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

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

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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 13 of 14)
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VI






RIDING TO PIG. 189

greater activity, and more experience in that line than
their less fortunate fellows.

So, considering the extra dangers inherent in pig-
sticking it would be well for the beginner to cultivate
what art there is in falling, for all things are possible to
the hoghunter who knows how to fall.

The main thing is under all circumstances to keep
hold of your reins, for three reasons : first, because it is
at least a nuisance to be left horseless in the presence of
an angry boar ; secondly, because it may sometimes
save you from being dragged, if your foot catches in the
stirrup : thirdly, because the act of hanging on to the
reins often gives the body a cant up at the critical part
of the pitch and so saves a broken collar bone, by land-
ing you on your back or the back muscles of the shoulder.
Next, care should be taken to have hold of the spear in
the manner above described and not to let go until death
doth you part. The spear so held cannot stick the
holder and is not likely to stick his horse. Even when
a fall can be foreseen with absolute certainty it is still
best to keep hold of the spear and not to throw it
away.

76. Throwing the Spear. A spear, especially if it
be a short one, thrown away or dropped is a source
of great danger to rider, horse, and companions, it
appears to be invariably attracted, point first, to the
nearest animate body, like a needle to a magnet, and if
the rider is going at speed it seems to be endowed with
a demon life which prompts it to follow him like the
proverbial South African Mamba, " with leaps and with
bounds."

There have been very many horrible accidents due to
sheer want of consideration or knowledge of this fact ;



190 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

and it is on this account that most Tent Clubs have
inserted in their rules a clause to the effect that " on no
account nor under any circumstances is a spear to be
thrown."

I once saw a man riding a pig which persisted in
running parallel to him on his near side at about two or
three yards distance ; being unable to make his horse
turn properly he tried the effect of throwing his spear
like a javelin, with the result that after missing the pig
the spear rebounded off the ground and went into the
horse above the outside of the stifle on the off side and
came up with the point projecting near the hip. After
a few frantic kicks the horse sent the spear flying some
20 feet into the air whence it came hurtling down, as the
nigger would say, " not too far away," from another of
the party who was at that moment coming up. The
horse recovered, but ever afterwards seemed to connect
his mishap with the presence of a pig and could never
be induced to face one again.

Two men were once racing neck and neck for first
spear, when one of them in his excitement threw his
spear at the pig over the near side of the horse. The
spear missed the pig and turning on the ground impaled
the other competitor's horse, entering at the girth, and
coming out near the root of the tail.

Colonel Newall records the incident of a spear being
thrown which struck the boar's foot, rebounded, and
severed the horse's windpipe ; and on another occasion a
spear similarly thrown struck a stone and turned back
on its own thrower, cutting him across the bridge of the
nose and grazing his eyebrow. It is said that this sports-
man was never seen to throw his spear after that occasion.

In most clubs there is also a strict rule against using



RIDING TO PIG. 191

the spear on the near side except in rare cases of abso-
lute necessity for self defence. It is a dangerous and
unpractical proceeding.

77. Receiving a Charge. When once the boar
has been wounded all hands should combine to kill
him, using every effort and affording all possible mutual
and unselfish assistance to prevent his escape. Apart
from the cruelty of letting him get away to die a linger-
ing and painful death in a case where he is mortally
wounded, it is a question of common safety if the wound
is not fatal, since a boar that has been thus stricken
generally takes to a life of solitude, and becomes soured
and ferocious, attacking any living man or animal that
may come across his path. But to kill so hardy and
courageous a beast is not always as easy as it looks on
paper, and the beginner must not expect to bring about
this result without a fight for it ; a fight which, it is true,
will give greater satisfaction to the winner than any
other kind of duel.

" There's bliss in the scholar's love, my boys,
In wine and golden store, my boys,
But the joys of the whole do not thrill the soul
Like the rush of the charging boar, my boys."

In riding a boar that has felt the spear the hunter
must be on the alert to receive a charge from him at any
moment. On finding himself being pressed too closely,
the boar will suddenly edge away from his pursuer
glancing at him over his shoulder and collecting himself
for his charge ; the next moment he will whip suddenly
round and with ears pricked, eyes gleaming, and lips
curling back from his yellow tushes will hurl himself
headlong at the horse. The spear point must at this



192 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

moment be dropped to meet him well forward in the
neck, if firmly held the opposed impetus of horse and
hog will drive it home, and a strong " shove off," as if
the spear were a punting pole, and a firm closing of the
right leg to the horse's side should bring all safely clear.
The horse should on no account be pulled up to receive
a charge, but at the same time he should be kept well
in hand and under easy control.

The old pigsticking manual I have quoted gives the
following instructions with regard to dealing with a
wounded boar : " A wounded boar," it says, " is a very
formidable thing and it is often much better to let him
escape than to run the risk of being made a cripple."
This would appear to be strange advice from a pig-
sticker, but on reading his experiences a little later on
such procedure would in his own case at any rate, be
fully justified. With a party of friends he had succeeded
in wounding a boar and bringing it to bay, and he thus
describes the remainder of the encounter, a description
which for simple and unqualified self condemnation of
a company of would-be pigstickers, I venture to think
" takes the cake." " The horse I rode would not go near
him, and when I was at a considerable distance off he
charged another horse with such ferocity that mine (sic)
reared and plunged in such a violent manner as to
throw me off ; two or tJiree of the otJiers were dismounted
nearly at the same time, and although there were many
horses present that had long been accustomed to the
sport not one of them would stand his charge. He
fairly drove the whole party off the field, and gently
trotted into the grass jungle, foaming and grinding his
tusheSj which it was impossible to follow him in or to
drive him from." (!)



RIDING TO PIG. 193

It rarely happens that a horse is cut when moving fast,
although I have known such a case, where a valuable
Arab, galloping alongside the boar, received a sudden
and fatal side cut in the belly, which severed the main
gut in two places ; but as a rule horses are never severely
cut when moving fast, owing to the fact that the boar has
not time to make good his aim.

The usual point of the boar's attack when running
parallel to or close to the horse is the shoulder or fore-
legs, and if the rider miss his stroke just before the
moment of contact such a charge is very apt to pitch
the horse heavily on to its head a performance that
the rider, as a rule, is not slow to imitate ; but on the
other hand, it is the charge that is most easily met by
the rider, and the effects of a spear well aimed at this
juncture are generally very deadly. A boar charging
from the off side at a right angle to the horse's forehand
gives an opening for a most effective and fatal spear,
though a somewhat difficult one to carry out with the
short spear. As he comes on you must lean well down,
and, the moment he is within reach, lunge it into him
low down in the body just behind the elbow, the effect
will be to roll him clean over with a mortal wound
through the lungs ; if, as is also likely, you miss him, the
effect will probably be that your horse comes head over
heels and you awake, some days later, to find yourself
recovering from a concussed brain and various minor
fractures and contusions. Experto crede. Indeed, within
four months in 1884, five such falls took place with
similar results, one of them unfortunately terminating
fatally.

Colonel James, C.B., was killed, a few years back, in
the Befhampore district in a similar encounter, and,

O



194 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

curiously enough, Mr. W. L. Thomas afterwards met
with another such fall, happily unattended with fatal
results, on almost the same spot. Mr. A. W. Cruick-
shank very nearly ended his mortal days and practically
ended his pigsticking days (to the great satisfaction of
the porcine tribe in general) by being similarly thrown
down by a boar.

A charge on the part of the boar on the horse's broad-
side is somewhat less dangerous to the rider than one
directed against the forelegs, but if carried home is often
fatal to the horse, as his entrails lie near enough to the
skin to be deeply cut into by the boar's tusk ; or, if the
boar is a little late in his attack, it takes effect on the
hock or stifle, and on account of its nearness to a joint
such a wound is often most difficult to heal. A very
favourite direction of attack for the boar is from the right
rear. He attains this position by inclining off his line to
the right when being pressed and then suddenly stop-
ping, allows his pursuer to rush past, when he instantly
reverses the conditions of the chase and becomes himself
the pursuer.

In the latter kinds of attack the rider, if armed with a
long spear is comparatively helpless, whereas with the
short spear he is able to receive them as easily as any
other, and this constitutes one of the main advantages
of the short over the long spear.

If it should happen that you get a fall and find your-
self separated from both horse and spear in the presence
of an angry boar it is best to lie still and " sham dead "
till he moves away. Instances are very rare of a boat-
attacking an insensible man, indeed the only authentic
case I can find is that of Colonel Reddy, who was
attacked while insensible and so severely mauled that



RIDING TO PIG. 195

it became necessary to amputate one arm, and the other
hand had a hole through it for the remainder of his days.
Colonel Kinloch's shamming dead, as related in 35,
was not quite a success as a ruse, but the boar had
commenced his attack on him while he yet showed every
sign of being a very live foe.

In view of such a predicament, the sportsman should
always carry a good hunting knife attached to the back
of his belt.

78. Pigsticking in Crops. Any charge that takes
place in open ground may be confidently met by a man
who has had practice in the use of the spear, but
it is when fighting wounded boar in crops or among
bushes, etc., that the majority of accidents occur to horses,
as in this case they are moving more or less slowly, and
are being watched by their enemy, who is hidden from
the eyes of both rider and horse. For instance, in a
dhall crop, the favourite refuge of a wounded pig, it may
almost be reckoned as waste of good horseflesh to carry
on the fight where everything is so entirely in the boar's
favour ; he has a good view of the horse's legs and belly
between the long thin stems of the plant, while he is
protected from the hunter's view and spear by the thick
overhead covering of foliage.

In ordinary crops where it is equally thick for the
hunted as for the hunter the latter must be possessed of
quickness to " pounce " where a movement of the foliage
betrays the presence of the enemy, and of adroitness in
the use of his spear in any way that the circumstances of
the moment may demand.

This fighting with the boar in thick crops is often
decried as unfair on the horse, and is therefore in many
hunts not practised. I had been pigsticking for nearly

O 2



196 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

two years before I discovered that it was perfectly
feasible, and formed a delightful addition to the usual
charms of pigsticking, without half the danger attri-
buted to it. Hunting and righting a pig in thick crops
naturally requires the hunter to be particularly sharp
and quick with his eyes and spear, and would therefore
find favour with " true men of spirit," and when once it
has come to be regularly practised by them, it prolongs
their all-too-short pigsticking season until well into
the rainy season, since their sport is not stopped by the
general up-shooting of the crops.

79. A Hacking on Foot. The retreat of the wounded
boar into a crop is only too often made the excuse
for pulling up and for setting the coolies at him, and
for the transgression of two unwritten laws of sport
viz., that one should never send an assistant where one
would not go oneself ; and secondly, that the sportsman
should himself carry through what he has begun. Of
course as often as not the boar may take refuge and
come to bay in a place inaccessible or disadvantageous to
a horse, and in this case the sportsman must proceed to
tackle him on foot. This chapter of the chase is natu-
rally the most exciting to the hunter, since it is fraught
with more personal danger than any other. Williamson,
writing on this subject early in this century, says :
" It is an act of madness which many young sportsmen
practice, but which gives way either in deference to the
severe admonition of rips and bites, or to that cooler
mode of acting resulting from experience," but as he also
wrote the following in the same book, his remarks may
safely be considered somewhat out of date : " I think
I might safely wager that no native of Bengal nor any
European resident there would undertake such a piece
of rashness as to go out shooting wild elephants."



RIDING TO PIG. 197

"Cossack," Field, I ;th November, 1888, thus describes
his attacking a boar on foot : "Throwing the reins to
Abdullah, I walked towards the boar, holding my spear
at the charge as I advanced, Abdullah the while
encouragingly crying out to me, ' Khabardar, sahib !
Khabardar ! bara khirab janwar !' (' Take care, sahib a
very wicked animal '). The boar watched my approach,
and, as I drew near him, up he rose, and giving a savage
grunt, charged straight for me. His great head seemed
to entirely cover his chest, and I saw that it was
practically impossible for me to spear him in front ; for
if I should attempt to do so, I felt sure my spear would
only strike his head, be knocked up, and he would be in
at me. To await his charge until he should almost
reach me, and then to spring aside and spear him as he
rushed by, was, I thought, my best and almost sole chance;
but I half feared that, being in heavy riding boots and
tired from my hard ride, I should scarcely be quick
enough. Long as it may seem in description, there was
hardly time in reality for thinking or hesitating. In
another moment the boar was on me. I took my chance,
and stood his charge, as it seemed to me, almost up to
the point of my spear, and then, jumping quickly aside
ran the spear well home into his ribs on the left flank.
There was a charm and novelty about the situation that
one could not fail to appreciate. My great desire to
make a close acquaintance with the African wart hog
was now granted far more fully than I ever dreamt of,
and I gazed with the deepest interest at this formidable-
looking beast, now fixed on the other end of my spear
at its great tushes, and the large, unsightly fleshy
protuberances on its hideous face, which struck me at
the time as being as absurdly grotesque as it was ferocious



198 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

and diabolical. There we stood, the boar and I, in this
interesting situation for some moments he at one end of
the spear,eyeing me mostviciously out of his fierce,wicked
little eyes ; I at the other, lost in admiration of his big
tushes and general appearance, and wondering how I was
to win against such an ugly-looking customer. Indeed, I
felt by no means confident of coming off best in the en-
counter. However, the points were in my favour, and I
determined to keep them. I was far too tired to run the
risk of withdrawing the spear for another thrust, for I felt
I could not be quick enough at such close quarters, and so
decided to wait and see what the boar meant to do. At
first, doubtless exhausted from its hard run and the blood
that he had lost from his last wound, he stood quite still,
making no struggle to get off the spear point, and seemed
to be meditating on his next move, looking at me in a
' tone of voice ' as if to say ' Wait till I do get at you ! '
He did not keep me waiting long, and soon commenced a
furious attack, at one time pressing furiously against the
spear in his efforts to reach me, at another struggling and
writhing to get off the spear-head, champing and grind-
ing his tushes, and foaming from the mouth in his rage,
whilst I hung on like grim death to the other end of the
spear, and endeavoured to bury its head deeper in the
boar's side. In this, however, I was by no means
successful ; the spear-head, having apparently struck
against the ribs, refused to penetrate deeper. During the
struggle the shaft of the spear, although a strong bamboo
would bend at times in a highly unpleasant manner, and I
began to fear that the possibility of its breaking was not
improbable. And so the fight went on for several minutes,
till at length, feeling my strength come back to me, I
thought it was now my turn to take the initiative, and,



RIDING TO PIG. 199

during a pause in the boar's struggles, I rapidly with-
drew the spear, and ere the boar could run in at me, had
driven it again into his side in a more vital place. It was
quite enough I had won. The gallant old boar, taking
his death-wound without a sound, rolled over on his side
and with another rapid thrust I put the brave beast out
of his pain."

In attacking on foot it is always desirable that two or
three should advance together to the encounter, as the
pig in charging would by sheer weight send a single in-
dividual flying, even though his spear had gone through
him.

I have known cases where a boar has charged three
men advancing shoulder to shoulder against him, and
although all their spears took effect he has floored them
all simultaneously.

The great thing is to keep the spear point low, so a.s
to enter his chest below the jaw. If it is held too high
it is liable to glance harmlessly off his hard head or
back, whereas even if it missed his chest and fell below
him, the shaft wedged against the ground would still be
some sort of a check to 'his onward rush.

To carry out successfully a dismounted attack requires
a great amount of activity and mutual " backing up " on
the part of the spearmen, of whom there should not be
less than three.

In his "Camp Notes," Frank Boyle thus paints an
encounter on foot with a boar : " By day I have faced
him ; the sun's rays sprinkle his dismal head ; his small
eyes burn with spite upon me, and seem verily to laugh
with triumphant malice. See, see, the rigid bristles
of the neck tremble and heave in an agony of rage ; the
big teeth snap : their foam squirts in your face. He has



200 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

gathered breath. He comes ! Now grasp your spear
tight, bend to earth and pray, for rarely in this life doth
one face deadlier risk than the charge of a black eastern
boar. That scream ! That ponderous rush ! A sudden
weight dashes you to the earth, while the sun-flecked
trees spin round, and the bamboos tear your flesh. You
leap up ! You dash the blood drops from your face.
Hurrah ! The boar lies prone with the good lance
buried in his heart-! Rejoice, comrade, that neither you
nor I have as yet felt that deadly sickness of a pulse-
beat's length which comes over the doomed Shikari as
his spear point glides along the leathery shoulder of his
foe. For him there is no help in the cruel sunny forest.
Too many tragedies the flowers see, too many sudden
fates, too many cries of agony they hear. The birds
will twitter and the gemmed flies dance though a man's
body lies underneath the trees."

80. Pigsticking Rules. A few extracts from
the rules of one or two of the leading Tent Clubs would
perhaps give the novice more concisely the chief points
of discipline of the sport.

Nuggur aud Deccan Hunts.

1. The Master always to be obeyed.

2. Silence at the jungle side. No moving after being
once posted.

3. No followers or spare horses to be allowed at the
cover side.

6. Any one taking first spear is, if possible, to follow
up his pig until it is killed.

9. Any rider jostling another or carrying his spear
improperly, to be fined one gold mohur (16 Rs.)

ii. Any member shooting a pig to be expelled the
club.



RIDING TO PIG. 201

Cawnpore and Delhi Clubs.

2. Throwing the spear is strictly prohibited.

3. No first spear can be claimed unless blood is shown.

4. A spear delivered on the near side will not be
allowed to count unless the pig charges.

5. A spear given to an undisturbed pig, standing or
lying, will not count for " first spear."

6. Every member taking a " first spear " must remain
with his pig till it is despatched ; should he be absent
at the death the tushes belong to the second spear, unless
the absence was caused by accident.

7. Should a slightly wounded pig escape and during
the day be again found and killed, the tushes belong to
the first spear of the second finding.

8. In a run it must be remembered that the bag is the
first object, the taking of first spear secondary to it, and
no jostling, crossing or unfair riding will be allowed.
When the rider is fairly over a pig he must be allowed
his chance, and the others must wait on him for a turn.
Any unfair riding will cause forfeiture of claim to first
spear.

9. No member of one party may start after a pig
which another party is riding, unless called on to assist.

10. All questions of disputed "first spears'* to be
settled by the majority of those present. Where no
decision can be arrived at the tushes are to be divided.

11. Members ar* particularly requested not to wear
white.

8 1. Competitions. If a pigsticker is desirous of proving
his ability he has the opportunity of doing so in the annual
pigsticking contests which take place in Bengal and
Bombay. In Bengal Presidency three cups are run for



202 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

annually, one at Meerut, one at Muttra, and one at
Cawnpore. In Bombay the Bheema Cup is run for.

The general system of these cups is as follows :

Members of Tent Clubs can enter one or two horses
on payment of an entrance fee. On a given date
(usually in April) the competitors assemble at the ap-
pointed place, and find a camp ready pitched for them.
They are divided by lot into parties of four. Each
party is accompanied by an umpire. On finding a pig
the umpire gives the word to " ride," sees that the run is
fairly ridden, and notes the winner of the first spear.
The winners of these first ties are then again made into
parties of three, and run off ties in the same way until a
final party of three or four run off the tie for the cup.
The whole competition usually taking three or four days
to get through.

The arrangements made for the comfort of com-
petitors and the assurance of good sport are usually very
complete, and detailed rules are laid down for their
guidance in the competitions which are strictly and im-
partially adhered to.

82. Kadir Cup. The Cup given by the Meerut
Tent Club is called the " Kadir Cup," after the Kadir
or river-bed country in which it is competed for. The
contest first took place after pig in 1874. Previous
to that date it had been merely a point to point race
over a pigsticking country, and called the " Forbes
Cup," in honour of the founder and President of the
Club. In 1870 the name of the Cup was changed to the
" Forbes Kadir Cup," and the competitors had to ride
with spears in their hands. With reference to the race
for the Cup in 1873 a newspaper of the time spoke as
follows :



RIDING TO PIG.



203



" One very noticeable feature in this year's race was
that the General Commanding the Meerut Division
(Lieutenant-General Travers, V.C.), steered his own
horse (" Pericles ") over four miles of a blind country and


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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 13 of 14)