« PreviousContinue »
feet and a half from the ground. The tracks in
- one of the fore-feet while the other was
the sandy soil were uneven showed a deep impression, very faint, showing that he was wounded in the leg, as his whole weight was thrown upon one foot. Slowly and cautiously I stalked along the track, occasionally lying down to look under the bushes. For about an hour I continued this slow and silent chase; the tracks became fainter, and the bleeding appeared to have almost ceased; so few and far between were the red drops upon the ground that I was constantly obliged to leave the gun-bearer upon the last trace while I made a cast to discover the next track. I was at length in despair of finding him, and I was attentively scrutinising the ground for a trace of blood, which would distinguish his track from those of other deer with which the ground was covered, when I suddenly heard a rush in the underwood, and away bounded the buck at about fifty yards' distance, apparently as fresh as ever. The next instant he was gasping on the ground, the rifle-ball having passed exactly through his heart. I never could have believed that a spotted buck would have attained so large a size; he was as large as a doe elk, and his antlers were the finest that I
A GOOD DAY'S SPORT.
have ever seen of that species. It required eight men with two cross poles to bring him home.
I reached the tent to breakfast at eight o'clock, having bagged three fine bucks and two buffalos that morning; and being, for the time, satiated with sport, I quitted Ceylon.
BUCK AT BAY. THE BAY. -THE DEATH. -RETURN OF
VEDDAH BUCK AT BLACK POOL.
THE foregoing description of sporting incidents closed my first visit to Ceylon. I had arrived in the island to make a tour of the country and to enjoy its sports; this I had accomplished by a residence of twelve months, the whole of which had been occupied in wandering from place to place. I now returned to England, but the Fates had traced another road for me, and after a short stay in the old country, I again started for Ceylon, and became a resident at Newera Ellia.
Making use of the experience that I had gained in wild sports, I came out well armed, according to my own ideas of weapons for the chase. I had ordered four double-barrelled rifles of No. 10. bore,* to be made to my own pattern; my hunting
By Beattie, Regent Street.
BEAT-HOUNDS FOR ELK-HUNTING.
knives and boar spear heads I had made to my own design by Paget of Piccadilly, who turned out the perfection of steel; and I arrived in Ceylon with a pack of fine foxhounds and a favourite greyhound of wonderful speed and strength, "Bran," who, though full of years, is still alive.
The usual drawbacks and discomforts attendant upon a new settlement having been overcome, Newera Ellia forms a delightful place of residence. I soon discovered that a pack of thorough-bred foxhounds were not adapted to a country so enclosed by forest: some of the hounds were lost, others I parted with, but they are all long since dead, and their progeny, the offspring of crosses with pointers, bloodhounds, and half-bred foxhounds, have turned out the right stamp for elk hunting.
It is a difficult thing to form a pack for this sport which shall be perfect in all respects. Sometimes a splendid hound in character may be more like a butcher's dog than a hound in appearance, but the pack cannot afford to part with him if he is really good.
The casualties from leopards, boars, elk, and lost dogs, are so great that the pack is with
difficulty kept up by breeding. It must be remembered, that the place of a lost dog cannot be easily supplied in Ceylon. Newera Ellia is one of the rare climates in Ceylon which is suited to the constitution of a dog. In the low and hot climates they lead a short and miserable life, which is soon ended by a liver complaint; thus, if a supply for the pack cannot be kept up by breeding, hounds must be procured from England at a great expense and risk.
The pack now in the kennel is as near perfection as can be attained for elk-hunting, comprising ten couple, most of whom are nearly thorough-bred foxhounds, with a few couple of immense seizers, a cross between bloodhound and greyhound, and a couple of large wire-haired lurchers, like the Scotch deer-hound.
In describing the sport, I must be permitted to call up the spirits of a few heros, who are now dead, and place them in the vacant places which they formerly occupied in the pack.
The first who answers to the magic call is "Smut," hero of at least four hundred deaths of elk and boar. He appears-the same well remembered form of strength, the sullen growl which greeted even his master, the numerous scars and seams