How To Find Game
How To Find Game
by Captain Chauncey Hugh Stigand (1877 - 1919)
An early start from camp is advisable, and if the grazing grounds are far it may be necessary to start before dawn. For sable, roan, eland, hartebeest, waterbuck, warthog, &c, the dambos should be skirted before the game has left for the thick bush.
A dambo is an open stretch of ground with bush on either side. They take the drainage of the forest land, and during the rains are practically marshes, while during the dry weather they are, till fired, covered with tall, rank, thick grass.
Where the old grass has been burnt and the fresh green grass is springing up is a favourite place for game, and it comes here also to lick the salt from the burnt ashes.
On cloudy, cool mornings, game will probably remain longer than on a bright day.
If no decent head is seen one should try to get on the spoor of an animal that has been feeding there during the night or early morning.
If found fairly early it ought to be overtaken when lying up at midday.
Should no animals or spoor have been seen when the sun has got well up, it will be best to try the bush.
For kudu, bushbuck, impala, &c, the denser places should be searched, as they seldom leave thick country.
When there is a river or water in the vicinity of camp, their neighbourhood should be observed for spoor of animals that have drunk during the night.
Later in the day it would be of little use, as game would probably be some distance off.
Many animals travel great distances to drink, notably elephant, rhino, lion, and zebra, while others are seldom found far from water, for example, waterbuck, reedbuck, impala, puku, lechwe, and situtunga. The last two practically live most of the day in water or marsh.
When camping in a native village it is always worth while having a look at the cultivated patches on the way out to shoot, as elephant, hippo, eland, and roan often come to feed on maize during the night, sometimes right up to the huts, and the elephants even pull down the basketwork stores to help themselves to the harvested maize cobs; while kudu invade the patches of castor-oil plants.
The spoor of many nocturnal animals, such as lion, leopard, hyaena, jackal, porcupine, and the lesser cats are seen on the native pathways early in the morning before they have been trodden on.
The favourite ground of kudu are wooded slopes, as they, with sable, zebra, bushbuck, and duiker are often to be found in very rough and broken country, and at high altitudes.
We have shot sable considerably over 6,ooo feet above sea level.
On most of the rocky summits are to be found klipspringer, who seem to be able to live without water.
These are very rarely to be seen in the low country, and perhaps then only on their way from one range to another.
Elephant, rhino, and buffalo inhabit, as a rule, much wilder country, and following them involves the hardest work.
Elephant drink nightly, and their spoor can be picked up going to and coming from water.
It is necessary to be on their spoor very early, owing to the immense distances
they travel. They generally stand in the shade at midday. Rhino live in thorn
tree country, and like thick grass, through which they make well trodden and winding runs.
Buffalo are seldom far from water, or go any distance during the day unless travelling from one place to another, as they drink in the daytime as well as at night.
Lion and leopard, being nocturnal, are very seldom seen, and, if they are, they are generally come on by chance; but on a cool morning they may remain near their kill till after the sun has risen.
When put up, they bound away grunting, leaving an easy spoor to follow for the first few hundred yards, but soon settle down to walk " carefully," as the natives say, leaving hardly a trace to be seen.
There is no systematic way in which to hunt lion in Central Africa, as in desert countries like Somaliland.
They may be come on by accident or got by sitting up at night. If fresh khubber of a kill can be obtained, and there is a good moon, the chances might be favourable, but " tying up " is very disheartening work and generally results in a blank night. A lion is very suspicious, but when he has killed or is very hungry seems to lose all his natural caution.
He generally eats little of his kill the first night, and returns for a gorge the next; for this reason there is a better chance of obtaining a shot by this method.
After leaving his kill he will always go to water before lying up.
When he gets into a goat kraal he seems to delight in killing as many animals as possible and more than he can eat.
They do not take to man-eating in the same way as the tiger does in India, but pass from game to man as the opportunity occurs.
A great number of human beings are annually killed by them in Central Africa, more especially during the rains, when the grass is long, and presumably they meet with the same difficulty in stalking game as does the hunter.
If he should drag his kill, as he often does with a man, there is little difficulty in following him.
Hippo come on shore during the night to feed, and often wander some distance from the water, returning before daylight. They generally go in small herds. They are not only found in the large lakes and rivers, but also in smaller streams if the pools are deep. When found in these they are very fond of papyrus swamps, in the midst of which they are difficult to find; entering and leaving these they make deep muddy runs.
In the dry weather, when the swamps are shallow, it is sometimes possible to reach the pools where they are lying by wading through the mud.
The hyaena is seldom seen in the daytime, though occasionally he may be noticed making for thick cover after a late night out.
Jackals are often seen about dusk, when they begin to move. The claws of both these animals may be seen in the spoor, whereas those of lion and leopard are shot out only when they are preparing to spring, in which case the ground is seen to be torn up.
We mentioned before that one should listen carefully when after game for the sounds which betray their presence. Galloping game can be heard at a great distance, and if a herd of zebras are disturbed their thundering hoofs will give the alarm to any game near.
Roan, sable, hartebeest, and animals in large herds, as a rule, do not go far before stopping.
If having seen or winded you they are heard galloping off, they would be worth while following up.
Many buck bark when they see you, e.g., kudu and impala, while reedbuck and oribi give a shrill whistle, roan snort, and hartebeest make a guttural sound.
Lion, leopard, and pig grunt when they are put up; wounded elephant, besides trumpeting, make a very shrill scream ; but what is of more use to the hunter are the sounds not caused by their having seen you, and which enable you to locate them.
Such sounds are the stomachic rumblings of elephant and the flapping of their ears, the bellowing of buffalo, the tapping of roan, sable, and kudu's horns against trees, the blowing of hippo. The latter is heard upwards of a mile, and from that distance sounds like a deep-drawn sigh close at hand.
Just as a woman's voice differs from that of a man, so does that of a female animal from a male's.
The bark of the male baboon is gruffer, the roar of the lion is more powerful, and, when roaring at night, it can be distinguished if there are a couple, or only a lion by himself.
Many animals emit a strong smell, which can be recognised after a little practice.
When following up an elephant through thick grass, his smell is noticed at places where he has stood, but is especially useful when following a wounded animal.
In the winding grass runs he walks so noiselessly that he might only be a few yards ahead of you round a corner without your being aware of it if it were not for the smell.
Rhino also have a strong smell, differing a little from elephant.
Waterbuck have a musky smell quite peculiar to themselves. Of other animals, buffalo and warthog have distinctive smells.
We have touched on spooring by tracks, browsing, sound, and smell, and also on the most likely places in which to find different game, and will now endeavour to show the best ways of spotting them.
Needless to say, the most important thing is to prevent them getting your wind, so in arranging the day's shoot, work out your direction so that in traversing the places in which you most expect to see game you will have the wind right.
Naturally, you will not adhere rigidly to this direction in places where the spoor is difficult to see, but, while keeping your general bearing, will zig-zag so as to pass over likely ground, and parts where spoor is easy to be seen.
Any changes of wind should be noticed and conformed to.
On a cloudy day in thick country it is difficult to keep one's bearings.
For this reason the direction of prevailing winds should always be noticed, as the grass bent down by them is a sure index.
Also the ways streams flow should be noted from maps, as a guide to where you are.
It should always be known when the last rain fell, as a guide to the age of spoor.
It will well repay trouble to climb every anthill on your way, in order to have a look round for game.
In very thick country, especially when after elephant, it will often be necessary to climb trees for this purpose.
The sportsman should invariably carry his rifle himself, or he will miss many opportunities, and he will only have himself to thank if he loses valuable game by not doing so, as it is a native peculiarity never to be at hand when wanted.
He should not walk out on to a dambo at once, but inspect it before reaching it through the trees from a distance, and at any time that a new vista is opened up should approach cautiously and very slowly.
When he has satisfied himself that there is no game near him, he should keep up the edge of the dambo in the shade of the trees, and frequently inspect all likely places and objects, which might be game, through his glasses.
He should always go slowly, as in so doing there is less chance of being seen or heard.
If men are taken out to carry in any game shot, they should be made to walk at least half a mile in the rear in open country, and not come up close, as they always try to do.
If they see anything they should pass up word by whistling or signal.
One should at all times walk noiselessly, even when one thinks that game is not close, and avoid treading on sticks and dead leaves.
The habit of pointing which natives are fond of indulging in should be discouraged, as any quick movement attracts the attention of game.
Your native hunter will often see things first, and should be taught to indicate the direction with his hand below the waist and close to the side.
The two great maxims to observe in looking for game are, to go quietly and to keep the wind right.
The first is by no means easy, as in the dry season the ground will be covered with dry grass, reeds, brittle sticks, and leaves, not to mention thorn bushes, overhanging boughs, holes in the ground, stones, and fallen timber; and in the wet season the green grass will make a swishing sound. Therefore, to go quietly one must go slowly.
Care should be taken to pitch camp at least a quarter of a mile from any water where game may be expected to drink during the night, so that it should not be disturbed by the noise and smell of the camp.
This especially applies to the larger game, such as elephant, rhino, and buffalo.
Of course, this is not so important on the banks of a big river, where the game may drink anywhere, and where two trackers may be sent to look for spoor up and down stream, on both banks, at early dawn.
At a small pool which game frequent, by neglecting such precautions, it may be driven off, thereby necessitating it to drink elsewhere, and perhaps the next pool may be a day's march away.
Jerome, Thanks for sharing all the first hand hunting prespectives of Captain Stigand , the veteran hunter & soldier, who had hunted in Africa in the era which can be deemed as the THE GOLDEN DAYS OF ARFICAN HUNTING , these guys really had the guts to hunt massive beasts with blackpowder & cordite ammunition through the 300/256 calibers, thats remarkable !!!
Here is little write up on Captains life , maybe few members would like to read about him:
Captain Chauncey Hugh Stigand
(1877 - 1919)
Chauncey Hugh Stigand was born at Boulogne-sur-Mer, where his father was Her Majesty’s Consul, on 25th October 1877. Shortly after the birth of his younger brother, Ivan, his parents separated, his mother returning to England with the baby and an elder brother, Almar, while his father was transferred to Ragusa (Dubrovnik) taking Chauncey with him. A few years later this curious arrangement was partially reversed when the parents swapped Chauncey for Almar ! As a result of this remarkable transaction Chauncey was not to see his father again for over twenty years. Despite their apparent eccentricities, Chauncey seems to have born his parents no grudge and was moderately happy with both.
His school days, however, were less enjoyable. Senselessly thrashed at a Dame School, he eventually entered Radley, which he heartily disliked. He seems to have been a poor scholar and, by his own account , idle. He had always expressed a wish to make the Army his career and, after only two years at Radley, he was transferred to a succession of crammers, none of whom succeeded in getting him through the entrance examination to Sandhurst. Therefore he was obliged to achieve his ambition by what was known as the “back-door” namely through the Militia (in his case the Warwickshire Yeomanry) whence, on 4th January 1899, he was commissioned into the Royal West Kent Regiment. However, he was to see little service with it as almost the whole of his military career was spent with African troops.
He took no part in the Boer War but joined the 1st Battalion of his regiment in Burma whence, after some of its men had been convicted of a gang-rape, it was soon transferred to Aden, then regarded as a punishment station. Here he wasted no time in setting off on that search for knowledge of wild and remote places which was to preoccupy him for the rest of his life. While his brother officers were making the most of the few sporting and social amenities which the bleak and inhospitable colony of Aden offered, Stigand would be exploring the hinterland of the South Arabian Peninsula on his camel, Tari, penetrating areas little known to the Aden authorities at that time.
As a child the young Chauncey had met the great African explorers Richard Burton and Henry Stanley. At the same time he had been much influenced by an uncle who had spent many years as a missionary in Africa…and there, just across the Red Sea, the Dark Continent beckoned.
His opportunity came with the emergence in what is now northern Somalia, then a British Protectorate, of that somewhat shadowy figure known to history as the Mad Mullah. In fact there was nothing mad about Mohamed Abdullah bin Hassan who, modeling himself on the Sudanese Mahdi, was to run the British ragged for the next twenty years, always evading capture and eventually dying of natural causes.
With the Mullah’s appearance on the scene towards the end of 1900, the British launched the first of several expeditions against him and Stigand, to his delight, was ordered to join a force under Colonel Swayne, the local police commandant, consisting of a score of British officers and NCOs, a handful of Indian regulars and 1, 500 Somali levies. Accompanied by Tari he sailed for Berbera, capital of the Somali Coast Protectorate, and continued 100 miles south-west to Hargeisa where he was to take command of A Company of the 1st Corps of the Somali Field Force.
With this formation, he saw his first action at a place called Fardiddin on 17th July 1901 at which the so-called Dervishes (followers of the Mad Mullah) were heavily defeated, although their leader escaped. Stigand earned a Mention in Dispatches, Colonel Swayne’s report reading….”Lt Stigand’s company, which was on the extreme right, presently out-flanked the enemy and compelled him to retire. The Dervishes lost so heavily that the retirement became a rout…the leading company under Lt Stigand assisted in the pursuit, wheeling round from the right flank”. Later it was claimed that Stigand, accompanied by a single Somali scout, had forged ahead of his men and shot two of the Mullah’s bodyguards.
The Mullah having been prevented from reaching his objective, Berbera, the expedition ended inconclusively, as did all subsequent operations against him, in September 1901. Stigand returned to Aden with the Africa General Service Medal with bar “Somaliland 1901” and a bad attack of fever. After some time in hospital in Aden he returned to England on sick-leave, his request to join Swayne’s second expedition against the Mullah having been refused on medical grounds.
Following his leave and a course at the School of Musketry at Hythe, he was seconded to the 1st (Central Africa) Battalion King’s African Rifles in Nyassaland (Malawi). Here, although active in his regimental duties, he had both the leisure and the opportunity to pursue his passion for big-game hunting and the study of flora and fauna. In 1904, in collaboration with D.D. Lyell, he wrote his first book “Central African Game and its Spoor” which was published two years later with a foreword by F.C. Selous, perhaps the most famous of all professional hunters.
In 1905 Stigand came close to death when gored by a rhinoceros. Legend has it that when flung into the air by the infuriated beast, he landed on his feet and shot the animal dead. As the incident is variously reported to have occurred as widely separated in time and place as Fort Manning (Nyassaland) in 1905 and Bor in the southern Sudan many years later, we may make up our own minds as to the veracity of the details. One version has him trekking forty miles before reaching medical assistance and another that he helped carry the medical orderly who had fainted at the sight of his wounds !
This was not the only occasion when the hunter was hunted. After his battalion was moved from Nyassaland to British East Africa (Kenya) at the end of 1905 he was mauled by a lion so seriously that he had to return to England for treatment. Here once again “white hunter” mythology comes into play and we have Stigand battering his feline assailant to death with his huge fists. Perhaps it should be emphasized that Stigand himself was not the originator of these tales.
At about this time his handbook “Scouting and Reconnaissance in Savage Countries” was published, soon to be followed by his second standard work, “The Game of British East Africa”. By now he had been appointed a Fellow of both the Geographical Society and the Zoological Society.
In the course of duty with the “Protectorate Survey” between 1905 and 1908 he traveled and hunted extensively throughout East Africa. When his secondment to the King’s African Rifles ended in 1908 he obtained leave to undertake a journey of exploration from Nairobi via Lake Rudolph through Abyssinia to Addis Ababa and thence by rail to Djibouti. The story of this adventure may be followed in his book “To Abyssinia through an Unknown Land” (1910). Arriving in England three months overdue from leave he was subjected to a Court of Inquiry which not only acquitted him of Absence without Leave but awarded him £50 towards his expenses !
In the spring of 1909 he re-joined his regiment for the last time but less than a year later he was back in Africa. Under an agreement between Great Britain and Belgium an area of Mongalla Province in the Sudan, known as the Lado Enclave (see “Equatoria – The Lado Enclave” by Stigand), reverted to Anglo-Egyptian rule on the death of King Leopold of the Belgians. Somewhere in the course of his career Stigand had come to the notice of Sir Reginald Wingate, Sirdar of the Egyptian Army and Governor-General of the Sudan, who arranged his appointment to administer this remote and, to many people, uninviting district. This meant secondment to the Egyptian Army under contract to the Khedive (see “Soldiers of the Nile” by Henry Keown-Boyd). As District Officer Lado and subsequently of Kajo Kaji, also in Mongalla Province, Stigand acquired most of the experience which enabled him to produce his most authoritative work “Administration in Tropical Africa”.
With the outbreak of the First World War Stigand, in common with most of the British officers of the Egyptian Army, sought permission to return to his regiment but the Governor-General was adamant in his refusal of such requests. He argued with obvious justification that were the Egyptian Army and the Sudan administration to be stripped of most of their British officers the consequences would be dire. Thus Stigand’s active participation in the war was confined to various internal security operations within the Sudan for which he was twice Mentioned in Dispatches. In 1916 he was appointed Senior Inspector Upper Nile Province which gave him the chance to explore remote areas between the Nile and the Abyssinian Highlands. At the end of the war he was awarded the OBE.
In 1913 despite strict but unofficial rules forbidding marriage to officers working in inaccessible parts of the Sudan, Stigand had acquired an American wife, Nancy Yulee Neff of Washington DC. In a Memoir written after Stigand’s death, Sir Reginald Wingate explained his relaxation of the rule in this case. “It so happened that…Stigand had had a contest at very close quarters with an elephant, which had trampled and nearly killed him : he was brought to Khartoum seriously ill and spent his convalescence under the Sirdar’s roof. One day…he confided that his affections were deeply engaged, that he had decided to marry and that, in consequence he must offer his resignation. In these pathetic circumstances the adamant Chief relaxed and on his return from sick leave Chauncey was accompanied by Mrs Nancy Stigand….” A daughter, Florida, was born to them in 1917 and they produced two books together, one with the notably politically incorrect title of “Black Tales for White Children” and the other “Cooking for Settler and Trekker”, published in 1914 and 15 respectively.
The climax of his career came in February 1919 with his appointment as Governor of Mongalla Province, a promotion which was to lead to his death and the largest and most ferocious retaliatory expedition ever mounted by the Condominium Government. There is a sad irony here for, as he makes clear in “Administration in Tropical Africa”, he disliked such operations and doubted their efficacy in that all too frequently they punished the innocent and allowed the guilty to go free.
At the end of October 1919 a war-party of the Aliab Dinka attacked a police-post south of Bor on the White Nile, killing eight policemen. The trouble, the roots of which are obscure, spread and Stigand sought to stamp it out with a few companies of the Equatorial Battalion, a locally recruited unit of the Egyptian Army. Owing to a shortage of officers he accompanied one of the patrols himself. The column had already been attacked at night and a few casualties inflicted when on 8th December in the early morning it was ambushed in long grass by several hundred Aliab Dinka. Stigand, the OC Troops Kaimakam (Lt Col) White, Yuzbashi (Captain) Saad Osman and twenty four Other Ranks and carriers were killed.
The four surviving British officers, all veterans of the Great War and accustomed to reacting swiftly in desperate circumstances, rallied their companies and drove off the enemy, thus averting even greater disaster. The senior survivor, Bimbashi (Major) Roberts VC, in a letter to Nancy Stigand wrote, “Personally I was at the head of the left flank guard and did not see Stigand Bey fall, but Bimbashi Kent-Lemon, who was at the head of the right flank guard, saw him with his rifle to his shoulder firing as hard as he could…No one I can find in the battalion actually saw him killed but it must have been within the first few minutes…from the spear wound in his chest he must have died instantly and suffered no pain….” How many widows have been given a similar assurance over the years !
Stigand would have been impressed by this outstanding success on the part of “savages armed only with spears” as he might have put it. Certainly Roberts was, and said as much in his official report. The fact that such experienced professional soldiers (Roberts himself was one of the most highly decorated officers of his generation), particularly those like Stigand and White to whom bush-craft and irregular warfare were second nature, should have been caught napping reflects the all too frequent tendency for British officers of the Imperial era to underestimate the tactical skills of tribal warriors.
The two Englishmen were buried on the bank of the White Nile at Tombe. A cairn of stones, brought at Nancy’s request from their home at Kajo Kaji which she and Chauncey had built themselves, marked the spot and may be there to this day. The Dinka had no personal quarrel with their Governor nor he with them so we may hope that he and White have been allowed to rest in peace.
So ended, at the age of only forty two, the remarkable life of a remarkable man; a sound, practical, no-nonsense man. “At different times”, he wrote, “I have had to act as carpenter, blacksmith, armourer, mason, doctor, mid-wife, gardener, policeman, shop-keeper, planter and surveyor…” and we may be sure he made a pretty good job of it in each case. His horizons may have been somewhat limited and we do not detect much evidence of great imagination or humour but we would undoubtedly like to have Chauncey Stigand on our side in a tight corner.
His books are worth reading even to-day, particularly where he covers such subjects as game, agriculture and forestry. The present generation of Aid Workers and others employed in remote and still primitive parts of Africa may find many of the author’s views out-dated and some of his language offensive but they would do well to take note of what he has to say.[/B]