Leopard Hunting In The Syedabaad Tea Estate : How I Got Started

Captain Nwz

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This is my very first entry on this forum and l ask for forgiveness if my grammar or format of writing leave anything to be desired ( As l write more , l will hopefully improve in time ) . While l studied English at school ever since l was a little boy ( English was a mandatory subject in most private schools in India at the time of my childhood ) and frequently speak it both in Bangladesh and foreign countries with acceptable proficiency , it is not my first language .

In my life , l have killed 81 leopards till now . Out of these 81 leopards , 69 of them were killed prior to 1972 in the Syedabaad tea estate in India ( West Bengal ) .
Here is a Bangladeshi newspaper article written in 1985 , which detailed my actions ( fortunately in a positive light and not in the negative misguided tone which is so common today , among left wing media worldwide ) .
At the time , l had killed my 73rd leopard.
IMG-86902039d2e423a580e42b26ee9a4c07-V.jpg

I should also add here that unless otherwise stated , l own every photograph which l will be posting here , henceforth .

From the next post onwards , l will provide an account of the very first leopard which l had shot in 1963 , when l was 16 years old . I hope that you all will like the story .And if this story is well received , then l will write a few more accordingly once every few days.
 
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While l studied English at school ever since l was a little boy ( English was a mandatory subject in most private schools in India at the time of my childhood ) and frequently speak it both in Bangladesh and foreign countries with acceptable proficiency , it is not my first language .

Having grown up in Texas and left 44 years ago, I’m still told I don’t speak English well! :LOL:
 

WebleyGreene455

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Captain Nwz, your English is far better than my Bengali, Hindi, or any other language spoken in the Indian Subcontinent. That I speak none of those languages at all is not so important. ;)

But I am curious about something. Did you learn to use a typewriter when you were younger? I've noticed a tendency for people to add extra spaces before full stops and commas and I've wondered if that was a habit from using typewriters instead of computers.
 

Captain Nwz

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I unfortunately lost my parents at a very early age in an automobile accident and l was raised by by my aunt , Samia . She was married to a Catholic Christian Anglo Indian gentleman by the name of Joshua Decosta . Joshua ( or " Uncle Josh" as l called him ) owned land in the Tea Estate in Syedabaad in India.
Now , l suspect that many people may be wondering exactly how big the Tea Estates of India and Bangladesh are . Here are some photographs taken from the internet of the Syedabaad Tea Estate , which was my home until 1972.
Screenshot_20200106-231525_01.png
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The Tea Estate was MASSIVE . Infact , a new visitor could ( and often did ) get lost in the estate without a guide or a member of staff to assist them . We had over 400 tea garden workers under Uncle Josh's employment and he was a well respected man .
I really liked Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia . They raised me and loved me like their own child and if l ever wanted anything as a child ; be it toys or books or trips to the cinema or visits to expensive restaurants ; they never denied me anything . They made sure that l got a full education in one of the best schools in Shiliguri and gave me weekly pocket money . They even contributed financially for my university degree when l decided to pursue a degree in engineering. They loved me like a son and l owe my life to them . I had seen so little of my own father that Uncle Josh was the closest thing to a father whom l had . And he was truly everything a father figure should be in a boy’s life. Despite him being a Catholic , and Aunt Samia and l being Muslims , he never asked either of us to convert to Christianity . He loved Aunt Samia more than life itself and he was always there for me .

The tea garden was right next to the hills and were overflowing with wildlife .We had Barking Deer , Wild Boars , hares and Mouse Deer in abundance, which would come into the Tea Estate regularly . We had various kinds of Indian game birds : Chukar , gray partridge, pigeons , quails , doves , TT birds , grouse , pea fowl and we even had cranes near the streams . A shikari could have the time of his life in the Tea Estate without ever needing to venture outside for hunting ( l am serious ) . And that is exactly what l did.

I LOVED hunting ever since l was a child and l spent a good chunk of my free time throughout the week hunting in the Tea Estate. I hunted the various kinds of deer and birds for the pot . Boars l hunted , because they were a massive threat to the tea plants and frequently attacked our employees , ramming at them with their huge curved tusks. Our employees had a good number of Christians , Hindus and Buddhists among them , and so l would always donate the fresh pork to them , or leave some for Uncle Josh and our Christian family friends . Since it was all on private land , we had no bag limits on how much we could legally hunt . Nevertheless , Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia raised me to always stay within my limitations and never to wantonly shoot animals indiscriminately . I could shoot whatever l liked , as long as l made sure that l never killed too many of any species at a single time ( except wild boars which would cause massive damage to tea plants ). For instance , l would shoot two Barking Deer on average every week , but seldom more .


At the age of 14 , Uncle Josh bought me a bolt action rifle made by BRNO , chambered in .22 Long Rifle ( from here onwards , l will refer to it as .22 LR which my lovely daughter-in-law teaches me is the correct abbreviation) for my birthday . As my good chums , Kawshik and Poton ( who are very well respected members of this forum ) have repeatedly stated in their writings , imported firearms were extremely difficult to come by in India at that time , even before they were banned by law in 1972 . The only imported firearms available in India , were the ones which were already brought into the country prior to 1947 . Uncle Josh had bought me that Brno rifle brand new from Isbanbul , Turkey when he had gone there on a business trip . And for a 14 year old boy , it was the birthday gift of all birthday gifts . That little rifle was beautiful. It had a removable magazine which held six cartridges. It was accurate too and Uncle Josh had gotten me a rifle license , which made the rifle mine to legally carry wherever l wanted . I used it to shoot hares , pigeons and cranes ( on water ) .

Uncle Josh himself owned an Indian Ordinance Factories 12 bore double barreled side by side shotgun , known to us Indians as “ IOF 12 Bore DBBL “ . It had 2 3/4 inch chambers , extractors and 32 inch barrels ( full choke- both barrels ) . These were horrible weapons , built too light for large charge cartridges and barrels were known to bulge easily even with standard 2 3/4 inch cartridges . The sear springs were prone to breaking and firing the left barrel first , often resulted in the right barrel going off simultaneously as well . However , Uncle Josh made do with this shotgun . He was predominantly a wing shooter and did not care too much for shooting deer or boars . Imagine how much a man must care about his wife’s nephew that he will make do with a cheap Indian shotgun , but he will get the boy a fine imported rifle from Europe. That was the kind of man whom Uncle Josh was .


This shotgun was licensed in Uncle Josh’s name , but l actually used it far more than he did . I took care never to carry the shotgun outside the Tea Estate , because l was not the licensed owner of the gun and l could get into serious trouble with the law if I ever did so ( unless Uncle Josh was with me ) . I did almost all of my hunting in the Tea Garden Estate with that shotgun . However , l was fortunate enough to never have to use Indian cartridges , which were the cheapest , most unreliable swill ever to be produced by any factory in existence . In fact , calling the damned things produced by the Indian Ordinance Factories “ ammunition “ is an insult to ammunition manufacturers world wide .

One advantage of living in the Syedabaad Tea Estate was that l never had to make do with Indian ammunition. The Tea Estate was literally on the edge of the border with East Pakistan ( now known as Bangladesh) and we could reach there in seven hours by car . New Imported firearms and ammunition were available in East Pakistan . The choices back then were quite limited , but something is better than nothing and at least it was all imported and reliable . There were .22 LR calibre bolt action rifles and 12 bore over under shotguns made by two or three different European brands available for sale in the arms shops of East Pakistan . The only imported ammunition available was from “ Eley “ , a British Brand .
.22 LR ammunition from Eley used to cost 50 Poisha back in those days for 50 cartridges and for six Ana , one could purchase a shotgun cartridge . For only one Taka , a person could purchase a hundred cartridges of .22 LR and three 12 bore cartridges . Ah , if only ammunition prices today were the same as they were sixty years ago . Needless to say , we were very well supplied with Eley .22 LR cartridges for my BRNO rifle and Eley 12 bore cartridges for Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL .

Back in those days , five varieties of 12 Bore shotgun cartridges were kept in stock by the arms shops of East Pakistan :
Eley Alphamax # 4 and Eley Alphamax # 6 shotgun cartridges , Eley Grand Prix #4 and Eley Grand Prix # 6 shotgun cartridges and Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges . The Eley Alphamax cartridges were all 2 3/4 inches long . The Eley Grand Prix cartridges were all 2 1/2 inches long .

Even though Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL had 2 3/4 inch chambers , we always used Eley Grand Prix 2 1/2 inch cartridges in the shotgun . This was because we were afraid that using 2 3/4 inch cartridges with their larger charges would damage the gun . With that cheap Indian Ordinance Factories 12 Bore DBBL , one simply could not take a chance .
Uncle Josh would always purchase plenty of Eley Grand Prix # 4 and # 6 cartridges and spherical ball cartridges for us to use. I would use the #6 for game birds and # 4 for cranes . I would use the spherical ball cartridges for Barking Deer and wild boars .
Here is an original Eley spherical ball cartridge case which l still have in my possession , from 57 years back . At the end of this article , you will all know why l held on to that cartridge case for 57 years and what it signifies to me . All Eley shotgun cartridges back in those days used to be made from paper .
received_754328681676018.jpeg


I lived a very adventurous and privileged life style as a young man and l have no regrets about the life which l have lived .

Uncle Josh had an old tribal Garo servant named Wani , who was 53 years old when l first came to live in the Tea Estate . Wani was my care taker when l was a child and he was a most friendly and kind elderly man . He used to be a Sepai in the British army during the Colonial era and Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia had given him the responsibility to watch over me when l was a child .

When l grew up to become a young man , Wani often accompanied me on my hunting excursions in the Tea Estate .
The memories still flash before my eyes .
Walking through the Tea Estate , with Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL slung across my shoulders and old Wani walking behind me carrying my BRNO .22 LR bolt action rifle , slung across his shoulders while he carried the other bits and pieces of my shikar equipment .
Imagine coming back from school to your home , changing your clothes , picking up your and your uncle's guns and heading off to hunt in your own property ? It was heaven for me .

Our employees all treated me with the greatest respect and life was very peaceful . That Tea Estate was my little world . However , we had one very big problem . As l mentioned previously , the Tea Estate was right next to the hills and Barking Deer would virtually always come into the Tea Estate from the hills .
And from the hills , the huge Hunting Leopards would come into the Tea Estate to go after the Barking Deer . It will be very difficult for modern sportsmen to believe how many leopards there used to be in Shiliguri , during those days . There were literally hundreds of Hunting Leopards crawling all over the area and they were a huge menace to human life . These beasts ended up liking human flesh far more than Barking Deer venison and several of our employees were routinely getting killed by these feline foes . As a result , many of our terrified Tea Estate workers had quit working for us , out of fear for their lives .
However , as the next post will show , one fine day in 1963 , l decided to take matters into my own hands .
 
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Shootist43

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You said the Tea gardens were large, but never quantified that. I am familiar with acres & hectares after that it is square miles. But than again with 400 workers being required, I get that it was not a small piece of ground.
 

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You said the Tea gardens were large, but never quantified that. I am familiar with acres & hectares after that it is square miles. But than again with 400 workers being required, I get that it was not a small piece of ground.
Ah , Shootist43 . I see that you have been introduced to Captain Newaz and that too during his very 1st article on this site . The Syedabaad tea estate is gargantuan in size . I will try looking on the internet to find the exact numerical size of the tea estate.
@Captain Nwz meet Shootist43 . He is 1 of Kawshik's and my closest friends on this site and you both will love interacting with each other.
Now , get to the rest of that story ! You and l never got to sit down and talk about your very 1st shikar in such detail as you are now .
 

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On a Tuesday morning of 1963 , l was coming back from school . I saw Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia trying to talk to a large group of panic stricken Tea Estate workers . The previous night a leopard had stuck again . It had killed not one , but two Tea Estate workers at the same time , but eaten very little flesh from both their bodies . I saw the two mutilated corpses lying on a white cotton sheet on the ground , while everyone was waiting for the relative of the workers to claim the corpses . Seeing those grisly corpses of our poor workers lying there made my blood run cold . They were bitten and clawed repeatedly across the face , neck and chest . Their rib cages were torn open and the lungs punctured . One of the corpses had his intestines jutting out of a hole in his stomach . It was like an image from Hell itself . However , more than disgust , l felt anger . I felt angry at these vile beasts for coming into my home and feasting on our poor employees .
The workers were angrily telling Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia that they were all quitting , unless something could be done to stop these feline menaces.
I spoke out " Ami ei Chita Baagh gulo ke marar bebostha korchi " ( I will take care of the leopards ) . Hearing this , Aunt Samia and Uncle Josh both vehemently opposed my proposition . They said that it was too dangerous and that under no circumstances was I to ever try contending with these man eating leopards . I outwardly had to promise them that l would not go after the leopards under any circumstances . Uncle Josh was able to convince the workers to stay by increasing each of their salaries by 20 Rupees . However , we all knew that increasing their wages was only a temporary solution to a permanent problem , until someone did something about the leopards.
In my mind , l had already decided that l was going to put an end to these feline menaces . I just needed to do it without Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia finding out .
My opportunity was to come on Thursday , when Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia were to go for a weekend trip to Bombay and l volunteered to stay behind in the Tea Estate . I immediately summoned old Wani and detailed my plan of action . We were going to shoot a leopard . I knew that Wani would never tell Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia anything ; l trusted him that much . Wani had shot four leopards himself in his youth , as a Sepai for the British army and he would be able to teach me the tricks of the trade .

Initially Wani was hesitant to go against Uncle Josh's orders. However , l told him that if he would not help me hunt down a leopard , then l would risk going after it myself . Wani finally conceded to my request . And we began our preparations that very day . Whatever l did that day , l did under Wani's guidance .

First , l took Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL and a dozen Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges and we went out to shoot a Barking Deer . We found a few feeding near a pond in the south side of the Estate . Stalking them to within 25 yards , l took aim with the shotgun at the neck of a large Barking Deer and let fly with the left barrel . The 16 bore spherical ball blew into the spinal column of the Barking Deer and it dropped to the shot .
We then carried the dead Barking Deer to a spot in the Tea Estate where Wani had estimated that the leopards would frequent the most .I asked him how he was so sure that the leopards would always frequent this area . Wani taught me a few lessons which would stay with me my entire life :
Leopard males tend to urinate near the bushes to mark their territory . If you smell a strong scent like a rodent's nest , then you must understand that this is where the leopard(s) have urinated to mark their territory .
There will be another immediate tell tale sign of a leopard frequenting the area . Anyone who has pet cats will know that cats love to scratch things and many owners of cats will often get them scratch posts and things of that sort . A leopard , being of the same family of mammals as a cat , will always scratch it's claws on the bark of a tree , before making it's move on it's intended quarry . Amongst us shikaris of West Bengal , we refer to any trees which have a leopard's claw marks on them as " Khamchir Gaach " ( Scratching Tree ) .
Not only did the area which Wani had found , have bushes which smelt strongly like a rodent's nest , but it also had plenty of trees around the bushes which had the unmistakable scratch marks of a leopard's claws on them .
My compatriot and chum , Major Khan of these forums has been so kind as to provide me with a photograph which he took of a scratching tree .
IMG_20191211_005017_01_01_01.jpg


And thus , it was time to set up our bait .
Wani asked me to hand him my knife . I handed Wani the pocket knife which l used to carry in those days . It was a handmade butterfly knife which Uncle Josh had purchased for me from Philippines . The handles were made from rose wood and the five inch blade was a flat ground " Tari " style blade made from truck leaf springs . I have many fond memories of that knife .
Wani gutted the Barking Deer and removed it's entrails . He then smeared the trees with the entrails and blood of the dead Barking Deer . Taking a length of rope which he had brought with him , he then hung the carcass of the Barking Deer from a branch of the tree , making sure that the carcass was not too high . I wondered why Wani had arranged the bait in such a manner . However , l knew even at that age , that everything Wani did , he did for a reason .
The bait was ready . Wani told me that leopards were nocturnal creatures and so would only feed in the dark . And then , Wani had a few of our Tea Estate employees build a seating arrangement for himself and me on a Daleem tree around fifteen feet away from where the bait was . The seating arrangement was rather crude , but serviceable . It consisted solely of a few boards of wood nailed to the heaviest branches of the tree , to provide a platform for us to sit on .

And so , we began our night. The entire Tea Estate was quiet as we had ordered our employees not to get out of the servant's quarters under any circumstances whatsoever. Wani had a powerful two cell flash light with him and l had Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL , loaded with Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges . We stayed highly alert the whole night , but nothing showed up that Thursday night .
Being deprived of sleep the whole night , l spent the next day sleeping in my late until 3: 00 PM at noon . When l got up , decided that l would try my luck tonight .
I went back to the area where we had set up the bait . The carcass of the Barking Deer was still unmolested . Wani and I got ready to stay prepared this night . And our efforts did not go in vain , as my next and final post will detail.
 

Captain Nwz

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The entire night was intense . It was pitch dark with the full moon being our only source of illumination . I sat with Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL , across my lap , loaded with Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges . Wani had the two cell flash light with him and in Wani's hands was my BRNO .22 LR bolt action rifle . At around 11:30 to 11:40 PM , Wani pointed to a shape moving through the bushes and whispered " Chita Baagh aise " ( The leopard is coming ) . My eyes focused on that shape and only that shape alone . I watched the leopard slowly come into full visibility as it moved towards the tree from which the bait was hanging . It stood on it's hind legs and began to feed on the bait . It's back was directly turned towards us . I slowly raised the shotgun to my shoulder as Wani positioned the flash light . I knew that my window of opportunity had opened . Wani knew what he had to do . He instantly switched on the flashlight and the beam fell on the leopard. Even before the leopard had a chance to turn it's head towards the source of the light , l let off my left barrel .
The leopard dropped to the shot . I , however did not get down from the tree just yet. I fired my right barrel and the downed beast's head , but it did not move . I then hurriedly broke open the breech of the shotgun and turned it upside down to shake out the empty cartridges and l put in two more Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges . Wani and l cautiously got down from the tree to look at the villain . He really was dead .
I sent Wani back to the house to get my camera and l took a photograph of my prize . Here he is .
Screenshot_20200106-233327_01_01_01_01_01.png

He weighed only 164 pounds , but to me he looked majestic at the time ( bear in mind that l was only a 16 year old boy at the time . My first bullet had hit him in the back of the neck , right above the shoulder . That one ounce spherical lead ball had successfully broken it's spinal column and killed it on the spot. The second bullet was completely unnecessary but it hit the leopard's shoulder . This bullet did not penetrate properly enough to break the shoulder bone . Here is a picture which Poton was kind enough to provide me . It is an Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridge cross cut .
Screenshot_20191129-224431_01.png

Since most forum members here are well versed in the technical aspects of firearms , it is plain as day to see why the Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges had such poor penetration . The ball was of 16 Bore , to allow it to pass through fully choked 12 bore shotguns with ease.
A 16 Bore spherical ball has dismal penetration , and to make matters worse the Eley Grand Prix cartridges were what we call " low brass " cartridges which held low charges of powder . I was incredibly fortunate that the first bullet had found the leopard's spinal column .

When Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia came back to the Syedabaad Tea Estate , our employees proudly told them that young Kareem had successfully slain a leopard .
They were fuming with rage that l had disobeyed them and risked my life . They asked me what had compelled me to disobey them directly. I replied that the Tea Estate was our home and that l could not bear to see another of our Employees become a leopard's supper . This reply moved them both and they calmed down and were soon praising me for killing the leopard so bravely and skillfully . Wani told Uncle Josh proudly " Ei chele purai shingho ! Bokh marar guli diye Chita Baagh marse " ( This boy is a brick ! He killed a hunting leopard with cartridges used for shooting cranes . )
Even though my motivations for killing the leopard were primarily to protect our employees , l would be lying if l said that l did not enjoy it a little .
From that day onwards , l decided that any leopard which ever entered the Tea Estate with malicious intent , would fall to my gun . 68 more leopards taken in the Syedabaad Tea Estate until 1970 are testament that l kept my vow . As l shot more leopards , l learnt to refine my methods in hunting these beasts and l learnt better skills along the way .
I met many colorful characters over the years and each person l ever had the pleasure of meeting , taught me something new . However , now and again, l did make a mistake or two and l ( or one of my comrades ) would always end up paying dearly for my mistake .

I have kept that empty Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridge case with me for all these years , because that cartridge was what had killed my very first leopard on a Friday night of 1963 . It is a little momento of how a 16 year old boy got introduced to his great passion of hunting man eating leopards .
received_754328681676018.jpeg


I hope that this story has entertained at least a few people and if you all have liked it , then l will write a few more over the next few days.
THE END
 

Shootist43

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Very interesting as well as entertaining. Defending your home "turf" at the age of 16 was very courageous. Did you discover reloading using high brass shells with more powder (like Poton did) soon after this event? I am already looking forward to your next article. Is the Tea Garden Estate still in your family?
 

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Captain Nwz, your English is far better than my Bengali, Hindi, or any other language spoken in the Indian Subcontinent. That I speak none of those languages at all is not so important. ;)

But I am curious about something. Did you learn to use a typewriter when you were younger? I've noticed a tendency for people to add extra spaces before full stops and commas and I've wondered if that was a habit from using typewriters instead of computers.
Webley , your words are most encouraging. As a matter of fact , l have extensively used a type writer in my student life . Most school and college students in India in the 1960s learnt to type with a type writer . Your skills at deduction are most impressive.
 

Captain Nwz

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Very interesting as well as entertaining. Defending your home "turf" at the age of 16 was very courageous. Did you discover reloading using high brass shells with more powder (like Poton did) soon after this event? I am already looking forward to your next article. Is the Tea Garden Estate still in your family?
Shootist43, l feel very encouraged knowing that you enjoyed this story . I would not call myself courageous , although l wish that l certainly was . Impulsive is more like it . Poton and Kawshik were professional shikaris and therefore they were far more knowledgeable than me especially about hand loading. I did not learn how to properly hand load my own cartridges until 1975 . Another consideration was that Poton uses an extremely high quality Belgian shotgun, capable of withstanding heavy charges of powder. I was using that cheap Indian Ordinance Factories 12 Bore shotgun and these guns ( even though they had 2 3/4 inch chambers ) were prone to sometimes having their barrels explode and injure ( or even kill ) the shooter even if standard 2 3/4 inch cartridges were used in the gun.
That is why l was forced to use the 2 1/2 inch Eley Grand Prix cartridges in the shotgun exclusively , due to their low charge .
This would work against me on more than one occasion, such as when l had to contend with a Royal Bengal Tiger , which l will write about in future stories .

I use hand loads in my Winchester's .338 Magnum bolt action rifle now , almost exclusively ( save for the odd brand or two which l have a soft spot for ) . Once a shooter starts handloading , they seldom go back to factory loaded ammunition , in my humble opinion .
We sold the Tea Estate when l moved to Bangladesh after the Liberation War . That war deeply impacted and changed the lives of me and everyone l ever knew .
 
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The entire night was intense . It was pitch dark with the full moon being our only source of illumination . I sat with Uncle Josh's IOF 12 Bore DBBL , across my lap , loaded with Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges . Wani had the two cell flash light with him and in Wani's hands was my BRNO .22 LR bolt action rifle . At around 11:30 to 11:40 PM , Wani pointed to a shape moving through the bushes and whispered " Chita Baagh aise " ( The leopard is coming ) . My eyes focused on that shape and only that shape alone . I watched the leopard slowly come into full visibility as it moved towards the tree from which the bait was hanging . It stood on it's hind legs and began to feed on the bait . It's back was directly turned towards us . I slowly raised the shotgun to my shoulder as Wani positioned the flash light . I knew that my window of opportunity had opened . Wani knew what he had to do . He instantly switched on the flashlight and the beam fell on the leopard. Even before the leopard had a chance to turn it's head towards the source of the light , l let off my left barrel .
The leopard dropped to the shot . I , however did not get down from the tree just yet. I fired my right barrel and the downed beast's head , but it did not move . I then hurriedly broke open the breech of the shotgun and turned it upside down to shake out the empty cartridges and l put in two more Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges . Wani and l cautiously got down from the tree to look at the villain . He really was dead .
I sent Wani back to the house to get my camera and l took a photograph of my prize . Here he is .
View attachment 322380
He weighed only 164 pounds , but to me he looked majestic at the time ( bear in mind that l was only a 16 year old boy at the time . My first bullet had hit him in the back of the neck , right above the shoulder . That one ounce spherical lead ball had successfully broken it's spinal column and killed it on the spot. The second bullet was completely unnecessary but it hit the leopard's shoulder . This bullet did not penetrate properly enough to break the shoulder bone . Here is a picture which Poton was kind enough to provide me . It is an Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridge cross cut .
View attachment 322381
Since most forum members here are well versed in the technical aspects of firearms , it is plain as day to see why the Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridges had such poor penetration . The ball was of 16 Bore , to allow it to pass through fully choked 12 bore shotguns with ease.
A 16 Bore spherical ball has dismal penetration , and to make matters worse the Eley Grand Prix cartridges were what we call " low brass " cartridges which held low charges of powder . I was incredibly fortunate that the first bullet had found the leopard's spinal column .

When Uncle Josh and Aunt Samia came back to the Syedabaad Tea Estate , our employees proudly told them that young Kareem had successfully slain a leopard .
They were fuming with rage that l had disobeyed them and risked my life . They asked me what had compelled me to disobey them directly. I replied that the Tea Estate was our home and that l could not bear to see another of our Employees become a leopard's supper . This reply moved them both and they calmed down and were soon praising me for killing the leopard so bravely and skillfully . Wani told Uncle Josh proudly " Ei chele purai shingho ! Bokh marar guli diye Chita Baagh marse " ( This boy is a brick ! He killed a hunting leopard with cartridges used for shooting cranes . )
Even though my motivations for killing the leopard were primarily to protect our employees , l would be lying if l said that l did not enjoy it a little .
From that day onwards , l decided that any leopard which ever entered the Tea Estate with malicious intent , would fall to my gun . 68 more leopards taken in the Syedabaad Tea Estate until 1970 are testament that l kept my vow . As l shot more leopards , l learnt to refine my methods in hunting these beasts and l learnt better skills along the way .
I met many colorful characters over the years and each person l ever had the pleasure of meeting , taught me something new . However , now and again, l did make a mistake or two and l ( or one of my comrades ) would always end up paying dearly for my mistake .

I have kept that empty Eley Grand Prix spherical ball cartridge case with me for all these years , because that cartridge was what had killed my very first leopard on a Friday night of 1963 . It is a little momento of how a 16 year old boy got introduced to his great passion of hunting man eating leopards .
View attachment 322403

I hope that this story has entertained at least a few people and if you all have liked it , then l will write a few more over the next few days.
THE END
Dear Captain NWZ, Thank you for your report. I was on the edge of my seat with excitement! Great Story! Great writing! I am impressed by the bravery you showed as a youth is most impressive. As a young man my family and I ran a trap line. I was often out in the dark and was quite nervous. There were no dangerous animals in our area and yet I had fear. I cannot imagine what you overcame to do what needed to be done. Congratulations. Thank you again for your contribution. Your new friend, Brian
 

Ridgewalker

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Wonderful story! What a grand opportunity you had as a young man to show his bravery!
Probably on that same Friday of 1963 after throwing my news papers, I was down at Marine Creek Lake north of Fort Worth, Texas, USA fishing all night. We are the same age Captain.
It is of great interest to hear how others grew up on the opposite side of the world at the same time!
Thanks and I am already looking forward to your next episode!
 
 

 

 

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