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Animals

Scouts in many parts of the world use the calls of wild animals and birds for communicating with each other, especially at night or in thick bush, or in fog. But it is also very useful to be able to imitate the calls if you want to watch the habits of the animals. You can begin by calling chickens or by talking to dogs in dog language, and very soon find you can give the angry growl or the playful growl of a dog. Owls, woodpigeons, and curlews are very easily called.

In India, I have seen a tribe of gipsies who eat jackals. Now jackals are some of the most suspicious animals that live. It is very difficult to catch them in a trap, but these gipsies catch them by calling them in this way.

Several men with dogs hide themselves in the grass and bushes round a small field. In the middle of this open place one gipsy imitates the call of the jackals calling to each other. He gets louder and louder till he sounds like a whole pack of jackals coming together, growling and finally tackling each other with violent snapping, snarling, and yelling. At the same time he shakes a bundle of dried leaves, which sounds like the animals dashing about among grass and reeds. Then he flings himself down on the ground, and throws dust up in the air, so that he is completely hidden in it, still growling and fighting.

If any jackal is within sound of this, it comes tearing out of the jungle, and dashes into the dust to join in the fight. When it finds a man there, it comes out again in a hurry. But meantime the dogs have been loosed from all sides, and they quickly catch the jackal and kill it.

Big Game Hunting

William Long in his very interesting book, Beasts of the Field, describes how he once called a moose. The moose is a very huge kind of stag, with an ugly, bulging kind of nose. It lives in the forests of North America and Canada, is very hard to get near, and is pretty dangerous when angry.

Long was in a canoe, fishing, when he heard a bull-moose calling in the forest. So just for fun he went ashore and cut a strip of bark off a birch tree and rolled it up cone or trumpet-shaped into a kind of megaphone about fifteen inches long, five inches wide at the larger end, and about an inch or two at the mouth-piece. With this he proceeded to imitate the roaring grunt of the bull-moose. The effect was tremendous. The old moose came tearing down and even went into the water and tried to get at him-and it was only by hard paddling that he got away.

One of the finest sports is the hunting of big game-that is, going after elephants, lions, rhino, wild boar, deer, and those kinds of animals. A fellow has to be a pretty good scout if he hopes to succeed at it.

You get plenty of excitement and plenty of danger too, and all that I have told you about observation and tracking and hiding yourself comes in here. In addition to these, you must know all about animals and their habits and ways.

I said that "hunting" or "going after big game" is one of the finest sports. I did not say shooting or killing the game was the finest part, for, as you get to study animals, you get to like them more and more. You will soon find that you don't want to kill them for the mere sake of killing. Also the more you see of them the more you see the wonderful work of God in them.

Adventurous Life of Hunting

All the fun of hunting lies in the adventurous life in the jungle, the chance in many cases of the animal hunting you instead of you hunting the animal, the interest of tracking it up, stalking it and watching all that it does and learning its habits. The actual shooting the animal that follows is only a very small part of the excitement.

No Scout should ever kill an animal unless there is some real reason for doing so, and in that case he should kill it quickly and eifectively, to give it as little pain as possible.

"Shooting" with a Camera

In fact, many big-game hunters nowadays prefer to shoot their game with the camera instead of with the rifle which gives just as interesting results-except when you are hungry. Then you must, of course, kill your game.

My brother was once big-game shooting in East Africa and had very good sport with the camera, living in the wilds, and tracking and stalking and finally snap-shotting elephants, rhinoceroses, and other big animals.

One day he had crept up near to an elephant and had set up his camera and was focusing it, when his bearer cried, "Look out, sir!" and started to run. My brother turned around and found a great elephant coming for him, only a few yards off. So he just pressed the button, and ran too. The elephant rushed up to the camera, stopped, and seemed to recognize that it was only a camera after all, and smiling at his own irritability lurched off into the jungle again.

Boars and Panthers

The boar is certainly the bravest of all animals. He is the real "King of the Jungle", and the other animals all know it. If you watch a drinking pool in the jungle at night, you will see the animals that come to it all creeping down nervously, looking out in every direction for hidden enemies. But when the boar comes he simply swaggers down with his great head and its shiny tusks swinging from side to side. He cares for nobody, but everybody cares for him. Even a tiger drinking at the pool will give a snarl and sneak quickly out of sight.

I have often lain out on moonlight nights to watch the animals, especially wild boars, in the jungle.

And I have caught and kept a young wild boar and a young panther, and found them most amusing and interesting little beggars. The boar used to live in my garden. He never became really tame, though 1 got him as a baby.

He would come to me when I called him-but very warily; he would never come to a stranger.

He used to practise the use of his tusks while turning at full speed round an old tree stump in the garden. He would gallop at it and round it in a figure eight continuously for over five minutes at a time, and then fling himself down on his side panting with his exertions.

My panther was also a beautiful and delightfully playful beast, and used to go about with me like a dog. But he was very uncertain in his dealings with strangers.

I think one gets to know more about animals and to understand them better by keeping them as pets at first, and then going and watching them in their wild natural life.

Author

Lord Baden-Powell of Gilwell (Chief Scout, London, UK)

Date of Creation

1908

Learn A Continuation:

to the next page: Study Animals At Home

Back in The Past:

to the previous page: Games In Stalking


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