There seems to be such shock with modern bullets driven at great velocity that the arteries and blood vessels are seared, and bleeding does not take place.
Rifles like the .280, used with a sharp expanding bullet, seem to work great destruction in the flesh and tissues, and this prevents external bleeding. Such a weapon is doubtless most reliable for red deer and the smaller antelopes and other game of the world, such as bighorn, markhor, ibex, and bear; but most men who have had a good experience of African game like a heavier blunt bullet of the old shape.
In a later chapter I will have more to say about rifles, and I only mention them here in connection with the blood spoor they cause.
The easiest time to track is, of course, just after rain, as all old spoor will be washed over with sand or mud and recent tracks will show up distinctly.
Perhaps the hardest type of ground to spoor on is either rocky land or ground covered with a thick carpet of dried leaves, as the vegetation will often have to be turned aside to detect the marks on the earth.
If an animal is running hard there is little difficulty, as the soil will be thrown back and to the sides; and a running sable antelope leaves a very distinct trail, as his hoofs spread out more than do the majority of game. However, no hard-hit animal will keep up a fast run for more than a mile or two, and it will soon settle down to an easy walk, and will usually take to pretty thick cover.
An easy spoor to follow is one through long, rank grass, as the beast's hoofs and body will press the grass over in the direction it is going.
Elephants in such a patch of country are very easily followed, and if there is a herd of any game nothing could be simpler than tracking in such a place.
Droppings are often eaten by beetles, sometimes almost immediately after they are deposited, and large dung like elephant's will remain warm for an hour or two, and if it is broken open it will often be steamy. It is certainly easier to tell if droppings are recently deposited than the exact age of footprints.
In windy weather the fine sand gets blown into the footprints, and small spiders sometimes make their webs over such marks, which would point to them being a few hours or more old.
By opening dung one can get a fair idea as to the food of various game, and it is astonishing what a varied " menu " all animals have. Both carnivorous and herbivorous game eat certain fruits, and the former are not above eating such creatures as mice, lizards, land turtles, locusts, caterpillars, and snails. In fact, anything that is eatable that comes in their way will be swallowed at times.
Elephants eat leaves, bark, fruits of many kinds, and, I believe, occasionally grass, and rhinos are said to feed solely on bark and thorns, but I once found grass in a black rhino's stomach, so it had evidently been grazing.
Elephants often swallow stones, and on several occasions I have found them in their stomachs. Quite recently I picked out thirty-eight stones from an elephant's stomach, and there may have been more that I did not find. These may be taken when the animals drink and it is possible that they swallow some when eating anthill mud, which they probably eat for its saline qualities, or for the acid contained in it.
The usual way to shoot in Central Africa is to go out and range the bush on the look-out for game, but if any special animal is wanted it is better to try to find the fresh tracks and spoor it up, and certainly this is the highest art of hunting.
I have mentioned that the pleasantest time to go out shooting is in the afternoon, when the grass and vegetation are dry and the sun is losing its power. There are two objections to this time and these are that if an animal is shot it has to be left out all night, and this spoils the meat for the white man's use. If the game is disembowelled, or " gralloched" as they say in Scotland, the smell will carry a long way, and it is bound to attract hyaenas and perhaps lions if there are any about. The other objection is that should a beast be wounded there is no time to spoor it up and put it out of pain, and this is a very serious objection indeed, in my opinion, for it is cruel to leave a wounded animal for over twelve hours.
The disadvantage about the morning shoot is that the grass and vegetation, before the time of the annual fires, will be soaking wet with dew ; in fact, so wet that one might as well walk through a pond. However, the sun soon gets strong and dries one if it is not a dull and cloudy day. Such a morning is sometimes beautiful with the sun's rays flashing on the dewdrops like millions of diamonds, and the sprays of long grass like a highly polished series of sword blades.
Often the "couch" of some game animal will be seen, and there is usually such a strong smell that it is possible to tell what species has been lying there. Buffalo have a strong odour, so have eland and waterbuck, and pig also leave a strong taint behind.
Sometimes I have smelt game before seeing it, and animals can have little difficulty in tracing their own kind by the sense of smell. I imagine, too, that the feet of animals leave a strong scent behind, which enables others to follow them.
Most game move about at night, when they eat and drink, and they lie up when the sun begins to get hot, which is about 9 or 10 a.m.
Antelopes like to go into the open about 4 p.m., when the sun is beginning to wane, and the open spaces are a good type of country to search between that time and sunset. Early in the morning, game will often be found in the dambos, the small plains in Central Africa, which are generally covered with anthills in a more or less degree. These mounds form good cover for a stalk to a fair sporting range, and there are often clumps of bush or patches of grass left by the annual fires which serve the same purpose.
Warthogs, reedbuck, and oribi will occasionally be seen in the open during the hot hours, though the heat of October and November is generally too great for all of them, and they will keep to the bush.