I was Executive Engineer for five years at Tongho, our then frontier station. We had as many as 80 Government elephants in the Pheel Khana, and as these had to go considerable distances for their daily char ah, the surrounding country, soon after the rainy season set in, became a mass of pitfalls, rendering the ground almost impossible for horse or foot to go over.
As I had elephants of my own I could always go about, and more often than not took one or two men with me. One day I was out alone, and had visited the best snipe grounds within a radius of five miles without scarcely seeing a bird. I sat down on a bund, and whilst deploring the bad prospect before me I noticed a small herd of buffalo going along in single file. They passed me, crossed a shallow sheet of water, and entered a forest. Where buffaloes go to graze there is sure to be some marshy spot; I brightened up a bit, and followed. I thought I knew every inch of the country, and never dreamt of there being a marsh in the midst of a forest, but within a couple of miles I came upon a quin or clearance in the forest; it was about two miles long, and perhaps three-quarters of a mile broad. In this the buffaloes commenced to feed. I put my elephant into it, and up rose a wisp of some dozen snipe and lit again close by. I was off my steed in no time, and better sport I never had. I had just got out my first breech-loader, a pin-fire by Westley Richards, and not expecting much sport had not brought very many cartridges with me. The birds lay well, and pitched again within fifty yards. The walking was easya it was evident it had never been shot over before, and in a very short time, and before I had gone over half the marsh, I had expended all my cartridges and had 39J couple of birds to show. Within a few days afterwards I took Lloyd, the Deputy Commissioner, with me. We began to shoot about eleven, and left off at four, with a short interval in the afternoon for lunch and rest. Lloyd had then 36J couple of birds, and I had 36 couple. Going homewards on the elephants, two snipe got up, and I bagged them both with a right and left. The truth is, I lived so much on elephant-back in those days, and for years afterwards, that I could shoot almost as well off one as I could on foot.