The tiger.—His habitat.—Shooting on foot.—Modes of shooting.—A tiger hunt on foot.—The scene of the hunt.-The beat.—Incidents of the hunt.—Fireworks.—The tiger charges.—The elephant bolts.—The tigress will not break.—We kill a half-grown cub.—Try again for the tigress.—Unsuccessful.—Exaggerations in tiger stories.—My authorities.—The brothers S.—Ferocity and structure of the tiger. —His devastations.—His frame-work, teeth, &c.—A tiger at bay. —His unsociable habits.—Fight between tiger and tigress.—Young tigers.—Power and strength of the tiger.—Examples.—His cowardice. —Charge of a wounded tiger.—Incidents connected with wounded tigers. —A spined tiger.—Boldness of young tigers.—Cruelty.—Cunning.—Night scenes in the jungle.—Tiger killed by a wild boar.—His cautious habits.—General remarks.
In the foregoing chapters I have tried to perform my promise, to give a general idea of our daily life in India; our toils and trials, our sports, our pastimes, and our general pursuits. No record of Indian sport, however, would be complete without some allusion to the kingly tiger, and no one can live long near the Nepaul frontier, without at some time or other having an encounter with the royal robber—the striped and whiskered monarch of the jungle.
He is always to be found in the Terai forests, and although very occasionally indeed met with in Tirhoot, where the population is very dense, and waste lands infrequent, he is yet often to be encountered in the solitudes of Oudh or Goruchpore, has been shot at and killed near Bettiah, and at our pig-sticking ground near Kuderent. In North Bhaugulpore and Purneah he may be said to be ALWAYS at home, as he can be met there, if you search for him, at all seasons of the year.
In some parts of India, notably in the Deccan, and in some districts on the Bombay side, and even in the Soonderbunds near Calcutta, sportsmen and shekarries go after the tiger on foot. I must confess that this seems to me a mad thing to do. With every advantage of weapon, with the most daring courage, and the most imperturbable coolness, I think a man no fair match for a tiger in his native jungles. There are men now living who have shot numbers of tigers on foot, but the numerous fatal accidents recorded every year, plainly shew the danger of such a mode of shooting.
In Central India, in the North-west, indeed in most districts where elephants are not easily procurable, it is customary to erect mychans or bamboo platforms on trees. A line of beaters, with tom-toms, drums, fireworks, and other means for creating a din, are then sent into the jungle, to beat the tigers up to the platform on which you sit and wait. This is often a successful mode if you secure an advantageous place, but accidents to the beaters are very common, and it is at best a weary and vexatious mode of shooting, as after all your trouble the tiger may not come near your mychan, or give you the slightest glimpse of his beautiful skin.