Hunt Diaries – A Shikar in Sohawa

Shahzad Zafar, Lahore

Had not gone anywhere the week before but this past weekend could not sit back in Lahore and went for shikar Saturday to Jhelum. Left Lahore early as had a wild boar shikar planned for the evening and had a wonderful night out. Saw a large herd of about ten initially but they stealthily guided into cover before we could approach. A bit later we encountered a female with four young ones and we let it go deliberately but it was a sight as it herded away the young ones slowly even though they sensed danger giving us a lovely sight of the retreat. My partner then got a snapshot on a pair of boars which he could only sight and were at a considerable distance whereby the large male had already gone in thick cover but the female was unlucky this time around. We then were greeted by a herd of 4 boars headed by the tusker of the night in the rest house we were putting up. We could not fire a shot as it was too dangerous due to numerous other houses in the vicinity. Thus ended the first boar shikar of the season and then we hit bed to catch some sleep for Sunday’s partridge shikar.

Got up at 5 am and after freshening up we left for the shikargah and on the way had lovely paratha and half fried eggs breakfast from the GT Road and then moved to Sohawa where a nice patch of partridge pocket was left for us. Upon arrival we were taken to a patch close to our local guides house where he thought we could get some partridge. A couple of grays flushed from in front of a guest from Karachi who was in the hills after partridge first time ever in his life. Could not blame him as the partridge flushed from a distance. Two more blacks flushed from in front of no one from thick and tall saroots, one by the dog and the other on its own without having any shot being offered on them.

Having wasted a good 40 minutes, we asked our guide to take us the real spot. That spot turned out to be a plain with a bit of brush and then some lovely and not so difficult kassis ahead of them with decent brush. The place was not so difficult and I thought that the folks there must be real strict in order for no shikars to take place for game to be there. As it turned out very few birds flushed from in front as one of the dogs were not a real gun gun dog but small local pointers that were used in netting the birds and was walking with us instead of ahead of us and two our beat was not organized.

We could only bag a black male (a lucky shot as it flushed from way in front and was shot as reflex) and a gray by our Karachi friend also. A few more flushed but did not offer any shooting.  A bit disappointed we reached the vehicles to either call off the shikar or hit the wild boar area. But we were advised by our local guide to try close to the hills on the other side and we made our way in that direction with a heavy heart and that was the beginning of something worthwhile this time of the season. Even though the birds flushed were not in great numbers but for a change our shooting was. Had a ball of a time in the first half and extended our hunting right till lunch time and worked really hard. Worth mentioning was our jumping on two coveys one where 7 odd birds flushed from atop a kikkri in all directions (again upwards like a sunflower) and we got four and the other a covey of four smack from our feet from a small saroot and that too offered spectacular shots by their sudden bursts and in close proximity.

The lunch was brought in by our local guide who is from Jhelum and consisted of ‘allo ghosht’, delicious ‘shami kebabs’, freshest of muttar pulao by our local guides, mint chatni and salad. We just had enough time to eat, have a cup of much needed tea and put our hunting shoes back on. Another dog ‘Billi’ was brought in especially for us for the second half and this one turned out to be one the best ever I have hunted with. It might have been a mix but it looked like a very nice dog and the way it worked the remainder of the evening, to me it was the prettiest dog ever : ) . It worked beautifully in front of the gun all the time and was full of energy and did not miss any scent. Her working was superb and on top of that it got a couple of wounded birds that by any standards should have been written off. Her owner guided her beautifully and provided us with tremendous chances to fatten our already full game bag.

Our good shooting for the day that had gotten to my head at least was severely checked when Billi scented birds and took us beautifully an acre ahead to the ‘banna’ beyond which was a young ‘Eucalyptus Field’. Having all the time to set our hair styles and clothing : ) , the first bird flushed and went up towering towards the Eucalyptus tree, I waited till it had climbed a fair distance and then fired my shot only to get some tail feathers. I fired the second shot and cleanly missed it. During that instance the second bird flushed from a distance and I fired my remainder two (have rarely emptied my semi-auto on upland or any other quarry) and much to my horror and dismay missed this one clean too. The remainder 4 or 5 birds flushed in small intervals with me just looking at their beautiful flights. Bad shooting.

The locals that were really impressed till then had a chuckle or two and were sporting enough to suggest that it happens to even the best ones. Ended the evening on a high by getting a few more and named the evening to ‘Billi’. Thanked everyone who had made this shikar a pleasant one and headed for the long journey home.

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