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

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

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sow, and they may therefore be considered lawful game
for the hunter's spear. But it is otherwise with ordinary
sows, whose persons should always be held sacred by
sportsmen, except only in the extreme case of running-
off cup competitions in thinly pigged districts. In the
rules of the Calcutta Tent Club, it is decreed that any
one spearing a sow shall be fined a dozen of champagne,
nor is this too severe a punishment (always excepting
barren sows), when one considers the vital importance
of their existence for the future prosperity of sport. For
not only do they produce fresh boars as fast as the older
ones are killed off, but also they attract roving old gal-
lants to their jungles from other districts. And it is
needless to point out what unsporting butchery it is to
kill a slow, soft, and defenceless sow, in lieu of her fast,
muscular, and vicious lord. A man who would wantonly
" stick " a sow is well classed with one who would wan-
tonly shoot a fox. In the rules of the old Harra Hunt,
framed at the beginning of the century, it was laid down
that " to shoot a hog, except when self-preservation or
that of others may demand it, is unworthy of a sports-
man, and such a proceeding on the part of any member
of this club will entail his expulsion."

The practice of running sows " because there are so
few boars " is on the face of it a most suicidal one, and
has resulted in frequent instances in the extermination
of the sport in given districts ; but men are unfortunately



selfish and very nomadic in India, and so long as they
get their runs for the few months they may be in a
station they do not pause to consider what sport will be
left for their successors. The only remedy lies in the
hands of sportsmen themselves, for to expect govern-
ment intervention with close-time regulations at any date
before the extermination of the last boar is. according
to all experience, to expect the impossible.




18. Haunts of Pig. The usual homes of pig in
the plains of India are :

Woods, with thick undergrowth of bushes and grass.

Open plains of Rana grass (which is used by the
natives for thatching purposes, and grows to a height of
3 feet).

High tiger grass (10 feet) and covers of tamarisk (j'/ww)
bush (4 feet), usually found along dry river beds.

Reeds and grass in marshes (jheels).

Broken kills, ravines, and dry watercourses (nullahs}.

Crops, such as sugar-cane (gunna], 10 feet high ; lentil
(dhall), 5 feet ; wheat (sunnee), 3 feet ; indigo (leel) ;
millet (jowar), 8 feet ; gram (ckunnd), 2 feet ; cotton
(rooee), 3^ feet ; spiked millet (bajri), 8 feet ; barley
(Jow\ 2\ feet, etc.

Clumps of prickly pear, a close-growing thorny cactus,
from 5 to 20 yards in diameter, or in long thick hedges.

Groves of date palm, trees.

Jungles of trees, bushes, and grass mingled, growing
along the banks of the canals.

In the jungles pig usually select tufts of grass or
bushes in which they make " forms " for themselves.
In these they lie during the day, leaving them in the
evening to go in search of food during the night, return-
ing to them just before dawn. If living in crops they do

D 2


the same, cutting down with their teeth what straw they
want wherewith to make nests for themselves and young.

Outlying patches of bushes near a jungle are very
often selected, especially by very old and solitary boars,
as residence. Cocks of millet stalks, isolated tufts of
tiger grass, heaps of dry camel thorn, are also favourite
lairs, the latter in particular when lying in a dry water-

It is surprising what a small amount of cover of this
kind suffices to conceal a whole "sounder" (family) of
pig. They will lie crowded up together, and will often
not move though the bush in which they are is beaten
and shaken ; indeed they will often bolt more readily if
rendered suspicious by the beater simply standing still
close to their lair.

When inhabiting hills or ravines, they usually select
holes and corners in winter which are dry and open to
the sun, and in summer which are moist and shaded.

Crops of sugar-cane are very favourite haunts of pig,
because they afford not only very dense cover but also
most succulent food, and being subject to frequent irri-
gation they ensure him a constant water supply for
drinking and bathing purposes. The crop stands twelve
months from sowing to cutting ; and so a boar, on coming
into residence, has at least nine months of quiet ease
before him without any necessity to move a yard in
search of food. This life suits very old boars par-
ticularly well, and when a sugar crop is beaten out such
an old bon vivant is almost always to be found in it ;
but it is a most difficult matter to persuade him to come
out : he knows how unprepared he is in wind and limb
for a race for life across country, and so long has he been
a stay-at-home that he cannot be certain that his former


distant places of refuge can still be found : like the
Taquir's description in Igd-i-Gil, he is

" void of wisdom,

Being o'er filled with food, even to the nose."

And when at last he has been forced from his strong-
hold he will not run far nor fast, but will probably take
to fighting, instead of fleeing, for his life.

A pig will change his quarters from one cover to
another as he finds the water supply fail in the one, or a
favourite cultivated crop, or wild root or berry, come
into season near the other; or on account of the destruc-
tion of his home by jungle-fire or flood, or of its too
frequent intrusion by beaters. Hence a cover which is
one month full of pig may during the next not contain
even a single squeaker.

These points, should, therefore, be remembered by the
hunter when selecting a cover to beat out.

Many a Shikari has obtained the name of being preter-
naturally 'cute in finding pig, when in reality he was
doing no more than use his common-sense, in acting on
the above considerations.

To sportsmen inquiring as to the presence of pig in
certain jungles, peasants of the neighbouring villages
are very apt to give misleading reports : in one village
they will say there are plenty of pig and will describe
their huge size and fearful depredations with staring
eyes and outstretched thumbs ; these simple peasants
have very likely not seen a pig for months, but they
have a lot of mouldy grain or other commodity in their
granaries which they hope to sell should the Sahibs
muster a large camp near their village ; in the other
village perhaps the crops have not been a success and


the headman, while he treads out a boar's footmark
swears by all his gods that no pig has been seen within
miles of the place. He knows that the advent of a camp
will mean a clear-out of his scanty store, or he owns
some tender crops that will ill bear being ridden over,
or occasionally, I fear, he may bear in mind some past
act of illtreatment at the hands of the white man.

It is fatal to the interests of sport to illtreat the
villagers or to let your servants or Shikaris do so, as
they are very apt to do under cover of your prestige.
The secretary of a Tent Club or manager of the beat
ought not only to be well up in Hindustani but able to
speak that patois of it that is common in his particular
district. And he ought to have an immense fund of
patience. Shouting and cursing at a coolie already dumb-
foundered at the very sight of a white man is not the
way to clear his understanding. A good Shikari should
therefore be sent two or three days before a meet to the
proposed jungle and find out for himself the state of
pig there ; in this way much inconvenience and dis-
appointment may often be saved.

19. The pig is not particular where he takes
up his residence when bent on being near a favourite
crop for the period that it is in season. I have seen a
pig's lair within 20 yards of a watchman's hut in a
melon garden.

In 1873 a boar took up his quarters in the Memorial
Gardens at Cawnpore gardens not unlike a large
London square, surrounded by iron railings with two
or three gates. Half-a-dozen enterprising sportsmen
went one morning with spears and dogs to interview the
intruder, on foot. They closed all the gates and ad-
vanced to the attack. The boar, alarmed by their bold



front, took to his heels, but finding after three circuits of
the grounds that the outlets were closed and his enemies
were still pursuing him, turned on them and charged the
first comer, Mr. Kingscote, with all his force. The result
of the encounter was that the spear went clean through
the boar, and Mr. Kingscote threw about three back
somersaults and remained prone, while his unfortunate
hat chancing to catch the pig's eye became the imme-
diate object of his ire and was in a few seconds reduced
to atoms. In the meantime the rest of the hunt came
up and eventually the boar was killed, but only after a
very plucky resistance.

Another peculiar case of eccentric selection of quar-
ters occurred also in Cawnpore. News was brought to
Mr. A. W. Cruickshank, the magistrate, when presiding in
his Court, that a boar had taken possession of a native
house in the city that morning and was at present un-
willing to leave, being engaged in " playing old Harry "
with the furniture. The majesty of the law was not
appealed to in vain. The Court was promptly adjourned,
and the magistrate, attended by Mr. Rogers (a host in
himself), proceeded, mounted and armed, to the spot
indicated. Here they found a large crowd collected in
the narrow street, and the owner of the house standing
outside his door, which he had locked on the visitor,
listening anxiously at the keyhole as one article after
another of treasured ancient furniture was being reduced
to matchwood. The magistrate supposing that some
infuriated village sow was the cause of all the disturb-
ance ordered the door to be thrown open, no sooner was
this done than much to his surprise a real good boar
bounded out and went without a pause for Mr. Rogers.
This gentleman, however, had seen a boar or two before


in his day, and met him half way with a spear clean
through the body. The pig then made off up the alley,
and eventually, after a good run through several streets,
was overtaken by Cruickshank who succeeded in bring-
ing him to with a spear in the spine. He proved to be a
fine boar of 32 inches, but the reason for his presence in
the city remains to this day a mystery, like Pope's fly
in amber or toad in a stone :

" 'Tis not that he's beautiful, wondrous, or rare,
But the mystery is how the de'il he got there."

20. Preserving Pig. With a full knowledge of
the ways and favourite haunts of pig a great deal
ought to be possible by sporting individuals or clubs in
the way of preserving pig in their districts, and thereby
ensuring for themselves and their successors unfailing
sport. And in this way much waste land or desert may
be most profitably utilised.

It is a regrettable fact that the frequent changing about
of the civilian as well as the military servants of Her
Majesty from one station to another in India strongly
militates against the well-being of sport in each centre,
since these gentleman are naturally inclined only to
think of the present, and to make the most of the sport
to their hand without regard to its future in that par-
ticular place. But I am confident that it only requires
to be suggested to them, as sportsmen, to think of those
who are likely to succeed them, to ensure their ready co-
operation in securing a safe future for the sport, they
benefiting by similar conduct on the part of those they
succeed in their own new districts.

In many stations where pig preserving has been
carried out sport has improved year by year: on the


other hand there are many stations now quite devoid
of pig which bear names rendered famous in pigsticking
records of former days, but whose future interests have
never been cared for betimes.

In almost every hunting centre there are jungles or
" churs " (islands) that are useless to the landowners and
can be easily rented for very small yearly payments.
If these happen already to be favourite haunts of pig
they should be left untouched, with a chowkedar (watch-
man) or two permanently retained (his wage is only
6 Rs., or ten shillings a month), to keep off poachers and
trespassers, and to kill all wolves and jackals, the devourers
of young pig.

In a district where pig are scarce, such a preserve
might be acquired and then stocked with pig brought
from elsewhere. In selecting such a jungle, common-
sense should be employed in taking one which is close
to water, and which contains the favourite roots and
nestling places of pig.

If there is local opposition on the part of the agricul-
turalists and farmers it will be necessary to wall in your
preserve and top the wall or wattle with thorn bushes.
Txiis is not the very expensive matter it might appear,
owing to cheapness of labour and material in India.

In some preserves it may be found necessary occasion-
ally to beat in the cover itself, but this should be done
as rarely as possible (except in the case of a walled
cover, where it does not drive pig away), and even then
only certain parts of the cover should be invaded, one
portion being granted as an inviolable sanctuary to the
pig, to serve as an undisturbed breeding-place.

In a walled cover, for the purpose of getting the pig to
leave it on a hunting day, one of two systems may be


employed. One system is to have a good portion of one
end of the boundary fence made of wattle and capable of
being temporarily removed while the beat is going on.
There should be some jungle outside the fence at this
point so that when they come to the opening the pig will be
tempted to continue their progress ; the beaters of course
commence from the opposite end of the cover and work
up to the place whence the wattle has temporarily been
removed ; here they stop and replace the fence, making
plenty of noise all the time to induce the pig who are
now being shut out in the outlying patch of jungle to
break cover and take to the open.

The other way is to make doors in the wall, which are
left open while a beat is going on. The pig must be
induced to make use of these doors by means of wattle
fenced decoy lanes leading to them from inside the
jungle, the lanes splaying out very wide at first and
gradually narrowing as they approach the gateway.

In all cases it will be found that a little trouble and
expense in preserving immensely improves the sport in
any district.





"Rearing" is a classical phrase. Our friend who writes in 1686
says : " Where the boar's reared he never stays, but flies con-
tinually till he comes to the place where he was farrowed," a home-
sickness which may have been true of English pigs, but does not
always hold good in Hindustan. The present meaning of the
phrase may be translated as " the act of setting pig afoot."

21. Beating Covers. When it is required to
drive pig out of crops or grass or bush jungle, for the
purpose of getting a run after them across the open,
a line of coolies, extending from one side to the other of
the cover, is sent in at one end. At a given signal this
line, armed with sticks, guns, horns, and drums, advances
with all the noise it is capable of. As Thomas Campbell
might have sung :

" They came, of every race a mingled swarm,
Far rung the groves, and gleamed the yellow grass
With torn torn, club, and naked arm."

If available, when beating other cover than crops,
elephants should be disposed at intervals along the line,
a few paces in rear of it.

Two or three Shikaris should also be in charge of
different parts of the line, either on foot or, better,
mounted on ponies or elephants.

These Shikaris may with advantage be provided with
guns loaded with light charges of No. 8 shot, for the
purpose of long shots at any sticky old boar who re-


quires extra inducement to make him quit. A boar
soon gets to know that coolies, with all their noise, are
but a very harmless crew, and is apt to consider after one
or two charges through the line that they are powerless
to force him out, but a simple dose of shot is an excellent
agent to dispel this illusion, and will generally send him
flying from the cover with rage in his heart and tingling
in his hide. The Shikaris, should, however, be strictly
warned only to fire when they see a boar, and the report
will then serve to inform the hunters that a boar is afoot.

It is very necessary that there should be one good
head Shikari in charge of the beat, and he should be
mounted and provided with a whistle wherewith to
direct the line to advance when the sportsmen are ready,
or to halt when a boar breaks cover and the hunters are
away after him. For perfect and intelligent' beating, a
squadron of cavalry sent out into a cover in line, firing
blank cartridge as they proceed, is a most successful

Assistant Shikaris may with advantage be placed in
trees or other commanding look-out places outside the
cover, where they can signal the departure of pig from
the jungle by showing a red flag or sounding two blasts
on a horn if a boar breaks, and a white flag or one blast
if only sows and squeakers are on foot. Ordinary coolies
should not be employed for this work as they are apt to
mistake sows for boars, and consider almost any squeaker
to be of rideable size, and would therefore probably set
the sportsmen going on numberless futile gallops.

If the beat takes place near any large river it is well
to have all quicksands marked by green flags, and fords
by yellow ones.

During the beat of an ordinary jungle the "parties"


of sportsmen (three or four " spears " in each) are posted
at points along the edge of the jungle near which the
pig are likely to break, and where there is cover in which
they may themselves be hidden. When a cover is beaten
with noisy accompaniment as above described, the pig
being aroused by the opening chorus will, as a rule, steal
off in the opposite direction, towards the quiet end o.
the jungle, where, if he finds the coast apparently clear,
he will take to the open and make for other hiding
places, but if the slightest noise or movement betrays to
him the presence of the party lying in ambush for him
at that point, so suspicious is he by nature that he will
prefer to return and fight it out with the self-evident line
of beaters than face a danger whose nature he cannot
fathom. He adopts Hamlet's choice.

The pig, like the wild elephant, is slow to see an
animate object as long as it remains stock still, but the
very slightest movement will catch his eye, the glisten of
spear point or the flick of a horse's tail are sufficient ; so
it is very necessary that some sort of cover should be
taken advantage of by the party in waiting, such as
bushes, or the shade of a tree, etc. In the Ganges Cup
competitions, large artificial screens of grass mats are
put up at intervals round a jungle for this purpose.

22. Canal Jungles. A somewhat similar manner
of beating is employed in the case of canal bank
jungles. They consist of a narrow fringe, about
eighty yards in width, of cover along each bank, usually
a mixture of trees, bushes, and tiger grass, with occa-
sional pools, full of weeds and reeds. The canal itself
is frequently deep and rapid, 20 to 50 yards wide, with
steep banks, and, therefore, impassable to a horse,
though not so to a pig.


Roads generally cross the canals by masonry bridges
every two miles or so. A towpath runs along one bank,
between the water and the jungle. Were the beaters
put into the cover in one line the pig would simply run
along in front of them for miles without leaving cover,
or would swim the canal, and take refuge in the bushes
on the opposite bank ; it is, therefore, usual to send half
the force of beaters away with orders to enter the jungle
at a point two to four miles distant, and there to divide
themselves into two parties, one to beat the right bank,
the other the left, and either to remain there marking
time, as it were, shouting and drumming, as a " stop," or
to advance towards your present station driving the pig
before them. The remainder of the beaters are then
similarly put into the cover on both sides of the water
and ordered to advance in line after sufficient interval of
time has elapsed for the others to get into position.

The pig, alarmed by the noise of one party, runs along
the jungle tills he meets the other line approaching from
the opposite direction ; he will thereupon dive into the
canal, and try the far bank, but finding matters in the
same state there, he will select the quietest part of the
cover, that is, half way between the approaching lines,
and then steal away across the open for other hiding
places. This then is the point at which "parties" should
be posted, one on each side of the canal ; if possible well
concealed and about 100 to 200 yards outside the cover.
But it is most necessary to give the " canal " pig plenty
of start before commencing to ride him, and for this
reason : a canal pig is beyond all others chary of leaving
his haunt, and knowing full well the natural strength of
his fastness is certain to whip into it again, if he once
has reason to suspect he is being followed. The sports-


men should, therefore, let him pass their lurking place
by half-a-mile at least before they proceed to follow him,
and even then, if his " point " is a good distance away,
they should only follow him at such a pace as will
enable them to keep him in sight without alarming him
for another quarter-of-a-mile, before they commence to
" ride " him.

What has been said of the fox in the Badminton
Series applies with equal truth to the boar. " A baby
would stop him from breaking cover, but a whole regi-
ment of cavalry would not prevent him getting into it."

Other parties are best placed moving with the lines of
beaters along the edge of the cover, as many pig, find-
ing the lines of the enemy coming closer and closer, will
break when the nearest comes in sight, but their usual
object will be merely to pass round the flank of the line
and double into the jungle in rear of it again, and the
riders will find it a very difficult matter to prevent them
effecting this.

A method of " stopping " sometimes adopted in beat-
ing canal jungles, is to erect a high strong wattle fence
across the cover, and extending well out into the plain,
on either side of the canal. The parties are posted behind
the ends of these wings, and a line of coolies beats both
banks towards the wattle from a distance of two to four
miles. The pig on coming to the obstruction turn and
follow along it till they find themselves out in the open,
where, if nothing occurs to alarm them, they will gene-
rally make up their minds to continue their flight in the
same direction across country.

23. Impassable Covers. It will sometimes happen
that pig will get into a cover into which, owing to its
close and thorny nature, the beaters cannot enter.


If it is found that a chorus of shouts, drums, shots, and
squibs, etc., from outside has no effect, the jungle must
be fired, but in doing so measures should be taken to
prevent the fire spreading, if the country round about is
cultivated and populated. The coolies should be stationed
all round and supplied with branches of trees wherewith
to beat it out if it commences to spread through the
grass in a wrong direction. Care must also be taken
that the coolies do not, as they are quite capable of do-
ing, get caught within the compass of the conflagration.
Not long ago a coolie had posted himself in a tree on an
occasion of this kind, to give notice of pig breaking
cover. After a time he discovered that the fire had
spread all around his tree, and finally he was simply
roasted alive on his perch. There is nothing a pig fears
so much as fire ; and often a wounded boar who has
taken to a thick bush where he resists all the induce-
ments of spears, shots, and sticks to quit, will bolt at the
very sight of a grass flambeau approaching to ignite his

24. Beating Grass Plains. In searching for pig
in open grass plains or in low crops, or scattered

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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 3 of 14)