Hunt Diaries – Another Elongated Shikar in the Land of Unknown
Shahzad Zafar, Lahore
Have had the privilege to travel quite a bit already into this season and it has turned out to be one of the best seasons ever with not even half way through it. It was early in the season that we suddenly were presented with the proposition of making it back to the place where we had the best three days ever in the Shikargah some 5 years back in Balochistan. A province that still holds the best wilderness and people that still hold tradition and culture dear like no other in the whole of this world (wish things don’t mix to the point that all the values and customs are destroyed forever in the name of modernization).
It was an offer that could not have been passed upon under any circumstances and we had to make the plans in a jiffy as a lot of travel was involved because we had to take our help from Azam’s village. As it were, it did turn out to be one of the largest detours we ever made making the journey more tedious but in the course memorable too. We were traveling in Ifti’s Rover that had ample space in the rear and hence we were able to take along three beaters, two dogs, tents, sleeping bags, our duffels and guns.
Azam, Ifti and I left Lahore early in the morning and gathered Raza and all the help on the way. We then went to Multan as we were being put up by the Bosans there, courtesy Raza. We reached real late to Sikander Saheb’s village and still had a real late night scrumptious meal. Stayed the night in their comfortable house and after breakfast next morning moved to DG Khan where we were to meet our host Mohsin Bhai for our onward journey to Rakni without wasting any time. We had tea in DG Khan and organized stuff and people in other vehicles accompanying us, from there on for the remainder of our journey and stay in the shikargah. The road from DG Khan to Fort Monroe and then on to Rakni was not only widened but carpeted nicely since our last visit and there were only a few patches that were being worked on.
Our journey after Rakni was three odd hours on a jeep track and Ifti’s and Mohsin Bhai’s Rovers and the Suzuki Jeep that was our kitchen proved their monies worth. The beautiful terrain and brush were exactly the same as we had left it and it was plain joy to pass through it again. I for one relished and savored every bit of it and the best part was that when we reached our local host’s place and our camping site just before sunset and right after dismounting the vehicles we were welcomed by the calling of grays from the beautiful brush and small ‘bay-ri’ trees hardly two hundred yards from us. Myself and Raza went after them to get some fresh partridge for dinner . A large covey was flushed and we got our fair share and then went another 100 yards farther only to flush some more and in turn getting some more. So in a matter of minutes we had enough to serve as a helping dish for that night’s dinner. Having a taste of what was on offer in the shikargah (for the next day and a half) we set off to clear a flat area to put up our tents and with it a small sitting area.
After our designated tents were erected we sat around for some chit-chat over paratha rolls and reminisced our precious trip and the cold wave that we had encountered (sent a shiver or two down the spine, just thinking) some five years back. This time we were traveling a bit earlier in the year then our last visit and the weather was pleasant and not severely cold. The dinner was served hot and the partridges were savored to the last bit with a bit of vegetables on the side. We hit the sack dreaming of the next morning and what it held for us.
Got up early the next morning to be greeted with grays calling from close and far and after having breakfast we started off to the East of our hosts’ fort. The brush was as pretty as before and so were the partridge that flushed in huge coveys and told a story of how the virgin pockets are supposed to be. It turned out to be the most rewarding morning of this shikar and saw some very nice shooting from all of us. Our host and Ifti had gone to enjoy mainly the outdoors only and the chit-chat that came with it and had left the shooting part predominantly to Azam, Raza and myself to which we did total justice. We switched two spots in the morning and they both turned out to be as good as we had left them.
After a couple of hours rest between the sessions (as the days were still considerably warm) and having the best lunch ever in the shikargah of sajji (would’ve been lovelier over dinner though) as a great chit-chat session was kept for the evening in lieu of Mohsin Bhai’s birthday that day. End of the day, lunch or dinner would not have made much of a difference as we did what was necessary to the sajji in any case.
Later we hit another spot that was about 30 mins away. The first 40 mins virtually saw little action but then when we went close to the high mountains we saw a mammoth of a covey of see see flush from 200 yards ahead of us without giving us a chance to shoot at them and then coveys of grays started to come out of the brush and fields and we had some great time. The evening bag was not as heavy as the morning bag but was no less as Raza late in the evening did some very good shooting. Satiated with the days’ outcome we now relaxed at the camp site over a few cold drinks and turned the music on in the middle of nowhere and had a ball of a time. Mohsin Bhai enjoyed the limelight and the evening was indeed in his honor. We slept late and since the next morning was our last morning in the shikargah we had to get up early.
Our local hosts were consulted and they briefed that certain areas were unsafe as there was some political unrest since Nawab Akbar Bugti’s assassination. We then proceeded to North West of our campsite which was a safer place and came under the hosts’ father and his second wife. This place turned out to be the best spot as the maximum number of partridges flushed but maybe due to hard partying, some poor shooting and uncertainty we were unable to capitalize upon it. We did mange to get a modest bag only and eventually retired to the campsite in rather disgust earlier than we would have done in any circumstance. Broke our camp and left for D G Khan after thanking our local hosts. Reached Mohsin Bhai’s place in Bahadurgarh in the evening and after a much needed hot bath had a wonderful signature dinner of smoked mutton and chatted late in the evening in his grand and modern ‘Mehman Khana’. Slept very well and got up leisurely the next morning and after having a hearty breakfast (as usual) thanked Mohsing Bhai for his grand hospitality and left for Muzaffargarh where there was a small chore regards my old jeep that had to be taken care of.
Then we set off to Azam’s village which was a rather long stretch and now felt like even more and on the way got a call from Azam’s manager on his lands near the river that the duck report was decent. We could not resist to the temptation to extend this shikar to the duck blind the next morning and after reaching late that night were up and in the blind. The ducks that passed us were okay in numbers but only a few decoyed on which we had a great time. We then hit Lahore leaving Raza behind and this ended a long, amazing and a worthwhile shikar.