For heavy game-shooting, I do not think there can be a much fairer standard for the charge of powder than one-fifth the weight of the ball for all bores. Some persons do not use so much as this; but I am always an advocate for strong guns and plenty of powder.
A heavy charge will reach the brain of an elephant, no matter in what position he may stand, provided a proper angle is taken for attaining it. A trifling amount of powder is sufficient, if the elephant offers a front shot, or the temple at right angles, or the ear shot; but if a man pretend to a knowledge of elephant-shooting, he should think of nothing but the brain, and his knowledge of the anatomy of the elephant's head should be such that he can direct a straight line to this mark from any position. He then requires a rifle of such power that the ball will crash through every obstacle along the course directed. To effect this he must not be stingy of the powder.
I have frequently killed elephants by curious shots with the rifles in this manner; but I once killed a bull elephant by one shot in the upper jaw, which will at once exemplify the advantage of a powerful rifle in taking the angle for the brain.
My friend Palliser and I were out shooting on the day previous, and we had spent some hours in vainly endeavouring to track up a single bull elephant. I forget what we bagged, but I recollect well that we were unlucky in finding our legitimate game. That night at dinner we heard elephants roaring in the Yall?river, upon the banks of which our tent was pitched in fine open forest. For about an hour the roaring was continued, apparently on both sides the river, and we immediately surmised that our gentleman friend on our side of the stream was answering the call of the ladies of some herd on the opposite bank. We went to sleep with the intention of waking at dawn of day, and then strolling quietly along with only two gun-bearers each, who were to carry my four double No 10's, while we each carried a single barrel for deer.
The earliest gray tint of morning saw us dressed and ready, the rifles loaded, a preliminary cup of hot chocolate swallowed, and we were off while the forest was still gloomy; the night seemed to hang about it, although the sky was rapidly clearing above.
A noble piece of Nature's handiwork is that same Yall?forest. The river flows sluggishly through its centre in a breadth of perhaps ninety yards, and the immense forest trees extend their giant arms from the high banks above the stream, throwing dark shadows upon its surface, enlivened by the silvery glitter of the fish as they dart against the current. Little glades of rank grass occasionally break the monotony of the dark forest; sandy gullies in deep beds formed by the torrents of the rainy season cut through the crumbling soil and drain toward the river. Thick brushwood now and then forms an opposing barrier, but generally the forest is beautifully open, consisting of towering trees, the leviathans of their race, sheltering the scanty saplings which have spring from their fallen seeds. For a few hundred yards on either side of the river the forest extends in a ribbon-like strip of lofty vegetation in the surrounding sea of low scrubby jungle. The animals leave the low jungle at night, passing through the forest on their way to the river to bathe and drink; they return to the low and thick jungle at break of day and we hoped to meet some of the satiated elephants on their way to their dense habitations.
We almost made sure of finding our friend of yesterday's trek, and we accordingly kept close to the edge of the river, keeping a sharp eye for tracks upon the sandy bed below.
We had strolled for about a mile along the high bank of the river without seeing a sign of an elephant, when I presently heard a rustle in the branches before me, and upon looking up I saw a lot of monkeys gamboling in the trees. I was carrying my long two-ounce rifle, and I was passing beneath the monkey-covered boughs, when I suddenly observed a young tree of the thickness of a man's thigh shaking violently just before me.