The choice of a spearhead is, of course, to some extent a matter of taste and individual opinion. I have endeavoured to give an idea of the general requirements* The celebrated blades called " Salem," manufactured at a place of that name in the Madras Presidency, are larger and heavier than those I preferred to use. For their size, however, they are light, and being well-shaped are in deserved favour. Their form is something between Nos. 1 and 2 of the cut.
Of those in use in Lower Bengal, where a stouter and heavier spear is used job-wise, I shall say no more, being able only to speak from hearsay, never myself having engaged in the sport of hog-hunting in those favoured regions.
With regard to the length of the spear, when used in the Bombay fashion, I fear that many old sportsmen will perhaps disagree with me, and consider that no restriction should be placed upon it. The arguments adduced give my reasons for thinking otherwise. Having altogether retired as a performer in the hunting-field, I am able to look back impartiallyI hope on the sport I greatly loved, and my earnest desire is to foster it, and see it regarded, and generally followed, as a true sport, and not a mere slaughter. For this reason I do, and did for years, determinedly oppose the promiscuous slaughter of sows, and I sincerely hope that those young hog-hunters who may do me the honour of reading the foregoing pages will, when possible, spare the sex.
The Colonel's threat to refuse leave of absence to inveterate sow-killers is no imaginary circumstance.
On an occasion, once, of comparing the two sports of foxhunting and hog-hunting, a greatly respected and valued friend and commander, an officer of high rank, avowed to me that much as he admired the latter, the former was the sport of his choice. From his youth up he had been bred a fox-hunter, and stuck to his original love. The officer in question was one as well known over the hills and valleys of Gloucestershire as on the stony hills and nullahs of the Deccan and Cutch.
I have adopted nine feet as a fair maximum length, because it seems sufficient for all purposes. On reference to an old note-book, I there find recorded the length of three of my spears then in common use. These were as follows:
First spear .
Second spear .
The last was, I remember, a very stout bamboo, heavily leaded at the end, and was usually employed by me when riding pig alone. It was with this I killed, with one thrust, the heavy boar whose chase and death is recorded as happening near Dooree, and very possibly, also, the one whose death is next narrated, for it occurred a few months later. But regarding the latter I am not certain.
I do not presume to lay down any law on the subject; but it seems to me desirable that there should be a certain restriction as to length, though the limit may be fixed at a greater or lesser length than that named, according to the general opinion of the members of a hunt. Personally, I would have it less than that I have mentioned.
Where sow-slaying is not already prohibited, there may be a good deal of trouble and difficulty in stopping it. Perhaps efforts to do so will create some ill-feeling. Such was the case with myself. And, indeed, I must confess it is very annoying and provoking when you have got a good lay-in, with a fair chance of taking first-spear, to find that the pursued, if single, is not a boar, or if it be a sounder that it contains none. I have, therefore, modified the rule I formerly attempted to enforce, and leave it for the consideration and amendment of those who may feel inclined to recognise the general right and necessity of some restriction to sow-killing.
The code is not intended to be exhaustive. I have merely noted a few circumstances which during a course of many years of constant hog-hunting have occurred, and require to be defined by rule. My experience as secretary and general manager having filled that honorary and responsible position to four different hunts has also led me to offer these few hints for the consideration of my brother sportsmen. They are merely intended as suggestive to those who may have a knowledge of the subject equal to or greater than my own.
I do not think there is a single river in Cutch which can be considered as perennial. Many, it is true, remain, even throughout the hot season, with water in their beds, in pools more or less large. Some of these, too, are connected by streamlets. But I question if any one pours a pint of water either into the sea or on to the Runn of Cutch according to its course at the close of the hot weather.
During the rains and cold season the sandy beds of the rivers and nullahs are full of quicksands, all troublesome and occasionally dangerous to the traveller who attempts to cross at other than the recognised fords. Where the Rhoda river loses itself in the Runn, the quicksands are exceedingly dangerous at certain seasons, and would at once engulf any unwary man or beast who had the temerity to endeavour to cross them. Usually, however, they are far less fatal; but a horse has a hard struggle sometimes to extricate himself and rider, as I have frequently seen and proved. Many streams in other sandy portions of India are of a similar nature.
It will be known to the reader that peafowl are deemed sacred birds by the Hindoos. So much are they protected in some parts that, in the vicinity of villages, they are allowed to wander unmolested among the grain fields, to which they do no little damage. They return at evening from their daily plundering, and roost in the trees in the neighbourhood, sometimes on those scattered about the village itself.
Owing to the veneration in which they are held, their slaughter is prohibited in all the Hindoo independent states, and consequently officers and soldiers are prohibited by our own Government from destroying them there. The killing of cattle is similarly unauthorised.
Now a pea-chick is by no means unpalatable, and it is sometimes very tantalising to see the well-fed creature almost offering itself to the hungry gunner whose camp larder is perhaps represented by an ill-fed and very stringy and indifferent specimen of the domestic variety of the order Gallinse. Hence it follows that the temptation is not always resisted. The peafowl is bagged in more senses than one. He is shot, feathered, and hidden in the folds of the clothes belonging to some one of the beaters who are usually quite indifferent on the subject and the bird appears at dinner as turkey, or under any other name.
But many rows have taken place between Europeans and natives on the subject, and Sir C. Napier was once obliged to refer to the matter in General Orders in Scinde. " If officers will shoot peacocks," he is said to have tersely written, " Beloochees will shoot officers."
In some Buneea-ridden parts of the country (the Buneea caste entirely prohibit slaughter of, or, indeed, drawing of blood from, any living creature) deer and other wild animals thus enjoy perfect immunity from the native shikarees. These are fine sporting-grounds for the English hunter, who repudiates the prohibition unenforced by his own Government.
The Buneeas in Cutch went so far as to endeavour to secure the co-operation of their own chief, and through him of Government, to prevent the killing even of sheep in the cantonment bazaars. In this, of course, they were unsuccessful; though, the slaughter of kine being prohibited, fresh beef is there an unknown luxury.