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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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bushes, it is usual for the line of coolies to advance with-
out shouting or drumming, the parties advancing with
the line, and disposed at intervals along it a few yards in
rear. The object of proceeding almost in silence is that
the pig should have no distant warning of their approach
and so be enabled to steal away unseen, but should be
roused in his lair, and started in sight of the hunters.

In such an advance it is very common to see the
parties riding in front of the line of beaters, but there is
no object in their so doing ; if they are a few yards in
rear of it they can direct the movements of the coolies



REARING PIG. 49

(who are very apt to miss stirring up the most likely-
looking grass tufts if not watched), and they will never
experience the mortification so common in the former
disposition of hearing, just when they have strayed a
little too far to the front, that a boar has got up
under the beaters' feet and has broken back through
the line.

25. Prickly Pear Clumps. In parts of the
Deccan and Hyderabad districts thickets of prickly pear
are common, and are favourite haunts of pig, since no
animal with a hide less tough than theirs could make
its way into the cover. To drive them out is naturally a
very difficult job. Good men are selected and are fur-
nished with swords, and posted round the cover. They
first strip off every particle of clothing, just as the
natives in Africa do on entering a thorn jungle ; in
this way thorns have nothing to catch in and generally
glance off the bare skin. Each man then proceeds to
cut a path for himself through the thorny growth to-
wards the centre of the thicket until one of them gets a
sight of the pig, who on such occasions lies very close.
On finding him the Shikari gets a gun and fires a
blank cartridge close to the ground near the pig. Thus
attacked in the heart of his castle, the boar bounds forth
into the open by the nearest path. Strange to say, in
this dangerous service very few Shikaris have ever been
wounded by him, as they are warned to "stand clear" by
the report of the gun, and the firer takes advantage of
the smoke of the discharge as a concealment.

26. Marking Down. In countries abounding
in ravines, hills, or wide plains with small patches of
bush at wide intervals, such as the Allahabad and Kutch
districts, it is usual to have pig " marked down " in their



50 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

haunts during the night previous to the meet. The
system followed is somewhat similar to that of "har-
bouring " deer in England.

Shikaris, or intelligent jungle peasants, are sent out
overnight in couples to watch at likely spots for pig
returning home from their feeding grounds in the early
morning. Experience tells them where to secrete them-
selves for this purpose, taking into calculation the locale
of the nearest attractive crops, the position of covers, and
the fact that pig always keep to the same route in going
to and from their feeding grounds. When they see a
good boar making his way home they follow him dis-
creetly until he takes up his sleeping quarters for
the day, whereupon one man returns to camp to
report and to lead the hunters to the spot, while the
other remains to watch and note any change of lodging
on the part of the boar.

This is a very sure and convenient method of rinding
pig, obviating a great deal of unnecessary exposure to
the sun, and tedious waiting and disappointment, but it
is all the more satisfactory if you have effected the
watching and marking down for yourself.

Many assert that pig do not adhere to one route in
leaving and returning to their sleeping quarters, but I
cannot think they would say so after careful watching.
^Captain Williamson, a close observer of pig and their
ways, distinctly states that they observe this rule, and
moreover, if they are once disturbed on the march they
will abandon that route and take to a new one the
following night.

The best men to use for the purpose of marking down,
or indeed for any Shikari's work with pig, are Goojars,
Brinjaries, Khunjurs, or Sansies (wandering grain sellers



REARING PIG. 51

or gipsies). Their only object in life seems to be that
of travelling about the country killing pig for food ; they
are nomadic, more than poor, and in other respects very
harmless, and so cannot be held in check by force ; but
if their pighunting craft is enlisted into the service of
the Tent Club of the district in which they are, the move
will be well repaid by the excellent sport they will show,
and their poaching depredations will cease as long as the
hunters present them with the carcases of the slain.
These men are well up in the signs of pig and their ways,
and are very keen. They can distinguish a boar from a
sow at a marvellous distance, and therefore are particu-
larly useful as flagmen outside a cover, since they save the
riders many of the heart-breaking useless gallops that are
so common when a well-meaning rustic is employed in
the signalling department, who waves you away after
sows, or after squeakers no larger than a rabbit. In
beating out a cover a dozen Goojars working intelligently
and keenly together are worth five or six times their
number of the ordinary half-hearted and eye-serving
coolies.

The mongrel dogs usually owned by these gipsies
are often of great assistance in getting pig to bolt, and
are much used by the Shikaris (themselves of these
gipsy tribes) of the Delhi and the Lahore Tent Clubs.

Sometimes a boar, especially an old and solitary one,
will select a single isolated bush or thicket as his dwell-
ing, without its apparently possessing any particular
advantages ; it is sometimes far from water and far from
crops, and close to a jungle ; but there must be some
hidden merit in it, for often when one boar has been
killed from such a lair, a visit a few weeks later to the
same spot will disclose a new tenant in occupation. It

E 2



52 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

is like a good pool on a salmon river, no sooner is the
one good fish in it killed than another appears on the
scene to succeed him ; or like the particular tussock
always tenanted by a jack snipe. I have killed three
fine boar within four months, all from the same little
bush, and probably should have gone on finding fresh ones
there for ever, had not a Vandal of a woodcutter come
along and cut it down for firewood. One is often apt to
ride by such a place without looking carefully into it :
but a pig gives out a very strong scent, and if in passing
by a thicket your horse sniffs the air or shows
signs of excitement, you may be sure that a pig is there
or has lately left. It is a very common thing for horses
to smell out pig, and I have known sportsmen smell
them out for themselves. I have myself done so on
three different occasions.

27. Pugging. The most sporting of all methods
of finding pig is by " pugging," or tracking them
to their lairs by their footmarks or " pugs "
(Gujerati wagJt}. This system is much practised in
Gujerat and Kutch, and in all parts of Western India,
where ordinary jungles are few and very far between, and
where the pig in consequence lie up chiefly in solitary
bushes. A large proportion of the natives of those dis-
tricts are thoroughly expert in the art, since in every
village trained trackers are maintained for the purpose
of following up thieves who come into their district from
elsewhere ; if they fail to account for the further move-
ments of a runaway whose footmarks show him to have
crossed into their land, their village has to pay " damages
with costs" in restitution of the property lost. It is,
therefore, not surprising to learn that there exist nu-
merous professors of the art who are trained to it from



REARING PIG. 53

childhood, and who can follow signs that are quite
invisible to the untrained eye.

An Englishman, though he may never hope to attain
the skill of a professional, may, with a little trouble and
continual practice, learn to track well enough for ordi-
nary emergencies, and once tried it is a pursuit that he
will not quickly give up ; for there is an indescribable
charm about pugging unknown to one who has never
practised it.

Without doubt the constant and varied exercise of the
inductive reasoning powers called into play in the pur-
suit must exert a beneficial effect on the mind, and the
actual pleasure of riding and killing a boar is doubly en-
hanced by the knowledge that he has been found by the
fair and sporting exercise of one's own bump of " wood-
craft." The sharpness of intellect which we are wont to
associate with the detective is nothing more than the
result of training that inductive reasoning which is almost
innate in the savage. To the child of the jungle the
ground with its signs is at once his book, his map, and
his newspaper. Remember the volume of meaning con-
tained in the single print of Friday's foot on Crusoe's
beach.

I learnt the full value of such a sign lately when
travelling in the interior in South-East Africa. The
fresh mark of the forepart of a man's foot some two
yards to one side of the jungle track we were then fol-
lowing, and a corresponding deep heel mark on the other
side, in a diagonal direction, were read to mean that a
man had recently run from the direction of a village we
knew existed to our right rear, and wishing his journey
to be kept secret from us had bounded over our path in
one stride, and had gone on in a diagonal direction



54 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

which was a short cut to another village, for which we
were then making, and where we had been hoping to
arrive unexpectedly before the inhabitants had time to
conceal themselves and their supplies, which we were get-
ting to know by painful experience they would do. This
solitary footprint told us that we had been seen by the
people of the last place, who had sent on this runner to
warn the next of our approach, so that to obtain the
much needed corn there was nothing for it now but to
abandon that route, and strike off in a new direction for
another but more distant kraal we had heard of.

Such a story would of course be read from such signs
by any moderately practised hunter ; indeed in Africa
as in America a new comer could not go shooting with
safety who could not at least spoor sufficiently well to be
able to follow his back track in the event of finding him-
self lost on the veldt. No one can realise the full mean-
ing of the expression " feeling small " till as a " tender
foot " or " new chum " he has lost himself in the bush, and
then found that he was unable to track himself back to
camp again. He feels then what a mere speck he is on
the face of Nature.

The Red Indian boasts that he can not only distin-
guish a civilised man from a savage, though both be
wearing mocassins, but also a truthful man from a liar,
by his tracks. Although a civilised man may not hope
to rival this power, he can still attain a very fair pro-
ficiency in the art, provided that he has the gift of very
great patience and perseverance, in addition to a quick
eye for trifles, and an accurate knowledge of the ways
and habits of his quarry. Without these, no man, how-
ever much he may desire it, can become even a mediocre
tracker.



REARING PIG. 55

But supposing him to be possessed of these talents the
first step in his education will be to learn to distinguish
the appearance of the boar's footprint from that of any
other animal, such as the deer, the goat, the sheep, and
lastly from that of the sow.

The deer shows two long, narrow sharp-pointed toes
coming together with a fine point in a heart shape,
except when moving fast or in heavy ground. The goat
has a square pug with blunt points to his toes, which are
always held apart. The sheep's pug is more like that of
the boar, being longer than the goat's. His toes are
held slightly apart, and the heel points touch the ground.
The boar's pug is distinguished from that of the sow by
being much wider in the heel, and having the toes more
open, and the rudimentary toes marking the ground
more widely apart. His greater age is shown by the
increased size of his foot and width of heel. As in the
ball of the human thumb, so to an experienced eye there
is an individuality in the impression of the markings of
the sole of every old boar. Once the elementary points
have been mastered the sportsman should accompany a
native tracker to the jungle, and watch him and learn
from him first to recognise the age or freshness of a
track, and then the almost boundless art of deducing
and piecing together correctly information to be gathered
from the various signs found.

I cannot give here the many interesting and instruc-
tive tracking anecdotes that abound, but to show in
what way the Shikari draws his conclusions, I may quote
the incident given by Mr. Saunderson in his " Fifteen
Years among the Wild Beasts of India " He was riding
early one morning through the jungle with two pro-
fessional trackers walking, all muffled up, just in front of



56 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNT1NG.

his elephant They were proceeding to look for a tiger
which was known to be inhabiting the jungle. Present^
the fresh pugs of a tiger are seen on the path. The
trackers pass them by, apparently without noticing them.
Some of the beaters, however, who are following along
behind, see them and come running up to the pro-
fessionals, and jeeringly ask them if they have no eyes,
that they pass by the marks of the very quarry they
are seeking. To this one of the trackers only replies :
" Idiots! At what time do rats run about?" And on
closer investigation the abashed coolies discover that
across the great square pug of the tiger runs the delicate
tracing of the little field rat's toes, and knowing that this
rat only comes out of its hole early in the night and
retires again long before dawn, they recognise the fact
that several hours must have elapsed since the tiger
passed there.

The best Indian pig trackers are the Mahrattis, the
men of Kutch, the Bhils, the Gonds, and the Wagris of
North Gujerat

One of these men, if ordered to go to a certain jungle
and ascertain what pig were in it, would make a circuit
of it, and would not only see from the tracks leading into
it the numbers, sizes, and sexes of the various pig who
had entered it that morning, but would also notice the
individual peculiarities of all the boar's pugs, so that he
could tell which of them had again quitted the cover, and
what pig still remained within. So accurately could an
experienced man describe them that anyone not know-
ing him to be a tracker would imagine that he was
describing what he had actually seen.

In pugging boars, the usual method is for four or five
trackers or " puggees " to start together like a pack of



REARING PIG. 57

hounds on the trail. If the ground is soft, or the pig has
gone at speed, the work of following it is easy ; but
when he takes to going leisurely, and on hard dry
ground, the tracker's true work commences. The last
unmistakable footprint is marked with a scratch in the
sand drawn round it, and the puggees " cast " forward,
and to either side to find a further sign of his progress.
When found it is marked, and a new cast made for the
next mark. This method is persevered in for hours and
hours, and for mile after mile, until more favourable
ground is reached and the boar's lair found.

As an illustration of the difficulties gone through
in following up a boar in this way, I quote the follow-
ing from a letter I received from Mr. N. Symons (" Grey
Boar of Bombay ") who is one of the few Englishmen who
has succeeded in becoming a proficient in the art of
pugging :

"Wishing to track a good boar that had got away
through some thick cover, we called up the headman of
the beat (a man lent to us by a friend) and asked him if
he could pug. He was a havildar (sergeant) of police.
He replied, ' That is my regular business, sahib ; of
course I can pug. My work is pugging criminals.' On
enquiry we learnt that there were three other men
amongst our eighty or a hundred beaters who could
pug. However, we started, and got a good footmark
for the first few hundred yards, and I noticed that one
forefoot was apparently a trifle longer than the other,
but as he had been going at full speed it was not certain,
so I said nothing. Then we got to short, dry grass land
and the pug was lost. I took a long circle round and
lit on it in a goat track, and blew my horn. Up came
the puggees, and were delighted. A second time the



58 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

pug was lost, and again I had the luck to find it ; not,
strictly speaking, the pug, but a piece of broken cactus
in a hedge, with the milky juice exuding. This was
quite enough. On we went and followed up the pug for
miles on short grass, over fields where the crops had been
gathered, not so difficult a thing for a professional as an
outsider might imagine, for the boar was running, and
he cut up the ground with his feet more or less, and so the
men were able to keep it up at a run.

" By-and-by the boar began to walk, and then I was
beaten. I often at that period could not see the pug
until it was pointed out by the puggees drawing a circle
round it with their sticks. And then we came to a cross
track, both pretty fresh. We had now been pugging for
three hours, and it was most disheartening. We did not
know which track to follow, but after a long look with
my eyes shaded I noticed a curious similarity in the two
pugs. In both, one of the forefeet was longer than the
other. On pointing this out to the Wagris, they said
' Wah ! wah !' and talked among themselves, and then
turning to me, said ' Sahib, this is a very clever boar ;
he has walked round in a circle and crossed his own
track purposely. You sit down, sahib, for a quarter-of-
an-hour, and we will puzzle it out.' So we sent back for
the tiffin coolies, and sure enough the Wagris did 'puzzle
it out.' I could hardly believe it, and was not satisfied
till I had gone the whole way round, seeing where he
had gone through several cactus hedges and walked up
a lane turning into the same field, and coming back to
the identical spot. We ringed round and round, but
could not hit it off. Meantime one of the Wagris went
about carefully inspecting the hedges, for, as he told me
afterwards, he had noticed from the pug that the boar



REARING PIG. 59

had stood still in several of the last few fields we had
come through. When lo ! there he was ! Crouching
in the hedge like a hare in its form. A shout, a tally-ho,
and off we were ; and we got him after a smart gallop."
A further instance of what small indications must be
looked for and taken into consideration occurred when
tracking a pig who had entered a field where all further
trace of him was lost A gap in the hedge on the
opposite side of the field suggested his probable line of
exit. The gap was, therefore, closely examined, but
without the discovery of a leaf or twig having been
touched, much less of any footprint, till a Wagri puggee
found a bit of wet mud about the size of a sixpence.
The boar was known to have gone through an inundated
sugar field about half-a-mile further back, and this little
clot of mud must have stuck to his foot up to this point.
Working on this clue, the onward track was soon re-
gained, and successfully followed up to the boar's hiding-
place.




6o



CHAPTER X.

PIGSTICKING SEASONS.

28. Weather and Crops. Pig like to live near to
their water supply ; consequently, in the hot weather
when all small pools and tanks are dried up, it is very
evident that pig will be found in those jungles which are
near water; crops being at that time of year few and far
between, the pig have to go long distances for their
nightly meal. In the "rains" (2.0., from July to October),
high ground and the dry sides of ravines are much
resorted to, but the ground sodden and undermined with
water, and blind with a rank growth of vegetation,
renders riding after pig dangerous, if not impossible, in
most parts of the country. In the cold weather
(November to February) the crops are high and thick,
and the pig are more scattered about over the country,
cover and water being plentiful everywhere. They lie up
in warm corners, and often, especially on dull days, lie out
in the crops all day. Indigo crops are almost always
good resorts of pig in the cold weather, as are also grain
and young barley. It is, of course, a difficult matter to
follow a pig running in a crop, unless it is low enough to
expose the pig's back. In this case tht crop is in favour
of the pursuer ; as the boar cannot see where he is
running to, he soon becomes bewildered, and only runs
in a half-hearted sort of way, while his pursuer is able to
see and follow his every move.



PIGSTICKING SEASONS. 61

Sugar-cane, the favourite crop of all with the pig, is cut
in February and March in Bengal, in December in the
North-West Provinces, and in November and December
in the Punjab.

Barley, dhall, wheat, and grain are cut in February in
Bengal, and a month later in the North-West Provinces
and Punjab. Kana grass for thatching is cut in March.

So when all the above points are taken into consider-
ation it will be seen that the best season for pigsticking
in Northern India is from February to July.

C. Johnstone in his book on " Hog Hunting," pub-
lished early in the century, says : " From March to June
the weather is so extremely hot that hogs are seldom
hunted on horseback. They are more frequently killed
by being shot from the backs of elephants." (!) Now-a-
days, the man " who shot a boar " would be classed in
the same category with him " who shot the fox ; " and
whether the present generation are " harder " than their
fathers, or whether less beer-drinking and better head-
coverings have fortified them against the effects of the
sun, certain it is that the very months denounced by
Johnstone are those which are now considered to be the
best for sport. Of course, when hunting in such hot
weather, the meet must take place in the very early
morning, as it is then fairly cool for both horses, riders,
and beaters, and moreover, the pig, having barely settled
into their quarters for the day after their nocturnal
rambles, are the more easily persuaded to get on the
move again and leave the cover.

29. The following extract from the Log of the
Muttra Tent Club, giving the summary for the years
1882-3-4, will show the comparative value of the
different months of the year :



62



PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.





1882.


1883.


1884.


Total boar
killed.


January ....
February


2
II

7


7
17
ii




25
28


9

53
46


April
May

June
July
August

September
October


3i
58
17
3




o


13
18

35
7

i



4


30
39
1 8

20

14
I

2


74
H5
70

30
15

6


November
December




4


5








5
4


Total


133


iz8


117


428




PART II.



WHAT YOU HAVE TO CONTEND
WITH.

ENJOYMENT is HEIGHTENED BY THE EXCITEMENT AND
TRIUMPH OF SURMOUNTING OBSTACLES AND DANGERS.



CHAPTER XI.

POWERS OF THE PIG.

30. Craftiness. In the course of recent experi-
ments by Professor Schwartz and others, to test the
effect of alcohol on various animals, the savants came
to the conclusion that as the pig was the least affected
after most generous libations, his brain must be of a
very peculiar consistency as well as very small in pro-
portion to his size.

If this is the case it may truly be said that in the
matter of brains he goes in for quality and not quantity,
for there can be no doubt that that little brain is ex-
cessively full of craft. It may be that want of sensi-
tiveness enables him to keep all his wits about him up to
his last breath, even when he has been wounded to such
an extent as would have laid any other animal low in a
state of insensibility. And even in the worst dilemma a
pig never loses his head.

When he is first aroused by the distant sounds of the
beaters approaching his haunt, he will proceed to the
opposite end of the cover, and if he finds all quiet there
and the coast apparently clear he will probably steal out
at once and lob away across the open to some other
jungle with that peculiar gait which at a distance makes
him resemble (the simile is Mr. A. W. Cruickshank's) "a
carpet bag tumbling along end over end."

F



66 PIGSTICKING OR HOGHUNTING.

If the beaters come to his lair suddenly or silently he
will try by lying close to escape notice, but if roused
out he will probably make a dash for the line (which is
generally only too ready to open out and let him through)


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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 4 of 14)