It was 1969 and l was watching my late father’s grocers shop ( he is the gentleman pictured ) during the day time , when l was told by our shop’s chokra ( clerk boy ) that a massive Royal Bengal tiger was haunting the area around the town outskirts. It had killed a maid servant and a postal worker. Remains of a Fakir ( or homeless person ) were also found in a ditch , which bore the unmistakable wound signs of a large tiger. The Darjeeling police had labeled this animal as vermin and therefore no license would be needed to end it’s life. As per the rules of the Nilgiri Wild Life Association in 1962 , you could only hunt one tiger every season with a license. This would be of no consequence to me either way , as my last Royal Bengal Tiger shot prior to this was in 1967 and so l could have merely applied for a license for this tiger. However , l was pleased with the fact that l would not need to be burdened by having to write a letter to the Nilgiri Wildlife Association. That Thursday evening , my friend Karim and l met at the Imperial Restora for a discussion about how to get on with this business. Over a delicious dinner of grilled mutton chops and parathas and two bottles of Stout beer , we laid out our plan of action. Karim had already shot nine Royal Bengal tigers while l had already shot three. More over , we had guided more than a dozen clients who had successfully taken these creatures. Therefore , it was not too intimidating. I had one fire arm in my possession at the time , while Karim had two. I owned an Ishapore side by side 12 bore shot-gun with 70 millimeter chambers. Originally, it was fully choked in both the 32 inch long muzzles. However , l had removed four inches of the barrels to take any choke off from the gun , thereby allowing me to use SG cartridges in the shot-gun without damaging the barrels or deforming the lead SG pellets . My partner , Karim had a similar shot-gun similarly modified. He also had a .22 Long Rifle auto loader by Brno . For our Royal Bengal tiger Shikar , we chose our shot-guns. We were well supplied with SG 12 pellet cartridges by our repeat client and personal friend , Don Fernando Delgado ( The grandfather of a member of these forums ) . Every year , the Don would send or bring us 250 cartridges of 12 bore SG ( any larger quantity of cartridges being prohibited from being brought into the country at a single time ). Some times , if supplies were low , we would reload already expended cartridges . Shot ladles could be had at the local craftsmen's which would cater to the local villagers by selling them matchlock muzzle loaders. Locally made Indian 12 bore cartridges were foul things which misfired all too frequently . However , priming caps and wadding could be of great use by salvaging these from these cheap , locally available Indian cartridges. When loading SG shot pellets into these reloaded cartridges , we would treat them with molten wax from bees. The wax was poured over the pellets to hold them together , thereby reducing dispersion and increasing the range a little.
Unlike a leopard , it is not possible to bait a Royal Bengal tiger with a dead animal. The usual method, therefore was to tie a live goat or bullock to a tree and wait in a nearby tree for it to come after sun down to feed .
The next day , we went to a krishok ( or farmer ) to purchase a suitable animal for the purpose of bait. For the Indian equivalent of 25 American Cents , we purchased a female goat which had stopped giving milk . This would be our bait animal. Over weekend , we made our preparations . We cleaned and oiled our shot-guns , took 50 cartridges of SG each , along with a similar quantity of number 6 shot for jungle fowl for our pot. We also took with us some food , bottled water , medical supplies and a customary jar of potash and a sterile razor blade in the event that anyone of us might have gotten bitten by a snake . With much hope , we were ready.
The second part of this account shall follow in the next post.