Three Royal Bengal Tigers In One Day

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Kawshik Rahman, Oct 8, 2019.

  1. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    The enormous support of my fellow respected forum members has encouraged me to write an account of one of the more trying days in my career as a professional Shikari . It was trying in both a physical manner and an emotional manner , and l was initially hesitant to put this account forward due to the some of the more unethical activities l had to partake in , on that day. However , it is important that this account be related , because it carries a very important lesson in the end. This is the story of how three Royal Bengal tigers were taken in one day. As the account will progress , my dear readers will find that being an ethical hunter is not merely a choice. It is a duty. Let us go back now to 1964 .
    The first of this three part account shall follow.
    Screenshot_20191008-231524_01_01.png
    Our respected client with three slain tigers
     

  2. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    I remember the day clearly. It was the wedding anniversary of Karim’s parents , Pamuk Chowdhury and Farida Chowdhury and Karim’s father had bought Karim’s mother a horse. I had gone to visit them and it was a gala festive occasion.

    However , l could not stay for long as l had to go to Sundar Raj sir’s office. An extremely wealthy client was on his way and Shikaris would be assigned to him. Sundar Raj sir introduced me to our client. He was a wealthy young man of Middle Eastern descent and he had brought two of his wives to Darjeeling . A special car with windows of tinted glass was arranged by Sundar Raj sir for our client and his wives and the wives remained inside the vehicle , while l received my instructions from Sundar Raj sir and the client. The instructions were unusual. The client wanted a large Nilgai and two Royal Bengal tigers. I was confused , because of two reasons. Firstly , the season for hunting Royal Bengal tigers was still two months away from opening. Secondly , the Nilgiri Wild Life Association would only provide license for one Royal Bengal tiger every season for one foreign client. However, money spoke in those days ( and it still does) and Sundar Raj sir was extremely well connected . It was laid out , what we were to do. We were to take our client to a reserve area where he would shoot his brace of Royal Bengal tigers ( the reserve still exists today. , as the Buxa Tiger Reserve ) . I must confess that this was not legal to do , even at that time. However , Client is King and Sundar Raj sir had given me a direct order. Sundar Raj sir was a man of immense connections and it was no challenge for him to arrange a Shikar at the tiger reserve. I was assigned to work with Rongon Daas , a senior Shikari in Sundar Raj Shikar as we guided this Shikar. Karim had been assigned to guide another client who wanted to shoot a Gaur at this time. I had a chance to examine the client’s armaments and they were indeed beautiful fire arms. One was an under lever rifle in the calibre .348 Winchester and the other was a most magnificent magnum .375 calibre rifle built by the firm Brevexe ( which by the name , l am avariciously assuming , was French or Belgian ) . The ammunition for both the rifles came from the venerable American firm , Winchester . The .348 Winchester cartridges were all of 200 grain weight and had blunt noses , far flatter , infact than a normal round nose bullet. The magnum .375 Holland and Holland cartridges were a personal favorite of mine : The Winchester silver tip bullet of 300 grain weight.
    Sundar Raj sir had to make some very complicated arrangements with the officials at the reserve ( l suspect that a hefty sum was involved ) , while we went on the Shikar for the Nilgai.
    This would occur two days later.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 4, 2019

  3. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    At dawn , we had set out after a large male Nilgai . Rongon Daas carries his Ishapore Arms Factory .315 bore bolt operation rifle loaded with 244 grain soft head cartridges. I carried my Ishapore Arms Factory 12 bore shot-gun , loaded with a Kynoch lethal ball in each barrel ( l still had a stock of these excellent munitions at the time of which l write ) . With us were Rishi ( our head coolie ) , our coolies and Jeddiah ( our loyal tracker ) . Rishi was carrying the client's under lever .348 Winchester calibre rifle . He also had a leather bandolier containing the client's spare cartridges .
    One of our other coolies had the client's magnum .375 Brevexe bolt operation rifle.
    Jeddiah was able to acquire the tracks of a large male Nilgai near the Kudai area ( where my adventure with the bears would occur one year later ) and we were following the spoor of the creature for roughly two hours , before we were able to catch a glimpse of him . For another half hour , we carefully stalked him until he had reached fairly open grounds. Our client took the under lever .348 Winchester calibre rifle from Rishi . It had a telescopic sight attached to it.
    " Shahib " l said . " Wait till he shows us his side. That way , your shot will pierce two lungs " . The client waited until the Nilgai was standing with his side exposed to us , at about 250 yards. He fired , and the Nilgai began to run to it's death , coughing copious amounts of blood . That first shot would have been fatal for the Nilgai . However , our client went on to shoot at the running Nilgai three more times , before it had dropped dead after running for roughly 90 yards .
    Screenshot_20191006-203603_01_01.png
    Our respected client with his two rifles. That Brevexe firm rifle was one of the most beautiful rifles l had ever seen.


    We erected a kure ghor ( temporary shelter made from bamboo and leaves , as seen in the picture ) for our respected client to rest , while the coolies got to work on the fallen Nilgai. The first soft head bullet had pierced both the lungs of the Nilgai and that was what had caused it's death. I found it a little disconcerting that , the other three shots were not well placed , at all . One had hit the beast's hind leg , while two had completely missed the creature. I thought that l should perhaps give the client a suggestion , as to how he could have stopped firing after the first shot.
    However , Rongon was singing praises about the Client's prowess and l did not want to seem condescending. I should add here that while Rongon was my dear friend and my senior Shikari by eight years , l did not think highly of some of his philosophies. I do not mean to slander my dearly departed friend , however l did not agree with Rongon's approach to the profession. He would tell us , younger Shikaris, that the professional Shikari had one of the easiest tasks in the world. To paraphrase the philosophy of Rongon Daas " Becoming a professional Shikari is one of the easiest ways to earn a good deal of money. Just acquire a cheap gun and a few cartridges and pretend that you can shoot it well . Then , simply take your clients to the animals and the clients will do all the shooting . Praise them well and you will get a hefty amount of tips as well ". I respectfully disagree with such a philosophy . A Shikari must always be alert and proficient with his ( and the client's) fire arms at all times . He must know the animals he is guiding his clients to hunt and he must protect his client , no matter what the cost. He must treat the client like King , but he must also warn the client of any impending danger and prevent the client from partaking in any activity which might harm the client , as long as he is under the charge of the Shikari. Rongon Daas was an exceptional friend and a kind human being. However , l always thought that it would be risky of him to guide clients in Shikars of dangerous animals , even though he never shot anything more dangerous than a Sambhar deer.
    However , the Nilgai Shikar was a success and we would be after the brace of Royal Bengal tigers in less than a week , as my next post will relate.
     

  4. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    It was a Thursday , when we were driving the jeep into Buxa tiger reserve. This was a massive area where there were a hundred or so Royal Bengal tigers dispersed all over the area. I had my Ishapore Arms Factory 12 bore shot-gun , loaded with a Kynoch lethal ball in each barrel . Rongon had his Ishapore Arms Factory .315 bore bolt operation rifle. Rishi carried the client's magnum .375 Brevexe bolt operation rifle. Our loyal tracker , Jeddiah was with us too .
    Rishi was looking through his binoculars to spot a tiger and far off , in the distance , he was able to spot a large male Royal Bengal tiger , a heavy fellow weighing at least 450 pounds , it seemed. We decided to drive the jeep a little forward , before getting down . Rishi handed the Brevexe rifle to our client and we began slowly creeping towards our quarry. When , we were at 100 yards , our client removed the safety catch from the rifle and operated the bolt to load a magnum .375 Winchester silver tip cartridge. The client looked carefully through the telescope sight , as he raised the rifle to his shoulder. His aim was correct , and when he fired , the bullet struck true , right behind the shoulder . The beast was hit in the heart and after going fifty yards , he dropped after breathing his last. Rongon once again began singing praises about the client , while l ordered the coolies to get to work on moving the tiger's corpse. My estimation of his weight was inaccurate. He weighed a good 506 pounds . However , there was one more tiger to secure. It was here that our client made a strange request. He did not think of merely shooting a tiger to be a challenge. He wanted to shoot a charging Royal Bengal tiger. I immediately began to protest , saying " Shahib , it is extremely dangerous " ( I would be very untruthful to my fellow forum members if l were to say that l protested due to ethical reasons , as l had not yet developed such morals ).
    However , Rongon jovially told our client that , it would be done and that he was confident that the client could stop the charging tiger. Rongon ordered me not to terrify the client with false fears. Since Rongon was my senior Shikari and client was King , l decided to go along with it. We drove the jeep through the massive reserve , looking for another suitable male Royal Bengal tiger . Even though the place was eerily quiet , we knew that there were Royal Bengal tigers lurking about in the dense vegetation.
    It would not be less than 45 minutes that we were able to spot a large Royal Bengal tiger again . He had just killed a barking deer and was feeding . Rishi handed the client his magnum .375 Brevexe rifle , while Rishi kept five spare Winchester silver tip cartridges on hand , in case the client needed to reload his rifle's magazine. But how were we going to make the beast charge at us ? The client went to within fifty yards of the animal and began to shout and wave his rifle. The Royal Bengal tiger merely lifted it's head to stare at him and then went back to enjoying his meal. Despite the best efforts of our client , the animal was simply ignoring him . It was , at that point that Rongon Daas came up with the magnificent ( ?) idea that he would shoot the Royal Bengal tiger and injure it , to provoke it , into charging . I stared with my jaws wide open , as Rongon very casually took aim at the Royal Bengal tiger with his .315 bore bolt operation rifle . He fired and the 244 grain soft nose bullet struck the poor animal in the stomach . The animal instead of charging , began running the other way , away from us. In the last fifty years , l have not been able to explain to myself or to anyone else , why the client did what he did next. He took off behind the tiger , wildly shooting at it and operating the bolt. This was extremely dangerous . The client was running behind the tiger , firing repeatedly at it , after short intervals. Panic had broken out . I began running after my client , tightly gripping my shot-gun . However , it was a task not to be envied. I do not know who was running faster . Was it the tiger or the client ? The client must have fired 3 or 4 shots at the fleeing tiger. But it never turned around and charged . Eventually , it dropped dead on the ground . It had been shot four times ( if you do not count the stomach injury inflicted by Rongon ) . However , only one of the bullets had been well placed. It was a shot which had pierced a lung and most likely , that is what had killed the tiger. I finally caught up to my client , and we were both panting heavily. We had gone a great distance away from the jeep , where Rongon , Rishi and Jeddiah were . But that was not the most disconcerting part of the experience.

    Among the foliage , staring at me and my client was yet another Royal Bengal tiger . It was uncomfortably close , about less than 20 feet away from me , my respected client and the corpse of the fallen tiger. It must have been carefully stalking me and my client while my client was attempting to chase and shoot the fleeing tiger.
    It was just staring at us and getting closer . From it's movements , l knew that it was about to charge at us.
    I would like to add to my dear readers a small note here . Unlike a leopard , which is unpredictable , it is fairly easy to tell when a Royal Bengal tiger is about to lunge at you. What cruel trick of fate was this ? Our respected client had wanted a charging Royal Bengal tiger and he had shot the wrong tiger. The Royal Bengal tiger pounced. I fired the left barrel of my shot-gun at it's chest , at a distance of thirteen feet. Those old ounce and a half Kynoch lethal ball cartridges were the greatest shot-gun cartridges ever made by man . Not only did it stop the charge , but the creature simply staggered to one side and dropped dead after a few painful twists and turns. While it was still moving , l cautiously kept my other barrel aimed at it , in case the creature was not really dying. It was a 481 pound tigress . My client was , by the grace of God , alright . He showed me the magazine of his Brevexe rifle . It was empty. He had expended all his cartridges after the fleeing tiger. When he had rushed after the fleeing tiger , he had also overlooked taking the spare cartridges from Rishi.
    Screenshot_20191008-231524_01_01.png
    The three Royal Bengal tigers which fell to our guns in Buxa Reserve .

    As we were walking back , we saw Rongon driving the jeep towards us with Rishi and Jeddiah following on feet.
    The epilogue will follow.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2019

  5. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    Our client went back to his home country after giving Rongon and me a large amount of tips for our services. He was an excellent gentleman in terms of kindness. However , l must respectfully disagree with the philosophy of shooting an animal in a non mortal region , in order to stimulate it into charging. Not only is it extremely cruel and inhumane , but it is extremely dangerous as well .
    Rongon would go on to lead more Shikars until one fateful day in 1965 , when he decided to guide an American client armed with a .220 Swift rifle by Winchester , who wanted to shoot a Royal Bengal tiger. The client believed in a theory about light , fast velocity bullets. Unfortunately , his theory cost him his life , when the enraged beast tore his rib cage open and pierced his lungs. Rongon would be blamed for the client's unfortunate demise and was hung to death by the police under the orders of the Nilgiri Wildlife Association . While Rongon certainly made mistakes in his life , l wish that my friend did not die. Even though rumours had surfaced that Rongon had abandoned his poor client and run for his life from the wounded Royal Bengal tiger , l do not believe that Rongon would act so irresponsibly . I do not wish to believe it , at any rate.
    One thing is for certain , however. If my shot-gun were loaded with SG cartridges and not Kynoch lethal ball cartridges that day , then l would definitely not have been able to kill that third Royal Bengal tiger . Either me or my client would have been badly injured , if not suffer a worse fate. I had previously spoken out to my dear readers about how wounding a beast to force it to charge at you for sheer bravado , is wrong . And today , you all know what makes me think in such a manner.
    On a final note , l had never seen another Brevexe rifle ever again after that day. The magnum .375 Brevexe rifle was the most beautiful .375 bore rifle , l had ever seen. If any of my fellow forum members ever finds one , do not let this one escape your collection. You will be most pleased.
     
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  6. WAB

    WAB AH Elite

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    Wow! Well done sir! I must say that I agree with your assessment of your friend’s ethics.
     

  7. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    WAB
    Thank you so much . He was an excellent friend. However , his risky approach to the profession could ( and did ) lead to a poor client losing his life. It should not be so. Clients are our charge. Our responsibility . We must protect them by any means necessary.
     

  8. Wyatt Smith

    Wyatt Smith AH Enthusiast

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    Thanks Mr. Rahman. It’s a shame that money could buy an extra tiger and a hunt on a reserve. I am also very glad you had one of you lethal balls left.
     
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  9. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    What an insightful comment. Sundar Raj sir had plenty of reach. I do regret my involvement in this Shikar , however. If only l had learnt sooner that some orders are best disobeyed . Unfortunately , l was a money hungry fool carrying out his orders .
    Kynoch lethal ball was a cartridge you fellows would have liked immensely . It was very reliable for soft skin animals.
     

  10. BenKK

    BenKK AH Elite

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    Thank you for another fine story, albeit a difficult one to tell. Ethics are vital.
     
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  11. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    BenKK
    As l get more comfortable around the members on this forum , l can tell some of the more darker parts of Shikari's life in those days.
     
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  12. Hoss Delgado

    Hoss Delgado AH Fanatic

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    Damn ! :D That was one thrilling story .
    No offense , Mr. Rahman , but that Rongon dude could really learn a lesson or two from ya about ethics .
    He was basically an ass kisser of clients who wasn't above wounding them critters to provoke charges :(
     
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  13. Kawshik Rahman

    Kawshik Rahman AH Fanatic

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    Hoss Delgado
    He was a good man and far kinder than l am . He merely was a little too preoccupied with making money. We must respect the deceased.
     
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  14. TByrd

    TByrd GOLD SUPPORTER AH Veteran

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    Another wonderful story of a bygone era. I must admit, I have put aside my normal nightly reading material over the last days....coming on here with the joyful anticipation of another account from Mr. Rahman! Thanks for the posts!
     

  15. kevin masters

    kevin masters BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Enthusiast

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    excellent tale with lessons for us all. Thank you Mr.Rahman!
     
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  16. Shootist43

    Shootist43 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Kawshik, I have a Winchester Model 71, identical to the one your client used on the Nilgai. Mine was made in 1936. It is indeed a relatively powerful lever action rifle. The Shikari's Journal where all of this detailed information must be written down is in fact the beginning of the book we are all wishing you would write. If we cannot convince you to write a book then at the very least you need to keep these stories coming. "We" are enjoying them immensely.
     

  17. Ridgewalker

    Ridgewalker AH ENABLER LIFETIME BRONZE BENEFACTOR AH Legend

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    Another grand report!
    +1
     
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  18. JPbowhunter

    JPbowhunter AH Fanatic

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    Another great story sir, if only a little regrettable in the way it played out. As you say though we are all young once and don't have the benefit of years of life experience and the ethics and morals that come with it. If it is of any consolation I know of several people in their 60's and 70's in my local area that have never developed proper ethics and still perform illegal and unethical hunting acts. So anyone who can use these types of experiences for the better should not always be looked down upon.

    Thank you again.
     
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  19. Bullthrower338

    Bullthrower338 AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Me. Rahman,
    Great story and told with much regard of ethics learned that day. Thank you for the story.
    Did your hunting party suffer any penalty for having to kill the third Tiger? As you said money can solve most problems then as it can today.
    Cheers,
    Cody
     
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  20. mark-hunter

    mark-hunter AH Fanatic

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    Dear Mr Rahman,

    Thank you again, for this meaningful and great story!
    Our forum members, have said all that has to be said on ethical part of this episode.

    Also, for many if us (I believe), it is unthinkable to shoot three great cats in one day. Especially tigers. The forest must be teaming with these cats in those days! (maybe even today?)

    After all of your stories so far, I do have one question:

    In modern African safari, it is usual that client test or zero the rifle in presence of his PH, before hunt will start.
    Has this been customary in India in those days as well?

    Or the clients was trusted to have well regulated rifle and scope, without test? No firearms practical check at all?

    What I have seen in your stories, most of your clients with telescopic sight were shooting well zeroed rifles, thus the question.
     
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