Schlagwort-Archiv: hunting

Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel, 26 September 1893

As I wanted to see the wonders of the Great Canyons again, I rushed at sunrise to another viewing point called Look-out Point. The sun was shining brightly into the color labyrinth and made the yellow tones stand out especially intensely. In the gorge an osprey was flying up and down and above us on a steep peak one could once again see an aerie. From Look-out Point I went up the very steep path with my quite unsuitable urban half-boots  to the great waterfall to the cliff that lay above it and offers a good overview of the rapids and the fall’s cauldron in which tree trunks were swirling.

As the coach was not yet there in place, we decided to undertake a small hunt for the most lovely striped squirrels that were scurrying around on the trees and the ground. There were many of them but we managed to bag but one as sticks and stones were our only weapons.

The drive soon after this frowned upon entertainment went in a Western direction through wooded undulating land and offered little variety. Just when we reached the Norris Hotel and returned to the already familiar road, we saw basalt rocks of adventurous forms in a gorge, among them an eminent big block called the „devil’s elbow“.

At the funny Irishman’s we ate breakfast again in the tent with numerous flies and continued the morning’s hunt for squirrels, with as much cover as possible from the watchful eyes of the soldiers, as the coachmen declared that they had to rest their horses here for at least one and a half hours.

An immense number of fallen trees and wood pieces under which the very fast animals disappeared lightning-fast and into their burrows with wide-ranging passages that served also as hiding places made our start more difficult. After we had bravely run around for some time, we had finally bagged five pieces one among them still alive as it had fled into an empty tin box when it was pursued hard.

While we had seen the road between Morris Geyser Basin and Mammoth Hot Springs in winter dress and in considerable cold weather, the landscape now offered a very different picture: The snow had given way to the warming rays of the sun, so that the colors of the broadleaf trees that were changing between red, yellow and green were put on display to the fullest, especially the prairie-like high plateau and the ledges around Swan Lake. At Beaver Lake, none of its inhabitants. the industrious beavers, showed up while just before the Golden Gate another rare representative of the American animal world, namely the pronghorn, an especially notable strong male, became visible at shooting distance from the wagon and ran across the open area and repeatedly stood still without any sign of timidity. This antelope — America possesses but this one species — reminded me in gait and behavior of both our deer and the chamois. Very original are the hook-like crooked strong antlers.

Shortly afterwards I saw another strange animal move through the low bushes to the prairie at about 200 paces. At first I considered it to be a beaver due to its color and gait, but I soon recognized that it was a porcupine that had noticed our presence and had already turned around to flee. Quickly we jumped from the wagon and stormed after the animals using our lungs and legs to their fullest capacity and cornered it after an extended run. When the distance between us and the porcupine became to small, it jumped into a ditch where it was killed with a hunting knife. The American porcupine is quite different from the Indian one: The pines are considerably shorter, the front part of the body has long bristly hairs and it is of a darker color.

So we nevertheless bagged, without breaching the „No Shooting“ in the Yellowstone Park, a skunk, a porcupine and six squirrels as well as an innocent finch that had been hit by a projectile during the squirrel hunt. We still lifted, even though the hunt could not be called a noble one in honor of St. Hubert, our last and most interesting catch into the wagon with joy.

Towards the evening we arrived at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel where a major disappointment awaited us as the long expected mail had not yet arrived despite it being firmly promised.

Links

Black Mountain — Shingle Creek, 14 September 1893

Due to the stormy cold night spent in the open my cold had grown worse again and, upon the advice of my gentlemen, I had to accept to give the order with a heavy heart to march back as in fact we could not have stayed here for long. We had actually planned to stay two more days on Black Mountain, and I wanted especially to go for a hunt with Charley to a distant rocky mountain. But I believe it myself that I would have been unable to do it given my current condition. Thus we went back to Shingle Creek. I planned to hunt with Wurmbrand along the way down, while Clam was to get down to the valley from one and Imhof and Prónay from another nearby ridge. Slowly we went down to the valley until the path split and Charley explained that it would be better for me to take the more comfortable path on the left, while Wurmbrand and the hunters who carried the rifles and were on foot would take the other path that was in any case rejoining the other one soon.

In an unknown wild region one should never separate oneself from one’s companions and foremost never leave one’s rifle. This was proved right here too. One could hardly speak about a reunion of the paths. The Indian led me across unbelievable slopes and ledges so that I had to admire the dexterity of my dun horse. Soon we met high game but I had no rifle. All calls for Wurmbrand and the hunters were in vain.  Furthermore during this rifleless hunt a dozen grouses sat down only a few paces in front of me and looked at me with wonder. Now my patience was at an end and I ordered Charley in not a very delicate tone to take me the fastest way possible to the camp at Shingle Creek where I found Wurmbrand awaiting me. Without a guide, he too had lost his way for some time.

After the train arrived, the camp was set up. In longer intervals did first arrive Imhof and Prónay with some grouses and then Clam with a bagged mule deer.

To describe the extreme stupidity of the grouse one has to add that some of the Indians accompanying the train column managed to hit some grouses with sticks from their horseback.

Cooking again required our full attention and we composed with united forces a splendid meal of six courses that in our view tasted much better in the wilderness than the finest dinner at Sacher. Apart from the tins there were game cooked in all possible ways, namely however grouse that taste even better than our hazel grouses. As I personally had not yet made much progress in the noble art of cooking, I was mostly asked to pluck the grouses and to compose a stylish French menu while Imhof proved himself as an excellent chef. At a large fire kept up by mighty blocks of felled balsam firs we spent a very agreeable evening. Hodek had to give a speech and so many hunting story from home entertained us. The night was not as cold as the one spent on Black Mountain.

Links

  • Location: Penticton, Canada
  • ANNO – on 14.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Die Rantzau“.

Shingle Creek — Black Mountain, 13 September 1893

According to our original plan we should have stayed for the full duration of our expedition, that is five days, at the camping place at Shingle Creek. But the Indians insisted that we should march further and higher already today to the Black Mountain as they were of the opinion that more game would be found there. They themselves had set the fourth hour of the morning as the time for departure. But they only laughed when we admonished them at 5 o’clock to earnestly think about the departure and started to cook their breakfast and then started without haste to catch their horses and also saddled them slowly so that we could only move out towards 7 o’clock. Unfortunately there existed no means to incite these phlegmatic people apart from the fact that any use of force probably would have only the opposite effect. There was nothing left than exercise ourselves in patience.

During the ride we no longer regretted the late departure as it would not have been possible to advance in darkness on the narrow paths and steep slopes. Here we were given ample opportunities to admire the skill of the horses that climbed up on only a foot wide paths without a single misstep which in any case would have had fatal consequences. Often enough fallen trees of considerable dimensions had to be passed over.

Today it was again necessary to cross deeply cut gorges but the mountain ledges were at the beginning at least densely wooded. We could also notice tracks of game whose paths crossed ours. From a dense cowberry bush, a grouse flew up into the air that in behavior and appearance was similar to the European black grouse. Finally we saw also on young poplars how the bark had often been stripped an torn off.

The higher we climbed the rougher the current of the air and the more inhospitable the scenery became. To my displeasure, everywhere one could more and more see the signs of horrible forest fires with arid, half burnt, partly still standing, partly fallen trees.  That we were getting close to the forest line was revealed by smaller but more resistant trees, a delightful species of  balsam firs with their characteristic cone-shaped growth and dense short branches which as true all weather fir tree were defending themselves against all atmospheric influences. Between the trees were mighty rock clefts that impeded the view. The air turned frosty and a cold, biting wind was blowing towards us.

After we had just completed a very difficult passage the leading Indian suddenly jumped off his horse like a cat, crouched low and pointing towards the opposite ledge while shouted „deer, deer“. Dismounting too, I became aware of a mule grazing at no fewer than 300 paces. As a closer approach did not seem practical due to the unfavorable wind and terrain I tried a shot but without result as the animal disappeared into the dense pine forest.

It was now necessary to overcome a very difficult ascent that led very steeply to a high ridge so that our brave mustangs had great difficulties to reach that place. Just below the ridge there was a windswept basin where we should establish our new camp. But the train could only arrive in a few hours time so that we dismounted from the steamy horses in order to hunt immediately in the vicinity. An Indian stayed with the horses, a second one was intended as my guide, my gentlemen entrusted themselves in pairs to the guidance of redskins. Then we determined the territories where each of us was to hunt and split up with a hearty „Waidmannsheil!“

Led by my Indian named Charley who had recently broken his arm and carried it in a sling, I turned to the West and hunted first next to the camping ground for two grizzly bears, it looked like a happy mother with its young that must have passed here a short time ago — a happy discovery that made my pulse beat quicker and increased my eagerness for the hunt. Also not far from us a piece of high game ran away of which I however was only able to see its legs. Sneaking up without noise was not easy here. We often had to climb over broken trees and jump and surpass great difficult terrain. The mountain landscape in front of us offered much that was attractive and interesting:  the, for the most part, arid forest at the limit of the forest line, strange rock and stone formations, multi-colored mosses and lichen, swampy spots that looked like a high moor in miniature and finally a mountain flora that showed many similarities to the one at home. I found Achillea, red Aquilegia, purple Christmas rose, tiny juniper, some species of Arnica etc. Stripes of fog rushed across the heights but soon disappeared and an ice-cold cutting wind came up.

Turning around a corner we suddenly saw a piece of game flee in front of me and run back to a ridge reverting back towards me. Despite the distance being rather large I dared to shoot, the piece was hit in the shoulder and disappeared beyond the ridge. Alarmed by the shot, a second piece appeared and stopped, however covered by branches, nearly in the same place. Here too I fired and started my search for it where I at first found much bloody tracks and then about a hundred paces further the first piece hit in the shoulder and finally in the vicinity also the second one. Both pieces were strong mule animals that was in size between our high and fallow deer with strangely formed nearly bat-like ears. A further characteristic of these animals is the complete absence of upper teeth.

Shaking his head the Indian observed the two pieces and said that these had been good shots, then made the usual sign for eating and continuously talked about the camp. The communication with this man was very difficult as he only spoke a mixture of English and Indian, but there was no doubt that he only wanted to return to the camp to which I did not agree at all as I wanted to continue hunting. U succeeded after the application of suitable means to suppress my redskin’s desire for the camp and create an understanding for the continuation of the hunt.

We arrived to a beautifully situated spot from where one could admire the rocky mountains on the opposite side separated from us by a deep gorge and many hundred hectares of forest that was delimited by a blue mountain range. Here too important lots had been destroyed by fires but I learned that not only the Indians, railway workers and colonists had created these destructions but also the gold diggers in this region whose mountains carry significant names such as Gold Range. The burn the wood to be able to examine the ground more closely.

When I slowly advanced in a very overgrown ledge, two more mules ran past. I shot and the first one tumbled after a few steps and died while the second one, apparently well hit, fled towards the valley and soon disappeared among the trees. Now the Indian was no longer willing to remain and uttered often the ominous word „camp“ and walked straight towards it even though I wanted to extend the hunt and foremost look for the second animal as we were unable to find it after the first few hundred paces. But he was unwilling to do that and I ha finally to give in and thus we climbed up to a steep ridge above the forest line that revealed eternal snow in two places and descended on the other side. To retard the return to camp, I sat down and marked a rest. Even though I thought to be at least an hour distant from the camp, I suddenly heard shots fired in the vicinity and bullets flew over my head, proof that I had entered into the hunting ground of another party. When I walked in the direction from which the shots had come, I met Prónay and Imhof who shot at grouse from the camp and did not expect me in the direction that was actually part of their hunting territory.

The Indians had led us fully criss-cross and showed little eagerness for their task. I had wanted to stay for the full day and still had been back at the camp at noon. The same happened to Imhof and Prónay who involuntarily met Wurmbrand and Clam and had all been led back to camp. They now set out to hunt grouse. As my Indian could not be moved to continue hunting, I at least gave the order to fetch the killed animals and joined the grouse hunt.

It is nearly unbelievable how trusting, or better said, how stupid those animals are: If they are flushed out from the ground, they fly only a short distance and land again. If they land on a tree, one can approach almost without cover and shoot them down. If multiple animals sit next to each other, one can catch them all as they remain sitting despite of the shots. Of a flock that had landed on a big fir tree above the horses and the camp fire Imhof shot three one after another. One fell into the fire, a second on a horse. After half an hour we closely examined the tree again and discovered another two grouses pressed to the trunk which I then shot. Unfortunately they had been killed with bullets and thus shot to pieces but still enriched our table.

In the mean time the train column under the command of Sanchez who had well and bravely performed his first attempts as a rider. The difficulties of the march had delayed and tired the column that had arrived with the tents and the provisions. The tents were set up at an altitude of more than 2000 m at the selected spot that however was exposed to storms. I rested for some time as I still did not feel well. When I asked three hours later about the condition of the shot animals, I was informed that the unreliable Indians had not yet departed to get them.

Finally I no longer wanted to remain at the camp fire. I took my rifle and hunted alone, as no Indian was ready, across the closest heights and forests and soon heard the shout of an Indian when I was taking observations from a boulder. Upon my answer, Charley worked his way through a tangle of tree trunks and reported that two grizzly bears had been observed in a valley nearby. This message made me rush forward despite being tired as quickly as the fallen trees permitted and soon I found still fresh tracks but unfortunately not the bears. My hope too was dashed of cutting off their path. The evening arrived and I had to return to the camp. Only rarely did I have such a bad and tiring path home as here as we were exposed to a big wind and snow breakage where we were forced to continuously climb and jump over a true labyrinth of wildly distributed fallen trunks. Soon our feet were hurting so much that we were barely able to continue and arrived at the camp only by dragging ourselves forward with great effort. A grouse constituted my only catch. In the mean time the party of Wurmbrand and Clam had returned after a six hour march with a mule calf and a grouse.

After sunset I became still colder and more uncomfortable. An icy wind blew mercilessly into our face coming directly from the close snow fields. We could only warm up a bit at the camp fire as the place offered no protection due to the lack of tall trees.

Links

  • Location: Penticton, Canada
  • ANNO – on 13.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Der fliegende Holländer“.

Penticton—Shingle Creek, 12. Sept. 1893

Die Nachrichten, welche wir erhalten hatten, waren sehr günstig; man sprach von ausgezeichneten Erfolgen, die uns nicht ausbleiben könnten, ja es verlautete, dass ein Rudel von 100 Bergschafen durch Indianer bestätigt und ein Mann eigens beauftragt sei, dieses seltene Wild zu beobachten. Gegen derartige, übertrieben scheinende Anpreisungen verhalte ich mich, durch die mannigfachen jagdlichen Misserfolge bei verschiedenen Völkern gewitzigt, sehr reserviert, da mich die Folge noch jedesmal gelehrt hat, dass es mit dem gerühmten Wildreichtum nicht so weit her ist.

Es war beschlossen worden, die Bagage — Gewehre, Zelte, Proviant und die notwendigsten Kleidungsstücke — gleich bei Tagesanbruch auf Pferden verpackt abzusenden, während wir gegen 10 Uhr vormittags folgen wollten. Leider schien auch hier die Pünktlichkeit eine unbekannte Tugend zu sein; denn als ich nach 9 Uhr meine Kabine verließ, waren weder Packpferde noch Indianer zu entdecken. Endlich kamen die Rothäute einzeln, ganz gemütlich herbeigeritten, und auch Mr. Ellis, der einzige Grundbesitzer dieser Gegend, welcher für die Beistellung der Pferde und der als Führer und Jäger erforderlichen Indianer sorgen sollte, schien es keineswegs eilig zu haben und über unsere ganze Expedition recht ungehalten zu sein. Diesem Herrn Ellis, einem gebürtigen Schotten, gehört der ganze Umkreis, ein Tausende von Quadratkilometern umfassendes Gebiet; alle in der Nähe befindlichen Indianer stehen zu ihm in einer Art von Untertanenverhältnis, und er liebt es, sich als König dieses Ländchens zu fühlen und zu zeigen. Mit scheelen Augen beobachtet er das Vordringen und die Erfolge der Canadian Pacitic-Bahngesellschaft in dieser unermesslichen Wildnis, in der er bisher alleiniger Herrscher war und durch 28 Jahre völlig ungestört walten konnte, was begreiflich erscheinen lässt, dass er jeden Fremden als Eindringling betrachtet. Seine Ungnade erstreckte sich daher auch auf uns; wir mussten aber, mit der Beistellung von Mann und Pferd ausschließlich auf ihn angewiesen, gute Miene zum bösen Spiele machen und bei dem Gewaltigen die eindringlichsten Bitten und schönsten Phrasen vorbringen. Gegen 10 Uhr wurde schließlich die Trainkolonne flott und ging unter Kommando unseres Reisemarschalls und Hodeks in die Berge ab; mehrere Indianer, die ihren Tieren schier unglaubliche Lasten aufgebürdet hatten und jene mit Lassos vor sich hertrieben, folgten.

In angemessenem Verhältnisse zu der Verspätung des Bagagetrains kamen auch unsere Leibrosse erst nach 11 Uhr herbei, so dass lmhof hinlänglich Muße hatte, einen der vier unser Schiff umkreisenden Fischadler mit einem glücklichen Schuss herabzuholen. Der Tod eines aus ihrer Mitte schien die Genossen wenig anzufechten, da sie immer von neuem herbeistrichen.

Doch konnten wir ihnen keine weitere Aufmerksamkeit schenken, weil wir aufbrechen mussten.
Jedermann wählte eines der keineswegs schönen, aber kräftigen Indianerpferde aus und trachtete so gut wie möglich, sich mit dem mexikanischen Sattel vertraut zu machen, einem Marterinstrument, welches das Sitzen keineswegs zu einer Annehmlichkeit macht und selbst einem passionierten Reiter einen langen Ritt verleiden kann. Das hohe Sattelgestell, an dem sich vorne der Knopf zum Befestigen des Lassos befindet, zwingt den Reiter, ganz steif und nach Art des von mir perhorreszierten sogenannten „alten Husarensitzes“ in der Gabel zu sitzen; die nur handbreiten Seitenblätter gehen nicht vom Sattel aus, sondern hängen an den Bügelriemen; die Bügel selbst sind unförmlich groß; die Befestigung des Sattels geschieht durch Gurten. ähnlich jenen unseres Damensattels; die Pferde sind mit Stangen aufgezäumt, die bei den einzelnen Rossen die denkbar verschiedensten Formen aufweisen.

Unsere Führer, die für die nächstfolgenden Tage auch als Jäger dienen sollten, waren Vollblutindianer und Mischlinge von dem etwa 150 Köpfe zählenden Stamme der Okinagans, welche die umliegende Gegend bewohnen und sich angeblich durch Arbeitsamkeit und gutes Verhalten auszeichnen; auch sind sie fast sämtlich zum katholischen Glauben bekehrt. Zwei Cowboys, die uns ebenfalls begleiteten, waren den Indianern ziemlich gleich adjustiert; sie trugen breitkrämpige Filzhüte, Wollhemden und lange, mit Fransen besetzte Lederhosen, lederne Mokassins und merkwürdigerweise auch dicke Lederhandschuhe, die an Fechthandschuhe aus Hirschleder gemahnten und Verzierungen in grellen, gestickten Dessins aufwiesen.

Unsere Karawane setzte sich nun durch ein am Rande des Sees gelegenes, auenartiges Terrain bis zur Farm des Mr. Ellis in Bewegung, der hier die nötigen Instruktionen an die führenden Indianer erteilte. Die Farm, aus mehreren kleinen Häusern und Stallungen bestehend, liegt, von Wiesen und einzelnen Feldern umgeben, sehr hübsch unter hohen Bäumen in einem freundlichen, grünen Tal am Ufer des Okinagan-Flusses, dessen besonders klare Wässer eilenden Laufes vorbeiströmen. Mr. Ellis beschäftigt sich hauptsächlich mit der Zucht von Rindern und Pferden, die sich das ganze Jahr hoch in den Bergen aufhalten und daselbst ein halbwildes Leben führen; ein großer Prozentsatz geht durch Abstürze oder als Opfer der Bären zugrunde, so dass man allenthalben Skelette verendeter Tiere sieht; aber immerhin dürfte Mr. Ellis seine Rechnung finden, da ihm die Erhaltung seiner Herden fast keine Kosten verursacht.

Bis zu den höchsten Stellen der steilsten Berglehnen sieht man die Tiere emporklettern, die sich an den Bächen und den sonstigen Trinkwasser bietenden Stellen in größeren Rudeln sammeln. Ich war über das gute Aussehen der Herden in hohem Grad erstaunt, da ich annehmen musste, dass die Tiere in den versengten und verdorrten Lehnen kein genügendes Futter finden könnten; doch hat die Natur hiefür gesorgt, da zwischen den gestürzten Baumstämmen manches Alpenkraut und in den tieferen Lagen eine unscheinbare, blaugraue Pflanze sprießen, die besonders zur Winterszeit ein gesundes und vom Vieh gesuchtes Futter liefern. Bedarf der Farmer einer größeren Anzahl Rinder oder Pferde zum Verkauf, so sendet er seine Cowboys und Indianer beritten in die Berge, damit dieselben die erforderlichen Tiere einfangen und abtreiben. Die Feldwirtschaft wird nur in dem für den Bedarf der Farm erforderlichen Umfang betrieben; als wir Mr. Ellis fragten, ob er auch Weizen baue, bejahte er dies mit dem Zusatz, dass er dies nur seinen Hühnern zuliebe tue.

Am jenseitigen Flussufer drangen wir in das Indianerdorf, das teils aus Hütten, teils aus Wigwams, das ist Zelten, besteht; erstere sind einfache Blockhäuser und mit Rasenziegeln belegt, letztere zeichnen sich nur durch die in ihrem Innern vorherrschende Unordnung aus. Die Haupterwerbsquelle bildet die Viehzucht, welche in derselben Weise wie vom Farmer betrieben wird und einzelnen Indianern bereits ein ansehnliches Vermögen eingetragen haben soll. Rings um die Hütten liegen kleine Felder und sogar Obstgärten, in welchen wir zu unserer Überraschung schwer mit Früchten behangene Bäume erblickten.

Auf einem schmalen Viehpfad, welcher die Lehne entlang führte, ritten wir den Bergen entgegen. Dieser Teil unserer Route war ziemlich eintönig, da die Nadelbäume, zumeist Kiefern, auf dem gelben, sandigen Boden in großen Abständen verteilt stehen und nirgends geschlossenen Wald bilden; erst nach einiger Zeit kamen wir in ein schmales Tal, woselbst sich schöne Ausblicke auf die entfernter liegenden Bergketten erschlossen. Manche steil eingeschnittene Schlucht, in welcher klare Bäche Rossen und Reitern willkommenen Labetrunk boten, musste passiert werden; des schlechten, schmalen Pfades wegen konnten wir fast nur im Schritt reiten und bloß auf einigen kleinen Plateaux war es möglich, für kurze Zeit zu galoppieren. Unser scharfes Auslugen nach Wild hatte keinen Erfolg, da wir außer einigen Falken und Vertretern einer grauschwarzen Hühnerart nichts entdecken konnten; dagegen wurde der Anblick der Gegend wieder freundlicher, und von dem Glanz der sinkenden Sonne schön überstrahlter, dichter Wald zeigte sich uns. Bald darauf überholten wir unseren Train, der sich nur sehr langsam und mit Schwierigkeiten kämpfend vorwärts bewegte, weil die eben erst eingefangenen Mustangs sich, an das Tragen von Lasten nicht gewöhnt, jeden Augenblick niederlegten, so dass unsere Weinvorräte, die Gewehre und der photographische Apparat in arge Gefahr kamen.

Zwei Stunden später erreichten wir ein kleines Tal, wo unter vielhundertjährigen Tannen und Kiefern, am Rand eines Bächleins im Shingle Creek das Lager aufgeschlagen wurde. Nach dem Abpacken der Pferde schritt man an das Aufstellen der Zelte, und bald entwickelte sich ein äußerst reges und fröhliches Leben; Bäume wurden gefällt. Holz gespalten, und in kürzester Zeit loderte ein mächtiges Feuer auf, an dem mehrere Mitglieder der Expedition ihre Kochkunst versuchen mussten, weil wir kein fachkundiges Individium angeworben hatten. Während tagsüber recht angenehme Temperatur geherrscht hatte, wurde es abends empfindlich kühl, weshalb wir recht nahe ans Lagerfeuer rückten.

Die der Lasten und Sättel entledigten Pferde weideten, in ein Rudel zusammengetrieben, das unter den Bäumen spärlich wachsende Gras ab; denn Körnerfutter erhalten die Tiere auch bei den größten Anstrengungen nicht. Überhaupt war die schlechte Behandlung, welche die Pferde durch die Indianer erfahren, auffallend; zu mangelhafter Fütterung trotz harter Anforderungen gesellten sich bei jeder Gelegenheit Fußtritte und Schläge, da der Indianer eben keine Liebe für seine Pferde zu besitzen scheint und sie nur so viel als möglich ausnützt. Wenn man demungeachtet und obgleich die Pferde schon in früher Jugend, oft als Füllen, Dienste leisten müssen, mitunter auffallend gute Exemplare findet und die Tiere im allgemeinen nicht nur reine Füße, sondern überhaupt kein schlechtes Exterieur besitzen, so spricht dies für die Rasse. Die Rothäute bedienen sich nicht immer eines Sattels; sie sitzen häufig nur auf einer Decke ohne Gurte und ziehen dem Pferd als Zaum bloß einen Strick durch das Maul oder begnügen sich mit einer Halfter, so dass es ein fremdartiges, stets fesselndes Bild ist, einen Reiter mit Hilfe derart primitiven Reitzeuges über Stock und Stein rasen zu sehen.

Seitwärts von uns lagerten die Indianer, welche mit ihrer Kochkunst rascher ans Ziel kamen als wir, da es uns noch an Übung fehlte und wir viel Zeit mit Versuchen verloren. Eine ungemein versalzene Suppe und ein ebensolches Gulyas, beides ein sprechender Beweis für die Richtigkeit des bekannten Sprichwortes, dass viele Köche den Brei versalzen, waren das heutige Ergebnis unserer kulinarischen Bildung; doch genossen wir dasselbe lachend und scherzend und saßen dann noch lange beim Lagerfeuer, welches gespenstige Lichter auf die alten Tannen warf, während die Sterne hell zu uns herniederfunkelten.

Derartige Expeditionen haben ihre eigenen Reize; denn man lernt, sich in jede Lage zu schicken, sich allenthalben selbst zu helfen und ist beständig bei Mutter Natur zu Gast. Wenn ich vor die Wahl zwischen einer offiziellen Reise, bei welcher nach endlicher Bewältigung einer langen Reihe von Empfängen und Feierlichkeiten ein vorzügliches Diner, ein bequemes Bett sowie aller erdenkliche Komfort winken, und einem fröhlichen Jagdzug, wie wir ihn derzeit unternehmen, gestellt bin, so werde ich mich wohl ohne Zaudern für letzteren entscheiden.

Für mich, meine Herren und die Diener war je ein Zelt bereitet worden; da aber das Zelttuch ganz dünn, ohne Doppellage und hauptsächlich darauf berechnet war, einem Pferd aufgeschnallt zu werden, so mussten wir uns gut in unsere Pelze einhüllen, um während der kühlen Nacht nicht zu frieren.

Links

  • Ort: Penticton, Kanada
  • ANNO – am 12.09.1893 in Österreichs Presse.
  • Das k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater macht Sommerpause bis zum 15. September, während das k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater die Oper „Romeo und Julie“ aufführt.

Penticton—Shingle Creek, 12 September 1893

The news we received were good: They said that excellent successes would not fail to materialize. They even stated that a flock of 100 mountain sheep had been confirmed by the Indians and a man had been ordered to keep track of that rare game. Faced with such exaggerated promises I have learned by the experience of various hunting expedition failures among different peoples to be very cautious as the actual results have taught me every time that the proclaimed abundance of game was often far from reality.

It had been decided to send the baggage — rifles, tents, provisions and the most necessary clothes — ahead just at the break of dawn packed on horses while we wanted to follow towards 10 o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately here too punctuality seemed to be an unknown virtue, as when I left my cabin after 9 o’clock neither pack horses nor Indians were to be seen. Finally individual redskins appeared, riding totally unhurriedly, and Mr. Ellis too, the only owner of property in this region, who was responsible for the supply of horses and Indians acting as guides and hunters did not seem eager and was quite disconcerted about our whole expedition. This Mr. Ellis, born in Scotland, owns the whole surrounding area, including thousands of square kilometers. All the Indians living in the vicinity are in some sort of vassal relationship to him and he loves to feel and show himself as the king of this small country. With suspicious eyes does he observe the advances and successes of the Canadian Pacitic railway company into this endless wilderness where he up to now had been the unique ruler and could act as he pleased during the last 28 years. This makes it understandable that he considers every stranger as an intruder. His disapproval extended thus upon us too. We had however to grin and bear it as we were fully dependent upon him to supply men and horses and had to ask the mighty man with keen requests and beautiful phrases. Towards 10 o’clock the train column finally was ready and took off into the mountains under the command of our travel organizer and Hodek. Multiple Indians who had burdened their animals with almost unbelievable loads followed driving the animals in front of them with their lassos.

In a suitable relation to the delay of the baggage train our own horses also arrived only after 11 o’clock so that lmhof had all the time necessary to take down one of the four ospreys that were flying around our ship with a lucky shot. The death of one among their midst did have little effect upon his comrades who continued again and again to fly around us. But we could not pay them further attention as we were bound to depart.

Everybody chose one of the not really beautiful but strong Indian horses and strove to get as well acquainted with the Mexican saddle as possible, an instrument of torture that made sitting in no way comfortable and put off even a passionate rider from a long ride. The high saddle rack where there is a knob in front to attach the lasso forces the rider to sit very stiffly at the front of the saddle prong in the manner of the so called „old Hussar seat“ which I hated intensely. The side extensions were only six inches wide and are attached not to the saddle but hang from the stirrup straps; the stirrups themselves are large and without form. The saddle is attached with belts similar to our lady saddle. The horses use bits of the most different imaginable kinds among the individual horses.

Our guides who were set to act as our hunters tomorrow were pureblood Indians and mixed bloods from the Okinagan tribe of about 150 heads who lived in the surrounding areas and are said apparently to be distinguished by their industry and good behavior. Also almost all have converted to the Catholic faith. Two cowboys who accompanied us too were clad just like the Indians. They wore broad-rimmed felt hats, wool shirts and long fringed leather trousers, leather moccasins and strangely also thick leather gloves that reminded of fencing gloves made out of deer leather and were decorated with flashy stitched designs.

Our caravan now started from the edge of the wet low-lying lake shore to the farm of Mr. Ellis who gave here the necessary instructions to the Indians. The farm consist of multiple small houses and barns and is very prettily situated under tall trees in a friendly green valley surrounded by meadows and individual fields at the shore of Okinagan river whose especially clear waters were quickly flowing past. Mr. Ellis is mostly occupied with raising cattle and horses that spend all year high in the mountains in a half-wild life. A large percentage of animals is lost due to falls or become victims of bears so that one can discover carcasses of dead animals everywhere. But at least it must be profitable for Mr. Ellis as he incurs almost no costs for sustaining his herds.

Up to the highest spot of the steepest mountain slopes one sees the animals climb up that combine to larger herds at streams and other places were drinking water is available. I was astonished to a high degree about the good appearance of the herds as I had assumed that the animals would not find sufficient fodder in the burnt and dried ledges. But nature has provided for them as between the fallen tree trunks there were many Alpine herbs and in the lower areas grew an unremarkable blue-grey plant that especially during wintertime supplies the cattle with a healthy and highly sought fodder. If a farmer needs to sell a larger number of cattle or horses, he sends out his mounted cowboys and Indians into the mountains where they catch the required number of animals and drive them down to the valley.  The cultivation of fields is only done to fulfil the demands of the farms. When we asked Mr. Ellis whether he is growing wheat too he affirmed with the addition that he did only for the sake of his chickens.

On the opposite river shore we entered into the Indian village that consisted partly out of huts partly of wigwams, that are tents. The former are simple log houses covered by grass tiles. The latter are distinguished only by the chaos ruling in their interior. The main source of income is raising cattle that is performed like the farmers and is said to have allowed individual Indians to amass notable fortunes. Around the huts are small fields and even fruit garden where we saw to our surprise trees carrying very many fruits.

On a narrow cattle track leading along the ledges we rode towards the mountains. This part of our journey was rather monotonous as the conifers were mostly pine trees that stood at a large distance on the yellow sandy ground and never built a close forest. Only after some time we came to a narrow valley where we had a beautiful view upon the distant mountain ranges. Many deeply cut gorges where clear streams offered horses and riders a welcome refreshing drink had to be passed. Due to the bad narrow tracks we could mostly only ride at a walk and only on some small high plains was it possible to gallop for a short time. Our keen watch for game was unsuccessful, as we discovered nothing except some falcons and representatives of some grey-black chicken species. In contrast the view of the region was again more agreeable and illuminated by the glint of the setting sun a dense forest was showing itself off to us. Soon we had overtaken our train that moved forward only slowly and with difficulties as the just caught mustangs were not used to carrying burdens and lay down at any moment so that our wine reserves, the rifles and the photographic apparatus were in great danger.

Two hours later we reached a small valley where our camp was set up under fir and pine trees many hundreds of years old at the edge of a small stream at Shingle Creek. After unpacking the horses the tents were pitched and soon there developed a very active and happy life. Trees were felled, wood split and in no time a mighty fire was burning at which multiple members of the expedition had to try their skills in cooking as we had not engaged an expert for the expedition. While the temperature during the day had been quite agreeable, it became quite cool in the evening. That’s why everyone crowded quite close around the camp fire.

The horses unloaded from their burdens and saddles and driven together into a herd grazed under the trees eating the sparse grass. These animals did not receive any grain fodder despite the great exertions. Overall, the bad treatment the horses had to experience from the Indians was notable.  To the inadequate feeding despite hard work one has to add foot kicks and hits at every opportunity as the Indian did not seem to show any love towards his horses and only exploits them as much as possible. If one can find despite this and even though the horses are forced to serve from a very young age among them still remarkably good specimens and the animals have not only clean feet but also not a bad exterior, this speaks for the quality of their race. The redskins not always make us of a saddle. They often sit upon only a blanket without a belt and only pass a rope through the mouth of the horse as a bridle or limit themselves to a halter so that it is a strange attractive sight to see a rider dash across the ground with only such a primitive riding equipment.

To our side the Indians had made their camp. They achieved the goal of their cooking faster than we as we did not have the necessary practice and we lost much time experimenting. A truly oversalted soup and goulash, both a demonstrative proof of the well known saying that  too many cooks spoil the broth. This was the result and lesson for our culinary education today. But we enjoyed it nevertheless with a smile and joking and sat together at the camp fire for a long time. The fire cast ghost-like lights upon the old fir trees while the stars were clearly twinkling down upon us.

Such expeditions have their one charms. As one learns to accept every situation and to help oneself on one’s own and is a guest of mother nature at any moment. If I had the choice between an official voyage where an excellent dinner, a comfortable bed as well as all comforts imaginable would await after finally having completed a long row of receptions and festivities on the one hand and a happy hunting trip as we are undertaking now on the other hand, so I would decide myself without hesitation for the latter.

For me, my gentlemen and the servants one tent for each had been set up. As the canvas was very thin and without a double fold and mainly intended to be laid on a horse, we had to wrap ourselves well in our furs in order not to freeze during the cold night.

Links

  • Location: Penticton, Canada
  • ANNO – on 12.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Romeo und Julie“.

Vancouver, 7 September 1893

We had to stay a day longer in Vancouver to give the hunting organizers time for their preparations for our expedition into the Canadian Rocky Mountains and I thus planned for today to hunt in the vicinity of the city with a hunting expert and kill a grouse or some other animal. The expectations about its results were very divided. Some said that we would encounter game, most however proclaimed that the right season for this was already over. My undertaking seems to have been enough to displease the heavens — already early in the morning it started to pour down and a cold wind blew and howled over the roofs  so that the hour of departure had to be delayed until the rain had begun to relent. Then we drove out of the city in a high light carriage with three of my gentlemen and the hunting expert who was dressed very impractical in an immaculate black salon dress and equipped with thin half-boots and a black hat.

Our path first led to a long wooden bridge across a sea arm, then continued along a gentle mountain ledge that at first was covered only by burnt dead forest but later was stocked with luxurious beautiful trees especially on the opposite side. Across a second bridge we reached a large island that carries the lovely name of Lulu Island and is settled rather densely by farmers. Between the forest lots were fields primitively cultivated with potatoes, oats and barley. Agricultural machines were buzzing everywhere, while cattle and horses were grazing on small meadows — the first true meadows we had seen for nearly a year. The farmers‘ houses were in no way different from those in Vancouver.

We had reached the scene of today’s action and the hunting expert advised us to range at the edge of the sea through the reed but stayed behind for good reason given his half-boots. The reed was not especially high but was difficult to cross due to the many intervening streams. Just at the beginning of our journey we saw, out of reach, some geese and ducks lift off from the sea but then the location seemed dead. A great bittern and three  common snipes constituted our total catch as we later only saw a single one of the promised ducks fly over our heads. Instead we encountered plenty of dead salmons with dark red meat that were partly floating on the water surface and partly had been swept on land by the high tide.

As it had started to rain again on this unsatisfactory expedition, returned to the hunting expert and asked about his further plans. A local expert was called and assured us that in the island region there would be plenty of grouse and pheasants. He indicated multiple fields and depots as the best hunting grounds. We went to these in the pouring rain after having eaten a snack in a barn. In a forest lot overgrown with tall ferns we found not a single living being — it was then said that the grouses must be in the fields as they were not in the forest. Thus we assiduously rushed criss-cross across the oat fields but also without results as before in the forest until finally the hunting expert explained that the farmer had apparently shot the grouse himself and we thus were unlikely to encounter such game. We thanked him very much with some winged words for this belated friendly information and mounted completely soaked into our carriages to return to Vancouver where we made preparations for our departure and ended the day with a truly bad dinner.

Links

  • Location: Vancouver, Canada
  • ANNO – on 07.09.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is closed for summer until 15 September. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is performing the opera „Margarethe (Faust)“.

Kajeli to Amboina, 30 June 1893

For today’s drive our steam boat had departed already at 4 o’clock in the morning and at first anchored next to the land tongue of Lissaletta at 6 o’clock. For a moment a blue sky looked down upon us but soon the firmament was overshadowed and a tropical rain poured down. In comparison with this the famous Salzburg rods of rain („Schnürlregen“) is but a drizzle.

On the spot where we landed, close to some fishermen’s huts, the „outstanding“ guides of the hunt of the day before and a group of drivers with dogs were waiting for us.  We climbed up on a hill where the usual large discussion took place. After its conclusion the drivers first moved out and then the shooters in different directions.

To my great astonishment, the number of shooters had greatly increased as some undefined individuals armed with adventurous guns joined us who were said to act as defenders in the hunt when I asked about their purpose. Despite the fact that we had keenly expressed with words, gestures, pleas and orders not to release the dogs and to keep quiet on the way to the hunt, we heard their ongoing shouts and cries in the forest and soon the dogs too started to bark and drove a deer calf close to us but I did unfortunately miss it.

The terrain had a very different character than that of yesterday’s hunt. I might say it looked Australian as in the tall grass there rose individual trees, now and then there were steep ledges that suddenly dropped down to the sea. Then there were again denser wood areas with a liana-like undergrowth.

A one-hour march took us to our positions whose line formed a semi-circle where we had hardly taken up positions when the shouts of the drivers were heard who were tasked to drive game towards us. I took up position on the outermost spot on the right wing. Below me was the defense with the numerous „wild“ shooters. For a long time nothing was visible while above my position many shots were fired. Finally I saw in short intervals some wild boars move at a large distance through the tall grass below my position, but one could see those animals only for moments. I tried my luck with a few shots and also hit one strong two-year-old animal that was found dead during the next drive. A single piece killed by me turned out to have been already wounded by another shooter.

After the end of the tedious drive it became clear that nearly all shots had been fired by native shooters who in fact had a good field of fire but truly without any results, having fired much grain at game, among it also a good deer. The defense below my position had also joined in the hunt but only managed, gesticulating wildly, to drive in a live deer calf which the dogs had stopped in front of the shooters.

The Dutch seemed, if I may conclude from my experiences on Java and now here, not very apt in hunting and the organization of a hunt. At least there was a complete mess during the three drives that were undertaken. We may have been positioned but mostly in the wrong places or only after the drivers had already moved past. Nobody was directing the whole, each native wanted only to shoot himself and the drivers walked instead of through the thicket, shouting loudly, one after the other alongside the shore. To this confusion the flood-like rain may have also contributed.

I regreted the failure due to the mentioned ills all the more as in the overgrown ledges there seemed to be plenty of game according to the tracks. Not a single babirussa was caught.

As we could see that the drivers had grown weary about the hunt and there was no order, we turned our attention to the world of the numerous birds present and bagged a sizeable number of large grey and yellow pigeons as well as multiple parrots. I was so happy to catch three predators in a short time by accident, namely a mighty white-breasted sea eagle (Haliaetus leucogaster) with a white body, striped tail and pigeon-grey wings that had landed on a high branch. Then an osprey (Pandion leucocephalus), very similar to the European one, and a falcon (Falco moluccensis), which resembled our kestrel but was more intensively colored. The latter two had been flying over me during the drives.

The rain continued to grow stronger. Finally the soaked cartridges could no longer be inserted into the rifle barrels and thus the retreat call was sounded and we returned on board to drive back directly to Amboina.

We had hardly left the bay of Kajeli when we were received by the high sea waves in the Strait of Manipa that threw our small steam boat around so violently that one after another left the company on deck and disappeared into the cabin only to emerge when wer arrived back in Amboina with an important delay. Totally battered and shaken we returned on board of „Elisabeth“. Staying there, however, was not particularly agreeable as coal was still being loaded on board and everything was wet from the pouring rain.

Links

  • Location: Amboina
  • ANNO – on 30.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Fesseln“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Kajeli, 29 June 1893

An eight-hour night drive brought us to the East coast of the island of Buru where we anchored in the bay of Kajeli next to the town of the same name.

To our surprise there was no rain today but beautiful sunshine in whose radiance the bay of Kajeli presented a very charming picture. In the distance we could see a mighty mountain whose peak was almost completely enveloped in clouds and which the natives call a „holy mountain“ as its top has never been touched by a European foot. The Eastern promonitory of Kajeli were two cone-shaped mountains called „mother and daughter“ while the mountain descends to the coast at a soft slope.

Kajeli itself lies in a swampy plain criss-crossed by small streams and is covered with mangrove trees. The plain extends to the land tongue of Lissaletta that limits our view on the right.

The post master and the commander of the fort Defentie appeared on board to arrange the program for the next two days with the resident according to which Kajeli would be first visited and then birds would be hunted. This met my special applause as Buru, like all Maluku islands, was known for its richness and diversity of its bird world. For the second day a hunt for deer, wild boars (Sus celebensis) and hairy babirusa (Babirussa alfurus) was planned. The strange babirussa is found outside its mainland of Celebes only on Soela, Mangoeli and Buru and is a very strange and rare animal with two pairs of tusks grown together above the snout. Understandably I desired to kill such an animal.

After the end of the discussion we drove on land and had to be carried in decorated chairs by coolies over the water to a triumphal arch as the boats could not land due to the muddy shore. The dignitaries of Kajeli received us festively.

The post master, the highest ranking government official on Buru, is not only in charge of the district of Kajeli but also a large part of the island that is divided in areas ruled by rajas. As post masters usually are appointed native just like in Dobo and also the commander of the small, semi-decayed fort and the mayor of Kajeli were pure-blood Malays.

Among the crowd I especially noticed two Alfures who had come from Ceram with trading goods. They looked stronger and better built than their Malayan relatives. Characteristic was their ferocity with which they provocatively glanced around. In contrast to the Amboinese, they were only wearing a loincloth made out of palm bast on which the Alfures use to mark the number of heads they have captured by colored rings. It is well known that the Alfures even today go on manhunts in Ceram armed with very sharp kris and spears made out of ironwood. Thanks to the courtesy of Baron van Hoevell I came into possession of many characteristic Alfurian ornaments and weapons.

As I thought that the morning hours were especially suitable for hunting birds I shifted the visit of the town Kajeli to a later time and asked the post master and the controller of Amboina who were in charge of the expedition on Buru to point out the best hunting grounds to me. After prolonged discussion which included the consultation of the best hunting expert of Kajeli — by the way, a suspicious looking individual wearing a worn black coat and a black hat  — it was recommended to us to drive to a land tongue as there would be parrots of five different species.

The time required for the drive to that land tongue was estimated at two hours. But instead of choosing the steamers, surely the fastest and most practical means of transports, the organizers of the excursion had opted to use sailing praus. Due to the complete lack of wind the sails could not be used so that the praus had to be moved by oars. Further delay was caused by the quickly increasing heat which soon tired the oarsmen.

Despite all this we finally reached our destination after a protracted drive and thought that now the hunt would soon start — but here too there were all kinds of discussions necessary. Finally the hunting expert took charge and advanced about 400 paces along the coast until we reached a point where at a shallow spot there were large tree trunks in the sea. Here there were some seagulls, sandpipers and plovers but at such large a distance that it was impossible to take a shot at them. Only Clam who had waded closer managed to bring back a harmless tern as the only catch.

Soon the people explained to us that the hunt was over now and that we could return to Kajeli, as there were no parrots here and also it made no sense to wait for pelicans which the hunting expert had believed to find here. Entering into the mangrove forest would be impossible too due to the swamp. Rather angry that we had thus lost a morning we had to spend the next two hours being rowed back to Kajeli in the midday heat but we landed outside of it as we decided to go hunting on our own in the woods surrounding the settlement.

Here everything looked dead and quiet at first. In the muggy heat no bird wanted to move and only gorgeous butterflies of all sizes and colors were fluttering around. The forest was not contiguous and closed but alternating with open areas of coarse grass called „kusu-kusu“. In the wooden areas in this terrain stood palm trees namely the fibrous sago palm (Pigafetta filaris), ficus  and eucalyptus trees in whose shadow I waited for some time until bird voices were to be heard again. Even though I hunted until the evening, our catch was not very rich: I bagged only two parrots of different species, one in green, the other in red (Tanygnathus megalorhynchus and Eos rubra), as well as a specimen of a gorgeous white, actually light-yellow fruit pigeon (Myristicivora melanura), finally a mysterious flier (Macropteryx [Dendrochelidon] mystacea) with long white hairs under the bills and some smaller birds. My gentlemen only caught two pigeons and a large grey fruit pigeon with metallic green wings (Carpophaga perspieillata) and a small green and yellow colored Pompadour green pigeon (Osmotreron aromatica) with a grey head.

In the hunting terrain I could examine a strange example of the manner in which the natives here build paths. I had asked my guide to bring us back to Kajeli by the shortest route as the sun was already low on the horizon. This proved to be a well traveled straight „linea recta“ path but which crossed a small river twenty-four times which we had to wade across every time for want of bridges. But this did not trouble me much as my stay in the tropical region had acquainted me with wading streams, rivers and swamps on a daily basis, in rain or not, and becoming soaked.

The short time left before the approach of darkness I used to visit Kajeli and the house of the post master. The settlement offered little that was notable with the exception of the semi-decayed fort whose low walls, it is said, are built upon the foundations dating from the Portuguese rule. The post master gave me in his house the skulls of two fully grown babirussas as a present and brought out three living cuscus that looked comically with their large goggle eyes. I immediately had them sent on board. Cuscus (Phalanger) are strange marsupials from the Austro-Malayan region and are divided into five species.

The evening was spent on board where again a case of sickness had to be noted as Hodek had become a victim of the fever.

Links

  • Location: Amboina
  • ANNO – on 29.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Dorf und Stadt“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Dobo, 26 June 1893

The fat post master had proposed to undertake today an excursion to the island of Wassir, North of Wammar, as there would be, according to him, large numbers of big game and wild boars so that we should certainly achieve good results.

The post master’s message about the hunting opportunities on Wassir was confirmed by the captain of the English pearl fishing schooner. He had just come on board of „Elisabeth“ during the post master’s report to buy salt junk as the schooner had not possessed any tins for weeks as the Dutch were not willing to sell him any under any condition. This „war of tins“ had its origin in the ongoing jealousy between the Dutch and the British about the rights to fish for pearls in the waters of New Guinea and especially its Western coast.

But,  aside from all the testimonials about the Wassir’s richness in game, the weather had to play along too — this key regulator of all human activity. The outlook for our expedition was not promising: Black clouds covered the sky and it poured down incessantly as if heaven had opened up all its sluices, when we pushed off from the ship at 6 o’clock. The rain became heavier and heavier so that we could from time to time barely perceive the islands of Wokam and Udjir which we passed at a distance of a few kilometers in a Northern direction.

My companions on this „grey journey“ were the post master who was wearing a dandy-like dress today, my gentlemen and from the staff Gratzl as well as Bourguignon.

Thanks to the speed of the barge our drive took only two hours and this time, landing was easy as the deep access channel reached up to the shore. Here there lay five praus whose passengers, inhabitants of the island of Wassir, would serve as our guides and drivers. The majority of them had Malay looks, the rest however were real Aruans who look similar to the Papuans but can still be distinguished from them: Their facial features were less pleasingly formed and have, if I am permitted to say, a more wild impression than the Papuans. The hair of the Papuans stands in bushels while the Aruans were their hair long and not brushed upwards into a crown. It hangs limply down in the manner of a mane or knotted into a bunch. As far as ornaments are concerned, there is little to be seen on these savages. Instead they carried beautiful weapons namely spears with iron points that had been originally traded and kris-like knives whose shafts are ornamented with tin or silver. Clothing is naturally limited to a loincloth.

I did not feel keen to involve myself into the ethnological problems of such a tiny group that still differed amongst itself and even scientists had found no consensus about the race of the Aruans. The main reason for this is the fact that the Aruans look to us as a mixed people which had received in earlier times even Portuguese blood but that did not have a positive effect on the race.

Despite the constant rain we decided to undertake a hunt as the game had been so colorfully described to us. Wassir showed a very different character than Wokam as everywhere there also were coraline lime between the rich humous layer but the swamps and swampy lower areas were completely missing. The vegetation was similar to that on Wokam but not as luxurious and dense. I hunted under the guidance of a Malay and followed by our fat post master who had to trot furiously today, three hours cross-country all over the island without ever seeing a single piece of game. Instead there was once a small dog that ran with us and barked next to me but as it turned out without reason for which he was ungently pushed with a spear by an angry Malay. I found some tracks and later the tooth of a boar — but that was all.

When we, tired from the long walk, met the other shooters at noon on the coast, they reported that with the exception of Clam who had seen three pieces of game flee nobody had seen anything that could be hunted. Bourguignon was not present and only arrived one and a half hours later as his guide had missed the direction and had led him for a long time in circles in the native manner we knew all too well.

In the mean time we had found cover from the constant pouring rain under an overhanging rock and on an open fire which we had ignited to prepare breakfast we dried our clothes as well as we could — an effort that had to be futile as our clothes were within minutes completely wet minutes after we departed to undertake another drive the natives had advised us to do.

The natives expected much from the newly beginning drive as they explained that they would drive across one half of the island and thus drive the game towards our positions. What we could not shoot from the positions, would be caught by the sea and captured by the crews of the praus. I could only laugh about the idea that the game would run into the sea while there was enough space left to flee into the other half of the island but the natives assured me repeatedly that often they had caught game in this manner successfully . Thus I let the matter run its course.

After a long consultation and never-ending shouting we were positioned in the forest and the drive started which was naturally set up so well that the drivers who constantly made a hellish noise finally re-appeared on two convenient clearings in a long line one after another.

I had again seen nothing this time, except for two brushturkeys,  but next to me three shots were fired with which Clam had killed a very timid six antler points deer. Thus there was at least some gain and as a benefit game meat to improve the cooking on board. The deer was a specimen of the species we had met on Java (Rusa hippelaphus). Apart from this, there did not have been other game in the drive and also no animal had taken to the sea as I had predicted.

During the return drive the sky luckily cleared up a bit. After the rain had completely stopped, we loaded quite nice a collection of bird bodies and other objects that the post master had given me as a present on board of „Elisabeth“ and then immediately steamed away towards Amboina.

In Dobo the fever epidemic reached its high point up to now — the report listed 153 sick people!

Links

  • Location: Dobo, Aru Islands
  • ANNO – on 26.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Die Grille“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.

Hunting camp at Vei Maori to Varivari island, 20 June 1893

We moved out already at dawn and at first all together up to a native village about 3 km distant where the guides for the individual gentlemen were to be picked up. The temperature was agreeable as strong dew had fallen during the night and  in all branches one could hear the cries of the cockatoos and parrots. Arriving towards 7 o’clock in the village, the Papuans at first expressed their astonishment about our early arrival but were soon ready to guide us. Strangely the Papuans are no friends of the early morning hours even if one wakes them and urges them to start working before 8 o’clock.

As the better hunting grounds were on the other shore according to the guides we had to cross the stormy river that was quite deep here. There was no boat available so that we were forced to walk in the manner of the natives on a submerged tree trunk that lay perpendicular to the river. This was not really an easy task as the trunk was very smooth as it was worn down by the steady exposure to running water. But fortunately the crossing succeeded without accident. By the way, we had to prove our talents as an equilibrist that day a few times more, as all streams here many of which of considerable depth can only be crossed on smooth tree trunks.

On the opposite shore we split again in parties and took different directions with the intention to meet again back at the camp by 11 o’clock in the morning. Bedford walked with me but the governor, apparently not truly convinced about his familiarity with the local terrain, sent two local natives along.

Bedford and the Papuans wanted to shoot a new kind of bird of paradise with twelve feathers. Five times we came close to such a bird and also heard its call. But each time when we were sneaking up, one of the gentlemen fired a shot close by which made the very timid and prudent birds flee. The local guides made the grave mistake to guide us all too close together so that one shooter interfered with the next. In return I found another tree full of Raggiana birds of paradise and shot two young males and one female.

Numerous hornbils were flying in the sky and at any moment I could hear heavy wings fluttering but it was impossible to shoot one. My next results were another parrot and a splendid common paradise kingfisher (Tanysiptera galatea) with its two long white tail feathers that are shaped like a lyre.

The guides had as usual not estimated the time correctly and explained to me after 11 o’clock was already past that we would have to walk for quite some distance to reach the camp. The governor, profiting from the experience of the adventure the day before, had signal shots fired but I arrived at the camp without any further difficulties with a small delay and by and by the other members returned too, each with interesting game. Wurmbrand had two of the rare black cockatoo (Microglossus aterrimus) and a pigeon of a new species, Clam a bee martin and a splendid glittering so called rifle bird (Ptilorhis magnifica), Prónay with two Raggiana birds of paradise and Bourguignon also with one bee martin and a female.

After I had said good-bye to the governor and the other gentlemen from Moresby who wanted to stay in the camp until the afternoon, we marched to the barrier  and embarked into the barge and boats there again.  We steered downstream with the intention to reach Redscar Bay as fast as possible as I still wanted to hunt on Varivari island where in the evening thousands of white pigeons with black wing tips, a speciality of New Guinea, depart from the mainland.

But unfortunately we had not taken the tides into account which were highly noticeable upstream causing a difference in the water level of 1,5 m; when we arrived at the ominous tree trunks, we were forced to anchor and patiently wait for the water to rise. In the mean time we prepared a frugal midday meal in our boats.

Towards 3 o’clock the water had finally risen so high that our barge could get over the trunks having gather sufficient speed and now was in open navigable water. We drove at full speed but unfortunately one machine valve broke when we left the river so that our speed was considerably diminished. Additionally there were rather tall waves and the circumstance of having to still cover six miles of open sea to arrive at Varivar island.

When we arrived at „Elisabeth“  moored close to Varivari island, it was almost 7 o’clock and already dark. That’s why we definitively passed on the pigeon hunt.

On board of „Elisabeth“, that had anchored the day before 40 sea miles Northwest of the mouth of the Vanapa in the Hall Sound, East of Yule Island, and spent the night there, I found an extraordinarily varied and interesting ethnographic collection that the kind patres of the mission on Yule Harbour had sent me. The commander as well as the officers were enchanted by the very obliging welcome they received there and reported that the patres were delighted to host European guests with which they could spend a few hours.

After the barge and the boats had been lifted and all our trophies from the river expedition loaded on board, we hoisted the anchor at 8 o’clock in the evening and set course for Thursday Island leaving New Guinea behind through the gulf of Papua and the strait of Torres.

The impression New Guinea made upon us was very favorable and we owe the island many stimulating experiences. Even though it was only a fleeting glimpse we nevertheless gained some insight into the life and activities of the natives and have seen their positive side. Me as a friend of nature, collector and hunter, the coastal strip and what I have seen of the interior had offered me various things: The view of strange terrain and exotic vegetation as well as dense jungle and two shore landscapes as well as ethnographic and zoological catches and not in the least exciting hunts of the representatives of Guinea’s bird world. All of this without greater dangers than thorns, ants, mosquitoes and those small pinpricks that will not completely spare any of us earthlings in any location.

Links

  • Location: near Vari Vari island, New Guinea
  • ANNO – on 20.06.1893 in Austria’s newspapers.
  • The k.u.k. Hof-Burgtheater is playing „Der Richter von Belamea“. The k.u.k. Hof-Operntheater is closed from 1 June to 19 July.