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DEER HAWKING
(Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, 17 July 1896)


A sketch of the curious sport of deer hawking practised in India, is given In the Badminton Magazine by Colonel E.. Ward C.I.E. :- When the hawk has reached his full strength and learnt to fly only at ground game, he let them out with an old and well trained bird, and, if possible, in order to avoid disappointment, is first flown at a fawn or wounded deer which has no hope of escape. Once It has seen a deer killed, and been fed there and then on its flesh, its education may be said to be completed, and it can be trusted never to fly after anything else.

We will suppose this educational process finished, and start with a hawking party from the fort at Hoti Murdan on a bright cold weather morning in January. Even after breakfast the air is keen and crisp, in spite of .the warmth of an Eastern sun. At the head of the party rides the Bashi Bazuk, two hawks in his hand, or carried by an assistant nearly as wild as himself on foot who leads the two long-haired Persian grey bounds in a leash. Just behind them follow a brace of handsome English greyhounds, looking like thoroughbred racehorses beside cart horses. Then come several visitors from Peshawar among them three ladies well mounted on Arabs and extremely well got up, as ladles in India generally are on these occasions. The country to all appearance is a flat plain ' stretching away northward some 12 or 15 mlles to the range of mountains from 3000 to 5000 ft. high, one of the passes of which, the - Malakand, has lately become famous as the scene of General Low's first battle on his ' march to Chitral. Southward; this plain extends about the same distance to the Kabul -River; it Is interspersed with clumps of bir (Zizyphus jujuba) bushes, and a good deal cut up with ravines and watercourses. The latter and the small pools and ponds left by the Christmas rains are generally alive with wild duck and aquatic birds of all kinds in this month of January. The villages near Hoti Murdan are fairly numerous, and are planted in the midst of a sea of green wheat. Our way lies through these, not northward across the Chul Pain or Treacherous River, so called from its many quicksands, but south, towards sorne low sandhills, which are the favorite resort of the ravine deer. After riding some few miles, looking over the top of one of these low hills the Bashi Bazuk signals that deer are in sight. They are very wary, and although some eight hundred yards off are moving about in a restless state of alarm ; so it is decided to fly the two ; hawks and send with them the English grey hounds, while the party keeps perfectly still until the birds have singled out their deer. There is always an element of uncertainty as to which deer will be selected ; this time, as luck will have it, out of the small group of five the hawks choose the only buck. The deer are not at all disturbed about the hawks, ' they are only anxious about' the horsemen ; while the hounds, favored by the unevenness of the ground, run unseen with their heads in the air, watching the hawks until they run into sight of the deer about two hundred yards off. Then the race begins in earnest, and we follow at our best speed. The buck had not gone a quarter of a mile when one of the hawks swooped down upon him from a considerable height, striking him on the side and rolling him over like a shot hare. As the hounds were too far off to take advantage of this opportunity, the buck was up and off in an instant. The hawks seemed to realise the futility of striking until the dogs were nearer, for they changed their tactics ; one perched on the deer's back, and was carried along with his wings stretched out, after the deer had tried in vain to shake the bird off with a succession of bounds ; the other buffeted the Chikara about the head until he was completely bewildered, and ran first one way and then another, finally rushing almost into the mouths of the greyhounds, who pulled him down just as we got up.

The Bashi Bazuk gave the coup de grace and fed bis hawks and they were hooded up, and the deer was strapped on to a saddle. In a short time all was ready for another course.



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