By Lt Col Masood Alam (retd), 2nd SSC
Editor’s Note: Lt Col Masood Alam (Retd) is from Air Defence. After the retirement, he has settled in Karachi.
During my posting at Sargodha (1995-99), I became friendly with Col Hameed, Commandant, Remount Depot Sargodha. One day he asked me to come over to his residence by 2000 hours sharp. He told me that there was a surprise waiting for me. When I reached at his house he was waiting at his gate along with a civilian friend who was carrying a rifle. There were others persons too with rifles. Two tractors were also standing right at the entrance of his house.
Col Hameed was quite amused on seeing me quite surprised. He said, “This was the surprise for you. See these rifles and the tractors. We are going for wild boar hunting.This would be a special type of hunting for which you will have to sit on a tractor”.
He introduced his civilian friend and told me that he was a great hunter and has shot many wild boars in Sargodha and Jhang. He had even made his rifle according to his requirement. I noticed he had an old .303 fitted with a telescope. I shook hand with him and said, “Nice to meet you. It will be a privilege to see your hunting skills”.
Col Hameed said, “Col Masood, you come along with me on this tractor”. The “great hunter” sat on the other one. This was my first experience to sit on a tractor. I did not know where to sit as there was no seat except one for the driver. I looked inquisitively towards Col Hameed, he got the joke and said, “You will have to sit on the mud guard”.
He then mounted the tractor and sat on the right side mud guard. I sat on the left side mud guard. So off we went. The tractor ride was pretty tough. The movement was cross-country. Every time the tractor moved over a hump or undulated ground I used to hold the mud guard tightly and tried to balance my body so that I may not fall down. After some time we reached the marshy area behind Artillery Brigade. All of a sudden I heard some noises from where the other tractor was and then our tractor swung with a jerk towards the left side and moved on full throttle with full lights on. There I saw some wild boars. They were running for their safety. Our tractor was running at quite a speed. The hunting was not a fun for me as I was scared to death, thinking that I will fall down and come under the big tyres of tractor. But being an Air Defender, I could not speak it out and expose my weakness. I held on to the mud guard with all my might and was not concerned about the shooting which was going on.
On the other hand Col Hameed was sitting very comfortably as if he was sitting in his staff car. After some time the shooting stopped and the tractor came to a halt. I took a long breath and thanked God that I was still intact. Then I heard a loud cry from the civilian friend:
No wild boar was visible. A search was launched but nothing was seen. All the wild boars had entered the Saroot (wild growth) where tractor could not enter and no hunter would risk his life by going into the wild growth as he might fall prey to the waiting boars. The ‘champion hunter’ also joined us and was trying to convince us that he had injured two of them but still both managed to run away. He also blamed the tractor driver that he did not turn the tractor in the right direction.
Col Hameed did not discuss the matter but only said to his civilian friend:
After being disappointed and blaming each other for the poor show Col Hameed asked the tractor driver to move to a area behind CMH. It was a plain area with plenty of holes all around and I thanked God because now the ride was much better. Here Col Hameed told m,e “Now you will witness rabbit hunting, we have rabbits in abundance in this area”.
Now the hunters got down the tractors and walked forward, I followed them. Then a few shots were fired and all the lights on the tractors were put on but no rabbits were visible, may be their ‘informers’ might have announced the arrival of the Commandant and all the rabbits had gone in their barrows to show their respect to the Commandant. After all, the area and land belonged to the Remount Depot.
Once we returned empty-handed, a sumptuous dinner was arranged by Col Hameed which made the hunters forget their poor show and made me forget the agony of tractor ride. But even today when I remember that tractor ride, I close my eyes and thank God that he saved me from falling down and going under the big tyres of the tractor.
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