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Across Mongolian Plains by Roy Chapman Andrews

We only killed pheasants when on the way back to camp


One

of our men carried my shotgun and we killed half a dozen pheasants on the way back to camp. The birds had come into the open to feed, and small flocks were scattered along the valley every few hundred yards. We saw about one hundred and fifty in less than an hour, besides a few chuckars.

I have never visited any part of China where pheasants were so plentiful as in this region. Had we been hunting birds we could have killed a hundred or more without the slightest difficulty during the time we were looking for pigs. We could not shoot, however, without the certainty of disturbing big game and, consequently, we only killed pheasants when on the way back to camp. During the day the birds kept well up toward the summits of the ridges and only left the cover in the morning and evening.

Our second hunt was very amusing, as well as successful. We met the same party of Chinese hunters early in the morning, and agreed to divide the meat of all the pigs we killed during the day if they would join forces with us. Among them was a tall, fine-looking young fellow, evidently the leader, who was a real hunter--the only one we found in the entire region. He knew instinctively where the pigs were, what they would do, and how to get them.

He led us without a halt along the summit of the mountain into a ravine and up a long slope to the crest of a knifelike ridge. Then he suddenly dropped in

the grass and pointed across a canyon to a bare hillside. Two pigs were there in plain sight--one a very large sow. They were fully three hundred yards away and on the edge of a bushy patch toward which they were feeding slowly. Smith left me to hurry to the bottom of the canyon where he could have a shot at close range if either one went down the hill, while I waited behind a stone. Before he was halfway down the slope the sow moved toward the patch of cover into which the smaller pig had already disappeared. It must be then, if I was to have a shot at all. I fired rather hurriedly and registered a clean miss. Both pigs, instead of staying in the cover where they would have been safe, dashed down the open slope toward the bottom of the canyon. At my first shot all eight of the Chinese had leaped for the empty rifle shell and were rolling about like a pack of dogs after a bone. One of them struck my leg just as I fired the second time and the bullet went into the air; I delivered a broadside of my choicest Chinese oaths and the man drew off. I sent three shots after the fleeing sow, but she disappeared unhurt.

One shell remained in my rifle, and I saw the other pig running like a scared rabbit in the very bottom of the canyon. It was so far away that I could barely see the animal through my sights, but when I fired it turned a complete somersault and lay still; the bullet had caught it squarely in the head.

Meanwhile, Smith was having a lively time with the old sow. He had swung around a corner of rock just in time to meet the pig coming at full speed from the other side not six yards away. He tried to check himself, slipped, and sat down suddenly but managed to fire once, breaking the animal's left foreleg. It disappeared into the brush with Smith after it.


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