Hunting The Royal Bengal Tiger : The Essentials

Professor Mawla

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In the last 48 years of my life , I have shot 11 marauding Royal Bengal tigers . And a few more which were shot prior to 1974 ( when hunting Royal Bengal tigers for sport became formally prohibited in Bangladesh, as per the Wildlife & Conservation Act - 1974 ) . These 11 marauders were shot under the authorization of the Sundarban Forest Department in the People’s Republic Of Bangladesh . I have put together this little guide today , which educates hunters how to contend with marauding Royal Bengal tigers . While I personally consider 11 to be quite a modest and unremarkable bag of Royal Bengal tigers and there are far more experienced gentlemen in the field of tiger hunting than I , I felt that some might find this to be an interesting read nevertheless .

Before we begin , I would like to give the customary prologue that all of the photographs used in this article are my personal photographs ( several of which have featured in my book which was published in 1999 ) . Thus , none of these photographs may be reproduced without my permission as I own exclusive rights to them .

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A marauding Royal Bengal tiger shot by the author ( pictured ) with a .458 Winchester Magnum . 1976
 
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The Animal Itself

To the best of my knowledge , Royal Bengal tigers are the largest and heaviest members of the feline species in the world . The heaviest specimens can regularly weigh in the excess of 270 kilograms in a full grown male . The average snout to tail measurement of a Royal Bengal tiger is between 9 and 11.5 feet . The largest specimen ever shot by myself , was a marauder in Maulvi Bazaar in 1976 . He weighed 273 kilograms and had a snout to tail measurement of ten feet seven inches .

A Royal Bengal tiger living in the Sundarban mangrove forests feeds primarily upon the two following herbivores : i ) The Axis deer ii ) The wild boar . The exception of course , is the Royal Bengal Tiger which has turned marauder . It takes a Royal Bengal tiger one sitting to complete feeding upon a wild boar. However , it takes a Royal Bengal tiger two sittings in order to complete feeding upon an Axis deer.

Despite being classified as a soft skinned animal , the muscles of a Royal Bengal tiger are actually rather thick and as hard as rocks ( especially when it is is charging , as it has adrenaline coursing through it’s veins ) . The jaws of the royal Bengal tiger are the strongest among all the feline species of Asia . It is with these jaws that it can chomp down on the largest Axis deer with impunity . The canines of the Royal Bengal tiger , is unmatched in sharpness and strength .

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A wild boar shot by the author with a Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector . 2020
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An Axis deer shot by the author with a .458 Winchester Magnum . 2020
 
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Royal Bengal Tigers & Human Beings

On average , the deaths of at least 52 people in the Sundarban mangrove forests every year may be attributed to Royal Bengal tigers . As grim as these figures sound , not all Royal Bengal tigers are marauders . As a matter of fact , it is the occasional ( rather than the usual ) Royal Bengal tiger which turns to feeding on human beings. Generally speaking ; if a Royal Bengal tiger spots an approaching group of human beings from a distance , then it will lie down ( in an attempt to conceal itself ) and wait for the party of human beings to pass by it before it gets up and continues walking again .

That said , the disconcerting truth is this : Every seven out of ten Royal Bengal tigers which reside in the Sundarban mangrove forests , happen to view human beings as food . Having shot both Royal Bengal tigers and cheetahs ( also referred to , as an “ Asiatic leopard “ ) , I have formed a conclusive view . Should a cheetah choose to pounce on a human being , then ( with the exception of a marauding cheetah ) it shall usually give it’s victim a short series of bites with it’s fangs and scratches with it’s claws before leaping off and bounding away . You will most likely survive ( especially with the advent of modern medical practices ) , but you will end up suffering severe mutilations and facial disfigurement . From my 48 years of personal experience , I can attest that this is not the case with a Royal Bengal tiger . A Royal Bengal tiger which pounces upon a human being will not stop mauling them , until the victim is dead . Or unless someone manages to shoot it off the victim .

There are only two kinds of royal Bengal tigers which have a propensity to actually kill a human being . The first is a wounded Royal Bengal tiger which is being approached by a human being and the second is the Royal Bengal tiger which has turned marauder . A Royal Bengal tiger may turn marauder for a single reason , a combination of reasons or no reason at all . Allow me to elaborate .

A Royal Bengal tiger may get injured by a hunter’s ( or poacher’s ) bullet and turn marauder . While wounding any animal without finishing it off is largely considered to be immoral and irresponsible and unsportsmanlike , this actually produces extremely dangerous long term consequences when the wounded animal happens to be a Royal Bengal tiger . This is because the wounds inflicted on these animals would leave unable to hunt their ordinary quarry ( Axis deer and wild boar .) As a result , Royal Bengal Tigers turn to human beings as their source of food as they view human beings as a far weaker quarry and thus easy to attack and kill for food.

The second reason why a Royal Bengal tiger becomes a marauder may be if it gets stabbed in the paws or some other part of the body by porcupine quills. Porcupine quills cause severe pain , irritation and disturbance to any creature who is stabbed by them . Initially , this may seem to be a very rare occurrence . However , it happens a great deal more frequently than sportsmen care to think.

A third reason may be if a Royal Bengal tiger somehow comes across a human corpse and takes a few bites from it , out of morbid curiosity . In India ( which shares a border with Bangladesh on the edge of the Sundarban mangrove forests ) , many Hindus ( Hinduism being the religion of most Indians ) of the lowest caste working in factories or rubber plantations are simply not given a proper cremation if they died . Their corpses are often simply dumped into rivers . The current of these rivers frequently cause the corpses to wash up on the river banks near forests . Curious Royal Bengal tigers bite off chunks of these corpses and then become marauders . During the Bangladesh Liberation war of 1971 , thousands of human corpses would get thrown into the Meghna and Jamuna rivers which found their way into the Sundarban man grove forests. As a result ; for the next few years after the 1971 Liberation War , marauding Royal Bengal tigers were rancid in the Khulna division of Bangladesh . Coincidentally , these were some of the busiest years during my Problem Animal Control duties because I was preoccupied throughout the entire decade with the task of shooting marauding Royal Bengal tigers in the Buri Goalini Forest Range .

A fourth reason why Royal Bengal tigers may become marauders is if their mothers were marauders and got the immature Royal Bengal tigers accustomed to the eating of human flesh , since they were cubs . This reason is actually the most difficult reason to pin point , since there are no blemishes on the Royal Bengal tiger's body which might act as a visual aid .

A fifth reason why a Royal Bengal tiger may turn into a man eater is if it's natural food ( Axis deer or wild boar ) is no longer available to it . This may either be caused by uncontrolled hunting or deforestation which causes the wild boar or Axis deer to move out of the area.

Finally , a Royal Bengal tiger may become a marauder for no apparent reason whatsoever. What is clear however , is that once a Royal Bengal tiger has gotten the taste of human flesh , it will eschew all other forms of meat in favor of the flesh of man . They will often travel miles to find their quarry . Being the expert swimmers that they are , a marauding Royal Bengal tiger is also willing to swim for miles in order to locate the nearest human settlement . Thus , a Royal Bengal tiger which has turned marauder must be put down .

The easiest way to determine whether a human victim was killed by a marauding Royal Bengal tiger or simply ran afoul of a Royal Bengal tiger which attacked them on instinct , is by examining the buttocks of the corpse . A marauding Royal Bengal tiger will always and without exception , consume the flesh from the victim's buttocks . A Royal Bengal tiger which instinctively kills a human being will only claw and bite their victim from the front side , but will not touch the buttocks . A Royal Bengal tiger will always require two sittings to feed upon a human corpse .

GRAPHIC CONTENT BELOW




















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The author standing next to the corpse of a victim of a marauding Royal Bengal tiger . 1976


























GRAPHIC CONTENT ABOVE
 
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Professor Mawla

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Tracking Royal Bengal Tigers

There is a saying in East Bengal , “ Chitra horeen jabe jekhane , Baagh jabe shekhane “ ( Where goes the Axis deer , there goes the Royal Bengal tiger . )
The Axis deer being the natural food of the Royal Bengal tiger , the Royal Bengal tiger will always inhibit areas where populations of these spotted deer are high . This is a key trick to be able to gauge the area where one is most likely going to able to find a Royal Bengal tiger .

It must be remembered that these are extremely heavy animals and thus their pug marks will be quite visible on soil suitable enough to leave an imprint . When hunting a Royal Bengal tiger which is a marauder , some times the pug marks themselves will be a dead give away , as to what ailment the brute is suffering .

If the hunter wishes to track a Royal Bengal tiger , then having Garo trackers is a massive advantage . These are tribal people who live in the Sundarban mangrove forests and l can say with virtual certainty that if you have these people to track your Royal Bengal tiger ( or indeed , any game ) for you , then they will absolutely positively guarantee you a Royal Bengal tiger . These people are extremely alert , vigilant and observant. They are fiercely loyal and will willingly put themselves in harm's way to save their employer . They also possess the curious ability to lure male Royal Bengal tigers, by imitating the mating calls of Royal Bengal tigresses . Just by hearing the distant roar of a Royal Bengal tiger , these talented people are able to distinguish whether the caller is a male or a female . They have no greed whatsoever and only demand one thing from the professional shikaree at the end of the hunt : The testicles of the Royal Bengal tiger , which the Garo tribesmen believe is an aphrodisiac that boosts their sexual prowess
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Royal Bengal tigers are largely territorial creatures. Once they find an area where there are plenty of wild boar or Axis deer ( or people , should the Royal Bengal tiger be a marauder ) , then they will keep frequenting that area again and again . If the Royal Bengal tiger happens to be a marauder and it finds a village or settlement where it can easily prey on human victims ; then in all probability , it shall keep frequenting the area.

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The author ( left ) and tribal tracker ( right ) . 1977
 

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Beats

The most popular method for drawing out a Royal Bengal tiger is to organize a beat. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept of beats , please allow me to elaborate : A group of Garo trackers narrow down the general forested area where a Royal Bengal tiger may be lurking . A bullock ( or a human corpse in the case of a marauder ) is tied to a tree and left . It takes a Royal Bengal tiger two sittings to complete feeding upon a bullock or a human corpse . Everyday , the bait must be checked , because sooner or later the Royal Bengal tiger will kill the bullock and partially devour the carcass . It does the same thing with a human corpse . As I have stressed earlier , it takes a Royal Bengal tiger two sittings to complete feeding upon a bullock carcass or a human corpse . Upon eating his fill during the first sitting , the Royal Bengal tiger shall invariably take a nap somewhere around the partially consumed bait ( such as a cave or a hole in the ground ) .


As soon as news of the partially eaten bait is received , the hunters employ anywhere from four dozen to five dozen villagers and give them a series of instructions to act as beaters . The beaters comb through the entire patch of forested area in a single row ( with each beater being five metres apart from the other ) loudly beating drums , blowing flutes and generally attempting to make as much noise as possible . The entire concept is to " spook " the Royal Bengal tiger away from the beaters , so that it moves towards the other end of the forest where the shooter(s) will be waiting ( invariably on the tops of macchans or tree blinds ) .

As a precautionary measure ( lest the Royal Bengal tiger choose to turn and attack the beaters ) , six assistant hunters ( armed with either rifles or shot guns loaded with Brenekke Black Magic Slugs ) must be posted to stay with the beaters at all times . While the odds of a Royal Bengal tiger turning around during a beat are incredibly rare , I have been unfortunate enough to experience it twice till now .
 

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Baits

Due to the labor intensive and cost intensive nature of conducting beats , many hunters opt for the alternative of setting up baits in order to entice the Royal Bengal tiger . While this is certainly a more labor effective and cost effective method of securing a Royal Bengal Tiger , it demands more patience . And a live animal bait ( goats are preferable due to their ease of availability and affordable prices ) . The hunter makes his trackers look for an area where one can see Royal Bengal tiger tracks leading towards ( or out of ) a cave or nullah . Then , the goat is tied to a tree .

Once the goat is tied to the tree , it is imperative that the professional Shikari move out of the goat's sight . Only when the goat is convinced that it is all alone , does it begin to bleat and it is this bleating which attracts the Royal Bengal tiger .
Royal Bengal tigers feed mostly between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM , and this is the time when the hunter must lie in wait ( ideally on the top of an elevated position such as a macchan ) for the brute .

If a marauding Royal Bengal tiger is to be baited , then it is imperative that a human corpse be used as bait . Preferably a fresh one on which Rigor Mortis has not yet begun . These can typically be sourced from students at local medical colleges , who purchase human corpses from morgues tin order to use them as cadavers .

The corpse should be taken to the area where the hunter plans to bait the Royal Bengal tiger without having the entrails removed . Once the hunting team is at the area where the Royal Bengal tiger is to be baited , then one must slice open the stomach of the human corpse and remove all of the entrails ( being sure to wear sterile gloves while carrying out this task because the stomach contains hydrochloric acid ) . Human intestines are roughly 35 feet in length and care should be taken to remove all of the intestines and organs from within the human corpse. These entrails should be smeared on all of the trees around the bait area . The human corpse should then be dressed in pre worn clothing ( to ensure that they still have a strong human scent on them . ) Finally , the corpse should be made to sit upright . As if it is sitting in a natural position .

Before closing this section , I must add a few words of warning for the neophyte . A marauding Royal Bengal tiger which has feed on less than six human beings , can still be lured by the use of live animal baits . However , marauding Royal Bengal tigers which have fed on more than seven human beings will completely eschew and ignore other animals in favor of going after human beings .

Up until 1984 , the Sundarban Forest Department would employ human corpses for the purposes of baiting marauding Royal Bengal tigers . Today however , Chemical agents ( which mimic the odor of rotting human corpses ) have made the practices of using human corpses antiquated .
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The author overlooking live animal bait . 1974
 
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Stalking

This is the method with which I have personally dispatched the bulk of my marauding Royal Bengal tigers . It is certainly quite labor intensive and requires a great deal of patience . However , it is quite cost effective and I personally find it to be the most thrilling method of hunting Royal Bengal tigers . For this method , the hunter requires a seasoned Garo tracker . One who is well versed in the skill of mimicking the mating calls of Royal Bengal tigresses . This method is only feasible at night time .

By imitating the mating calls of Royal Bengal tigresses and by hearing the responsive roars from from a male Royal Bengal tiger , the hunter makes his Garo tracker gauge the general direction of the animal. After this , the hunting team slowly begins to stalk the Royal Bengal tiger . Whenever the Royal Bengal tiger raises it’s head to roar , the hunter and his tracker quickly need to lie face down on the soil in order to avoid getting spotted by the animal . Only when the Royal Bengal tiger resumes walking again , must the hunting team get up and continue to stalk him . By repeating this procedure , the hunting team closes in on the animal . Once they were within five meters of the marauder , one of the trackers quickly flicks on a powerful six cell torchlight and shines it at the Royal Bengal tiger . As the startled animal turns to look at the source of blinding light , the hunter has roughly two seconds to take aim and place a bullet in the region right between the two eyes of the Royal Bengal tiger . If the hunter cannot take his shot within this time , then the Royal Bengal tiger will bound off into the foliage .

I must divulge one very important piece of advice , however . Royal Bengal tigers possess an unrivaled sense of smell . Under normal circumstances , their sense of smell shall allow them to become alerted as to the presence of human beings quite quickly ( before the hunting team has the opportunity to close in on the Royal Bengal tiger ) . However , this is an innovative ( and economical ) method to circumvent this problem .

Prior to commencing the stalk , every member of the hunting team should wash their clothes in fish oil . The strong pungent odor of fish oil is perfect for masking the scent of human beings .
 

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Shot Placement

There are four regions on a Royal Bengal tiger's body , which a hunter should take aim at :
1) The heart
2) Both lungs
3) The spinal column
4) The brain

On an unsuspecting Royal Bengal tiger , the ideal shot for the novice to attempt is the double lung shot . This shot should always be attempted when the hunter is facing the Royal Bengal tiger from a broad side position . A perfectly aimed shot which pierces both lungs will prove fatal quite swiftly , but not instantly . A royal Bengal tiger which has had both it's lungs pierced by a premium quality expanding bullet , will roughly go 120 to 130 yards while coughing blood from it's mouth and nose . Before collapsing lifeless. An advantage of the double lung shot , is that ( on account of the large target being presented ) it is the easiest shot for the novice to attempt .

Another considerably more effective shot ( albeit one that should only be attempted by a skilled operator ) is the heart shot . When facing the Royal Bengal tiger from a broadside position , the shooter’s point of aim ( in order for his bullet to reach the heart ) should be the upper part of the fore leg ( right behind the shoulder ) . In order to reach the heart of the Royal Bengal tiger from a broadside position , the hunter’s bullet must be able to piece the upper foreleg bone of the animal and still hold together in order to penetrate into the heart . If the hunter wishes to land a frontal heart shot on a Royal Bengal tiger , he must take care to remember that the heart is located just above the base of the Royal Bengal tiger's chest and tucked between the two fore legs .

The spinal column of the Royal Bengal tiger is the most vulnerable part of the animal . However , it is also the most difficult part of the Royal Bengal tiger's body for the hunter’s bullet to reach . The only position from which one can take aim at the Royal Bengal tiger's spinal column , is if the hunter is shooting from an elevated position and the Royal Bengal tiger has it's back turned to the shooter’s direction .

The head of the Royal Bengal tiger should only be selected as a target , when facing the animal from the front . Personally speaking , this was my favorite region to aim for when shooting charging Royal Bengal tigers because a bullet which penetrates the brain of the Royal Bengal tiger brings instant death to it . The point of aim should always be in the region between both of the eyes . However , this is not the easiest shot to make on account of the small size of the target ( if the Royal Bengal tiger is moving while the hunter is attempting this shot , then this only makes things worse ) . I would only recommend this shot for a shooter who possesses a great deal of experience in taking frontal brain shots on large and charging dangerous game .

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A marauding Royal Bengal tiger killed with a frontal brain shot during a charge . 2020
 

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Appropriate Arms & Ammunition

Opinions among experts vary as to what sporting arms constitute the best battery for hunting the Royal Bengal tiger . Speaking for myself , I have always used two very particular sporting arms to contend with these brutes - One rifle . One shotgun .

My rifle is a .458 Winchester Magnum . It is custom built by an American gunsmith on a Winchester Enfield Model 1917 action , with a 25 inch Douglas Premium barrel and a contoured French walnut stock . Since 1976 , this grand old American rifle has helped by account for no less than nine of my marauding Royal Bengal tigers .

My shotgun is a 12 bore double barrel side by side , which was made by Laurona in Eibar . It has 70 millimeter chambers , automatic ejectors , double triggers and 30 inch barrels ( a 1/2 choked left and a 1/4 choked right ) . Up until 1976 , this was the only arm which I possessed for all of my hunting purposes and I used it to shoot my first ever Royal Bengal tiger . For hunting Royal Bengal tigers , I have always loaded my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector with Eley Alphamax 2 3/4 inch LG shells ( with each shells holding eight antimony hardened lead slugs of .36 calibre ) . I stopped using it for hunting Royal Bengal tigers , once I acquired my .458 Winchester Magnum In 1976 .

Throughout the 20th century , all manner of rifle calibres have been employed for dispatching Royal Bengal tigers . The legendary Jim Corbett ( perhaps the world’s most renowned hunter of marauding Royal Bengal tigers ) is frequently credited with using a .7x57 millimeter Mauser and 175 grain soft nosed ICI Kynoch factory loads to take out all of his marauders . While there is some grain of truth to this claim ( Mr . Corbett did use his 7x57 mm Mauser to fatally shoot ONE marauding Royal Bengal tiger ) , the reality is that most of Mr . Corbett’s Royal Bengal tigers were shot by a far heavier rifle - a double rifle built by W J Jeffery of .450/400 Nitro Express calibre and employing a 400 grain bullet .

While critical shot placement should always be prioritized , using a rifle of sufficiently large calibre is advantageous in more than one way . While a brain shot with even a small calibre rifle ( such as .270 Winchester and 150 grain cartridges ) is capable of cleanly taking out a Royal Bengal tiger , heavier calibre rifles really come into their own when body shots are required on these animals . Aside from creating larger wound cavities ( which accelerate blood loss by causing the Royal Bengal tiger to hemorrhage) , a heavier bullet ( being propelled at an adequate velocity ) delivers more shock to the central nervous system of a Royal Bengal tiger . For this reason , I subscribe to the quote “ Err on the side of caution . “

In India ( Bangladesh’s neighboring country ) prior to the 1972 ban on all hunting by the Indira Gandhi radical Hindu Regime , there was actually a legal regulation in 16 of the country’s 17 states . This legal regulation stipulated that no rifle calibre lighter than .375 Holland & Holland Magnum and 300 grain bullets was to be used for the hunting of Royal Bengal tigers . I personally would not be so stringent with my views and would consider the 9.3x62 mm Mauser calibre ( employing 286 grain bullets ) to be perfectly acceptable for the largest of our Royal Bengal tigers .

During my “ hay days “ of hunting marauding Royal Bengal tigers for the Sundarban Forest Department ( 1972 to 1981 ) , the options for a large sporting calibre were fairly limited . None of the British sporting calibres were available during the 1970s due to ICI Kynoch ( the only manufacturer of ammunition in these calibres ) ceasing production of all central fire ammunition in 1972 . The only choices for a heavy calibre were :
1 ) 9.3x62 mm Mauser ( employing 293 grain bullets )
2 ) 9.3x74 mm R ( Rimmed ) ( employing 293 grain bullets )
3 ) .375 Holland & Holland Magnum ( employing 300 grain bullets )
4 ) .458 Winchester Magnum ( employing 510 grain bullets )

Any of these would make for an excellent choice against even the largest of our Royal Bengal tigers and the choice among them now becomes a matter of personal preference . A special word of warning is requisite about the .458 Winchester Magnum , however . During the 1970s , only two companies used to offer factory loaded ammunition for this calibre : Winchester and Remington . Both of them loaded their .458 Winchester Magnum ammunition to produce a velocity of 2040 feet per second . While perfectly adequate for Royal Bengal tigers weighing under 226 kilograms, I have personally found the penetration to be quite marginal for body shots any Royal Bengal tigers exceeding 270 kilograms in weight . Hand loading is the answer over here . By using 500 grain Hornady bullets and IMR3031 propellant powder , hand loaders can achieve a velocity of 2100 feet per second in their .458 Winchester Magnum ammunition. Of course , the charge of gunpowder in these hand loaded rounds is significantly compressed . This makes the shelf life of these “ high velocity “ hand loaded .458 Winchester Magnum rounds much more finite than that of their lower velocity factory loaded counterparts ( as offered by Winchester and Remington ) . That said , 500 grain .458 calibre bullets being propelled at 2100 feet per second certainly makes for an absolutely authoritative killer on the largest of our Royal Bengal tigers with utter impunity .


Today , factory loaded cartridges and reloading components for the British sporting calibres are once again widely available . Hunters may opt for a .404 Jeffery .450/400 Nitro Express , .416 Rigby , .416 Remington Magnum , .450 Nitro Express , .500/465 Nitro Express , .470 Nitro Express , .500 Jeffery , .500 Nitro Express , .505 Gibbs , .577 Nitro Express and .600 Nitro Express. There are also a number of newer sporting calibres on the market such as the .450 Rigby , .450 Dakota and the .458 Lott . Any of these would be a perfectly reasonable choice for the hunting of Royal Bengal tigers ( assuming that one can comfortably handle the recoil , of course ) .
However , I am a man of simple tastes and I am perfectly content with the .458 Winchester Magnum ; A calibre which has never given me even the slightest reason to complain , even when used against the largest of our Royal Bengal tigers .

Regardless of the choice in calibre , it is imperative that only premium quality expanding bullets be used against Royal Bengal tigers . During the early 1970s , I used Winchester Super X factory loaded 510 grain soft nosed ammunition in my .458 Winchester Magnum . While it was perfectly adequate for the bulk of our Royal Bengal tigers , I often found the velocity of 2040 feet per second to be quite marginal whenever I had to stop charging large male Royal Bengal tigers weighing in excess of 270 kilograms ( particularly when frontal heart shots had to be taken ) . Thus , I began to hand load my own .458 Winchester Magnum cartridges from 1975 onwards . For this , I used 500 grain Hornady soft nosed bullets and IMR3031 gunpowder . My hand loaded rounds ( when fresh ) were now achieving a velocity of 2100 feet per second and I immediately noted a marked improvement when using the .458 Winchester Magnum for frontal heart shots on even the heaviest of our male Royal Bengal tigers . In 2018 , Hornady began to manufacture 500 grain factory loaded soft nosed ammunition in the .458 Winchester Magnum calibre . These were called the Hornady DGX ( Dangerous Game eXpanding ) Bonded line . These boast a velocity of 2140 feet per second and ( having tried them out against a brace of marauding Royal Bengal tigers ) I could not be happier with their terminal performance . Especially on Royal Bengal tigers .

During the 1970s , choices in large calibre soft point sporting ammunition was reasonably limited . RWS ( in Germany ) used to manufacture excellent quality 293 grain soft nosed rounds ( named “ TUG “ ammunition) for the 9.3x62 mm Mauser and the 9.3x74 mm R ( Rimmed ) calibre . Winchester ( as part of their Silvertip line ) and Remington ( as part of their Core Lokt line ) used to offer factory loaded soft nosed ammunition for the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum calibre in 300 grain and 270 grain weights respectively . Winchester and Remington would both offer factory loaded 510 soft point ammunition for the .458 Winchester Magnum calibre . And that was about it . In 1974 , Winchester altered the jacket material of their infamous .375 calibre 300 grain Silvertip soft nosed bullet from a mixture of copper , nickel and zinc to aluminum . While this reduced the manufacture costs for Winchester , it also turned a once perfectly reliable soft nosed bullet into one which was now completely unsuited for the hunting of dangerous game . During this time , there were also some batches of 510 grain soft nosed Winchester brand ammunition ( of .458 Winchester Magnum calibre ) which had been loaded from the factory with undersized bullets . The results ( when this ammunition was used against dangerous game ) were often disastrous . My good friend , Mr . John Coleman ( a retired Eastern Cape based South African professional hunter with more than six decades of field experience in hunting African dangerous game ) tells me that the 510 grain soft nosed bullets used in the Remington brand .458 Winchester Magnum cartridges occasionally suffered from the same problem during the 1970s as well .

Choices for the hand loader were limited to either Hornady or Barnes bullets . Hornady used to offer excellent soft point 300 grain bullets for the .375 calibre and 500 grain bullets for the .458 calibre . Barnes would also offered splendid copper jacketed soft point 300 grain bullets for the .375 calibre and 500 grain bullets for the .458 calibre . While Barnes offered a few other choices of bullets in the ( then ) obscure British sporting calibres , that was about it .

Needless to say , choices of premium quality soft point factory loaded cartridges and reloading components are sufficiently varied today . Excellent soft point factory loaded cartridges for most sporting calibres may be easily sourced from Hornady ( as part of their Dangerous Game eXpanding line ) , Federal ( as part of their Trophy Bonded Bear Claw line ) , Norma ( as part of their Professional Hunter line ) , Swift ( as part of their A Frame line ) , Barnes ( as part of their TSX line ) or Nosler ( as part of their Safari line ) . Excellent soft point bullets for the hand loading market may easily be sourced from Hornady , Barnes , Nosler , Norma or Swift .

Whether the operator should opt for a bolt action rifle or a double rifle for hunting Royal Bengal tigers , are largely a matter of personal preference . When shooting a Royal Bengal tiger over baits or by stalking , I find that a bolt action rifle is far more desirable . The single sighting plane allows for more accurate shots to be made at longer ranges . During a beat however , a quality double rifle with double triggers really comes into it’s own . It is extremely quick , well balanced and easily to point and take an instant second snap shot at a moving Royal Bengal tiger ( quite similar to how one would use a traditional side by side game gun to take a snap shot at driven grouse ) . Since I do not own a double rifle , I have always used my .458 Winchester Magnum . Despite being a bolt action rifle , it has left nothing to be desired for me during driven shooting .

An ideal bolt action rifle for hunting Royal Bengal tigers should employ a control round feed action such as the Mauser Model 98 , early pre 64 Winchester Model 70 , Springfield Model 1903 , Pattern 14 Enfield , Enfield Model 1917 or BRNO ZKK 602 . These feature a long Mauser style extractor which practically guarantees flawless extraction under any circumstances . It should use a barrel no longer than 26 inches . Anything longer may prove to be a great hindrance in the dense thickets of the Sundarban mangrove forests. It should feature a French , English or Turkish walnut stock instead of American walnut stocks . American walnut ( such as Claro ) is quite open grained and does not lend itself to holding up long , in large calibre heavy recoiling rifles without the stock splitting or cracking due to recoil . The rifle should feature detachable mounts for easily adding or removing a telescopic sight ( depending upon whether long range or close quarters shooting is requisite ) . For shooting Royal Bengal tigers over bait or by means of stalking , a good telescopic sight is always preferable . It is the objective of any ethical professional Shikari to always aspire to dispatch any game animal with the first shot , and for this reason the first shot must be as accurately placed as possible . For instinctive close quarters shooting however , a telescopic sight is quite out of place . For this sort of work , I find that open iron sights with a wide V back sight and an uncovered ivory bead fore sight are most preferable .

During the 1970s , new control round feed action rifles were practically non existent . The Winchester Model 70 was using a push feed action , as was the Fabrique Nationale Mauser ( also known as the Browning Safari High Power ) . The other large calibre rifles which were being commercially manufactured at the time , included the Remington Model 700 and the Weatherby Mark V - Both push feed actions . The only control round feed action large calibre rifle available on market , was the Czechoslovakian BRNO ZKK - 602 . The predecessor of the CZ 550 Magnum action , these were offered in two large game calibres : .375 Holland & Holland Magnum and .458 Winchester Magnum . While the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum variants were perfect , the .458 Winchester Magnum variants needed to be significantly modified with aftermarket alterations in order to feed reliably . In 1974 , Interarms began to offer their Mark X Whitworth Express Mauser 98 based bolt action rifles . A predecessor of the modern Zastava Model 70 , these rifles were offered in two large calibre chamberings : The .375 Holland & Holland Magnum and the .458 Winchester Magnum . While the actions were robustly constructed , their magazine floor plates were notoriously prone to springing open as a result of recoil . The barrels were also made from relatively soft steel , and barrel rifling was known to have a relatively short life .

Things were not much better with custom gunmakers either . The only option for a proper control round feed bolt action rifle back in those days , was to salvage actions from military surplus rifles and extensively rework them into forming the basis for large calibre sporting rifles . Options included :

1 ) Salvaged military surplus Mauser Model 98 actions
2 ) Salvaged military surplus Springfield Model 1903 actions
3 ) Salvaged military surplus Pattern 14 Enfield actions
4 ) Salvaged military surplus Enfield Model 1917 actions

Naturally , none of these actions were originally designed to accept large calibre sporting rounds ( such as the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum or the .458 Winchester Magnum ) . As a result , non many of them fared well in the field ( except if an extremely competent gunsmith was responsible for the build ) .

Today however , the choices for the aspiring hunter are endless . Excellent Mauser Model 98 action large calibre sporting rifles are being manufactured by Dakota ( their Model 76 line ) , Heym ( their Express magazine rifle line ) and Granite Mountain Arms . And this does not even include the countless bespoke rifle makers such as Lebeau Courally , Hambrusch Hunting Rifles , Griffin & Howe , Dorleac & Dorleac and John Rigby & Co .

That said ; I have never had the misfortune of feeling underarmed when pursuing Royal Bengal tigers while armed with my Enfield Model 1917 action 458 Winchester Magnum and my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector .

I should add a small note , over here . It is actually quite possible to dispatch even an unwounded Royal Bengal tiger by using a 12 bore shotgun ( which is loaded with LG shells ) . It is simply a matter of getting close to the animal . Under normal circumstances , this will usually only be possible when stalking the animal to point blank range at night ( as discussed in the “ Stalking “ section . The ideal point of aim on a Royal Bengal tiger ( when employing a shotgun ) is the region where the neck meets the shoulder . I actually used this method to shoot my very first few Royal Bengal tigers . This was also the method employed by the late Pachabdhi Gazi ( Bangladesh’s greatest hunter of marauding Royal Bengal tigers ) to take out 58 of his 61 marauding Royal Bengal tigers . Pachabdhi used to own a 12 bore exposed hammer side by side shotgun , which was made by H Pieper in Belgium prior to the first world war . This antiquated weapon ( loaded with Eley Alphamax LG shells ) in Pachabdhi’s hands , was responsible for taking out the bulk of his marauding Royal Bengal tigers ( and now , his son owns and uses it without any reasons to complain ) . Other than that , the use of shotguns on Royal Bengal tigers should strictly be averted .

It is absolutely crucial that the operator use the largest sizes and heaviest charges of buckshot available to him , during these circumstances. I would only recommend the LG shot size ( with each slug being of .36 calibre ) for this application . I am not particularly fond of copper plated buckshot shells for this sort of work , because my 48 years of professional experience has shown me that these excessively hard plated buckshot slugs tend to glance off the shoulder bones of the heaviest Royal Bengal tigers . However , one should also avoid using buckshot shells where the slugs are too soft because this shall result in under penetration . What is required , is a buckshot shell which is loaded with properly constructed antimony hardened lead slugs . I personally find only two makes of buckshot shells to be satisfactory for follow up work on Royal Bengal tigers . The first is the English Eley Alphamax LG 2 3/4 inch shells , which is what I have been using ever since 1972 . The second is the German Rottweil SG/LG Magnum 2 5/8 inch ( which holds nine slugs of .34 calibre ) . In 2016 , Eley decided to cease manufacture of any shot size larger than BB and I only have less than two dozen Eley Alphamax LG shells in my inventory . Upon expending them , I will switch to using the a aforementioned Rottweil product . It is quite blatantly obvious that a 3 inch LG shell is far superior than the 2 3/4 inch LG shells which I am accustomed to using ( due to the ability to hold more slugs and take a larger charge of powder ) . However , I have never ever had a reason to complain about the performance of the standard 2 3/4 inch LG shell ( especially since those are the only ones which I can use in my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector , as it possesses 2 3/4 inch chambers ) .


For the purposes of hunting Royal Bengal tigers at night , one’s weapon should always have a powerful torchlight clamped to the fore end . I find that a six cell torchlight provides the best degree of illumination for nocturnal shooting .
DF98AE82-DD90-4829-A5C6-2BC741871B65.jpeg

.458 Winchester Magnum owned by the author
0A4E5827-D350-4AE9-9239-CD3E6AB0E3C9.jpeg

Winchester Super X 510 grain soft nosed .458 Winchester Magnum factory ammunition
C6182A9A-5E71-484D-BBAF-CF0918417110.png

Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector owned by the author
BFB1DFEF-AE26-4CAB-874B-FD5B1328755F.jpeg

Eley Alphamax LG shells owned by the author
A8323D98-2C1C-4DD8-8E1A-C465AC51B0F2.png

Forest ranger Pachabdhi Gazi with his H Pieper 12 bore exposed hammer side by side shotgun . 1971
 

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Following Up Wounded Royal Bengal Tigers

When wounded by a hunter’s bullet , a Royal Bengal tiger will ALWAYS retreat into dense foliage in an attempt to evade his tormentor(s) . It is the following up of the wounded Royal Bengal tiger which leads to the most fatalities and / or injuries to members of the hunting team .

Much like the wounded cheetah , a wounded Royal Bengal tiger lies in wait in the densest part of the thickets to ambush the shikar party . As previously discussed above ; if a Royal Bengal tiger manages to pounce on you , then it will not stop mauling you until you are dead ( unlike a cheetah , which usually just gives you a brief series of bites with it's teeth and scratches with the claws of it's fore paws before jumping off you. Attacks seldom last for more than 30 seconds . You will end up severely mutilated and disfigured . However , unless you are dealing with a marauder, you will usually survive. )

However , there is no reason to feel discouraged. Unlike a cheetah , a Royal Bengal tiger is huge and heavy . Therefore ( while still extremely fast ) , it lacks the speed of a cheetah. While moving through the foliage , it will make a great deal of noise as it snaps twigs and branches . This allows the hunter time ( say , a couple of seconds ) to pin point the general direction from which the Royal Bengal tiger is creeping up towards them . This allows a skilled operator enough time to snap their weapon up to their shoulder , take aim and fire .

While smaller calibre rifles might certainly be able to get the job done by using picked shots on unsuspecting Royal Bengal tigers , it is imperative that only heavy calibre rifles be used when sorting out wounded Royal Bengal tigers . This is because 80 % of follow up jobs on Royal Bengal tigers , are likely to result in a charge . And during a charge , critical shot placement cannot always be afforded .
Aside from creating larger wound cavities ( which accelerate blood loss by causing the Royal Bengal tiger to hemorrhage) , a heavier bullet ( being propelled at an adequate velocity ) delivers more shock to the central nervous system of a Royal Bengal tiger . My personal preference lies with the .458 Winchester Magnum but any of the .400 - .450 bores will do splendidly , for this application .
 

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Trophy Preparation

Royal Bengal tigers hides make for splendid trophies and thus , it is imperative that the hide of a slain Royal Bengal tiger be removed neatly and properly . Here are some lessons in rudimentary taxidermy , in case it is of interest to anyone .

With a pair of scissors, a sharp ( preferably carbon steel ) knife, pliers, salt or alum with ash, one can dabble in some amateur skinning. To those who are interested from an academic perspective, this is how it is done : The first and foremost thing is to measure the animal, as quite often after it has been skinned and stretched, the resulting specimen is often larger than the original, and some individuals actually prefer it this way . Firstly with charcoal, spots on the animal must be marked out after turning it on its back. Starting from the lower lip all the way to the tail, the next cuts are from the inside of the fore and hind legs ( through it’s pads ) . Now the hide can be taken off ; although around the head, extreme care must be taken. It is not for the squeamish and many a time I have had friends who vommitted, seeing such a sight .

Carnivora take a longer time to decompose but also give off an offensive odour and hence it is always better to have your nose and mouth covered with a handkerchief. The hide is cleaned to remove blood and then stretched out, with pegs if one has carried them ( over a carpet of dried grass ) and liberally mixed with ash. There should be extra support under the head and the ears must be turned inside out. It is then treated with an equal amount of salt and ash, to get the moisture out. This has to be repeated multiple times for the next 48 hours, after which it is ready to be mounted by your taxidermist. This is, of course, how it used to be done in Bangladesh . In the Sundarban mangrove forests , there is always moisture in the air . Hence parts of the skin which do not feel the effects of the preservative at the time , will simply decompose taking the hair along with it, leaving unsightly bald patches on the skin. In places where the skin is thick, it must be thinned down with a sharp knife so that the curing agent reaches the roots of the hair and hardens the whole skin.

D146253F-8911-4B0F-8B5F-480120945207.jpeg

A traditional Upojati tribal style head mount of a marauding Royal Bengal tiger shot by the author . 1976
 

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Notes & Observations

I am often asked by apprentice Probem Animal Control Officers “ Are you more afraid of hunting Royal Bengal tigers during the daytime , or during nighttime ? “ . My answer is always , without hesitation “ Daytime “ . Upon hearing this , many question my assessment but I do believe that an explanation is in order . Suppose it is daytime , and a group of beaters have a Royal Bengal tiger surrounded for you . You approach the scene ; rifle in hand . The beaters point at the Royal Bengal tiger for you and ask you to shoot it . As soon as you make eye contact with the Royal Bengal tiger , it will ignore everyone else and attack you ( the person armed with the rifle ) right away .

This is strangely not the case , during nighttime . As a young man prior to 1974 ( when Royal Bengal tigers still had not been formally recognized as a legally protected species in Bangladesh ) , I used to spend my entire nights chasing and shooting Royal Bengal tigers in the Sundarban mangrove forests . On some occasions , I would see three Royal Bengal tigers lying down and I would shoot two of them to death at point blank range . The third one ( even after locking eyes with me ) would refrain from attacking me and would simply bound off into the foliage . For some reason , Royal Bengal tigers are far less aggressive during the nighttime than they are during the day .


THE END
 

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@Professor Mawla
Your stories are fascinating as always!
Question.
Did you use your 458 win rifle with scope, or scope was removed for situation when stopping a charging tiger?
@mark-hunter
Thank you very much . The first time I ever shot a Royal Bengal tiger with my .458 Winchester Magnum , I left the telescopic sight on . But by 1979 , I realized that the telescopic sight should always be removed prior to close quarters shooting ( such as following ups ; 80 % of which are guaranteed to culminate in a charge ) . Field experience is the best teacher of them all . It refined with time and there is no substitute for it .
 

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