Two Royal Bengal Tigers In One Night

Professor Mawla

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Tonight , I am going to relate a story on these forums about the time when I shot two Royal Bengal tigers in one night . At the same time . This was the very final time that I had ever shot a non marauding Royal Bengal tiger , because hunting Royal Bengal tigers ( with the exception of marauders ) would later be formally be declared a criminal offense in Bangladesh ( as per the Wildlife Conservation Act - 1974 ) .

Before I begin this story , a small prologue is requisite . Some of my actions in this story may be considered as wantonly cruel or unsportsmanlike in the eyes of many fellow hunters . Please bear in mind that I know all this , but I am still going to pen down the entire truth unpretentiously about what happened 48 years ago . Because it is important to record incidents of the past , exactly the way that they had occurred . Not the way one wishes that they had occurred . Bear in mind that I was only 18 years old at the time , living in a third world country ( which had recently suffered from a nine month long war for it’s independence ) and I desperately needed the money harvested from the hides of the Royal Bengal tigers .

I would also like to give the customary declaration that all of the photographs used in this article are my personal photographs ( several of which have featured in my book when it 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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Pug mark of a marauding Royal Bengal tiger photographed by the author in 2020
 
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Professor Mawla

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It was December of 1972 . The construction work at the tea estates were all under control and my College was also closed until the second week of January . Bangladesh had won it’s independence exactly one year back , but the country was still in crumbles due to the nine month long war with Pakistan in 1971 . I was incredibly relieved that I had no more work ( or studies ) for the rest of the year . So I decided to spend the last month of 1972 , by indulging in leisure activities .

Niyazur was going through his third marriage at the time . One day , he and his ( then ) wife invited me to have dinner with them at Purbani hotel in celebration of the upcoming Christmas and New Years holidays . Over a delicious dinner of chicken tikka and beef shish kebabs with parathas , we began to discuss all of our plans for the holidays . Niyazur and his wife were traveling to Tibet for the holidays , while I had plans to go hunting for herons in Jessore ( located in the southwestern Khulna division of Bangladesh ) .

Hearing my plans , Niyazur sarcastically laughed and remarked how much of a simpleton I was . Curiously , I asked him what he could possibly mean . Niyazur explained that ( judging by media statements and the words of politicians ) the hunting of Royal Bengal tigers would soon be formally banned in Bangladesh , within less than a year ( probably sooner than that ) and killing one ( barring marauders ) would soon be an indictable criminal offense . This month ( the end of 1972 ) would possibly be my final opportunity to hunt a Royal Bengal tiger or two and make a profit out of harvesting and selling their hides . Niyazur then asked if I really wanted to hunt herons when I had a final window of opportunity to hunt Royal Bengal tigers . Unlike bird hunting and wild boar hunting and deer hunting ( which shall hopefully always remain completely legal ) , I only had a finite amount of time before the opportunity to shoot some more Royal Bengal tigers was permanently gone . Perhaps forever . I thought for a moment about what Niyazur was suggesting . There was quite an extensive degree of practicality in his logic .

I asked Niyazur if he knew any of the locals in the Sundarban mangrove forests , who could assist and guide me ; should I take him up on his advice . Niyazur triumphantly smiled and told me that I was finally beginning to “ think big “ .
 
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Professor Mawla

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It was the 20th of December , when I arrived in Satkhira - The area which borders the Sundarban mangrove forests . I had arrived in my old Ford pickup truck . I had rented a rest house in Satkhira for two nights and that is where is where I met my contacts . Niyazur had arranged for two Garo tribesmen to meet me at the boarding house . One was a 40 year old gentleman by the name of Subharam . The other was a 25 year old gentleman by the name of Gautomda . These two would assist me in my hunt for Royal Bengal tigers .

As I have mentioned in several of my previous writings , Garo people are the indigenous tribes who inhibit the Sundarban mangrove forests . These fearless people battle everyday with the natural calamities and threats which have persisted in the Sundarban mangrove forests since time immemorial . And they do it without even the slightest complaint . I have stressed their immense loyalty and extreme degrees of proficiency when it comes to tracking game , in several of my previous writings . I do not exaggerate even slightly when I say this : If a Garo tribesman comes under your employment and you treat him with respect , then the Garo tribesman will ( without hesitation ) let a Royal Bengal tiger mangle him to death before the animal manages to reach you . Such is the way of the Garo tribesman .

I sat down with Subhram and Gautomda at the veranda of the rest house and we discussed our plan of action . Tonight , I would take some rest after my long journey from Sri Mangal to Satkhira . The following night , we would go off into the Sundarban mangrove forests and after my Royal Bengal tigers .

I told Gautomda to make a complete list of all of the inventory which we were to carry with us into the Sundarban mangrove forests on the following night . This task , Gautomda obediently carried out by making notes with a ballpoint pen on a pad :
- My Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector double barreled side by side shotgun
- Five rounds of Eley Alphamax 2 3/4 inch LG shells ( with each shell holding eight antimony hardened lead slugs of .36 calibre )
- A dozen rounds of Eley Alphamax 2 3/4 inch number 4 birdshot shells
- My Case trapper chrome vanadium carbon steel folding knife
- My compass
- 500 Bangladesh Taka ( in small notes )
- My zippo lighter
- Ropes
- Butchering and skinning knives locally forged from truck leaf spring steel ( which is 5160 carbon steel )
- A first aid kit
- Matches
- Coarse salt
- A tin of insect repellent
- Tarpaulin sheets
- Three powerful six cell torchlights
- Food

I asked Subharam to acquire some foodstuffs which were not so easily perishable and which would keep well in the hostile environment of the Sundarban mangrove forests . Enough food for all three of us but not so much , as to weigh us down . Subharam told me that all of the food would be managed by morning . I told Gautomda to arrange a boatman and a dinghy boat in order to ferry us into the Sundarban mangrove forests on the following night .

I spent the entire evening touring the village . For supper , I dined at a small local restaurant which used to serve the best fried mutton liver and luchi ( a type of small crispy savory pastry ) in all of Khulna division . A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice completed my supper at the restaurant . I then went back to the rest house and spent the rest of the night , reading “ The Rifle & The Hound In Ceylon “ ( an excellent hunting book authored by Victorian era explorer , Sir Samuel White Baker ) .

The next morning , Subharam and Gautomda had brought a very wise selection of food for us to carry :
- Two tins of biscuits
- Two loaves of bread
- Two tins of butter ( one salted and one unsalted )
- One kilogram of paneer ( Bengali cheese )
- Two tins of canned chicken

In the evening , I showered and shaved at the rest house ( unlike some people who shower periodically , I simply cannot go a single day without taking a shower or having a shave ) and prayed to God / Allah to make my hunt a safe and profitable one . I then rubbed insect repellant all over my body , in order to prevent tick bites . Then , I carefully rubbed fish oil over all of my clothes ( knowing full well that fish oil would prevent the Royal Bengal tigers from being able to detect me , by way of smell ) . With everything ready , we set off at night to go and meet the boatman . Our boatman’s name was Mishu and his duty was to ferry us into the Sundarbans before ferrying us back to Satkhira after the hunt was over . For his duties , I would pay him 60 Taka . At 10:00 PM , we boarded Mushu’s dinghy ; intent on reaching the Sundarbans . Our dinghy embarked into one of the countless dark streams which lead into the Sundarban mangrove forests .

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Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector owned by the author

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Dinghy boats commonly used to transport people and cargo all over Khulna division in 1972
 
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Professor Mawla

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At around 12:15 AM midnight , Mishu’s dinghy landed on the shores of the Sundarban mangrove forests in the Buri Goalini Forest Range . It was a full moon night and while there was not a human being in sight , we could hear all sorts of sounds characteristic of what one hears in the forests . The calls of thousands of insects , the hisses of snakes , the calls of Axis deer , the squeals of wild boars and the distant roars of Royal Bengal tigers . We asked Mishu to wait for us near his dinghy , until sunrise ( 5:00 AM ) . If we did not return to the dinghy by then , Mishu was to leave the Sundarban mangrove forests without us . I paid Mishu 30 Taka and told him that I would pay him the remaining 30 Taka upon our return . This was a precautionary measure , so that Mishu would not abandon us and would actually keep waiting for us until sunrise . Subharam , Gautomda and I then set off into the depths of the Sundarban mangrove forests . Subharam led the way , because he had a general idea of which part of the forests were inhibited by Royal Bengal tigers .

Back when Bangladesh used to be a part of British India ( prior to 1947 ) , countless British authors have recorded the Sundarban mangrove forests as being undoubtedly the single most dangerous forest across the entire British empire . I can personally verify that there is absolutely no exaggeration in this assessment . In the Sundarban mangrove forests , one always needs to keep their eyes and ears open ; staying alert at all times . In every inch of the Sundarban mangrove forests , you are bound to find something which wants to kill ( or at least harm ) you ; be it on the ground or in the trees or in the water . You have more than two dozen species of poisonous insects . You have 22 different kinds of venomous snakes ( including the python , king cobra and Russell’s viper ) . You have 20 foot long salt water crocodiles , all weighing in excess of 1000 kilograms . You have aggressive wild boars which weigh in excess of 135 kilograms ; with curved razor sharp tusks . And all of this pales in comparison to the greatest threat of all ,which lurks within the Sundarban mangrove forests - The Royal Bengal tiger ( with fully matured males easily exceeding 273 kilograms in weight ) . One in every five Royal Bengal tigers which inhibit the Sundarban mangrove forests , happen to inherently become marauders . Such are the dangers to those who wander into the Sundarban mangrove forests .

Subharam led the way , while I remained close behind ; My Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector ( which was loaded with Eley Alphamax LG shells ) in my hands . Clamped to the fore end of my shotgun , was a powerful six cell torchlight . Gautomda stayed in the rear . We could hear the distant roars of Royal Bengal tigers and Subharam told me that we were guaranteed to have a successful hunt ; provided that I could shoot straight . He told me that one male Royal Bengal tiger and at least two Royal Bengal tigresses were fairly close by . Gautomda further went on to say that the male was currently mating with one of the Royal Bengal tigresses . I was ( at the time ) awed by how Subharam and Gautomda could easily ascertain all of this just by hearing some distant roars . Subharam explained to me that the roar of a male Roar Bengal tiger is far deeper and much more hoarse than the roar of a Royal Bengal tigress ( I would later pick up this skill by 1975 ) . Subharam eventually found a fresh set of Royal Bengal tiger pug marks and we were now anxiously ( but cautiously ) following the trail to our prize .

At around the 2:00 AM in the dead of night , we had just finished wading through another vast muddy swamp . Suddenly , Gautomda pointed at something roughly 150 yards away . There ; lying under the cover of a large banyan tree were three large Royal Bengal tigers . One was a male , while the other two were clearly Royal Bengal tigresses . We had found exactly what we were looking for . Silently whispering to Subharam and Gautomda to follow me , I began to crawl towards the direction of the three Royal Bengal tigers ; my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector ready to do it’s work .

I kept crawling towards the three Royal Bengal tigers until I was within 20 feet range of them . They were not aware of our presence and so , this gave me a few seconds to contemplate which Royal Bengal tiger I should take out first . I rationalized that the male Royal Bengal tiger should be the one which needed to be taken out at first ( while I still had the element of surprise ) , because he might later prove to be the most aggressive and resilient once the Royal Bengal tigers had become alerted as to our presence . I took two extra Eley Alphamax LG shells and kept them between my fingers ( so that a swift reload could easily be afforded ) . Leaping up , I shouldered my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector while simultaneously switching on the torchlight .

I pulled my left trigger and a loud gunshot echoed through the entire Sundarban mangrove forests, while the concentrated charge of eight antimony hardened LG slugs tore into the region where the male Royal Bengal tiger’s neck met the shoulder . Giving a startled death growl , He dropped lifelessly to the forest floor . Without even waiting for the death growl to end , I instantly swung the shotgun around and took aim at the side of the head of the first Royal Bengal tigress . I pulled my right trigger and the loud gunshot was followed by the concentrated charge of eight antimony hardened LG slugs tearing into the earhole of the animal . The Royal Bengal tigress instantly dropped to the forest floor ; dead . Clearly , at least some of the LG slugs had found their way into her brain . By now however , the second Royal Bengal tigress had come to her senses about what was going on . She began to rise up to her feet .

Realizing that both chambers of my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector were now empty , I hastily flicked the top lever of the shotgun and opened it at the breech . Frantically putting in the two extra Eley Alphamax LG shells ( which I had kept between my fingers beforehand ) , I snapped shut the breech of the shotgun and took aim at the Royal Bengal tigress . The animal made direct eye contact with me ; her eyes looking right into mine . After roughly a fraction of a second , she bounded off into the foliage . Having an opportunity to take a better look at the fleeing Royal Bengal tigress , I immediately realized that she was quite visibly pregnant . Gautomda nudged me to take a shot at her , before she disappeared into the night for good . However , I politely refused . As desperately as I needed the money , I drew the line when it came to shooting pregnant game . Besides ; I considered the monetary value of the hides of the two Royal Bengal tigers which I had already shot , to be more than capable of paying all of my bills for the next few months . I had no need to senselessly shoot a third Royal Bengal tiger .

I immediately put Subharam and Gautomda to the work of flaying the Royal Bengal tiger and the Royal Bengal tigress . The Royal Bengal tiger weighed 271 kilograms , while the Royal Bengal tigress weighed 254 kilograms . They laid out a few sheets of tarpaulin , unpacked the skinning knives and straight got down to work . Every once in a while , they were touching up the edges of their spring steel blades on a common river rock . Those crude skinning knives crafted from leaf spring steel , were really adept at taking a razor’s edge with absolutely little to no effort . Even though they both had to work in pitch dark ( with only the aid of our three six cell torchlights ) , neither Subharam nor Gautomda left absolutely anything to be desired in their services .

Once the hides were removed , Gautomda dried these hides with coarse salt after cleaning them properly ( in order to draw out the moisture ) . By 4:45 AM , we had made our way back to the shores of the Buri Goalini Forest Range . True to his word , both Mishu and his dinghy were right there and they were waiting for our return . We set off on the return Journey to Satkhira . The first rays of sunlight were beginning to peak through the skies as the time for sunrise drew closer .

On the journey back to Satkhira , we noticed countless Axis deer on the shores of the Sundarbans . At dawn , they come near the banks of the streams in order to drink the fresh water . Being in the mood for some fresh venison , I decided to shoot one for the larder . I still had three Eley Alphamax LG shells remaining ( two of which had already been loaded into the chambers of my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector ) and I asked Mishu to get the dinghy closer to the shore , so that I could get within range of my shotgun . As Mishu expertly drew the dinghy closer to the shore ( about 15 yards away from the herd of the Axis deer ) , I shouldered my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector . Taking aim at a large fully matured Axis stag , I pulled my left trigger . A loud gunshot resonated through the entire area . At least four antimony hardened LG slugs caught the Axis stag in the neck region ; shattering the spinal column and taking him out instantly . I sent Subharam and Gautomda to wade through the water and go recover the Axis stag .

Upon reaching Satkhira , I had Subharam and Gautomda field dress the Axis stag which I had shot earlier . I let Subharam have one entire leg of venison . I let Gautomda have one entire leg of venison . I let Mishu have one entire leg of venison . The final leg of venison , I kept for my own future consumption . I also took the rib chops as a Christmas gift for Joy and Rabbani . I knew that they would absolutely love to serve them at their upcoming Christmas party .

And thus , concluded the last time that I had ever shot a Royal Bengal tiger which was not a marauder . I sold both the hides of the Royal Bengal tigers to a dealer near the Myanmar border ( getting a much more handsome sum than what I had originally contemplated ) and spent Christmas ( and New Years Eve ) with Joy and Rabbani .
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Eley Alphamax 2 3/4 inch LG shells owned by the author
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An Axis stag shot by the author in 2020
 
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Professor Mawla

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Exactly one year later , the Wildlife Conservation Act - 1974 was passed in Bangladesh . Hunting Royal Bengal tigers ( barring marauders ) was now formally recognized as an indictable criminal offense . This meant that anyone found guilty of killing a Royal Bengal tiger , would be facing charges of imprisonment .

If the hunting of Royal Bengal tigers were to ever become legalized again someday ( and I certainly hope that it is ) , then I would never contemplate shooting more than one fully matured male per year ( which has already passed his breeding age ) . However , such sensibilities had not yet dawned upon me in 1972 . Morality is not something which occurs overnight . It takes years to build up in a person .

And for that reason , December 22nd of 1972 was the night when I had successfully taken out two Royal Bengal tigers at once .
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A marauding Royal Bengal tiger shot by the author with a .458 Winchester Magnum in 1976
 
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Newboomer

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Great story. A fitting end to an illustrious career.
 

gillettehunter

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Most enjoyable story. Thanks for sharing this with us. Hard to believe how close you have been able to get to these great animals in the dark.
Bruce
 

Professor Mawla

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What a night! You and kawshik are the only ones I have heard of using buckshot on Royal Bengal tigers.
@Wyatt Smith
This is actually a highly debatable topic . Major Poton Khan Sir is highly critical of using buckshot shells ( of any size ) against any cloven hoofed game ( barring the British AAA shot size for shooting barking deer during beats ) . His experience in the field of hunting dangerous game is absolutely unrivaled .

However , both Pachabdhi Gazi ( Bangladesh’s most renowned hunter of marauding Royal Bengal tigers and my mentor ) and I have successfully used buckshot shells to take our multiple Royal Bengal tigers .

Pachabdhi successfully took out no less than 61 marauding Royal Bengal tigers during his life . 59 of these animals fell to Pachabdhi’s shotgun ( a 12 bore H Pieper exposed hammer double barreled side by side shotgun ) , which was loaded with Eley Alphamax 2 3/4 inch LG shells .
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As I have also detailed in this story , I have also successfully shot multiple Royal Bengal tigers with Eley 2 3/4 inch Alphamax LG shells fire from my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector .
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My close friend , Kawshik ( probably the most modest , down to earth and talented hunter whom I have ever had the honor of meeting ) probably deserves the most credit amongst all of three of us . He was using SG buckshot shells ( which have a shot size of .33 calibre , as opposed to the .36 calibre of the LG buckshot shells used by Pachabdhi and myself ) . He was using American Remington brand 2 3 /4 inch 12 pellet copper plated SG shells . To make matters worse , Kawshik was using a cheap inferior quality 12 bore double barrel side by side shotgun made by Indian Ordinance Factories . While most Indian products are notorious for malfunctioning , the arms manufactured by Indian Ordinance Factories take things to a completely different level . The products of Indian Ordinance Factories pose almost as great a risk to their operator , as the target which they are being discharged at . However , not only did Kawshik successfully take out two Royal Bengal tigers with such as inferior weapon ; One of those two Royal Bengal tigers was actually charging him and his client . This is something which neither Pachabdhi nor I have ever done .
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For further and more detailed information about the circumstances under which a shotgun loaded with LG shells may be successfully used to take out a Royal Bengal tiger , I would like to refer you to the “ Arms & Ammunition “ section of my previous article “ Hunting The Royal Bengal Tiger : The Essentials “ .
https://www.africahunting.com/threads/hunting-the-royal-bengal-tiger-the-essentials.59175/ . I delve into this topic in extensive detail .
 

Professor Mawla

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Most enjoyable story. Thanks for sharing this with us. Hard to believe how close you have been able to get to these great animals in the dark.
Bruce
@gillettehunter
I am honored that you have enjoyed it . If I had to to stalk the Royal Bengal tigers during the day , then I would never have been able to do this .

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 ( such as this incident ) , 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 and alert during the nighttime than they are during the day .
 

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Unfortunately Professor Mawla, I'm afraid the only way I will ever get a chance to hunt a Tiger or Leopard is if one escapes from a zoo or private collector.

I too enjoy your writings as well as Major Khan's contributions to your writings; as well as your sharing in his stories.

We hear time and time again about "Safari Hunters of Africa" the ivory hunters, PH's and such; but honestly, until I read many of the posts on this forum I was completely ignorant of Shikaris and especially the many exploits that surely had to take place when people live amongst large cats such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Cheeta and all other manor of jungle animals.

Your and all the other Shikari articles make this a much more interesting forum and adds great perspective from hunters around the world.
 

Professor Mawla

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Unfortunately Professor Mawla, I'm afraid the only way I will ever get a chance to hunt a Tiger or Leopard is if one escapes from a zoo or private collector.

I too enjoy your writings as well as Major Khan's contributions to your writings; as well as your sharing in his stories.

We hear time and time again about "Safari Hunters of Africa" the ivory hunters, PH's and such; but honestly, until I read many of the posts on this forum I was completely ignorant of Shikaris and especially the many exploits that surely had to take place when people live amongst large cats such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Cheeta and all other manor of jungle animals.

Your and all the other Shikari articles make this a much more interesting forum and adds great perspective from hunters around the world.
@deewayne2003
Thank you very much . I am honored that you have enjoyed this . And never say never . Make a Bangladesh VISA and the next time a marauding Royal Bengal tiger is at large in the Sundarban mangrove forests ( they frequently are ) , I will contact you . You may accompany me on Problem Animal Control work . You may even be the one to give the marauder the killing shot ( while I back you up ) . You may bring two arms of your own choice , or you may borrow my .458 Winchester Magnum loaded with 500 grain Nosler Partition soft nosed factory loads . I am afraid that I cannot let you hunt the marauder on foot ( due to the immense dangers that this poses to foreigners ) . But I will have you take the shot from a tree blind ( which we call a “ macchan “ ) , over bait . Sound good ?

After that , we can also hunt an Axis deer along with a barking deer and a wild boar or two for the larder . Followed by some wing shooting for the larder . You may bring your own shotgun or borrow my Laurona 12 bore sidelock ejector .
 
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Major Khan

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Unfortunately Professor Mawla, I'm afraid the only way I will ever get a chance to hunt a Tiger or Leopard is if one escapes from a zoo or private collector.

I too enjoy your writings as well as Major Khan's contributions to your writings; as well as your sharing in his stories.

We hear time and time again about "Safari Hunters of Africa" the ivory hunters, PH's and such; but honestly, until I read many of the posts on this forum I was completely ignorant of Shikaris and especially the many exploits that surely had to take place when people live amongst large cats such as the Royal Bengal Tiger, Leopard, Cheeta and all other manor of jungle animals.

Your and all the other Shikari articles make this a much more interesting forum and adds great perspective from hunters around the world.
I 2nd Anayeth's view , deewayne . If you wish to shoot a man eating forest panther in the same fashion ... Then , please do not hesitate to get in touch with me !
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