Port Elizabeth of Yore: Bush Buck Hunts at Bushy Park

The Lovemore clan can thank many of their predecessors for recording their family history. Two come to mind: Norman’s reminiscences of growing up in Swaziland and his wartime pilot in the WW1 Royal Flying Corps. The second person’s reminiscences are closer to home. Late in her life, Jessie Allan nee Lovemore recorded her life story which brings to life not only the family history but also the mores and activities as well as life in this era.

This blog deals verbatim with Jessie’s vignette on hunting at Bushy Park.

Main picture: Bush buck hunt at Bushy Park

I have a picture of 1867 depicting the results of a hunt on which are shown, my mother on her fine horse “Dorwood”, father with the then fashionable Dundreary Weepers (whiskers) standing next to her and holding a gun. His hat has a paauw feather in it and beside him were all the men who had been at the hunt, Mr Walford Harries, Willie Smith, Henry Deare, Orme Norris; the farm foreman, Masterton, and, lying on the ground, John Holland.  Near him was my brother Walter, about 6 years old, and on the other side of the group, brother Willie, about 4 years, holding a dog lying in an uncomfortable position.  Then there are Bob Pettit, Alphonse Taylor, Mr Mitchell, Alfred Ogilvie and George Hudson, dressed up for the occasion, native bearers, dogs, and many buck which had been shot.

The hunts took place on many occasions.  One was my parents wedding day, 6th August, and another Easter Monday.  Until I was an adult these took place, and as things have changed so much in later years, it may interest you to read how they were conducted.

The hunters who were invited were a regular party of old friends who were expected to come to all the hunts, and notabilities visiting Port Elizabeth were among them.  They arrived in carts bringing with them riding horses and a few dogs.  Then there was much talking and loading of guns on the wide stoep.  The guns were all muzzle loaders and powder were measured and poured down the barrels, then wads were put in and firmly rammed with a ramrod, which had a metal holder in the hollow between the barrels.  After that loopers or buckshot was measured and poured in and again wads were put in and rammed.  Putting the cap on the nipple was usually reserved until away from the house.

Then, with a great bustle, the horses and carts and (riding) horses were brought round and all set off for the appointed bush.  My father would give each man his station, and care had to be taken that no one should shoot across another.  Only one accident happened that I ever knew of, and that was caused by the man leaving his place and creeping between the monkey ropes through the bush, when he was mistaken for a buck.  He received a few loopers which did not cause a serious wound.  It caused a great deal of excitement seeing a man being lifted out of a wagon and carried into the house and put to bed.  Soon dear old Dr. Ensor was there and took out the pellets – ant there was B L O O D!! on some rags!

We, the women of the family (when I grew older, I was allowed to go) were taken in carts to the place where the warriors would assemble for lunch, and there was a great deal of chaff and fun.  Liver was grilled and there were cold chicken pies and coffee.  If any special boyfriend (present day language) was there, there was much interest in his experiences and prowess, and among the older men were many practical jokes – tickling a sleeping man with a feather, etc.  There was a short session in the afternoon and then, with Hurrahs and thanks and dividing the spoil, our friends drove away to town and we to the farm.

End of a happy day!

The usual hunters who lived in Port Elizabeth presented to father a large silver urn on which all their names were engraved, in memory of happy days hunting.

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