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On the 19th November, being encamped at Veeranoor, a deserted village on the left bank of the Cauvery, about thirty-six miles from Salem, we went out at dawn and sat over some caves. Seeing nothing, we went on, some villagers leading the way. On approaching some small hills, we saw the villagers gesticulating excitedly, and found that there were two bears in a thick ravine. Presently a cry arose that the bears were coming, and they came on in thick cover, and stopped just under where I was posted. Presently they began to ascend the hill, and I saw them, and gave one of them a "punt" on the head with a bullet from my little gun, and they both went roaring down again. One went off at score; but the wounded one was done, and remained on the skirts of the hill making a horrid noise. While preparing to circumvent him, I heard an indignant and astonished grunt behind me, and turning round, saw two great bears standing on a ridge of rock. I fired; one fell over, but picked itself up again and made off with its companion. We went to the spot and found a great deal of blood and a bit of bone on the ground, but the bears had vanished in the heavy jungle. We returned to the first wounded bear, which was moving slowly towards some caves, and I hit it again; but it got into a cave. Going up, we heard it inside, and, removing some loose stones, saw it lying at the bottom of a den. I fired again, and presently the bear was still. My servant (who had come out this morning to see the sport), being a thin creature, went down with some squeezing into the cave, and, though the bear's flanks were still heaving, tied some of the villagers' waist-bands together and fastened them round its fore-paws and neck. We then tried to haul
it out; but the crevice was too narrow, and we had to remove the rocks from another entrance, and then we pulled it out. It was a good-sized male, with a fine skin.
Next day we saw several bears; but my luck was down upon me, and though I wounded one severely, I lost it. It came up behind me while I was sitting on a hill-side. I heard a puffing noise, and there was Bruin, hot and angry, about twenty yards from I fired, and he fell over, yelling outrageously, and I was so lost to all sense of fairness that I hit him again while he was down! But, though very badly wounded, he gathered himself up again and went off shouting "Murder!" We never saw him again, and he got into a lot of impracticable caves, and we had to give him up.
On my way thence to Dindigul I encamped near a high conical hill, by name Rungamullay. It is very high and steep, and the peaked summit is encircled with a ring of piled and broken rocks, forming fit fastnesses for wild animals, bears, panthers, hyænas, &c. In the rays of the rising or setting sun this hill exhibits a fine rosy tint reflected from crag and boulder, it being composed of a handsome pink porphyritic rock, well relieved by the green foliage with which its ravines and gullies are bountifully clothed. I had a beat for bears on this hill, but saw none; doubtless they were lying safe and comfortable in their caves, laughing in their sleeves (if they had any) at the clatter and vain attempts of their enemies outside.
I heard an odd story here of the hog, which "once upon a time" infested the hill in such numbers as almost to ruin the cultivators for miles round. No
grain-field was safe from their ravages. As for sweet potatoes, yams, onion-patches, and such like delicacies, the epicure hogs would not for a moment permit them to reach the stew-pots of their hungry owners, but cleared them all off even before they began to ripen. The truculent swine cared nothing for villagers sitting on stages in the middle of the grain-field or the garden. If the watchman launched a stone from his sling at one place where he heard champing jaws at work, the herd instantly went to another quarter of the field, and treated his objurgatory yells and shouts with the most perfect contempt. Nay, when one incensed villager, cudgel in hand, rushed at a particularly fine old boar which was actively engaged in his potato-field, the injured animal made for him with fierce grunts, upset him, and rootled at him with his sharp tusks to very good purpose, so much so that he barely escaped with his life.
BELLING THE PIG.
This was the coping-stone, so to speak, upon the enormities of the hog, and a cunning elder of the village invented a plan for their discomfiture. A beat with nets was planned, and a fine lusty young boar was captured. Carefully hobbled, and also otherwise arranged by having his mouth tied tightly up, a tremendous bell with a loud-tongued clapper was fastened with a stout leathern collar round his neck; he was then taken to the skirts of his much-loved hill, and his bonds, both of foot and jaw, cut adrift with a few strokes of a sharp knife.
On regaining the freedom of his stiffened limbs. poor piggy made tracks for the hill amid the cheers of the assembled villagers. Up he climbed, full of his wrongs, and eager to pour his complaints into
the ears of the sympathising herd; but, alas! he reached the first favourite cover, only to find the whole herd scampering away from the diabolical clang of the bell which he carried with him.
With plaintive grunts he chased his recreant friends from cover to cover, the herd growing in numbers as they rushed through thorn and thicket. For half a day did this exciting chase delight the eyes of the grinning villagers who were standing on the plain below, until at last the whole enormous herd, sore spent and foam-streaked, burst from the hill and rushed with all remaining strength across the plain, with their snouts well set for the distant Cauvery jungles. In the rear toiled the despairing victim to village cruelty, adding at each boom and clash fresh speed to the horror-stricken herd. Henceforth the villagers cultivated their fields in peace, and their stew-pots once more knew the pleasant savour of sweet potatoes and other tasty garden vegetables.
This story reminds me of a capital plan for catching. wild hog, related to me by my long-legged shikarry, whose poaching qualities were of a very high order. He said:
"Take a very strong well-barbed hook with a very long shank (a sort of shark-hook, in fact). Get eight or ten strong, thin cords, and whip an end of each cord firmly to the shank of the hook. Take a stout piece of bamboo about a foot long; pierce holes in it about an inch or so apart to receive the loose ends of the cords, which are to be carefully knotted through the holes to the bamboo, so as to spread out from the hook like a fan, each cord to be about a foot in length. Your instrument is now complete. Take a careful survey of the paths of a good pig jungle, and
note where is most traffic of the swine. Ground bait these paths with ripe plantains for two or three days; pig are fond of ripe plantains. When you find that the luscious fruit disappears nightly, take your instrument and bait the hook, both shank and curve, with one or two plump ripe plantains; lay it on the ground in the path, and scrape a little sand or dust over the bamboo and its spread-out cords, and retire. The next morning sally out with spear or gun and look for your bait; if fortune has favoured you, it will have vanished, instrument and all! Piggy will have swallowed the plantains with his wonted alacrity; but the hook will have stuck in his gullet, and the cords will have hung out of his mouth some few inches, with the bamboo dangling under his chin. To get rid of the nuisance he will have raised one foot and scraped at the dangling cords; but this will have made matters far worse. The thin cords, probably two or three of them, will have caught in the cleft of his hoof and the hind knob of his pastern, and he will be unable to get that foot to the ground again. Far from that place he will not be able to go, and a tumbling noise in bush or brake not very far from the path will guide you to the spot where he is anchored, and you may murder him at your leisure!
After thus reciting with great gusto, my shikarry declared that he had many times made use of this artful contrivance with success. I heard, but did not applaud.
On the 28th December I again pitched my tent at Nursingpooram, and once more met with elephants. On the 1st January 1855 news was brought to my tent of three elephants, two tuskers and one female, in a valley surrounded by low hills. Rain was falling,
HOW TO POACH FOR HOG.