Pheasant Kalij (lophura leucomelanos)known as Kalij inNepali, is a favourite game bird of the Nepalese people.It has been hunted for thousands of years. Farmers usually hunt them down with guns and snares because they are considered as an invasive species as they consume and disperse seeds of invasive species.The other reason for this species of bird being hunted so wildly is the high quality of meat. Hunting is also a favorite past time and I guess most Kalij hunters are into it not because of the meat or plumes but for the thrill and excitement in it.
Various methods of hunting are practiced in Nepal and we will try to inform you about them as we go on. The first and foremost method of hunting practice in Nepal will be dealt with in this post.
It starts with finding out the nesting place of this bird. Hunters go into the forest and try to find the droppings of the birds under the trees. If they find fresh droppings under a tree, they get confirmed that the birds/bird nest/s above. Nesting doesn't mean that the birds build a nest on a tree like other birds but they just perch on the branches and sleep for the night. Usually, and unless threatened, these birds nest on the same tree. For your information, the droppings of Kalij are exactly the same in color and size with that of hens and cocks. A cock Kalij is black in color whereas the hen is brown. X2X6ERZ5D64R
Another method of finding a Kalij's dwelling is going into the jungle in the evening and squatting quietly under the bushes or behind trees and listening. Listening all the jungle sounds....intently. When this listening habit develops you will be able to distinguish all the sounds of birds and animals running under the bushes towards their homes. If you don't listen any sounds of movement, then you might get startled when the Kalij suddenly takes to flight from three feet beyond you....hehe. Yeah, this Kalij is known to be the greatest hider, it will try to hide from you even when you are stoning at the bush where you feel it has hidden itself.
Whatever....... around sunset, the bird hops up to the branch of its choice. If there are lots of them and are unaware of your presence, they might start calling out to their friends and they sure make a lot of noise when they feel secure, usually during the time of their nesting. This moment, I feel, is the most enthralling moment for a hunter; you are hidden somewhere and you see a hell of a lot of these birds flying into the foliage.
So, this is how the hunters track down the tree and become specific on the branches also because the branch the bird is perched on may not be seen or found later when it gets dark. When the hunter gets sure about, on which branch which bird is perching for the night, then he can come later to shoot it down or if he has brought his gun with him then out of mercy he can shoot instantly as soon as the birds start nodding off. The common practice is that usually people think hunting a sleeping creature is not ethical so you will have two choices; shoot it down as soon as it perches on a branch (and it is a bit risky; the Kalij also has one pair of eyes and it can fly away , seeing you aiming a gun at it) or you can ignore everything about ethics and shoot it down later when it has fallen into a deep sleep.
The most interesting thing is that if the bird is in a deep sleep, it will not fly away even when the bullets whiz through nearby its ears or neither from the loud bang of the gun cutting through the stillness of the jungle at night. We have even shot at a Kalij about 12 times, loading and missing, loading and missing but it was still there......in deep sleep....... as if teasing us.
If the hunters plan to shoot down the pheasant late in the night then they have one preparation which is very essential...a powerful torchlight. The torch light that has a pin point focus is considered as the best. The hunter goes below the tree restricting himself from making loud sounds. ....finds the best place to shoot from. The angle from where you can view the bird's torso is the best angle but if other birds are nearby, the hunter may decide to shoot from such an angle so that the pellets hit the most number of birds.......hmmmmm...
The shooter might point the torch himself or if he has an assistant, the assistant(Light man) points the torch from behind the shooter's shoulder, along the barrel of the gun and straight to the bird above. The others, if there are any, get scattered below the tree up to 30 metres wide in an arch ........they wait in suspense...when the shooter's gun clicks and comes the BANG ?
The bang comes and might shake the other hunters' heart if they were not prepared for it. Immediately after the bang, if the bird has been hit then there comes a THUD!!! on the ground and that means it is spot dead and the hunters can rejoice but if there is no thud then the hunters remain quiet to listen whether the bird flew away or not..... if not then they can start loading another round in their Bharuwa Banduk. Sometimes it also happens that after the bang the bird might fly for some distance and fall on the ground so keeping quiet at the time of the shooting is very important because the hunters can listen in which direction it has flown and about how far it has fallen, because if they don't do that then searching a fowl in the jungle under the bushes at night and finding it lying dead there is completely impossible.
Once we found a shot bird, that we had been searching for about two hours, in an area where no one had guessed. It was about fifty meters down from where we were searching and it was mainly because of luck that we found it....we decided to go home that way...tired and hungry and utterly disappointed with the thought that 'there lay our game and some villager would find it the next day in broad daylight'.
When the hunters find the dead bird then it's pure enjoyment and celebration. The shooter plucks out some feather from the dead bird and does some puja to make the Gods of the Jungle happy ...that's just a formality and we don't need to be a priest or anything to be able to do that. Just say to the jungle that 'Thanks for this game..... we hope you will let us have more of such trophies......and protect us in the jungle!!!'
Then the hunters go home happily !!!!!