My Apingi Kingdom - Paul du Chaillu

Hunting from Canoes


The palaver being settled to the great joy of every body, the people said I must leave to hunt with the dogs, as antelopes had been seen the last few days on the neighboring plantations. So, early in the morning, all the dogs of the village were collected together, and a number of hunters from other villages had also come with their dogs. We had altogether more than twenty dogs in the pack, and anticipated a very exciting time. The Apingi forming the hunting party were armed with spears. As soon as the party was ready, we set out for a plantation not far from the bank of a river or creek; which ran near the village, and where antelopes were supposed to be quite plentiful. The little canoes of the Apingi were in readiness, with paddles in, at different places on the river bank, for it was supposed that some of the antelopes would be driven into the water by the dogs.

So we started, Remandji and the villagers wishing us good luck. We tramped away through the jungle, and in less than an hour reached a plantation of cassada (manioc), the leaves of which antelopes and gazelles are very fond of. This plantation was not far from the river. The dogs started off, and soon we heard them barking. The barking became loud and eager; it came nearer and nearer, and we knew the dogs must be after an antelope. They were evidently making toward the river, near which our party was posted. There was no time to be lost. We must hurry to the river side, and enter the canoe, to be ready in case the animal should plunge into the water to escape to the other side. I tell you, we went double-quick. Hollo! hollo! a cry of pain escaped from me, for the prickly branches of a long, thorny brier were round my leg. In my eagerness to go fast, I did not perceive it until it tore my pantaloons, and some of the thorns stuck into my legs. At last I got clear of it and hurried on. Okabi followed me closely. We soon came to the banks of the river. A superb antelope, with a magnificent pair of horns, was already in the water, and the infuriated dogs were after her. The last of the pack were just plunging in, and those that were in the water were swimming as fast as they could in pursuit. Three canoes were already in the water, the Apingi paddling as fast as they could toward the antelope. I jumped into a canoe with Okabi so impatiently that I almost lost my equilibrium. The canoe rocked from side to side, and for a moment I thought it was all over with me, and that I was going to be upset, gun and all, into the water, which, by the way, was very deep there. Then good-by to my hunting for that day. Okabi uttered a loud cry, in the hope, I suppose, of averting the danger. But the little canoe became steady once more, and I seated myself on the bottom. It was an old affair, and leaked like an old basket, and having no seat, I got very uncomfortably wet. Never mind, I thought, the antelope is ahead of us. "Hurry, Okabi!" I shouted. "Hurry up! we must catch the antelope! We must kill it; we must carry off the honors of the hunt!" Okabi did not need any pushing; he felt exactly as I did, and we both paddled with all our strength. Three spears lay ready at the bottom of the canoe by my side. The chase became more and more exciting; nearer and nearer we came to the antelope. We soon passed one canoe, but two were still ahead of us, and these were not far from the antelope. "Hurry, Okabi!" I shouted. The fellow paddled as if his life was at stake, and by this time was covered with perspiration. We at last passed the two canoes. We were ahead of every body. The antelope, which had been carried by the current down the river, was nearing the shore. As soon as we were near enough, I cried out to Okabi to stop. He obeyed, steadying the canoe with his paddle. I took up my gun, and aimed at the antelope. There was danger that if I missed it, I might kill one of the dogs. I took my chance, and fired. The ball hit the antelope in the right place, and the water was reddened with its blood. I fired again, but the canoe rocked a little just as I pulled the trigger, and the ball missed the mark. By this time the antelope had struggled to land, but as it came out of the water it dropped dead on the bank. The excited dogs sprang barking about the body, and we had the greatest trouble to drive them away.

We returned to the village, where we were welcomed with shouts of joy. I took a hind quarter for my share, and gave the rest to Remandji to divide among his people.