A good many Indian sportsmen were killed by tigers when using these inferior weapons, and if they had been armed with a "461 of the type mentioned they would likely not have suffered. Mr. Selous quickly found out that a small bore (all rifles under .577 were then called small bores), used with a bullet either completely solid or with a good solid base behind the hollow in the point, was a thoroughly reliable weapon; so, when the .303 sporting rifle came into vogue, he soon got one and used it in Mashonaland and Matabeleland, and also on American game, with good results. He then tried a .256 Mannlicher, but doubtless found, as others and I have done, that it is rather too small in the bore for a good sporting rifle.
Then he got a .375 cordite rifle and has done good work with it, and I read in the Field that when recently in British East Africa he used a .275 and a .425 magazine rifle. During his many hunting experiences he has had several very narrow escapes from lions, elephants, and buffaloes. He was once knocked off his horse by a cow-elephant and stunned by the shock.
When he came to his senses he mentions that he became aware of a strong smell of elephant. After a hard struggle he managed to release himself, and got away.
He afterwards found that his horse had received a severe wound in the buttock from the elephant's tusk, but I think it eventually recovered. Again, a buffalo knocked his horse down, and Selous fell right under its horns. The buffalo then attacked him, and he managed to throw himself to one side and escape the main force of the blow, although he got a painful glancing blow which nearly dislocated his shoulder.
Then the buffalo left him, which it would not likely have done had it been badly wounded. The poor horse had received a terrible wound in the body, and Selous had to put it out of its pain by shooting it.
Again, in British East Africa, a buffalo charged and missed him, but got one of his gunbearers and gave him a severe blow which nearly killed him; as it was, the buffalo's horn broke to pieces a pair of prism glasses which the native had slung round his shoulders.
On another occasion a lion charged right up to him, and would doubtless have mauled him had he not stood his ground. In such a long career of hunting he has had many other narrow escapes, and he likely owes his escapes to very good nerves, agility, and great experience.
A great hunter of elephants and other game was the late Mr. Arthur H. Neumann, and he probably shot at least twice as many elephants as any man has done. I am aware there are several men who have shot from 300 to 500 of these animals, but I believe that Mr. Neumann shot about 1000 of them. Lately a book has appeared by Mr. Sutherland, and in a review of this book I read that he has shot 447 elephants, which is a great score.
Mr. Neumann had one very narrow escape from a cow elephant in British East Africa. He had wounded her with a .303 Lee-Metford, and she then attacked him. The magazine refused to act, and the animal knocked him down and drove one of its tusks through the biceps of one arm, at the same time injuring his ribs. He was not far from Lake Rudolf at the time, and he lay ill for a long time afterwards, but recovered to bag several more fine bulls with the same rifle. This accident was entirely due to the faulty construction of the early •303 rifles, for had he been able to load he would have doubtless killed, or at least have turned, this elephant He mentions using a 10-bore and a .577 Express with solid bullets, with good effect, and I believe during the latter part of his life that he used a .450 cordite rifle, and found that it killed elephants better than any rifle he had ever previously used. Neumann has left a great reputation in British East Africa, both among the whites and natives. I met a man who knew him intimately, and he told me that Neumann was a strange, silent man who had a great love of loneliness and the wilderness. He left one volume of his adventures entitled " Elephant Hunting in East Equatorial Africa," and those who have not read it should do so, as it is a book well worth perusal. Like most good hunters, Neumann did not embellish his writing with fanciful matter, and all he wrote is solid fact; so it is a lasting pity that he did not leave big-game shooters further accounts of his adventures, as they would have been most interesting reading.
Neumann was, I believe, an excellent game shot, and it was his custom to get pretty close to the animal he wished to shoot; and it is really safer to do this than to fire long uncertain shots, which are likely to wound, with the result that the elephant has to be followed up in thick cover, for all wounded animals take to the thickest cover they can find, which is infinitely more dangerous than going to within, say, twenty yards of an unwounded beast. For the brain shot it is absolutely essential to get close, or one will not be able to see exactly where to shoot, or the true angle at which the beast is standing. For the heart shot, much the best, really, sixty yards is a good distance. When elephants are in herds it is a mistake to go closer than this, as in their fright they run all over the place, and, unless there were some large trees about, it would be difficult to escape being trampled on. As I think I have mentioned, an elephant's brain is very small, considering the size of the skull and the mass of surrounding bone, ana it means shooting at an object not larger than 12in. by 6in.; and, moreover, when one considers that this mark is completely hidden in the centre of the head, it shows how experienced a man must be to make good work with the brain shot.
An elephant's heart is about the length of an ordinary-sized cushion, so it is not hard to hit. It lies half-way up, or down, the body, whichever way one looks at it—that is, it is fairly central in the cavity of the chest, and it lies right between the two shoulders.