Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell Baden-Powell of Gilwell.

Pigsticking; or, Hoghunting: a complete account for sportsmen, and others online

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done in Russia, would probably have suited this sports-
man. No, in riding to pig, you must keep shoving
ahead, although riding at times as if to get a fall.

" Keep your eye on the pig and not on the ground,"
was the stock of theory with which I was launched into
the tide of pigsticking, and most useful advice I found
it. Leave to your horse the duty of looking out for
holes and negotiating obstacles, he will do it just as well
without your aid as with, probably far better. All that
you should do for him is to direct him and make him
aware of any change of the pig's course or pace. The
great thing is never to lose touch of your pig through
thick or thin. The following sentiment culled from the
" Asian " expresses the opinion of many a good pig-
sticker : " I would rather see a man with no seat and no
jiidgment at all, flying at his horse's ears at every little
impediment, than see a fellow ' craning ' on every
occasion, like a crow peeping down a marrow bone just
as if he wanted to pick somebody's pocket on the other

To keep touch with the pig does not necessarily mean
follow exactly in his footsteps, as several lengths may
often be gained by going more directly to him, and
very often a piece of judicious riding to one side of
his line will keep you close to him, and at the same
time gradually head him away from some unfavourable
ground or cover ; but in pointing out this fact, I would
not have it thought for one moment that I advocate
riding wide of the pig, that is, anticipating his line and
riding, as it were, a " point to point " race with him.
That would be " dodging," not hunting.

Colonel Shakespeare says, with great truth, "Ride
straight to the front, there is hardly any ground that a


hog crosses where your horse cannot follow. Blot the
words ' impossible ' and ' impracticable ' out of your
dictionary." The spirit of these instructions may with
advantage be acted up to by the beginner as far as
possible, but he must not expect the pig always to pick
out an easy line for him. As Colonel Barras says, "There
is nothing in hoghunting so fatally dangerous as to try
and cut corners off when in bad ground. By so doing
you do not know what you may come to ; whereas by
accepting the boar, who knows his way, as a pilot, there
will always be some sort of footing, which, though some-
times leading the horse and his rider to destruction, is at
all events a great deal better than being without any
guiding principle whatever." That should be some
comfort to the rider, as also the reflection that though
certain well-known swine " rushed down a steep place
into the sea" and failed to come up again, and more
recently a hunted boar jumped a sheer cliff of fifty feet,
such occurrences are more or less rare.

In leaping obstacles, however, the boar is not so sure
a guide as the hound is to the huntsman in England.
What a hound gets over a horse can clear, but what a
boar can clear a horse cannot always get over.

From many instances I would take one in illustra-
tion : A pig was running alongside a fence made of
camel-thorn bushes banked up to a height of six feet ;
on finding himself close pressed he suddenly bounded
sideways clean over the hedge. The hunter on his part
of course had to take a new fair run at the fence, and
then carried away a goodly lump of it on his horse's
chest and knees.

Stones of the pig's jumping powers are innumerable,
but perhaps the one that at first glance "takes the cake"


is that of the boar who jumped clean over his pursuer,
horse and all, knocking off his helmet as he did so ! It
may sound rather a " tall order," but it happened in this
way : The boar was being close pressed in galloping
along the bottom of a narrow nullah whose sides were
steep and six feet high ; suddenly he made a desperate
rush and scaled one bank, and on gaining the top he
turned short round and leaped across the nullah over
the head of his pursuer, who had just then arrived at
that spot, topping his helmet as he went.

A pig when driven out of his jungle haunt starts with
the intention of making his way to some other hiding-
place ; therefore the direction he goes in will be a guide
to a hunter who knows the country of what will be the
general course of his run. The details of it will vary
according to ground and cover lying near it. When
followed the boar will take advantage of every kind of
feature that is likely to favour his escape, such as ravines,
bushes, fences, crops, etc.

When he does this every man of the party should
remember that the death of the boar is the main object
of the chase, and not merely the winning of first spear,
and that therefore they should combine their efforts to
keep the boar in sight, and so to press him that he has
to abandon his temporary asylum and again take to the

In nullahs one man should get down into the nullah,
and ride along the bottom, while two others proceed
along either bank. In crops and bushes or long grass if
one man is able still to keep the pig in sight, the others
should extend themselves in line on either side of him,
and so be in a position to take up the pig's line should
he jink clear of his original pursuer.



When the hunted boar disappears into a thicket the
hunters must be careful not to overshoot the line, but
every endeavour should be made to keep the pig in
sight in his attempts to hide.

At a check of this kind the hunter should never
let himself be satisfied that his pig is in a certain bush
unless he can actually see him there, for the pig has a
way of almost conjuring himself from one point to
another ; and a sharp look out should therefore be kept
both far and near against his making his escape. Especial
notice should be taken of such signs as a small puff of
dust flying up, birds being startled, goats or cows run-
ning together and stopping to look at the intruder, men
shouting in the distance, etc., etc. But because you see
a native standing idle in a field do not therefore infer
that no pig has passed near him, for natives often go
"mooning" about without seeing anything, even in 'their
immediate neighbourhood ; and often when they do see
a pig close to them they will say nothing, imagining
probably that the white sahibs want some other parti-
cular pig or are hunting different game. I once saw a
large sounder enter an indigo crop, where they looked
like camping for the day. I therefore sent for the
beaters to come and drive them out. While awaiting
their arrival, I fell into conversation with the equivalent
for an honest ploughboy who was tending the crops, and
asked him whether he ever saw any pig about there.
" Oh, yes," he said, " plenty of them, and they come not
singly but in herds, like that lot that left the field just
now." "Left it ? you mean came into it ?" said I. " No,
they have gone out ; there they go," pointing to a string
of dusky forms lobbing away in the distance, and I was
luckily just in time to catch them ; but it had never


occurred to the rustic to warn me of their movement,
until the fact suggested itself in the course of conver-

If, in the course of the run, you should lose sight of
your pig, and from knowledge of the country you are
aware of the existence of a pool of water in the neigh-
bourhood, do not fail to give it a glance, as it is a very
favourite practice of a tiring pig to make for water,
where a bath and a drink have a magical effect in
putting new life into him. Major H. says, " I have
known several instances of hog hiding in water and
even jumping down reservoirs. On one occasion, near
Nusserabad, during a run a pariah dog joined in the
chase. The boar jumped down a well, promptly fol-
lowed by the dog. A rope was procured and lowered
with a noose made in it with the intention of slipping it
over the boar's head and so pulling him out. The dog,
however, being decidedly cute, seized the rope in his teeth
and was hauled up to the top of the well. As he ap-
peared, a general laugh greeted him which so frightened
him that he let go his hold and fell to the bottom. The
rope was again lowered and he again seized it and was
this time landed safely, and the pig was soon after
hoisted out and was allowed to return unmolested to his

72. First Spear. On the word "Ride" being
given by the leader of the party one of the most ex-
citing phases of pigsticking ensues, viz., the race for first
spear. Colonel Barras thus describes his first burst after
a boar : " I well remember the feeling that convulsed me
on this momentous occasion. As I tore through the
thorny undergrowth I quite enjoyed being pierced by
it, death I thought, in the enthusiasm of the moment,

N 2


would be better than defeat. Such are the sensations
of the more cold-blooded sportsman. The really ardent
are quite unconscious of having any feelings whatever
during the excitement of a run."

Naturally under such excitement one is apt to pay
little heed to the demands of politeness or etiquette, but
at the same time certain rules have to be obeyed, if only
from considerations of fair play and the prevention of

Whatever may be winked at or allowed in other
sports, fair riding is insisted on in pigsticking ; no
jostling, crossing, or riding off; the man who has fairly
got first up to the pig should not be interfered with till
he has tried his stroke or the pig has jinked from him ;
any riding with a view to making the pig jink from
another man should be treated as unfair riding, as is
done in the Calcutta Tent Club ; its rules say " No
person is to jostle another or cross him within three
lengths or pass him on his right side except at a dis-
tance of three lengths while he is in pursuit of the hog ;
nor is anyone to ride at the head of or across a hog in
such a way as to cause him to jink his pursuers, under
pain of incurring the above penalty (one dozen of cham-
pagne). Infringement of this rule will disqualify the
offender from claiming first spear."

To one accustomed to polo the race for "first spear"
offers continual temptations to practice the art of " riding
off" or preventing his adversary from gaining his object,
even though the rider has little chance of gaining it him-
self, but this instinct must be kept in strictest subjection
at pigsticking.

As in foxhunting, so too in pigsticking, a man must
be most careful to avoid riding on another's line, in such


proximity that he cannot draw clear in case of the leader

The consequences of all such collisions as the above
are bad enough in ordinary riding, but in pigsticking
their quality is enhanced by the fact that spears are
added to the elements of catastrophe, and also the tushes
of an unscrupulous boar.

Many have been the accidents from carelessness in
observing such rules, including the lamentable death of
Mr. Startin of the loth Hussars, and it is therefore all
the more necessary that a beginner should be most
careful to carry them out.

The race for first spear is a reproduction of a coursing
match on a larger scale. The leading pursuers racing
neck and neck, gradually outpacing the quarry till a
sudden jink on the part of the latter throws one or both
of them several lengths to the bad, and so they continue,
first one leading and then the other, fo.llowing every
turn of the hog until one or the other succeeds in
getting within spear's length, and reaching out pricks the
boar and so wins the honour of " first spear." To es-
tablish the claim for a first spear the hunter must be
able to show blood on his spear even though it be but
one drop, but this system of " pricking " the boar is not
commendable and should only be practised in a very
close race or where it is desired to draw the pig on to
fight ; if the rider has it all pretty well his own way, he
can afford to wait until he is in a position to give a good
spear, when he should deliver it with such determination
and strength as will ensure a partial disablement of
the boar and the safety of the horse in the encounter.

From the foregoing one might be led to imagine that
the man on the fastest horse should always win the


spear, but in practice this is not the case. In three out
of five runs the spear will be taken by the best man, not
the fastest horse. An experienced man on a slow horse
will know when his case is hopeless as regards racing and
coming first up to the pig, he will then pull in, collect
his horse in hand, and look out for a jink to throw the
leader out and to let him in again himself. Sometimes
it happens that two men racing neck and neck will spear
at the same moment, and in this case the run counts as
a dead heat and honours and tushes are divided ; in a
cup competition it counts as a dead heat and has to be
run off again.

A first spear is not allowed to count unless the boar is
eventually killed, except in cup competitions, where a
single spear, authenticated by a drop of blood, is sufficient
to establish the claim of " first spear."

Disputes will occasionally arise under this rule, as it
often happens that a boar that has been wounded and
then lost and given up in the early part of the day,
is found again later on and hunted and killed. In such
a case the honours go to the man who first speared him
in the run which resulted in his death. In cup competi-
tions a wounded boar is not run a second time owing to
the danger of a difficulty in proving the second wound
in the event of a dispute.

The winner of the first spear should, except in cup
competitions, continue to assist in compassing the death
of his pig and not be tempted from it by other good
chances of runs.

The element of luck certainly enters considerably into
success in winning a first spear, and this is often notice-
able in a cup tie, where the best pigsticker in the party
is put out by sheer ill luck, and the worst man wins. It


is a pity that pig and time are not sufficiently abundant
for each competitor to be started by himself after a boar,
so that he who accounted for his pig in the shortest time
and best form be adjudged the winner.

In opposition, I fear, to the views of a good many good
sportsmen, I have always felt that a man should have
killed a few pig single-handed before he can claim to
have been fully " entered to pig." In the Nuggur Hunt
among others it has been proposed that the killing of a
boar single-handed should not count as a first spear.

But again, on the other hand, there are many good pig-
etickers who think with me that there is more to be
learnt of practical pigsticking in one run in which the
rider is left to his own resources, than in half-a-dozen in
which he is assisted by three or four other riders.

A man, knowing that he must rely on himself entirely
to bring the run to a successful issue, learns to put forth
all his powers in the chase, to watch for every turn of the
pig more closely, to " nurse " him through thickets and
" rush " him in the open, to wait a good opportunity for
giving a real disabling " spear " instead of pricking and
prodding ; to use his reasoning senses and woodcraft on
the temporary disappearance of the pig, and to keep an
eye on the surrounding country and take measures in
good time to prevent the quarry gaining some intended
refuge ; he learns, too, that to leave his spear standing
in the pig means to lose him, and that to let the pig
make good his charge at the horse does not pay. He
misses, it is true, the excitement of the race for first
spear, but this is compensated for by the enhanced
excitement of the whole run, in which the odds are
so much more in favour of the pig effecting his escape.

Then at the end of the run, when you are fingering the


tushes of a boar you have just slain single-handed, your
satisfaction is far greater than when you have, by the aid
of a certain amount of luck, been able to prick the boar
sooner than any of the two or three others who have
then helped you to despatch him.

But I don't want to undervalue the glory of the first
spear, surrounded as it is with a halo of delightful
excitement. An old sportsman writes, " I have ridden
with another fellow for first spear and neither of us knew
who the other was till after the pig was killed. The
Duke of Wellington could not have felt happier after
Waterloo than a man who has won a first spear from a
hard-riding antagonist."

On coming within what Mr. Bright would have called "a
measurable distance " of the pig the leading rider should,
as soon as possible, satisfy himself that the animal he is
riding is a boar and not a sow. Even to an experienced
man the general make and shape of the animal does not
invariably serve as a true guide; a boar in certain condi-
tions of emaciation or over sleekness, may have the
distant appearance of a sow, it is, therefore, necessary on
closer inspection to determine whether the hunted one is
duly fitted with tushes and other signs ; but even in
these particulars mistakes often occur ; barren sows have
frequently tushes and tufts of hair on the belly. I have
known one who, in addition to these, sported a pro-
minent tuft of hair close below her tail which gave her
so completely the appearance of a boar that her sex had
not even been suspected till after she had been run and

When the rider has found out, without room for doubt,
the sex of the pig he is hunting, he should signal the fact
to the remainder of the party by preparing his spear for


action if it is a boar, or by raising his spear horizontally
above his head if it is a sow. On this latter signal the
rest of the party will pull up and save themselves and
their horses from further useless galloping.

73- Spearing. As the rider begins to overhaul
the pig he should ride a little on its left rear and not
exactly on its line ; by so doing he will be able to
watch the pig without having his view interfered with
by the horse's head and mane, and his horse will not be
annoyed and checked by stones, etc., kicked up in his

In this position too he is better placed for inducing
the pig if he is bent on jinking, to jink to the right, and
not across the horse, to the left.

This latter jink is most disadvantageous to the rider
as it puts the pig on his harmless side, and on the side
most difficult to turn the horse to. If, therefore, he
wishes to maintain his pride of place the rider should
watch for any sign of the pig's intention to jink, and
when he sees him checking his stride, hitching up his
quarters, shifting uneasily from side to side of his line,
he should edge his horse a little to the left, the pig will
then sheer off, probably reluctantly, to the right, where
he is easily followed.

Occasionally, especially if the pig be somewhat beat,
it is advantageous to rush him with a sudden spurt,
when he is seen to be preparing to jink, but for an un-
practised hand this is a risky manoeuvre, as, if he is too
late in spearing on the inevitable jink of the pig, the
extra impetus he has taken will throw him so many
more yards, or even lengths, off the new line.

If armed with a long spear the rider should not lower
the point to the level of the boar till the actual moment


for spearing has arrived, because the glitter of spear
head gradually overtaking him will catch the pig's eye,
and warn him that it is high time to jink.

In spearing, aim should be taken well forward. In
using the long spear it should not be prodded at the
pig, but a quite even "point" should be aimed rather
than thrust, and it will receive quite sufficient power
from the impetus of man and horse.

With the jobbing spear the arm should not be raised
from the shoulder to deliver the stroke ; this should be
given by a dropping motion from the elbow, the spear
point being directed straight down into the withers or
centre of the back.

Except in reaching out for first spear, the spear should
not be given into a running pig until the horse's fore-
hand is level with him. The spear should then be
driven into him quietly but with great determination,
and a firm hold. The latter is a great point to observe
as the shock of the encounter is apt to loosen the grasp
of the spear, and the secret of keeping one's horse clear
of the boar's tushes at this point of the chase is to keep
the butt of the spear, with a strong hand, close to the

The spear left standing in the body of the pig is, es-
pecially in the case of short spear, a fresh weapon of
offence to him ; as it sways from side to side it frightens
the horse of any man coming up to the attack, and when
the boar makes a rush at the horse's legs the leaded butt
is playing havoc up above among the rider's front teeth.
A certain officer of the Army Pay Department, skilled
alike in the use of the sword, the spear, and the pen,
advocates, as correct and practical, driving your spear in
as far as possible, and then leaving it standing in the


pig's back as it marks his position in his attempts at
flight or concealment in long grass, etc., and detains him
when he gets among bushes, etc., so that you are enabled
to take a second spear from your syce and polish him
off. How the syce is to be on the spot at the critical
moment with your second spear is not equally clearly

I had the good fortune later on to meet with this
gentleman's Shikari who gave me further details of his
system; from this man's account it appeared that the
gallant sportsman commenced his attack on a boar by
putting a -bullet into him first from a safe distance, in
order to reduce his speed to a fairer pace for him (the
"sportsman ").

I will add one more quotation from our old friend, the
anonymous author of " The Gentleman's Recreator,"
1686 : " If you strike at him with your sword or boar-
spear, strike not low, for then you will hit him on the
snout ; which he little values, for he watcheth to take
blows upon his tushes or thereabouts ; but lifting up
your hand, strike right down, and have a special care of
your horse ; for if you strike and hurt him so will he you
if he can."

74. Carrying the Spear. The proper way to hold
the spear when not using it is to grasp it with the
right hand about the centre of the shaft in such a way
that it points diagonally across the body with the head
to the left front and high. Occasionally, that is when
riding with a short spear through thick jungle, the butt
may be held in the right hand with the shaft alongside
the horse's body and head, pointing to the rear. But
care must be observed in thus carrying the spear ; a case
occurred lately in which a spear so held stuck into the off


hind leg of the horse, who was at the time going at a
good speed ; and he turned a complete somersault and
broke his neck.

Sometimes one sees men carrying their spears up-
right with the butt in a lance bucket on the off stirrup,
and if you meet a stranger in riding boots and notice
that the upper part of the toe of his right foot wears an
unhealthy leaden hued patch, you may bet that the man
is a pigsticker, the leaden butt of whose spear has often
rested on his right toe.

But the usual and best way is to carry it as above de-
scribed, across the body. In this position it is most
ready for action and least dangerous to one's friends
when riding, and to oneself when falling.

75. Falling. It is idle to expect to go pig-
sticking and not get falls. As the secretary of the
Meerut Tent Club claims for his Kadir, so it is with
most other pigsticking districts, " falls are here the rule,
not the exception;" and by "falls"! would beg the
reader to understand " good hoghunters' falls " as de-
fined by the quaint pigsticking manual of 1827, which
says, " Good hoghunters fall occasionally with their
horses, but seldom, if ever, without them."

Assheton Smith said that " no man could be called a
good rider who did not know how to fall," and this
remark is particularly true in the pigsticking field
where the presence of a spear, an angry boar, and stone-
hard ground combine to triple the dangers of a turn-
over. Though falling has not been reduced to an
acrobatic art, as one or two v/riters in the " Field " have
lately tried to prove, still there is no doubt that many
men fall far better than others, and this result may be
attributed to their being blessed with cooler heads,

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Online LibraryRobert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell Baden-Powell of GilwellPigsticking; or, Hoghunting: a complete account for sportsmen, and others → online text (page 12 of 14)