All over the low-country along the numerous roads, at intervals of nine to fifteen miles, are resthouses of different classes, all more or less furnished. Good shooting is not, as a rule, to be obtained in the immediate neighbourhood of a resthouse, though there are some, in out-of-the-way places, from the verandahs of which shots may sometimes be had at deer, wild pigs, peafowl, hares and other game. The permission of Government, represented by the Chairman of the Provincial or District Road Committee, has to be obtained in all cases for the occupation of a resthouse for more than three days, but this rule does not often cause inconvenience, for unless game is very plentiful, which is unfortunately rare, shooting parties do not usually stop more than a few days in any place.
There are also a good many road, tank, forest and circuit bungalows, built for the accommodation of Government officers travelling on duty. They are generally small buildings of rough timber with mud walls and thatched roofs, and usually contain little or no furniture. Good sport may often be got in the immediate neighbourhood of these bungalows. Permission to occupy them must be obtained from the provincial departmental officers in charge.
It is sometimes convenient for a shooting party to take up quarters in a village, and it is usual to put up at the house of the headman. Attached to it there is almost certain to be a large open shed where all the work of the household, except the cooking, is done. Such a shed, hung round with mats and cloths does not make bad quarters in dry weather. All cots, stools and other native furniture in the shed should be put outside, or not made use of, as they are likely to be full of bugs. There are seldom any fleas, owing to the frequent application of cow dung to the mud floor of all native houses. It seems scarcely necessary to say that a present to the owner of any building occupied should always be given on departure, but this acknowledgement of civility is often forgotten.
When other accommodation is not available, the little, mud-built thatched Roman Catholic Chapels to be found in many villages may be occupied without the people raising any objection, provided nothing is done to offend their religious prejudices. Heathen temples and mosques cannot, of course, be entered by Europeans.
In the low-country in the dry weather it is possible to camp out in the open under a shady tree for many days together with little fear of rain falling, but anyone " roughing it " in this fashion must take his chance of fever and chills.
It is sometimes necessary when shooting in a part of the country where there are no villages, rest-houses, or Government bungalows, to camp in the jungle. In such case it is generally better to put up huts built of jungle sticks, with grass walls and roofs for the whole party, including servants and coolies, and also stabling for the horses. They should, of course, be quite ready for occupation before the arrival of the party. A trustworthy man should be sent beforehand to superintend the work, for which villagers may be engaged through the local headman. If small advances are given there will be no difficulty in getting the services of the villagers, who are accustomed to put up such huts. The site selected should be a shady place near good water. The ground should be well cleared and swept, or the camp is likely to be infested by ticks or invaded by armies of black ants, whose bite is most painful. The stables should be built so as not to face the " land wind," if blowing.
A small double-topped tent, large enough for two people to sleep in, and sufficiently light with poles, ropes, etc, for two coolies to carry, is a useful but not indispensable thing to take on a jungle trip. If it is proposed to camp under canvas, sheets of drill or khaki, twelve feet square for roofing and walling huts and stables built of jungle sticks for servants, coolies and horses should also be taken. It should be remembered that the weight of tents, unless made of waterproof canvas, is greatly increased when they get wet, and that they are never so healthy and cool to live in as thatched huts. It is an excellent plan to take on a trip a number of "talipots," which are sheets or mats about eight feet by four feet, made of the leaf of the talipot palm. Being very light, perfectly waterproof and cheap, costing about fifty cents each in Colombo, they will be found useful for many purposes.
A big camp fire should be kept burning every night. It may prevent a starving leopard carrying off the dogs, and has a cheerful picturesque look.
It may be accepted as a maxim that it is better to take rather too many things on a shooting-trip than too few. It is a great mistake to "rough it," and to run risk of spoiling the pleasure of a trip, or of losing health for want of a few conveniences and comforts. A man should, in fact, live rather better when camping or travelling in the jungle than he is accustomed to do at home.
Not one man in ten will take the trouble, but it is an excellent plan to number all boxes, etc, taken on a trip, and to make lists of their contents.
As regards clothes, it is necessary to state first that a chill may be taken in the low-country quite as easily as up-country, while the after-effects are likely to be worse. The use of flannel is apt to produce in those not accustomed to the heat of the plains that distressing skin eruption, " prickly heat," but there can be no doubt that it is the safest thing to wear, provided it is thin and soft. A light sun-hat which shades the back of the head well is, of course, indispensable. For shooting in the evergreen forests of the low-country, clothes of a brown colour dashed with green, or entirely green, should be worn, and the hat be covered with the same material. Light shoes with thin or india-rubber soles, in which it is possible to creep about the jungle noiselessly over the rotten sticks and dead leaves, are much better than heavy thick-soled boots.