The Shikar Which Left Horrifying Scars In Us All

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Kawshik Rahman, Oct 22, 2019.

  1. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    When l am asked by my respected fellow forum members that what is my fondest memory of Shikar in India , during my career from 1962 to 1970 , l struggle. There are so many fine memories , that l do not know which to choose from . However , if someone were to ask me , what my most horrifying memory of Shikar , during my eight years as a professional Shikari was , then it would be September 7th of 1966. Today , dear readers , l shall relate to you all , an account of the Shikar which left horrifying scars on us all . Let us now go back to 1966 .
    A word of caution must be given to my dear readers. This one account is extremely graphical , in terms of violence being inflicted upon human beings , so if you are uncomfortable about human blood or carnage , then this is not the story for you as it may unsettle quite a few people as the next of this three part account shall relate.
    Screenshot_20191022-165621_01_01_01.png
    Our client for that fateful Shikar.
     

  2. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Shikar season was nearing to an end for the year , but there was still a good number of clients coming to Darjeeling , India for Shikar. I was helping baba ( father ) fix the roof of our bungalow house which had gotten damaged during a storm.
    Screenshot_20191022-165424_01_01_01.png
    The Rahman family Bungalow. I grew up in this house , but l have not seen it since 1979.


    At this time , Karim was walking past my house and he greeted father courteously and then jokingly told me “ Tui ki Shikari asish naki mistiri hoye gesish ? " .( Are you a professional hunter or did you suddenly become a carpenter ? ) . Karim told me that he was heading towards Sundar Raj Shikar , as a new client had come to the office and Sundar Raj sir had requested both of us to come and meet him . So l helped father get down stairs and then went with Karim to Sundar Raj sir's office which was fifteen minutes away from my family bungalow.
    Once we reached there , Sundar Raj sir introduced us to our client . He was a gentleman from Texas , in the United States of America . This gentleman desired to shoot quails and a leopard . This was certainly a wish , which Sundar Raj Shikar could accommodate and certainly a wish which Karim and l were all too willing to make sure came true. We immediately agreed . For this Shikar , Karim and l were both to be paid Rupees 5000 each , which was a generous amount . We had a chance to examine the client's fire arms . The gentleman had brought a shot-gun and a rifle.
    The shot-gun was a 12 bore pump operation shot-gun made by the American firm , Ithaca. It was calibrated for the 70 millimeter cartridge and had a quarter choke.
    For this beautiful American classic , the gentleman had brought three boxes of plastic number 6 cartridges from the firm , Remington .
    The rifle was something very new to me . It was a beautiful bolt operation rifle , made by that innovative American gun maker , Mr. Roy Weatherby . It was of calibre magnum .300 Weatherby . The rifle did not have a mauser type extracting claw device , but looked very modern and ornate.
    For this marvellous looking rifle , the gentleman had brought two boxes of cartridges from the firm , Weatherby. These were metal envelope blunt head cartridges with bullets weighing 220 grains. I could not help but marvel at the astonishingly high velocities which the boxes of these Weatherby cartridges boasted.
    And thus , two days later , we set off , after quails as the next part of this three part account shall relate .
     
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  3. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Early in the morning , we all set off to the Shikar field with quails being our intended quarry. Our party consisted of myself , Karim , our respected client , Rishi , Jeddiah and two coolies. Karim and l were carrying our Ishapore Arms Factory 12 bore shot-guns , loaded with SG cartridges in both barrels . Rishi carried our respected client's 12 bore Itahaca pump operation shot-gun and a satchel full of cartridges ( of number 6 size ) . Our loyal coolies carried a folding wooden chair and refreshments for our respected client . We reached the Shikar field. Our client took the Ithaca 12 bore shot-gun from Rishi . He also took a handful of cartridges and filled the pockets of his jacket with them. Karim had offered to serve as the gentleman's Havildaar ( loader ) , however the gentle had preferred to reload his shot-gun by himself.

    In half an hour , the shooting had started. The gentleman was extremely proficient with the pump operation shot-gun . In less that fifteen minutes , he had killed twenty quails with no more than two dozen cartridges. As he ejected his empty 12 bore cartridges on the ground , every time he operated the pump mechanism in the shot-gun , Karim and l greedily eyed those plastic 12 bore cartridges . After the client had completed his shooting , l ordered the coolies to go and recover the fallen quails , while Karim and l collected as many empty 12 bore plastic cartridge cases as we could find from the ground. It was fantastic shooting.
    At night , l ate dinner with my parents at Koshy's cafe . Their beef rib's eye steak was excellent as it was aged for 28 days and grilled over charcoals to an excellent medium doneness with hash brown potatoes and spinach . While eating , mother and father congratulated me for guiding a successful hunt. They then asked me where we would be going to pursue our leopard in the coming days.
    I replied that we would be going to the Girilal forest area , where leopards were seen frequently. Mother immediately got terrified and begged me not to go there. Now , my family were ( and are ) not conservative in the least sense . However , my mother was a little superstitious . She knew that the Girilal area was used by Hindus to burn innocent widows to death . My mother always heard stories from her ( equally superstitious friends ) that the spirits of all those innocent young widows who were burnt to death , used to roam the Girilal area and bad luck plagued anyone who went over there. Hearing this absurd story , l laughed at my poor mother's face and l told her " ammu , tumi oi buri der shathe ar misho na . Tara tomake bhitu baniye phelche " ( mother , you need to stop associating with those bitter old crones . They are making you fear all this rubbish ) . As an old man now , l really regret talking to mother this way. We never used to fight and we were very friendly towards each other , but l should not have made fun of her beliefs that way. At any rate , l certainly did have plenty of bad luck there , as the next part of this account shall relate , but that was obviously due to bad luck and not spirits.
     
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  4. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    So , we set off in the Girilal area three days later. Our party consisted of seven people : Myself , Karim , Rishi , our Client , Jeddiah and two coolies. Karim and l carried our Ishapore Arms Factory 12 bore shot-guns loaded with SG cartridges in both barrels. Rishi carried the client's magnum .300 Weatherby rifle and a bandoleer of spare cartridges ( of the 220 grain metal envelope variety ) . One coolie carried a folding chair , while the other coolie carried refreshments for our client. Jeddiah was doing what Divine Providence had blessed him to do : Track dangerous animals . In two hours , we were following the spoor of a large leopard . After an additional four hours of tracking , we finally got a glimpse of the creature. He was a large fellow , and had a fine coat . Rishi handed the magnum .300 Weatherby rifle and the bandolier of cartridges to our client . Karim , the client and l began to creep closer to the leopard. At 200 yards , we stopped . Screenshot_20191022-165621_01_01_01.png
    Photograph taken by Karim , right before the chaos

    The leopard was in a fairly open area , which allowed my client to make a very good shot at the leopard by sitting on the ground. He was an excellent marksman , holding his breath as he methodically squeezed the trigger. The sharp gun shot rang out and that 220 grain metal envelope hit the leopard fairly in the correct place near the shoulder and it went clean through the animal. However , it did not die. It instead roared and disappeared into the thick foliage. Karim and l immediately leapt up , with our shot-guns. Our respected client was hesitant to pursue the animal into thick foliage , and so a decision was made : Rishi would wait with our client and the coolies here , while Karim , Jeddiah and l went into the foliage to track and put that wounded leopard out of it's misery.
    What happened next , traumatized me for the rest of my life.
     
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  5. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    We let Jeddiah lead the way as we went into the thick vegetation , clutching our shot-guns tightly . Jeddiah was following the blood trail carefully and my feelings of nervousness slowly began to escalate. The foliage was getting increasingly thicker as we went further. In nervous moments such as this , it is almost as if your mind can hear every small sound with increased alertness . All of a sudden , the a growl and a rustling of branches were heard. The leopard had leapt at Karim . Karim , however discharged both barrels from his shot-gun at it's face at a distance of six feet . Those SG pellets ( 18 , in total ) hit it's face and pieces of flesh flew off it's mangled face , as it fell to the ground stunned , but then , in a second , the leopard was up on it's feet and leapt again. However , this time , the target was neither Karim , nor l . It was poor old Jeddiah , who was already more that 65 years of age , at the time. It got ahold of him and Jeddiah writhed and screamed , as the leopard began to savage him. I knew that if l attempted to shoot the leopard from any distance , then , in all probability , at least one of those nine pellets would have hit Jeddiah. So l dashed towards the leopard , as it savaged poor Jeddiah. I rammed the muzzle of my shot-gun into the neck of the beast and l pulled both triggers , in desperation. Those 18 pellets of SG completely shattered the spinal column of the leopard and it was lifeless. As Karim and l hauled the lifeless corpse of the beast off Jeddiah , tears swelled up in our eyes , as we saw poor Jeddiah. He has covered in blood and his flesh was torn very badly in many places and a few of his rib bones were broken . His right ear was torn off completely . However , he was alive and it looked like his vital organs were not damaged. Karim and l carried him back to the jeep , where our client was . We loved Jeddiah like a grandfather. I never saw my own grandfather and Jeddiah was more like family to us than a tracker . Crying uncontrollably , we drove Jeddiah to the hospital .

    Screenshot_20191022-172022_01_01_01.png
    The skin of the leopard , at Sundar Raj Shikar . Due to the rather grim circumstances under which this Shikar had unfolded , we did not get a chance to take a picture of the leopard on the day that it was killed.
     
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  6. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Our client was a man among men . He removed his own coarse linen shirt and tore it up , in an attempt to bind up Jeddiah's wounds. At the hospital , our client offered to pay for Jeddiah's treatment . Even though Karim and l told him not to worry about it , he insisted . Can a greater form of unity ever exist ? Here , we had a wealthy American Protestant Christian client , two upper middle class Indian Muslim Shikaris and a Garo tribesman , all of whom equally respected and cared for each other and were willing to help each other at a time of need. I believe firmly that people who hunt dangerous animals together and people who serve in the armed forces together , develop a a respect towards each other regardless of any differences in nationality , religion , gender , race or any other irrelevant factors. It is a bond stronger than steel . For three months , Jeddiah was hospitalized . We did not hunt during these three months , as Karim and l were taking turns to watch Jeddiah at the hospital. Even my girl friend , Antora came to visit him a few days. We did not know if he would live or die . Every day , we prayed for his recovery. The Lord answered our prayers . Jeddiah did recover from his attack , but he had lost an ear and he needed 47 stitches . Karim and l were extremely relieved and happy to see him , on his feet again . Of course , we did not expect him to ever work as a tracker for us , again . We were to be proven wrong .
    In six months , Jeddiah was back in the Shikar field with us , tracking dangerous animals and telling us jokes near the camp fire ( which we would translate to clients to entertain them ) . His leopard attack and the loss of an ear , did not seem to diminish his tracking skills even the slightest .
    I would like to add that the coolies who skinned that leopard told Karim and l that the leopard had some broken teeth , which was doubtlessly the work of Karim's point blank shot-gun blast . It is probably those broken teeth which had impaired the creature's biting ability and what had allowed Jeddiah to survive.

    I would like to dedicate this article to my loyal coolie , Jeddiah without whom many of the animals which l have hunted in my professional Shikari career , could not be secured . He was more like a grandfather figure to me than a tracker . This brave man died in 1976 of a heart attack . He was the most perfect tracker for a most imperfect Shikari such as myself .
    I would like to conclude this account , with a word about that Weatherby rifle. While Mr. Weatherby is a most innovative gentleman , l am not a big believer in bullets with overtly high velocities for dangerous animals . In my humble opinion , no rifle for dangerous animals should have a velocity higher than 2400 feet per second. It may be counter productive. From what l had heard in 1970 , the magnum .460 was designed by Mr. Weatherby to be the most powerful cartridge in the world for dangerous animals . Even though , l never saw one face to face , l have always dreamt of shooting one ( just for trying , and not for actual hunting ) . Hopefully , this January , in Texas , my dream will come true thanks to Hoss Delgado and Don Fernando Delgado . I have noticed that it is not liked by many respected forum members here , probably with sound reason , which also leads me to believe that maybe the magnum .460 was not an improvement as anticipated , after all. However , l look forward to trying it .
    I hope that you all have enjoyed this account , dear readers.
     
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  7. cls

    cls AH Elite

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    Great story, really enjoyed. You have a wonderful way of telling a story. Thanks
     
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  8. cpr0312

    cpr0312 AH ENABLER AH Ambassador

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    Wow what a story, thanks for sharing! Great that he survived and tracked again!
     
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  9. TByrd

    TByrd GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    Excellent read! Thank you for taking the time to share your experiences.
     
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  10. Wyatt Smith

    Wyatt Smith AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks for the story Mr. Rahman! One more example where you have had trouble with your inferior weapons on dangerous animals. I’m glad your friend recovered, and I’m glad the client was so helpful.
     
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  11. Red Leg

    Red Leg AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Following up a leopard is the stuff of nightmares. Thank you again for a wonderful story. Did you ever determine what happened to the first shot? I wonder if it missed the off-side lung.
     
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  12. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Dear mr Rahman, thank you for this story! I would also be interested to know about that first shot? Where did it actually hit?
     
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  13. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Cls
    Thank you so much for your kind words and support
     

  14. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Thank you so much for your enthusiasm
     

  15. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    I am glad that you enjoyed it so much. It surprises me sometimes when people still think that large shot can stop dangerous animals . It is a proven failure . The one exception to this is the Chita Baagh panther of the kind , killed by my friend , Captain Newaz.
    received_531068654383343.jpeg
    Being that they weigh less that 119 pounds on average , he seems to have no problem dispatching them with LG cartridges ( Old Eley Alphamax cartridges )
    Jeddiah was our tracker , but he was more like family . Our client was a man among men. I am pleased to say that my faith in humanity is still alive because of people like that .
     

  16. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Red Leg
    Thank you so much for your appreciation . It is true. Given my fear of crocodiles , l always feared that one day one of our party members would be injured by a crocodile. However , the irony is that the only animal ever to injure one of us was a leopard and the only animal ever to injure a client was a Gaur. Many Shikaris feel that the Royal Bengal tiger is more dangerous than a leopard since it weighs up to 500 pounds while a leopard weighs up to 200 pounds . This is not necessarily true , because the leopard is far faster and stealthy in it's attacks , even more so , after it gets wounded and retreats into foliage..
    Regarding the first bullet from that magnum .300 Weatherby , l am afraid that l cannot mislead you or anyone on these forums . Neither Karim nor l were actually present , when the coolies had cut the skin off the leopard. They only mentioned that they found SG pellets embedded in it's skull and body muscles .I know that the bullet used by the client weighed 220 grains and was a metal envelope bullet , which completely went through the animal and exited through the other way. This was not a good choice of bullet for soft skin animals . You need to use a bullet which expands inside the animal , like a soft nose bullet ( any modern equivalent of a Winchester silver tip would do nicely for a leopard, l should think ) . Based on the blood trail , l can speculate that a single lung was damaged by the first shot. While this applies to every animal in the hunting world , every professional Shikari prays that during a leopard Shikar , a client manages to down the leopard with the first shot. Otherwise , troubles arise.
     
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  17. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Mark Hunter
    Thank you so much for your kind words and support. Regarding the first bullet from that magnum .300 Weatherby , l am afraid that l cannot mislead you or anyone on these forums . Neither Karim nor l were actually present , when the coolies had cut the skin off the leopard. They only mentioned that they found SG pellets embedded in it's skull and body muscles .I know that the bullet used by the client weighed 220 grains and was a metal envelope bullet , which completely went through the animal and exited through the other way. This was not a good choice of bullet for soft skin animals . You need to use a bullet which expands inside the animal , like a soft nose bullet ( any modern equivalent of a Winchester silver tip would do nicely for a leopard, l should think ) . Based on the blood trail , l can speculate that a single lung was damaged by the first shot. While this applies to every animal in the hunting world , every professional Shikari prays that during a leopard Shikar , a client manages to down the leopard with the first shot. Otherwise , troubles arise.
     
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  18. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Thank you so much for your kind words.
    Yes , he was indispensable to us
     
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  19. Hoss Delgado

    Hoss Delgado AH Fanatic

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    Thanks for giving me and gramps tribute , Mr. Rahman :D . I got that Weatherby Mark V ready for ya ;)
    BTW , just finished reading my latest Peter Capstick novel . Now that guy was a REAL man :p He killed lions using bird shot to stop charges. You and Mr. Karim could really learn a thing or two about how to properly shoot DG with buckshot from him :p . If he can take a lion's head off with bird shot , he could have easily taken that leopard's head off with birdshot too. Hell , he wouldn't even need buckshot ! Great guy. :)
     
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  20. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Elite

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    Hoss Delgado
    How much does a lion weigh ? Please forgive me if l am mistaken , but l do not think that it is physically possible to decapitate a panther , much less a lion with bird shot .Bird shot is for shooting birds . I cannot fathom how bird shot would do anything to a great cat , except anger it. Can you send me a soft copy of the book written by this Mr. Capstick ? Just the page which describes this killing of great cats with bird shot will do. I can assure you that even though l am marginal in my skills as a Shikari , that Karim was extremely competent in his work. If neither Karim nor l had success with SG cartridges being used on dangerous animals , then that means that it is not a reliable penetrator . I am not as competent as Mr. Capstick , but Karim cannot be that incompetent as well.
     

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