This is the story of a hunters from nearly sixty years ago, and how he got the better of one of the fiercest tigers man had ever encountered.
The hunter was my friend’s uncle – no, not the one that was chased by a tiger, and who got saved thanks to the timely intervention by Goddess Kali. This was another uncle – my friend has a lot of uncles.
This particular uncle was a famous shikari. His name was so well-known that the slightest whisper of his arrival in a particular jungle was guaranteed to send all the birds and animals into deep hiding for weeks and weeks. In fact, on numerous occasions, the Forest Department had recorded many examples of exodus of animal and birdlife just before his arrival, and a mass return just after his departure.
This particular shikar was no different. The uncle had already spent five days of his week’s leave in the Sunderbans, and he had not caught sight of a field mouse, or even heard the caw of a crow. He was aware that hundreds of beady eyes were staring at him from the cover of bushes and trees, peering at from behind every little khud and drain, but he just did not see a single animal.
On the last evening of his vacation, he was wandering about a few miles from the dak bungalow, feeling very morose. He carried his gun negligently under his armpit, kicking moodily at the bits of gravel which lay in his path, muttering unhealthy things under his breath. Suddenly, some sixth sense told him that the game was afoot! He quickly looked up, and there, stepping out of the undergrowth was a large tiger.
The uncle quickly whipped his gun down, rammed a couple of cartridges into the breech and kneeled down to the firing position. While he did all this in a couple of seconds, the tiger acted even faster. One look at my uncle had told the tiger that this was NOT his lucky day! why oh why hadn’t he paid attention to the jungle telegraph which had told him of presence of life-threatening danger? The tiger whipped around, jumped back into the undergrowth and ran in a wild zig-zag fashion to avoid the bullets that he knew the wily old shikari was going to send after him, like missiles.
However, little did the tiger know that the uncle’s bullets were indeed missiles, but of the very special, heat-seeking kind. His bullets didn’t travel in the classical parabolic paths of normal bullets. Once they had locked onto the target, they would relentlessly follow the unfortunate beast – if the beast did cartwheels, the bullets would follow; if they did hoolahoops, so would the bullets; if the animal did a barrel roll, so would the bullets.
That’s exactly what happened this time. The tiger, after running for four hours, stopped at a watering hole, completely exhausted. He had led the bullet such a merry wild chase that there was no way the bullet would find him, would it? The next moment, the bullet had indeed found him. The tiger barely had time to look up at the bullet as it paused at the edge of the watering hole – the next moment, the bullet had crashed through his forehead, and the tiger collapsed sideways, dead.