning with the
necessary sun helmet, which can advantageously be ob-
tained at Port Said on the way out, at least one rather
heavy hunting suit should be taken, for the high plateaus
are, in the early mornings and in the evenings, very cold.
The mercury falls on these plateaus, although lying right
under the equator, often below the freezing point. Then
several pairs of Khaki or other dull-colored riding
breeches, woolen shirts, light and heavy, all of some dark
green or brownish shades, which seem to blend best with
all kinds of country. A coat is generally worn only in the
early morning hours, between five and eight, or after the



return to camp in the evening. Otherwise most hunters
go around in their flannel or Khaki shirts.

4. Good hoots are very essential, and should be of strong
but soft waterproof skin, with very heavy soles, some of
which should be studded with hobnails to prevent slipping
on the dry grass. It is also advisable to take at least one
pair of boots with heavy rubber soles for silent stalking
on hard and rocky ground. Mr. F. C. Selous, the famous
African elephant hunter, used such rubber-soled boots ex-
clusively on his last African trip and found them very
satisfactory. Others again, including ex-President Roose-
velt, do not fancy them much. Over the boots, unless they
reach almost up to the knee, it is good to wear either strong
canvas or leather leggings, or the unrivaled English put-
tees, which are practically both water and snake proof, and
can be obtained in Mombasa or Nairobi.

5. Underclothes should be of the same kind as are
used at home during fall and spring. A cummerband or
two should not be forgotten, even if not regularly used.
Many people, including physicians, recommend only
woolen underclothes for the tropics, but I myself have
with great comfort and safety used ordinary cotton under-
clothes and linen mesh, which certainly are much cooler
and seem to absorb moisture better than anything else.

6. Stockings should be of medium weight, of whatever
material used ; but as the extremes of heat and cold of the
various districts are very great, it may be wise to carry a
few pairs of extra heavy and also very light stockings.

Experience has shown that for a four months' trip in
the jungle it is not necessary to take more than six changes
of underclothes, one dozen and a half pairs of socks, four



pairs of trousers or breeches, one light and one heavy
coat, four pairs of boots, two pairs of puttees, cummer-
bands, handkerchiefs, and a small but well-stocked sewing
bag; all of which, with the exception of the boots, will go
into a small, air-tight tin or st€el uniform case, best bought
in England, but also procurable at Port Said or Nairobi.
This light tin box will also hold the necessary toilet arti-
cles and yet only weigh about sixty pounds or under. For
the boots and soiled clothes (which as a rule are washed
every day or two by the personal servant or " boy "), as
well as clothes not dry, a waterproof canvas bag with lock-
bar is the best. This bag, which also may contain a pair
of rubber boots and an extra rain coat, is generally added
to the camp chair, or table, to form another load.

7. Camp furniture and kitchen utensils should contain
at least a collapsible cot with sleeping bag, a camp table
and ditto chair or two, a complete aluminum cooking outfit
in a waterproof canvas bag, a simple collapsible grill, ditto
baking oven, and one or two bread forms. A couple of
the so-called " South African water bags " of canvas — a
most useful addition to one's camp outfit — a few canvas
pails and wash basins, and possibly a canvas bath tub, and
the hunter has everything really necessary to his health
and comfort in as small a bulk as possible.

8. A small emergency tent is another very useful arti-
cle to take along. This could be of a pyramid shape, with
but one collapsible pole in the center and with waterproof
ground cloth sewed on all around, about six and a half
feet high by six and a half feet square at the bottom. This
tent, preferably with a pole of bicycle tubing in three sec-

. tions, rolls up into a very small parcel and need not weigh
I 293



more than twenty-five pounds, cover and all. It should
always be carried while tracking big game, such as ele-
phants, lions, and buffaloes, as one never knows how far
from the main camp the chase may lead. Without such
an emergency tent the hunter would often either lose much
time, and possibly the game, by having to return to camp
for the night, or else experience the discomforts and dan-
gers of having to sleep in the jungle without any shelter
— which is neither pleasant nor safe. Besides this little
tent, it is wise always to let a man carry a small bag or a
tin containing emergency rations of bread, biscuits, tinned
meat, cocoa or tea, and sugar enough for two days, in case
it is found expedient to follow the beast very far from the
permanent camp. Had I always done this myself it would
have saved me many a disappointment and unnecessary

9. The question of armament is one about which each
hunter seems to have his own ideas ; but one thing is sure,
that just as it is impossible for a tailor to make a suit of
clothes that wall fit all sizes of men, just as impossible is
it for a gun maker to turn out a weapon which is equally
serviceable for all sorts of game. The small-caliber guns,
like the marvelous little .256 Mannlicher-Shoenaur, with
its flat trajectory, long range and enormous penetration,
come nearest to perfection no doubt, for I have myself not
only killed such game as wildebeest, leopard, and zebra
at from two hundred to five hundred yards with that gun,
but also with only one shot at each instantly killed a charg-
ing rhinoceros and two elephants. Yet I should hesitate to
go against a charging lion with such a gun, unless I was
close enough to be sure of a head shot, for the bullet is



too small and light to stop such a beast at once, even if
shot through the heart.

To be well equipped with guns there should be one
small bore, such as the popular Mannlicher just mentioned,
a heavier magazine rifle, such as the powerful .405 Win-
chester — a splendid " lion killer " — or a nine- or eleven-
millimeter Mauser or Mannlicher rifle, and then perhaps a
double-barreled .450 cordite Express, such as Colonel
Roosevelt has used with great success on his African
trip. If the hunter is a strong and powerfully built man,
he may use even a double-barreled .577 cordite Express —
without doubt the most potent shoulder weapon made —
firing not less than one hundred grains of cordite and a
bullet weighing seven hundred and fifty grains, giving the
gun a tremendous penetration. But the weight of this gun
of fourteen to fifteen pounds, and the rather " unpleasant "
recoil of the shot, makes it impossible for anyone but a
heavily set man to use it.

Once in 1906, when suddenly charged by a female
rhinoceros on the western slopes of Mt. Kenia, I fired with
this kind of gun at very close quarters, the muzzle of the
gun being perhaps not more than four yards away from
the rhino's forehead. The bullet passed right through the
brute's head, plowed through the whole neck, smashed the
lungs, and was cut out by my taxidermist from the very
center of the rhino's heart !

A small caliber, high-power gun, although perfectly
sufficient to kill any animal instantly, if shot through its
head, is not powerful enough to stop a big charging beast,
if fired at any other part of its body, whereas the tremen-
dous shock of for instance, a bullet from the .577 Express



would stop and turn any beast at once, even if the most
vital part of its body was missed. Therefore, when hunt-
ing such dangerous game as the elephant, rhino, lion, or
buffalo, the sportsman should always, for safety's sake,
take along a big-bore, high-power rifle in reserve for a
final shot at close quarters. The heavy rifle is generally
carried by a gun bearer, who is supposed to walk close
behind the hunter.

Some men never want the " trouble " of carrying any
kind of gun themselves, except just when they want to
fire at an animal, their gun bearers always carrying the
guns behind them. In this way many a rare animal has
escaped before the " sportsman " has had time to take the
rifle from his gun bearer and fire, and not a few hunters
have thus been killed by suddenly charging animals in
dense bush or high grass. I myself would have been killed
on at least three different occasions, had I not carried the
gun myself and been ready to fire instantly, once not even
having time to bring the rifle up to the shoulder. By sheer
luck I hit the rhino's head and killed it instantly, less than
three yards from the muzzle of the gun, which was only
the small .256 Mannlicher.

10. A good shotgun is a very useful weapon in Africa,
as the country swarms with game birds of all kinds, from
the giant bustard, with a spread of wing measuring ten feet
and more, to the tiny snipe and quail, so delicious for the
table. Among other game birds there are ducks, geese,
guinea fowl, and partridges, the meat of which forms a very
much appreciated change from the venison, and the rather
tough zebra and rhino meat. Such a gun, loaded with
buckshot, is one of the best weapons at night for leopards,



hyenas, and even lions, at close quarters. A German offi-
cer, with whom I traveled home from Africa in 19 lo, told
me that he had killed not less than two lions and fourteen
leopards at night with a double-barreled, twelve-gauge
shotgun during the last six years, and another of my Ger-
man fellow passengers corroborated his statements. I
myself once killed a hunting leopard with a twelve-gauge
shotgun, when I was out bird shooting near Lake Baringo
in 1906, to which I already have referred in the chapter
on leopards.

A good many sportsmen also carry a heavy revolver
or automatic pistol for use in an emergency at close quar-
ters. A young settler in British East Africa who had
been badly mauled by a wounded lion, at which he had
emptied his gun, but which rushed at him before he could
reload, told me that if he had carried his revolver at the
time he would not have been mauled. As it was, his life
was only saved by the courage of one of his servants, who
killed the lion on his very body by a well-aimed shot
through its head.

Some hunters like to use a telescope on their guns for
long-range shots on the plains, and I have a couple of
times with advantage also used the Maxim, gun silencer,
which was fitted to the .256 Mannlicher.

On landing in Mombasa or Kilindini an import duty
of ten per cent ad valorem is levied on all articles brought
into the country, except on personal wearing apparel and
already used cameras. Guns and ammunition are gen-
erally charged for at the local value, which is usually
equivalent to some twenty-five per cent advance on their
cost in Europe or America.



There are different ways of reaching British East
Africa. The quickest route is via Marseilles or Naples
by either the French or the German line, and from there
via Port Said, the Suez Canal, and the Red Sea to Mom-
basa or Kilindini. Of these two direct lines the German
East African line is by far the better of the two, having
much larger and better fitted steamers for the tropics.
The trip from Naples to Mombasa or Kilindini occupies
from fifteen to sixteen days and costs about four hundred
dollars first class from Naples and return, so that the cost
of the whole trip from New York to Kilindini and return,
via Naples, would be approximately six hundred to eight
hundred dollars, according to the size and location of the
stateroom. At Naples there are always good and direct
connections with New York by large and excellent steam-
ers of the North German Lloyd, the Hamburg-American
and the White Star Line.



In reviewing what has been said about the big game of
the Dark Continent, it is evident that British East Africa
is the most wonderful shooting country in the world, not
only in regard to the large number of different species
obtainable, their gameness, and value as trophies, but also
as to its healthfulness and easiness of reach. Thanks
to the Uganda Railroad, many government roads and
bridges, and a network of well-defined native paths, most
parts of the country are now easily, comfortably, and safely
reached, so that even ladies may greatly enjoy a short
sojourn in the Protectorate.

It was my privilege to meet ex-President Roosevelt
again, when the Camp Fire Club of America gave a lunch-
eon to him, shortly after his return to this country. On this
occasion Colonel Roosevelt gave a most interesting and in-
structive address about big-game shooting in East Africa.
Among other things, he said in substance:

" We need not read with envy of the wonderful chances
for big-game shooting that our forefathers had in cen-
turies past, when they hunted with the bow and arrow in
the wilds of Europe, nor do we need to wonder at the ac-
counts of the marvelous opportunities for great sport that
the Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, and afterwards



European rulers had, at the time when wild bison and
bears, lions, and much other big game roamed around in
great numbers even in Europe, for British East Africa
is a much more wonderful game country than any which
those rulers ever laid their eyes upon ! We have out there
a much greater variety of species, as well as much larger
and fiercer animals, often gathering in herds much
mightier than anything ever seen in either Europe or
India. The herds of American bison and elk were cer-
tainly wonderful in our own country a few decades ago,
but out there in East Africa the vast herds of antelopes
even surpass these, and that right now in our present time.
I wish that all sportsmen in this country, who are able to
do so, would go out to British East Africa and enjoy for
a while the marvelous opportunities for big-game shoot-
ing which that country still offers. . . ."

I heartily agree with Colonel Roosevelt's remarkable
utterances, and believe that every fearless and able-bodied
sportsman, who is fond of big-game shooting, and who can
afford it, should go out to British East Africa as soon
as possible. For there is no question that the enormous
herds of game even there are quickly diminishing before
the advancing army of settlers, hunters, and naturalists,
who now yearly visit the country. I regret to say that it
is my firm opinion, formed both from reports of several
old African hunters as well as from my own observations
in the field during my three expeditions to Africa, that
the big game there is rapidly being shot off. " Record
heads " of most of the game it is almost impossible to
secure any more ; large bull elephants with tusks weighing
more than one hundred pounds apiece are extremely rare,



and rhinos with horns of even twenty-four inches and
more hardly ever encountered, unless the hunter goes
very far away from the ordinary hunting districts. In
certain localities, where large elephant herds with magnifi-
cent tuskers used to roam around only a few years ago, not
an elephant is seen to-day, and where the mighty pachy-
derms still exist in British East Africa, as on Mt. Kenia,
the Aberdare Mountains, Mt. Elgon, and in the south-
western part of the Protectorate, they are very shy and
wary, and even tuskers with ivory of one hundred pounds
a pair are scarce. The lion is getting more and more rare
and shy, and is much less frequently encountered during
the daytime than only a few years ago, and big black-maned
ones are extremely hard to secure. This is also the case
with the cunning leopard, which seems to have learned by
experience to distinguish between the black savage and the
white man with his far-reaching and destructive guns.

I do not believe that the native hunters are a menace
to the wild game, for even in centuries past, when they
did exactly what they pleased without any restrictions or
control on the part of the white man, the game increased
all the time. Although some of the tribes are extremely

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 21 23 24 25 26

Online LibraryOliver Howard] [WolfeBack log and pine knot; a chronicle of the Minnisink hunting and fishing club → online text (page 21 of 26)