I often hear people tease the tivs for their love of bush rat meat.
That is because you are yet to meet a bini man and you do not know his love for “ofinoto” or what the Kwales of Delta state will call “: Eletu”
For the tivs, to get bush rats, they set fire to a whole expanse of land, with the hope that the rats would be forced out, and while the rats are scampering for safety, they will be killed. Thus, to get a few rats, the tiv man may burn an entire bush.
Here lies the difference between the tiv man and the bini man
The modus operandi for hunting for bush rats varies.
The methods are as follows:
- CAGE METHOD
Here, the “hunter” sets up a cage to catch the rat. The cage has a spring holding the door and a long iron rod that is bent backwards and hooked with a piece of iron which holds the bait.
Usually, roasted maize or yam is use as bait. As the rat comes in to eat the food, it shakes the hook and the iron rod leaves the position. The spring ensures that the door snaps shut and the prey is caught alive
- THE SUICIDE METHOD:
Here, the hunter buries a piece of wood, firmly in the ground and passes a brake cable round it. He forms a loop with it and places the bait at the end of the stick which is slanted in position. To get to the food, the rat has to pass through the hook. As it passes through, the hook constricts it till it is helpless, more like committing suicide. The bad thing about this is that the rat may never get to the food before the rope pulls it.
But if the rat is from Ugbowo, it will avoid the rope and slide past under the stick to get to the bait.
- THE ASSAULT METHOD:
Here, the hunter takes the battle to the abode of the rat. A “reconnaissance” operation will indicate if it is the right spot to hunt. You will find palm kernel shells, bones, excreta and other evidence around the site of operation.
You have to be careful here because many times, snake may have entered the burrow, eaten the rat and taken over the place. Some brave folks will place their hands inside the holes and pull the rats out. If na snake dey there, OYO for thee o.
The other and safer method is to fill the hole with water. Bush rats do not like water, so when the water in its burrow becomes too much, it will come out. Or, you get a “pangolo”(tin) of milo or bournvita, with holes beneath it, fill it with burning coal(make sure there is no flame)
Continue blowing the embers. Rats do not like smoke. When it becomes too much, it will seek to escape. But if the rat na cultist, e go turn ,use “yansh” block the hole make smoke no enter.
While you are blowing the embers, be attentive and watch out where else smoke is coming out from. That is known as the “burst-out” hole. It is the escape route. Start digging the points between both ends
Be very careful. In the frenzy, you may hit someone’s leg with the stick/cutlass and the rat may escape unhurt. The other option is to grab the rat by the head and by the tai l(not the white part) and pull firmly). When you hear a snap, keep the rat aside. It is finished,
Either of the ways you choose, your rat is ready for consumption. The good thing is, everyone gets to have a share, no matter how small.
For many of us who partook in these expeditions, the memories are still fresh.