Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

April 17-20, 1936

Six hours on pony-back, over flat country and Magat river–which may be forded only at this time of year–then over low rolling country to a ranch leased from the Government by Dosser and Beulan; they have about one thousand head of cross-bred Hereford and Indian stock, which are the finest cattle I have seen in the Philippines. The altitude was only some one thousand feet; there is plenty of water and the whole country is ideal for grazing, resembling California in the old days. Hunting from the 17th-20th April 1936. We were posted on hills with “draws”–i.e., wooded valleys above streams which were beaten by Ifugao and Filipino hunters: very picturesque they were, with lots of their jackal-like dogs. The deer came out running at a distance of 150-200 yards–and were hard shots. We got 8 in all, and one sizeable boar was bayed by dogs and speared by the Ifugaos. We saw parrots, jungle fowl, monkeys and orioles, in the most beautiful imaginable scenery. The men caught a fifteen day old fawn (which we have brought down to Manila and are keeping in the yard). At the bathing creek near the ranch house, where the average depth of water is six inches, there is a hole about fifteen feet deep dug by the crocodiles which come thirty kilometers up in the mountains by the small streams discharging into the Magat River. They take occasional calves from the ranch. We saw no wild carabao, tho always expecting them. One crowd (!) (Batangas Transport) was near there the week before and had killed two cimarrones. The administration of the game laws by the Bureau of Science is ridiculous–it should be transferred to the Constabulary and have some teeth put in it.

There is a great scarcity of game since my day 20 years ago altho it is now supposed to be a closed season for 3 years, except for those who hold special licenses in the Mountain Province. We spent three golden days perched on hill tops watching the beaters and their dogs in the draws below–with the shouting, calling and fusillade from above when a deer appeared. Doria stood the “roughing it” and the physical strain magnificently–thirst was the worst feature of all–the temperature must have risen to 130° in the sun, and we had no effective method of keeping water cool in the canteens. The ponies did prodigies in carrying us up high hills over rough cattle trails–one of these little stallions does twice as much work as a stable-fed horse at home. I was ill with indigestion all the time, and made the grade with difficulty. Pleased by the abundance of song birds–(unusual in the Philippines) and by the hoarse shouts of the kalaw (hornbill).

Terrific heat, dust and hours of real thirst on the drive hack to Balete.

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