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

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

. (page 6 of 14)
Online LibraryRobert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell Baden-Powell of GilwellPigsticking; or, Hoghunting: a complete account for sportsmen, and others → online text (page 6 of 14)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

seized him by the foreleg with the right hand and tried
to throw him. He was too strong for me and kept on
cutting me, so finding that I could not get rid of him, I
resolved to try the dodge of shamming ; I therefore
threw myself flat on my face and lay still, hoping the
brute would leave me. However, he went on digging at
me as viciously as ever, inflicting two severe cuts on my
head. This would not do, so I jumped up, and grasping
my spear with both hands, drove it with all my strength
against his chest, but it would not penetrate, and I was
again knocked down.

" I now began to think matters were becoming serious
when to my delight, I heard horses galloping. I shouted
for help, and as they approached the boar left me. S.,
R., and S., then rode up, having by good luck come the
right way, for they did not even know I was in front of
them. I was scarlet from head to foot, and my clothes
cut to ribbons. S. looked after me while the others
went for a dhoolie. I was carried into camp and my
wounds sewn up and dressed, a job which took nearly
four hours ! I had received about fifty wounds, two in
the head, two in the foot, and the others pretty equally
distributed between them. The tendons of my left arm
were injured, and I have never recovered perfect use oi
that hand."

Among the natives of India, it is a common super-
stition that the cut from a boar is poisonous, and
though the same idea was formerly prevalent in England,
there seems to be nothing to justify it.


Vambery, when travelling in Central Asia (it is
probably "Eastern Russia" by this time), was thrown
by his horse in the midst of a sounder of pig. He was
afterwards cordially congratulated by his native followers
on having been fortunate enough to escape the tushes of
the boar, as their effect would probably have been fatal,
and had he gone to the next world " nedjis " or defiled,
owing to being killed by an unclean beast, one hundred
years of purgatory would not have sufficed to cleanse
him !

In the majority of instances of a man on foot being
attacked by a boar, he has received wounds in the

In the case of horses the wounds, if not in the belly,
are generally in the stifle or hock.

Many horses when being ridden up to a wounded
boar are apt to check their pace just when they are on
him, and consequently give him a steadier object of
attack ; many endeavour to strike at him with their
forefeet and are very often severely cut about the fet-
locks in so doing. I have known a horse gashed on two
different occasions when trying this plan of attack ; and
there is on record a case of a pony having its forefoot
cut off in a similar encounter, and the hoof being left
hanging by skin and a tendon only.

Apparently with an idea of wounding in a more vital
part a boar will often spring at the horse or rider. I
have known of a horse standing 15*3 hands being badly
cut on the wither in that way, and Matthew Day, of
Dacca, had a horse wounded with a gash extending from
the root of the tail to the point of the hip. Instances of
the rider's boots being cut are common.

Some herbivorous animals, such as the horse, camel,


etc., use their teeth in self-defence, while others, such as
the elephant, deer, buffalo, etc., do not.

The pig, in spite of having a good weapon in his tusk,
may be classed among the former, for he will occasionally,
without any apparent reason, take to biting instead of
gashing at close quarters.

Many cases have occurred of a hunter's foot or stirrup
being seized and held by the pig in his mouth. Colonel
Murdoch, R.H.A., has (unless he has by this time worn
it out) a boot with a pig's tooth-mark clean through the

Colonel Eraser, in his " Life in India," describes how
his syce lost two fingers by a bite from a pig.

"Beetle," the fox terrier hero pictured at page 132,
had one of his feet badly chawed by a boar, and from
that day went about with a permanently enlarged foot.

On one occasion, when riding a mulishly obstinate
horse, I had succeeded in pinning a boar to the ground
with a spear through his body ; he presently began to
work himself up the spear towards the horse's forelegs.
No jobbing or spurring would induce the horse to move,
till the boar, much to my surprise, instead of cutting at
it seized my steed's off fore in his mouth, and gave it
a bite which made the horse hop with pain, and then
retaliate with a tattoo by both forefeet on the boar's skull.
The following extract from the lt Asian" gives an
instance of a good boar disdaining to use his tushes :
" The hog met me boldly (for the third time) and
was again badly wounded ; another charge, and though
badly hit, he managed to come in, and catching my foot
in his mouth, hung on like a bull-dog, while the impetus
of the horse dragged him several yards from the jungle.
The pain of the bite was intense, and I really thought


for a moment that I had lost half my foot. There was,
however, no time to examine how matters stood, for night
was closing in fast ; we were close upon a heavy jungle,
and every minute of breathing time allowed improved
the chance of my antagonist ; so, at him again was the
word, and this time either from a stumble my horse
made in going up, or the imperfect light in the long
grass, I missed him in the charge and he struck me
between the boot top and the breeches, causing a very
severe bruise, but strange to say without cutting my leg.
In the next and last charge my spear struck the hog
just above the shoulder, and going completely through
the body, the gallant brute fell and died without a

struggle For this novel mode of attack by

biting I am unable to account, as the tushes now before
me are sharp and perfect, and their size prove him to
have been about the prime of hoghood. We must con-
clude that the march of intellect has made a stride among
the pigs, and that following the example of bipeds the
males now adopt a mode of defence formerly peculiar
to the weaker sex, employing the tongue instead of
* tulwar ' (sword), teeth instead of tushes."

36. Gameness. The pluck of the pig is best shown
when, disabled by wounds, and with power to run no
further, he stops to fight every inch of his way to some
cover, and on gaining it comes to bay.

" The pluck of the bull-dog does not beat
The pluck of the gallant boar."

Any but a good spear seems to rouse him to fresh
fury. He stands with feet planted wide apart and head
lowered, his tushes clashing together, and his restless
little bloodshot eyes watching every movement of his

G 2


foes, till the nearer approach of one of them prompts
him to rush forth and charge with an unexpected vigour
and activity, after which he will trot back and take up
his position afresh. Let a rider try to come up behind
him, he will note the movement and be round on him in
a twinkling. He never seems to lose head or heart, and
throws himself on to the spears time after time with
reckless gallantry, and even when being held off with a
spear through his body he will endeavour by working
himself up the shaft to get within cutting distance of the
horse or the hunter.

Wounds which would at least disable any other
animal seem to affect the pig but little. Even with his
skull splintered by a shot he has been known to charge
with renewed vigour.

The following incident, which I have ventured to
extract from the Cawnpore Tent Club Log, will give an
idea of the fighting spirit and gameness of the boar :

"In the afternoon (2Oth June, 1874) we found another
very fine pig a little beyond the Bumba, and Clifford,
who was on the line, followed him across the canal and
into some bushes about one and a-half mile below the
Kejung Bridge. Here he took up his stand and we
waited till the coolies came up, when, having bowled
over three of them, head over heels, and established a
funk among the rest he sneaked away and got across
the road ere he was discovered. The whole field got
away after him, but he succeeded in gaining a mango
tope (grove) about one and a-half mile from the bushes,
closely pressed by Fishbourne. After some little diffi-
culty he was induced to break, but being too quickly
followed by Fishbourne he turned and made back for
the garden. Mitchell, who was just coming out, rode to


meet him, but missed his spear, and the pig passed
between his horse's legs, and gave him rather a nasty
cut, which would have been much worse had his tusk not
happened to be broken.

"The boar now lay down in some water, whence
Clifford and Fishbourne invited his charges, the latter
spearing him through the back, leaving the spear in,
which, however, he quickly broke off against a tree, and
immediately after, noticing Cruickshank a little way off
he carefully stalked him and rolled him, horse and all,
right over. The unfortunate mali (gardener) next came
in the way and had a large piece of flesh cut out of his
thigh, and two coolies and a woman were badly cut
within a few seconds after. After these performances
the boar went right through a village and gained nearly
a mile start before anyone got away after him. About
two miles from the garden he took up his position in a
piece of sugar crop where he was finally killed by Fish-
bourne after charging six or seven times and being speared
every time"

H.R.H. the Duke of Connaught was on one occasion
faced by a very game boar, when hunting with the Delhi
Tent Club. The pig had been started in a very difficult
bit of country. Lord Downe was the first to come on
terms with him, and as he did so the boar turned and
rushed for him, and although smartly speared succeeded
in inflicting a fearful gash in his horse's hock. Dr.
Kavanagh coming up next was charged in his turn, and
succeeded in checking the boar with a point in the head,
but so deeply was the spear driven in that it was wrenched
from his hand, and remained standing in the pig's skull.
In spite of this encumbrance the old tusker again started
to make good his retreat to the jungle, when the Duke


came up and speared with such effect that he gave up
all further idea of flight, and having worked the spear
out of his head, took to charging at his enemies. He
pursued Dr. Kavanagh for some distance, and another of
the party he unhorsed, and only after a good tussle was
he killed on foot, the Duke of Connaught giving him his
coup de grace.

When utterly beat the boar will, as a rule, retreat into
some thick bush, small ravine, or other sanctuary where
he cannot be taken in rear or flank, and if possible out
of reach of spears. From a position such as this it is
very difficult to oust him. If his cover is inflammable
it may be set fire to, but if not it will be necessary to
attack him on foot, but in such a case it is well to
remember that although he may struggle into his
sanctuary apparently more than half dead, it is not,
therefore, to be presumed that he is already done for ;
often he will lie still for some time shamming to be dead,
and quietly recover his wind, and will in time revive to a
wonderful extent; on this account he should be ap-
proached with caution by anyone dismounted.

To' digress for a moment : talking of approaching
cautiously when on foot reminds me of a case which
happened in the Allahabad district, when after a long
run over bad ground the boar got into a thicket, very
done but still unwounded. As no beating or shouting
had the desired effect of driving him forth he was ap-
proached by the party on foot with every precaution,
when to the surprise of the contestants for " first spear,"
it was found that the unfortunate (?) animal had already
passed away to happier jungles having died of apoplexy
or exhaustion.

When hard pressed and beat a pig will take to almost


any kind of refuge, whether up a drain, down a well, or
in a house. I have known three instances of pig doing
this latter, and one was killed near Meerut, having taken
his final stand in a grain dealer's shop. A good boar
was once killed near Cawnpore who had gone to bay in
a tank (pond). He fought the party of three spears for
over fifteen minutes before he was finally despatched.
He had cut one horse and two beaters severely.

It is in this last stage of his hunt, when thus driven to
bay, that the boar exhibits to the fullest that stubborn
pluck and reckless fierceness which so characterise him
and which deservedly raise him to the first place amongst
animals of the chase.

On such occasions, with sterner feelings roused, one
cannot well feel pity, but a strong admiration seizes one
for the plucky beast.

" good to run and to fight,

And who never says die till you've killed him outright."

M. Levesque says "j'ai beaucoup frequente les sang-
liers, et, parmi nos animaux sauvages, je n'en connais
aucun que je trouve aussi estimable. C'est un brave, un
chevalier sans peur et sans reproche, qui se bat
courageusement jusqu'a la fin, et meurt comme un




37. Long Spear. In addition to the natural pro-
pensities of the boar himself, the use of a weapon that
is not certain in its effects, and which brings hunter and
hunted on more equal terms and at close quarters, is
a further item of excitement in the sport of pigsticking.

At all times and in all countries where pighunting has
found followers, it has almost invariably been carried out
with the aid of some form of spear. By the inhabitants
of Ancient Britain, by those of Albania, Central Europe,
New Zealand, South Africa, Algeria, by the Pathans of
Biluchistan, and the Brinjaris of Hindustan, boar have
been, or still are, run down on foot and killed with assist-
ance of dogs and spears.

As I have said, the idea of hunting the boar on horse-
back was only introduced as a substitute for bearstick-
ing some ninety years ago by English sportsmen
quartered in India, and for a long time the old form of
spear was adhered to a big, broad-bladecl head, set on to
the thick end of a short, heavy, bamboo shaft. This
weapon was thrown at the pig.

Even so late as 1827 Johnson writes : "When hunting
with a party I disapprove of jobbing the spear into the
hog, that is spearing a hog and not quitting your hold
of the spear. It is attended with considerable danger of
dislocating the shoulder " (!) " and prevents all the rest


of the party from participating in the sport, the horse
and rider are more liable to be ripped ; and it requires
no dexterity comparatively with throwing the spear,
though more resolution and strength of arm ; and it is
not considered a fair method of sport." Since then,
however, the system thus decried has been generally
adopted, and the spear has undergone great changes in
weight and dimensions, to make it a weapon adapted for
being retained in the hand under all circumstances.

Two kinds of spear are used in India, the long or
" underhand " spear, and the short or "jobbing" spear.

The long spear is generally used in Southern and
Western India, and in the Meerut, and one or two other
clubs in Northern India. It consists of a light, tough
bamboo shaft, from seven to eight feet long, with a small
steel head, the whole weighing from two to three pounds.
The shape of the head depends to a great extent on the
fancy of the hunter. The spear is used "underhand," that
is, it is grasped about two-thirds of the way back from the
point, with knuckles turned downwards, thumb pointing
along the shaft which is carried below the forearm with
a free play of wrist, elbow, and shoulder.

The advantages claimed for the long spear are that it
is easy to use, that a pig, and particularly a "jinker," is
more quickly reached with it, that a charging boar is
held at a safe distance from the horse, and that the whole
impetus of man and horse are given to the force of the

The disadvantages are said to be that it is unwieldy
to carry among long grass, bushes, trees, etc., and that
being easily diverted by stalks and twigs, etc., it is useless
for spearing purposes in such places ; and owing to its
length, and the manner in which it is held, it cannot be


used against a boar charging from behind or from a

38. The Short Spear. The short or "jobbing"
spear is generally used throughout Bengal and Upper
India, and is thicker, heavier, and shorter than the long
spear, being 6 feet 6 inches extreme measure, with a
weight of lead on the butt, so designed that when the
spear is grasped within 6 inches of the butt, it has a
certain balance, and can be wielded from the elbow.
Its weight is from two to four pounds, and it is used
"overhand," that is, with the knuckles to the front,
thumb upwards.

Its advantages are that it can be better used among
jungle, since its action is more perpendicular than that
of the long spear, and, therefore, is not so liable to be
interfered with by bushes, etc. ; that it can be carried
without inconvenience through any jungle where a horse
can go (the butt being held in the hand, and the shaft
lying alongside the horse's body, pointing to the rear) ;
that it brings the hunter into closer proximity with the
boar, hence, allowing a better mark and a more exciting
time ; that the stroke being a perpendicular one through
the back is most deadly ; and that a boar charging from
the right or right rear (the most usual direction of attack)
is easily received.

Its disadvantages are, that it requires more skill and
strength on the part of the wielder, and also the use of a
good horse ; that in the event of a fall it is more liable
to wound the horse or rider; and that it allows a boar
to come into too dangerous proximity to the horse,
when being speared or when charging.

39- Comparative Merits of the two Spears.
The comparative merits of the long and short spears


have been and always are a subject of much discussion
between " pigstickers " and " hoghunters." Mr. John
Watson, A. Cruickshank, Lord W. Beresford, and Mr. N.
Symons, pigstickers of the first flight, have all of them
used both spears alike, and have given their verdict in
favour of the short one. The first-named, perhaps the
finest pigsticker ever seen in India, used as it were to
" smash " the pig down with his powerful short weapon,
and the last-named, even though hunting in a country
(Bombay), where long spears are the rule, invariably uses
the jobbing spear.

Dr. Kavanagh, and some others who have used both,
while recognising most of the good points of the short
spear, condemn it on the ground of its letting the boar
in so close as to be dangerous, and, therefore, unfair on
the horse. I have, therefore, been at some pains to as-
certain whether the percentage of horses cut by boars is
larger in clubs where the short spear is used than where
the long spear is general, but the results of the enquiry
do not show any reliable difference between them.
Apparently such accidents are compounded of so many
other elements, such as nature of country, breed of pig,
excellence or otherwise of both horses and riders, that
no true comparison on this head can be drawn. As far
as figures went (but "anything may be proved by
figures"), the percentage was in favour of the short

Having myself had some experience of both spears, I
have no hesitation in saying that, although the long
spear is undoubtedly best for first spearing a running,
and particularly a jinking, pig, and so bringing him
sooner to terms, the short spear is undoubtedly the most
handy, and the most deadly for receiving charges, and


for fighting in jungle or crops. When hunting by
myself, I have carried a medium spear, using it " under-
hand " at first to " bring the boar to," and changing to
" overhand " for fighting and killing him. My favourite
and most deadly spear measured only 5 feet 10 inches ;
and the district I hunted in (Muttra) included almost
every class of country to be met with in pigsticking
centres, such as grass plains, bush, tiger grass, and tree
jungles, nullahs, river beds, and stony hills.

I cannot help thinking that the short spear, besides
being the more fatal, is the more " sporting " ctf the two,
and that two of the points alleged against it are actually
in its favour. It is objected that more skill is required
in its use, and that it allows the boar to come in too
close to the horse; but to me it seems that these two
points tend to fulfil the premises which go to constitute
the sport : namely, the one gives scope for the practice of
the individual proficiency of the hunter, while the other
gives the quarry a better chance against his pursuer.

However, the choice of spear to be adopted for
general use by a Tent Club, is usually governed by local
circumstances, such as proportion of jungly country to
be met with, the character of the general breed of pig in
that district, etc. Thus the short spear is used in coun-
tries like Bengal, where long grass, jhao, thick crops,
etc., are common, and where the boar turns to charge as
soon as he is collared, without waiting to be pricked.
Whereas in wide, open countries like Western India,
where the pig trusts a good deal to his speed to take
him out of danger, and where jungles are few and far
between, the long spear is preferred, as being the better
weapon with which to harass and bring him to bay.

40. Spear Heads. There are in existence spear


heads of every variety of shape and temper that a
sportsman's fancy can desire, but the beginner cannot go
far wrong if he select one of the more ordinary kinds to
begin with either the "Bayonet" shape (made by
Wilkinson, of Pall Mall ; Thornhill, Bond Street; Hill, of
the Haymarket ; or Rogers, of Bond Street), or those
known as the " Bodraj," made in Aurungabad (Bombay),
and obtainable all over India.

The Bayonet head is a tapering three-edged spike, long,
triangular in section, with blade 6 inches long and three-
quarters oan inch width of side, socket and neck 6 inches,
which, owing to its shape, slips easily into the flesh and
between bones with comparatively little pressure, and can
always be as easily withdrawn, and its point is solid and
strong enough to pierce the bone of the shoulder-blade or
skull. In selecting a head of this kind, the buyer should
be careful to take only one whose blade and socket are
made in one piece, and not connected at the neck by
solder and a bolt up the inside.

The Bodraj 'head is a flat oval blade tapering to a point,
it is 4 inches long, three-quarters to I inch broad at the
widest part, with a neck and socket of 4 inches long ; a
projecting rib runs from point to socket along the centre of
each side of the blade, standing about one-sixth of an inch,
and sharpened along its back. This head is particularly
adapted for use in Pigsticking Cup Competitions, as
the channels along the bottom of the rib are apt to
retain a certain amount of blood after inflicting a wound,
which may often be a decisive proof in the case of a
disputed first spear, while a smooth spear blade will
frequently become so greased and re-greased in passing
in and out again of the pig through his layer of skin fat,
that it fails to retain even the drop of the blood of the


interior wound necessary for substantiating the claim to
first spear.

The main points to be insisted on in the selection of a
spear head are that : The socket should be wide enough
at its mouth to admit the bamboo shaft without necessi-
tating its being trimmed or planed down, as a great
portion of the toughness of the bamboo lies in its
external skin.

The neck connecting the socket to the blade should be
strong and unbendable the whole head being made in
one piece; those which are jointed and soldered together,
or otherwise weak at the neck, are apt to bend or break
off on contact with the boar's skull, or other hard bone.

The blade itself should not only be of a shape that
will ensure its easy entrance through skin and muscle
and between the ribs, etc., combined with an ability to
retain blood, but which will also enable it to be with-
drawn again without risk of its being prevented from
coming out between the ribs or through the original slit
in the tough hide after having received a turn in the
wound, and yet it should be of sufficient size to make a
hole capable of admitting the socket into the wound,
For this reason, wide or thin (not " narrow ") blades

1 2 3 4 6 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Online LibraryRobert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell Baden-Powell of GilwellPigsticking; or, Hoghunting: a complete account for sportsmen, and others → online text (page 6 of 14)