Siriska, 22 February 1893

Already during the evening yesterday the sky had become clouded and during the night it started raining heavily. The area around the tents was heavily soaked but the tents fortunately resisted fine. A bad prospect for the hunt as the tiger will hunt during such weather but will move whereas he will rest near its victim in warm sunny weather and can be tracked by the shikaris with near absolute certainty. In the morning the intensity of the rain lessened. I decided after a long council with the head shikari and on his advice, given that it was pointless to go after the tiger, to hunt sambar deer and later seek game as well as jackals.

Soon we left camp and moved towards the closest hills on horseback. There a shikari confirmed the presence of a sambar deer. All gentlemen remained behind. I alone with the shikari and Janaczek climbed a very steep ridge on whose ledge the shikari pointed out a supposedly strong sambar deer on the next ridge. Despite all efforts during quite some time, I was not able to see it as it stood Immovable watching us. Its brown yellow colors blended perfectly with the surrounding dry grass. Finally I saw the deer. The shikari wanted me to shoot at once but I believed the distance  — at 400 paces — too large for a safe shot. As it was impossible to get closer due to the valley between us, I gave in tot the shikari’s pressure and shot from this ridge to the other. To my great satisfaction, I scored a chest hit on the deer that fled and disappeared on the other side of the ridge. With great effort I climbed down the ledge over stones and through thorny thickets, up the other ridge and found blood marks at the location. Following the tracks I saw the wounded deer move through the thick greenery and shot once again but missed in the heat of the moment.

The gentlemen and the native hunters left behind in the valley had seen the wounded deer flee after the shot and now everyone was going after the wounded animal with shouts and in great turmoil. The chief professional hunter shouted with stentorian voice down from his elephant. The shikaris wanted to pursue it in the English method until I finally succeeded after much pleading and shouting to communicate to the people that all natives should be formed into a line by my personal hunter. After I and the gentlemen had taken up position in the ridge, the natives were to start walking at a signal. Truly, the wounded deer appeared after a few minutes and perished from three shots of mine and Wurmbrand’s. It was a very strong specimen, apparently a very rowdy fellow as he was scarred on the legs, on the back as well as completely cut ears. I lamented that the animal was not suitable for taxidermy. Its cuspids were beautiful.

During our hunt, the gentlemen in the valley had spent their time with children’s games such as „blind man’s buff“, „“duck, duck, goose“  etc. to the great pleasure of the chief professional hunter who couldn’t stop laughing and jumped around on his elephant. If it hadn’t been incompatible with his dignity, he would have gladly joined in.

Before a new hunt could be started, a shikari reported again that another sambar deer had been confirmed nearby. „Tisza“ then „ordered“ me and the gentlemen to take up position on the surrounding ridge top. I was gasping as I was climbing down the steep hill as fast as I could and, arrived at the bottom of a valley, had to shoot again out of an even more unfavorable position than the first time when I saw the deer. When I had fired and the mighty animal went down with much noise, followed by an avalanche of ibexes, the whole corps of shikaris approached me with loud congratulations and with funny expressions of joy.  With a satisfied smile, the chief professional hunter received me and commanded to resume the march with was made on the elephants.

On a steep stony path the caravan moved over a saddle into a long winding valley covered in high dry grass and thick thorns. During the descent over a particularly bad spot, a rocky ledge, the elephant’s sat down on their rear, then jumped down with the forelegs supported by the trunk and then drew along their rear end.

The shikaris of the advance party reported that there were unfortunately no sambar deer in the valley, so we decided to set up a hunt at an especially thick jungle ridge. This action met the fierce resistance of Harnarain who preferred to eat breakfast rather than hunt and wanted to deploy his trackers again to seek sambar deer. We could not overrule this and had to comply. After a long break when we couldn’t tolerate it any longer, we argued with the chief who finally granted us permission to undertake the hunt in the jungle.

We quickly spread out, Wurmbrand stayed at the edge of the jungle, Clam and I intended to climb to the top of the ridge to cover the upper escape route and have a good overview of the confusing jungle area. Prónay, Stockinger and Fairholme were tasked in following the trackers. The climbing of the hill was easier to say than to actually do. It was so steep and covered with smooth stone plates and rocks that we could only advance on all fours as quadrupeds. I took up position in a small gorge which I considered suitable for an escape route. After some time, the drive started but was so badly executed that not a single piece of game appeared as the drivers were evading all thicker parts of the jungle. The use of my small collection of Hindu strong language I had already learnt proved without effect as the chief displayed no more interest in  hunting that day and only appeared again with a calm demeanor and an impish smile after the fruitless drive of the hunt had ended. As long as we had enough daylight, we hunted in the plain and bagged numerous chicken and sand grouses. Wurmbrand had hunter’s luck and bagged a gazelle.

The gentlemen who did stay behind in camp, among them Kinsky, had hunted pigs and jackals in the afternoon and captured a young boar. Even Dr. von Lorenz did ride along, paying for this terrible flippancy with two unplanned contacts with Mother Earth.

The evening was devoted to writing letters as the post was to be sent off the day after. Unfortunately, it started raining violently again and continued to do so through the night. The weather is punishing us with all its caprices. Just now when we are to hunt a tiger, we have to live through a second deluge!

Links

  • Ort:  Sariska, India
  • ANNO – on 22.02.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater plays Schiller’s „Jungfrau von Orleans“, while the k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater presents Gounod’s „Margarethe (Faust)“.

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