At eleven o’clock on the following morning we passed two thatched huts in a little clearing beside the trail and the guide remarked that our camping place was not far away. We reached it shortly and were delighted. Two enormous trees, like great umbrellas, spread a cool, dark shade above a sparkling stream on the edge of an abandoned rice field. From a patch of ground as level as a floor, where our tents were pitched, we could look across the brown rice dykes to the enclosing walls of jungle and up to the green mountain beyond. A half mile farther down the trail, but hidden away in the jungle, lay a picturesque Shan village of a dozen huts, where the guide said we should be able to find hunters.
As soon as tiffin was over we went up the creek with a bag of steel traps to set them on the tiny trails which wound through the jungle in every direction. Selecting a well-beaten patch we buried the trap in the center, covered it carefully with leaves, and suspended the body of a bird or a chunk of meat by a wire over the pan about three feet from the ground. A light branch was fastened to the chain as a “drag.” When the trap is pulled this invariably catches in the grass or vines and, while holding the animal firmly, still gives enough “spring” to prevent its freeing itself.
Trapping is exceedingly interesting for it is a contest of wits between the trapper and the animal with the odds by no means in favor of the former. The trap may not be covered in a natural way; the surroundings may be unduly disturbed; a scent of human hands may linger about the bait, or there may be numberless other possibilities to frighten the suspicious animal.
In the evening our guide brought a strange individual whom he introduced as the best hunter in the village. He was a tall Mohammedan Chinese who dressed like a Shan and was married to a Shan woman. He seemed to be afflicted with mental and physical inertia, for when he spoke it was in slow drawl hardly louder than a whisper, and every movement of his body was correspondingly deliberate. We immediately named him the “Dying Rabbit” but discovered very shortly that he really had boundless energy and was an excellent hunter.
The next morning he collected a dozen Shans for beaters and we drove a patch of jungle above camp but without success. There were many sambur tracks in the clearings, but we realized at once that it was going to be difficult to get deer because of the dense cover; the open places were so few and small that a sambur had every chance to break through without giving a shot.
Nearly all the beaters carried guns. The “Dying Rabbit” was armed with a .45-caliber bolt action rifle into which he had managed to fit a .303 shell and several of the men had Winchester carbines, model 1875. The guns had all been brought from Burma and most were without ammunition, but each man had an assortment of different cartridges and used whichever he could force into his rifle.