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Title: The Complete English Wing Shot
Author: Teasdale-Buckell, G. T.
Language: English
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                          THE COMPLETE ENGLISH
                               WING SHOT

                        UNIFORM WITH THIS VOLUME

                       THE COMPLETE MOTORIST
                       THE COMPLETE GOLFER
                       THE COMPLETE PHOTOGRAPHER



                       COMPLETE ENGLISH WING SHOT

                         G. T. TEASDALE-BUCKELL


                   NEW YORK: McCLURE, PHILLIPS & CO.
                         LONDON: METHUEN & CO.



When the publishers asked me to write a book upon Shooting and its
interest, I at first doubted whether I knew enough of the matter to fill
a book of much size without repeating all the traditional lore that is
to be found in every unread text-book, but I had no sooner undertaken
the business than I came to a conclusion that has since been confirmed,
that to deal as best I could, with the kind help of many sportsmen, with
the controversial subjects would have taken the whole space at my
disposal for any one of them. Consequently, ever and again I have had to
decide what to eliminate, and I have tried to leave out that which most
people know already, and to deal as best I can in short space with
questions that are now more or less under discussion, and consequently
those that game preservers and shooters in this and other countries are
thinking about. It has been very difficult to draw a line between the
controversial and current subjects and the unchallenged facts which have
been too often repeated already, but that this is the right principle
is, I think, obvious from the position that the opposite course would
involve. What is meant can be best explained by glancing at a few
traditional survivals in gunnery and shooting, and its accompanying
unnatural history, which, along with many others, would occupy space if
one were to attempt to deal with all the accepted, as well as the
repudiated, statements upon them. Nobody wants to be told that he should
put the powder into a cartridge-case before the shot, but to begin at
the beginning would involve the necessity of giving that and other
puerile information. Nobody would be the better for a learned chapter on
gun actions. In the first place, these actions are no longer patents,
they are open to anyone who likes to use them, and consequently the days
when one selected a gun-maker because his patent action was conceived to
be the better, are long gone by. The reason is that each gun-maker can
be trusted to use the best principle when he has a choice of them all,
or at least the best available for the money to be expended upon its
making in the gun. Ejectors are nearly in the same position; but single
triggers are not. I was so fortunate as to make a discovery in regard to
single triggers that is now acknowledged to be of great assistance to
the gun trade; the want of it had for a hundred years been the
stumbling-block to the patent single triggers that had begun to trouble
gun-makers in the time of the celebrated Colonel Thornton. That is
referred to in its proper chapter, because single triggers now occupy
the place that formerly actions held, and at a later date ejector
systems usurped, in assisting to the selection of a gun-maker.

To begin at the beginning in the repudiation of frequently accepted
fallacy possibly would not compel a reference to the sometime beliefs
that hares change their sex; that skylarks fall into snakes’ mouths
after their skyward song—a statement that troubled Mr. Samuel Pepys,
who, as Secretary to the Admiralty under two protectors and two
monarchs, and as a member of the Royal Society, should have been in a
position to get the best information. Nor would such a beginning involve
the repudiation of the belief once held that bernicle geese turned into
“bernacle” molluscs, or _vice versâ_. But it would oblige an author to
enter into repudiation of the oft-stated belief that nitro powder is
quicker than black powder, although big and heavily charged caps have to
be employed for the nitro, whereas the small were amply sufficient for
black powder. One would also be obliged to point out that the
oft-repeated prophecy, that the smallest stock of grouse bred the better
August crop, has been doomed to disaster always, and that precisely the
reverse is true. However, there are still people who by what they say
must be judged to hold to the unproved proposition that the stones breed



It would be necessary also to point out that some parrot cries are a
hundred years old and at least forty years out of date, but are still
repeated as if they were original and true. Some of these are that
pointers have better noses than setters, and also require less water;
that cheese affects dogs’ noses (sanitation by means of carbolic acid
does so, but cheese is harmless enough); that Irish setters have more
stamina and pace than any others. The latter statement I have seen
disproved for forty years at the field trials in this country, and the
former has always failed to find corroboration at the champion stamina
trials in America. I have had great chances of forming an accurate
opinion, as I entered and ran dogs at the English championship trials
over thirty-six years ago, and I am the only one who has ever judged at
the champion trials of both England and America.

It would be necessary also to repudiate the mistake that “foot scent” is
something exuding from the pad of an animal and left upon the ground by
the contact of the feet. It would be necessary to affirm that fat from
the adder is not the best cure for the poison when dog or man is bitten,
but that raw whisky taken inwardly in large doses is; and as dogs will
sometimes point these vipers, it might be well to affirm that these
creatures do not swallow their young, as is commonly supposed. It would
be necessary also to state that when partridges “tower” they are not
necessarily, but only sometimes, hit in the lungs, but have often
received a rap on the head just not enough to render them totally
unconscious; and a case has lately been reported where two unshot-at
partridges in one covey “towered” and fell, and were caught alive, grew
stronger, and upon one of them being killed it was found to be badly
attacked by enteritis, and not by lung disease. And consequently the
myth about “towered” partridges always falling dead and on their backs
does not require dealing with, as might have been the case a quarter of
a century ago, when nevertheless the phenomenon was only misunderstood
in the laboratory, and not in the field of sport.

It is hardly necessary to assert that “pheasant disease” as commonly
seen in the rearing-fields is not fowl enteritis, as it is so often said
to be, because the foster-mothers are hardly ever affected by any
illness when their chicks are dying by hundreds of _the_ disease. _The_
pheasant disease has never been subjected to pathological examination
and investigation.

To start at the beginning would make it necessary to state that the
“muff ’cock,” or the bigger woodcock, that comes in a separate
migration, is not the hen of the smaller birds, and that distinction can
only be made between the sexes by internal examination of the organs. It
might be necessary in similar circumstances to say that woodcock and
snipe do not live on suction, as is often believed even now; that
nightjars and hedgehogs neither suck the milk of goats nor cows; that
foxes do not prefer rats and beetles to partridges and pheasants; that
swallows do not hibernate at the bottom of ponds; that badgers do not
prefer young roots to young rabbits; that ptarmigan and woodcock are not
mute, and that the former do not live on either stones or heather; that
badgers can run elsewhere than along the sides of a hill, and that they
are not compelled, by having the legs on one side shorter than on the
other, to always take this curious course, which would involve them in
the difficulty of having to entirely encircle a hill before getting back
to their holes; nevertheless, this faith is still held in some parts of
the country, just as it is said that the heather bleating of the snipe
is a vocal sound, whereas it is often made simultaneously with the vocal

I have tried to avoid dealing with any such things as these, which may
be supposed to come within the region of common knowledge of any
beginner in shooting, but another point has troubled me more. I have
written a good deal for the press. Articles of mine have appeared in
_The Times_, _The Morning Post_, _The Standard_, _The Daily Telegraph_,
_The County Gentleman_, _Bailey’s Magazine_, _The Sporting and
Dramatic_, _The Badminton Magazine_, _Country Life_, _The Field_, _The
Sportsman_, _The National Review_, _The Fortnightly Review_, _The
Monthly Review_, and elsewhere, and I am afraid that I have
unconsciously repeated the ideas running through some of these articles,
without acknowledgment to the various editors.

As Colonel Hawker went to school in gunnery to Joe Manton, so did Joe
Manton go to school to Hawker in the matter of sport. But we have
changed. That those who make guns can best teach how to make guns I do
not doubt for a moment; that when they write books on the making of guns
those books are regarded as an indirect advertisement is inevitable, but
they are none the worse for that, if readers know how to read between
the lines, and it is not necessary to go to a shooting school to do
that. But when gun-makers add to their business by means of books upon
sport and by “shooting schools,” they are turning the tables on us. To
that I have no objection. But when it is asserted that shooting schools
teach more than the sport itself, as has lately been done, then I think
it is time to protest that even if they could teach shooting at game as
well as game teaches it (which is absurd), that even then they cannot
teach sportsmanship, of which woodcraft is one part and the spirit of
sport and fellowship another.

But the greatest value of sportsmanship is, after all, that idle man
should be the more healthy an animal for his idleness. Consequently,
when shooting parties are made an excuse for more smoke and later nights
than usual, even if the shooting is not spoiled next day, less enjoyment
of life follows, and lethargically apparent becomes the missing of that
perfect dream of health, that reaction after great exertion ought to
bring to those who have ever felt it.

It is often said that big bags have ruined the sporting spirit. That is
not so: big bags are necessary proofs that the science of preservation
of game is on the right lines, and their publication is also necessary
on these grounds. At the same time, it is a fact that hard walking is
not appreciated as much as it was thirty years ago, and ladies can now
take just as forward a place in the shooting of game and deer as men can
or do. This is not all because ladies are better trained physically, but
because sports have been made much easier, than formerly they were.
Bridle-paths enable ponies to traverse the deer forests with ladies on
their backs, and where that can be done deer stalking is not quite what
it was when a Highland laird declared that he saw no use in protecting
the deer, since nobody could do them much harm. But the wonder to me is
not that we do not like great exertion, but that we ever did like it for
itself. But then I speak as a man in years, and one who has in the
foolishness of youth killed a stag and carried home his head, cut low
down, for sixteen miles, rather than wait for the tardy ponies to bring
it in with the carcase.

I suspect that a change of ideas will take place when it is discovered
that driven-game shooting can, more than any other, be learnt at the
shooting schools, and that when the trick is known it becomes the
easiest kind of shot. If it is true that the schools can teach it, then
everybody will learn it, and what is common property will become as
unfashionable as it is the reverse at present. I believe that half the
difficulty in the driven bird is in thinking it is difficult. The
fastest bird at 30 yards range one is likely to meet with in a whole
season does not require a swing of the muzzle faster than, or much more
than half as fast as, a man can walk. What is difficult in driven game
is shooting often, the swerve of the game, the changes of pace and angle
of different birds in quick succession, but distinctly not the pace.
Before I had ever seen a grouse butt, I remember sitting down to watch
another party of shooters on a distant hill, more than half a mile up
wind of where I sat to watch. I saw their dogs point, and a single bird
rise, which, with many a switchback as it came, I watched traverse the
whole distance between us, and I killed it as I sat. That was my first
driven grouse, but it is not by any means why I say that driven game
offers the easiest kind of shooting; it is because the average of kills
to cartridges are so much better than they are in other kinds of
shooting. Take, for instance, double rises at pigeons, which are easy
compared with double rises at October grouse, and it will be noted that
the crack pigeon shots do not generally kill even their first double
rise at 25 yards range, and that four or five double rise kills are
nearly always good enough to win, as also very often is a single double
rise with both birds killed. Very moderate grouse drivers can do better
than that, and pheasants that are not very high are slain in much
greater proportion. The fact is that all shooting is extremely difficult
if one attempts to satisfy the most severe critic of all, namely the man
who shoots. But at my age I would much rather think myself fit to do a
day’s hard walking than a day’s hard shooting. I think there are a good
many people of that opinion, otherwise dog moors would not make more
rent per brace than the Yorkshire driving moors, but they do. The
trouble is that places where birds will lie to dogs are limited, and it
is childish to drive packs of birds away for the sake of thinking one is
shooting over dogs when one is not shooting at all, but only doing
mischief. Personally, I would not try to shoot over good dogs on
Yorkshire grouse. Bad ones would not matter; but then they would give me
no pleasure.

When it was a literary fashion to abuse covert shooting as butchery and
grouse driving as no sport, it was not done by sportsmen of the other
school; and later, when the literary genius of the period was turned in
the opposite direction, and we were constantly being told that a walk
with a gun and dog was pleasant but no sport, it was only done by those
who were a little afraid of being out of the fashion. I have been so
unfashionable as to defend both by turns, and I have always been of
opinion that any sport which appeared to be growing unpopular was worthy
of the little support I could give it. It will probably greatly surprise
those who dare not, with imaginative pens, shoot at the tail of a bird,
to be told that Mr. R. H. Rimington Wilson recently informed me, that if
he were to back himself to kill a number of shots consecutively he would
select driven birds in preference to walked-up game; and besides, that
he preferred to be let loose on a snipe bog to his own, or any other,
big driving days. My opinion has been that you can always make any sort
of shooting a little more difficult than your own performance can
satisfactorily accomplish to the gratification of your own most critical

Driving game and big bags are often, but not always, acts of game

On this subject I had written a chapter, but fearing that I had not done
that view justice, after a conversation I had with Captain Tomasson, who
has Hunthill and is the most successful Scotch grouse preserver by the
all driving method, I asked him to criticise some articles I had
previously written in the _Field_, the sense of which I have tried to
express again in the following pages. He very kindly did so, or rather
stated the case for the Highlands, which I have substituted for mine. It
only differs in one respect from the sense of my own suppressed
chapter—namely, it does not remark on the difficulty of explaining why,
if recent Scotch driving has partly defeated disease, even more
Yorkshire driving, prior to 1873, nevertheless preceded the worst and
most general Scotch and English disease ever known. However, everyone
will argue for himself: I can only pretend to present a mass of facts to
assist a judgment, but not a quarter of those I should like to give have
I room for, and I regret that Captain Tomasson is even more restricted
by space.

I have shot over spaniels in teams and as single dogs, but as I consider
that I know less of them than Mr. Eversfield, who probably knows more
than anyone else, I asked him to read and criticise my article, which he
promised to do. But in returning it he has professed himself unable to
criticise, and very kindly says that he likes it all, so I leave it,
being thereby assured that it cannot be very wrong.

There is one subject connected with shooting, or the ethics of shooting,
about which there is much more to be said than ever has been
attempted—namely, that partridge preservers are now, and will be more in
the future, indebted to the fox for their sport. This may appear a wild
paradox, but before I am condemned for it I would, in the interests of
the gun, ask those who disagree to read my chapters on partridge
preserving, where, if they still disagree, they will find a partridge
success described that will amply repay their good nature, unless they
know a plan by which season’s partridge bags can be doubled, doubled
again, and then again, in three consecutive years.

On the subject of dogs, I may say that thirty to thirty-five years ago I
recommended to some American sportsmen three different sorts of setters.
Either two of them had bred well together in England. These have been
crossed together ever since in America, and no other cross has been
admitted to the Stud Book devoted to them. They have been a revelation
in the science of breeding domestic animals, for, in spite of all the
in-breeding represented there, I was enabled to select a puppy in 1904
that in Captain Heywood Lonsdale’s hands has beaten all the English
pointers and setters at field trials in 1906. I have more particularly
referred to this in a chapter on English setters, and in another on
strenuous dogs and sport in America.

I have already tendered my thanks, but I should like publicly to repeat
my indebtedness, to those who have lent me the best working dogs in
England for models, or have sent me photographs of them and other
pictures. These include Mr. Eric Parker, Editor of _The County
Gentleman_, Mr. W. Arkwright, the Hon. Holland Hibbert, Mr. Herbert
Mitchell, Mr. C. C. Eversfield, Mr. A. T. Williams, Captain H. Heywood
Lonsdale, Mr. B. J. Warwick, the Editor of _Bailey_, Mr. Allan Brown,
and the President of the world’s oldest established, and National, Field
Trial Society, namely Col. C. J. Cotes, of Pitchford Hall, who has sent
me some photographs of his, and his late father’s, Woodcote pointers and
retrievers, including an original importation of 1832, and founder of
his present breed of the latter race, and in doing this he has been kind
enough to say:—

“I have always considered you to know more about the breaking and
breeding of setters than any man living, and that it was entirely
through you that the apex of setter breeding was reached about
twenty-five years ago, and through your recommendation I obtained the
eight setters in 1881 that founded my present breed.”

I am glad to be able to quote this, because my name is little known to
younger shooters, although I write many, preferably unsigned, articles
upon rural sports and other matters.

                                                             G. T. T.-B.


 ANCIENT ACTIONS                                                       1


 ANCIENT AND MIDDLE AGE SHOOTING                                      13

 ON THE CHOICE OF SHOT GUNS                                           23

 SINGLE-TRIGGER DOUBLE GUNS                                           52

 AMMUNITION                                                           56

 THE THEORY OF SHOOTING                                               63

 THE PRACTICE OF SHOOTING                                             69

 FORM IN GAME SHOOTING—I                                              76

 FORM IN GAME SHOOTING—II                                             82

 CRACK SHOTS—I                                                        88

 CRACK SHOTS—II                                                       94

 POINTERS AND SETTERS                                                101

 THE POINTER                                                         126

 ENGLISH SETTERS                                                     139

 STRENUOUS DOGS AND SPORT IN AMERICA                                 151

 THE IRISH SETTER                                                    160

 THE BLACK-AND-TAN SETTER                                            168

 RETRIEVERS AND THEIR BREAKING                                       176

 THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER                                              191

 SPANIELS                                                            195

 GROUSE THAT LIE AND GROUSE THAT FLY                                 204

 RED GROUSE                                                          214

 METHODS OF SHOOTING THE RED GROUSE                                  235


 PARTRIDGE BAGS AND DRIVING                                          259

 VARIETIES AND SPECIES OF THE PHEASANT                               267

 PHEASANTS                                                           274

 BRINGING PHEASANTS TO THE GUNS                                      292

 SHOOTING WILD DUCKS ARTIFICIALLY REARED                             302

 WILD WILD-DUCK                                                      308

 RABBIT SHOOTING                                                     318

 HARES                                                               323

 SNIPE                                                               329

 WOODCOCKS                                                           335

 BLACK GAME                                                          341

 PIGEON SHOOTING                                                     347

 DEER IN SCOTLAND                                                    354

 BIG GAME                                                            358

 A VARIED BAG                                                        361

 DISEASES OF GAME BIRDS                                              370

 INDEX                                                               377

                         LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS

 H.M. THE KING AS A BOY                                   _Frontispiece_

     From a photograph lent by ERIC PARKER, Esq.


     From Daniel’s _Rural Sports_, 1802.

 WARTER PRIORY. LORD SAVILE SHOOTING                        〃         32

     From a photograph by Mr. H. LAZENBY, York.


   FAR OVERHEAD BEFORE BEING SHOT AT                        〃         66

   TO THE BUTTS ON THE BOLTON ABBEY MOORS, 1906             〃         69

     From a photograph by Messrs. BOWDEN BROTHERS.

   HAND THAN WHEN SHOOTING                                  〃         70

     From a photograph by Messrs. BOWDEN BROTHERS.

   LEFT HAND                                                〃         72

     From a photograph by Messrs. BOWDEN BROTHERS.

   THE BACK POSITION OF THE LEFT HAND                       〃         74

     From a photograph by Messrs. BOWDEN BROTHERS.

 WARTER PRIORY. LORD DALHOUSIE                              〃         80

     From a photograph by Mr. H. LAZENBY, York.

 AT WARTER PRIORY. LORD LOVAT IN THE DALES                  〃         84

     From a photograph by Mr. H. LAZENBY, York.

   TWICE WON THE FIELD TRIAL CHAMPION STAKE                 〃        101

     From a photograph by the AUTHOR.

   H. HEYWOOD LONSDALE’S IGHTFIELD DUFFER                   〃        101

     From a photograph by the AUTHOR.

   POINTING, AND BACKED BY PITCHFORD RANGER                 〃        106

     From a photograph by Messrs. A. BROWN & CO.,

   MR. ARKWRIGHT                                            〃        126

     From a photograph by the OWNER.

   HIGHER AND FEEL THE SCENT                                〃        126

     From a photograph by the Owner, Mr. ARKWRIGHT.

   LEADER, DESPATCH, AND LARGO                              〃        127

     From photographs by the OWNER.

 THE SPANISH POINTER                                        〃        128

     From a painting by G. STUBBS, engraved in
       Daniel’s _Rural Sports_, 1802.

   MANY MODERN WHOLE-COLOURED POINTERS                      〃        129

     From an engraving by RICHARD PARR, after a
       picture by G. H. LAPORT, in _The Sporting
       Magazine_, 1834.

   POINTERS                                                 〃        132

   RANGER ON LORD HOME’S LANARK MOORS                       〃        133

     From a photograph by the AUTHOR.

   RANGER ON THE RUABON HILL                                〃        133

     From a photograph by Mr. ALLAN BROWN, Ruabon

   HILL                                                     〃        134

     From a photograph by Mr. ALLAN BROWN, Ruabon

 FIELD TRIAL WINNER PITCHFORD BANG                          〃        134

     From a photograph by Miss GLADSTONE.


     From a photograph by the AUTHOR.

   RUABON HILLS                                             〃        135

     From a photograph by Mr. ALLAN BROWN, Ruabon

   LORD HOME’S MOORS IN LANARK                              〃        135

     From a photograph by the AUTHOR.

 THE FIRST OF SEPTEMBER, by F. C. Turner                    〃        139

     Showing the character of the black-and-tan
       setter before the bloodhound cross.

 THE ENGLISH SETTER, by Reinagle                            〃        144

     From Scott’s _Sportsman’s Repository_, 1820.

     With the exception of an ill-drawn hind leg and
       near fore foot this is the correct formation.
       The model had the shoulders, head, back, and
       back ribs, rarely seen now except in
       hard-working dogs.

   THE SPRING OF 1906                                       〃        145

     From photographs by the OWNER.


     From a photograph by Messrs. A. BROWN, Lanark.

   CAPTAIN H. HEYWOOD LONSDALE                              〃        149

     The former was victor on Lord Home’s Moors near
       Lanark, in July 1906, over all English-bred
       pointers and setters. The latter was winner of
       the Puppy Stakes at the same time.

     From a photograph by the AUTHOR.

   PICTURE AT WOODCOTE                                      〃        176

     The dog was whelped in 1832, and presented by
       Mr. Portman to his owner. From this dog is
       descended the field trial winner, Col. C. J.
       Cotes’ Pitchford Marshal, and his Monk, an
       intermediate generation. This dog is more like
       the dogs at Netherby 45 years ago than is the
       present race of Labradors.

     From a photograph lent by the OWNER of the

   FIELD TRIAL WINNER                                       〃        177

     From a photograph lent by the OWNER.


     From a picture lent by the OWNER.

   FIELD TRIAL RETRIEVER DON OF GERWN                       〃        180

     From a photograph presented by Col. J. C. COTES.

 MR. A. T. WILLIAMS’ DON OF GERWN (LIVER-COLOURED)          〃        181

 MR. LEWIS WIGAN’S SWEEP OF GLENDARUEL (BLACK)              〃        181

   RETRIEVERS, 1901                                         〃        191

     From a photograph presented by the OWNER.


     From a photograph presented by the OWNER.


     From a photograph presented by the OWNER.

   BREAKER HARRY DOWNES                                     〃        193

     From a photograph presented by the OWNER.

 THE HON. A. HOLLAND HIBBERT AND MUNDEN SINGLE              〃        193

     From a photograph presented by the OWNER.

   AQUALATE FOR A HUNDRED YEARS.                            〃        198

   BELONGING TO MR. A. T. WILLIAMS                          〃        199

     From a photograph by Messrs. BOWDEN BROTHERS.

   C. C. EVERSFIELD                                         〃        199

     From a photograph by Messrs. BOWDEN BROTHERS.

   HIGH CLIFF                                               〃        274

     From a photograph by Mr. H. LAZENBY, York.

   THIRTEEN POINTER                                         〃        354

     From a photograph by Mrs. SMITHSON.

   38–INCH SPAN                                             〃        354

     From a photograph by Mrs. SMITHSON.

   POINTS                                                   〃        355

     From a photograph by Mrs. SMITHSON.

 A TYPICAL NEW ZEALAND ROYAL HEAD                           〃        355

     By permission of the Editor of _County

   SMITHSON                                                 〃        356

     From a photograph by Col. SMITHSON.

   SMITHSON                                                 〃        356

     From a photograph by Mrs. SMITHSON.

                           THE COMPLETE SHOT

                            ANCIENT ACTIONS

By far the greatest inventions in gunnery have been made by chemists.
The cleverness and boldness of many wonderful inventions for loading at
the breech all aimed at the well-nigh impossible. The powder was always
ignited from without, and had to be either partly or quite loose in
order to facilitate ignition by means of external fire. That is what
beat the inventors of five centuries, who were for ever trying to find a
breech-loader, a revolver, or a magazine weapon. In default of these
working satisfactorily, they tried weapons with seven barrels, and
others with fewer. But it was all to little purpose; the detonator had
not been discovered by the Rev. A. J. Forsyth, and the chemist to the
French army of Louis XV. had not then invented fulminate of mercury.
Consequently a closed-up cartridge containing its own means of ignition
was impossible, for although detonating substances were known years
before, they were such as did not always wait to be detonated—in other
words, they were not stable. They were too dangerous for use, but
nevertheless the attempts made at breech-loaders, and especially at
magazines, were more than equally dangerous. One weapon had eight
touch-holes in eight positions in the barrel, which was eight times
charged, one load and charge upon top of the next. That nearest the
muzzle was fired first (if the weapon was ever fired at all), and so on,
down to that nearest the breech. What prevented the first igniting the
rest, and sending all off together with a burst weapon, is not known. If
they did not go off all together, one would suppose the firing of
several loads in succession would give to those loads in the breech the
best ramming ever known. But for this ramming to excess this invention
went very near to a more perfect success than any modern magazine
weapon. The trouble with all the latter is what to do with the empty
cartridge-case. But this old weapon had no cartridge-case. Its ignition
was from the outside, and was always ready. It is true that the
difference of length of movement of shot within the barrel would make
some difference to the velocity of each shot, but not more than would be
equalised by a very small extra dose of powder for those charges nearest
the muzzle.

Another form of repeater was a breech-loader which carried several
charges of powder in the stock, which, in turn, were shaken into a
revolving chamber, in front of which, before it was in place for firing,
the bullet was inserted for each load, as its turn came round. Other
repeaters were simple revolvers, much like the weapon in use now, but of
course used without cartridges of self-contained ignition material.

Indeed, the ingenuity expended on breech-loading before the advent of
detonating powder for ignition was really greater than the more modern
efforts to do a much more simple thing. At the same time, had they
succeeded, as they very nearly did, by doing without a removable
cartridge-case, they would have accomplished that which is still
required for the perfect working of magazine and automatic weapons.

The most elaborate of all the old repeaters was a revolving
double-chambered German weapon. It had ten chambers, and each of these
carried two charges, with a touch-hole for each. The majority of the old
breech-loaders had movable blocks on the principle of the Martini, but
instead of the hinged blocks being solid, as in that weapon, they were
mostly hollowed out to take the charge and the bullet; sometimes held in
a cartridge, but generally with the powder loose, and always loose when
in the chamber, in order that there should be free communication with
the touch-hole.

Sometimes the barrel was hinged in order to drop down at right angles
with the stock, and this was really the forerunner of our drop-down guns
of to-day, which are consequently some centuries old in principle, and
had it not been for the absence of detonators there would have been
nothing left for the nineteenth century to invent.

It has been said that the Prussians were first to take up the principle
of the breech-loader for war, but that refers only to the detonated
modern breech-loader. Some of the soldiers in the American War of
Independence were armed with the breech-loader already mentioned, in
which the trigger guard unscrewed the opening into the breech; but
although this invention was possibly the soundest in joining of all the
old ones, it was slow, and probably was not much used for that reason.

The Venetians had ships armed with cannon as early as 1380 A.D., and in
Henry VIII.’s reign the wrecked _Mary Rose_ carried _breech_-loaders,
designed on a principle which may possibly have suggested the wire guns
of the present. The tube of iron or brass (for both were used) was
surmounted by rings of iron which had evidently been slipped over the
tube and hammered on while red-hot. These then contracted upon cooling,
and pinched the bore smaller, so that, intentionally or not, the bore
was made to expand to its original size upon an explosion occurring
before any stress was put on the metal of the internal surface by the
powder-gas. That is to say, all the first part of the strain went to
expand the rings on the outside of the gun before the inside had
reassumed its natural dimensions; or, in other words, the tension
between the external big circumference and the internal small one was
equalised, just on the same principle as it is in the latest big guns.
This is known, because some of the _Mary Rose’s_ big guns were got up
from the sea about half a century ago. She was over-weighted, and it is
quite probable that her loss had a good deal to do with teaching the
nation that before everything a warship must be handy, so that, when the
Spaniards sent their great ships to fight Elizabeth, her smaller craft,
and Britain’s uncertain weather, between them sank or squandered the
whole Spanish fleet.


Italy has the credit of the invention of the pistol, which came into
being soon after the designing of the wheel-lock and the rifling of
barrels. Caminelleo Vitelli of Pistoia made the first about 1540. It was
in the manufacture of these small weapons that gun-makers from this date
to the beginning of the nineteenth century excelled. The workmanship was
generally of a high order, and the ornamentation, especially of some of
the German specimens, was extremely artistic.

Moreover, during the flint and steel age, some double-barrelled pistols
were built with two locks and only one trigger. Although these weapons
worked quite perfectly, it must not be assumed that the makers of these
pistols could have made a double shoulder gun to work satisfactorily
with but one trigger. That difficulty was overcome at the end of the
nineteenth century; but even then the clever designers had not
discovered exactly what the former trouble was, and it was freely stated
in a way that is now known to have been wrong. Indeed, the author was
the first to discover the real reason for the involuntary second pull
and double discharge. As this phenomenon did not occur in pistols, but
did so in shoulder weapons, it apparently seemed easy to trace the
cause. Very early in the nineteenth century, dozens, and since then
hundreds, of designers and patentees have set out with the announcement
that they had discovered the true cause of the trouble, and met it with
a patent. As the latter were always badly constructed, it may be assumed
that the patentees were wrong in their diagnosis. As a matter of fact,
they were, as was proved when the author published the true cause of
involuntary pull in _The County Gentleman_, and for a time had to meet
alone the hostile criticism of most of the gun trade, the members of
which now admit the truth of those criticised statements. Although the
true reason must be dealt with under the heading of single-trigger guns
and rifles, it may be briefly stated that the success of the
single-trigger double-barrelled pistol was not because of its more
feeble explosion, as was supposed, but because the recoil continues long
enough to allow the will of the shooter to gain command of his muscular
finger action, before the check to recoil occurs. Whereas, with the
shoulder gun, the finger which has let off the first lock flies back as
the trigger is carried from it by recoil, and this sustained muscular
action cannot be stopped by the will as quickly as the gun recoil is
lessened by the shoulder. Consequently, we involuntarily give a second
pressure to the trigger, without knowing that we have ceased giving a
first. This want of perception of what we ourselves do is caused partly
by quickness of the recoil, and partly because the recoil relieves the
pressure, and our wills have nothing to do with the matter. Or, to be
more correct, we pull off the trigger once intentionally, but are unable
to cease pulling when the trigger has given way. Consequently we
unconsciously follow up the trigger as it jumps back in recoil, catch up
with it, and involuntarily pull it again without knowing that we have
let go, or had the trigger momentarily snatched from us.

It is clear that the understanding of this principle was as necessary to
designers of automatic repeaters as it was to makers of double-barrelled
shot guns, and yet the Mauser repeating automatic pistol and the Webley
Fosbery automatic revolver were invented, with some others, before the
reason of the involuntary pull had been discovered; and more than that,
the author had tested the Mauser with its shoulder stock satisfactorily.
But no satisfactory automatic rifle had been then invented, and the
trouble with them was to prevent the sending forth of a stream of
bullets when only one shot was wanted. The greater force being dealt
with, had brought into action the difficulty of the involuntary pull.
This has now been overcome; but still there are other difficulties which
have been treated less satisfactorily, and those who are ambitious to
use automatic weapons will be wise to confine that ambition to the many
pistols and the revolver in the market. Repeating shot guns are
lumbering tools, from which disqualification the automatic weapons are
little likely to be free. Still, it is quite possible that a gunner
could shoot more birds out of a single covey with one automatic gun than
with two double guns. But what of it? The aim of the gunner is not
merely to shoot at one covey, but to keep on shooting fast for perhaps
half an hour. The thing that stops very fast shooting is not loading and
changing guns, but heat of barrels, and consequently to make these
single barrels equal to the doubles there must be four of them in place
of two doubles, and six of them in place of three ejectors. The time has
not yet come when anybody wants to employ three loaders to carry six

There is some reason to prefer the automatic principle for pistols and
revolvers, because the user’s life may often depend upon the quickness
of his shots at an enemy, but there is less reason for their use in
military rifles, and actual disadvantage for sporting rifles and shot
guns. The author has shot the Mauser, the Colt, and the Fosbery with
satisfaction to himself. The latest invention is a sliding automatic
pistol of .32 gauge invented by Messrs. Webley. But no automatic pistol
can be as reliable as the service revolver, or as the Fosbery, since a
sticking cartridge or a misfire disables any of them.

It is often said that these spring actuated actions, on which the barrel
slides back, give less recoil than others, but in practice this is not
so, and in science it could not be so, although it is stated in the last
Government text-book that they reduce recoil.

The principles on which it is sought to make automatic rifles are as

1. To actuate an ejector, magazine loading, and closing action by means
of gas obtained from a hole in the barrel.

2. To actuate the same movements by means of recoil and rebound of the
sliding barrel on to an independent stock grooved to carry the barrel,
and fitted with a spring.

3. To actuate the same movements by means of allowing the whole weapon
to recoil on to a false heel plate spring, and rebound from it.

4. By allowing a short sliding recoil of the barrel to make the bolting
action slide farther back on to the stock and a spring, and to rebound
from them.

Several of these principles have been employed in conjunction in this or
other countries. The recoil is made to compress a spring, which by
re-expansion completes the work of closing up the rifle, when it does
not stick and fail, as in all specimens of automatic rifles has occurred
at intervals.

All nations are now armed with magazine repeating rifles, but none have
yet adopted automatic loading for rifles. The choice between the various
magazine mechanisms is a mere matter of taste, but the shortening of the
British national arm to 25 inches seems to have been done without regard
to the fact that no rifle of 25 inches can compete in accuracy with an
equally well-made and an equally well-loaded weapon of 30 inches,
although it may compete favourably with the discarded Mark II.
Lee-Enfield, which was improperly made and also badly loaded.
Unfortunately, our prospective enemies are not embracing the faults of
the Mark II., but are adhering to a rifle instead of a carbine. That is
the correct term to employ to describe the new weapon.

The carbine of any period has generally been equal to the rifle of the
preceding decade, but it has never yet been equal to the rifle of its
own decade, and never will be.

Miniature rifles for amateur soldiers in the making are very numerous.
The best cheap one the author has handled is the rifle with which Mr. W.
W. Greener won the _Navy and Army_ competition, which was managed by the
author. What is here meant by a low price is £2, 2s., and under. The
rifle was used with peep sights. But better advice than naming any maker
is this. All the makers profess to put a group of seven shots on to a
postage stamp at 50 yards. They all employ expert shooters who can do
this if it is to be done. Buy the rifle with which they do it in your
presence, and it will then be your own fault if you cannot perform
likewise. This test of a single rifle is quite satisfactory; but a
double rifle has to be dealt with differently, as is explained in
another chapter. Of course, it is a mistake to shoot a rifle from any
sort of fixed rest; the weapon, when loose in the hands, bends its
barrel, or flips, jumps, and also recoils, and it is good or bad
according as it does accurate work under the action of all these
influences. A rest to steady the arms is quite permissible, but a vice
to hold the rifle is not.

Once Mr. Purdey expressed the opinion that he could learn as much from
his customers as they could from him. The author thought this so shrewd
a remark, that, having a knowledge of the many good sportsmen and
big-game hunters who employ the weapons of the Messrs. Holland &
Holland, Messrs. John Rigby, and Messrs. Westley Richards, he wrote to
each of them to ask their opinions of the best bore and weight of rifle,
sort and weight of powder, sort and weight of bullet, and velocity of
bullet to be expected, for each of the following animals, as if each
were the only object to be pursued by the sportsman. He stated at the
same time, that compromise to meet the requirements of several, or many,
of these animals he regarded as a personal and individual matter to the
sportsman. He pointed out also that in asking for opinions he knew that
he was asking for a consensus of opinion of the past customers of the
firms in question. It is interesting to compare the views of each maker
as to the best rifle to use for everything, from a rook and rabbit, to
an African elephant charging down on the gunner, and requiring the
frontal shot. What is intended is the very best weapon to have in hand
at the moment, if there were nothing else to be considered. Mr.
Holland’s reply is as follows:—

                                        “98 NEW BOND STREET, LONDON, W.,
                                                “_October 11th, 1906_

“DEAR MR. TEASDALE-BUCKELL,—It is impossible in the space of a short
paragraph to go thoroughly into the question of the best bore, weight of
rifle, etc. etc., best suited to each kind of game. A good deal must
depend upon the conditions under which the rifle is used, the
capabilities of the sportsman, etc., but taken generally the rifles
mentioned below are those we have found to give the best all-round
results, and our opinion is formed upon the reports received from a
large number of sportsmen, including many of the best known and most
experienced game hunters.

“_Rooks._—.220 or .250 bore.

“_Rabbits._—.250 bore; weight about 5 to 6 lbs.

“_Red Deer, Scotch._—(1) .375 bore double-barrelled; weight 9½ lbs. (2)
.375 bore sporting magazine rifle, Mannlicher-Schonauer for choice;
weight 7½ lbs. (3) .375 bore single-drop block; weight 7½ lbs.; velocity
about 2000 ft.; charge 40–43 grains of cordite or its equivalent; 270
grains bullet, either soft-nosed solid or hollow point.

“_Chamois._—Same as for Red Deer, also .256 Mannlicher.

“_African Antelopes._—.375 bore as above.

“_Indian Deer._—.375 bore as above.

“_Moose, Wapiti, and big 35–50 stone Deer of Hungary, etc._—.450 bore
double-barrelled rifle; weight 10½ lbs.; charge 70 grains of cordite
powder or its equivalent; bullet soft-nosed solid 370 or 420 grains;
velocity about 2000 ft.

“_Lions._—(1) 12 bore Magnum Paradox; weight 8–8½ lbs.; charge of
smokeless powder equivalent to 4½ drams of black powder; 735 grains
hollow-point bullet; velocity 1250–1300 ft. (2) .450 cordite rifle same
as for Moose, etc.

“_Tigers, from houdah or machan._—12 bore Paradox; weight about 7¼ lbs.;
charge equivalent to 3¼ drams of black powder; 735 grains bullet;
velocity about 1100 ft.

“_Lions and Tigers, followed up on foot._—12 bore Magnum Paradox.

“_Elephant, Buffalo, etc., in thick jungle._—10 bore Paradox; weight 13
lbs.; nitro powder charge equivalent to 8 drams of black powder, in
solid drawn brass case, solid nickel-covered bullet 950 grains.

“_Elephant, Buffalo, in more open country._—.450 cordite rifle same as
above; charge 70 grains cordite or its equivalent; nickel-covered solid
bullet 480 grains.”

Mr. Rigby replies as follows:—

“_Rooks._—.250 bore, shooting usual Eley or Kynoch cartridge.

“_Rabbits._—.300 bore, shooting usual Eley or Kynoch cartridge.

“_Red Deer, Scotch._—Double-barrel hammerless .303; shooting cordite and
split-nose bullets; weight of rifle about 8 lbs.

“_Chamois._—Mauser-Rigby magazine rifle with telescope sight; weight of
rifle 7½ lbs.; Mauser 7 mm. cartridges with split bullets.

“_African Antelopes, Indian Deer, Ibex, and Tibet Wild Sheep, Lions and
Tigers._—.350 bore Rigby double barrel; weight 9¼ lbs.; cordite
cartridge giving 2150 f.s. m.v.; bullet 310 grains, split and soft nose,
or Mauser-Rigby magazine shooting same ammunition; a grand rifle.

“_Eastern Elephants, Eastern Buffalo, African Buffalo, African
Elephants._—.450 high velocity cordite double barrel; weight 11 lbs.;
bullet 480 grains m.v. 2150 f.s.”

Mr. Leslie B. Taylor replies for Messrs. Westley Richards thus:—

                                               “BOURNBROOK, BIRMINGHAM
                                                   “_October 13th, 1906_

“DEAR MR. BUCKELL,—I regret that I could not give you the information
earlier, being up to my eyes in work. I have filled in the sizes I think
suitable for each kind of game gathered from our clients’ own opinions
formed from experience. You will notice that in some cases I have
mentioned the .450 high velocity rifle. As regards India, this rifle
will now be unavailable; a recent alteration of the shooting regulations
excludes the .450 bore, which like the .303 cannot be imported into that
country for private use.

“The new accelerated express rifle .375/.303 will no doubt, on account
of its being associated in the minds of the officials with the actual
.303 bore, come under the same ban. But this is a powerful rifle, as you
will gather from the enclosed particulars, and when used with the capped
bullet becomes a most formidable weapon, and has been satisfactorily
employed against Tiger.

“I have just introduced a new extension of the accelerated express
system .318 bore, 2500 feet velocity, 250 grains bullet, muzzle energy
3466 ft. lbs., and this ranks only second to the .400 bore rifle. It is
remarkably accurate, and as it is used in conjunction with the
copper-capped expanding bullet, it will take the place of the .450 bore
now prohibited.

“I merely give you these particulars, as you will see that very shortly,
if the Indian regulations continue in force, as I have no doubt they
will, the other information might be considered out of date.—Yours very

                                                       “LESLIE B. TAYLOR

“_Rooks._—.250; some prefer .297/.230, a similar one.

“_Rabbits._—.250 or .300; latter preferred if country will permit.

“_Red Deer, Scotch._—Many sizes are used, from .256 Mannlicher; the .360
high velocity is effective. For those who prefer a very flat trajectory
superior to the Mannlicher, the new accelerated h.v. .375/.303 is taken.

“_Chamois._—Nothing less than .360; the .375 with copper-capped bullet
is very effective, although the .256 is often used: it is found not to
kill the beast.

“_African Antelopes._—.360 and nickel-capped bullet, a .375/.303
accelerated express; many sportsmen are using the .303 with
nickel-capped bullet.

“_Indian Deer, Ibex, Tibet Wild Sheep._—.256 Mannlicher, Mauser .275,
also .360 and .375 bore with capped bullet; some use ball and shot guns
12 bore.

“_Lions and Tigers._—.360 to .450 h.v. express; the new .375/.303 has
proved successful at Tigers with the capped bullet.

“_Eastern Elephants._—The best weapon I know, of which I have the most
excellent accounts, is the .577 h.v. rifle, 100 grs. cordite and 750
grs. solid and capped bullet.

“_Eastern Buffalo._—.360, .400, and .450 h.v. express.

“_African Buffalo._—.450 h.v. express and .577 h.v. express.

“_African Elephants._—The .577 .100/.710; some use the .450, but the
former is a most deadly weapon.

“I have just received information from an African sportsman that he has
shot an African buffalo with a Westley Richards 12 explora, the horn
measurements of which are strikingly fine, and promise to be a record.”

In reply to further questions, Mr. Holland writes as follows:—

                                                   “_October 13th, 1906_

“DEAR MR. TEASDALE-BUCKELL,—I don’t think it necessary to distinguish
between African and Indian elephants. No doubt the former is more
difficult to kill with the frontal shot, but you must try and get
another shot; then, again, the 480 grain (450) bullet gives enormous
penetration, and probably would penetrate the head of an African
elephant as well as any bullet you could use. For a charging elephant,
there is nothing like the big bore for stopping, or at any rate turning
the animal. Velocity: it is a curious thing that we appear to get
_practically_ the same elevation with the 375 (450) bullet as the 480
gr. one, and practically the same velocity. We attribute this to the
extra weight of the 480 gr. offering more resistance to the powder, and
thereby setting up higher pressure, greater heat, though practically
making the powder do more work.

                                                          HENRY HOLLAND”

It may be said that at this moment velocities are undergoing radical
change, due to the improved powder Axite, and that one maker offers
rifles giving to the 303 bullet a muzzle velocity of 2700 f.s. This
means a greater stride than that from the express to the high velocity
rifles, and if it is accurate, then trajectories have been very much

In reply to a still further question, the following is a reply that
explains itself:—

                                                   “_October 15th, 1906_

“DEAR MR. TEASDALE-BUCKELL,—I have your letter of the 12th inst. With
regard to the .500/.450, I think I said 2000 ft.; it should have been
about 2100 ft. As a curious confirmation of the above, I may point out
that in Kynoch’s book on the ballistics of various rifles, it gives 2150
ft. as the muzzle velocity of a .450 bore rifle with 70 grains cordite
and 480 grains bullet, whereas with 70 grains powder and 420 grains
bullet it gives the muzzle velocity as 2125 ft.

“The muzzle velocity of a 950 grains bullet from a 10 bore Paradox,
nitro powder, is 1500 ft. The bullet is made either of solid hardened
lead or steel cored; see the enclosed illustrations of the latter. With
regard to the rook and rabbit rifles, the .220 shoots 3 grains powder
and 30 grains bullet, and the .250 7 grains powder and 56 grains bullet.
Solid bullets for rooks, and hollow-point bullets for rabbits.—Yours

                                                         “H. W. HOLLAND”


It is difficult to know where to start an account of the early history
of shooting. The long-bow was used in deer shooting, as also was the
cross-bow, and if we may believe the early artists—and I do not see why
we should—deer running before hounds and horses were shot from the
saddle with the cross-bow, and the arrow went in behind the neck and out
at the throat. The artists of old were obviously as imaginative as Royal
Academicians when it came to sport. For instance, nearly every picture
of a woodcock or snipe on the wing, including one of J. W. M. Turner’s,
puts the beak of the bird sticking out in front, on the principle of
“follow your nose”; but every woodcock and snipe treats even Turner with
contempt, and hangs its beak in spite of the greatest master of English
landscape. Mr. Thorburn makes no such mistake, but even he has made a
couple of cock partridges court one another; and it is really very
difficult to believe in the accuracy of artists such as the delineators
of the Bayeux Tapestry, where five men may be seen applauding Harold’s
coronation and with only eight legs between them, most of them clearly
disconnected with the men.

When, therefore, we see drawings of the fourteenth and fifteenth century
people engaged in smiting down flying birds with an arrow from a
cross-bow, we may be permitted to believe that an ideal has been drawn,
and that most of those who tried to kill birds in flight in time learnt
to prefer the falcon or the net. Even stricken deer that the Middle Ages
artists show us shot through the neck from behind must have had totally
different habits from their present-day relatives, because it is not the
habit of pursued deer to hold up the neck but to carry it horizontally
at such times, so that the back-to-throat arrow would be possible only
from above.

It is less difficult to believe the writing in the _Master of the Game_
and its French original than to believe the pictures with which the
latter was adorned—probably long afterwards, by someone who had not the
authority of the author.

Artists were not then sportsmen, but in Assyria they obviously were so.
In the British Museum room devoted to that ancient kingdom, in low
relief may be seen much that is looked for in vain in the technically
superior sculpture of the classic periods of Greece and Rome. That is to
say, the actual feelings and characters of the beasts are conveyed in
the outlines. The horses were obviously of precisely the same character
as the arabs and thoroughbreds of to-day. They are not obstinate brutes,
little better than mules, like the ponies of the Parthenon, which all
lay back their ears _at_ their masters, but, on the contrary, the
Assyrians are generous, high-spirited beasts that fight _with_ their
masters, pursue in spirit with them, and fight with ears laid back only
when they are face to face with a lion, and going to meet him. The
artists saw it all, or they would have blundered in the expression of
the horse, which is mostly in his ears, but they never blundered. Surely
this was the first shooting recorded, and whether it was done by bow and
arrow or by hurling the dart matters nothing. It is the most ancient and
the most authentic of all the ancient records of sport. If it were
untrue, it would be the most contemptible, because the most flattering
art. But it bears internal evidence of its own truth, and that the
country of Nimrod produced mighty hunters, for which there is also
Biblical evidence; no race or nation of sportsmen has since been able to
boast similar sportsmanship. For man and horse to face a charging lion
and kill him with a spear, or dart, is to place sportsmanship before
human life; and even David, who killed a lion and a bear, did not do
that, but merely defended his flocks, probably in the only way open to
him. He was a mighty shepherd and a mighty king, but not a “mighty
hunter,” and “no sportsman,” as the story of the one ewe lamb proved.

It is a long jump from Nimrod to the hunting in the New Forest, which
was obviously as much shooting as hunting, when Rufus was killed by an
arrow, meant, or not meant, for a hart. Whether there ever were outlaws
named Robin Hood and Little John does not matter, because fiction is
always based on fact, or it does not live a day. The fiction or fact of
the great shooting of the king’s deer by these outlaws has lived seven
hundred years, and it is more easy to believe that there were many
generations of such poachers and highwaymen than that there were none at
all. The highest office in the land was then one of robbery, and it is a
poor king who has not some subjects who will offer him the sincerest
form of flattery, namely imitation.

Gunpowder is said to have been invented in China many years before it
was re-invented in Europe. We are apt to marvel that no explosive was
made use of before, but learning was very much in the hands of the
priests at a time when the latter class was especially sincere, and when
the people were full of superstition or belief. It may be, then, that
the first discoverers of gunpowder for conscience’ sake made no use of
what must have appeared to be an invention of the Devil. Such inventors,
if there were any, might have been the more disposed to this course
because the stuff was clearly as destructive to its users as to an
enemy, until the building of guns had progressed for many years.

It is not quite certain in which battle was first employed gunpowder—a
fact which indicates that it did not do much for its side. It appears to
have been the guns that were weak, not so much the powder, which was
probably very much the same when used by Henry VIII. as black powder is

It is, moreover, not certain that guns were any better at Waterloo than
they had been in the time of Elizabeth. The reason for this was the want
of good metal. It is a known fact that thickness of metal becomes
useless after a certain point is reached, so that iron and brass guns
could not be made to take enormous charges of powder and heavy shot
without bursting. This might have been done by making them very long and
using a slow burning powder, but that way out never seems to have been
thought of until recently. The reason modern big guns will take such
enormous pressure as the big charges behind heavy shells give, is,
first, that they are made of steel, and second, because the tension on
the steel internally and externally is equalised by a very clever
method. The guns are built up by being bound in wire in a heated state,
so that when this wire cools it contracts the internal tube as it
contracts itself. This being the case, when an explosion takes place in
the finished gun, it has to overcome the wire contraction on the outside
of the gun before the internal tube can begin to expand beyond its
natural size. That is how a thickness of metal is made serviceable, and
prevents a bursting of the internal surface before the external bigger
surface is strained. In other words, the pressure is resisted equally
all through the thickness of the walls of the barrel. This has entirely
revolutionised big gunnery during the last thirty years, and has enabled
ships of war to hurl 800 lb. shells through the armour of enemies who
are hull down beyond the horizon.

Gunpowder was for centuries used in war before it was much used in
sport. The reason for this was that there was no good method of letting
off a sporting weapon. To apply a match to a touch-hole obviously took a
good deal of time, and besides gave warning to the game, so that,
although shooting flying game had been at least an ambition in the days
of the cross-bow, shooting the game upon the ground with “hail shot” was
practised for many years before anyone attempted to kill flying game
with shot guns. It is curious that when this practice was in vogue dogs
were taught either to point or to circle their game at their masters’
pleasure. This circling had the effect of indicating the exact position
of the crouching covey, and at the same time of preventing the birds
running away from the shooter. A dog that would “circle” was held in
much more esteem than one that would only point, but one that would do
both was far the most highly valued. The shooter had to see the birds on
the ground before he could bring his lumbering weapon to bear, and begin
to let it off. This probably continued long after the wheel-lock was
invented, in 1515 A.D.

The flint and steel method of ignition enabled the shot gun to be used
on flying game, but the flint and steel came in somewhere about the year
1600, and shooting flying game did not become general until after 1700

Meantime there had been royal prohibitions in this country, as well as
in France, against the use of hail-shot, and it can well be understood,
at a time when shooting at coveys on the ground was considered no breach
of sporting etiquette, that some restraint became necessary. Before the
use of the flint and steel, the heavier weapons were employed by using
for them a stand to rest the muzzle upon, and this was made necessary,
not so much by reason of the weight as by the uncertainty of the precise
moment of the explosion, and the expediency of keeping the weapon
“trained” on the object until the powder chose to catch fire and

Before the invention of the flint and steel, the value of rifling had
been discovered. There is a doubt whether the discovery is due to the
late fifteenth or the early sixteenth century, but at any rate it was
well known on the Continent about 1540 A.D. There are rifled barrels at
Zürich arsenal that have been there since 1544. The most ancient in this
country was brought from Hungary in 1848, and bears the date 1547. There
has been an idea that the first grooves in weapons were not spiralled
but straight, but this does not seem to be correct, as all the most
ancient grooved weapons known are spirals of more or less rapid turn.
Some of them have a variation of twist within themselves. There have
been many straight grooved weapons, but the object of them is lost. It
has been suggested that they were used for shot, but they could have had
no advantage over smooth bores for that purpose, and no advantage over
muskets for ball. Nevertheless, the science of ballistics was not
generally understood when they were made, and probably a rifled shot gun
would have been attractive, as an advertisement, when it was known that
a rifle was accurate with ball, and when the reason of its accuracy was
unknown to most people.

Although it was at once recognised that the rifle was far more accurate
than the smooth-bore musket, nevertheless three hundred years after the
invention of the former it had not come into use for the British Army,
and this in spite of the work done with it by the American
sharp-shooters in the War of Independence. Even long after Waterloo, the
Duke of Wellington was against arming the soldiers with the rifle, and
yet he, and every authority, knew of its infinite superiority as a
weapon of precision. The reason for this was very easy to understand.
The muzzle-loading rifle was no more accurate than the smooth bore
unless its ball fitted close and took the grooving. In order that it
should do this it had to be forced down the muzzle by means of a stiff
ramrod and a wooden mallet. This operation took too much time for war
purposes, and it was generally considered that a musket could be used
five times for once of the rifle. This was the disadvantage that did not
really totally disappear until modern breech-loading was invented,
although many attempts were made to get over the difficulty in various
ways. One of the principal of these was the screwing of the trigger
guard into the barrel, in a hole big enough to take the proper ball for
the bore; then the barrel was charged from the muzzle, and loaded with
the bullet afterwards from the hole in the breech. This was a clumsy
makeshift, which cut away nearly half the barrel at that point, and this
the metal of the day was ill able to stand. The other plan was the
adoption of the principle of the expanding bullet. The best form of this
bullet was that one with a hollowing out behind. This hollow, of course,
admitted either the powder or the powder-gas, which expanded the rear
portion of the bullet, and forced it into the grooves at the same time
as it also forced it forward.

It is extraordinary to consider that the rifle had existed for three
centuries and a half before this plan became effective, and made the
rifle a much superior weapon to the musket. If any country had
discovered it at the time of Marlborough or Wellington, it would have
made that country master of Europe, just as the first use of the
breech-loader as a military arm made Prussia and her needle gun
invincible, until other nations also armed themselves with the

It has often been said that “vile saltpetre” was the deathblow to
chivalry. That was not so; the long-bow and the cross-bow had before
this made Jack as good as his master, and as a matter of fact the bow
was much more highly valued up to the reign of Elizabeth than the gun

Nevertheless, one French writer attributes the loss of the battle of
Crecy to the English use of guns, and he goes on to show that, although
the French had used cannon in the sieges of castles, they would not
employ them against men. The fact that gunpowder was known in Europe
long before Crecy, and is _said_ to have been used by the followers of
Mahomet, and by the defenders of India against Alexander the Great, goes
to support the French author’s views, that chivalry forbade the use of
such a method of warfare.

This is no unsupported view, for Pope Innocent III. forbade the use even
of the cross-bow against Christian enemies, but permitted it against
Infidels. It was even said that Richard I. was killed by a shot from a
cross-bow because he had disregarded the Pope’s Bull in the use of the
weapon. This common belief well indicates the superstition, or religion,
of the people, and is ample to account for the very slow growth of the
use of gunpowder up to the time of Agincourt, which was obviously won,
like the Black Prince’s victories over France, by the English long-bow;
and, in the winning, destroyed the dying embers of the spirit of
chivalry. That gunpowder did not do this may be gathered from the fact
that Sir John Smyth, a general of Elizabeth’s army, declared he would
take 10,000 bowmen against 20,000 armed with the match-lock of that

More than this, a match was made at Pacton Green, in Cumberland, as
lately as 1792 with the bow against the gun, probably the Brown Bess, to
test the two for warlike purposes at 100 yards range, and the bow won

General military opinion had then gone against the bow, but obviously
there was not much in it, for the rifle was only supplied to the rifle
brigade, and not to the general army.

The latter was first armed with the rifle at the time of the Crimea,
when the Minie rifle was adopted. A well-tempered sharp arrow could cut
through armour as well as the slow bullets from hand guns, but armour
remained of some use against both, and it only disappeared as big guns
came into general use in the field, which was long after they had been
used in and against Norman castles and town walls.

Perhaps, with the exception of the Assyrians and the ancient Egyptians,
the most ancient warriors were a boasting, cowardly lot, like the
leading gentlemen of Homer, and the still more cowardly understudies who
stood still to watch while their chiefs were engaged in combat. Even
Goliath advanced to single combat, and his side never fought at all when
David’s shooting instrument went true. It is not, however, on record
that Goliath had a shooting instrument, and it may fairly be urged that
this early knight intended to bar shooting, and was a true forerunner of
the knights of the Middle Ages, who also attempted to bar shooting by
the aid of Pope Innocent III. Passing over those ancient Greek and
Israelitish times to the classic period of Greece and Rome, when battles
were fought by the whole of the armies engaging, we find that then
shooting in any form had very little to do with results. That is to say,
the bow and arrow, which became so deadly in the Plantagenet and
Lancastrian wars in France, were not relied upon. The reason seems to
have been that the classic Greek soldier with armour and target was
pretty secure against the arrow, but the knight’s horse in the Middle
Ages was not, and could not be made so. Incidentally, therefore, it is
fair to assume that war had again degenerated, by means of chivalry, to
the single combat championship stage, and that the first side to make
the whole army fight won the day, as the British archers won it for the
Black Prince, much to the disgust, as well as the defeat, of the French

Until 1515, or thereabouts, when the wheel-lock was invented, the gun
could only be used with a match-lock of kinds, and the circling pointer
was very much in demand to indicate the exact position of the covey. The
sportsman trained his hail-shot loaded gun on the spot and let it off.
This form of sport became possible almost as soon as gunpowder was
invented, but there is no record of it until much later, when it had
become so destructive to game as to be forbidden by edict. Then the
flint and steel lock was introduced, so that no sooner had the circling
dog come to perfection than he found his business gone, for he was not
wanted for the shooter of flying game, at a time when the latter sat
well enough not only for the bad marksman, but also for the net as well.

There is a picture of a deer drive, dated 1644, in De Espinar’s book,
where the sportsman has a heavy gun in a movable rest, but what kind of
boring and ignition were employed is not to be discovered. It is
possible, however, that both rifling and the flint and steel were
employed, for they must have been very tame deer that would have
remained in one position long enough, in a drive, to have been done to
death by means of any device for quickening up the match-lock. Indeed,
the long-bow would have been much the more deadly shooting instrument.

In modern times the long-bow has become a toy, but, even as such, shows
itself capable of more accuracy than the musket had. That flying shots
were not impossible with either the long-bow or cross-bow has often been
proved, and there is one well-known instance where a swallow on the wing
was pierced by an arrow, and remained upon it about half-way down the
shaft. But when the arrow was a weapon of war the minimum distance for
practice for a man was 220 yards, and the flight of an arrow then was
very far beyond the powers of the toy bow now used in the pretty game of

The author has practised with both cross-bow and long-bow. As a boy he
has had many a shot at a flying pheasant with the former, and although
he never hit one, that was probably only because the art of building
cross-bows died with those who had need of them.

It is known as a matter of fact that gun metal was very poor stuff when
the early cannons were made, and it can be gathered that powder was not
of the best, as the proportions by weight of shot to powder were for the
biggest cannon as two of shot is to one of powder, and for the smallest
bores as ½ lb. of shot is to ¾ lb. of powder, and to shoot this 8 oz. of
shot the weight of gun required was 300 lbs., and the bore 1 inch, or
about five times as much weight as we should require now for that weight
of shot, for which we should not use ¾ lb. of powder, but a couple of
ounces would be ample. The only proportions of powder and shot at all
like these that have been used in modern days are in some of the
gun-proving charges and loads, where there was a good deal of windage
between the ball and the walls of the barrel, and this is a fault in
economy that the Middle Age gunners were compelled to adopt, and it
probably accounts to some extent for their amazing charges of powder for
the weights of shot employed, so that the powder was probably a good
deal better than these proportions suggest, and the metal of the guns a
good deal worse.

                       ON THE CHOICE OF SHOT GUNS

The first thing for the novice to do is to get advice. The difficulty
will not be in the getting but in the selection afterwards. The majority
of experienced shooters will not bother the novice with their views, but
will advise him to go to the best gun-maker he can afford to employ and
take his advice; but this amounts also to taking his guns, and it may be
that a novice can do much better than that. The majority of shooters
when they know what they want can possibly afford best guns from best
makers, and perhaps have enough sport to justify the 180 guineas that a
pair will cost. But all shooters at the beginning cannot afford to find
out their requirements upon anything of the sort; this is proved by the
much greater number of second and third grade than of best guns made and
sold every year.

Besides, the majority of gun-shops are stocked heavily with second-hand
and second-quality guns, that can be bought from £15 to £25 each, and
the most difficult second-hand guns to find in London are those of the
best makers, who only turn out one quality, namely the best, which are
worth more.

It would be an invidious selection to name the best gun-makers, and
impossible besides, for their products are the offspring of the brain,
eye, and hand of the cleverest workmen,—sometimes, but rarely, their
nominal makers,—and these craftsmen are human: they change, and even
die. That is the reason that the best guns of one season do not always
come from the same shops as the best of another. But not one amateur
expert in a hundred, and not one shooter in ten thousand, will be able
to detect the difference by external examination. It is there, and is
important; and some day the gun that has not passed a master in the
prime of critical observation will have an accident and break down, just
at the wrong moment probably; whereas the best work of a best gun-maker
will wear out its barrels, and then another pair, before anything goes
wrong with its works, and before its splendid fitting and superior metal
allow the barrels and the action to suggest divorce proceedings, by
gaping in each other’s presence.

But if one cannot name the best makers and continue to live, it is
possible to get over the difficulty by suggesting that most gun-makers
have price lists of second-hand guns in their possession, and from these
lists the status of the various gun-makers in the country can be
gathered. But even this is not quite a reliable method, for those makers
who turn out second and third quality guns may be represented by their
best, or their worst, in these lists, whereas the men who have only one
sort can only be represented by the best.

Then, again, the fashion changes, and guns which a few years ago were
best and latest fashion are soon out-dated, and then they rank in price
with second or third quality guns that are made in the latest fashion.
Thus a hammerless gun is not now fashionable; it must be hammerless
ejector, and for choice with a single trigger. Then hammer guns of the
best make can be bought for a sixth of their original cost, just as
muzzle-loaders are totally unsaleable except in the Colonies.

Instead, therefore, of giving 180 guineas for a pair of hammerless
ejectors by a best maker, the novice may for about a third of the sum
procure a pair in every way as good by the same maker, if he foregoes
the ejector part of the latest fashion. But, in order to make sure of
fair treatment, dealing only with the most reputable establishments is
advised, because it has been known that the less particular traders have
themselves altered an old-fashioned gun into an ejector, and sold it as
the gun of a first-rate maker, whereas it would have been more properly
described as their own work. However, there is always a check on this
kind of thing, because every gun is numbered by those makers whose
weapons are worth having, and a letter to the maker, giving the number
and description of the gun, will probably be the cause of detection of
any fraud of this kind.

In order satisfactorily to buy second-hand guns, a shooter should know
exactly what bend, length of stock, and cast on or off he takes, and
should also be able to measure these dimensions for himself; for it is
not wise to have a second-hand gun altered to fit, not even if it is
done by its own maker.

The best way is not to throw up a gun in the shop and buy it by the
feel. There it may feel to fit when it does not do so; and it is
possible to discard as ill-fitting the very gun that is exactly right.
It is only out of doors at moving objects that most people handle a gun
as they do at game. Consequently it is cheap in the end to go to a
shooting school and be measured for a gun. There the beginner will be
tested in every way and for every class of shot and angle of aim. It is
not intended to suggest that shooting schools do not make mistakes, for
they do. But the wise man will not be satisfied until he has been able
to handle the try gun in a satisfactory manner when bent to his proposed
measure. That is to say, the schoolmaster and the pupil have got to
agree before either are likely to be right, and if the pupil cannot
agree with one master he can try another.

The author knows one fine performer who placed himself in the hands of
two experts in close succession. The stock measurement of one was
cast-on, and a good deal of it; that of the other was cast-off, and also
much of it. He had guns built to each. Naturally one might say they were
both wrong, but as a matter of extraordinary fact they were both right;
for this fine shooter performs equally well with both guns, and would
probably do so with any other weapon. Of course he is the exception, and
it would be unwise for others to attempt to shoot alternately with two
guns as different as these are, because the practice with one would be
unlearning for the other.

The object of taking much trouble to get a true measure, in writing, is
that the testing of many guns, by putting them to the shoulder, alters a
shooter’s method of doing this; and although the change may be only
slight and temporary, it is enough to prevent an accurate selection in a
gun-shop. The written measure reduces the number of guns to be tried, or
handled, by 90 per cent., which greatly assists the process of
selection, not only in the way named above, but by allowing more time
for a thorough trial of each.

If a young shooter is going to shoot in parties, and not by himself, the
bore of his gun is practically settled for him. It must be 12 bore,
because otherwise he can be no help to other shooters in the lending of
cartridges, nor they to him. This is very important, and becomes more so
in exact degree as bags increase. The ammunition cart cannot be
everywhere at once, and the work to be done by a host’s servants should
never be unnecessarily added to when they are most busy.

On the other hand, it is quite permissible to take a 20 bore on to the
moors to shoot over dogs in early August. Some people think that a 20
bore shoots closer than a 12 gauge, but that is a mistake. It spreads
its shot quite as much as the larger bore, but it has fewer shot, and
consequently the pattern is thinner. Few people have either kind bored
to shoot as closely as possible, but when each is so bored the 12 gauge
will always be the more powerful, unless heavy 20 bores are built to
shoot 12 gauge loads.

This does not imply that a shooter will always get the most out of a 12

Lightness of weight assists walking, and also quickness in shooting, so
that it is possible in some hands for the worst gun to do the most work.
It is the fashion to use a pretty heavy gun for driving; the greater the
head of game there is, the more certainly does one require a gun to kick
but little; and there is no cure for kick except weight. For shooting
over dogs the weight is generally a greater objection than recoil,
because the number of shots fired will not be likely to be so many as to
make a heavy recoil unbearable by too frequent repetition. Still, for
the sake of a slight difference of weight, it is not usually necessary
to have different guns for driving and for shooting over dogs. There is
a mistaken idea that only a heavy gun will shoot a heavy charge well,
but this is not so. Some years ago there were a good many 4¾ lb. 12
gauge guns built to shoot full 12 bore charges. Some of them shot as
well as 7 lb. guns, but there are good and bad of all weights and

It is by no means urged that a 12 bore for walking up partridges and
shooting grouse over dogs should be as light as those “feather-weights”
were, because recoil was unpleasant from them, even if only a few shots
were fired. The contention is merely that a light 12 bore will kill as
well as a heavy one, provided it carries the same charge and load, and
its barrels are as long as the heavy gun’s tubes. The only possible
difference will be caused by the greater jump of the light gun, and this
jump may in _some_ light weapons uncentre the pattern. That is not a
subject to speculate about, but is one for trial.

But it is not only light guns that sometimes do not shoot true. No
double rifles can by measurement ever be put together so that both
barrels shoot to the same place. This is accomplished by trial and
regulating. It is done by wedging the muzzles farther apart or bringing
them nearer together as the case may require. In the making of shot guns
measurement is supposed to be enough; but a large percentage of guns do
not centre their loads on the spot aimed at, and the two barrels
frequently shoot to a different centre. Possibly choke bores are most
liable to this fault; at any rate, they are much more easily detected,
because their patterns are smaller than those of cylinders, and a
variation from centre is more easily noticed.

When this inaccuracy occurs, people may say that the shooter is in fault
and not the gun. Gunners are satisfied with such statements, although
they would reject a rifle that shot with a quarter of the inaccuracy.

A gun-maker’s business is to show true shooting, and to keep a gun
tester to do this work, and to show that all guns sold shoot true and
well, and that all rifles can make small groups. Naturally the young
shooter will believe himself to be in fault when he sees these men make
central shots time after time with a gun or rifle that will not do it in
novice hands. But some of these experts discover at the first shot where
a barrel throws, and make the necessary allowance for it in each
succeeding shot.

In order to be able to do this, a man must have wonderful confidence in
himself; but some experts are well able to shoot one shot only from each
barrel of a rifle, and then regulate it with no more evidence. Others
are obliged to make a group with each barrel in order to negative their
own faults of aim, or “let off.” That will possibly be the young
shooter’s form; and if it is unfortunately so, all the same he is the
man who is going to use the weapon, not the gun-maker’s expert, and
consequently his own test is the best for him, _no matter how blundering
it may be_.

There is no wisdom in being satisfied or put off with anything less than
perfect central shots of the shot gun. The relative position of the shot
centre in regard to a small bull’s eye is not easy to put into figures,
but it can be grasped by the mind at a glance. The author has seen some
close-shooting shot guns that only put the edge of the 30 inch circle of
shot on to the bull’s eye. This represents an inaccuracy of 15 inches,
and is very bad indeed, but 3 inches of inaccuracy is more than equally
bad, because it ought not to exist; it is the worse because it is so
difficult to find out. At the best there is only a 15 inch limit of
inaccuracy of aim in a 30 inch pattern at going-away game. That is small
enough for most people who shoot swerving partridges, twisting snipe,
and rising grouse. Three inches of inaccuracy of gun reduces the man’s
limit of inaccuracy to 12 inches. Is it enough? The author believes that
most guns are out double as much as this 3 inches at 40 yards, and that
the reason is that they are not usually treated to the same process of
regulation spoken of for double rifles.

Were it not that the shot strings out into a long column with as much as
30 feet between the first and the last pellet at 40 to 50 yards range,
it would be barely possible to kill at all when the pace of the game
makes great allowances in front necessary.

This may be said: that 3 inches of inaccuracy is not much when many feet
have to be judged, and that is perfectly true, and if the gun’s 3 inches
of inaccuracy were always in the same direction as the game is
going—that is, 3 inches too forward or too backward—there would be
nothing in it to trouble about; but it is just as likely to be an error
at right angles with the line of flight of the game, and then it does
matter very much indeed. Even if a miss does not result, but if the aim
is true, the game will then be made to fly through the thin part of the
circumference of the shot column. For instance, if game is coming
directly over the shooter, and a gun inaccuracy of 3 inches makes him
shoot to right or left of the line of flight, that error is increased by
his own inaccuracy or the “curl” of the game, which together may easily
accomplish the other 12 inches, and then the game would be outside of
the column of shot of a choke bore at 40 yards. A full choke has not a
killing circle for straight going-away game of more than 26 or 28 inch
diameter at that distance. On the contrary, a true cylinder has a
killing circle of 40 inches.

This appears at first glance to be a very great advantage to the
cylinder user, but in practice there is not much in it, provided the
choke bore shoots truly to centre. If it does not, it is absolutely
worthless, whereas the cylinder, with an equal fault, is a bad gun but
not worthless. The reason of this is that the cylinder spreads more than
the choke. The “full choke” always clusters its shot in the centre, and
although the aim of gun-makers may be to get an even pattern, it cannot
be done with a full choke gun, and would not suit everybody if it were

The author is inclined to think that a cylinder, or modified choke bore,
is better than a full choke for any distance or purpose for which a full
choke bore, with an even distribution of pellets, is better than another
with a central clustering of pattern. Possibly pigeon shooting is an
exception; because there is no use in killing outside the boundary, so
that very long shots are not much wanted, and quick, hard shooting and
an even, large pattern are required. But with game, accuracy of aim is
preferable to extreme quickness, if either has to be sacrificed to any
great extent. You go out to shoot to please yourself, and nothing will
accomplish that pleasure so certainly as constantly killing game at
distances that other people cannot reach. Tall pheasants and high wild
duck try a gun as well as a gunner, and if the latter can keep in the
line of flight he can shoot at some angles and at slow birds twice as
strong with a choke as with a cylinder, but the timing of the shot is
not as easy for one as for the other.

The shot spreads laterally nearly half as much again for the cylinder,
but if you can keep your gun in the direction of the line of flight,
that extra lateral spread will only help you for fast birds crossing at
right angles. This is the least difficult thing to be done in killing
driven game. The most difficult is accurately timing the shot, and here
the gunner has the advantage of the longitudinal spread of the shot; in
other words, a column of pellets some 30 feet long, at 40 or 50 yards,
is sent in front of the game, which has to fly through the column as the
latter passes the line of flight. The cylinder has slightly the longer
column, and the column is slightly thicker through.

Correct timing implies that no part of the column of shot passes the
bird before his head is in it, or after his legs are out of it. But this
absolute accuracy of measuring the allowance in front, as well as timing
the “let off,” must be very unusual.

It may be said that it is not easy to keep the gun in the direction of
the line of flight, but the author cannot agree to that, except when the
game swerves after the “let off.” If it does that, a spread of shot the
size of a barn door would probably miss it, and the one-third bigger
lateral spread of the cylinder than of the choke bore will not assist
once in a hundred times.

These views, although not perhaps expressed, are largely acted upon in
practice. Soon after choke-bore guns came in they became very
unfashionable for game shooting, and the author was himself dreadfully
unfortunate, for his form dropped 50 per cent. But the reason was that
his first choke bores were not central shooters, and it was then very
difficult to get guns of that boring that were true. That it was no
fault of choke bores as such, the author proved by having his guns
rebored, and although they afterwards shot even closer than before, they
killed in the new condition.

One fault which is very bad in choke bores, and counts against shooting
straight-going and straight-coming game well, far more than with
cylinders, is that of patches without any shot in them in the outer edge
of the circle. What is meant here is not a misdirection of the load but
an erratic spread of it. In a close-shooting weapon this fault is almost
as bad as a misdirection, but differs in this, that the patch varies its
position with each shot. These patches sometimes extend from the outer
edge to very nearly the centre of the pattern, and consistent shooting
when they occur is impossible. They are not chance happenings, and can
be obviated by good boring and good loading. The author thinks they most
often occur when the shot can be shaken in the cartridge, and it may be
that a size of pellets which do not lie evenly on the outer circle on
the wad assist in deforming the pattern.

But theory is of no use, and it is the gun-maker’s business to sell a
gun that he can show has none of these faults. Whether he overcomes them
by a change in size of shot, quantity of them, or in an alteration of
brand of powder, matters nothing to the shooter, and is not his affair.
Enough has been said when the gun-buyer is placed in a position that it
took the author many years to arrive at in regard to the choke bore,
namely, that everything on the plate that is bad is not the fault of the
shooter, but of the gun-maker.

There is another advantage of the choke bore. It shoots No. 5 shot at 50
yards as hard as No. 6 is shot by a cylinder at 40 yards, and the
pattern will be quite equal at 50 yards with the large shot to that of
the cylinder’s small shot at 40 yards.

This is very important in shooting at straight coming or going grouse.
The farther off the first bird can be taken, the more certainly will the
others be killed. No. 6 shot has enormous energy when the speed of a
quick advancing bird is added to the speed of the shot. If it gets in
the bird, it will go a long way through him; but when grouse are coming
low, and dead straight to the gun, they glance the small shot like a
shower of hail upon a duck’s back. Consequently more heavy shot will get
in, although fewer will hit.

The kind of gun to be bought can hardly be determined until the shooter
has settled what size of pellets he wants to use at various game.
Messrs. Kynoch sell more than twice as many No. 5 shot as any other
size. No. 6 comes next, and Nos. 7 and 5½ are nowhere.

With a cylinder gun only placing 100 pellets of No. 6 shot in the 30
inch circle at 40 yards, one could not expect great work from No. 5
pellets on birds as small as partridges walked up. The pattern would be
too open at 40 yards, and the penetration unnecessarily high at 25

Some, at least, of No. 6 shot has penetration for a slow partridge
flying dead away at 40 yards. With a very quick driven bird shot at
behind, it has not more than enough penetration beyond 30 yards. The
pace of the retreating game reduces the energy of the impact, but there
is very little glancing off the feathers when they are struck from
behind. The author is inclined to say that in shooting coming game all
glancing is away from the game, and from behind all glancing from
feathers is into the bird. He has himself heard the clatter of the shot
on a straight-coming duck at about 30 yards when no damage whatever was
done. At a low skimming partridge coming straight for an open gateway in
which the writer was standing, he has shot, as at a sitting mark, for
there was neither swerve nor rise or fall; he has seen the earth kick up
all round the bird at about 25 yards, and has not been any nearer
bagging the game. Surely nothing but glancing shot can account for such



 │1906. │ No. │ Name │Partridges.│Pheasants.│Hares.│Rabbits.│Various.│Total.│
 │      │ of  │  of  │           │          │      │        │        │      │
 │      │Guns.│Beat. │           │          │      │        │        │      │
 │Dec. 4│  8  │Blanch│         91│       657│   574│     139│       2│ 1,463│
 │      │     │Whin  │           │          │      │        │        │      │
 │Dec. 5│  9  │Gold’n│         15│     3,824│   526│      92│       3│ 4,460│
 │      │     │Vall’y│           │          │      │        │        │      │
 │Dec. 6│  9  │High  │         11│     3,037│   182│      42│       2│ 3,274│
 │      │     │Cliff │           │          │      │        │        │      │
 │      │     │      │        117│     7,518│ 1,282│     273│       7│ 9,197│

A bird partly crossing can be killed farther away, but a partridge
coming dead on, in spite of the increase of impact caused by its speed,
is far out for a cylinder and No. 6 shot at 30 yards, but with a choke
bore and No. 5 shot it is well within range at 40 yards. Then a fast
going-away driven bird is 10 yards nearer than it looks if you have No.
5 pellets in the gun, and a good deal farther off than it looks if you
have No. 6.

So far only the actual bringing down of game has been considered, but
there is the question of ethics too. With all shot there is some
distance at which a body shot ceases to be effective, and when killing
must depend on hitting a vital exposed part, or the wing. As the body is
more than twice as big as these exposed vitals, namely the head and
neck, it follows that the body will be hit twice as often as these vital
parts. Beyond the distance at which body shots will kill, it follows
that the shooter wounds twice for every head he bags. Consequently there
is a wounding distance for each kind of shot pellet for straight going
and coming game.

This wounding distance, for No. 6 shot, the author would be inclined to
place at all ranges beyond 30 yards and up to 100 yards; for No. 5 shot,
all distances beyond 40 yards and up to 120 yards. But as most people do
not shoot at game beyond 50 yards, for practical purposes the wounding
distance is from 30 to 50 yards with No. 6, and from 40 to 50 yards with
No. 5 shot. Full-feathered partridges are the birds alluded to. August
grouse can be killed farther away with much more certainty.

In all the public London trials of guns the patterns of cylinders have
not averaged as high as 100 pellets of No. 6 in the 30 inch circle at 40
yards range. With 1¼ oz. of No. 6, of 270 pellets to the ounce, about
250 pellets in the same circle have been frequently obtained at the same
40 yards range from choke bores. But the majority of guns sold as
cylinders now will put as many as 120 pellets in the circle, and the
author has seen one of Holland’s put 160 pellets in that circle. In this
gun there was no noticeable choke bore when a barrel gauge was used at
all distances within 8 inches of the muzzle. The author did not attempt
further to learn how this barrel was bored, and it would not be fair to
expose it if he knew, which is not the case. But now that the principle
of boring is well understood, there appear to be several methods by
which a similar result would be possible. The barrels are known to
stretch very considerably under the pressure of the powder-gas, and
consequently any treatment of the barrels at the muzzles that would
prevent them stretching with the rest of the barrel would act, more or
less, like a modified choke. This might be done perhaps by an external
thickening of the barrel, or by a hardening of the metal just at the
right spot.

However, to prefer a cylinder that gives a high pattern to a modified
choke bore that does the same, is only a fad. The former is difficult to
obtain, and the latter is everywhere; and it is not the modified choke
that so often is made to shoot untrue to centre, but the full choke.

The disadvantage of the choke-bore pattern is that it may plaster the
game at distances nearer than the cylinder does. To compare the two
patterns made at 20 yards, it is difficult to believe that the choke is
almost as free from plastering as the cylinder. As a matter of fact
there are several reasons for the well-known surprise that it does not
often plaster feathered game.

The birds are not often coming straight at the gun nor going quite
straight away from it, and any tendency to cross the line of aim is
equivalent to allowing the game some benefit for any slight inaccuracy
of timing the shot, and any wrong allowance in front. For instance,
perhaps 5 inches too much allowance in front, with otherwise correct
timing, at 20 yards, might very well allow half the shot column to go
past a slow bird before he flew into the remainder of the shot column,
which would be equivalent to shooting at a motionless bird with only
half the pattern.

On the other hand, a very fast bird may fly right through the shot
column before more than half of it has passed his line of flight. When
the bird is caught by the centre of the head of the column at 20 yards
range, he has but 10 inches to fly to get out of the line of flight of
the shot from a full choke bore. The last pellets in the load will not
be travelling more than 700 feet per second, and fast game is often
going at 100 feet per second and more, although newly started game in
still air may not often exceed 60 feet per second. But probably the real
reason why good shots especially do not plaster their game at near
distances is that they always shoot well in front, with a view to
hitting only in the head and neck. At short range the slowest pellets
are quite equal to killing whenever they hit straight for a vital part,
exposed or otherwise. A shot aimed well forward with the intention of
almost missing, by premature arrival of the pellets on the line of the
bird’s flight, is almost sure to result in the cleanest kind of kill,
brought about by two or three shot pellets in the head and neck and none
anywhere else.

This also is often accomplished even at long distances, but not in the
same way. Then the shot that succeeds must be well timed to get the
bird’s body into the thickest of the pellets, and one of the reasons why
the body is not plastered is that from most angles of impact, on a
coming bird, the body shots glance off, and only the head, neck, and
wing shots tell. The only great chance of smashing winged game that
occurs is in near shots at going-away game, and then, whether a man
holds a cylinder or a choke bore, he will assuredly give lots of “law,”
even if, in doing so, the game passes out of sight.

There is an idea that the killing circle from a gun can be mapped out by
geometric progression. That is to say, that if lines are drawn from the
muzzle to the extremity of a 40 inch circle at 40 yards, you will be
able to measure off, or calculate, the killing circle for straight-away
game at any distance. That is not so. At the nearer distances the size
of the killing circle is regulated by the pellets that, at 40 yards, are
outside of it altogether. There they are too thinly scattered to count
for chances. Thus the killing circle of a cylinder and of a full choke
have no relationship to each other, or to geometric progression of the
spread of pellets for each distance.

The author has measured many patterns at different distances, and he
believes that the following table shows very truly the diameters of the
killing circles covered, on the basis of that pattern which was regarded
as thick enough to kill game in the cylinder days. That is to say, the
latter sort of gun was tried at 40 yards where it spread fairly evenly
over a 40 inch circle. But its proper distance was 30 yards, and at that
range nothing else at any other distance gives the shooter an equal
chance with No. 6 shot.


 │ Description of gun and │ At 20  │ At 30  │ At 40  │ At 50  │ At 60  │
 │     size of shot.      │ yards. │ yards. │ yards. │ yards. │ yards. │
 │Cylinder and No. 6 shot.│22 in. A│35 in. A│40 in. B│  none  │  ...   │
 │Even spreading choke    │20 in. A│26 in. A│30 in. B│37½ in. │45 in. C│
 │  bore and No. 6 shot   │        │        │        │   C    │        │
 │Centre clustering choke │20 in. A│25 in. A│28 in. B│34 in. C│40 in. C│
 │  bore and No. 6 shot   │        │        │        │        │        │
 │Cylinder and No. 5 shot │21 in. A│34 in. A│  none  │  ...   │        │
 │Even spreading choke    │19 in. A│25 in. A│30 in. A│37½ in. │  none  │
 │  bore and No. 5 shot   │        │        │        │   B    │        │
 │Central clustering choke│19 in. A│24 in. A│27 in. A│35 in. B│  none  │
 │  bore and No. 5 shot   │        │        │        │        │        │

In the above table each circle of shot has been marked with a reference
letter, which is intended to imply—

A, that all pellets will have enough strength to kill if they only hit
the body, and in direct line for a vital.

B, that only the fastest pellets in the load will have enough strength
to kill by body shots, and that at least half the pellets will only have
enough strength to kill if they hit head, neck, or wing.

C, that none of the pellets will kill by body wounds, but only the small
number that chance to hit head, neck, or wing.

The pellets that come under the description applied to C can be greatly
extended beyond the distances named, and at ranges to which it would be
foolish to apply the term “killing circles.” Thus the author has seen a
roe deer killed at 60 yards with No. 6 shot from a 12 bore. Lord
Walsingham has made four consecutive shots with No. 5 shot at wild ducks
at an average range of about 88 yards, or, to be accurate, at 84½ yards,
89 yards, 84 yards, and 114 yards. But these lucky shots in vital spots
do not affect the question, except to show that it is difficult to apply
a limit to the killing power of even weak pellets when they strike head,
neck, or wing. Outside the zone marked A one is certain to do some
wounding without killing the game, but although many pellets will hit
without being straight for vital spots, others will probably kill the
same bird. But in the C zone it is always two or three chances on
wounding to one chance of killing.

The reason for attempting to draw a distinctive line between these zones
for the different guns and loads is that there is far too much
unhealthy, random shooting at game, which gives rise to prolonged agony,
while the sportsman is dining well, and, as he believes, sleeping the
sleep of the just. Even on the baser score of economy and next year’s
sport, it is wise to wound no more game than human blundering compels,
and not to lay ourselves out to wound by attempting to kill when the
chances are so bad that the wild shooter would not risk them upon a
horse-race, much less in a mere commercial speculation.

There has often been controversy on the difference of penetration from a
choke bore and a cylinder. When penetration was taken by recording the
number of sheets of paper, or boards, pierced by one pellet, or even by
three, the choke bore always won. But really this was merely a double
counting of pattern, because when two guns shoot with the same velocity
of shot, that which has the best pattern will also have most pellets
through. That is how it came to be settled by the public London gun
trials that choke bores had materially the most penetration. As a matter
of fact, nobody knows which has most penetration. Sometimes the number
of sheets pierced by half the shot which hit a penetration testing pad
will be in favour of one, and sometimes of the other gun, and moreover
the difference in piercing by the pellets of the same discharge may be
as much as two to one.

Chronographic testing for time over a range has never proved very
satisfactory, for the instrument makes but one record of time for 300
different pellets, which are known to vary in velocity over some ranges
by 300 foot-seconds, and in striking velocity by 200 foot-seconds.

This was brought out by the late Mr. Griffith, who as manager of the
Schultze gunpowder works had great opportunities, and took them.
Powder-makers may very well use the chronograph in testing powders at 10
yards range. At this range Mr. Borland of the E.C. Company informed the
writer that he could never find a difference between small shot and
large pellets; which goes to prove that at the distance they have not
scattered longitudinally enough to make the chronograph the absurdity it
becomes when it records one time for 300, all various.

But once the chronograph was used for small shot on the right principle.
This was when Mr. Griffith applied it to his revolving target

 │Description│   Length of shot column at these   │ How the length of  │
 │of gun and │   ranges in yards as previously    │column was obtained.│
 │   load.   │             accepted.              │                    │
 │     〃     │  10  │  20  │ 30 │ 40  │ 50  │ 60  │         〃          │
 │Choke bore │      │      │    │     │     │     │By actual           │
 │  12 gauge,│      │      │    │     │     │     │  measurement on the│
 │  49 grains│      │      │    │     │     │     │  Griffith revolving│
 │  Schultze,│  2¼  │4 feet│ 6¾ │ 3¼  │ 4¼  │ 4½  │  targets, assuming │
 │  and 1⅛   │ feet │      │feet│yards│yards│yards│  velocity of shot  │
 │  oz. shot │      │      │    │     │     │     │  to be only 200    │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  f.s.—the same as  │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  that of target    │
 │     〃     │      │      │    │     │     │     │By multiplying the  │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  length of actual  │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  measurement as    │
 │           │  11  │  19  │ 27 │ 33  │ 35  │     │  above by the ratio│
 │           │ feet │ feet │feet│feet │feet │     │  of shot speed at  │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  the end of the    │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  range above the   │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  200 f.s. of the   │
 │           │      │      │    │     │     │     │  revolving targets │
 │The same   │      │      │    │     │     │     │As in first line    │
 │  gun and  │      │      │    │     │     │     │  above             │
 │  load, but│  20  │  40  │ 6  │  9  │ 12  │ 4¼  │                    │
 │  with only│inches│inches│feet│feet │feet │yards│                    │
 │  42 grains│      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │  Schultze │      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │  powder   │      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │     〃     │8 feet│  15  │ 22 │ 28  │ 29  │ ... │As in second line   │
 │           │      │ feet │feet│feet │feet │     │  above             │
 │Cylinder   │      │      │    │     │     │     │As in first line    │
 │  gun 12   │      │      │    │     │     │     │  above             │
 │  bore, 42 │      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │  grains of│  2¾  │5 feet│ 7½ │  4  │ 4½  │ 4¾  │                    │
 │  Schultze │ feet │      │feet│yards│yards│yards│                    │
 │  powder,  │      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │  and 1⅛   │      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │  oz. shot │      │      │    │     │     │     │                    │
 │     〃     │  11  │  22  │ 28 │ 35  │ 30  │ ... │As in second line   │
 │           │ feet │ feet │feet│feet │feet │     │  above             │

_This table is only inserted because the figures contained in it have
hitherto formed the bases of public knowledge and calculation; it is
corrected and superseded by another on page 44. Its errors consist in no
deduction for the natural spread of the pattern and in the multiple
adopted being based on the striking velocity of the first five per cent.
of pellets._

He did this to discover the longitudinal spread of the shot pellets at
various distances. If ever the chronograph could be used for taking
differing shot velocities, this appears to be the way. But it has never
been repeated, and some results appear to throw doubt upon their own
accuracy. The various lengths of the shot spread on the targets moving
at 200 f.s., at right angles with the line of fire, were as follows upon
the top lines. On the bottom lines in the table the shot pattern spread,
caused by the 200 feet per second, is multiplied by the ratio of greater
speed of shot than the 200 foot-seconds of the revolving target. So that
in the following table the bottom lines, in respect of each gun,
represent something near the true length of shot column at each
distance. The speeds taken in the foregoing table can be gathered from
the Griffith figures on the next page. But if, for the 30 yards range,
the truer mean speed of the shot column is wanted, this is equal to the
striking velocity of the most forward pellets and the velocity of the
rear of the column added together, and divided by two. For this
calculation there is a slight inaccuracy originating in the following
tables, because the striking velocity of the rear pellets has been taken
at the full range, instead of at the length of the shot column less than
the full range. This position can only be found by trial and error. It
will vary the results by a yard or two. Inches have been disregarded in
the tables.

It is often said that we want guns to send their shot up all together,
but if we had so to time our “letting off” as to cause the game to fly
on to a knife edge, with the shot spread out like a tea-tray, it is
doubtful whether we should hit oftener than with a rifle. Lord Wolseley
tells of seeing an officer who by means of a soldier’s rifle killed a
wild goose flying high overhead.

Keeping the line of flight for such a shot would not be difficult, but
the timing and allowance in front could not often be so cleverly
arranged. That is the reason why there is a good deal of doubt whether
we want to decrease the length of shot columns, and besides, if we did
wish it, probably it could not be done. It is observable that the extra
half-dram measure of powder materially increased the choke bore’s
lengths of shot columns. It also had a very great influence in the
increase of velocity at all distances.

The length of the column of shot from the cylinder gun is longer than
the spread from the choke bore, and the longer the range the longer is
the column; but strangely, at long range, according to these trials, one
striking velocity of the first pellets in the load was exactly the same
as that of the last pellets to strike the revolving target, although
mean velocities for the range were very different. This almost shakes
confidence in this chronographic record, but as the penetration tests
always show more variation between pellets than the differences in any
of these revolving target and chronographic records, it may be that the
apparent paradox of pellets getting farther behind but nevertheless
maintaining the same speed as those in front can be explained by a
constant change of leaders, and if so, also of followers necessarily.

These phenomena do not occur except at the extreme distance of 55 yards,
and they are totally absent even at that distance with the choke bore
and 49 grains charge. It seems therefore only to be possible when the
pellets have dropped to a low velocity. At shorter ranges there is
sometimes an impact difference of 200 feet a second between the pellets
of the same load. So that it is material to know the force of the whole
charge, and the time up the range of the leading pellets is no guide, as
differences equal to 320 f.s. have occurred in one load.


                      _on Mr. Griffith’s authority_

 │                        │ By the │ By the │        │ By the │ By the │
 │                        │fastest │next 25 │ By 45  │mean of │ last 3 │
 │                        │ 5 p.c. │p.c. of │p.c. of │  the   │p.c. of │
 │                        │   of   │pellets.│pellets.│ bulk.  │pellets.│
 │                        │pellets.│        │        │        │        │
 │15 yards  choke     (42)│    1013│     987│     974│     952│     813│
 │    〃     choke     (49)│    1050│    1013│    1042│     965│     798│
 │    〃     cylinder  (42)│    1003│     955│     962│     923│     742│
 │25 yards  choke     (42)│     825│     792│     779│     748│     684│
 │    〃     choke     (49)│     890│     840│     806│     809│     699│
 │    〃     cylinder  (42)│     810│     769│     750│     724│     615│
 │35 yards  choke     (42)│     691│     661│     660│     632│     523│
 │    〃     choke     (49)│     737│     699│     699│     672│     564│
 │    〃     cylinder  (42)│     672│     632│     636│     619│     504│
 │45 yards  choke     (42)│     581│     560│     549│     536│     489│
 │    〃     choke     (49)│     633│     598│     592│     573│     527│
 │    〃     cylinder  (42)│     561│     538│     523│     494│     488│
 │55 yards  choke     (42)│     377│     365│     362│     344│     342│
 │    〃     choke     (49)│     478│     462│     457│     427│     418│
 │    〃     cylinder  (42)│     382│     374│     378│     370│     382│

As these are the only chronographic tests of shot pellets ever made with
a view of finding out what really takes place, the striking velocities
of the various proportions of the load at different distances are given
here. But although this represents the only use of the instrument for
this purpose, on truly scientific principles, ever recorded in print,
the author would be sorry to affirm the absolute accuracy of the
instrument on this or any other occasion, although the relative accuracy
of one record to the other is much more likely to be correct.

The (42) and (49), after the description of the gun in the table on p.
41 refers to the load of Schultze powder, and in all cases 1⅛ oz. of
shot No. 6 was used.

In order to arrive at striking velocity from these trials, it was
necessary to compare the time taken at one range with that taken at
another range by a different cartridge.

That in some cases the leading pellets are recorded as slower than those
behind them, is not, as would at first sight appear, an absolute
disproof of accuracy, because it may be that the leading pellets are
constantly dropping back, and others are becoming leaders. Obviously the
fastest pellets lose speed at the greatest rate, and obviously, also,
the leading pellets get least help and give most to their neighbours, by
setting up air disturbance, or a breeze, in the direction of the load.

We all know from paper pad and strawboard tests that the penetration of
pellets from the same discharge often varies as two to one. Some of
these records do not confirm this; but as they can only be accurate on
the assumption of that which must be true—the fluctuation of relative
positions of the pellets in flight—this adds to their value, because
that assumption is also required to explain the greater known variation
in penetration than the most indicated in these tables of speed.

The above remarks have been founded on the comparison of the
chronographic time of one load at one distance with that of another
discharge fired 10 yards farther away; and the mean speed over the 10
yards has been taken as the striking velocity at the midway distance of
the 10 yards. This is how Mr. Griffith worked out the striking
velocities. And from his figures the length of the shot column can only
be got at by making some use of a comparison between shots fired at one
range and those fired at another. In other words, the length of shot
column approximately found, as described, when divided by the difference
of time between first and last pellets, brings out the average
velocities of the shot column, at the instant of the leading shot
striking the target, too high. That is to say, the previous length of
column having been found too much, is taken merely as a basis, to
indicate the position in the rear at the length of the column away from
the target at which to search for the speed of the lagging pellets, and,
with these found, and the speeds of the leading pellets already found,
from the table upon page 41, the average speed has been discovered, and
actual time between first and last being known, the length of column has
been re-found in a way that must be as accurate as any records can be
that are based on two different discharges and the chronograph.

Taking the length of the column of shot, it is clear that the difference
of time in seconds between the first and last arriving pellets, divided
by the length of the column in feet, will give the mean velocity of the
shot column at the instant the first pellets struck the target. The
amended figures are tabulated on the next page.

It has lately been attempted to show that Mr. Griffith’s measurements
are not supported by the results on a target passing at 75 feet a second
at right angles with the line of fire. But this speed is not enough to
prevent the irregular spread of the shot pellets from misleading. In
other words, the faster the movement of the target the less will the
elongation of pattern depend upon the accident of pattern, and the more
it will depend upon the length of shot column and its speed. Besides
this, birds at 75 feet per second are not the difficult sort that people
want to learn to kill in a wind.

In the following table it is seen that in one case the column is no
longer at 50 yards than at 40 yards, and we may be quite certain shot
columns are not so in reality:—

 │      │Difference│          │                       │                │
 │      │of time of│          │                       │                │
 │      │arrival of│Length of │                       │                │
 │      │ first 5  │column of │  Mean velocity over   │                │
 │Yards │per cent. │ shot as  │ length of column, and │                │
 │  of  │and last 3│corrected │striking velocity at a │ Description of │
 │range.│per cent. │  by the  │ point half the length │ gun and load.  │
 │      │of pellets│  method  │of column of shot from │                │
 │      │    in    │previously│ the end of the range— │                │
 │      │fractions │explained.│                       │                │
 │      │   of a   │          │                       │                │
 │      │ second.  │          │                       │                │
 │      │          │          │As found by│As found by│                │
 │      │          │          │ time from │ time from │                │
 │  〃   │    〃     │    〃     │uncorrected│ corrected │       〃        │
 │      │          │          │ length of │ length of │                │
 │      │          │          │ column of │ column of │                │
 │      │          │          │   shot.   │   shot.   │                │
 │      │          │          │           │           │Choke bore, 42  │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  grains of     │
 │  10  │·007      │          │           │           │  Schultze and  │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  1⅛ oz. No 6   │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  shot.         │
 │  20  │·0145     │   12 feet│       1034│        863│       〃        │
 │  30  │·022      │   16 feet│       1000│        726│       〃        │
 │  40  │·036      │   22 feet│        777│        619│       〃        │
 │  50  │·046      │   22 feet│        630│        489│       〃        │
 │  60  │·054      │          │           │           │       〃        │
 │      │          │          │           │           │Choke bore, 49  │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  grains        │
 │  10  │·009      │          │           │           │  Schultze and  │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  the rest same │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  as above.     │
 │  20  │·018      │   16 feet│       1005│        884│       〃        │
 │  30  │·027      │   20 feet│       1000│        768│       〃        │
 │  40  │·0425     │   27 feet│        776│        647│       〃        │
 │  50  │·05       │   28 feet│        700│        555│       〃        │
 │  60  │·059      │          │           │           │       〃        │
 │      │          │          │           │           │Cylinder gun and│
 │      │          │          │           │           │  42 grains of  │
 │  10  │·0117     │          │           │           │  powder and    │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  shot the same │
 │      │          │          │           │           │  as above.     │
 │  20  │·0222     │   18 feet│        990│        812│       〃        │
 │  30  │·034      │   26 feet│        823│        769│       〃        │
 │  40  │·049      │   28 feet│        714│        583│       〃        │
 │  50  │·057      │   27 feet│        526│        484│       〃        │
 │  60  │·057      │          │           │           │       〃        │

The only way that this extraordinary result can be explained is this:
Mr. Griffith shot at his revolving targets set behind a hole of 4 feet
diameter made in a steel plate, and the question arises, Would not any
shot pellets that were only travelling at 382 feet a second drop out by
the force of gravity, and never pass through the opening at all at the
longer ranges? They would take a considerable fraction of a second to
reach the 55 yards range, and pellets would drop a foot by the force of
gravity in ¼ second, therefore some of them would not pass through the 4
feet opening. On this assumption, instead of the 50 yards columns of
shot being of the lengths stated, they must be very much longer, with a
continuous dropping of the weaker shot all up the range.

It is often asked how it happens that so few fast driven birds are
wounded. They are either killed or not hit as a rule, even when they are
high up. Another query is as often heard: “Why are fast birds more
difficult than slow ones?” It appears that one answer can be supplied
from the tables already given to both questions. It is often said that
it is difficult to lead “tall” birds enough, but the farther away game
is, the slower the gun has to move in order to race, and beat it, so
that this is evidently not the explanation. Taking the corrected length
of the various columns of shot at most of the ranges above 30 yards, and
comparing the average speeds of the fag end pellets, as given in the
table, with the distance they have to go, while the bird has merely to
go from 2 to 4 feet to get out of their line, it will be found that game
at 60 feet per second cannot get clear of any part of the shot column if
it is timed properly, whereas game at 100 feet per second will clear
about 40 per cent. of the length of column in some cases, and only incur
danger from 60 per cent. as he flies through it. This seems to be ample
reason for the greater difficulty of fast game.

Here are a few examples with the 42 grain charge: allowing 6 inches for
half the length of the bird, and adding this to the diameter of flying
shot column at various ranges, it is found that in order to get clear
while the shot column is passing, the bird at 60 feet per second takes
.041 of a second. At 100 feet rate of flight he will take .025 of a
second, and the shot takes but .022, so that the game does not get an
advantage here at 30 yards. But at 40 yards the slow bird takes .05 of a
second and gets no advantage; the fast one takes .03 of a second, and
here the time of the column is .036, so that, however good the timing,
the bird misses some shot. At 50 yards it is still worse for the slow
bird, which takes .062 of a second to get through, and better for the
fast one, that takes only .037 of a second, when the shot occupies .046
of a second for the whole column to pass.

There is not much difference for the 49 grain charge from the choke
bore. At 30 yards the shot column takes .027 of a second to reach the
distance after the first pellets are up. The 60 feet a second bird takes
.041 of a second, and the 100 feet per second bird takes but .025, or a
less period than the shot column. At 40 yards the slow bird takes .050
and the fast one .030 of a second, and the shot occupies .042 of a
second. At 50 yards the times are .062 for the slow bird and .037 for
the fast one, and the period taken by the shot column is .050 of the
unit of time; so that at the longer range the best timing possible would
only give the game 37/50 of the shot he would have as a slow bird.

The cylinder bore, with its longer column of shot and wider spread as
well, is a little different in effect. At 30 yards the period occupied
between first and last pellet is .034 of the second, and the slow game
takes .050, and the fast .030 of a second. At 40 yards .049 is the
period for the pellets; and .062 and .037 of a second those for the
quick and tardy game, so that there is twelve parts in every 49 of the
shot rendered useless in spite of the best possible timing and the
truest of allowances in front. At 50 yards the shot pellets occupy .057
of a second for the rearguard to come up to the distance, and the game
takes respectively .075 and .045 of a second for the slow and the fast.
So that, again, one gets all the benefit as if he were still, and the
other cannot do so under any circumstances.

In the last case, at 40 yards, every misjudgment of distance to allow
ahead by 1 foot is equivalent to .016 of a second off the total of .049
second occupied by the shot column, so that 3 feet of error will be
equivalent to a total miss for the slow bird, whereas for the fast bird
every foot of error is equivalent to .010 of a second, and 5 feet of
error in judgment in allowing in front, may enable you to hit with the
tail end of the shot column, but only to wound most likely.

The best shot gun experiments ever made with the chronograph, therefore,
show that if you have to aim 5 feet in front, and do aim 10 in front,
you do not necessarily totally miss at 40 yards; whereas if, instead of
aiming 5 feet too much in front, in like circumstances, the gunner aimed
5 feet behind, or, in other words, dead on the mark with a still gun, a
hit would be impossible: the game would never be in the line of the shot
after the trigger was pulled. This would be so, even although the gun
was following round with the bird; so as to ensure no loss consequent on
the time occupied by the pull of the trigger. It is clearly better to
aim greatly too much in front than a little too much behind.

Even before the author ever engaged in driving game, he had shot at the
first bird of a covey and killed the last one, 7 or 8 yards behind. In
shooting driven game this is not an uncommon experience for beginners,
and is a very useful lesson; for nobody has ever had the opposite
experience, and killed the first bird when shooting at the last. But
when this shooting at the pigeon and killing the crow occurs, it is not
always because of so vast a misdirection as is suggested. Five feet of
error at least may be accounted for by the longitudinal spread of the
shot, besides something more for the lateral spread. Indeed, two birds
in the same covey, one 8 feet behind the other, have been killed at one
shot; but it rarely happens. Nevertheless, when one of the two is much
the further away, as well as behind, then a bird a very much greater
distance than 8 feet behind the one shot at and killed, may also fly
into the shot, and die too. In practice, however, it is very much easier
to miss a whole pack of grouse that look to be near enough together to
kill a dozen at a shot. If one tries to do a bit of “browning,” it is
generally not the birds that are “done brown.” If it is not the survival
of the fittest that has evolved grouse that look so much nearer together
than they are, it must be a wise provision of nature in the interests of

From what has been said, it will be gathered that when game is crossing
fast, wounding is caused by bad timing. The game is either through the
shot column before much of it has reached his line of flight, or he has
not reached the shot column when the majority of it has passed his line
of flight. In either case he gets but a small proportion of the shot
pellets correct timing would have given to him. Wounding zones and
killing circles as applied to straight-away game have little to do with
it. Provided timing is right, superficial “wounding zones” help the
kill, because the game that passes through them also passes through the
bulk of the shot column before or after. Even patchy patterns on the
whitewashed plate may be quite evenly distributed to the game flying
through the section of the column of pellets. One thing that is perhaps
worth noting is that if the head of the column of pellets, or first
arrivals of the pattern, surround crossing game evenly, the bird will
have so short a distance to go that he may be out of the circumference
of the shot column before a quarter of the pellets have come up to his
line of flight, and if he loses a tail feather and drops a leg it will
not be because of a large wounding zone of shot in the superficial
target sense; indeed, a larger wounding zone of that kind might help in
such a case: the fault will be because the game had not to fly through
the whole section of the column of shot.

                            ACTIONS OF GUNS

The actions of guns were at one time so important that gun-makers were
selected by reason of the merit of their patents. The tendency of the
early actions to part from the barrels at the false breech was so great,
that actions became of the first importance. Patents are now run out,
and consequently every gun-maker can select the best and make it, and
may be trusted to do so provided the weapon is to be paid for at a
figure that pays for best work and best material. If this is not the
case, still the gun-maker will put in the best action that can be made
for the money to be charged; in other words, he will put in the cheapest
good design of action, but not necessarily good workmanship. When
dovetails are used to join up the barrels and the false breech, it is
not because the design of action is not good enough to do without them,
but simply that the workmanship or fitting is not good enough. Often the
third grip does not fit, and is only for show.


What has been said of actions applies also to ejectors. If all the
patents have not run out, plenty of good ones have done so, and the
gun-maker has a great choice and nothing to pay for it.

The principle of the ejector is that with split extractors there is a
connection between the fall of the tumbler or hammer and an ejecting
mechanism, or lock in the fore end of the gun. The opening or closing of
the gun after firing is made to cock the tumblers, strikers, or hammers,
and also to put the ejector at full cock, or otherwise bring it ready
for action, then when a shot is fired the fallen hammer or tumbler, or
its re-cocking, is made to react on the ejector at that stage of the
opening gun when the extractors have already moved the empty
cartridge-case. The undischarged cartridges are therefore extracted, but
not ejected, and the used cases are ejected.

                             SAFETY OF GUNS

The safety bolt placed upon hammerless shot guns is very necessary. It
ought, when placed at safety, to prevent the lock springs working, and
should prevent the possibility of the scear being released from the
catch, or bent, or scear catch. Mr. Robertson, proprietor of Messrs.
Boss & Co., has shown conclusively that a slight rap on the lock plates
will disconnect any scear catch, and so let off the gun when not at
safety, unless it is also protected with an interceptor, which is moved
out of the way of the falling tumbler, or striker, only by the pull of
the trigger. Mr. Robertson’s own single-trigger action is also a safety
action, even when very light trigger pulls, such as 1 lb., are employed.

The strength of barrels is assured by the proof of them at the London,
Birmingham, and foreign proof houses, with loads and charges larger than
for service. Anyone in doubt about purchasing guns and rifles would be
well advised to write to the Proof Master for the literary matter issued
for the protection of the public and guidance of the trade. This changes
from time to time, but at present it gives very full information of the
meaning of the various foreign proof marks as well as of our own.

                           CROSS-EYED STOCKS

It is often suggested that a thumb-stall which stands up and blocks the
fore sight from the left eye is an assistance to right-shouldered
shooters, and sometimes it is. But as it has no effect on the manner of
bringing up the weapon, it must require revision to get the correct aim
if the weapon is not brought up correctly. The author thinks that a long
course of shutting the left eye will _force_ the right eye into becoming
governing eye by habit. Some people have neither eye greatly the
governor, so that each has an influence on the manner of the “present,”
and helps to fix the point the gun is brought up to. This point may be
half-way between the extended lines from the two eyes to the foresight,
and permits of no real alignment until the gun is moved after
presentation, which is always slow. For such men nothing but shutting
one eye will be of much use, but for those who have a controlling left
eye it is different, and a cross-eyed stock, or shooting from the left
shoulder, is to be recommended. Those who have a control eye need not
necessarily be able to see the game with it. Provided they see the
latter with one eye and take alignment of the breech and fore sight with
the control eye, that is enough. If the eyes are pairs—that is, not
crossed—and produce on the brain but one image of an object focused,
then the direction of the alignment over or upon the game or target is
accomplished in the brain, and the hands obey. That is to say, the left
eye may be unable to see the sights, and the right eye may be unable to
see the game, but as the images on both are superimposed on the brain
the aim is quite correct for normal eyes. A beginner thinks this
impossible, but if he uses a thumb-stall, and blocks the fore sight from
the left eye, and puts a card over the muzzle, so as to block the right
eye from seeing the target, and then focuses the latter, and not the
fore sight, he will soon become unconscious that he is blocking out
anything from either eye.

As the ability of the eyes has had to be referred to here, it may be
well to remark that any normal eyes can see the shot in flight against
the sky, and this ability has been used to advantage in coaching
shooters. To see this phenomenon, stand slightly behind the shooter, and
look for a little darkening of the sky in the direction of the aim; it
will be easily seen about the time the shot has spread to a foot, or so,
diameter. Whether anyone can see the shot much nearer than 15 yards or
farther away than 20 yards is questionable; the spread of the pellets
reduces the dark shade-like appearance, and it vanishes. Consequently,
experts who see clay birds apparently in the middle of the pellets may
be quite correct at short distances, and appearances may be absolutely
wrong for game or clay targets at distances farther away than the shot
can be detected. The bird may have flown another two yards by the time
the shot intersects its line of flight. Consequently, this ability of
the coach to see the shot should only be relied upon at about 20 yards

                       SINGLE-TRIGGER DOUBLE GUNS

The idea of a single trigger to double guns cannot be said to have
occurred to anyone as an original conception, since it was natural that
at the first attempt to build those toys (as Colonel Thornton considered
double guns, when he was upon his celebrated Highland tour), the
inventor must have exercised some ingenuity to supply these first double
guns with two triggers. It was as natural to attempt to make double
barrels with one trigger as for a duck to swim. First, because single
barrels were the fashion, and second, because single-trigger double
pistols were made and were successful. It was, however, at once
discovered that the action of the double pistol would not do; it let off
both the shoulder gun’s barrels apparently as one. For a century
afterwards repeated attempts were made to overcome this double
discharge, and many patents were taken out on the strength of the
inventor having discovered “the real, true cause” of the involuntary
discharge of the second barrel, by the pull off that was intended to
actuate only the first. However, the problem remained commercially
unsolved until Mr. Robertson, of Boss & Co., of St. James’s Street,
overcame the difficulty, and took out a patent, about 1894, for an
action that prevented the unintentional double discharge. The great
success of this action led to some hundred patents being taken out
between that year and 1902. But most of them were afterwards dropped,
and found not to effect the prevention of the double discharge for which
they were designed. As a matter of fact, the reason of the involuntary
discharge of the second barrel was not understood, not even by Mr.
Robertson, who had, by trial and error, arrived at a perfect system of
overcoming the difficulty, without being aware of what really occurred.

In the autumn of 1902 the author contributed some letters to _The County
Gentleman_, which explained the difficulty; but his discovery, for such
it has proved to be, was hotly disputed in a correspondence led by some
of the leaders of the gun trade. This was by no means wonderful,
although it is disconcerting for a discoverer to be treated as “past
hope” when he is so unfortunate as to make a find that can do him no
good, but ever since must have saved much in work and patent fees to the
gun trade.

The accepted view of involuntary pull prior to this discovery was that
after the shot from the first barrel, recoil jumped the gun away from
the finger, and then the shoulder rebounded the gun forward on to the
stiff finger, which, being struck by the trigger, let off the second
barrel. The author for some time previous to 1902 had become conscious
that this explanation was open to question. However, it was not until he
sat down and worked out the times of recoil and finger movement, that he
felt safe in challenging so generally accepted a statement. But this
calculation proved to him that, so far from rebound causing the
unwished-for “let off,” the latter occurred in one-twentieth of the time
occupied by the recoil backwards. However, the author’s powers of
persuasion failed to convince everybody, and for this reason the editor
of _The County Gentleman_, with the assistance of Mr. Robertson, of Boss
& Co., and of the late Mr. Griffith, of the Schultze Powder Company,
formed a committee of experts to test the point by chronographic
examination. Results were published in _The County Gentleman_ on
December 6, 1902, and were to the effect that the second discharge came
in one-fiftieth of a second after the first discharge, but that the
recoil backwards, before rebound could occur, took from four different
shooters respectively .32, .29, .34, and .38 of a second, or, roughly,
an average of one-third of a second. So that it was demonstrated that
the rebound from the shoulder had nothing whatever to do with the
involuntary pull. The true and now always accepted cause was as the
author had stated it to be—namely, that the recoil jumped the trigger
away from the finger in spite of the muscular contraction that still
continued after the let off of the first barrel; that this muscular
contraction continued to act and again caught up the trigger, as soon as
the pace of recoil was diminished by the added weight of the shoulder,
and so the finger inflicted a heavier blow or pull on the trigger than
in the first pull off. In the first pull it was finger pressure, in the
next it was pressure acting over distance, and was measurable in
foot-pounds, as work or energy is measured. This proved to be the
correct solution.

Consequently, a good single trigger is one that prevents this finger
blow from discharging the second barrel. It is impossible to prevent the
blow itself, but quite easy to prevent it letting off the second lock.
There are at least three principles employed for doing this.

The first is called the three-pull system; it is based on the necessity
of either the voluntary second pull, or involuntary blow (as the gun may
be loaded or unloaded), for intercepting the trigger connection which
the subsequent release of the trigger allows a spring to place in
readiness to receive the third trigger pull, and act on the second
tumbler; this pull in the unloaded gun is observed to be a third pull,
and in the loaded one is only observable as a second pull, because the
second has been given involuntarily, and not consciously.

The double-pull actions are different in principle. Most of them are
based upon a lengthening of the time between the first let off and the
connections with the second lock coming into position for contact with
the trigger. In other words, they are time movements, based upon the
knowledge that the second pull, or impact of trigger and finger, came
very quickly, and that to delay the intermediate connecting link between
trigger and second lock until after this unconscious impact rendered it

A third system is somewhat different, but is also a timer action. It is
based upon having a loose or nearly loose piece, which is partly
independent of the gun, and either by its lesser motion or want of
movement, during the jump back of the recoiling gun, gets in the way of
a further trigger movement, until the recoil of the gun is over, and the
weak spring can replace the independent piece in its normal position

It has been said that the greatest advantage of a single trigger is the
facility with which it can be removed and double triggers substituted.
But this is merely what those gun-makers have said, who, being obliged
to have a single-trigger action of their own for those who ask for them,
have been too proud to pay a royalty for a good one, and have not felt
quite safe in recommending their own to good customers.

The real advantages of a single trigger are many. First, one does not
have to shift the grip of the gun for the second barrel. As explained
above, recoil occupies one-third of a second, and one does not want to
add to the jump of the gun during recoil by partly letting go, nor to be
unready at the end of it, by still having to move the right-hand grip in
changing triggers. In practice, the single trigger is also much the
quicker. It is not necessary to say anything about cut fingers and their
avoidance by the use of single triggers. But a wonderful advantage is in
the more correct length of stock. If one’s gun-maker gave one a stock an
inch too long, or short, in double triggers, he would be thought not to
know his business. There is only one best length for everybody, but
every double trigger has two lengths of stock, one an inch longer than
the other.

The author is told that there are still some very bad single-trigger
actions being made, but that is quite unnecessary when the best can be
employed by paying a royalty, as some of the best gun-makers are in the
habit of doing, or were, until the recent action Robertson _v._ Purdey
was settled.

Probably it would be more correct to say that the principal advantage of
a bad single trigger is that it can readily be exchanged for a good one.
The author would not on his own authority speak of bad single triggers,
because he has tried most of them, and had difficulty with none.


The time has not yet arrived for us to have a smokeless powder as
regular in its action and as little affected by heat as black powder
was, neither have we as free an igniting powder, which is of less

Nitro powders have greatly improved of recent years, and would doubtless
have continued the progress, but they have been brought up, and to a
standstill, in the last two or three years by a sort of trade agreement,
or an invention of “standard” loading, which may be supposed to have had
its origin in the wholesale cartridge trade, since it is impossible that
it can be good for sportsmen, or for those who try to fit shooters with
their personal requirements, or, in other words, try to load a
sportsman’s gun according to the individual requirements of gun and man.

We are still in the dark ages of “pressure” testing, or trying the
strength of powders by the work they do upon plugs inserted through the
walls of testing guns, and, outside, in contact with lead or other metal
that the explosion, in moving the plugs, crushes. In doing this the
powder-gas does “work” which would be correctly measurable in foot-tons,
but is supposed to be measured in static pounds, which is similar to
dropping a weight upon a scale balance and mistaking the weight for the
work done by the drop. For instance, if we drop a pound weight a foot on
to a scale balance, the work it does is equal to one foot-pound. But if
we place it on the scale gently, it will just balance one pound on the
other side. One is weight and the other is energy, which are not
comparative terms. Yet in testing powders the fashion is to take the
measure of some unknown proportion of the energy and to call it static

On the other hand, the fashion is to make the exactly contrary mistake
in testing guns for shooting strength. The flattening of the shot
pellets on a steel plate is the result of energy; here the flattening of
lead by which “pressures” are erroneously taken is ignored and scouted,
and velocity is considered the thing to judge by, although it is only
the velocity of one pellet out of three hundred which, at 20 yards, vary
by as much as 300 foot-seconds mean velocity.

In a lecture delivered by the late Mr. Griffith, of Schultze Company
fame, it was said quite truly, and with proper pride, that the velocity
of shot had increased during the last twenty years by 100 feet per
second at 40 yards. During this time recoil has been reduced very much,
only apparently in defiance of the law that action and reaction are
equal and opposite.

Recoil is equal to the total momentum of shot, wads, and powder-gas, and
what the powder people have done is to reduce that portion of recoil
that was not represented by momentum of the shot, but was represented by
the momentum of waste powder-gas.

Consequently, what has been got rid of in twenty years is some momentum
of powder-gas, which has served two purposes—first, by permitting some
extra strength of powder, to put some extra momentum into the shot
pellets, and to somewhat reduce recoil in spite of this. That then was
the tendency of the powder-makers, when suddenly they were brought to a
standstill by a catchword, “standard” loading and “standard velocity.”

There would have been some sense in “standard velocities,” had it been
impossible to increase velocities without also increasing recoil; but
nobody believes that. The tendency has not only been the other way, but
it represents the one and only great improvement in powders that has
been made since nitro propellers were first invented. There is still a
large proportion of recoil due to the “blast” after the shot has gone,
or the momentum of lost powder-gas. It is not nearly abolished, and is
only reduced. Consequently, it was no time to say, “Now we have arrived
at perfection, and beyond this point it is a fault to go, and
consequently we fix as a standard 1050 foot-seconds mean velocity at 20
yards as the correct velocity, above and below which nobody must attempt
to carry ballistics of shot guns.” That may suit wholesale
manufacturers, because it is a standard easy to accomplish in bulk, but
here is what it means as a check to progress.

First, if we take a peep at Mr. Griffith’s own celebrated revolving
target trials of just twenty years ago, we find that his mean velocities
of those trials were _all_ more than 1050 foot-seconds at 20 yards
range. They were for the three guns and loads used 1073, 1124, and 1062
foot-seconds. But he has quite truly told us that during these twenty
years the velocity has increased 100 feet per second. Consequently, the
“standard loading” sets back the clock more than 100 foot-seconds and
more than twenty years. That is not all: those beautiful trials
exhibited the fact that the last pellets in a load had from 221 to 300
foot-seconds less mean velocity than the first, so that “standard”
loading may mean 1050 foot-seconds for the first pellets, and 750
foot-seconds for the last, at 20 yards range. These trials were all
conducted with cartridges loaded with 1⅛ oz. of shot. But years before
that, when fine grain black powder was used, and gave to 1⅛ oz. of shot
much higher velocities than those named above, Sir Fred. Milbank shot
his 728 grouse in the day with ⅞ oz., on the ground that the ordinary 1⅛
oz. gave too little penetration—that is, too little velocity.

The only possible arguments left to put forward against increase of
velocity are two:—

1st, that greater pressure adds to the necessity of weight of gun.

2nd, that more velocity spoils patterns.

The reply to the first is that the improvement of powders and increased
velocity has been attained, as stated, by other means, and without
increasing pressures; and, second, if pressures were increased it would
not matter to the shooter who uses best metal in his guns, because it is
quite easy to build 12 bore shot guns under 5 lb. that are quite as safe
as 7 lb. guns; and weight is consequently adjusted by reason of the
incidence of recoil, and not by reason of the weakness of steel.

The second proposition is equally groundless, and it is answered by the
fact that not one in a hundred men use the fullest choke boring, and if
velocity opens out patterns too much, ten shillings spent on a little
more choking, by recess at the muzzle, will bring back the pattern in
spite of the tendency of the greater velocity to open it out.

The means adopted by the powder-makers to effect the improvements
referred to above have been to lighten the charge of powder, or to
compress more fixed gas into a smaller solid weight. This statement more
particularly applies to the light (33 grains) bulk powders. By “bulk” is
meant those powders that fill the space occupied of old by 42 grain
nitro powders in the 3 drams measurer meant for black powder.

But this does by no means embrace all the possible improvements. The 26
grains, and concentrated, powders occupy only about half the space of
the bulk powder of whatever specific gravity, and consequently the
prospect opens before them of making use of their 80 times power of
expansion in the barrel, instead of the 40 expansion power of the bulk
powders. This is not as great a possible improvement as it sounds, but
it is a large one all the same. At present the coned cases used for this
class of nitro powder bring it down below its possibilities, because, as
these cones stretch under powder-gas pressure, it is similar in effect
to the powder occupying more space in the chamber, and negatives a great
part of its capacity for double expansions of other powders within the
barrel. At present the makers of condensed powders have not been strong
enough to get gun chambers generally shortened to suit them, and thus
they are condemned to compete handicapped; but if we were starting to
design guns afresh, and were not bound by precedent and the necessity of
sometimes borrowing cartridges and lending them, gun chambers and
cartridges would be shortened to make use of the possible 80, instead of
40, expansions, with an accompanying still further reduction of lost
powder-gas momentum, or loss by “blast,” and its automatic accompaniment
of more reduction of recoil.

Of course short cartridges in long chambers are not to be thought of
from the standpoint of improvement, and in many guns they ball the shot
in a most dangerous way. Thicker wadding is more objectionable than
coned cases, unless it could be made lighter than the greased felt wad
is now, and not only lighter but less compressible, because to compress
it is to hinder it from bridging the cone between the mouth of the
cartridge and the barrel proper, and it also enlarges the powder chamber
in practice.

Some few years ago the cartridge-makers and the gun-makers came to an
agreement, that there should be a maximum size for cartridges for each
gauge and a minimum size for gun chambers. This was very wise and
proper. These sizes are well known to all gun-makers, to whom they are
important, but they have no interest for shooters, because the latter
have not the instruments to measure either chambers or cartridges, and
the usual and very proper practice is to make the seller responsible,
and return cartridges that are too big to go in the chambers, or too
small, so that they shoot weak, or burst the cases, or both.

Herein lies a great advantage of taking your gun-maker into confidence
about cartridges. We cannot, as a rule, give bigger or smaller cases to
fit chambers that may have been made, or grown, bigger before or since
the agreement was come to; but if chambers are rather large for
cartridges, and consequently shooting is somewhat weak, he can suggest a
grain or two of additional powder to the usual charge. It is the belief
of the author that a gun-maker usually delights in turning his customers
out to do the best possible work, and will take any trouble to that end,
not only because it is business, but because it gives personal pleasure.

Shot sizes are mentioned under the headings of the game to which they
are most fitted; but although a slight advantage can be had by using
hard shot, it is so slight as to be scarcely worth attention from the
marksman’s point of view, and those who love not the dentist should at
least refrain from breaking their own teeth unnecessarily.

Until something better is invented for the purpose of trying guns and
cartridges, strawboard racks and Pettitt pads are the only means open to
the shooter, and besides, when properly used, are the best means. Both
vary in thickness and hardness, the latter according to the weather. But
every shooter can arrange for a trial against a gun he knows, and
against hand-filled black powder cartridges. Then, if he uses his “trial
horse” against the same pads and boards as the other gun, or new
cartridges, he will arrive at correct comparative results. This is not
only the most effective but the cheapest way. If strawboards are used,
the first and last boards can be renewed for each shot. The chances of
having a shot pass through an already made shot hole are too remote and
unimportant to matter. Then the way to assess penetration is to count
the shot that struck the first board or sheet of paper, and the number
that pierced the last, arranging the last in such a position that about
one-half those pellets that hit the first paper also go through the
last. This takes the mean penetration of the load, and was Colonel
Hawker’s method. The results will then read something like this: .41,
.50, .60, .55 of total shot through, say, 20 sheets of brown paper
Pettitt pad.

The true way of testing the energy of the shot is by means of the
ballistic pendulum, but although the author has designed a more simple
apparatus than the usual device of this sort, it is not yet sufficiently
tried to warrant its description.

To the very few who load their own cartridge-cases the author can offer
no advice beyond this: the best cases and wadding, and the best powder,
meaning the highest priced, are necessary, and not merely luxuries. The
amateur loader has no means of testing powders to see if they fluctuate,
and he must rely, therefore, on the maker; and that very careful person
will take the most trouble over that for which he charges most. The
shooter, in fact, is not buying raw material, but personal care and
trouble. There is a possibility of a professional loader varying his
method to suit fluctuations in strength and rapidity of powder. He can
do it by means of the turnover, or by adding to or reducing the charge;
but this is outside the range of the amateur’s skill. He would not know
what was wanted. Even the best nitro powders do vary, batch for batch,
and also by reason of the heat of the weather as well as by that of
their storehouse.

The best place to keep cartridges in during the winter is the gun-room
with a fire, and in the summer in the gun-room also, if it is dry enough
not to require a fire; but the principal safeguard is to keep cartridges
and their bags and magazines out of the sun as much as possible. The sun
will easily raise the so-called “pressure” by about a ton per square
inch in some cartridges. How much this may really be it is difficult to
even suggest, but Lieutenant Hardcastle has estimated that “pressures”
are not reliable within 30 per cent., and the author would have said by
more. Fifty per cent. added is a very different proportion to 50 per
cent. of reduction. In one case it is as 2 to 3, and in the other case
it is as 2 to 1.



                         THE THEORY OF SHOOTING

Many scientific calculations have been made with a view to improving the
shooting of sportsmen, or at least of interesting them. Two, which are
in theory unassailable, have appeared very often indeed in the
unanswerable form of figures and measurements, and nevertheless they are
both misleading, and even wrong, in the crude form in which they have
been left. One of these is based on the calculation that the shot and
the game can only meet provided a certain fixed allowance in front of
moving game is given. The calculations are quite correct, but they have
no application to sport, for the simple reason that they neglect to
calculate the reduction of the theoretical allowance in front, supposed
to be necessary, but not all imperative because of the swing of the gun.
In other words, the gunner, however expert he may be, does not know
exactly where his gun points at the instant the tumbler falls, let alone
the instant the shot leaves the barrel. Between the instant of pulling
the trigger and the shot leaving the barrel a swinging gun will have
moved some unknown distance, and this represents additional unobserved
allowance. An inch of this movement at the muzzle of the gun becomes an
allowance of 40 inches in as many yards of range. It will be necessary
to refer to this unconscious allowance again directly, because it has a
bearing upon the second oft-stated proposition.

It is this: mental perceptions in various individuals range from quick
to slow, and besides this the muscular action due to mental orders and
nerve impulses also range from slow to quick. Both these well-known
facts are constantly asserted to necessitate an _added allowance_ in
front of game by the slow individual. In practice, however, these slow
individuals never admit the yards of allowance that they are supposed to
need to allow in front of fast crossing game. It has occurred to the
author to question whether the man of slow perception and of slow
muscular obedience does need to allow more than the quick individual.
Probably it is exactly the reverse; and he has to see less space between
the muzzle and the game than the quicker man and than he of what is
mistakenly called less personal error.

The “personal error” seems to be in assuming that the slow individual
does not subconsciously know his own speed, and compensate for it.

Apparently it is mistaken to place the actions of shooting in this or
any other sequence of events. It is said, “You see the game, you aim,
your eyes tell the brain your aim is true, your brain orders the muscles
to let off the gun.” That is possibly correct for some people, but the
author does not believe that any fast crossing game would ever be killed
if it were so. His view is that there is the game; your brain now
instructs two sets of muscles to move in different directions, one to
move the gun and another to pull the trigger, and at the same time
informs each how rapidly to act in order that lefthand gun-swing and
right index-finger pressure may arrive precisely together. This is what
is called hand and eye working together, but it should be hand and
finger. The eye certainly may observe whether the two things have been
done at the same instant of time, but when they have not there is no
time for correction; all the eye can do is to inform the brain that the
swing did not catch up before the gun was off, or the reverse, so that
the brain may correct the missed timing for the next shot. It is
necessary to observe that the finger pressure starts, as does the swing
of the gun, before aim is completed, and that if the latter were got
before the order to pull were given by the brain, it would be lost by
the mere continued swing of the gun before the order could be executed.

What has to be considered, then, is what appears to the brain at the
instant of discharge. The quicker the perception of things as they
happen, the more space will be observed between the muzzle and the
crossing bird as the gun races past the game. The slow perception will
not observe that the gun has passed the bird when the explosion occurs,
and this clearly accounts for some good shots declaring they never make
_any_ allowance for crossing game, but shoot “pretty much at ’em.” Of
course they do nothing of the sort; but they tell you what they
perceive. They do not observe that in the interval between pulling
trigger and the shot leaving the barrel the gun has travelled past the
game very considerably, and what they have observed is the relative
position of gun and game at the time the trigger gave way. For their
class of shooting, therefore, they must look for less daylight between
gun and game than the person of quick perception, who sees most of what
there is to observe.

The velocity of light is so much greater than the velocity of recoil,
that it may be questioned, on that ground, whether this is the right
explanation, on the assumption that only recoil would stop the
perception of the relative positions of game and gun. But were it so, it
is necessary to remember that the velocity of light has no relationship
to the velocity of brain perception through the eyes.

But probably recoil has nothing to do with the matter for the man of
slow perception, and to him the discharge is done with as soon as the
trigger gives way. It appears, then, that the slower brain perception is
through the eyes, the less observed allowance a swinging gun will

Is it possible to shoot fast crossing game without a swinging gun? For
an answer to this, the author has tried to come back from the first shot
to meet flying game behind with the second barrel, but has found it
impossible to kill. Here the swing is in the opposite direction to the
movement of the game, and it invariably carries the shot behind the
game. Assuming it to be possible (as it is) to throw up the gun to a
point of aim at which game and shot will intercept each other, the gun
is mostly, possibly always, given a swing in the direction of the game’s
movement by the mere act of presenting. That is to say, the shooter is
raising his gun from a position more or less in the direction of the
game when he starts the movement, and as the game is not there when the
explosion occurs it is obvious that the gun has done some swinging,
possibly unknown to the shooter.

Much reliance upon this kind of racing with the game has its
disadvantages as well as its advantages. It reduces the necessity for
accurate judgment of speed of game to a minimum. That is to say, if the
gun races the game, and gets ahead of it unobserved by the shooter, the
pace of the gun is set by the pace of the game, and the unobserved
allowance ahead is also, and consequently, automatically adjusted by the
game itself—that is, by its angle and its speed.

But this method of shooting takes no account of the _height_ of the
game, and possibly this is one reason why high pheasants are so very
difficult to many excellent marksmen at lower birds.

The pace of game high and low being the same, it is, relatively to the
movement of the gun, slower according as distance increases. If the gun
muzzle has to move 5 feet a second to get ahead of game crossing at 20
yards away, it need move but 2½ feet per second to get ahead of game 40
yards away and moving at the same velocity. Consequently, when the whole
allowance is given unconsciously by swing, and is just enough at 20
yards, it is clear that the same swing will only give the same
unconscious allowance at 40 yards, and that this will not be half enough
at that range, where the pellets are travelling slower and have double
the distance to go.



For this reason, in theory—and the author’s experience supports theory
in this case—it is better to make an allowance in front of all game, _in
addition to swing_, and to increase the allowance very much for long
ranges. To reduce theory to practice: with a swing to the gun
automatically set by the speed of the bird, the author would find it
necessary to allow 3 yards ahead of game at 40 yards, whereas the same
game at the same speed would not have more than 2 feet allowance at 20
yards. But as all game varies in speed, and as all shooters see what
they do differently, this has _no_ educational value for anyone, except
so far as it sets out a principle that has not hitherto been dealt with,
except in some newspaper articles—namely, the principle that swing
regulated automatically by the pace of the bird has more effect at short
range than at long range. This is so whether the nature of the swing is
merely to follow and catch the game, or to race it and get past it, or
to race past it to a selected point or distance in front.

To attempt to bring home this truth to those who do not agree with these
remarks, it may be expedient to point out that they explain a very
common experience. One sometimes gives ample apparent allowance in front
of a crossing bird, and shoots well behind him; then, with the second
barrel, one races to catch him before he disappears over a hedge, fires
apparently a foot or a yard before the game is caught up, and
nevertheless kills dead.

The judgment of speed is not very important if one allows the speed of
the game to regulate the rate of the swinging gun, and although it is
frequently discussed as if no one could shoot well without a perfect
knowledge of speed, it seems doubtful whether it is necessary to worry
about it, when the act of getting on the game is really an automatic
regulation of swinging to the movement of the bird.

But as there are very likely some shooters who would like to be able to
calculate speed as accurately as may be, here is a plan which is never
very much out for heavy short-winged game, such as pheasants,
partridges, grouse, black game, and wild duck of kinds.

Estimate the height of the game at the moment it was shot, then measure,
by stepping, the distance the dead (not wounded) bird travels before it
touches the flat ground. Air resistance to the fall of the bird will be
practically just equal to air resistance to its onward movement after it
is dead, and the time it takes to fall, and necessarily also to go
forward the measured distance, are the same. The time taken for the fall
may be safely calculated by the height in feet divided by 16, and the
square root of the dividend is the number of seconds of the fall. Thus,
if the bird falls 64 feet, then 64/16 = 4, and the square root of 4 is 2
seconds. In 3 seconds the game falls 48 yards, so that practically all
pheasants take between 2 and 3 seconds to fall, or ought to do so.

The velocity the bird is travelling before being shot does not affect
the time it takes to reach the ground, but wind, with or against the
game, slightly alters the distance it goes forward after being killed.
With the wind the game will always be going faster than the air, and
will therefore be getting air resistance from the front, and the method
only partially breaks down when a heavy wind is blowing directly against
the game.



                        THE PRACTICE OF SHOOTING

Mr. Walter Winans has expressed the opinion that the better a shooter
grows at the rifle targets the worse he becomes at moving objects with
the rifle and gun. But it is probable that all good shooting at moving
objects is based upon a beginning of steady alignments. Those who
believe that shooting at flying game is to be well learnt before still
objects can be accomplished seem to the author to neglect the first
principles, and would run before they can walk. There is this to be
considered: that one often does get, even in grouse and partridge
driving, marks that are exactly equivalent to still objects. That is to
say, they are coming perfectly straight at the gun. Is one to let them
off without shooting quite straight because one has been taught not to
align? There is no doubt the best shots do align for the very fastest
crossing game if there is time to do it; and the belief of the author is
that a man cannot be really quite first-rate unless he can shoot in
every style as occasion requires. That is to say, he will be able upon
occasion, when circumstances and time admit of but a brief sight of a
crossing bird between the branches of fir trees, to throw his gun ahead
to a point, as he thinks, and tries to do, without swing, and will be
able to kill his game. The author has occasionally risen to such success
himself, but only when he has not been trying to do it, but has grown up
to it, out of the more certain method of consciously swinging past the
bird to a point in space ahead, and pulling trigger as the alignment was
getting to the spot, and without checking the gun. In the first-named
style of shooting, when the kill comes off, there is probably always
swing, by reason of the gun being put up from a position pointing much
behind the bird, so that the swing occurs as the gun is going home to
the shoulder, and it is not checked when the trigger is pulled, simply
because no swing can be checked instantly. By this method of finding the
place and shooting at it, the author can manage rabbits jumping across
rides—that is, when he manages to kill them at all; but he prefers to
handle winged game by the slower and surer method, which, however, he
would abandon for the better style if he could. But the ability to be
quick in this better style is not his for a permanency, it only comes
sometimes, when there is not time to take game with a conscious swing of
the gun. The late Mr. A. Stuart Wortley, who was one of the best
game-driving shots of his time, has told us in one of his books that he
could not hit anything until he started to shut one eye and align.
Later, he thought first aiming at a bird, and then swinging forward of
it, was slow, and making two operations of one. Lord Walsingham has
assented to a description of shooting in which the “racing” of the bird
with the gun was the principal feature, and Lord de Grey has been
watched to put his gun up, try to get on, and, failing, take it down
without shooting; all of which tends to show that alignment and swing
are the two necessary factors in shooting, not necessarily alignment of
the game, but generally of a moving point at the end of a space in front
of the game. Mr. F. E. R. Fryer is very clear about the advantages of
swing, and also allowance in front. As he is as quick a shot as ever was
deliberate, and more deadly than those in a hurry, there can be no
better proof that swing itself is not necessarily accompanied by any
delay. But there are two or more kinds of swing, and it does not
necessarily mean what Mr. Stuart Wortley implied. It is not always, or
often possibly, a jerk after getting on the game, neither is it a
following round of the game, but in its best form it is probably mostly
done before the gun touches the shoulder, and is not stopped by contact
with the shoulder, or by pulling the trigger. It is not supposed that
those who can sometimes bring off this ideal style—which, in intention,
is finding the right place in front of the game to shoot at—always find
this style possible to them. At least, not invariably possible for very
high and very fast game; and the author believes that the only way to it
for a novice is to begin by aligning, go on by aligning, and end by
aligning; for that is really what this ideal style of shooting amounts
to. It is aligning a spot, which bears no mark, ahead of game, and doing
it as the gun comes home to the shoulder, and with a double movement,
while it swings in the direction the game is going. That is to say, it
is the quickest and most accurate alignment of all. That is the outcome
of all the author has been able to learn of the methods of crack shots,
confirmed by his own longer but smaller experience with the shot gun.



These remarks have appeared necessary by reason of the large quantity of
bad advice that has been given. Those who have said that no alignment
was necessary, because it took too much time, seem to have a notion that
the gun has to move fast because the game does so. But a muzzle movement
at the rate of 3 or 4½ feet a second, or two, to three miles an hour
(less than the space of an ordinary walk), will out-race any reasonable
bird at 30 yards range, even if he is travelling 90 miles an hour, so
that it is not pace, as such, that is difficult.

Calculated allowance in front of game, and the automatic allowance for
speed by reason of swinging with the bird, have been touched upon
already. The worst objections to giving a little too much allowance
ahead are, that only a part of that proportion of the load that should
hit the game does reach it, and that part is the weakest of the load,
or, at any rate, the last pellets. Another is, that any swerve of the
game ensures a complete miss, and it is swerving of fast game that
causes its difficulty much more than its pace. This supposed necessity
for being so very quick because of the great pace of game has spoilt
more shots than anything else. There generally is plenty of time to be
deliberate, to aim at the exact spot while moving the gun at least fast
enough to keep ahead of the game, and it is necessary to remember that
the best shots are the quickest only because they are most deliberate,
and get “on the spot” before firing, or, to be more correct, know that
they are about to get there by the time their fingers can take effect on
the trigger. Mr. Fryer before mentioned says that he has both to swing
and make allowance too for the very fast high birds.

Probably the best way to avoid stopping the gun as one pulls trigger, or
waiting to see that aim is correct before letting off, is to make a rule
to pull just before the right alignment is reached. It will be reached
by the time the shot leave the gun.

There is no reason to say that for handling a pair of guns instinctively
a loader must be trained by the shooter himself, because there are so
many ways of giving and taking guns. Besides this, shooting far off with
the first barrel for grouse, and as soon as partridges top the fence,
are essentials to getting in four barrels at a brood, or covey, as the
case may be. Moreover, it is generally a case of kill or miss in front
of the shooter, and wound or kill behind him.

Shooting schools cannot help a shooter to learn to kill curling
pheasants, swerving partridges, wrenching grouse, or zigzagging snipe,
but they can teach the quick firing and changing of guns. And to one not
in practice it is this quick firing that puts a shooter out of touch
with gun and game, much more readily than swerve, wrench, zigzag, or

All the talk of the speed of driven game making it difficult has
frightened and unnerved many a beginner at such birds, but it is merely
the echo of what was said before shooters had learnt that they had to
swing and aim ahead as well. To talk of speed of game now, as if there
was some mystery in it, is merely to unnerve more disciples of Diana.
When once the gunner knows where he has got to shoot for the driven bird
(in the singular), the shot is much easier than the going-away game,
because the longer you wait in one case the worse chance you have, and
in the other the better chance you have. If the shooter thinks
differently, he can turn round in the grouse butt every time, instead of
shooting his game coming; but he will soon give that up, because he will
find his gun is not equal to the greater requirements of the going-away



After writing the remarks above, it seemed to be the proper course to
consult some of those excellent marksmen who are discussed by everybody.
Consequently, the author bethought him of the article he had written for
_Bailey’s Magazine_ on the twelve best shots, and decided to ask for the
views of a few of those expert marksmen who had, by the votes of others,
come out as best. He was impelled to this course not with any desire to
have his own views corroborated by such good authority, but in order, if
possible, with the greater authority, to correct what to him appear very
erroneous notions so often seen in print. As nobody can assist those who
are perfect already, it is clear that the novice is the person who can
benefit by a discussion of the subject. For this reason it was not so
much to inquire how crack shots shoot now, as how they learnt to shoot,
that was the intention of these inquiries. Often have been put forward
the methods of shooters _after_ they have become expert, which is about
as helpful as telling a schoolboy, “There is W. G., go and imitate him
with your cricket bat.” The author’s own fault of delay and the
limitation of space has rendered it necessary to compress this
information into very small space.

After disowning any more connection with the twelve best than a hundred
others have an equal right to, Mr. R. H. Rimington Wilson was good
enough to reply to some leading questions in much this way:—

In shooting at fast crossing game he looks at the place he is going to
shoot, not at the game.

He admits that the “ideal” best form in shooting would be to bring up
the gun in the nearest way, without swing, and to shoot to the right
place, but he questions whether it can be done for high, or fast, wide
birds. He can do it for near grouse, just as the writer has explained
that he does it for rabbits. But Mr. Wilson is convinced that for
far-off fast game you must “swing.” He once questioned Lord de Grey on
how he shot, and the reply was that this great performer took every
advantage the game gave time for. That is to say, he only shot quick, by
the throwing up and firing without swing, when there was no time for

For pheasants, Mr. Wilson prefers to get behind them and race his gun to
the front without stopping the gun to inquire whether he _has_ got in
front, because he finds that such a stop means shooting behind. But
although this is his plan, he questioned whether it was right, because
when he has occasionally shot from a deep gorge, where there was no time
for this method, he has found the game come down, just as he has when a
quick second barrel has been sent after a first failure. The author
thinks this only emphasises the use and value of swing; because in
shooting at a pheasant crossing a deep gorge the very act of putting up
the gun to the shoulder constitutes a swing in the direction the game is
going. It is probably the fastest of all swinging, and the one to which
the shooter is least able to apply the muscular stop. This, then,
represents what some crack shots do now. But the most important thing to
know is how did they arrive at that point? Did they begin by snapping at
the place where the bird was going to be when their shot arrived, or did
they begin by aligning, and so grow into the mastery of the gun?

The former has been the fashionable method to talk of in the press, but
Mr. Rimington Wilson is very emphatic on the necessity of the rifle like
aligning as a start. The author was very pleased to hear this, because
it is one of those points on which he has always disagreed with what may
be called the written schooling of the shot gun. We have all heard of
the man who never would go in the water until he had learnt to swim, and
probably the would-be crack shot who wishes to begin at the end will
make no more progress than the would-be swimmer.



Mr. Wilson does not believe in choke bores. He thinks that the 8 or 9
yards of distance they increase the range is paid for very dearly at all
near ranges. Another point made by this good sportsman is contrary
altogether to accepted ideas. He does not believe driven grouse harder
to kill than grouse shot over dogs, and would rather back himself to
kill consecutive numbers of the former than the latter. Here, again, Mr.
Wilson is in agreement with the author, who has often given this opinion
in the press, and has, moreover, supported it by pointing to the
wretched scoring of double rises at the pigeon traps, even at 25 yards
and by the best pigeon shots in Europe. Pigeons, again, are much more
responsive to lead than a right and left grouse at 35 yards rise in
October. The grouse spring twice as quick as the pigeon. But Mr. Wilson
was not speaking of the October grouse, but of average grouse shooting
over dogs and average driving. Probably we all agree that there is an
occasional impossible in almost every kind of shooting.

Another point that Mr. Wilson has assisted the author to place in its
true light is that his big bags are by no means made for their own sake,
but simply because the grouse are on the moor and his is the only way to
get them. To hunt for grouse in driblets would be to drive most of them
away never to be shot. They are so wild that they have to be broken up
by the severest treatment, and as one man could drive them all away, so
it takes an army of flankers and beaters to keep them on the moor during
the driving days.

Mr. Wilson shoots with Boss single-trigger guns, and, contrary to
expectation and ideas, one of these single triggers is often made to do
duty in a day’s tramp after a couple of woodcock or a small bag of

                        FORM IN GAME SHOOTING—I

“Form,” like “taste,” is a very definite thing to every one of us, but
probably no two persons have ever quite agreed about either. Shooting
“form” is just as definite: we know for ourselves what is, and what is
not, good form instantly; but again it is not an easy thing to agree
upon in the abstract, although in practice when two men discuss another
they will not be unlikely to agree that he is either “good form” or “bad
form.” There appears to be no half-way house—it is always either good or
bad. Form as it is generally understood has not much to do with success,
but is more a matter of appearance. If a shooter at a covert side
planted his gun at his shoulder when the drive began and so kept it
until a pheasant came over into line, and then he let off, his form
would not be either good or bad—it would be too uncommon for either; too
ridiculous to be seen, in fact; but it is precisely that which pigeon
shooters and clay bird men mostly adopt. It is outside the question of
game killing altogether.

No kind of shooting requires more sharpness of eye than grouse driving,
and when the gun is at the shoulder, engaged with one bird, we all know
how easy it is for others to slip by unobserved, and then we get just as
bad a reputation as if we had blazed away and missed.

Obviously, quickness of perception has much influence on success, but
whether it has anything to do with form is doubtful. It is curious that
what we all agree is the best possible style for the second barrel is
the worst possible for the first. The man who takes down his gun between
the double shot is a fumbler, unless he has to turn round; but the man
who keeps his gun at the shoulder for the first shot is worse. The
reason it is bad form in one case and good in another may not be quite
the same as why it leads to success in one case and not in the other.
Perhaps an appearance of ease has some near relationship to good form,
and ease itself has a nearer affinity to success with the gun. It would
tire out the arms to practise in game shooting the pigeon shooter’s
methods, on whose arms the strain in the “present” position lasts only
until he calls “pull.” The strain in game shooting would last long, and
it would certainly happen that when, at last, game did come within
range, the arms of the shooter would be too cramped to deal properly
with it. “Form,” therefore, appears in this instance to have some
relationship to success. But this is far from being always so. The
author remembers one case of a young man who did not kill much, but of
whom it was said it was more pleasant to see him miss than to see others
kill. This was in shooting over dogs, when good style greatly depended
upon “wind” and “stamina” to get over and shoot from any rough foothold.

There is “form” in walking also, and when stamina counts there can be no
good style in shooting without good easy walking. Look at the different
angles of body in which men go up and come down hills. In the ascent
some people bend their backs over their foremost toes, and progress,
truly, but they have to “right” themselves when the flush occurs, and
before they have done it the bird has flown 20 yards. Again, in going
down hill some men throw back their bodies, and if they have suddenly to
stop they again have to “right” themselves before they can shoot with

But there is something worse than bad shooting style, there is bad
sporting form; and coming down hill often brings it obviously to the man
who is walking behind, and sees the leading man’s gun carried on the
shoulder, pointing dead at the pit of the follower’s stomach. That
cannot be avoided when the gun is carried on the shoulder in Indian
file; but it never ought to be so carried then, and in the writer’s
opinion, at least, is a deadly disregard of “good form.” In this case
probably there will be no disagreement by any who from this cause have
ever felt their “hearts in their mouths.” Guns can be jarred off, and
the rough ground on a moorland down-hill path often occasions very
sudden jars.

There are other shooters who always seem to be at the ready, whether
they are going up hill or down; whether they are jumping from peat hag
to peat hag; or, in the bogs, from one rush clump to another, to save
themselves from sinking in the intervening soft ground. Balance has a
great deal to do with it, and some there are who can shoot straight even
when the foothold is rotten and is giving way under them. It is clear
that good form requires that the performer should be able to shoot from
any position the rise happens to find him in. If he must get the left
foot forward and the weight of the body upon it, he will not be as quick
as others who can get off their guns no matter where their feet may
happen to be.

This seems to be all a matter of balance, and the nearer we imitate
cat-like equilibrium, and not only keep our heads uppermost, but keep
them cool in all circumstances, the more surely shall we get our guns
off at the right moment.

The latest phase of shooting is to make it as easy as possible to
accomplish the difficult. Paradoxically, we have our boarded floor in
our grouse butts, racks to keep the guns off the peat, and shelves upon
which to distribute our cartridges, and we place our grouse butts to
favour the guns. Then, having made everything as easy as possible for
the sportsman, we now attempt to make the birds as hard to kill as wings
and the wind can make them. We send over the pheasants as far out of
reach as we can make them fly; we take particular care to send the
grouse down wind if we can; and when we have got our guns swinging yards
in front of the streaks of brown lightning, then we are especially
pleased if we can bring off an up-wind drive in which the birds can
just, and only just, beat up against the gale, and so defeat the guns
again by the new variation of flight; one in which any sort of lead on
the birds, any kind of swing, will have no other effect than shooting
yards in front of the game, and perhaps in turning it back to fly over
the drivers’ heads and miles down wind beyond.

Some of the most killing shooters are those who need ample time; those
who get on their game 100 yards away, come with it as it approaches,
then jerk forward and pull trigger at the instant, and never require to
look round to see if their bird is dead—they know it is. The critic may
think this terrible slow business; and so it is. What, he will ask,
would happen if four came abreast and the gunner wants all that time for
one bird? The critic’s opinion would be just if he watched and saw that
the slow and sure performer did not, in fact, have time to deal with,
let us say, two pheasants abreast without turning round. But to assume
that a shooter cannot be quick because he is slow when quickness is not
required, assumes too much. The “bang-bang,” in spite of expectations,
may be so quick, from the apparently slow and sure man, that both birds,
coming together, turn over and race each other through the air to the
ground not 10 yards apart.

But it is not good style, this poking and following; it may be very
admirable bag-making, and is so when the quick second barrel just
described is added, but not when each barrel seems to require equally
long to get off. But it is not pretty; it cannot by any stretch of
imagination, even in the best built and most graceful of men or women
performers, be regarded as good style. The gun that goes up to the spot
and is off the instant it touches the shoulder represents the best of
good style. But the author doubts whether it always means the most
success in killing. At any rate, the highest exponents of the art do not
invariably adopt this plan; probably when the top man is at the top of
his form he can shoot in this way, with as great success as he can in
any other: but that is the point. Who is invariably at the top of his
form? The writer would back a great shot to disguise the lack of it from
everyone but himself at any time,—him he cannot deceive,—he knows in his
heart that sometimes he is a fumbler, but nevertheless one who has such
mastery over the many manners of shooting, that if he cannot shoot to
the right spot in one way he will assuredly be able to do it in another,
provided he has a bit more time. At the top of his form he will be aware
that he can rise to any occasion; and the less time he has, the more
brilliant will be his work, the less time he will require. He will be
able to bring tall pheasants down, even those that only show 6 feet
through the gaps in the fir trees, with as much certainty as if he had
them outside and began his aim 100 yards away. But that represents his
very best; he cannot do it every day, whoever he may be, and whatever
reputation he may have to sustain him and to be sustained.

At covert side it is difficult to be always quite awake; the first few
birds may be slovenly taken, and so the shooter may go on until a
difficulty rouses him to exertion, and he becomes fully awake without
recognising the process of arousing. In grouse shooting over dogs the
same differences of form are seen, and others also. One shooter puts up
his gun at the bird fluttering at his feet, waits until it gets 30 yards
away, and kills it dead, and he may be quick enough with the second
barrel. Another waits with his gun down until the birds are a proper
distance away, then his “crack—crack” takes the farther off bird with
the first barrel and the nearer next, and they tumble on top of each
other. The one is “form,” the other is equally good bag-filling; but
then these are _not_ the days of pot-hunting, and the difference between
the two methods is as great as between the flint and steel and the
modern single trigger.

There are more differences than the mere art of killing, and the manner
of its doing. In walking up to a dog’s point, for instance, the
sportsman and the mere gunner proclaim their different “forms” as wide
as the poles apart. The one walks like the crack man across country
rides, wide of the “dogs,” perhaps one will be 25 to 35 yards to one
side or other; another man may walk right at the dog and level with his
head as he draws on, until perhaps he consequently loses the scent; or
turns and rodes the birds right between the gunner’s legs, or would if
he opened them and failed to get out of the way. In such circumstances
the dog needs no help in pointing out bad form in sportsmanship,
although he will not pass an opinion on gunning. The dogs that turned
tail and went home, because of the frequent missing, existed, it is
said, in the early part of last century. But in those days they had not
instituted spring field trials, in which dogs do their work as well as
in the shooting season, and in the total absence of the gun and the
slaying of game.



                        FORM IN GAME SHOOTING—II

The manner in which various shooters hold their guns, or rather the
position of the left hand, has been elevated to the dignity of a
shooter’s creed almost. It is not so important as is supposed. It is
merely a fashion, which changes with generations in England, and has
never assumed importance out of our very little island. The fashion at
the present time is to push forward the barrel hand almost if not quite
as far as it will reach, whereas two generations back the fashionable
shooter for the most part placed his hand in front of and upon the
trigger guard, and although a beginner now who did so would be told that
he would never shoot, the author has seen as good work done by those who
adopted that method as he ever expects to see.

The forward hand was an outcome of pigeon shooting, like the very
straight stock. The first can be theoretically defended by those who do
not require to swing with their game, just as the over straight stock is
a good expedient for shooting a little more over a rising pigeon than
the unassisted intention of the shooter would accomplish.

The method of pushing out the left arm may be good for some people and
bad for others. There is not the slightest doubt that there are not only
individuals who do best with either plan, but that different methods of
shooting are each most suitable to different individuals.

Individuals may be divided into those who have long arms and narrow
shoulders, and those who have short arms and are wide between the
shoulders. The former class have much more room for play with three
sides of the triangle (of gun, left arm, and width of body), always kept
at nearly the same length, than have the short-armed, wide-chested men,
who, in swinging the gun a greater degree to the right than they turn
the body, increase the necessity for one long side to the angle much
more than the others do. But the hand holding the barrel is not a
fixture, and can slide down to the fore end as the necessity for the
long left arm increases by swinging to the right. This is obviously the
Prince of Wales’ method. However, when the swing round to the right is
very far, the position of the fore end stops the hand at a certain

But the various manners of shooting also seem to necessitate two
different methods of holding with the left hand. Much has been said
about the necessity for holding well forward, but the reasons advanced
in support of this method do not bear examination by the light of
physics. It has been urged that the outstretched arm properly relieves
the trigger hand from the necessity of assisting in the aim. It is
doubtful whether it should, and it is quite certain it does not, relieve
the trigger hand, but on the contrary throws more work upon it. The
proof of this is very easy. Let the gun be grasped in the centre of
gravity by the left hand and presented, the trigger hand being
unemployed. It will be found a difficult but a possible operation. Then
shift the left hand up the barrel as far as it will go, and try to bring
the gun up from the “ready” to the “present.” This will be found much
more difficult, and probably impossible. Obviously, then, the
outstretched arm is not the way to hold a gun if the left arm is to do
the pushing and pulling about. This reason, which has been very much
relied upon, breaks down entirely; but that is not to say that the
forward hand is wrong, but only that its advantages are but little
understood, although they are fully appreciated.

In order to present a gun at a point of aim that is still, probably the
extended arm is always the best, whether the point of aim is a point in
front of fast crossing game, or a motionless object, or a straight-away
bird. This can be supported by another very simple experiment. The gun
presented at a point is much more apt to “wobble” than when it is
intentionally kept moving in any one direction. One of its worst
“wobbles” is a drop of the muzzle at the instant the trigger is pulled.
It is caused by sympathetic action of the muscles. In order to avoid
“wobble” of any kind, it is best to hold the hands as far on either side
of, or rather in front and behind, the centre of gravity as possible. To
try this, let the gun be presented and aimed without the butt resting on
the shoulder; first, with the hands in the usual positions; second, with
one hand on either side to right and left of the centre of gravity—that
is, just in front of the breech. The tendency to “wobble” will be easily
observed in the latter holding and aiming. If one should be so steady as
not to see it, then a trial of the same thing in a high side wind will
very quickly show which is the steadiest way of holding.

But even if we are such clever shots as to require no swing to get on to
“the spot” for the first barrel, we shall certainly require to swing for
the second shot, or, alternatively, adopt the plan of taking the gun
down from the shoulder and re-presenting it. For this reason the
position of the left hand is not ideal for the second barrel when it is
outstretched to the full length of the arm, or when the arm is shortened
with the elbow bent is the position ideal for getting on a point without
swing. It is doubtful whether such a thing as the latter can happen on
fast crossing game, because there is obviously unconscious swing in the
act of bringing the gun from the “ready” to the “present.”

There is no doubt that the learner, as well as the gunner who is
temporarily out of form, are best served by a method in which they can
most easily swing the gun, because it is by the act of swinging the gun
with the game that good form is so often recovered, through increase of
confidence, after a partial absence without leave. But the act of
swinging can be done as much with the body as with the arms, and
certainly lateral swing can be very effective when partly accomplished
in this way.



One of the most fertile causes of missing is swinging round with the
arms and shoulders, and not with the hips. Obviously, if the shooter can
always keep facing his game, the triangle sides made with gun, arm, and
body all remain of the same length, and besides, the head and eye remain
relatively in the same position, and absolutely in the same line with
the rib and sight of the gun and game. If, then, a shooter can rely upon
thus facing his game, he has more need of bringing up the gun to a point
than he has of muscular contraction of the arms in pushing and pulling
about the gun, in swinging with the game.

Still, we can none of us afford to be handicapped, and there are
occasions when the arms must swing for all they are worth, and for this
reason an easy position for the left hand is desirable, although that
position need not necessarily be looked for on the trigger guard, or
even on the fore end of the gun. There is a medium in all things, and
assuredly those who strain to get their hands more forward than looks
comfortable are likely to miss in consequence. This remark is made
because the author has seen some beginners striving to reach forward,
because they have read that it is proper; whereas they looked as
strained as if they were on the rack, and besides, killed no game.

One of the most awkward attempts is to try to follow game overhead and
fail to get enough in front to fire. There is then no time to turn
round. When turning round is necessary, it should be done with the gun
at the “ready,” not at the “present,” and not until the foot is planted
firmly should the gun be raised. Any following round with the gun, or
even with the eye if the game is going over, will not prove very deadly
as a rule. The late Lord Hill and his brother, the Hon. G. Hill, were as
good pheasant shots as anybody is, or has been, and it was very obvious
that they both went round and planted a firm foot before looking for
their game from overhead.

The two positions of holding the left hand may be seen in the shooting
of the Prince of Wales, with the straight arm, and in Mr. R. Rimington
Wilson, with the bent left elbow.

The question has often been asked, What should one do in case a
neighbour hits a bird that is obviously going away to die? It seems to
depend on what your neighbour would wish: a bad sportsman, if that is
not a paradox, may ask you why you are shooting his dead birds. That is
only because he would rather run the risk of leaving wounded game than
lose the off chance of claiming another bird. But a good sportsman would
generally know by the appearance of the game whether it was likely to
fall within reasonable distance; also he would know that by the
unwritten laws of sport first blood constitutes ownership without any
claim being made, and there should be no false pride that prevents
wounded creatures being added to the bag as expeditiously as possible.
There is another consideration. It is the worst possible form to cause
much time to be occupied in looking for wounded game. It spoils the

At the same time, one who values the good opinion of others will avoid a
practice of sharing birds, or shooting at those more properly the
targets of the next man. There is often a doubt as to whose shot a bird
properly is. It is not good that both shooters should decline the chance
for the sake of the other, but generally one man knows the other’s form
so well, that if the latter does not take the bird at one particular
instant of time, it may be taken as left alone for the former to deal

Probably anyone who remembers the sound advice given in

                    “Be to others kind and true,
                    As you’d have others be to you,”

will make no mistake in shooting form, and will certainly never allow
his gun to rake the flanks of his neighbours as he swings his body in
walking in line, nor will he allow a gun at any instant, loaded or
unloaded, in loading or unloading, to point at anybody for a fraction of
a second. Besides which, he will rather let off a dozen woodcocks,
unshot at, than run the risk of putting out beaters’ eyes, or of being
told that, “although that gun seems so harmless on the game, it has
probably got some shot in it.” Besides this, a shooter is responsible
for the care, and also the appearance of care, of his loader, and the
two things are not quite the same; for although care implies that
shooters’ bodies are safe, it does not always refrain from attacking
their nerves. For instance, when empty guns are jerked about, aligning
everybody in turn, it is quite safe for the bodies, but very bad for the
nerves of those who do not know the guns are unloaded.

Drawing for places is the best plan of posting guns. The author has
found any other way, such as trying to give the best places to the
honoured guest, very unsatisfactory. You never can give the best places
to some people, for they do not know how to stand still. The writer has
sometimes had the best shooting himself when he has taken the worst
place, simply because the “honoured guests” were acting as “flankers,”
and sending the game elsewhere that should have gone to them. To show
yourself as little as you like, but to move not at all, is obviously a
part of good shooting form.

It is hardly necessary to say that it is not the best of form to tell a
fellow-guest that the management of the beat is “rotten,” and then to
make some remark that your host translates into flattery. The
fellow-guest may have taken your criticism as a useful hint to the host
already, with your own “great authority” attached to it.

Somewhere the author has heard that His Majesty has expressed his
opinion that a pheasant shared is a good deal worse than a pheasant
missed; and in the head keeper’s room at Sandringham hang some verses
which therefore obviously have the King’s approval, the more surely
because they hang there in spite of their greater precept than polish.
They appear to round off a chapter on form in shooting with a Royal
behest. Part of them read—

                  “Never, never let your gun
                  Pointed be at anyone:
                  That it may unloaded be,
                  Matters not the least to me.
                      You may kill or you may miss,
                      But at all times think of this:
                      All the pheasants ever bred
                      Won’t repay for one man dead.”

                             CRACK SHOTS—I

_Bailey’s Magazine_ initiated an interest-provoking scheme when it set
its readers to work to solve the difficult problem of which twelve men
were the most expert in each branch of sport. It started with polo, in
an article by Mr. Buckmaster, wherein the play of each man was reviewed
in the true impartial spirit of criticism. The names had just then
almost been officially given to the world in the Hurlingham “recent
form” list; and this the readers of _Bailey_ confirmed. In one article
the twelve best fishermen were voted for; and fly fishing, unlike polo,
is a private sport; unlike shooting, it is not even carried out in
private parties, and really there was nothing to go upon except the
literary efforts of the fishermen voted upon. Because a man can write
and can interest fishermen, he need not necessarily be a clever angler.
Francis Francis was the one; by all accounts he was very far from the
other. Consequently, the voting for anglers of highest form was on a
totally different basis from that of the less private as well as the
wholly public sports. Had we set the ballot-box going for crack marksmen
(exclusive of riflemen and pigeon shots) sixty years ago, the man who
must have come to the top was Colonel Hawker. He would have been there
by right of the story he told to young shooters, for whether he was the
superb marksman suggested by his writings or not, there was nobody to
challenge it—no one who had shown that he knew woodcraft and watercraft
half as well. Probably there has never been anyone since who could hold
a candle to the Colonel for a complete knowledge of the latter art and
science (for gunnery was as much a concern of his as the habits of
fowl). Had we voted, we must inevitably have placed him top of the tree;
because game shooting then was not a thing to be conducted in large
parties, but was a concern only of my friend, my pointer, and myself.
There were no spectators except the beaters, who were up the trees to
mark, and the gamekeeper, who carried a game-bag, and perhaps rode a
shooting pony.

Pigeon shooting did a little, a very little indeed, to make for
publicity years afterwards; and there were occasional matches shot at
partridges, but these were sometimes more by way of testing the game
capacity of estates than the shooting skill of the marksmen. Thus on one
occasion there was a match shot in the south-west corner of Scotland and
in Norfolk on the same day, and although Norfolk won by a little, the
bags were near enough together to prove that the two districts were then
very equal as natural partridge country. That they are very unequal now
only proves that the more care has been bestowed upon game in the
Eastern Counties.

But had there been any voting for crack marksmen in those days, it is
certain that, after Hawker, the men who were most talked of (the match
makers) would have come out next. They alone were heard of by all
sportsmen, and the sporting magazines had chronicled their prowess.
Other shooters were “born to flush unseen, and waste their powder on the
desert hare”—to misquote to fit the occasion.

In these times in a sense it is different. Men do see each other shoot
in parties up to fourteen. But it is clear that when parties, even half
as big, are constantly changing, and meeting fresh guns every time, that
the form of any individual amongst them soon gets to be known as
accurately as that of any race-horse in training at headquarters. This
is how it happens that it has been possible to select a dozen men of
mark and marksmanship difficult to displace in the consensus of opinion
of the men they meet and shoot with.

But just as the majority were never heard of when George Osbaldeston,
Lord Kennedy, Horatio Ross, Coke of Norfolk, Colonel Anson, and the
rest, were shooting matches, so it may very well be that the best shots
of our day never shoot in big parties, and are not known as good shots
at all. There are still large numbers of shooters so much sportsmen that
they think of woodcraft and sportsmanship first, and only of
marksmanship as a secondary and necessary accomplishment.

What, after all, is putting a bullet into the heart of a stag at 100 or
150 yards distant? Any gun-maker’s assistant could make sure of doing it
at the standing deer, provided he did not happen to suffer from buck
fever, and unless he was a sportsman at heart he would not. But to stalk
that stag is a problem of a very different character. The novice will
probably make a mess of the simple business of following the heels of
his stalker—he who carries his rifle, finds the stag, stalks him, puts
“his gentleman” in position, places the rifle in his hand, and tells him
when to fire. When the latter can do all that without the stalker’s
assistance, he may, and will, flatter himself that the mere shooting
straight was quite an elementary stage in the art of woodcraft, and that
marksmanship counts for very little indeed in the most fashionable and
most sporting use of firearms in Britain. Besides this, stalking is as
private as fishing with the dry fly; and again, had our ancestors had to
select a stalker for premier position, it would have been Scrope first
and the rest nowhere, just on the same grounds as before: Scrope had
described his splendid sport in his book.

Then, obviously, the shooters of grouse over dogs are barred also;
because, two being company and three none, it would be impossible to
take a consensus of opinion. If it were possible, what principle would
choice be made upon? The mere shooting straight is very little of the
work to be done. Surely the man who can handle his own brace of pointers
or setters, a retriever also, and shoot as well, is a step above him who
can only shoot. Then the man who can walk for ten hours is far and away
better than he who is beaten in five.

In the old partridge shooting matches it was the pace that killed and
the pace that won, and there are few men who can walk fast all day and
shoot straight; still fewer whom people would name as the best, because
they would not have seen them. Then there is the big-game hunter, who
must be judged, though probably wrongly, on the size of his bag. He,
too, does not perform in public. And all these sportsmen have to be left
out of count in such selections as the readers of _Bailey_ have made.
Their verdicts, as a matter of course, have gone to the men who can best
deal with streams of game by means of three ejector guns and a couple of
loaders. It is not so much a question of shooting straight as shooting
straightish and often. The man who kills two out of four in one unit of
time is better than he who kills three out of four in twice the time. At
the end of the day the former’s bag will be the bigger, he will have had
more sport, and, as the late Prince Duleep Singh advised his sons,
“Cartridges are made to be let off.”

There is good reason why the driving of all kinds of game should be the
most popular sport with the greatest numbers. The days when the squire
shot game every day in the week, and no faster than he could eat it,
have long ago departed; this is not because the “hunting” of a pheasant
with gun and dog is not as good sport as ever it was, for the pheasant
is at least as interesting to hunt to his lair before he is flushed and
shot, as is the hare to hunt until she can move no more. In both cases
the individual gives vastly more sport than when it is shot as one
amongst hundreds. But the “leisured class,” as Americans call it, are
constantly finding more work to do, more that must be done; and we shall
soon, like the Americans, have no leisured class but the unemployed,
just as they have none except the telegraph-boys. That is the reason
sport has to be taken in junks. It does not make for a knowledge of
woodcraft; but there is little woodcraft necessary in ordering the
beating of coverts crowded with pheasants. Then, although the single
driven bird may be a particularly easy shot to the shooter, difficulty
increases precisely in the same ratio as numbers. The excellent shot who
can kill 10 pheasants quickly and consecutively cannot necessarily kill
30, much less 100, in three and ten times the period. To do it, he must
be in condition of the best—at least his arms must. There are crack
shots like Lord de Grey, who in his prime was in a class by himself in
the butts, but would not have held his own with Lord Walsingham in a
stiff day’s walking up game. Some of the crack shots have not been above
shooting-school practice at streams of clay birds, sent over them in
order to get the arms used to working each gun fairly, quickly, and
accurately, and without the man becoming demoralised by suddenly asking
too much of his muscles. The writer has found his arms aching under the
work as if with rheumatism.

The voting placed Lord de Grey still at the top of the tree; one shooter
remarking that he was quite in a class by himself. Lord de Grey uses
hammer ejector guns, and he can always shoot slowly, and on his day (and
they are mostly his days) he is said to be just as quick as the chances
occur; some of his greatest admirers declare that you can never tell by
the interval when he changes guns. Mr. R. Rimington Wilson and Lord
Walsingham are bracketed for second place: the latter does less shooting
than he used to, and the former more. Most of the modern generation have
gone to school to Lord Walsingham, and Mr. Wilson is described as the
best grouse shot in the world. The Prince of Wales takes rank amongst
the twelve best, and it is said, to the credit of the Royal sportsman,
that he would always draw for places if he were allowed to do so. His
keenness is beyond question, and his experience abroad as well as in
this country is well known. As a shot he is very quick. Prince Victor
Duleep Singh is remarkably quick too, and as accurate as can be. Low
flying pheasants he can kill regularly without hitting them elsewhere
than in the head and neck, but then he went to school to his father at
ten years old. Amongst the men who have come to have great credit as
shots of late years is Mr. J. F. Mason, who now has Drumour, long shot
over by the late Barclay Field. Mr. Mason can kill wild pigeons as well
as game, the former with results never exceeded. The Hon. H. Stonor is
another gunner selected by the voting for the twelve cracks; he is
particularly good at high pheasants, and is built for shooting. Mr.
Wykeham Martin and Mr. E. de C. Oakley are said to be quite exceptional
performers in a high wind. Lord Falconer, whose shooting with the late
Baron Hirsch in Hungary was a revelation, and Lord Ashburton, who gave
us all a lead in partridge preserving, are noted for being graceful
shots, and as effective as any; and Mr. Fryer of Newmarket is, with a 6¼
lb. gun and 1 oz. shot, as deadly as any man living, on driven
partridges. Mr. Arthur Blyth, one of our greatest partridge preservers,
and Mr. Heatley Noble are both included in the marksmen twelve. It will
be noted with interest that several of these gunners use hammer guns,
and most of them guns of full weight and a light charge of shot.

It is very likely that _Bailey’s_ scheme found severe critics, but after
all it is a better plan than that which allowed Hawker and Scrope to
write themselves into fame, and it will certainly go to make the History
of Sport.

                             CRACK SHOTS—II

The author having criticised the article in _Bailey’s Magazine_ in the
above remarks, was nevertheless himself responsible for it all, except
the voting, so that his criticism is obviously intended in good part,
and is only to indicate what a very limited class of shooting comes
under review in an article of the kind. There have been wonderful shots
who cannot be compared. For instance, good snipe shots, who saw Mr. Hugh
Owen shoot snipe in Pembrokeshire thirty-five years ago, told the author
that he not only beat them, but out-classed them, as well as everyone
else he ever met. What surprised was the great distances he killed these
birds consecutively with No. 5 shot—the size always used by Lord

Since that article was written the author has often been told that Lord
de Grey is the only shooter who is as good as his reputation. No doubt
he is as good, for many of those who voted put him “in a class by
himself,” and more particularly when the shooting was extra difficult,
as in a strong wind and when birds were far out. Then his hammer ejector
choke bores, which are handed to him at full cock, and always loaded
with 42 grains of Schultze powder and 1–1/16 of No. 5, have a way of
finding the right place at a greater rate than any others. It has been
said of him that you can never tell by the interval when he changes his
guns. The two most discussed incidents in his shooting have been when he
accomplished five grouse coming together, by changing guns after he had
shot one barrel, and then had time to get two more of the five in front
of him and two behind. On another occasion, in walking through covert a
cry of “mark” brought round Lords de Grey and Walsingham, when, amongst
the trees, they accounted for four partridges each, or the whole covey
of eight birds. Lord de Grey is a very deliberate shot when he has time
to be so, and he has been seen to swing his gun some distance without
succeeding in getting on his game, and in consequence to refrain from
shooting. Therefore no question can arise about the fact that he aligns,
at least when there is time. Lord Walsingham wrote some years ago to
describe to a newspaper his method of killing wood pigeons, which,
amongst other evolutions, had been occasionally chased by a falcon. He
said: “The way in which a certain measure of accuracy, although by no
means a satisfactory measure to myself, was attained in shooting at
these wood pigeons could scarcely be better described than in the words
of your correspondent. He writes: ‘I myself race the birds, as it were,
in my mind without bringing up the gun; I then swing it and fire. This
swing or pitch is all done in one motion’! So far I go with him
entirely, but when he adds, ‘and the gun is not stopped even after the
trigger is pulled,’ I differ from him in practice. In my case the gun is
stopped at the instant of pulling the trigger, having been swung to as
nearly as possible to the exact spot the bird may be expected to reach
by the time the charge can get there to intercept it.” Lord Walsingham
was using 3¼ drams of Hall’s Field B powder and 1⅛ oz. of No. 5 shot
from a cylinder gun.

The number of cartridges used for the 1070 grouse in the day in 1888 was
1500. As a feat of endurance and woodcraft this is hardly likely ever to
be surpassed, especially with black powder. Only a shooter who never
suffered from gun headache could have done it. But even when that is
said, the keeping the birds on a 2200 acre moor for 20 drives is the
point of the story. When the late Sir F. Milbank killed his 728 birds,
he reduced his shot to ⅞ of an ounce in order to get penetration, and
declared that he would still further reduce to ¾ of an ounce for the
sake of still more penetration.

Mr. F. E. R. Fryer has been observed to have three pheasants dead in the
air at once, and yet in another page he is described as a deliberate
shot. It has also been shown upon another page that it takes just ⅓ of a
second to bring the backward movement in recoil to rest. Probably the
reaction of the shoulder takes as long after recoil, so that if the
tallest first bird fell from 40 yards high, and took, by the action of
gravity, 2¾ seconds to reach the ground, when quite dead, we may examine
the time thus:—

          Recoil and reaction after first kill       ⅔ seconds
          Fresh aim and let off                      ¾ seconds
          Recoil and its reaction after second kill  ⅔ seconds
          Fresh aim and let off                      ¾ seconds
                                Total 2.83 or about 2¾ seconds

Three-quarters of a second seems to be ample time for getting aim and
letting off. Partridges and pheasants when there is no wind travel about
60 feet a second, and Mr. Fryer has also been observed to take quadruple
toll out of a covey; if we may assume this done within 40 yards in front
and 40 behind, we have 4 birds killed in 4 seconds.

This would represent the times:—

                  First recoil and recovery  ⅔ seconds
                  Second aim and let off     ⅔ seconds
                  Second recoil and recovery ⅔ seconds
                  Third aim and let off      ⅔ seconds
                  Third recoil and recovery  ⅔ seconds
                  Fourth aim and let off     ⅔ seconds

So that four from one covey of partridges represents quicker shooting
than three pheasants in the air together, provided, of course, that the
partridges are not coming against a wind, and are not in straggling

These two little calculations are made in order to show the enormous
importance of as little recoil as possible, and that is also the reason
that the author has set himself to design a ballistic pendulum capable
of easily taking the momentum of recoil, and the momentum of the shot,
at the same discharge, which is a thing that cannot be done by the
chronograph, because that instrument only records the time (not the
striking velocity) of the thing that hits it and breaks connection, and
that thing is the fastest pellet instead of the average of all, or the
total of the pellets. Powder-makers can still further reduce recoil;
that is, if they are encouraged by a general demand for those powders
that give the least recoil for an equal power of shot impact.

The author was reminded not long ago by the Rev. W. Serjeantson of an
occurrence of thirty years ago. Three guns, of which he and the author’s
were two, were shooting together over dogs, and twice on the same day,
after a brood of grouse had risen, the author, having been fully
occupied in shooting, asked the keeper which way the rest of the brood
had gone. His reply was on both occasions, “They have all flown one
way.” That is, there were six up and six killed, which sounds much more
commonplace than it really is, because, as it so seldom happens that
three guns do shoot together over dogs, when by chance they do so there
is a very good excuse for two barrels to be let off at the same bird,
but of course only when the birds rise all together, as they did on
these occasions.

The most sporting bird the author has made the acquaintance of is the
Virginian quail. Three guns advancing to a point at these birds would
not often get six birds at the flush of the covey, although, on an
occasion when they rise at twice, two guns have got five, as happened
once when, with Mr. Hobart Ames, who is President of the Shovel Trust in
America, the author was shooting over his and Mr. H. B. Duryea’s
celebrated setters, one of which could easily have earned in America
£500 a year at the stud if his owner had not preferred to shoot over
him. But it is not at the rise of the covey that these birds are
difficult. As soon as they are flushed they fan out and take to covert,
and their twisting second rise, with the scrub between them and the gun,
makes them very difficult. Mr. and Mrs. Duryea are both remarkably good
quail shots; the author could not say which is the better, but he
believes Mr. Duryea claims to be the better turkey shot, a claim which
the lady admits. Mr. Duryea can even make the decoy turkey gobble by the
accuracy of his shooting upon occasion. In Tennessee the author was by
their kindness introduced to the old English fashion of shooting by the
use of shooting ponies. The mounted guns, whether one or three, had
three handlers of dogs, each mounted also, and each working a brace of
speedy dogs, and by that means covering three-quarters to a mile of
country at a beat. The horn is used to sound “a point,” and then the six
miles an hour “fox trot” is increased to hunting speed, until the point
is reached, when the shooters slide off and shoot. The useless (?)
nigger can, at such times, manage to lead six horses. This sport is a
sort of cross between hunting and shooting, as also was that of ancient
England, if all accounts are true. So was hunting in the New Forest,
when William Rufus missed his way, and ran up against an arrow by

All good shots at their best must shoot in the same way: what differs is
the way they see their own performances and the way they describe them.
This has been dealt with on other pages. But likenesses do not end with
actual aiming, for somewhat similar to the American quail shooting
described above was the method by which the late Maharajah Duleep Singh
killed his 440 grouse in the day. That is to say, he had several brace
of dogs with as many handlers going at the same time, and rode from
point to point. But for quickness of shooting and changing guns he has
probably never been beaten. Every shooter, as far as the author can
learn, is sometimes surprised at missing with the first barrel, and at
the ease with which the second barrel accomplishes the more difficult
task. Surely we may take a lesson from the crack shots who have this
experience. The pace at which they are obliged to swing to catch up for
the second shot necessitates an uncontrollable gun at the end of the
swing—a gun going faster than merely keeping up with the bird, and they
kill because they are more forward than they thought. But if so, it may
be asked, “What then is the use of alignment?” Precious little for that
shot certainly, seeing that there is no time to correct aim. But
alignment does not mean looking down the rib and seeing the bird at the
end of it; it means looking down the rib _at_ some point in space which
moves as the bird moves, and its principal value is not that it is good
to correct aim, but that it guides the first swing to the spot. For
instance, in the second shot the gun is at the shoulder always, and
swings in to the correct place while always in alignment with the eye.

Ten years ago, Sir Ralph P. Gallwey picked out the following as the best
shots in England:—Lords de Grey, Walsingham, Huntingfield, Ashburton,
Carnegie, Wemyss, and Bradford, the Maharajah Duleep Singh, Messrs. F.
E. R. Fryer, A. Stuart Wortley, R. Rimington Wilson, and F. S. Corrance.

_Bailey’s_ list of voted-for good shots was—

 1.         Earl de Grey.

 2.          Mr. Rimington Wilson.

             Lord Walsingham.

 3.         Mr. H. Noble.

 4.          Hon. H. Stoner.

             Lord Falconer.

             Prince Victor Duleep Singh.

             H.R.H. the Prince of Wales.

             F. E. R. Fryer.

 5.          E. de C. Oakley.

             Lord Ashburton.

 6.          A. W. Blyth.

             C. P. Wykeham Martin.

             Prince F. Duleep Singh.

             Lord Carnarvon.

 7.          Lord Warwick.

             Lord Westbury.

             Sir Robert Gresley.

Prince Victor Duleep Singh is no doubt about as quick a game shot as his
father before him; the latter as a shot compared in the same way with
Englishmen as his countryman “Ranji” compares with our slower

The Prince of Wales is very quick and very keen; not at all a
feather-bed sportsman, he is ready at all times to face the weather for
a very little sport. His duck shooting in Canada and his jungle sport in
India are within the recollection of everybody. That he does not draw
for places is because a host’s will is law even to the heir to England’s

The Hon. H. Stonor, who is not easily beaten for style and accuracy,
uses 33 grains of E.C. No. 3 and 1 oz. shot. He uses hammer ejector
guns, as do the Prince of Wales, Lord de Grey, and Lord Bradford, who
once did some record shooting in Scotland.

Mr. Wykeham Martin is supposed to be as good in a gale of wind as any
man, and his rabbit shooting across rides is at least as good as
anybody’s. He has made a name for himself on snipe in Ireland, and has
the very sporting reputation of being the most unselfish shooter in

Mr. R. Rimington Wilson, who has been referred to on another page, is
specially good at low crossing grouse, which are generally considered
much more difficult than those which show against the sky, and he takes
the near birds just above the beak, and as he was described in _Bailey_
by some shooters as the best grouse shot in the world, here is another
very good proof of alignment being the correct thing.

Mr. Arthur Blyth has accounted for 64 partridges in one drive, and is
considered a brilliant shot.

Mr. E. de C. Oakley is probably the best shot in North Wales; he is
especially good in a gale of wind, at hard feathered game, and meets the
difficulty with a big charge.

Lord Ashburton is said by several of the voters to be a most graceful
shot, and his accuracy is beyond dispute.

Mr. Fryer complains that he gets older while the partridges do not;
other people think he uses a 6¼ lb. gun and 1 oz. shot in a way to
prevent them getting older.





                          POINTERS AND SETTERS

Twenty-five years ago the fashion was to decry driving game, and to hold
up, as the good old sporting plan, the use of gun-dogs in the pursuit of
partridges and grouse. But this was only a fashion of the fashionless.
Shooters were not so childish as to decline to shoot in one method
because they could not do it in the other, and half the grouse moors and
three-quarters of the partridge ground then, as now, could not be worked
with pointers and setters without sacrifice of a large portion of the
game. Either it was driven away for wiser neighbours to bag, or else it
died of old age after doing as much harm to its successors as any early
Hanoverian king of England—that is, as much as possible. The reasons for
the growth of wildness are many, but in dealing with dogs it is only
necessary to take the birds as we find them, and to get them in the most
sporting fashion that is left open to us.

At the same time, it may be remarked that the Press changed completely
round after the publication of the Badminton shooting books, and it
became as unfashionable to write of shooting over dogs as it had been to
write of driving.

But the views expressed in the Badminton books were drawn from Yorkshire
and Norfolk, and the result was that this time both sportsmen and the
Press attempted to force an imitation of those methods that in those
counties had only been adopted as a choice of two evils, when birds
became so wild that it was a question of driving or no game. This
fashion has made the act of shooting take rank above the all-embracing
“sportsmanship” in the minds of those who have grasped at and acquired
the first-named part without aiming at the whole. But this view is not
likely to last longer than the mechanical part of shooting remains a
difficulty. It is little likely to do so for long, with so many shooting
schools, where clay birds can be sent over the gun in streams at all
angles and all speeds. Here the management of two, three, or four guns
can be learnt, ambition can be served, and after that a decline in
keenness will generally set in. One of the greatest and best shooters of
the seventies and eighties, one who carried most weight in the Badminton
book, seems to have almost given up, and it may fairly be assumed that
when the mechanical part of shooting is once gained to perfection, it
leaves no room for further ambition.

But this is far from being true of shooting over dogs. There is so much
more to learn than the mere mechanical part of shooting. Whether one
breeds dogs, breaks them, works them, or has them worked by others, they
are a constant source of anticipation, and anticipation in sport is of
far greater interest than realisation.

Possibly one does no good to the interest of anticipation by attempting
to assist sportsmen to the choice or breaking of better dogs. Those the
author began with were his ideals until he knew of better, and a
super-ideal would be useless were it not impossible. But when a poor
team of dogs may lead to the abandonment of canine assistance in
shooting, it is another matter, and everybody who knows the pleasure
given by dogs should strive to improve the race.

For the last forty years there have been held public field trials on
game for pointers and setters. Whether these events have been worked off
upon paired partridges in the spring, or contested by finding young
broods of grouse just before the opening of the season, they have given
breeders and sportsmen the chance of breeding by selection for pace,
nose, quartering, and breaking. Unfortunately, they have left out
stamina. There have been what were at the time called “stamina trials,”
but as they were sometimes won by slow dogs they did not merit the
high-sounding title, and for real stamina trials one has to go to

Trials for ability to stay are much more necessary now than ever before,
because the dog shows have ceased to be any assistance to breeders of
working dogs. When it was possible to compare at shows the external
forms of pointers and setters that had succeeded at field trials, they
were of some use, on the ground that true formation is suggestive of
stamina. But since separate breeds of dogs have been evolved by the
shows for the shows, the working dogs are either not sent to them, or do
not win if they are sent, so that the show-winning pointer or setter is
taken to be bad and of a degraded sort unless the contrary is proved.
This is a great pity, for there is no doubt that stamina is the
foundation of almost every other virtue in the pointer and setter.

A dog that cannot go on long has the period of his daily breaking
restricted, he does not learn wisdom, he does not gain enough experience
to make a proper use of his scenting powers, and if, at last, success in
breaking is achieved, then the reward for labour expended is half an
hour’s fast work instead of half a day of it.

This means that the shooter must have a large kennel and one or two
kennel men, instead of a small kennel easily looked after by a
gamekeeper without hindrance to his other work. The question then
becomes serious, and those who live in London or in the neighbourhood of
big towns usually have not the necessary room for the healthy
maintenance of a large kennel of dogs. If they take moors in Scotland or
Ireland, the kennels there are usually only of service in the shooting
season, especially if the moors are not taken upon long lease. Scotland
is bad wintering for dogs bred in England, and although it must not be
forgotten that the Duke of Gordon, Lord Lovat, and many other sportsmen
wintered their famous kennels of setters in Scotland, their dogs came to
have coats much thicker than are to be seen now upon setters—that is,
they had less feather but more body covering. At least, that was the
opinion formed by the writer on paying a visit to the late Lord Lovat’s
kennel in the early seventies. At that time this kennel and that of Lord
Cawdor were the only representatives of the old black-white-and-tan
kennel of the Duke of Gordon, although the blood of the latter sort was
widely spread as crosses in other races of setters. This was obviously
so in the black-and-tan kennel of the late Lord Rosslyn (who introduced
bloodhound to get the colour), and in that of many English setter
kennels. They were known as English setters, and shown as such, only
because there was a mistaken idea that Gordons were black-and-tan,
without white.

Stamina, then, must be improved if dogs are to be generally popular
where they can be used. But some few of the winning field trial workers
would look foolish after 30 minutes’ experience of a bed of strong
heather. Shooters at Aldridge’s annual sale are frequently observed
purchasing two or three little highly broken weeds that could not
possibly give satisfaction. There is often a great deal of hustle, fuss,
and fictitious pace about the very little dogs that are now sometimes
bred, but their bolt is soon shot, and they are a hindrance to sport for
the rest of the day. The old dogs that were regarded as stayers did not
look to be in such a mighty hurry; they had a long easy stride, with no
up and down action (it is that which tires). As being much bigger, they
were probably much faster than the little hustler division now so
numerous, and some of them could keep up the pace all day. Many could do
a half-day’s work, and some of those that were _not_ regarded as stayers
were brilliantly fast and slashingly bold for two hours in the morning
and another two in the afternoon. The author remembers one of the latter
that after winning the National Championship at the Shrewsbury Meeting
in the spring put out his shoulder. The mend was a bad one, and although
this accident destroyed the stamina it did not interfere much with the
pace of this extraordinary dog. Afterwards, for some years, he could
beat the best in a most successful field trial kennel for 20 minutes,
but then he was done for. What has been said about the uselessness of
non-stayers may be emphasised by the experience of this dog, for,
although he was often taken out in the spring as a “trial horse” for
young ones, it was thought useless to put him into a shooting team for
Scotland. That is to say, the most brilliant 20 minutes worker was
useless then, and is so now.

It is not often that absolute proof of the value of any individual
points in the dog is obtained. But here was one, proving that shoulders
have little effect upon speed, but are all-important for staying. When
Mr. A. E. Butter’s Faskally Bragg was winning Champion honours on the
bench and in the field too, we had the exhibition of a heavy-shouldered
dog winning at the shows, where true formation for staying was unknown,
and also in the field trials, where it was never tried. Nose, speed, and
beauty of attitude in pointing and backing placed this dog at the top,
but had there been real stamina trials he would never have been heard
of. Once the writer saw him on a freshly-turned sandy plough, where he
was hunted against Mr. A. T. Williams’ very small pointer, Rose of
Gerwn. The latter went 100 yards for every 20 that Bragg tumbled over.
Yet here was your show Champion beaten to a standstill, on the question
of external form alone, by an ugly-headed little pointer that could not
have won a prize at a show in a class by herself. Yet for heart and
courage, for pace, and probably for stamina, there have been few to
equal her in the last decade.

The dog-show setters are most beautiful creatures, but the points on
which they win here and in America are not the points that a sportsman
requires. “Feather” goes a long way towards victory, but in America they
_shear_ their setters before the shooting season opens. The reason for
this is that the burrs there are not only a nuisance, as they sometimes
are here, but a total prevention of sport. Any coat that collects them
brings the dog to a standstill in a few minutes. They are much smaller,
but the spikes are sharper and stronger than those of the English plant.

Slack loin is only a drawback at the shows, but it _stops_ a dog in
work. A long, refined head is a beauty at the shows, but it holds no
brains that amount to anything. But worse than all this is the fact that
the hunting instinct has lapsed in the show breeds. To be induced to
range they must be _excited_. Now, in the truly bred pointer or setter
you may start by repressing, go on by directing, and end by many
“dressings,” but you cannot weaken the hunting instinct, however you try
to do it. In the former sort you have to wind up the clock and put the
hands right at every turn, in the latter you have to put the regulator
right once and the works will do the rest. It is impossible to endow
with instinct at all, and especially is it impossible when excitement
has taken the place of the hunting habit. You have only the excitement
on which to work to re-create a love of hunting, at the same time that
you have to repress excitement in the interests of breaking.

It is not very wonderful that show-bred dogs cannot win field trials. To
ask a breaker to educate them is a little worse than to turn Irish
salmon into the Thames and expect them to come back there. When the last
Thames salmon was killed the last instinct to return to the Thames
vanished from _Salmo salar_. You can no more get it back than you can
make a field trial dog out of a show-bred one, or bring the dead
instinct to life.

Having got the right blood in the form of a puppy of ten or twelve
months old, and one that has learnt no bad manners at walk or in some
bad breaker’s hands, there is a straight road to success, but one that
is not always taken. The first thing to teach a puppy is to understand
all you say to it. Until this has been accomplished, the loudest shouts
of “Down charge,” “Drop,” or any other order, are in danger of being
mistaken for just the opposite to what is intended. Most of the clever
breakers at field trials have unique signals, invented by themselves,
and practised by nobody else. It is a good way there, and in shooting,
because your dog is not then confused by orders given by other people.
One man drops his dog by bringing his stick to the ground, and signals
it forward by holding up his hand. The general practice is just the
reverse. It does not matter what signals or words of command are used if
they always mean the same for the dog.



The more often orders are given, and obedience to them is enforced, the
more instinctive becomes the dog’s habit of obedience; but against this
must be placed the fact that a puppy should never be tired of a lesson.
A lesson, before entry on game, should always be only a part of a game
at romps to the dog. Consequently, it must not go on so long that the
puppy tires of romping, or be repeated so often in the game that the
youngster thinks it “a bore.”

Obedience is one thing, prompt obedience quite another; and it is the
latter that serves the sportsman, not the former. It is the last stage
of hand breaking to ensure prompt obedience when hesitation or
unwillingness has gone before. These two stages generally occur in
dropping to hand and gun lessons, and in answering whistle, all of which
will require a little pushing and pulling force to be used in the early
stages, until the meaning of the teacher is grasped by the pupil. Up to
this point the order has to be repeated many times as the force is being
used, in order that the pupil may grasp the meaning, which he will only
do gradually. But after the lesson has once been learnt it is a bad plan
to give any order twice. It should be once only, followed by obedience
or punishment. This sounds severe, but it is the method for saving the
necessity for severity in the future.

After the hand-breaking stage comes temptation during excitement, which
is a very different thing from mere “cussedness,” as the Americans call
it, in hand breaking, where a pupil only disobeys for the sake of
disobedience. That is the reason why prompt and instinctive obedience
has to be obtained before the canine pupil goes out into the fields or
on to the moors, and sees game. When this excitement begins, all
hand-breaking lessons may be forgotten on the spur of the moment, and
yet it is extremely important that they should not be, and that there
should be no necessity for punishment, and as little as possible for

It is to avoid these misfortunes that hand breaking should culminate in
forced promptitude on the pupil’s part. Up to this time your puppy has
dropped and answered the whistle because it pleases you and does not
hurt him, and he has done it, possibly, as if he thought you took a
particular interest in seeing how long he could be about it. But in the
field, and in the presence of hares, such deliberation is a premium on
forgetfulness of the breaker’s existence. Then a hare is very likely
chased, and a season’s unnecessary work, and of a negative value, has
become obligatory in an instant.

On the other hand, if the last lessons in hand breaking are of a kind
which make the puppy think that a word and a blow are not separated by
distance between the man and dog, hares will never prove a trouble or
distance a danger in the field or on the moor.

The way the author brought about prompt obedience was by trickery.
Puppies romping in lines were ordered to drop, then the lines would be
passed round a tree in front of them, which would, by its position, give
a free run to the dogs of 40 or 50 yards when they were called on. But
the instant before they reached the limit of the cord the order to drop
would be given, so that any hesitation would inflict a sharp tumble by
reason of the full limit of the cord having been reached at a gallop.
One lesson of that sort gives the dog a sense of the wonderful powers of
his breaker, who may be hundreds of yards away when the sudden power is
exerted; and about two or three such experiences, in the last week of
hand breaking, give the man in the field apparently mesmeric powers over
his pupil. It need hardly be pointed out that, to succeed, the dog must
expect, or suspect, no trap. Consequently, he must be regularly
exercised in his cord, and the trick must not be repeated until the
former attempt has been totally forgotten. This can be the more readily
brought about by several times dropping the dogs in the ordinary way,
and allowing them to find themselves free when the order to come forward
is given. In the mind of the pupil, it must not be the cord, but the
breaker’s order, that does the jerking.

Usually the author has associated this jerk with the explosion of a
pistol, of course after making sure that the dogs did not fear a pistol,
and were not “gun-shy,” or to be made so. See what power this gives a
breaker at distances beyond the travel of his voice or whistle! A puppy
is ranging beautifully half a mile away nearly, and cannot hear your
whistle reminding it of its distance. In the contrariness of canine
nature, that is the exact instant the only hare in the parish will
select to jump up before your puppy’s nose. The strange form and sudden
appearance, as from nowhere, will surprise; another instant, the
ancestral wild beast of prey will take possession of your cherished pet,
now nearly in the next parish, and you would be helpless to intervene
but for the gun in your hand and for its associations with the tree and
the cord in the park. You fire at the exact instant before canine
surprise is succeeded by a burst of coursing speed, and your pupil is
glued to the ground, while your only hare is preserved from
extinguishing her race and your chances of a broken dog as well.

The worst of permitting puppies to chase once is that they soon learn to
chase the trail, or “drag,” of hare when none has been seen. It is
difficult to be sure when a puppy is doing this; but never wait until
you are sure, is the author’s suggestion: fire at once. Then, if your
young dog has been broken on practical lines, you by one operation serve
two ends, for you stop a chase and rebuke your dog if there was a hunt,
and if not, you have only given an unnecessary lesson in dropping to
shot, which generally does good and never any harm, for it disturbs game
far less than whistling or shouting.

It is not intended here to repeat the elementary advice about hand
breaking. It is much more simple to say that a puppy must be talked to
like a little child. It will be much quicker than the child to take a
meaning, but it remains a child, if a quick one, all the days of its

If your puppy has unfortunately learnt to chase hares or to kill
chickens before you begin with it, severe measures will have to be taken
to cure these crimes; but this should not be done until after the pupil
has been entered to and become fond of game, so that it is essential to
enter a hare-chaser where there are no hares, and a chicken-killer where
there are no roosters. The love of one kind of game is half a cure of a
too energetic fondness for another, and in order to set up this love of
game to its fullest extent, your pupil must neither see hare nor think
hare until the entry on game is complete. If you thrash one minute for
chasing chickens, the next your pupil will be half-hearted about finding
partridges, and will probably blink them when found.

The author was very successful at field trials, and in having perfectly
obedient high rangers of wonderful courage and endurance, and this
success was attained on the principle of never giving the pupils a
chance to do wrong until they were well established in the practice of
doing right. That is to say, until they would quarter fast and freely,
and find and point game without caution, and back each other at any
distance, they were not tempted by the sight or scent of hares, or not
by intention. Afterwards they have to learn to hunt for partridges in
the midst of hares and with the scent of them everywhere, and it is only
by their extra fondness for winged game that they will hunt across and
across the foot scent of dozens of hares without taking any notice of
it, and will nevertheless point the body scent of a hare when they find
the beast in its seat.

All this comes to the high-couraged dog practically by nature, provided
the breaker begins at the right end of the education and takes step by
step, as suggested here in default of a better method. There will be no
shouting and storming, or whipcord and wailing, but a steady progress
towards perfection, granting always that the pupil has nose, sense,
pace, and stamina.

Pointing and backing may or may not come naturally when the youngster
finds that he cannot catch his birds after a few tries, but they are
easily encouraged to come sooner by the use of the voice on the
hand-broken pupil, or by the use of the check cord. It is, however, just
as well to let a puppy chase the birds until he naturally points them.
This is education of the best kind in “locating” the game, which implies
the quick recognition of the difference between body and foot scents of
birds. In the same way it is a good plan to let a puppy run in a few
times to a pointing dog to flush and chase his game. This is not doing
wrong, for up to this stage the dog will have received no intimation
that chasing game and flushing it are wrong, except that hereditary
instinct may prompt the puppy to point and also to back.

It is not well to insist upon instant dropping to wing, until a young
dog has learnt how to point steadily and to draw up boldly to the game
at the side of his breaker. This becomes a nerve-trying task if a sudden
rush of wings is also associated with orders to “drop,” and it is well
to confirm the natural attitude on point, which will generally be
beautiful, before running a risk of the young dog learning to confuse
the point with the order to drop to wing.

The rush in, on the rise of game, is better first checked by the hand
upon the collar, or on the cord, if one is used. There is no use in
calling “To-ho” to a pointing dog, or in using any words of caution. A
broken dog requires no caution, and a partly broken or unbroken one is
to be taught to rely upon his nose, and not on the breaker’s voice, for
his knowledge of when he should point. If the breaker knows best, where
is the use of the dog? If the latter points or draws and then moves on,
let him do it; it is educational, and one mistake may prevent a hundred;
but if you “to-ho” a false point you are making a bad dog by it, and if
you “to-ho” when there is game you are teaching the dog that you are
going to tell him when to point, and that you certainly cannot judge of
by the dog’s manner if he does not know himself.

One of the principal things to teach is quartering, and this is often
the natural outcome of walking directly up wind with your pupil. It is
generally instinctive to the well-bred dog to cross the wind to and fro.
But this natural instinct will be unhinged by any change of direction,
so that a breaker who started his puppy in different and changing
methods, in regard to the wind, would find him ranging, but not
quartering, and would observe the puppy at the end of a cast as likely
to turn down wind as up. For this reason, until a confirmed range has
been established by walking into the wind, with the puppy beating from
side to side of his breaker, no other method of beating a field should
be attempted. Even with the precaution of always walking into the wind,
the puppy is not unlikely to turn down wind at one end or the other of
his cast. That is a bad fault in itself, and bespeaks flighty
disposition, and a bad nose besides. There is always scent of kinds, we
may suppose, up wind of the puppy, which ought to turn his investigating
nose into the wind instead of the other way, as so often happens. The
breaker may be troubled to correct this habit, but, as it is partly
owing to the dog’s love of his breaker that he forgets the game and
turns back, it can be cured by making the puppy more fond of finding
game, and by tiring him, until he has to think of the nearest way. But
as for other reasons tiring a puppy in the breaking season is bad, when
no game is being shot, the trouble can be overcome by the breaker
walking near the hedge on the side of the field the pupil turns the
wrong way, and then, by the teacher making haste as the puppy approaches
that side, he will be automatically turned the right way. Strangely,
most puppies turn wrong at one end and not at the other. If they turn
wrong at both ends, they are probably hopeless fools that are not worth

A want of good “backing” may be very common from many different causes.
It generally comes from an absence of interest in the point of another
dog, and consequently is more noticed in spring breaking than in autumn
shooting. If dogs are left to themselves in autumn, they will nearly
always back, or run in and take another’s point. The latter is
objectionable, and may cause flushing by either dog, or by both. But it
shows interest in the point, and that is what the breaker has to work
upon. In the spring breaking not infrequently a puppy will go half a
mile round in order to avoid being obliged to see and back a point. That
is because nothing of excitement ever comes of a back before the
shooting season, and in order to make a perfect backer of a dog of this
character (one that is obviously plucky and no fool) he must have his
interest created in the other’s point. This is very easy to accomplish.
One of the chief causes of bad backing is, naturally, false pointing.
Like the man who is always crying “Wolf!” the imaginative dog is not
believed by his fellows, and when pointing dogs are made to back up
false points they perform the operation as an act of unwilling
obedience, and do not assume those attitudes that are so pleasing in the
willing dog. It is therefore quite impossible to have good backing in a
brace of dogs, if one, or both, false point. But there is a way in which
a useless false pointer (and they all are useless) can be made to give a
good lesson in backing and one not easily forgotten, that should not be
often, if at all, repeated. It is a trick on the dog to be educated, and
as such must not be found out, otherwise its virtue will be gone.

The plan is to get a wing-clipped partridge and to fasten to its wing a
leather strap, and to this latter a string of 20 yards length with a peg
at its end, around which the string can be wound. All together can be
put into a cartridge bag, for choice one of waterproofed canvas, because
it is not certain whether, in any other sort, the dog will discover what
is being carried on the shoulder of his trainer, and it is important he
should not discover. Then it is necessary to hunt the prospective backer
with the false pointer. The latter will soon get a point, which the
puppy will ignore or investigate. In either case, wait until the pupil
has done the field and comes back; he will then again see the false
point, and before he gets down wind of it he must be dropped by hand. He
is by this time “cock sure” his companion is pointing nothing; but in
his absence you have unrolled the string from your partridge and put the
peg in the ground at a place up wind of the pointing dog, but down wind
of the spot where you intend to drop the pupil. You have taken the
partridge out of its bag, and, having placed its head under its wing,
you have given it two or three swings round, so as to make it giddy.
Then you have placed it on the ground lying on that wing under which is
its head, and there you have left it. It will lie quite still for a
quarter of an hour, if need be. Having gone back to the peg, which must
be between the partridge and your young dog for obvious reasons, you
give the string a snatch, and up flutters the partridge in full view.
The bird will make a racket when he finds himself caught, and will
flutter a good deal. When you are quite sure your dog will not join in
the chase, you will make as much fuss about catching the bird as
possible. You will not let the puppy see what you do when you return the
bird to the bag, and you will not let the young dog go down wind of the
spot on which the partridge has been fluttering. A clever dog will
detect what has happened if you do either, and will take no interest
afterwards if it should be necessary to repeat the lesson. After this,
go straight home with the dogs in couples, and next day have out for the
young one a better companion, that will not false point. It is twenty to
one that the first point made in the sight of the youngster will be
backed with all the vivacity of a point. In this way you will discover
that _one_ good lesson, properly given with no mistake in it, will do
more than a year’s drudgery in stopping, scolding, and whipping, when
the pupil ought to back.

There are many pointers and setters that will back naturally, but this
trait almost implies that they have not as much capacity for finding
game as the neighbours that they back up in their points. Indeed, the
better the dog is naturally, the greater is the difficulty in persuading
him to a spirit of diffidence. For these very good animals the plan has
been found the most useful by the author, and a triumph of breaking is
to make a perfect backer of a dog so good that he rarely sees a point,
because he finds nine-tenths of the game himself. In order to do it,
there is a necessity for reducing his own estimation of himself, and
luckily this can be done in the manner related without in the smallest
degree reducing the finding powers and ranging energy of the most
superior dogs.


Once in a decade it is possible to see at a field trial a bit of work so
good that it is safe to say the doer of it will win the stake—it is
safe, although when the opinion is formed the rest of the entries have
not been seen at work. It would not be safe to say so when acting as
judge, or to act upon any such notion. But the writer has ventured the
opinion on several occasions when others have been judging, and has
always been right. The occasions arise only in those rare circumstances
when the scent is as good as can be, and the dog does things that only
the very best can do in the most favourable circumstances.

Generally it is unsafe to form any opinions except by comparing the work
of one dog with that of another at the same time and place. That is what
field trials enable; and it does not follow that when only moderate work
is done at them that the doers are only ordinary. Field trials are often
held in conditions of scent and weather when the wise shooter would go
home. The competitors at these meetings are always picked dogs at home,
and have generally beaten “good trial horses” before they show in
public. But when shooters go to a trial and unfavourably compare what
they see there to experience at home, they may be right, but whenever
this comparison has given them confidence enough to enter dogs the
latter have invariably been disgraced, unless they happened to be of
field trial winning blood. This really answers the question as to what
use these institutions are.

On the other hand, it is by no means the most experienced field trial
men who have the best chance of victory, provided the canine blood is
the same for all competitors.

What natural selection and the survival of the fittest has done for the
fox and other scent-hunting animals, field trial selection has done for
pointers and setters since the first public trial was held in 1865. It
is not contended that working dogs have improved over the whole of this
period, but the vast superiority of the field trial breeds over others
shows what all would have declined to if it had not been for the
institutions that annually indicate the best.

But during the last half-dozen years there has been a general, and it is
said unaccountable, lack of good brace work at the field trials. The
author has satisfied himself of the reason of this strange lack of the
highest exhibition of breaking at a time when the dogs are higher broken
and more credit is given for breaking than ever before. This appears
paradoxical, but the fact is that the premium on high breaking has led
to the choice of dogs as sires and dams that are easy to break, and this
again to the discounting of courage. Some worthy usurper, who became a
rightful monarch, is said to have watched a spider attempt for nine
times to fasten his web upon a coveted spot and succeed in the end. To
hunt a brace of dogs properly, it is necessary to have material as
persevering as the only spider in history. What is required is that your
dogs should find all the game. In order that this should be done, they
must beat all the ground, and there is always one corner in a field that
nature induces the dogs to leave behind. The corner to right or left of
the spot at which the dogs are started is sure to be slightly down wind
of the starting-place. The natural tendency is to investigate up wind,
and it may be necessary for a breaker to start his dogs ten or twenty
times, and to call them back as often, before he can make them
understand that they are to “sink the wind,” are to drop back, as it
were, behind it, and do the usually neglected corner before pressing
forward and investigating the scent of game that is probably all the
time coming from up-wind of them. But it is only the very
highest-couraged dogs that can be expected to give cheerful obedience
during the constant interference that the teaching of this useful lesson
involves. The point the author wishes to make is, that it is necessary
to breed for courage and break for docility, and that this is exactly
contrary to the breeding for docility that has been done. This process,
which has been intended to improve breaking, has eliminated the best
brace work and the best quartering.

It is not intended to convey the idea that very close quartering is a
good feature. The dog should fully occupy his time, and range to the
capacity of his nose. To say a dog is going too wide may easily be a
great mistake. It is often said that a pointer or setter misses ground,
but although some people think that game cannot be missed if ground is
beaten in geometric figures, with parallel lines near together, it is
often to be observed that those which most obviously leave no ground
behind them are just those that leave birds behind them. If we could
only smell as dogs do for ten minutes, we should understand them much
better. It seems wonderful that these animals can often detect a pair of
little partridges at 150 to 200 yards away, while, even in our own
hands, we men cannot smell the birds at all. The variety in the
olfactory powers of the dog sinks almost at one end to that of the man,
but at the other is entirely beyond his power of thinking. Consequently,
when we set any limitation on the width of ranging, or the width between
the parallels in the range, we are often asking the dogs to beat the
ground twice or three times, which is opposed to the best canine nature.
The author is careless how much ground dogs leave behind provided they
leave no game behind. Consequently, if they start fairly, so as to get
the wind of the near corners, they may be assumed to know the measure of
their own noses, and to beat wide or narrow, and with parallel
quarterings near, or far apart, as necessary. The wider in both cases
the better, provided they leave no game behind. If they commit this
fault, they are only wild, and may be assumed to be scamping their work.

It has often happened that the most capable dogs in a stake have run
great risks of being thrown out for an appearance of scamping their
ground, when, as a matter of fact, they were leaving no game behind, and
knew it. This generally happens when the scent is extra good and the
dogs know that they can take what are regarded as liberties in their
range. But when scent is bad, on hot August days, and the pollen is
flying from the heather bloom, these wide rangers will be narrow enough,
and will be the only dogs that can find at all. Then those that have had
for safety to hunt in narrow parallels in good scent, will be as unable
as a man to smell a grouse. It is for this reason that the writer, when
judging at a field trial, would never condemn wide or forward ranging
unless game was actually proved to be left behind. Quartering is the
means to an end, and not the end itself, and it was far more effectively
done at field trials years ago, before people began to treat it as an
end in itself. Since then brace work has declined, and brace work had
always been that in which it was expected, and happened, that the
winners should find everything on their ground, and neither flush nor
miss anything.

The best natural quarterers (or dogs, for that matter) will invariably
be those that alter their methods to suit the occasion. When game is
scarce, they will hunt wide, because, in the absence of the scent of
game pervading the atmosphere, they can detect the presence of the game
at far greater distances than when the scent is everywhere.

They will hunt wide also in good scent.

Conversely, in bad scent they will hunt closely, and when birds are
plentiful, or scattered and lying close, they will do so also, and to
the author this variation of beat to suit the occasion is by far the
greatest proof of nose and sense.

Everybody likes to see a dog draw nicely and sharply up a good distance,
and point, knowing precisely where the game is; but these appearances
are often deceptive. Nobody knows how far the birds have run, or how
much of the draw was due to the foot scent and how little to the body
scent. These appearances of good nose have to be taken in conjunction
with the manner of beating the ground, before a just estimate of the
olfactory powers can be quickly formed. This is made all the more
difficult, because a dog of poor courage will generally draw to game as
soon as he detects foot scents, whereas the highest-couraged and best
quarterers will often gallop over those scents, recognising but scouting
the temptation, and will only draw up to body scent.

The difference between foot and body scents is not very well understood
by anyone except the dog, and not always by him. Very much nonsense has
been written on the subject. The author has noticed comments in the
Press showing that the writers believed the foot scent to be an
emanation from the feet in contact with the ground. The foot scent is
the path of scent left by an animal that has moved away. The author has
observed it left by a flying grouse, and also by a diving otter. In
neither case could the feet have had anything to do with the matter. But
that does not help us to know how the dog detects the difference between
the volatile matter that comes direct from the game to the dog’s nose,
and the same exudation that first hangs in the air, upon the water,
bubbles up from the water, clings to vegetation, or to earth, before it
reaches the dog’s nose. It is obviously not a question of strength of
scent, for a dog having missed a brace of close-crouched partridges will
instantly find the spot they rose from after they have gone, proving
that, often enough, the foot scent is very much the stronger.

The author has no opinion how it is that some dogs detect the difference
between foot and body scent instantly, and others cannot do it. It
cannot be that one is more the breath of the hunted animal than the
other, because probably the otter evolves no scent except breath when
under water, and his line is as huntable to the swimming pack as that of
the land quarry to the running hounds. Possibly the actual heat of the
volatile exudation may have something to say to the question. Whatever
the difference consists of, it is only some dogs that instantly
recognise it. These may or may not be animals able to detect a scent a
long way off. No great wonder should be occasioned by the inability to
be certain: how often do human beings recognise a picture, or a taste,
without being able to give either a name?

No attempt will be made to prove what canine-detected scent is, except
to this extent. It must be something that our own olfactory nerves work
above, or below. Just as there are noises we cannot hear and colours we
cannot see, so there are doubtless scents of great power that we
nevertheless cannot detect even slightly. A dog will sometimes find and
appear to locate correctly a partridge, or rather a pair of them, at 200
yards. We may take those birds in hand and put them to our noses, and
even then we cannot detect the faintest scent of any kind. Scent is
supposed to spread as the square of the distance, so that 600 feet
squared would represent the difference in degree of the scent of the
bird in hand and that of the bird 600 feet away. That is to say, one
would be 360,000 times as strong as the other, and we cannot detect the
strong, whereas the dog finds the weaker one. Surely this is enough to
show that it is no question of degree at all, but of something else.
Possibly the strong scent of deer and fox that we often do detect is
misleading us into the belief that we can sometimes smell what hounds
run by. On the other hand, the author has noticed that when he can smell
a fox strongest hounds cannot smell him at all, and consequently there
is more confirmation that what the canine race hunts by the human nose
cannot always detect in any degree whatever.

It has often been affirmed that game birds lose their scent during
incubation, and there is no doubt they lose a good deal of it. Hares and
vixens heavy with young are said to have a similar protection from their
enemies. But in all cases there is scent, only it is different, and not
easily recognised by the dogs kept for hunting it. On the other hand,
the nests that the pointer and setter cannot find, the terrier, with a
worse nose, often does discover, much to the gamekeeper’s grief; and the
foxes find great numbers of these nests also, and they do not do it by

A study of the matter is greatly complicated by the fact that game birds
give out no scent when crouching, fearful, under a falcon, and this hawk
most certainly does not rely upon his nose to help him discover his
prey. To understand why the power of retaining the scent should have
been evolved, by the survival of the fittest, it is necessary to go back
to the wilderness stage of our islands. Probably the first gamekeeper’s
duties were performed by the slayers of wolves, at any rate in historic
times, and we have no occasion to try and take a peep at the cave bear
in his British den. The country was much more wooded than it is now, and
it is clear that those falcons that only kill in the air would go hungry
in woodlands had it not been for the earth-crawling vermin that flushed
game for them.

The falconers are now proud of teaching a hawk to “wait on” in the air
while a pointer is at work, but if falcons ever hunted in a brushwood
country in a state of nature, that is exactly what they would have had
to do for their friends the wolves, since they could not flush for
themselves, and could not kill until a flush had occurred. It is
consequently quite likely that waiting on is a latent instinct in the
long-winged falcons, and equally, therefore, retaining the scent was a
protection against beast and bird alike.

It is a confirmation of this theory, that the birds that in incubation
secure safety by watchfulness, such as the lapwings, retain their scent
neither in incubation nor at any other time, but exude it while they are


Most people have to buy their dogs for the moors, or to hire them.
During June and July large numbers are annually sent up to Aldridge’s,
in St. Martin’s Lane. There are a very few general rules which may save
a buyer from disappointment.

In nearly all cases the vendors offer to show dogs on game before the
sales. It is obviously the best way to go, or send, and have them viewed
upon game. The first question always to be asked about young dogs is
whether they are gun-shy, and in a trial when no game is being shot it
is wise to use the gun, but not fair to use it over much. A dog that has
been used to having a shot or two fired over it during an hour’s
breaking is not necessarily ready to undergo the bewildering experience
of a dozen discharges in close proximity and in quick succession when no
intention is obvious. Even on the moors, on the 12th of August, the use
of the gun should be tempered with discretion, whether the puppies are
inclined to be nervous or not. Besides, this is obvious wisdom from
another point of view. Your puppy will do as much work as an equally
well-made old dog if you “nurse” him; but if, on the contrary, you allow
him to run himself out at the first start, he will soon do it, and will
not “come” again that day.

Probably the best way is to make a rule, for the few early days, always
to take every puppy up after the first find and killing of grouse. Allow
him to point dead and make a fuss over the birds killed, but then have
him led away 300 yards behind the firing line, where every shot heard
will add to his anxiety to make more acquaintance with the gun, provided
your dog-boy knows how not to be severe. In an hour, probably, the young
dog will be made for life by this treatment; but, as one can never tell,
it is safest to proceed thus for a few days, and meantime the puppy may
have fresh short runs at intervals of an hour or two. This refers to
highly broken puppies, and not to the wild, sport-spoiling sort. The
former are never so good as when they have the keen edge on; the latter
are never worse than with it on. Such dogs are too wild to be of use all
the morning, and too tired all the afternoon, so that the points one has
to make sure of in purchasing pointers and setters are—

Absence of gun-shyness.

Steady pointing.

Freedom from chase.

Dropping to wing, gun, and hand.

A fair amount of ability to go, with a prospect of staying when in
working condition.

A good nose.

Answering to whistle.

With these qualities good sport will be assured, although the most
particular will require in addition good backing. It is the quality most
often absent in good puppies, and luckily can most easily be dispensed
with. There are hundreds of shooters over dogs who never saw good
backing, as most people are satisfied when the dog behind takes up an
attitude of steadiness, and they do not ask unpleasant questions as to
its nature. In practice a double point is often as good as a back, and
it is not difficult to understand how some people may get to prefer that
the dog behind is on the spot. For one thing, he is then safe from doing
undetected damage, and is ready to assist in roding out close-lying
birds as soon as his companion needs help.

Between this and the most striking field trial backing there is a happy
middle course, which used to be considered the most perfect, and is so
now, but it would be unfair to expect it when strange dogs meet each
other at field trials. It consists in a perfect sympathy with the
pointing dog, so that the animal which has not got the scent feels it
through the “thought reading” of his companion. One cannot suppose there
is conscious imitation of movement, yet so perfect has occasionally been
the imitation of the movements of the advance dog by the one behind,
that, step for step, stop for stop, crouch for crouch, and drop for
drop, the one has copied the every action of the other, as if the
pointing dog’s nervous system was affecting the muscles of both inch by
inch. Not only has this been so, but the hesitation of a lifted fore leg
has been reflected by the image behind. This kind of thing generally
arises from two dogs being constantly used together, being particularly
equal, and also being frequently tired in their work, so as to make it
habitual for one to be glad when the other has found game. At field
trials, if the competing dog is not sorry to see a competitor’s point,
his master probably is (it may mean £100), and the feelings of the man
are apt to be reflected in the dog.

By “nursing” a team of dogs in the way mentioned above, it is wonderful
how few will keep a pair of guns going day after day. If dogs are run to
a standstill one day, they will want a day’s rest the next, and the
fewer dogs a shooter can get through the grouse season with, the better
and more experienced each canine servant becomes. Consequently, economy
and excellence go hand in hand.

The better to further both designs, the buyer should have some regard
for make and shape, and a minor regard for size. The dog-show ideals
will not assist much. The principal wants of a working dog, to enable
him to go on long, and day after day, are good shoulders. The nearer the
tops are together the better—indeed, in imitation of the shape of a good
hunter’s withers (that is, narrowing as they approach the top of the
back). Powerful muscles in the hind legs, especially in the second
thighs, big hocks set low down and well bent stifle joints, but not
necessarily well bent hock joints, are all essentials, but only in
proportion to the weight to be moved. Big fore legs below the knee and
loins the same width from end to end—that is, with no dip horizontally
or vertically in the middle—is part of the formation essential to
stamina. But, after all, the only point wanted is proportion. With true
balance the lighter a dog weighs the better, and yet the bigger he is
the better too. This is only saying that the lighter and stronger he is
for his size the better.

If it is impossible to see dogs out before auction days arrive, the
safest way is to pick out some owner who sells with a good description,
and who is good for powder and shot in the event of a mistake being
made. Then the buyer has what amounts to a guarantee, and one that has
often been acted upon. But unless the purchase is of well seasoned dogs,
that have been the chief helps to some well-known sportsmen, it is
always safest to go exclusively for field trial blood.

The chances are that young dogs of this blood will be far better than
their owners know, and will come on in a surprising manner after a
little shooting over, whereas coarse-bred dogs, that have been shot over
a season, will be going back, and in most cases will have probably
learnt some bad habits.

Nobody can decide for another how many dogs will do. The men differ even
more than the dogs. Alternate instead of consecutive days on the moors
will mean half the dogs necessary for every day upon the “hull.” In the
same way the number may be decreased again by half if the shooting does
not start until noon, and a long hour is taken for lunch, and the
shooter is back at the lodge by 6 p.m.

Other men will begin shooting at 9 a.m., and will stop work at 6.30 or 7
p.m., which more than doubles the hours. Then the dogs will differ. The
average perhaps will not now do more than two hours’ fast work during
the day. Nothing is much more distressing in sport than a tired man
trusting to a weary dog. That kind of thing is not what one pays big
grouse rents for, and nothing less than fast work is likely to satisfy
in these days.

No shooter of economic mind in regard to canine assistance does well to
permit couples to be used on shooting days. They take half a day’s work
out of some dogs, and a good deal out of all. Pointers and setters ought
to be taught to walk at heel without couples, and are all the better for
being sent in a cart to the fixture. Every ounce of energy should be
conserved, as with a Derby horse. If dogs are really broken, they cannot
be too fresh. Sometimes they are more fond of galloping than finding
game, and then the best thing to do is still to start them fresh, but to
run them until they are tired. This soon makes them glad of an excuse to
find game. On the other hand, some are too fond of pointing, and will
follow up any faint scent, leaving ground and birds right and left
behind them, because they are too lazy to quarter. They are not nice
dogs, but they are best worked very fresh and only for short spurts.

The author has often been asked what is the best way to treat a dog that
false points and draws right into the wind as if he had found game, when
he only thinks he may have done so. Probably the best way is to walk
past him with a good retriever at heel, one on which reliance can be
placed to show whether there is game in front or not. This saves you
from the necessity of recognising a false point, either by drawing on
the dog or calling him off. In either case your notice would do harm,
whereas if you take not the smallest notice of such points the dog will
soon learn to rely upon himself, if he has any courage at all.

There is, of course, a great demand for field trial breakers. Good men
of this sort always get good posts, but sportsmen who have keepers whom
they would like to see better handlers of dogs of any kind, would
generally gain their ends by sending their men first to look on at field
trials, then buying some six-weeks-old puppies of a good sort, in order
to let their breakers compete occasionally at these events. It teaches
keepers to view dogs in quite a different way, and they cost no more to
keep as highly broken than as slovenly unbroken animals.

                              THE POINTER

In his beautiful monograph of the pointer, Mr. W. Arkwright, of Sutton
Scarsdale, has given to us material and research which settles many
things, and enables us to make up our minds with sufficient certainty
for our own satisfaction upon many more. That is to say, any of us who
take the trouble to refer to Mr. Arkwright’s pages will be able to form
a judgment for ourselves upon the origin of the breed, as well as upon
the tendency of breeders, for the last century. The author does not
propose to quote, as he would like to, from those pages. The pointer is
only one small item in a general book on shooting, and this is what the
author is bidden to write by his publisher.

A great deal was known about the pointer before Mr. Arkwright took pen
in hand, and the views about to be expressed are considered opinions
after reading that author’s work, and passing in mental review the breed
as it has been known for the last half-century.

The author became possessed of his first pointer about 1860. It was a
gift, and came originally from the kennels of the Lord Derby of that
time. It was a coarse dog with a coarse stern, so that if Devonshire men
introduced foxhound blood in the seventies they were not responsible for
the coarse sterns, or not entirely.












Mr. William Arkwright holds that any foxhound blood is bad; it must
therefore have tried him very highly when he discovered that all
pointers are the descendants of hounds. Doubtless there is a difference
between hounds, and possibly the foxhound is the last kind one would
wish a pointer to resemble; but, after all, a hound’s business is to
catch and kill, whatever sub-title he may claim, and consequently it
follows that pointers were evolved from dogs whose business was to catch
and kill. If, therefore, our dogs are sufficiently opposed in instincts
to their ancestors, there can only be a sentimental objection to a
perceptible external trace of hound. As a matter of fact, half the
pointers seen at field trials have _too much_ “point,” and not one in
fifty too little. No doubt it was the tendency for the natural point to
increase in every generation that caused the sportsmen of Colonel
Thornton’s period (about 1800 a.d.) to cross with the foxhound.

The pointer undoubtedly came to this country both from France and Spain.
The former was a light made and the latter a heavy dog. They were
apparently not related, but both became the ancestors of the modern
pointer. With all this chance of cross breeding, our grandfathers do not
appear to have been satisfied, and were for ever trying other crosses to
improve their breeds. Colonel Thornton had a remarkable dog by a
foxhound, and other sportsmen had very celebrated droppers—that is,
crosses between pointer and setter. It came to be the fashion to think
that these crosses never perpetuated their own merit in the next
generation, and they got a bad name in consequence. Had this not been
the case, probably no pure bred setters or pointers would have been
handed down to us, and perhaps there were none so handed on. It seems to
the author that there must have been ancestral reasons of the most
imperative kind for the differences as found in noted strains of
pointers in the middle of the nineteenth century.

My experience has shown that cross breeding does not of necessity imply
equal degrees of cross blood in the offspring. It never implies half and
half; and although it generally does mean cross breeding to some slight
extent, that slight cross can be eradicated in future generations by
selection. Of all means of selection by externals for blood, colour and
coat are the most trustworthy. It is exceedingly strange that dogs of
the same ancestry but of different colours can be bred together for
twenty generations and never blend colours in the offspring. This
blending of colour happens but very rarely, and as colour is more or
less indicative of blood, almost certainly for one, so it remains
through many, generations. In discussing setters the author has had
occasion to relate more fully his own experience of this remarkable
tenacity of colour, in spite of colour crossing, and also to note the
curious fact that along with colour is inherited much of the character
that originally belonged to or accompanied it.

The writer would therefore divide pointers in his own mind into three
great modern families, each of which has both the Spanish and French
pointer as a base. These branches are:—

  1. Those that have setter indications, including the majority of
    lemon-and-white ones, and those of the “ticked” varieties.

  2. Those which resemble the greyhound in formation and in fineness of
    stern, and have a tendency to have feet like the greyhound. They are
    often whole-coloured like it too.

  3. Those which seem to trace to the foxhound, by reason of their “cat”
    feet, thick coats, and coarse sterns.

Whether the origins suggested are correct or not, there is a very great
difference between breeds at present, and some internal qualities seem
to be most often found with certain colours and formations. For
instance, the “dish-face” characteristic of the setter is most often
found in the lemon-and-white pointer. The “Roman” profile characteristic
of the hound is most often found in the liver-and-white sort, and the
very fine stern and hare feet, the stern often with a tendency to curl
up, is found most often in the whole-coloured pointers.






Again, a tucked-up, racing appearance is generally seen in old pictures
and present-day dogs associated with the whole or self-coloured
pointers; a high or foxhound carriage of stern occurs with the
liver-and-white; and long backs are most often seen in lemon-and-white
specimens. The long backs have been partly bred out of the setter, but
he formerly shared them with his collateral relation the spaniel, and
even now he is a longer dog than the pointer.

Of all these races the greyhound type is the most perfectly formed in
body. The dish-faced lemon-and-white kind appear to be the most
affectionate (spaniel-like); and the hardest workers, with the hardest
constitutions, the author believes to be the liver-and-white sort. The
principal colours of the original French and Spanish pointers were
probably black-and-white and liver-and-white, some of them having very
little white, so that it is not suggested that the supposed crossing was
alone responsible for the colour.

The first time a tendency to “grey” was noticed by the author was in the
“ticked” pointer Romp, run at a field trial about 1870 in Devonshire by
Mr. Brackenbury. The pedigree of this bitch was, to say the least,
defective, and the “belton” markings, as also the whole conformation of
the animal, was suggestive of the setter. Romp’s Baby, a descendant of
the above Romp and similar in markings, was also setter-like in build,
in feet, and in work. The aforesaid Romp laid the foundation for the
best race of pointers in America, but unfortunately most of the blood
has been lost to this country. The profuse ticked markings are rarely
seen, but when they do appear it is easy to trace the character of the
Romp family.

Amongst all the pointers and setters the writer has seen he would be
puzzled to name the best, but he can say without the smallest hesitation
that Romp’s Baby was by far the best small one.

Sir Richard Garth’s Drake was the best pointer that ever contested a
field trial, in the author’s judgment. He was a large dog of the
liver-and-white variety described above, but with a little of the body
formation of the whole-coloured variety, and a good deal of the
dish-face of the lemon-and-white ones. The author remembers this dog’s
maternal grandsire, Newton’s Ranger, a very big animal of great
refinement, and with wonderful length of head and neck. There is no
doubt Drake got his quality from here, and for the rest he was descended
from the kennels of Lords Sefton, Lichfield, Derby, Mr. Cornwall Leigh,
and Mr. Edge, and the Stud Book gives him a Spanish pointer in
tail-male. He was a revolution and a revelation in field work, proving
for the first time that the utmost care was to be had with racing speed
and with the greatest boldness. Perhaps it is wrong to say “was to be
had,” for all these qualities in a pointer have never quite been
collected in one individual since. Only one son of Drake that the writer
saw had any pretence to his sire’s speed, and that one appeared to have
_no nose_ whatever; whereas Drake was as phenomenal for nose as for
care, speed, and boldness. If there was any foxhound in this fine
liver-and-white dog, it must have been very cleverly bred out. On the
other hand, his small counterpart Romp, of the blue mottled colour with
tan on her legs, might have suggested hound, but not foxhound, as much
as setter, by her colour.

On the evidence, the author is inclined to suggest that these two
wonderful animals owe their vigour and unique qualities to a not very
remote cross of blood. We have it that Drake’s paternal grandsire was a
Spanish pointer, and we have Romp’s appearance and colour to declare her
no pure bred pointer.

The next best performers of the period, but with a great gap between,
were Mr. Lloyd Price’s Belle, bred by Lord Henry Bentinck, but without
pedigree given, and Mr. Sam Price’s Bang. The author is not certain
whether the general opinion is that Mr. Sam Price went to the foxhound,
and that Bang owed his substance and character to the cross, but he was
certainly different in type from those other Devonshire pointers, Sancho
and Chang, that won on the show bench about the same period, and were
entirely pointer-like.

Without in any way insisting upon the origins of the different types and
colours above described, there is no doubt that some difference of
ancestry at a remote or recent period has been responsible for the
characteristics. Consequently, for practical purposes and for breeding,
the specimens most marked with the characteristics peculiar to each kind
may be treated as distinct strains of blood, although it may not be
known what that blood is. To make the author’s position more clear, he
would say that if a lemon-and-white and a whole-black pointer came in
the same litter they would probably be related in blood, as they
certainly would be on paper; but the blood relationship might be very
slight indeed, for one would be, as it is now expressed, a “brother” of
some remote black ancestor, and the other a “brother” of some remote
lemon-and-white ancestor. But this is not _wholly_ true; because in
breeding together brothers and sisters both of one colour, other colours
will very occasionally come in the offspring. The influence of sire and
dam is shown to be much less than was previously thought possible, but
it is not shown to be absent, in spite of the cell and germ theory.

It is obvious that, in starting to keep pointers, a prospective breeder
must settle on one or other of the three existing types, and it is
necessary for such a beginner to know that he may cross them one with
the other with great constitutional advantage, without much fear of
blending type or blood, provided he selects for type and character by
means of colour. For instance, he may cross a black pointer with a
lemon-and-white or liver-and-white, and repeat this in every generation,
and yet the puppies that come black will be of one type, and those that
come lemon-and-white will be of the other. The cases of blending will be
very rare indeed, and can easily be discarded.

The late Joseph Lang, the gun-maker, had a breed of lemon-and-white
pointers, from which those of the late Mr. Whitehouse were descended,
and that gentleman’s Priam and Mr. W. Arkwright’s Shamrock, with a space
of thirty-five years between them, might have been litter brothers for
appearance and work. The latter is the best lemon-and-white pointer seen
out in quite recent years, and the former was probably the best of his
period. Sir Watkin Williams Wynn has a strain of lemon-and-white
pointers in which black-and-white and liver-and-white often come, and in
this kennel there is a nearer approach to a blend of type in the three
colours than has been remarked by the author elsewhere.

Mr. A. E. Butter, of Faskally, had a very fine kennel of liver-and-white
pointers, mostly derived from a strain kept up in Shropshire and the
neighbourhood. These dogs had all the best strains of liver-and-white
blood in their pedigrees, and they were as successful at field trials
as, and much resembled, Mr. Sam Price’s Bang and Mike. Faskally Bragg
and Syke of Bromfield were most striking workers, entirely of the
liver-and-white type; but good as they were in the field, it was
difficult to see how Bragg became a show Champion, with a very heavy
shoulder, great throat like a hound, and the same suggestion behind. But
he became a capital stud dog, and in Melksham Bragg probably became the
sire of his own superior in work as well as in appearance. But a better
than either was Syke of Bromfield. The best of this type is now in the
kennel of Colonel C. J. Cotes of Pitchford, whose Pitchford Ranger and
Pitchford Duke are in every way admirable specimens of this type of
pointer. The latter’s dam, Pitchford Druce, approaches the dish-faced,
fine-sterned type, and very few better have won at field trials in
recent years. Colonel Cotes tells the author that this bitch traces back
to his father’s old breed, kept for a century at Woodcote, where there
were constant interchanges of blood with Sir Thomas Boughey’s sort, only
recently dispersed. Mr. Elias Bishop has been very successful with his
family of pointers called the Pedros, and these again are of the
liver-and-white type, but with a tendency to the dish-faces of the
lemon-and-white dogs, and not as coarse in the sterns as some of the
more pronounced liver-and-white type.







Mr. Arkwright has the best black pointers the author has seen. Their
bodies are distinctly greyhoundy in form, but not their heads. The
last-mentioned fact does not preclude the possibility of a remote cross
of greyhound, as colour is a truer indication of blood, although not of
paper pedigree, than is head formation. By “paper pedigree” no
suggestion of false testimony is intended, but reference is made to the
recently ascertained facts that two of a litter may be widely different
in root origin. Some of the self-coloured pointers of Mr. Arkwright’s
kennel have been fawn colour, a well-known greyhound shade. It may be
that these are throwbacks to the greyhound blood. But that would not be
the author’s explanation. As observed above, a blend of colour very
seldom comes by crossing one colour with another, when both are pure
bred and neither have the blend of colour in their ancestry. But a
little more often than a blend of colour comes a heritage of the colour
of one parent and the markings of the other. So that when Mr. Arkwright
has crossed a lemon-and-white with a black, there would be nothing
wonderful for an occasional puppy to come with the markings of the black
parent, but of the colour of lemon, in this case called fawn, which is
the same colour. On the other hand, a blend of colour and markings would
require the offspring to be whole-coloured and liver-coloured. That
liver colour is occasionally obtained from blending the red or sandy
with the black, the author has proved beyond question in his own
experience where neither parent inherited the colour, but it seems to
require a violent out-cross to give rise to it, for black-and-white and
lemon-and-white dogs of the same family may sometimes be bred together
for many generations without giving rise to this blend of colour.

Mr. Pilkington at one time had as good liver-and-white pointers as
anyone who was then running dogs in public. His Garnet was very much of
a pointer; and Nicholson, who engineered him to victory, has continued
to win at field trials with some of the breed; and another Salopian
keeper who has been a most successful breeder is Mawson, who bred
Faskally Bragg and Syke of Bromfield.

As the sire of Mr. A. T. Williams’ Rose of Gerwn, the stud dog Lurgan
Loyalty cannot be passed over. Rose was full of vitality and pointer
instinct, but far from handsome, and very small. Lurgan himself was a
small dog and very well made, but he had rather a terrier-like head. His
daughter, Coronation, although long held to be the best pointer on the
show bench, was obviously too shelly for hard work, and can only be
mentioned here to show that exhibition points need have no relationship
to the essentials for a working dog.

In these days of wild grouse and partridges, all the fine qualities and
beauties of a pointer are absolutely useless unless the individual is
endowed with the very best of olfactory powers.

The length of a pointer’s “nose” is determined by the day; but the
author is inclined to believe that the relative distances at which any
two dogs can find game always bear the same proportions to each other.
One on a fair scenting day may find game at 100 yards and another at 10
yards; another day, or in other circumstances, the same two noses will
be effective at 50 yards and 5 yards respectively. Even this great
difference does not convey all there is between the best and the worst.
Such differences have been observed even at field trials, where each
sportsman only enters his very best. But behind those is the rest of the
kennel, and every breeder of dogs must occasionally breed the _very bad
indeed_. The author has, at any rate, sometimes seen a dog with a total
inability to find game although both its parents had exceptional
olfactory powers. What the explanation may be cannot be suggested, but
there may be a kinship between the organs of sight, hearing, and smell,
and as there are some colours and sounds the human eye and ear cannot
detect, and some scents that the human nose cannot recognise and the
dog’s nose can, it seems possible that even a dog’s nose may
occasionally be found either below or above the range of sensitiveness
usual in the canine. But “nose” is the only quality in the dog that does
not seem to be within the control of the skilled breeder, who may expect
success within limits from proper selections of parental form, pace,
stamina, and heart, but in inheritance of olfactory powers must expect
the unexpected occasionally, but not often.











Having obtained pure bred pointers, it is well to remember that nose is
even more important than enormous speed. A dog travelling 50 while
another went 100 yards would be a crawler; but, as has been said above,
nose differs by much more. When, therefore, we consider the comparative
merits of two dogs, we should not regard space in lineal measure but in
square measure. Thus, if we take the slow speed at 50 yards and the long
nose at 100 yards and multiply them together, we get 5000 square yards
as the capacity of the slow dog for hunting ground, while that of the
fast dog may be 100 yards of speed multiplied by 10 yards of nose, or
only 1000 square yards of covering capacity as against 5000 of the slow

This is not intended to be an excuse for slow dogs, for it usually
happens that the very fast ones are also the best for nose; but it is
meant to imply that a dog should not be exerting his whole energy in
galloping, because if he is he will not be thinking about game-finding,
and will not find. A pointer must do the thing easily, and go well
within his powers. He must not couple and uncouple like a greyhound. He
must not gallop like a little race-horse, although he may, if he can,
gallop like one of those smashers that are said to “win in a canter,”
which means that they are not exerting themselves. Pointers with lively
stern action may be taken always to be hunting well within their powers.
Some of those that have no stern action would have it if they were not
over-exerting themselves in galloping, but this is not invariable; and
some of the fastest and best pointers have not had stern action. For
instance, Drake had not.

About 1872, Mr. Thomas Statter, of Stand Hall, near Manchester, had as
good pointers as anyone and the best setters. His pointers were of Lord
Derby’s liver-and-white strain, and Major, Manton, Rex, and Viscount
were some of his best. Major appears at no time to have been under much
control, but he was a dog of great natural capacity, and his blood told
in future canine generations, whereas that of his better trained victors
died out. The late Mr. A. P. Heywood Lonsdale had a fine strain of this
kind of pointer blood, and at the moment of writing one of the best, if
not the actual best pointer in America is descended from dogs exported
direct from the Ightfield kennel, which is now particularly strong in
setters, but has not many pointers. For the late Mr. Lonsdale, and
afterwards for his son, Captain H. Heywood Lonsdale, the late W.
Brailsford managed a fine kennel of dogs, as he had previously for the
late Duke of Westminster, and before that for Lord Lichfield. His
pointers, wherever he went, were of the liver-and-white sort, and were
practically of the same strains as those mentioned in Drake’s pedigree.
Indeed, it is probable that Brailsford and some other keepers did as
much as the dogs’ owners to keep up this race of pointers, which is now
stronger in Salop than anywhere. William Brailsford, moreover, founded
the National Field Trials during the time he was managing Lord
Lichfield’s kennel, in 1866—that is, one year after the first start of
field trials in Bedfordshire.

To start breeding pointers of the right sort is as easy as to continue
breeding the wrong. There are dogs constantly going to auction whose
ancestors have won field trials for ten to thirteen generations. This is
a guarantee to a certain extent that puppies will be worth something to
shoot over. It is a great assistance to the breeder, who, having the
blood, can confine his powers of selection to the choice for external
form, which is a great simplification. A pedigree as long as one’s arm
is absolutely useless as a mere record of names, but with field trial
victors in every generation it is nearly all the help that a breeder can
desire. If to these were added good photographs of each generation, it
would make breeding almost a certainty.

The records of bench show wins by no means take the place of
photographs, for the variation of victorious types is as great as that
of the selection of judges. This was always so, but of late years dogs
have been bred for show without regard to their business in life; so
that many exhibition pointers are only nominally of that breed, and
instead of shows assisting pointer breeders they are so managed as to
_preclude_ competition by field trial dogs. This might be altered by the
adoption by the Stud Book, or a new one, of the principles upon which
the Foxhound Stud Book is managed by the Masters of Foxhounds
Association. That is, by only admitting hounds bred from sire and dam
entered in a recognised pack. The same principle would be satisfactorily
adopted if only dogs bred from field trial winning parents, or winners
themselves, were admitted to the Stud Book, or to pointer classes at
shows, when both the book and the exhibition would become of real use. A
similar principle is involved at the King’s Premium Show of
thorough-bred horses, where the performances on the Turf of the
competitors are placed before the judges; and in 1906 the latter have
recommended that they should be allowed to consider pedigrees also in
making their awards.

Formation, which indicates power to work, is of as much importance in a
well-bred dog as pedigree, which should indicate will to work. But in a
badly bred dog formation is of no importance, but, by the Kennel Club
management of dog shows and Stud Book, formation is treated as of the
first importance, and true working blood as of no importance whatever.
The author ventures to predict an alteration, or, failing that, a time
when all the owners of sporting dogs of all kinds will ignore the Kennel
Club as completely as the Masters of Hounds Association and the
Governing Body of Coursing always have.

Mr. B. J. Warwick, who has Compton Pride, a liver-and-white pointer with
the distinction of winning the Champion Field Trial Stake at Shrewsbury
twice, is a member of the Kennel Club, and Mr. Sidney Turner, its
Chairman, has proposed at meeting only to give championship Kennel Club
certificates to field trial winners; but the sporting influence is weak
in the Club, and nothing has come of the Chairman’s proposition, which
by itself would not go half far enough to redeem the sporting character
of the Kennel Club, or to put under ground all show dogs that are
nominally sporting but cannot work. Nothing less drastic will be of the
smallest use in improving the shows for the true working breeds. The
author is speaking only of pointers and setters here, of which breeds
large numbers could qualify. The same treatment for spaniels and
retrievers would naturally be deferred until field trials for those
breeds had produced more winners and more dogs bred from winners in the

The following contrast will assist in showing the care necessary in the
choice of blood; for no breed differs more between its individuals than
the pointers.

About 1865 the writer had a small black-and-white dog of the race, which
was nearly the first dog he broke. But he was almost ashamed to say that
he did break it; for, with the exception of holding up a hand
occasionally, there was nothing to be done, and yet this dog had all the
desire to quest for game that could be wished. It taught itself to
point, to range, to back, and almost to drop to wing, and never desired
to chase a hare. Shortly before this, being then very young, the author
became impressed with the necessity of possessing more pointers, and by
means of advertisement procured a bitch to breed from. She had a
pedigree of enormous proportions and pretence, but a list of names has
no meaning unless attached to those names are records of the
performances of the animals that once possessed them. However, not
everybody was aware of that at a period, unlike the present, when a
pointer generally meant a dog kept to shoot over, and the purchase
looked like a pointer—at any rate, it was liver-and-white. She bred four
puppies, which were very foolishly exhibited at the Birmingham Show.
More foolish still it was to give them a run behind a horse. They looked
like following, and if they would not, the author believed he could
follow them. They soon put him to the test, for they went straight away
in a pack after nothing whatever, until they came to a field in which
sheep were penned on turnips. Then they all together went for the sheep,
and for the first time _divided_. It is all very well to be huntsman,
but difficult to double the parts and be whipper-in as well, especially
when the pack divides. Besides, one hunting thong does not go far in
tying up four dogs to hurdles; more especially when they bite the thong
in two while another is being ridden down. There was much cry and not a
little wool; but although they went for the throats, they were attacking
Lincoln or Leicester sheep, and the long wool helped to save some of the
mutton. These dogs had no natural quest, although they were wild for a
race and for blood. Had they had collars on when they went for the
sheep, each could have been rendered harmless upon being caught by
having one fore foot slipped through the collar, but the author did not
learn the trick until many years later.


                            ENGLISH SETTERS

For reasons that it is difficult to fully explain, English setters have
been subjected to more fluctuations in merit than any other breed. The
last decadence undoubtedly set in when the show and field trial sorts
first became distinct breeds. The show dogs lost the assurance of
constitution which work in the field guarantees, and the field trial
dogs lost the breeder’s care for external form, which as show dogs their
ancestors had received. Moreover, they had no equivalent in England in
the form of stamina tests at field trials, and the principal breeders
have so many dogs that stamina is of little importance in practice to
them, however necessary it is to the maintenance of the vitality of a
race of thoroughbreds.

There is evidence of black-white-and-tan setters in a Flemish picture of
A. Dürer, but in England the earliest _clear_ evidence makes the English
setter of 1726, or thereabouts, either red-and-white or black-and-tan.
From the breeding together of these two colours may now be produced
whole-coloured red and whole-coloured black, black-and-white, and
black-white-and-tan dogs, and possibly also their various mixtures, such
as “ticked” dogs of either colour, but this is doubtful. There have been
several strains of liver-and-white setters, quite pure bred as far as
anyone knew, but bearing traces of water spaniel character, so that it
is probable they were originated by this cross at some remote period.
Probably it is possible to originate liver-and-white by crossing
black-and-white on lemon-and-white; but if that is so, this is an
original mixture of colouring that is exceedingly unusual, provided
there is no reversion to a liver-and-white ancestor. It is unusual for
this blend to occur, because a race of setters has been bred for many
years in which more than 99 per cent. of the offspring came one of three
colours—namely, black-and-white ticked, lemon-and-white ticked, and
black-white-and-tan with very few ticks and large patches of colour. The
other two colours that have shown themselves, each less than 1 per
cent., have been red and white in large patches—a combination of the
markings of one, and the colour of another, ancestral race—and
liver-and-white. But it is possible that these two rare kinds are not
blends at all, but only reversions to ancestors more than thirty-five
years and ten or twelve generations back. Paper pedigrees can trace the
colours and the absence of red markings back much farther than this, but
the author is only now discussing what he personally remembers. Probably
these are not reversions at all, but merely blends of colour and
markings. It would possibly be more nearly correct to say that the
liver-and-white appears in the race referred to no more often than once
in a thousand puppies. If it is a reversion, it shows how very nearly a
cross may be bred out; and if it is a blend, it proves that whatever
generation of these black-and-white and lemon-and-white setters are
crossed together the offspring continues to come of the three original
strains of blood, with little mixture, and very seldom a thorough

All the best English setters in the world are descended from Mr.
Hackett’s Rake, a descendant of Mr. Burdett’s black-and-tan Brougham.
Rake begat Mr. Staffer’s Rhœbe, and also Judy, the dam of the Champion
Field Trial dog Ranger. These two, Rhœbe and Ranger, founded two
distinct families, which for a very long time were not mixed, and in
America are still separate, and the former remains uncrossed with
American blood. The Ranger blood was principally kept up by Mr. James
Bishop of Wellington, Salop, and by Mr. Elias Bishop also.

The Rhœbe blood came into note when this celebrated brood bitch was
crossed with Duke, a dog bred from a Netherby dog, and a Staffordshire
bred bitch, belonging to the late Sir Vincent Corbet. Amongst many good
offspring, Rhœbe had one peculiar dog called Dan. He stood over 27
inches at the shoulder, and had more bone than any foxhound. This setter
won the Champion Stake at the National Field Trials in 1871. His chief
merits were that he was very fast without distressing himself, and his
tremendous strength and stride enabled him to go round fast small ones
without appearing to be trying, and meantime to flick his stern as only
those going within their powers can. Setter breeding was revolutionised
when this dog was bred to the best bitches of Mr. Laverack’s sort.

Mr. Laverack’s dogs in the sixties were known mostly upon the show
bench; but what was then less well recognised was that no dogs had done
harder work upon the moors for many canine generations. They were said
to be in-bred to only two animals on all sides of this pedigree, and to
go back seventy years without any cross whatever. It is probable that
Mr. Laverack had forgotten what crosses he did make; but in any case he
crossed with the black-white-and-tan Gordons of Lord Lovat’s kennel, and
whether he kept the offspring or not, there was generally a trace of tan
about the cheeks of his black-and-white ticked dogs. In any case, his
dogs were very much in-bred, until some of them suddenly came
liver-and-white in one litter, and red, and black, whole-coloured in
another. None of the latter were allowed to mix with the Rhœbe and Duke
strain of setters, and indeed these were only crossed with the blood
named above, and with that of John Armstrong’s Dash II., a son of a
Laverack setter dog, and descended from a bitch said to be a sister of
that Duke mentioned above. From this limited material in point of
numbers, but of three distinct strains of blood, the finest setters of
modern times were produced, including many that won principal honours of
the show and also of the field trials. In England they took most of the
field trials for setters for some years, and in America they took all
stakes that were open to both pointers and setters for even longer. To
apportion the merit amongst the original three strains would be
difficult, but as the setter breeding of the future depends on a proper
understanding of that of the past, some few remarks may be of use.
First, it has to be admitted that the Rhœbe blood was as successful when
crossed with the Laverack race as when braced up by the cross with Duke.
Also that Duke’s descendants from other crosses than that of Rhœbe were
better than any others, except her own so crossed descendants. Duke and
the Laveracks never were directly crossed together, and there is nothing
to be had from the pedigree of Kate, the grand-dam of Armstrong’s Dash
II., because it has been variously given at different times. On the
book, then, the merit was due to Rhœbe and Duke in equal proportions,
but the book is wrong. The reason for this being said is that the
brothers and sisters of Dan, by Duke from Rhœbe, were a poor lot. They
were great big 26 inch dogs and 24 inch bitches, and one of them, namely
Dick, in appearance with Dan made the most remarkable brace that ever
won the stake at the National Trials, and apparently there was not a pin
to choose between them, except that Dan was the faster. They hunted out
what is now the Waterworks field at Acton Reynold in a style of ranging,
pointing, and backing that could not be improved on even in imagination,
and the way they had of going down on their elbows, and standing up
behind, with their great flags on a line with their backs, and
consequently pointing upwards at an angle of 45 degrees, was a
revelation in style, just as the pace was, for it was so easily done
that they had lots of time to flick their sterns as they went. When they
were taken up without a mistake, no others, even without a mistake too,
could have been in the running. But Dick was a flat-catcher, wanting in
stamina, courage, and in nose, for he was a bad false pointer. Dan was
the only one of the litter, as far as they were known to the author,
that was a perfectly honest dog, and exhibited no more at a field trial
than in private. It is therefore not possible to discredit the Laverack
bitches that, when crossed with Dan, again and again produced litters in
which there was scarcely any difference between the best and the worst,
and in which, when the best died, the worst were good enough to find
themselves running against Ranger for the National Championship. But
this is not all the evidence in favour of the Laveracks, for, when heavy
dogs of that strain were crossed with the very moderate sisters of Dan,
the produce was far better than either the sires or dams. It was only
when the three sorts were blended that anything like uniformity, or a
distinct breed, appeared, and the offspring were far more true to type,
and merit in work, when the tail-male line was to Duke and the
tail-female a Laverack, than when the order was reversed. The Stud Book
shows the field trial winnings of the sort, and it will always be
remembered that once, when the Field Trial Derby was a very big stake,
four setter puppies of this breed, belonging to Mr. Llewellin, took the
four first places in it that could fall to setters. In other words, they
put out all the other setters and then defeated the best pointer. At
other times they won the brace stake one day, and one of the brace the
single stake the next. Then Count Wind’em and Novel on one occasion took
the two championships at Birmingham Show for good looks, and beat the
best pointers and setters at the National Trials as well. Count Wind’em
was about 25 inches at the shoulder, long and low, and neither hot
“muggy” weather in August, nor hillsides of the steepest on which grouse
lie, could tire him. One field trial judge of the day who saw the way he
did the heather against such dogs as Dash II., and other winners of the
time, compared the sight to that of a great racing cutter sailing round
a 20–rater. It was all done without an effort, and therein lay the
conserved energy that kept on as long as any man could follow.

In America this breed was first called the “Field Trial breed,” then
“Llewellin setters,” and also “The straight-bred sort,” by which it is
generally known in conversation. At the time of writing (June 1906) the
last pure bred one of the race that has run at an English field trial
was Mr. Llewellin’s Dan Wind’em, bred in the last century. But in
America nothing has ever been able to suppress the pure bred ones at the
field trials there. When they have not won, their 90 per cent. of pure
blood descendants have done so. In 1904 the author was on a visit to
America, and, having been requested to help judge their Champion Stake,
did so, with the result that one of these pure breds defeated all
comers. This dog was called “Mohawk,” and in the same kennel was another
setter named “Tony Man.” The latter had a slight trace of outside blood,
but the two were almost identical to look at. Tony Man had just
previously beaten Mohawk, and won the stake of the United States Field
Trial Club in first-rate style. But the trace of outside blood was so
very much regarded by the American sportsmen that the author heard Tony
Man offered for sale at £200, whereas he was assured on independent
evidence again and again that Mohawk could easily earn £500 a year at
the stud. This great difference is caused not at all by any great
difference in the prospective merits of the descendants of the two dogs,
but merely by the fact that those of one can be registered as
“straight-bred,” and those of the other cannot. The book of reference is
_The American Field’s_ Stud Book, where those with any cross whatever
are registered as English setters, and the others as “Llewellin
setters.” These straight-bred ones trace on all sides to seven dogs bred
in the sixties of last century—namely, Mr. Laverack’s Dash II., his
Fred, and his Moll III., Mr. Blinkhorn’s Lill I., Mr. Thomas Statter’s
Rhœbe, Sir F. Graham’s Duke, and Sir Vincent Corbet’s Slut.



  With the exception of an ill-drawn hind leg and near fore foot this is
    the correct formation. The model had the shoulders, head, back and
    back ribs, rarely seen now except in hard-working dogs.



That a breed should have lasted without cross for so long, and now be as
full of vitality as ever it was, can only be accounted for by the
intensely searching selection of the fittest for work, in a manner that
tries constitution as well. In America they have from thirty-five to
forty field trials each year; the best and severest is the Champion
Stake, and wisely the winners of this event are bred from to the
exclusion of most others. To have won the stake is to have proved
ability to hunt at an extreme tension for three hours without slackening
up. That is to finish much faster than the average of fast dogs start
when fresh in the morning. The only falling off that the author could
discover, compared with the great dogs in England of the seventies and
eighties, was the want of size of the best dogs there. Mohawk measured
by the author under 21 inches at the shoulder. There are many large dogs
of the blood out there, but they are not those of the most vitality,
although they fairly compare in that respect with the best dogs in
England. Besides the selection already referred to, what helps to keep
up this in-bred race as workers, whereas it died out in England, is the
number that are bred in the States and Canada. There are many thousands
there; probably in England there are not more than two or three besides
importations from America and their descendants. It should be stated, to
make this clear, that the setters run of late by Mr. Llewellin at field
trials have been cross-breds, and would not be registered in _The
American Field_ Stud Book as “Llewellin setters.” The following are
referred to as cross-breds: Border Brenda, Count Gleam, Kitty Wind’em,
Border Beauty, Orange Bloom, Pixie of the Fells, Countess Brenda,
Countess Carrie, Miss Mabel, Countess Nellie, Puck of the Fells, and
Countess Shield. That is to say, all the dogs run by Mr. Llewellin at
field trials in the years 1903, 1904, and 1905.

Others who have the blood in this crossed form are Colonel C. J. Cotes
of Pitchford and Captain H. Heywood Lonsdale of Shavington, near Market
Drayton. The latter has some American-bred straight-breds, but reference
is here made to their old and well-known field trial strains. Each of
these kennels obtained a large draft of the pure bred sort in the early
eighties, or late seventies, and introduced it widely into their own
breeds. These were formerly founded on Lord Waterpark’s breed, and his
were crossed very much with Armstrong’s Duke already referred to, so
that the crossing of the two strains had the double benefit of
out-crossing generally, and yet in-breeding to one particular dog, and
that one as valuable in a pedigree as Duke. Some years ago, for an
article in _Country Life_, the author tabulated the pedigree of Captain
Lonsdale’s Ightfield Gaby, and found that he had eight distinct crosses
of Duke, and as he was then by far the best setter in England, it was
only history repeating itself in the matter of the most successful

Thus the American straight-bred, as has been shown, was obtained by
crossing three unrelated breeds of setters together. Unrelated setters
cannot now be found without going to the black-and-tans and the Irish.
But such crosses are not required as long as America has a strain of
straight-bred ones uncrossed with anything on this side the water for a
quarter of a century. Indeed, the value of the American cross has
already been proved by Mr. Alexander Hall’s Guiniard Shot and Dash. They
are bred from a bitch imported from America, but not a “straight-bred”
one. These two and Captain Lonsdale’s Ightfield Duffer were the best
setters seen in 1905, and in their absence another Ightfield bred one on
one side of her pedigree, namely, Mr. Herbert Mitchell’s Lingfield
Beryl, has carried all the spring field trials of the 1906 season by
storm, and has beaten the pointers equally with the setters in single
and in brace stakes too. She is a long way the best setter Mr. Herbert
Mitchell has ever had. Like Ightfield Gaby, already mentioned as the
best of his period, the only fault with her is that, with the same
beauty of form and strength to carry her light setter-like body, she
would have been better if larger.

Of course this is intended to be hypercritical, but it is necessary to
point out that Gaby is 22 inches at the shoulder, and Count Wind’em, his
best ancestor, was nearer 25 than 24 inches. This is too much to lose in
twenty years, for it really means losing nearly half the size of the

It is pleasing to note that the American cross with the old blood, even
with small dogs on both sides, seems to recover the lost size. This is a
great point; because, although a good little one is enormously better
than a lumbering big one, yet a good big one is out of all proportion
better than the same form on a small scale.

A few years ago, Mr. B. J. Warwick was winning all before him in the
field with setters of very small size. The blood of most of them was a
blend of all the sorts named above except the American strain. That is,
they were descended from Ranger on one side and from the late Mr.
Heywood Lonsdale’s sort on the other. They were beautifully broken, had
for the most part capital noses and plenty of sense, but few of them are
likely to breed dogs better than themselves, because they mostly lacked
external form and size. Many of them were bred by Mr. Elias Bishop, who
ran a better sort in the Puppy Stakes in the spring of 1906,—Ightfield
Mac,—more fitted, in his then form, for American than for English field
trials. The demand there is for a dog; here it is a little too much for
a breaker. It is a question whether allowance enough is made at field
trials for the indiscretions of youth. The consequence of judging
puppies as if they were old dogs is that, when they become so, they are
not a very high-couraged lot, and the winning puppies seldom become
mature cracks.

There is plenty of evidence that the encouragement of docility instead
of determination in puppies has done more to run down English setters
than even in-breeding itself. The doer of the most brilliant work will
go out if he makes one mistake. In practice there is always a duffer
that does not make one.

That is the worst thing that can be said against field trials, and it
has only been true of late years. The old style of judging was to select
the most brilliant worker for highest honours, and under it English
setters made rapid strides.

This handicapping of great capacity goes farther than merely turning a
dog out for a trivial fault. The judges often seem to demand a dog with
small capacity—that is, compared with the old demand. Here is a
comparative instance. In 1870, when Drake the pointer won the Champion
Stake, he and a competitor were turned off in a field through which
there ran a line of hurdles cutting the field in two. Drake disregarded
the hurdles and beat the field as if there had been none, and did the
whole field in the same time that his competitor took to do the
half—that is, only one side the hurdles. He did not scramble it, but
methodically quartered every inch. Precisely the same kind of field
occurred at the National Trials in 1906; but when Pitchford Duke got
through the hurdles, his handler, knowing the feeling of judges
generally, ran after him, whistling and shouting, to get him back to do
the 150 yards wide strip that the hurdles divided from the bulk of the
field. It is true that Pitchford Duke did not make as if he was going to
quarter the whole field in Drake’s style, but had it been Drake himself
the breaker would probably have done just as he did for Duke, and
scolded him for what was held to show brains and capacity in 1870 by
some of the best sportsmen in the country who were acting as judges, and
at a time when everybody knew what dogs should do, because everybody
used them.

However, it is dangerous to say a word by way of criticism of an
institution to which we owe it that setters and pointers have been
preserved at all. We should have had no dog with a will to imitate Drake
had it not existed. The only object of saying anything is to appeal for
a little more value for “class,” and a little less for trick performers.
It is very difficult to give effect to a wish of this sort in judging,
because faults are facts, and facts are stubborn things; whereas class
is generally, but not always, a matter of opinion, on which judges may
hold conflicting views. The author was once hunting a brace of setters
at the National Trials, and they had done such remarkable work that the
late Sir Vincent Corbet, who was judging, was heard to tell someone
“that black-headed dog has been finding birds in the next parish.” Much
of this work had been done under the slope of a hill, where the
spectators could not see it; they had formed a semicircle at the other
end of the last field that the brace had to do, and the black-headed dog
came up the field, treating as a fence the line of spectators who had
formed up 100 yards or so within the field. He hunted up to their toes
before turning along the line, and dropped to a point within 10 yards of
several hundred people, who had been standing there so long that they
were obviously and audibly quite sure there was nothing at the point.
When the author came up, he could not move the pointing dog; the latter
evidently thought he was too near already, and he had a brace of
partridges, much to everybody’s surprise. This dog, Sable Bondhu by
name, was the very highest “class,” and to show how right the judge’s
estimate of him was, it may be recorded that he was the performer of a
very remarkable piece of work on grouse.





  The former was victor on Lord Home’s moors near Lanark, in July 1906,
    over all English-bred pointers and setters. The latter was winner of
    the puppy stakes at the same time.

It was late in the season, and we had been hunting all the morning and
finding comparatively few grouse on a beat generally full of birds. At
last Sable got a point from the top of a “knowie,” and with his head so
high that it gave the impression that the birds must be a very long way
off. In starting to go to him, the author happened to see the grouse in
a large pack standing with their necks up on another “knowie,” about 400
yards away from the pointing dog. That explained the absence of grouse:
they had packed upon a moor where they were supposed never to do so.
More with the object of scattering them than expecting to get near
enough for a shot, we formed single file, and two guns and a gillie,
without going near Sable, started to circle the grouse and get ahead of
them, so as to put them between the guns and the dog. Strangely enough,
they gradually sank down and hid, and we did get quite close to them,
and at the risk of being branded poacher, truth compels the confession
that we picked up five brace for our four barrels, and besides,
scattered the birds in every direction. Sable never moved until he was
wanted to assist in finding the dead birds. Those who do not know what
very bad eyes dogs have, might think he had seen the birds, but this was
not so. The volume of scent made it recognisable at such a distance, and
enabled not a speculative, but a _certain_, point. The author has many
times seen such points obtained at 200 yards at a single brood of
grouse, and at more than 100 yards at a pair of partridges. Nothing like
this can ever be done by a dog that has not “class”; but field trials
often have been won by dogs of no class. That cannot be helped, but it
must always be regretted. The no class sort referred to are meetly
called “meat dogs” in America, because sportsmen there think there is no
object in using them except the requirements of the “pot.”

Since the above was written, it has become known that, when in America
in 1904, the author selected a couple of unbroken puppies of eight and
ten months old, of the straight-bred sort, for Captain H. Heywood
Lonsdale, and that, in spite of quarantine for six months, which damaged
them exceedingly, Scott, a capital breaker, has succeeded in perfecting
one of them. This dog is known as Ightfield Rob Roy, and with much in
hand he beat all the best pointers and setters in the country at the
Gun-dog League’s Field Trials in July last, upon the grouse moors of
Lord Home.

The author was very pleased with the great “class” shown by Rob Roy, not
because the English dogs were beaten, but mostly because he has for some
years been pointing out that America was assuredly ahead of us, because
of our attempt to _breed_ docility instead of to _break_ it. The writer,
in fact, got almost ashamed of comparing the dogs of the present to
their disadvantage with the dogs of the past, and felt quite sure it
would have been much more popular to have ignored old memories and been
satisfied with the best of English field trial work. He was quite aware
that this laudation of the days and dogs that are gone was held to be
more or less what it so often is. But now that Captain Lonsdale’s fine
setter has demonstrated that a single selection of the author’s in
America, with every chance against him, has been able to establish the
accuracy of his memory, he believes that crossing will result in
bringing back all the old “class” vitality and energy, especially if we
were, like the Americans, to establish real stamina trials, and, like
them, evolve truer formation. Evolution of form is still in progress,
just as it was when our ancestors first differentiated the setter from
the spaniel by selection of the best workers.

The author is not concerned to make his experiences fit in with recent
Mendelian or anti-Mendelian science. You can’t make a silk purse out of
a sow’s ear, nor will the crossings of plants, guinea-pigs, and mice
conform to experiences with higher animals. If they would, Darwin’s
pigeons would have taught the stud master. They did not. That there is
this difference one statement of two first generation facts is enough to
prove. It is that if pure-bred white fowls are crossed with another
race, equally pure-bred, and black, the offspring will all be black
chicks and white chicks, with no mixtures. On the other hand, “in spite
of all temptations to belong to other nations,” no American pure negro
has ever been able to call her offspring a white child.


In all the countries in Europe pointers and setters are used, but there
are districts in Hungary and Bohemia where partridges are so plentiful
that this canine assistance is neither required nor employed. The style
of shooting in these districts would make the use of any dogs except
retrievers absurd, and the writer never has been able to detect the
sportsmanship in employing dogs when they are in the way and hinder
sport. The truest pleasure is to be derived from getting shots by means
of dogs that one could have got in no other way. This feeling for and
fellowship with pointers and setters is to be found in the wild
Highlands and Islands of the west and extreme north of Scotland, and
also in the greater part of the mountains of Ireland. To a great extent
it is also felt in pursuit of the rype of Scandinavia, and of the
partridge, wherever that bird is scarce enough to require much finding
before it is shot. But throughout Europe there is more or less
preservation, more or less boundary to be protected, with the growing
demands for artificial methods first, and then, a little later, the
substitution of men for dogs. There is also a kind of bastard shooting
over dogs, in which a line of guns is formed as if for walking up the
game, and then one or a brace of dogs is allowed to run down wind, or
up, according to the requirements of the line of guns, and with no
thought as to possibility of the wind serving the dogs. But under such
circumstances canine assistance is in a false position, and it is
distressing to see what happens. A pair of dogs could not adequately
serve a line of guns, even if they had all the advantage of the wind,
and it may be safely affirmed that when any attempt is made to walk up
game, dogs are out of place, except as retrievers at heel. On a Scotch
Highland hillside it may be a question whether a party of four guns can
kill most game by all walking in line or by working in two parties and
shooting over dogs, but in the former case there is a better way—that of
driving the game to the guns, which saves the walking, and the shooting
becomes more exciting because more frequent.

But dog work is conducted in such various methods, some of which are so
little removed from treading up the birds, that an idealist must
hesitate to affirm that it is always preferable to forming line and
walking up the game. There is an idea that the place to loose off the
dogs is where game has congregated, or been driven into good cover, so
that points may recur at every 10 yards. This is when the heavy shooting
occurs, but it is not when the dog is most indispensable. The latter
happens when there is no more than one covey to every 500 acres, and you
have to find it before you have any sport. Some people say that under
those circumstances they would prefer no sport. This, however, is a
decadent view. We all of us appreciate sport as its difficulty
increases, and a bag that was good enough for the great Duke of
Wellington and for Colonel Peter Hawker ought to be good enough for any
of us if we desire to feel ourselves sportsmen. The author has no word
to urge against big bags except this: they cannot form a feature of
everyday life for many, if for any of us, and sport can—provided the
anxiety to make big bags because they are the fashion does not destroy
our love of sport for its own sake. The writer confesses to being one of
those selfish creatures who is supremely happy if he has satisfied his
own critical spirit, even in such trifles as a day’s unwitnessed sport
over dogs, the stalking of a blackcock or of a stag, the capture of a
reluctant trout, or the killing of half a score of driven grouse out of
a pack without a miss. He is well aware that either of these may be the
harder to accomplish according to circumstances, and his pleasure is
based on the absence of anything that might have been done better. Once
in his life he sent a stag’s head to a taxidermist, and then changed his
mind and would not have it home; and once or twice he has counted his
kills during a day, but never made a written note of them. It has always
appeared to the author that sport is its own reward, and that records
are rather sad reading, and trophies create memories of the noble dead,
and not always pleasant ones. It seems easier to take an interest in
other people’s records than in one’s own, and to admire trophies that
one did not victimise.

Surely a true spirit of sport may be the possession of one whose whole
household idols are his gun and rifle, and whose total impedimenta are a
portmanteau and gun-case. The greater one’s belongings, and the more one
grows to care for them, the less ready one becomes to go far afield for
sport, and the more one is inclined to cling to old memories, even
without the assistance of trophies and private written records.

Feats of sport that can be forgotten are not worth remembering, for if
enjoyment depended upon the size of the bag or the grandeur of a trophy,
every day in which the old record was not beaten would be a day lost,
whereas, in sport for its own sake alone, every triviality is supreme
for the time being, and one is as keen for small things or great at
sixty as at sixteen, although—and more is the pity—a great deal more

The author has not ventured to trouble the possible reader with these
personal reflections without a purpose—a purpose of making small things
interesting, if that may be in an atmosphere of fashion and big bags.

An American prairie chicken and a quail are very small birds, and
nowhere are they to be had in the abundance of Norfolk partridges or
Yorkshire grouse. But they are as keenly pursued as any game in this
country, and the writer was at least as gratified with small-bag
successes as he has ever been with bigger bags in this country.

There are many reasons for the appreciation of even small bags of
prairie chicken or quail. One is that the birds are for the most part
for those who can find them. The actual shooting is so much the smaller
matter. You find yourself on a prairie apparently as big and as flat as
the Pacific Ocean. In the far distance you may observe a thin line of
smoke as of a steamer hull down; you guess it at 10 miles, expecting to
be told you have doubled the distance. Instead, you are informed it is
the Trans-Continental railway train, which you know to be 40 miles away
by the map. You may shoot to it, driving your waggon all the way, as the
dogs work to the sky-lines on either side of you, never stopping until
they get a point or come to the waggon for water. When they do point,
you drive to them, it may be a mile, before taking the gun from its case
and descending from the waggon. You judge of your dogs, not by their
“treading up” the game, but by their sense in only hunting the habitat
of game, and by the instinctive straightness of their course, first to
the whereabouts of birds, and second to the game itself. With that 40
miles of unbeaten prairie in front, you are not reluctant to leave
behind unbeaten ground that your dogs repudiate, especially as you see
they do believe in what lies ahead, and you have reason to know that
they are as reliable in their sense of “bird ground” as in their powers
of smelling the game itself. The Americans value them for the former
most uncommon quality, which they call “bird sense.” In practice it
means both the greatest expenditure and economy of canine energy.

Change the locality to the South, in those winter months when all the
Frozen North is mantled in white, and when the Ohio and the big lakes
are solid ice. The autumn has passed, and Christmas has come and gone,
before a shot is fired at the quail on many plantations. The brush has
been too thick, to say nothing of the standing corn and the cotton, into
which it is not “good form” to ride. You have exchanged your waggon for
a saddle-horse. The flat prairie has given place to much broken and
rolling ground, much natural covert, but distances are still wide; quail
are plentiful for these parts. That is to say, there may be a brood to
every 500 acres, perhaps to every 100 acres. As your dogs are sent off,
you take care that they are not deceived as to the way you are riding.
They will have no other indication as to your whereabouts in half an
hour’s time, by when they will assuredly have been seen once or twice.
Their sense of locality now becomes of as great importance as their bird
sense. If they had not the former, they could either not go out of
sight, or, doing so, would be lost. They may be the other side a hill
and through a wood and half a mile away, but they can come straight back
to you from any point, provided you ride straight. If you turn when they
are out of sight, you defeat them, and they lose you. In such country as
this it is not surprising that one school of shooters prefer what they
call close ranging dogs, which, however, are not quarterers, but merely
dogs of lesser courage, or those that fear to be lost. But, every other
quality being equal, the field trials are won by the fastest stayers of
the wide ranging variety, but such as do _not_ lose themselves and _do_
find game. In the Champion Stake for previous field trial winners that I
assisted to judge in 1904, the rules insist on three-hour heats, and in
practice competition demands these heats to be run at top speed
throughout; but this speed in no sense means racing, but the most
strenuous hunting for game.

Although the close ranging school condemn high ranging on various
grounds, it is interesting to note that when they breed a litter of
puppies the sires they use are those which have won these Champion
Stakes. They are wise enough to know that, given the natural canine
energy in their young dogs, they can turn it to advantage either in
close or wide ranging, or merely in staying longer at a slower pace.

The broods of quail are not easy to find, because of the strenuous
canine work required to cover so much ground, and the bird sense
necessary to enable the dogs to select the right ground on which to
hunt. When the brood is found and flushed, it scatters. Then any slow
dog can find the scattered birds, and this is when the bag is filled;
but it is not the valued canine quality, for the very reason that it is
common property, whereas bird sense, sense of locality, and covey
finding in the highest degree, are rare traits by comparison.

One day when the writer was shooting in Tennessee, his host had out
three handlers of dogs, each mounted, and each working a brace of field
trial winning setters at a time, with frequent changes. The sound of the
horn was indicative of a point, and a long gallop had frequently to be
taken to get to it. When the beat is in progress, the horses usually
travel at a fox trot, or about six miles an hour. But even six crack
dogs proved none too many for sport, so scarce are quail in some parts,
and in this particular part they fairly swarmed in comparison with much
of the Frozen North.

These high-couraged dogs that seem to take no hint from their handlers,
but to think entirely for themselves, nevertheless have but to see their
handler off his horse to take it for a signal to quarter the ground
closely for scattered quail, or to hunt like a retriever for dead birds.
Then upon the handler mounting again, their natures seem to change upon
the instant, and they shoot off in a mighty hurry to make some cast that
they have had “in mind” probably all the time they have been doing what
is called “bird work,” as tamely as and obediently as any English field

Some people look upon this riding to pointers and setters as new, and
think these dogs were never intended for any such purpose. On the other
hand, it appears probable that they could not have invented their bird
sense and sense of locality, which are doubtless instinctive and
hereditary. It is the fashion to think our ancestors were slow in their
movements. So they were, no doubt, when they could not be quick, but
others besides Colonel Hawker knew the advantage of bustling along after
partridges by means of a shooting pony and quick pointers; and others
besides Joe Manton have found that “going slow” was not the royal road
to success, nor buttermilk as good for pointers as for points. It was
not fair of the Colonel to prepare certain failure by means of
buttermilk. Used in this way, the shooting pony in conjunction with
pointers and setters is not often seen now in England, but it certainly
was very common when the ridable portions of the country were mostly
shot by the assistance of those dogs. It is probable, therefore, that
this American form of shooting, brought to perfection there by means of
field trials, is really more like English shooting at the dawn of the
nineteenth century than our own shooting over dogs is like it.

But whether that is so or not, the writer is certain that this strenuous
work is the right method to maintain the generations of the dog, and
that there would be no sense in the theory of evolution if these
Champions were not the best dogs to breed from. At any rate, although
the Americans owe to us all their breeds of pointers and setters, no
recent importations have been able to win there, and, on the other hand,
the first American cross-breds to be brought over have annexed some of
our field trials. The reference is to Mr. A. Hall’s Guiniard Shot and
Dash, victors in a brace stake in 1905, and good enough with a little
luck, and in the hands of any but a novice, to have beaten the best
running in our trials that year, although they were only four days over
the age of puppies when they competed against old dogs.

Another charming method of shooting is found still farther South, in
Georgia, where there are vast areas of pine forests and quail in them.

Here it is common to _drive_ through the pathless woods. The waggons are
often driven over a fallen tree that to English eyes seems to bar the
way. It is an article of faith that if the horse can get over, the buggy
will follow.

There is naturally a limit to one’s range of vision amongst straight
stems, although there is no brushwood to interfere, and the way free
rangers when upon the point are found in these woods, as also in the
brushwood outside, is by means of other dogs; there may be half a dozen
hunting together, and several spare animals in the buggy. If careful
watching does not discover the last direction taken by the dog on point,
it will do so of one or other of the backing dogs, and, failing that,
another is turned out to look for the out-of-sight brigade. January
sport is like driving in the English pine districts on an early
September day, and shooting partridges in the woods (for the “quail” or
“bob-whites” are partridges, and not quail) and the bracing freshness of
the pine-laden air has, with good reason, caused New York fashion to
winter in the pine districts of Georgia, of which Thomasville is a good
specimen, for sport and health.

Since writing the above, a puppy the author selected in America in 1904,
then eight months old and unentered, has beaten all the pointers and
setters at the grouse trials on Lord Home’s beautiful Lanarkshire moors,
in August 1906. This is Captain H. Heywood Lonsdale’s Ightfield Rob Roy,
and very fully confirms a view expressed above, that the severest tests
are the best for keeping up a breed. This dog comes of the remarkably
in-bred race referred to in the chapter on English setters, and it need
not be mentioned further, except to say that the pure breed as
first-rate performers came to an end in this country owing to
in-breeding, without at the same time selecting as severely for vitality
as the field trial system does in America. Selection has negatived the
well-known influence of in-breeding in everything except in size. This
pure bred in-bred race was originated over there by the author’s
selection for Americans of dogs all descended from those six setters
named in the chapter on English setters, and picked and recommended from
the kennels of the late Mr. Tom Statter, the late Mr. Laverack, the late
Mr. Barclay Field, Mr. Purcell Llewellin, and others. In the exported
originals they were Laverack and Rhœbe crosses, like Mr. Barclay Field’s
Rock on the one hand; Laveracks, like Mr. Laverack’s Victress (Dash and
Moll); Laverack and Rhœbe crosses like the late Mr. Statter’s Rob Roy;
Duke and Rhœbe crosses bred by Mr. Statter, of which strain two big
bitches were sent out; and others of the three crosses, Duke, Rhœbe, and
Laveracks, like Mr. Llewellin’s Druid and his Count Noble. The demand
for them arose in consequence of some letters the author had written in
the American sporting press referring to the superiority of these three
strains over any others of that period. The author even ventured to give
them a title, namely “the Field Trial breed,” and that was the sole
reason why they were kept uncrossed with other blood in America. It is
this uncrossed blood that is represented in Captain Heywood Lonsdale’s
Rob Roy, but that this race of in-breds is still valuable (and in
America by far the most valuable) is owing to those three-hour stamina
trials by which the sires are selected. It was because of the severity
of those tests that the writer felt sure that he could select in America
superior material to any our breakers have to work upon. That idea was
not very popular when it was first stated some five years ago; but those
who had taken the opposite view were generous when they saw Rob Roy’s
performance, and, as one of them remarked, they “took it all back.” The
crosses of this energetic strain cannot fail to improve our setters, and
if we could only import the severity of selection of the best winners by
further more severe stamina trials, we should not be long behind
America. There the breed has a Stud Book registration to itself, for
which any cross whatever disqualifies. They are registered as “Llewellin
setters,” which was for some reason substituted for the “Field Trial
breed” which the author had given. In conversation they are spoken of in
America as “straight-bred,” and in England the best designation is “the
American straight-bred setters,” since it is necessary to know that we
are not speaking of the same breed as Mr. Llewellin’s recent field trial
representatives, which are crossed, and could not be registered in the
American Stud Book as Llewellin setters or straight-bred ones. About
thirty-five field trials for pointers and setters are held every year in
America, and honours rarely, if ever, fall on any other race except
setters, either straight-bred or having 90 per cent. of the blood, and
on the pointers.

                            THE IRISH SETTER

Fashion has made the Irish setter a red dog, whereas there used to be
many more index dogs of Erin red-and-white than red. Fashion in this
case has been the dog show, but if that had been all the result of its
influence the author would have been content. It is the Irishmen who are
most concerned, and the fact that the Irish setter is the worst colour
in the world to see in a Scotch mist can be well understood not to
matter in Irish atmosphere and manners of thinking. Between 1870 and
1880 the dog shows had attracted most of the handsomest dogs in Ireland,
and many of these were very good workers.

From time to time an Irish setter has been good enough to compete with
success at English field trials, and although on occasion such an animal
has carried all before it in its stake, neither in England nor America
has one of the breed ever won a Champion Stake, so that probably it will
be considered fair to say that poor competition has brought the Irish to
the front when by chance they have come out first at field trials. The
author has seen and shot over many charming red setters, but he has
never seen a really great dog of that breed—that is, not a dog in the
same class with the pointers Drake and Romp’s Baby.

The best Irish setter the writer ever shot over had the peculiar luck of
always finding birds when, by the manners of other dogs, there appeared
to be none about. Many a time has a bad day been redeemed by letting off
this beautiful red dog, a son of the field trial winner Plunket. To some
good judges of dog’s work the field trials appeared to be at the mercy
of this setter; but he had a peculiarity often to be found in those of
his race—he would only hunt for blood, and consequently out of the
shooting season he was as useless as an ill-broken, careless puppy. He
would run up birds without appearing to smell them before they rose, or
to see them afterwards. Instead of waiting on your every wish, as he did
in the shooting season, he took no interest whatever in the proceedings,
and you could not cheat him into believing business was meant by the use
of blank or any other cartridges. It is easy to defend such a
characteristic in individual or race on the ground that it shows their
sense. So it does, no doubt, but it also shows that the questing
instinct is weak in them, and there are good reasons for preferring it
to be very strong. The breaking season is the spring, and a dog that
will not hunt for all it is worth then cannot be broken. As a matter of
fact, only few Irish setters ever are highly finished. More than half of
those that have come to field trials have been unsafe in the abode of a
hare. At the same time, those that are taken to spring field trials hunt
well enough, but of course these are a very small proportion.

In popular opinion the greatest fault is that the race carry low heads;
at the same time, this carriage does _not_ invariably mean bad “noses.”
The writer has seen an Irish setter turn a complete somersault over its
own nose, which it ran against a stiff furrow of a fallow field; but
this one had a good nose, although not the very best. The author was
judging one year at the National Field Trials with Mr. George Davies, of
Retriever fame, when Colonel Cotes’ fast and good pointer Carl was sent
off against an Irish setter belonging to Mr. Cheetham. The latter never
lifted his nose in hunting or in drawing to game more than would miss
the buttercups, but nevertheless, from behind, he again and again found
partridges that the other dog, much nearer, had failed to detect. Carl
was very fast and the Irish setter very slow, but the former was beaten

There is a fiction that Irish setters are faster than other dogs, but
this is not the case. It is much more usual to see them out-paced, as in
the above-named instance. It may be that they generally have so merry a
stern action that they look to be bustling, when in fact their actual
getting over the ground is not fast. Their low noses cause them to take
very narrow parallels when they are careful, so that if they are judged
by the ground they actually cover or beat they are usually of less
capacity than their only moderate speed suggests. They ought to last
well at the pace they go, but although stamina is said to be another of
their strong points over English setters, the author has known many of
the latter breed that could do more work than any Irish setter he has
seen. These have included some of the best Irish setter winners at field
trials. But years ago there were Irish dogs that could go a good pace
and stay well. They were bigger dogs than those which win at shows now,
and looked more like workmen. It is to be feared that breeding for show
points has evolved a bustling and busy rather than a business-like race.
They are now smaller, shorter, especially in the quarters, and more
upright in the shoulder, than the best of the old sort. There is not now
anything at all like Palmerston and Kate, winners at Birmingham about
the same time. The last-named was probably as well made and as
setter-like as any dog could be, and to compare the present show setters
with her is like comparing a polo pony with a Derby winner. At the
spring field trials of 1906 only one Irish setter was entered, and that
one was far from being even moderate in its work.

There may be dogs of the old type hidden away in Ireland, and if so they
are much more worthy of attention than those which for so long have been
bred for show points. The best Irish setters the author has seen for the
last ten years are those of Mr. Cheetham. This gentleman kept them for
grouse shooting in the Lews, and as his shooting was late in the year,
when the heat had departed, they were admirably suited for the purpose.

The opinions given are of course based upon comparisons of the breed
with the very best of other races of setters and pointers. There is one
point, however, in which the Irish setters seem to be the inferiors of
all others—namely, the large proportion of inferior animals bred,
compared with the small number up to a fair English setter working
standard. This remark has reference to the natural ability, and not at
all to the difficulty of breaking the breed. The latter charge against
them is true also, but only because their excitement is greater than
their love of questing. Mostly they would rather chase a hare than point
a bird. It has been said of them that they want breaking afresh every
year, but that has not been the experience of the author, who has
invariably found that a thoroughly broken dog is broken for life, of
whatever breed it may happen to be.

Irish breaking, however, has not always been very thorough.

It has sometimes been said of the _old_ dogs of Ireland that they
required half a day’s work before they were steady. In that case, they
would require similar renewal of breaking every day, and the author has
made the observation that such dogs are too wild all the morning and too
tired all the afternoon to be a pleasure to shoot over.

But they are not all hard to break; some of those which are not too
excitable are very collie-like in their intuition of your wishes and
their anxiety to obey them.

It is noteworthy that the Irish have always held their field trials in
the autumn.

An old writer says that the English claim theirs as the true English
spaniel, whereas the Irish claim theirs to be the real true English
spaniel. This is not very informative. The dogs alluded to were of
course both setters, but of what colour we are not told in respect of
the Irish dog.

The author shot over the celebrated field trial winner Plunket for
several seasons and ran him at field trials, but after he had turned two
years he was little use in the spring, whereas he won well in the
autumn, when game was shot to his points. In this he was similar to a
much better dog, his own son, already referred to. Plunket was a fast
dog, and his boldness and beauty in going up to game was quite
remarkable, as he would draw up to birds at racing speed, as if he meant
catching them, but stopped suddenly and in time. Then, when they ran
away from his point, the moment he was ordered to draw on he would again
dash forward, and again locate his game with equally sudden points. But
the majority of good English setters at that time could out-stay him,
and particularly the Laverack setters Countess and Nellie, with which he
often worked, could have killed him. Mr. O’Callaghan’s setters were
rarely good enough to go to field trials, and although two of them won
there, they were very lucky to do so. Perhaps these dogs deteriorated
less than any other breed that were bred for show, or perhaps it would
be safer to say they declined in work slower than others, but there is
no doubt that they were on the down grade, not only in work but in true
setter appearance. That they were as _pretty_ as any dogs could be at
one time is freely admitted, but they had lost three-parts of the scope
of Palmerston and Kate, and their character of work was spaniel-like
rather than setter-like—in fact, just what their looks led one to expect
they would prove to be.

Unfortunately, the author has never seen the Irish field trials: the
reason is that the English pointers have usually proved better than the
Irish setters, so that there seemed to be nothing novel to see by going.
But it is very difficult to believe that the show Irish setters that
usually represent the breed at English trials are the best workers of
the race. The character of the breed when the author first saw it at
work in the sixties was distinctly setter-like, and not spaniel-like.

There has been a great deal of controversy upon how the dark-red colour
arose. Mr. John King, who knew more of Irish setters than any other man
known to the author, affirmed that red-and-white was the original
colour, and the general opinion was that those of the last-named
markings were the most easy to break. All the most setter-like Irish
that have come before the author have had more or less white upon them,
and as colour certainly denotes blood or origin, and the manner of
hunting of the whole-red dogs is spaniel-like, it does not seem to be
unlikely that the springer spaniel, the colour of a blood bay horse
without a white hair spoken of by a Suffolk parson in the middle of the
eighteenth century, may have had a good deal to do with the origin of
the red Irish setter. At any rate, no other setters or spaniels of the
colour can be traced in the early history of what was then the English
spaniel, or the setter.

The same writer says that the English spaniels (setters) were of two
colours, “black-and-tan” and “red-and-white,” so that there is another
possible origin of the whole-coloured red dogs. Black-and-tan setters
often produced a red dog, but not the Irish dark rich red. This red
puppy in the litter might have arisen from an Irish cross, but, on the
other hand, it might have been a blend with the lemon-and-white coloured
English setters, or the result of puppies following the markings of one
ancestor and the colour of another. Those that the author bred from
black-and-tan parents had no dark hairs to suggest their origin, but
neither had they the rich chestnut of the Irish setter. The writer’s
experience of breeding dogs inclines him to the belief that the
spaniel-like tendency of the breed, now that it is selected for all-red
colour, is proof not only of its spaniel but probably of a springer
origin. Their excitement, their merry low-carried sterns, and their
noses on the ground, speak like an open book to one who has bred and
watched the breeding of all races of setters for forty years, and has
assured himself that selection for colour is the automatic selection of
character usually found with that colour.

The late Mr. Laverack was of opinion that crossing his black-and-whites
with the lemon-and-whites of the same litter was in fact equivalent to
cross breeding. However, he lived to introduce red dogs in his breed, so
that the former kind of crossing does not do everything. There is no
doubt that size and fertility suffer by this method, but however often
the incestuous breeding is repeated such a thing as a blend of the two
colours was almost unknown—that is to say, when a liver-and-white one
did, very rarely, make its appearance, Mr. Laverack himself traced it to
a former cross with the Edmund Castle breed of liver-and-white setters.
There was always a difference other than colour between the
lemon-and-white and the black-and-white brothers and sisters—a
difference which suggested two distinct sources of origin of not at all
related breeds. Consequently, if the red-and-white has not been entirely
eliminated from the Irish setter, and if they sometimes do revert, the
author would expect the reversions to be more setter-like and less
spaniel-like than the present show Irish setters, and to be more like
Dr. Stone’s Dash and the Kate and Palmerston already mentioned.

Since writing the above, the author remembers that on one occasion he
bred from an Irish dog and a black-and-tan bitch, with the result that
the puppies were liver-coloured. Yet when two black-and-tans were bred
together thirty-five years ago, there were usually a couple of red
puppies in the litter showing neither liver, black, or black tinge, or
even dark-red colours. This does not support the theory of a
black-and-tan origin of the whole colour.

The collie-like sense of the Irish setter has been referred to, and a
case of the kind may be of interest. In 1873 the author was shooting
along the shores of a loch in Inverness-shire, hunting a brace of
setters, one of which was a red Irish puppy. A grouse was killed that
fell out into the lake, there about a mile wide and several miles long.
The dogs dropped to shot, and there lay while the party waited to make
sure that the wind would not bring in the grouse, for we had no
retriever or any setter that had ever retrieved. It became evident at
the end of a few minutes that the grouse was slowly drifting away, and
the order was given to continue the beat, leaving the bird to its fate.
But the young red setter was no sooner on its legs than it darted
straight to the lake, jumped in, swam to the grouse, brought it to land
and there dropped it, shook itself, and started to hunt for more live

That was the first and also the last bird it ever retrieved, although it
was constantly encouraged to make further attempts. Of course this looks
like reason, but that is questionable. At any rate, it was startlingly
smart, and about as unexpected a canine performance as could be

Another of the breed was so smart in finding wounded game that he ended
as a retriever in Yorkshire grouse driving, and was said to be better
than several retrievers, although he never lifted a bird, but merely put
a foot on the grouse and waited to be relieved, when he would go quickly
and straight to the next wounded bird, and so on until all were found.

It is probable that even wild grouse do not often fly from a dog unless
they associate him with the presence of man. When using a parti-coloured
team of black-white-and-tan setters with some lemon-and-white dogs, the
author has noticed that wild grouse soon got to expect the man when they
saw the dogs, and he has found that by using a red dog then, the birds
behave differently, probably mistaking the Irish setter for a Scotch
fox. At any rate, when they ought to have been very wild according to
locality and season, grouse have been noticed to treat a red dog with a
certain amount of resentment and walk away from him, flicking their
tails as they move, plainly expecting the rush, and unwilling to fly
before it came. What they obviously did not expect was that there was a
man with a gun.

                        THE BLACK-AND-TAN SETTER

A sporting parson of the middle of the eighteenth century tells us that
the English setters were then of two colours, red-and-white and
black-and-tan. Whether the author meant to say black-white-and-tan seems
a little doubtful, but in any case there were black-white-and-tan
setters long before this, as is evidenced in one of Dürer’s pictures,
and this Flemish artist died in 1528. When this picture was exhibited at
the Grosvenor Gallery in 1891, it escaped the notice of the author in
spite of several visits, but Mr. Rawdon Lee describes the dog
illustrated as a black-white-and-tan setter, less spaniel-like and more
on the leg than the modern show setter. Then, half a century later, our
earliest writer on the dog mentions the setter, or index, as a distinct
dog from the spaniel, and at the same time throws doubt upon the Spanish
origin of the latter. It was in 1570 that Dr. Caius of Cambridge wrote
upon the dog; unfortunately he appears to have known nothing except the
duties of the setter, for he does not describe either its origin, its
colour, or appearance.

It has been said that the Duke of Gordon got the black-and-tan colour by
crossing with the collie, but the majority of the Gordon Castle dogs
were black-white-and-tan, and some were red-and-white. That is to say,
they may have been and probably were the colours that the
eighteenth-century writer meant when he described those of the “English
spaniel”—that is, the English setter.

About 1873 the author had a long talk with the late Lord Lovat and his
keeper, Bruce, at the kennels above the famous Beauly pools, that the
same good sportsman rendered for ever famous by his wonderful kills of

It was an article of faith at Beaufort, where the kennel book had been
kept up since the end of the eighteenth century, that the old Duke’s
Gordon setters and their own living setters were identical in blood and
appearance. They were bred together, and after the Duke’s death this
inter-breeding was kept up between Lord Lovat’s and the other kennels
which had the blood. One of the principal of these was that of Lord
Rosslyn, in Fifeshire. But for some time this latter exchange of blood
had been dropped, because Lord Rosslyn’s dogs had been crossed with the
bloodhound to get nose, or so Bruce told the author.

What it did get was colour—that is, a bright black-and-tan without
white; whereas those dogs that were black-and-tan in the Lovat kennel
had white feet and fronts, but a very large majority had body white as
well. At that period those black-and-tan setters that went to the shows
were of two distinct types: one lot were light-made, active dogs, and
the other, including the descendants of Rev. T. Pearce’s Kent and those
of Lord Rosslyn’s blood, were very heavy in formation. Kent either had
no pedigree or a doubtful one, but was all the fashion, and whereas a
first cross with him was of benefit, in-breeding on all sides to him has
rendered the black-and-tans of to-day lumbering, and so constitutionally
weak that the exhibitors have been unable to keep the breed going,
although they have neglected to demand working ability in favour of the
points they adore. In the sixties and early seventies the Rev. Mr.
Hutchinson, of Malmesbury, wrote a good deal about the lighter strain of
black-and-tan setters which he and the late Sir Fred Milbank had
constantly used together in the Lews. The author tried these dogs, and
although they were certainly built for racing, they unfortunately could
not race. Their breeder believed nothing could live with them, but when
they came to be measured with others (and that is the only way to be
sure) they were not better in speed than the heavy Kent and Rosslyn
dogs, and not a patch upon the best Irish setters, which, again, were
inferior in speed and stamina to the best English dogs. In 1870 the
author entered a lot of his own breeding at the National Field Trials.
They were reported by Mr. J. H. Walsh, then Editor of the _Field_, to
have done “faultless” work, but were slow by comparison with some of the
other dogs, and although that gentleman did not think they were beaten,
disappointment at losing did not disguise from their owner that they
were out-classed. From that time to quite recently no pure bred
black-and-tan setter has had much of a look in at field trials, until
Mr. Isaac Sharp came out with Stylish Ranger. But between the exquisite
breaking of Mr. Sharp and the good nose of his dog they managed to get
in front of all they met, at a period when field trial dogs were at a
rather low ebb, and when in the judges’ opinions breaking counted for
more than work. If those opinions had obtained in 1870, the author might
have won all before him with his black-and-tans, but in that case he
would probably never have acquired the knowledge of the infinitely

This first field trial attempt was made with the heavy Kent and Lord
Rosslyn sort. The author bred several litters from direct crosses of
Lord Rosslyn’s best dogs. His second attempt to win field trials was
made with the light-made sort of setter from the Lews; but results were
always the same. Still, although those results were true, the
black-and-tan breed are never seen to advantage in the low country or in
the hot atmosphere of central England. They become twice the dogs late
in the season and on the high grounds of Scotland, and their size and
long legs are not a hindrance in deep old heather. Moreover, they almost
break themselves, or used to, thirty-six years ago, and where hills have
moderate angles and shooters interminable patience, they are comfortable
dogs to shoot over. Like the Irish, they do not mind wet and cold, and
many of them have good noses and carry high heads. But they were
different in character from English and Irish dogs. Once, and only once,
the author has seen a setter draw down to a brook at some scent,
apparently from the other side, but instead of crossing to investigate,
on this occasion the dog stood up on his hind legs to get a higher
current of the tainted air, and then, having made sure in that way,
crossed the brook and pointed on the rising ground beyond. This
performance was accomplished by one of the light-made black-and-tans of
the Lews blood before spoken of. What any other breed of setters would
have done would have been to swim the brook and try the other side in
the first instance, and this incident sufficiently explains the
difference of temperaments of the black-and-tan setters from those of
other races. In other words, the wisdom of the black-and-tans is partly
born of weakness of the flesh, for although bigger dogs than most
setters, they are not able to carry the extra weight.

In the first Bala field trials the Marquis of Huntly had a son of Kent
which, according to the points awarded by the judges, came out first.
But the judges did not follow their points, and gave the award
elsewhere. The author did not see that trial, but it is noteworthy
because it was the last time a black-and-tan of pure blood seemed to
have a chance of victory over the best of the period until the time of
Stylish Ranger. It is also noteworthy because the dogs beaten, on the
ground of bad breaking, afterwards proved towers of strength at the
stud, whereas the victors did not. The beaten included Mr. Tom Statter’s
pointer Major and Mr. Armstrong’s English setter Duke. Probably these
were the two most potent influences of setter and pointer breeding that
ever lived.

One incident in the breeding of black-and-tan setters did very much to
make them for a time the most popular breed. It was this. Much
controversy having arisen as to the setter character of Kent, a great
dog-show winner, his owner asked the Editor of the _Field_ to select a
puppy and run it at the field trials. This was done, and the puppy came
out well, and actually beat the celebrated Duke on one occasion. This
was naturally accepted as proof of the pure breeding of Kent and the
correctness of his type. What it probably ought to have proved was that
Rex (the young dog) was better than others, because he followed in
instinct the pure bred side of his parentage, and received vitality from
a not very remote outside cross of blood. Four years later, Duke was
sire, or grandsire, of the winners of first, second, third, and fourth,
at the National Field Trials, and the black-and-tans had practically
ceased competition at those events.

The author may say of black-and-tans, as he has of the red Irish
setters, that he never saw a great dog of the breed, although he has
seen many good ones. Probably the best that ever ran in public was Mr.
Sharp’s Stylish Ranger, but he would not have beaten the 1870 brigade on
anything but breaking, or rather handiness; for Mr. Sharp could put him
anywhere by a wave of the finger. It is probable that there are better
black-and-tan setters kept in Scotch kennels for work than those which
go to dog shows, and since Ranger’s withdrawal and exportation they have
ceased again to appear at field trials.

They have been too long bred without back ribs, with light loins, with
clumsy shoulders and big heads, to induce the belief that by selection
they can be improved. But they might be placed on a much superior level
by means of a cross and selection afterwards. Mr. Sharp’s celebrity was
bred by Mr. Chapman, who is, or was, a dog-show man. It is necessary to
say this in order to be quite fair to dog shows; but any attempt to
improve the breed by crossing would be most likely to succeed by a cross
on a base of black-and-tan setter that had been kept for several
generations for work only. The show points valued for this breed are
really not setter points at all. In considering the possibility of
improving, it is always necessary to know the history of a breed, and
that of the black-and-tan is undoubtedly indicated above. There is
evidence in Mr. Thomson Gray’s _Dogs of Scotland_, published in 1891, to
show that the origin of the Gordon setters was as suggested above—that
is to say, black-and-tan and lemon- or red-and-white, just what the old
Suffolk sportsman said of English setters fifty years before he wrote in
1775. Mr. Gray says there were also black-white-and-tans and
liver-and-white dogs.

But the “Gordon setter” never meant what those setters originated from,
but, on the contrary, what they became under the last Duke of Gordon,
and this we have ample evidence, from Beaufort Castle, from the Duke of
Richmond and Gordon’s kennel, and from Lord Cawdor’s strain, to prove
was black-white-and-tan, and that was also the colour of the dogs at the
dispersal of the Duke of Gordon’s kennel in 1837. So that it is a
mistake to call black-and-tan setters Gordons, for although the Duke’s
celebrated strain was partly originated from dogs of that colour, so
also were all other English setters. Gervaise Markham, in _Hunger’s
Prevention; or the whole art of fowling by Land and Water_, in 1665,
speaks of black-and-fallow dogs as the hardest to endure labour, so that
there is no doubt about the existence of black-and-tan setters before
the Duke of Gordon started to pay attention to setter breeding. There is
also no doubt that the Duke’s dogs were bred and crossed in colours
until they became black-white-and-tan. The author has shown how the
black-and-tan colour was restored in the Gordon of the present time by
the bloodhound cross, and it only remains to say that the reason the
black-and-tan colour is now accepted as that of the Gordon came about
from the early classification of the Birmingham Dog Show, where true
Gordons were placed in the English setter classes, and all kinds of
black-and-tans in the class for Gordons, although some at least,
probably many, of that colour were not Gordons. That the bloodhound
cross destroyed the merits of the various races of that colour may be
gathered from two facts. One was that the first dog show was won by a
black-and-tan, and the other that the first field trial was also won by
a black-and-tan. No doubt both these dogs were descended on one side or
other of their pedigree from the Duke of Gordon’s dogs, but it is
doubtful whether they got their black-and-tan from that side. Their
pedigrees can be looked up in the first volume of the Stud Book. But if
they are read by the light of a pedigree of a dog that belonged to the
author and was of much the same breeding, a pedigree which also occurs
in that volume, it will be seen that they might be Gordons only so far
as they inherited black-white-and-tan blood, and were of other breeds so
far as they inherited black-and-tan blood. To make what is intended
clear, the entry is quoted:—

“Bruce—Mr. G. Teasdale-Buckell’s, Wellesley Hall, Ashby-de-la-Zouch:
breeder, owner, born 1869 (dead). Pedigree: By Lord Rosslyn’s Rokeby
(No. 1622) out of Blaze, by Old Reuben out of Belle, by Kent (No. 1600)
out of Duchess, by Nell out of Stella, by Lord Chesterfield’s Regent
(purchased at the Duke of Gordon’s sale) out of a Marquis of Anglesea
bitch: Regent, black-white-and-tan, was by Old Regent out of the Duke of
Gordon’s Ellen.”

Duchess was a light-made black-and-tan, and her dam was by the undoubted
black-white-and-tan Gordon for which Lord Chesterfield gave 72 gs. to
Tattersall’s at the Duke’s dispersal sale, and her mother was a Marquis
of Anglesea bitch. Where did the black-and-tan colour of Duchess come
from? The reply is, not from Stella at all, but from Ned (mistakenly
entered as Nell) in the pedigree quoted; and he got his colour from Mr.
F. Burdett’s Brougham, which there is nothing to show was a Gordon at
all, although he was descended from black-and-tans on one side at least.
This same Brougham became the ancestor of the most famous breed of
English setters—namely, the descendants of Mr. Tom Statter’s Rhœbe,
winners of hundreds of field trials in this country and America, and
which are still the best setters there are.

But when the breed became crossed with the Lord Rosslyn’s and Kent
strains of black-and-tan blood, it practically ceased to be the setter
at all in a very few generations. That is why any attempted revival of
the black-and-tans ought to be based on dogs the ancestors of which for
generations have been good enough to keep for work, and with no ulterior
objects. But it would be an up-hill business, for nothing in breeding is
more certain than that colour is indicative of blood, and to select for
black-and-tans would be to select the wrong type a hundred times in a
hundred and one.

On the other hand, if any of the old light-made black-and-tan dogs, with
dish faces instead of hound profiles, could be found, the black-and-tan
colour is so prepotent that they might have any cross of parti-coloured
strain and yet perhaps not show it in the colour in the first
generation. Although blackand-tan is a much more prepotent colour than
any parti-colour, it is not so much so as the whole colours, black and
red. Probably it cannot be produced by breeding these two last-named
together. Then facts seem to indicate that the ancestors of our setters
were some whole-coloured races or black-and-tan dogs of some wild or
domestic kinds.

After grouse have got wild to a team of light-coloured dogs, some shots
may often be had over a black-and-tan setter. Possibly the birds mistake
the setter for a collie, and the gunner, if suitably dressed in
imitation, for the shepherd. There are occasions when, on the contrary,
the grouse are more afraid of the sheep-dog than any other, and this may
not always mean that the shepherd, like his dog, is a poacher.

It has been said that a black-and-tan is a bad colour to see on the
moors, but this is not so. No sportsman would use a black coat for
shooting, because it is more conspicuous than any other, and what is
true of the man’s coat is true of the dog’s colour.


Retrievers are now by far the most popular gun-dogs in this country,
whereas in America they are considered useless, with the exception of a
few that are kept exclusively for duck shooting, and which are called
Chesapeake Bay dogs, and are a distinct breed from any we have in
England. Ninety-nine-hundredths of the work of English retrievers is on
land, and although a retriever can hardly be called perfect unless he
will hunt in water, and get a winged duck if that be possible, yet it is
absolutely impossible to have a dog that is perfect in everything (or so
it appears), and therefore a shooter exercises a wise moderation in his
demands when he insists on perfection in one department rather than
moderation in all.

People purchase and use retrievers for either one or more of several

  1. Because they like a dog.

  2. Because they like to collect more game than they shoot.

  3. Because they do not like to leave wounded things to die in
    prolonged pain.

  4. Because when they are out of the house they like to have something
    that they can order about.

  5. Because the dead game that can be seen is easy for the dog to

  6. Because the wounded game that cannot be seen is difficult for men
    to pick up.

  7. Because a handsome retriever gives a finish almost equal to neat
    spats to a shooter’s turn-out.

  8. Because it is much easier to gain credit for sportsmanship at a dog
    show than in the field and covert.

  9. Because there is a demand for stud services at remunerative fees.



  The dog was whelped in 1832 and presented by Mr. Portman to his owner.
    From this dog is descended the field trial winner, Col. C. J. Cotes’
    Pitchford Marshal, and his Monk, an intermediate generation. This
    dog is more like the dogs at Netherby 45 years ago than is the
    present race of Labradors.





In America they do not use retrievers, because they can make all their
pointers and setters retrieve, and they must have some of the index dogs
or they get no sport, so that they will not keep two dogs to do the work
of one.

In England there are three sorts of retrievers, and crosses between
each, besides Labradors and spaniels. These three are the flat-coated
variety, the curly-coated sort, and the Norfolk retriever, with its open
curl or wave of coat. The author believes that the curly-coated show dog
is now useless, that the Norfolk dog has gone off in looks, and that the
flat-coated retriever is open to regeneration when he is bred more wiry
and less lumbering. Besides this, many of the breed are short of courage
to face thorns, and slack to hunt also. Gamekeepers say that the highest
trial of a retriever’s ability and pluck comes at the pick-up the day
after a big shoot. Especially is this so on grouse moors, where no
ground game or living creatures of any kind are to be found around the
butts, and where probably not a gun is fired during the whole hunt for
yesterday’s lost dead. The author has never seen this phase of retriever
work; but he believes there are very few dogs that could not get enough
of that kind of thing, and that the absence of sport and the search for
cold meat might make the best dogs inclined to “look back” for orders.
On the other hand, grouse collecting after a drive is just finished is
the easiest of all the work the retriever is called upon to perform, for
except where there are peat hags or open drains a grouse with a broken
wing will not run very far. In one sense retriever work is more
difficult than it used to be when game was walked up, for the necessity
for remaining quite still until a drive is over, whether the game be
grouse, partridges, or pheasants, often gives the wounded a twenty
minutes’ start. Consequently, it is likely enough to get clean out of
the range of a retriever by the time he is started. It is all very well
to say that he should get upon the foot scent and stick to it; so he
should, and probably would much oftener than he does, but for the fact
that there is around the fall of the wounded in all directions the scent
of other dead and wounded birds. What is often asked of a retriever,
then, is to neglect the strongest and freshest scents and to try for the
weakest and oldest. In order to get this work well done, a retriever
should be willing to range wide, outside the radius of the dead birds,
so as to find either the body scent of the crouching wounded bird or its
foot scent after it had got clear of the floating scent of the many dead
which fouls the ground long after the fowls have all been removed from
it. But the misfortune is that a high ranging retriever is not always
willing to hunt close for dead birds and those that have not moved far.
However, this can be taught; whereas there are many fair retrievers for
close hunting that could not be taught to hunt wide for a moving
“runner,” for the reason that they have not the necessary pluck.

A great deal of difference of opinion exists as to whether a retriever
should carry a high or a low head. But there is no doubt that a good dog
must do both as occasion requires. Many times has the author seen a
high-headed retriever find the fall of a wounded bird 60 yards away, go
straight to the place, glue his nose to the line, and never look up
until the bird fluttered up in his path. But even this low nose on the
foot scent is not invariably desirable, and the same retriever that at
one time worms out a line down wind will often run like a foxhound, head
up and stern down, when the direction is up wind, or even side wind. The
higher the dog carries his head the faster he will go, and consequently
the sooner he will come up with his game, so that to insist on
retrievers carrying a low nose, even in roding game, is to insist on
mediocrity. Every retriever should put his nose down as soon as he has
satisfied himself that he cannot do the work with a high head. Of course
a retriever cannot find even a fresh-shot bird if a man is standing over
it, and as the habit is for shooters and beaters to go and “help” look
for lost game, it follows that retrievers learn to put their heads down,
for they know that unless they ram their noses nearly into the feathers
the scent cannot be detected under such humanising conditions of scent.
It is a good plan to pick up by hand all the game that lies near and
within sight of where the shooters stood before sending the dogs, and
when the dead pick-up is collected, to send the game off down wind of
the place to be hunted, so that the scent of it does not mix with the
similar scent of some long-gone runner. Then if the ground to be hunted
is up wind of where the dead birds were, everything will be in favour of
a dog started from that spot; if, on the contrary, it is to leeward of
the fall of a lot of game, it is well to go still farther down wind with
the retriever, and start him 100 yards or more away from the tainted
ground. Then, after trying around for a trace of foot scent, it is easy
enough to work back if no indications are found. The object is to get
the retriever as quickly as possible on the line of wounded game,
without letting him lose time lifting dead ones or hunting for already
“picked” birds.

In walking up game one of the most difficult things to learn is to take
the far-off bird, and not the easy one, first. By taking the latter with
first barrel the former often becomes impossible, and it is just the
same with retrievers. If you send them off amongst dead game, they must
be allowed to pick it up, although you can see it. A contrary practice
is very useful sometimes, and it is easy to teach a retriever to neglect
the dead for the wounded _always_; but this “higher education” is
extremely awkward in thick cover, like long heather or turnips, where
the quite dead birds are most often lost.

A case in point occurs. Mr. A. T. Williams’ Don of Gerwn won the
retriever trials very comfortably in 1904, when the author was one of
the three judges. There is no doubt that he is very smart on a running
bird in covert, or out, and he knows it, and likes the game amazingly.
But in 1905 he carried his preferences too far; for once, at least, and
probably on several occasions, he found, and made no sign of it when
sent for dead birds, but went on hunting for the runner that was not. He
had been scolded off dead birds, and thus, on one occasion, he was seen
by a spectator to turn over the dead wing of the only bird down and go
on hunting, as if his master only wanted his services for the lively
runner. As the judges did not see this performance, Don had the
discredit of having his eye wiped on very easy birds twice. Probably if
they had known all about it, there would have been no other course open
to them; for, after all, the “higher education” must stop short at
teaching the neglect of retrieving to the retriever.

It is a great but not uncommon mistake to confuse bustle and excitement
with courage and love of hunting. No dog should have less excitement or
more courage than the retriever. Excitement is so easily recognised that
little need be said of it, except that it is probably a near relative of
nerves, and a retriever should appear to have no nerves and no
excitement. He should be able to stand still, to lie still, or to sit
still, in the presence of any quantity of wounded or dead ground game or
winged birds. The standing still is the most difficult of the three. At
the same time, the more interest a retriever takes in all that is going
on the better he is sure to be, provided he is not excitable. Probably
no dog takes more interest than a pointer, standing like a statue and
dropping as the game rises. He may be excited as he does this, but the
majority are not, and a retriever should be no more so. The pointer
watches the game go away, but as he does so he sinks to the earth, and
the retriever may be just as interested without jumping about or jerking
his head in all directions in turn. A good retriever appears to be
thinking, and when a dog is noticed to take his gaze off the bird he has
been watching at every new arrival, or new fall, of game, he usually has
not much stability. He is sure to turn out flighty, and that is a very
bad quality—the outcome of excitement. The determination to hunt can
exist without any excitement, can grow on what it feeds on, and does not
require the assistance of blood to increase it. This is a very important
thing to know, because an old idea was that setters and pointers must be
allowed to chase game to give them a love of hunting. Some of them may
require it; others will increase their love of hunting every time they
go out, although they have never been allowed to chase, and in spite of
the fact that in the spring no game has ever been killed over them. Some
retrievers have had this love of hunting also; but a great many, on the
contrary, seem to depend on the excitement they get for the will to
hunt. The latter are the most difficult to break, and the least valuable
when they are broken.







The qualities that must be hereditary in retrievers are that one just
described—soft mouth, and to some extent “nose.” The last-named is not
as certainly hereditary as the others, although it is quite as
important. The author is not prepared to maintain that an excitable
retriever having these last-mentioned qualities is always a bad one, or
that excitement cannot be used as a substitute for natural love of
hunting in the breaking of a retriever, but this process is intended to
restrain excitement, so that the simultaneous encouragement of it makes
the task a conflict of intention.

It is said that the business of catching wounded game makes a retriever
more apt to run in than a pointer or setter, but the author has had
several good retrieving setters that did not run in, so that the
difference in breaking is much more likely to arise from temperament
than from duties.

It is very easy to make retrievers steady to heel. For this purpose some
people keep cut-wing pheasants for them to retrieve, and Belgian hare
rabbits for them to look at. The lessons are useful, but whether use
does not breed contempt is doubtful. The author would expect a dog
trained to retrieve tame pheasants to become careless, and one that
constantly saw Belgian hare rabbits to be well behaved until temptation
arose. Retrievers that have sense often get very cunning: one the author
had did not start to run in until he was five years old, and then he did
it deliberately, and _not_ from excitement. The proof was that he would
not move unless he saw a hare was hit, then he went instantly, and would
take his whipping as if, deserving it, he did not mind.

What do dogs think of us when we restrain them from catching the very
things we go out to catch? More proof was forthcoming that it was
determination and not excitement that made this old dog run in. When a
cord was put on him, he would not move under similar circumstances. He
was eventually cured, but it was a tough job, and was not done by cord
or whipcord.

Forty years ago the curly-coated dogs were the best workers, and one
could make sure of getting good dogs regularly. For instance, about that
time the author bought a brace of curly puppies from Mr. Gorse, of
Radcliffe-on-Trent, then the most noted exhibitor of show dogs. Both
took to work naturally and quickly, and could in their first season be
trusted to get runners in turnip-fields of 100 acres each. Ten years
later, the author bought one of the late Mr. Shirley’s flat-coated heavy
sort, but, although no trouble to break, it was heavy in mind and body.
Mr. Shirley entered the own brother of this dog at the field trials at
Sleaford; there was no other competitor for the prize. Had there been
another entry, it is impossible that Mr. Shirley could have won, for a
more lumbering and clumsy performance was never seen, although the task
set was only that of picking up a dead bird and not a runner. But Mr.
Shirley improved the next generation considerably. He had a very
handsome dog to which the author was anxious to raise some puppies. With
this object in view, an exchange was made for a defeated bitch called
Jenny, then belonging to Mr. Gorse, before mentioned. He took a second
prize Birmingham winner of the author’s breeding in exchange. But Mr.
Shirley objected to the breeding programme, so that another course had
to be adopted, and Jenny raised some first-rate working dogs. Then she
was disposed of by the author to the late Mr. Shirley, and by him bred
to the dog which had been denied to her when the author’s property. Her
name was changed from “Jenny” to “Wisdom,” and she became the founder of
the Wiseacre family of show retrievers. She presented them with those
long heads physically that some people declare are far from “long”
figuratively. Wisdom, or Jenny, herself was certainly a fool, and the
origin of her long and narrow refined head was probably what is known as
a “sport,” for it was not to be seen on any other retriever of that
time. However, she had a good nose and a tender mouth, and is important
because probably all the show flat-coated dogs are descended from her.

All the public retriever trials in the field have not been failures like
that at Sleaford, previously mentioned. But they have only become
popular with show men quite recently. The latter have very wisely
concluded that if they could not snuff out the trials that so frequently
exhibited handsome dogs in a poor light, the next best thing to be done
was to capture them. In order to do this, a very large number of entries
have been made, and as the stake is necessarily limited (20 was the
number), this had the effect of keeping out most outsiders.

Thus at the 1905 trial there were 39 nominations, only 20 of which were
accepted, and these were made up of 15 flat-coated dogs, one Norfolk
retriever, two Labrador retrievers, and two brown or liver-coloured
dogs, one of which, at least, was not of the dog-show strain in most of
his removes.

By this plan the show flat-coated breed has come to the extreme front
for the first time in the history of the field trials. Probably it will
be interesting briefly to enumerate the principal features of retriever
trials. Nobody ought to be able to do it better than the author, for he
is the only man who has seen them all. The first was a very modest
effort attached to the 1870 autumn shooting trials of pointers and
setters, held at Vaynol Park, which fine property the late Mr.
Assheton-Smith had just before inherited. The following year, at the
same trials, there were two stakes for these dogs. The author hunted a
puppy which was quite good on wounded partridges, but the very worst
possible retriever on a wounded hare. The first thing he was set to do
was to get a wounded “squarnog,” as a hare is called in Welsh. Strange
to say, on the fine rushy, damp fields of Vaynol, the expected
wild-goose chase came off, and the _useless_ hare retriever came back
with the spoils of victory. A retriever, possibly belonging to Mr. Lloyd
Price, was entered at the same time by the late Mr. Thomas Ellis of
Bala, for the aged dog stake, and won very easily. The “Devil” had been
obviously named for his looks. He was a curly sandy-brown, with whiskers
like an otter hound. His victory reached the ears of the Welsh Church,
and caused remonstrance against taking in vain names of potent powers.
This had so much effect on the Welsh squire, that the following year he
entered a son of the Devil and called it “Country Rector,” possibly
thereby avoiding the danger he had been cautioned against. That year it
was clear once more that the show beauties were out-classed, and
probably that was the reason why, when the Vaynol ground was no longer
available, no other trials except the Sleaford failures were instituted
for thirty years, or until those of the Retriever Society, which are now
held annually. These began about the opening of the new century, and
appear likely to see it out. But the first meeting under it was a
failure. The winning dog was either very old or very slow, and it was
not until the following year that any smart work was seen. This was done
by Mr. Abbott’s Rust, whose name explains her colour and appearance; but
she did some brilliant work, especially when she was set to wipe the eye
of one which appeared to have a good chance until she had failed at a
running pheasant, one that gave Rust no trouble whatever ten minutes
later, and with so much the worse chance. Rust on that occasion was the
only dog present that either by pedigree or reversion went back to the
old race of retrievers. This was reminiscent of the “Devil” triumph, and
was far from encouraging to the beauty men. The following season Rust
was again out, but far too fat and sleek to do herself justice, and she
was beaten by the life of idleness she had been leading as a hearth-dog,
and also by a very nice black bitch with some white upon it, belonging
to the late Mr. Charles Eley, whose son, Mr. C. C. Eley, had taken
second with a nice-looking black in Rust’s year. Three Messrs. Eley were
in the field for honours in the following years, and by the assistance
of Satanella, a bitch without known pedigree, and Sandiway Major (by
Wimpole Peter) they headed the working division. Sandiway Major was a
triumph for the show pedigree, as his sire was a Champion; but it was
noticed that Major was a very distinct reversion to the old wavy-coated
sort, for he was quite as much a curly as a flat coated-one. He had been
purchased out of one of Mr. George Davies’ annual retriever sales at
Aldridge’s, and his work was good although perhaps not brilliant. This
was not all that the show men could desire, and the following year
another sandy liver-coloured dog, named Mr. A. T. Williams’ Don o Gerwn,
easily won first. This dog was a son of that Rust spoken of before, and
his sire was a cream-coloured dog of Lord Tweedmouth’s strain—even more
of a facer for the believers in exhibition dogs. But on this occasion
another son of Wimpole Peter was third, and in 1905 turned the tables on
Don of Gerwn. This was a handsome but somewhat slow dog belonging to
Colonel Cotes of Pitchford. Don put himself out of court by not
condescending to notice dead game, and hunting on the principle of
“nothing but runners attended to.” The Pitchford dog is descended from a
very old working strain, which first figured in public when one of them
appeared in the pages of the _Sporting Magazine_ about the year Queen
Victoria came to the throne. But, as a son of Wimpole Peter won the
stake, and three sons of Horton Rector were high up in it, the
exhibition division has every right to be pleased with its first
unalloyed triumph. Mr. Allan Shuter, as the owner of the living Rector,
has even more reason to be pleased than Mr. Radcliffe Cooke, as sometime
owner of the now dead Peter. But Mr. Shuter’s own entry was not at all
what was wanted, for he was too big, too lumbering in body, and not
particularly nimble in mind. Mr. Remnant has come near winning first on
various occasions, and may be looked upon as a sportsman likely to
improve the breed, by the neglect of beauty spots and selection for the
fittest, as also very decidedly may be Mr. C. C. Eley, Major Eley his
brother, and their cousin, Captain Eley, and Mr. G. R. Davies. Captain
Harding, too, in Salop, has the right sort, and his Almington Merlin has
had bad luck, or another Wimpole Peter would have come to the front.

That these retriever trials are doing good, in starting breeders who are
trying to correct the working faults of the various breeds, is obvious,
and with the public spirit exhibited by the late Mr. Assheton-Smith
future sportsmen will assuredly associate the names of Mr. B. J.
Warwick, Mr. C. C. Eley, and Mr. William Arkwright, not only as founders
of the Retriever Society, but also as finders of the game on which the
dogs have been tried.

Everybody who is acquainted with the average dogs seen at shooting
parties, and has the advantage of ever having seen a really good one,
will know how very necessary was some such move as these field trials.
It often has been said that all the retrievers could do was to pick up
game the men could see. It has become fashionable to demand a no-slip
retriever—that is, one that will not run in to retrieve until ordered to
do so. Perhaps it has been the readiness with which such dogs have sold
that has caused breakers to prefer the slugs, as being the most easily
controlled, and the least likely to be returned by purchasers as wild.
Whatever has done it, the real game-loving instinct is much weakened
since the time when a retriever was a working dog or nothing; but it
appears to survive in a modified degree, which may assuredly be
strengthened by selection.

It has been previously stated that the waiting until drives are over
makes the retrievers work harder than of old, but this does not apply to
the hardest of all work—that is, covert shooting; for this has been
largely “driving” ever since retrievers were introduced, if it can be
said that they ever were introduced. This point is rather doubtful,
because the curly retriever is nothing more than an altered edition of
the old English water-dog, which variety used to do wildfowler’s duty,
with a white leg or two, a white chest and a short tail, which had
probably been cut like those of other spaniels. The first retriever the
author shot over was entirely of this description, stern and all, except
that she was all black, or so nearly whole-coloured that no white upon
her can be remembered. This was about 1860, and a son of this “missing
link” was particularly smart, and had so good a mouth, that on one
occasion, when he annexed a hen sitting on her nest, and carried her
half a mile, she was returned to her treasures and sat upon them, none
the worse for her involuntary excursion into the next parish. That calls
to mind the frequently made statement that it is wrong to give dogs hard
things to retrieve. The idea is that it teaches them to bite and to be
hard-mouthed. That is an entire mistake, and this dog, like many
another, was often made to retrieve stones, and to prove whether he bit
them he was occasionally sent back for hen’s eggs, but never broke one.

It is said, too, that the old dogs were lumbering, and so no doubt the
Newfoundland type of wavy-coated dogs were, but this hen-and-egg
carrier, like his mother, was active enough. He was not steady to heel,
but was as sharp as a lurcher, and in cover it was difficult in his
presence to miss a rabbit. No wounded one would get to its hole, and a
good many that were not wounded were nevertheless retrieved and duly
credited to the shooter. Now it is considered a strain on the breaking
and a temptation to the mouth of a retriever to trust him with ground
game in his first season. Although this particular dog was never broken
to stop at heel, such rules, if they existed then, were more honoured by
the breach than the keeping, and the dogs were mostly as steady and as
soft-mouthed as any now.

The author has used a retriever often with a team of wild spaniels, and
constantly with setters and pointers, without any running in of broken
dogs, except in the cases already mentioned, and these are the highest
trials of the steadiness of retrievers. In hunting a brace of young
setters there is obviously no time to argue with a retriever, not even
with a shooting-boot, and the author has had no trouble, as a rule, to
make his retrievers conspicuous only by their invisibility behind, until
they were called upon for action.

One great dog man makes his retrievers “back” when his dogs point. But
pointing and setting dogs take no notice, and do not break in, when they
are in the habit of looking upon the retriever as a part of the gun. It
may be, however, that when black pointers are used a backer might
mistake a retriever for a drawing pointer, and be thus led into error;
and if so, this is a serious objection to black and black-and-tan index

The worst cross the author ever made was with Zelstone. Although not a
large dog, he was said to be a pure bred Newfoundland. He was a
flat-coated retriever Champion, and may have been himself a good worker;
but he ruined the working qualities of the descendants of Jenny above
mentioned, and brought the author’s strain of them to an end.
Consequently, it is suggested that the Newfoundland is the type to breed
out of the flat coats.

                         BREAKING THE RETRIEVER

It is said that the way to have a perfect dog is to let it live with
you, but it seems to be an excellent way to teach the dog to obey only
when he likes, for if his master insists on obedience other people who
_will_ take an interest in a nice dog, will pet, spoil, order, and coax
by turns. The collie is put forward as the most wonderful exhibition of
dog breaking, but the author has rarely seen a collie take the order to
come to heel, or to go home, when a stranger approaches the shepherd’s
house. The good sheep-dog has a duty to perform that he likes, and he
does it well, but ask him to do anything besides, and he objects, and
gets his way. The spaniel’s business is the most taxing of all, and
requires the best breaking, except when the retriever is broken to do
spaniel’s duty as well as his own, as he can. That is to say, he can
find live rabbits in their seats and turn them out to the gun, and stand
still as they go. This is far more of a tax on any dog than steadiness
in pointing, when the breaker turns out the pointed game. The turning
out often amounts to an attempt to catch a rabbit in its seat; and the
instantaneous stop when the creature moves is, as nearly as may be, the
exercise of the savage impulse with the civilised control in mid career.

Perfect hand breaking of the retriever includes fetching and finding
inanimate objects, dropping to order, remaining down for any length of
time, coming to order, hunting in any direction indicated by the
breaker, not only to right and left as desired, but far or near as
bidden. All these teachings will come naturally to a man fond of dogs,
just as a nurse fond of children will make them do anything without any
book of rules. Consequently, the only point necessary to insist upon is
the utmost quickness of obedience in all things. This is got by surprise
orders at moments and in situations when the dog cannot help but obey,
and by an economy of orders, so that the pupil never gets tired. The
quickness in returning with a retrieved object is usually learnt by
means of the breaker starting to run away as soon as the object is
lifted. By means of this trick, and never boring the pupil with too much
work in his play-time, as going out with his breaker should be to him,
any dog can be taught to return on the instant; and a good education in
this point has much influence on a retriever’s softness of mouth. By
this coaching he will be brought to do things instinctively, and when he
comes to game he will then have no time to stop to select the best
grasp, but he will come at full gallop, whatever his first hold of his
game may be, and when this is the case he never will grow hard-mouthed.
Consequently, your hand breaking goes _half-way_ to make the mouth.

                            ENTERING ON GAME

It is said to be a good way to show a retriever heaps of game running
about while he is at heel. No doubt this is true, but not before he has
learnt to retrieve running game. To make a retriever steady before he
wants to be wild is easy enough; but it is not teaching self-control,
and is educating the dog to _ignore_ game just as he should sheep.
Consequently, it is best, as soon as the young dog is perfectly hand
broken, at six or eight months old, to give him some line hunting after
living game. This will increase his fondness of hunting, and give him an
inclination to go for all the game he sees, so that he will gain
self-control with every head of game he does not chase.

The author used to believe that a drag was good exercise in line
hunting: it may serve to start a puppy, but he will hunt the man and not
the dead game. There are objections to most methods of teaching rode
hunting, but the author’s plan serves at least three useful purposes.
First of all, and most important is the use of a bird that is not easily
bitten or hurt, so that no damage is done to the dog’s mouth, or to the
tame and wing-cut wild duck, for this is the bird used. The duck is
taken away from its pond, and turned down in a meadow, when it will head
towards its home, creeping as much out of sight as possible. In the
grass it will prove very easy to rode up to, and that is wanted for a
young dog. Later it can be made quite difficult enough over fallow, or
anywhere, by giving lots of law. Then in a shallow pond the duck is an
education to the water-dog. Almost every dog will take water provided he
can touch bottom and there be a match for a duck, but many dogs object
to swimming. Nevertheless, if there is only one small spot in the pond
which the retriever cannot wade, the duck will find this out very
quickly, and will, by degrees, tempt in the dog out of his depth. He
will soon learn to dive after the duck, too, and in fact become a
first-rate water-dog without having a shot fired over him.

The duck let off in a turnip-field will be a great lesson, for at first
turnip leaves and the innumerable small birds and other creatures in
turnips, especially rabbits and thrushes before the shooting season,
bother a youngster even more than the absence of much scent of the game
to be retrieved.

After this course the puppy will be quite ready to take the field, and
will probably get the first running partridge or grouse he is sent
after, and do it as quickly and well as an old dog.

The author never made his retrievers drop to shot, but no doubt it
steadies the nervous and keeps down excitement to do it. If it is
approved, the hand-breaking time is best for its teaching, and it should
become habit, as if instinctive. Then, in the field, it can gradually be
forgotten; but long after a dog ceases to drop to shot he will retain an
impulse to do so, and as this will be an exactly contrary impulse to
that of running in, it will save many a whipping. However, a dog is not
broken if he is only safe when lying down; for it is really putting him
out of temptation.



                         THE LABRADOR RETRIEVER

Recently there has been a great revival in numbers of the close and
thick coated, featherless dogs called Labrador retrievers. Their
ancestors, or some of them, were, as the name implies, originally
imported from Labrador. They were not Newfoundlands when first brought
over any more than they are now. But it is rather difficult to say which
sportsmen had one sort and which the other when both first began to be
used for sporting purposes, or to be crossed with setters and water
spaniels, to make the ancestors of our present races of retrievers. The
Labrador, as we know him now, probably had no setter or spaniel for
ancestor, and there is every reason to believe that the Lord Malmesbury
of the _Diary_, and later the Duke of Buccleuch and Sir R. Graham’s
family, maintained the breed in its original form. But probably
in-breeding told the usual story: a cross had to be resorted to, because
the dogs were getting soft, and one cross was introduced at Netherby,
and of all strains to select for a cross one would think that chosen the
worst. It was a keeper’s night-dog that was chosen.

It has been said that Mr. Shirley’s original strain and also Zelstone of
Mr. Farquharson’s strain were descended from Labradors. This is probably
not quite correct. Their coats did not indicate this blood, but that of
the Newfoundland.

The latter’s was always a long, loose, wavy coat with more or less
tendency to feather; the Labrador had no more feather than a pointer,
but a thick close coat with little or no wave. There is no doubt the
purest blood has come from the Duke of Buccleuch’s kennel of late years,
but the author would not like to affirm that crossings between that and
the Netherby kennel did not introduce the night-dog cross into the whole
of the race. The short round heads and wide jaw-bones in these dogs seem
to bear physical witness to ancestry competent to take care of itself.
This statement of a fact is not intended to carry a slur with it, for it
may be said that the big shooter and enthusiastic dog man who found out
these particulars, and gave me the modern history of the breed, has
himself used the Labrador recently as a revival to his flat-coated
strain of retrievers.

Judged from the point of view of an admirer of a good flat-coated
retriever, the present race of Labrador dogs appear common. But it would
be altogether wrong to say definitely that they are so. Make and shape
is very much a question of fashion and taste, and when a certain section
of the population can admire the bulldog it is not within the province
of anybody to lay down the law as to what is canine beauty. At any rate,
they have one great point seldom observed in the flat-coated dogs. Their
loins are usually strong enough to enable them to be active. A dog with
a loin too small for his weight may be fast, but he never can be active,
and as one might expect from this formation the Labradors are remarkably
quick in their movements.

Mr. Holland Hibbert has a big kennel of these dogs, and has exhibited
their work at the retriever trials two seasons. His Munden Single was
given first beauty prize at the 1905 trials, and was placed for looks
over the heads of some very good specimens of the flat-coated sort.
Still, it is not supposed that breeders of the flat-coated sort are
likely to try to breed their dogs to the model then set up; and the
author has always regretted the giving of beauty prizes at field trials.
We go to these meetings to learn from Nature what form she chooses shall
embrace and contain her best internal handiwork. Having found that out
with much expenditure of time and trouble, we must needs read Nature a
lecture before we separate, and instruct her what form she _ought to
have chosen_ for her best. We do not hold a mirror, but a model, up to
Nature, and seem surprised she does not adopt the work of our creations
as her best. This is surely all wrong, for it was obviously the
selection of the best workers for hundreds of generations that evolved
the forms that we call setters, pointers, and spaniels, and made them
different from any other dogs, but did _not_ make them like show dogs of
the present time. If the latter had been the most fit form for the work
to be done, it would assuredly have been evolved by the selection of the
best workers.









On these grounds, it seems to be unwise to place on a pedestal for
imitation and admiration the Labrador that was beaten.

If Darwinism has a spark of truth in it, selection of the fittest for
the acts of life has evolved every form in the world except just the
trivialities, the abnormalities, and distortions that man has bred as a
fancy, not to improve, but only to alter. Fancy poultry has been one of
the chief fields for fancy operations in breeding, but, amongst all the
new forms and characters produced, there is only one that would survive
a state of nature for a couple of generations. That one is the old
English game fowl, which was evolved, not by fancy selection, but by
fighting—that is, by the most severe and discriminating form of
selection and survival of the fittest.

Just in the same way will the forms of gun-dogs take care of themselves,
provided selection of the fittest for work is severe enough. The pointer
and setter trials have neglected stamina. If they had not done so, our
working setters would have had backs like iron bars, as theirs have in
America, where stamina has been the first consideration at field trials.

When Mr. Holland Hibbert ran Munden Single, the Labrador, in the 1904
retriever trials, there is not much doubt she would have been high up in
the prize list had it not been that the last runner she got was brought
back dead. It was a wing-tipped cock pheasant that Single roded out and
then chased. But the cock could almost beat the dog by the help of its
wings, and no doubt the Labrador was pretty much blown when she got
hold. Then she had to cross a brook to get back, and it is likely enough
that a stumble, or perhaps jumping against the bank, led to the pinching
of the bird. However, excuses are not admitted in public competitions,
and indeed none was made. In 1905, Single appeared to be quite tender in
the mouth, and although she is admirably broken, and has no excitement
or nervousness, but lots of love of the game, she was not as fortunate
in her opportunities as had been the case the year before, and got no
prize for work although she has lots of merit. Another Labrador at this
meeting got a certificate of merit, so that, as only three entries have
been made all told at retriever trials, the breed has taken a much
better position with spectators than is indicated by its want of success
in gaining stake money.

The private character of the breed for work is very good indeed,
although _some_ of them are reported to turn out rather hard in the
mouth. But then the same thing can be said for every breed of
retrievers. The author remembers Labrador retrievers forty years ago.
The pair he first knew were kept as pets by a rural parson who did not
shoot. It was commonly reported that either of these dogs would dive to
the bottom of a well and fetch up a fourpenny-piece; but this was
hearsay evidence, and was never seen by the present witness. However,
these dogs had just the coat of the present Labradors, and distinctly
not that of the Newfoundland. The only dog of the sort that the author
ever had was death on cats, but this accomplishment did not make him
hard-mouthed with game, as it probably would nine retrievers out of ten.

[Since the above was written, the 1906 retriever trials have passed, but
as the winners all failed with runners the author finds nothing to add
to his general survey.]


The chief of the spaniels are the setters, but as they no longer claim
connection at one end of the group, and as the King Charles and Blenheim
spaniels are no longer granted the status of gun-dogs at the other
extremity of it, the number of breeds is limited in fact, but unduly
enlarged by Stud Book classification.

The only sporting breeds in reality, although there are more nominally,
are the Irish water spaniel, used as a retriever, the English water
spaniel, or half-breds of that almost extinct race, of which the curly
retriever is a survival, but with a cross; the clumber, the English
springer, the Welsh springer, and the cocker. Field and Sussex spaniels
seem to have gone off in work, although they are said to have come on in
appearance. There was an outcry that the show field spaniels were bred
out of true proportion, and there were reports of the same dogs being
observed in two different parishes at the same time. The drain-pipe
order of body is not quite as exaggerated as it was before the
reformation that occurred about 1898, but the black field spaniels and
the Sussex dogs of the shows even now tend to a Dachshund formation.
Still, the former are as handsome as dogs can be, and are in every sense
spaniels to look at, although mostly too long and heavy for work, and
suggesting hound cross by the high angle at which they carry their
sterns. The truest bred spaniels when at work carry the stern at an
angle of about 45 degrees with the earth, pointing downwards, and not
much higher in kennel; but the majority of show spaniels carry the stern
above the level of the back, and consequently suggest hound blood.
Besides this fault, they have others from the shooter’s point of view.
Their ears are too long, and they could not work in the feather they
constantly carry. It is strange that the form of these spaniels should
have been so grotesquely altered by selection for exhibition, and yet
the old formations of clumbers, springers, and cockers have remained
very much what they always have been. This is the more surprising,
having regard to the fact that Sussex, black field, and cocker spaniels
are now much of the same blood. The real cockers, which were at one time
called King Charles spaniels, have become lap-dogs, and the smaller
specimens of the other races have taken their places. And yet some
cockers are distinctly the right shape and not too long, whereas the
other exhibition races, named above as too long, are less workmen than
the cockers although so much bigger.

The black field spaniels appeal to me as dogs. The refinement of their
heads and the beauty of their coats go nearer to a success by man in
producing a working race by mental design and physical measurement than
specimens of any other show dogs, whereas the short heads of the modern
Sussex spaniel look to contain no sense, and the work seen at field
trials must have been very disappointing to the owners of both kinds. It
has been a puzzle to the author how men who use the gun at all can be
satisfied with such work. However, people will often sacrifice sport for
a hobby.

At a period when science assents to the possibility, although not the
probability, of raising up a pure breed in spite of the introduction of
a cross of blood, and when the Irish wolfhound has been created out of
crosses with the German boarhound and the Scotch deerhound, it is not
wonderful that a faint trace of Sussex spaniel blood in a pedigree is
considered enough to warrant inclusion under that heading in the Stud
Book. But really it is not known what the original Sussex spaniels were
like. It does not follow that because all that is known is gathered from
Rosehill, that the dogs there were of the old Sussex strain, or that the
information given about them was reliable.

It is not of much importance to sportsmen in any case, except that it
has a bearing on the whole ancestry of the spaniel. So far as the author
knows, whole-coloured liver, according to the records, is not a spaniel
colour at all. On the other hand, whole colours were very much
appreciated as long ago as 1776, but we do not hear of any except
black-and-tan and red dogs—that is, of the colour of a “bright chestnut
horse.” This colour is still to be seen in America, where it is the most
common in work, but the author has only heard of it, and never seen it
in England.

It is only natural to suppose that if spaniels and setters were
originally the same dog they were also of the same colour, and we hear
of no ancient whole liver-coloured race of either sort. There is little
doubt that the latter is a modern creation, and the colour is easily
produced. If a liver-and-white dog of any breed is crossed with a
whole-coloured one of any sort or colour, some of the produce will
generally come whole liver-coloured. Therefore, may we not assume that
the first liver-coloured setters and spaniels were produced by crossing
the black-and-tans or the reds of either breed with the liver-and-white
water spaniels? The author has previously stated his belief that colour
is greatly indicative of blood. A few years ago there was a race of
liver-and-white setters in the North of England, all of which had a
top-knot formed of hair longer than the rest, and in one specimen the
author noticed a peculiarity distinct from anything noticed in other
breeds. It was a ticked liver-and-white in colour, and wherever the hair
was of that shade it was also distinctly longer than the white in which
it was set, so that the appearance was that of a lot of little tassels.

Spaniels that are liver-and-white colour will generally be found to
carry more feather on their ears than any others in the same litters,
and many of them have curly feather there, when their differently marked
brothers and sisters have straight hair to the ear tips. If it is true,
therefore, that colour and hair is indicative of blood, we have to
believe in either the pointer or the water spaniel cross wherever liver
colour is found in setters or spaniels, although the cross may be
several centuries old. Perhaps the best working breed of spaniels now is
that liver-and-white race that has been for 100 years in the family of
the late Sir Thomas Boughey, once Master of the Albrighton hounds. But
more evidence is to be found that the Sussex spaniels were not
originally liver-coloured. This is the fact that to the present time
those with any Rosehill blood occasionally produce what is called a
sandy puppy, which is practically the colour original to the Irish
setter, the spaniel as described by the _Suffolk Sportsman_ in 1776, and
the spaniel as now found in America.

From the shooter’s standpoint the source of origin does not matter much.
But what matters is how the various present-day races or crosses can

Since the establishment of field trials for spaniels, every sort has
been seen in public work, and their positions have been as clearly
defined as any sportsman wanting information could desire. At first a
clumber called Beechgrove Bee distanced all competitors. She was
light-made for her race, and had a narrow head and rather pointed nose.

Next to her to assume command was Mr. Gardner’s Tring, a liver-and-white
springer; and about the same time a curly dog called Lucky Shot did very
well, but was rather short of nose. He has since been called an English
water spaniel, but it is doubtful whether he was less of a springer, or
Norfolk spaniel, than Tring, except by reversion a little more to the
curly ancestors of both. But all these dogs were thrown into the shade
by Mr. Eversfield’s black dog with a white chest, named Nimrod, which
carried all before him at the 1904 trials, and would probably have done
the same again in 1905 had it not been for the presence of a
liver-and-white dog of Sir Thomas Boughey’s breeding, also belonging to
Mr. Eversfield. The spaniels above named have stood out from all
competitors at the time of their prime, and none others have done so.
Their type of formation has all been the same except in the case of the
clumber. That is, they have been neither long nor low, but short-backed
and active, with legs at least as long as the dogs were deep through the
heart. Although one of them was a black in colour, he was most removed
from the dog-show black field spaniels and all of them, and may safely
be called by the re-created term “springer.”







But meantime there have been other good although not remarkable dogs at
the field trials. Mr. Eversfield has had many, Mr. Alexander has always
been hard to beat, Mr. Phillips has had some excellent clumbers, as also
has Mr. Winton Smith, besides Beechgrove Bee already spoken of, and Mr.
B. J. Warwick has had good dogs. Mr. A. T. Williams, of Neath, has had
good teams of red-and-white springers, which have, as far as the shows
are concerned, monopolised the classes for this one colour. It is said
to have been bred true to this red-and-white mixture for many years in a
few families in South Wales. At the same time, there were other families
in South Wales which bred spaniels of many colours for the woodcocks and
the very stiff coverts of the South-West corner, or Little England
beyond Wales, as it was called. Thirty-five years ago the author shot
over black-and-white, liver-and-white, and red-and-white dogs, all from
the same litters, and these were the most determined hunters and the
quickest stayers then known. But as the author knows of none now
representative of them except the red-and-white Welsh springers, these
may be taken for the type, and they are undoubted hard workers and quite
careless of bramble and gorse.

Retrieving spaniels have been very highly spoken of by as practical big
bag-makers as the late Sir Fred Milbank, who used them for grouse
driving. All the breeds above named retrieve well except the Welsh
springers, none of which have been broken with that intention, so far as
is known to the author. Mr. Williams only works spaniels in coverts and
in teams, and believes that a retriever proper is the best for his own

It is not possible to have several spaniels seeking dead at one time
unless they are all within sight; but there is no fear of tearing the
game when the dogs can be seen, as they can be upon a moor, or in open
cover, or in fields.

The difference of opinion between sportsmen as to which are the better
dogs for retrieving probably arises because of mental reservations of
those who express opinions. The advocates of spaniels are probably
speaking of a team, and those who sing the praises of retrievers are
thinking of one retriever against one spaniel. Except upon the line of a
runner, a single retriever is usually much better than a single spaniel
on any ground, and although the spaniel is quicker on the actual line of
the runner, he usually takes much longer than the retriever to find the
fall of the bird or the place to start from. Altogether, the retriever
is preferable, unless a team of retrieving spaniels can be worked at the
same time, and even then several retrievers will probably be as
satisfactory, except that they take up more room in traps and motor

The best spaniel for all-round purposes is the English springer; he is
active, stays well, and can retrieve well. The clumber cannot be coupled
with him, because he is not supposed to stay, and moreover he is as big
as a retriever to get about country, and without being nearly as active.
In the New Forest, where shooters are limited to a fixed number of dogs,
nobody will look at a clumber; so that for heavy work a change of team,
or dog, at lunch-time would probably be needed were clumbers relied
upon. No such charge can be brought against either English or Welsh
springers, but the cockers are only one remove better than toys, the
field black spaniels, and the Sussex breeds.

Irish water spaniels have been mostly kept and altered for show, and the
few that the author has seen at work of late years have been extremely
moderate performers.

                      THE BREAKING OF THE SPANIEL

The spaniel should be broken early. Eight months old is quite late
enough to enter on game if good breaking is required, and all hand
breaking should precede this entry, and should follow the lines proper
both for retrievers and pointers as far as they apply to individual

If one has to allow dogs to “run in” and chase game, to get up their
keenness for hunting, it is a misfortune, and the task of breaking will
become all the harder. In a good breed this encouragement will not be
required. It is always hard to create opposites simultaneously, and to
_make_ a dog both bold and obedient.

The principal requirement in the hunting spaniel is nose, quickness,
never going out of gun-shot, instant obedience, and bustling up game in
a hurry without chasing it when it is up, dropping to shot, and
retrieving dead and wounded game when told. It is a large order, and yet
dogs that can do it all often make no more than £15 at auction, and
sometimes less.

It is obvious that a well-bred spaniel will start hunting as soon as he
is introduced to the smell of game, then his range must be taught either
by using a line or by voice and whistle. In thick covert the former is
not possible. The principal difficulty is to stop the puppy as soon as
he has moved his game. Again, either voice or cord can be made to do the
business, but probably a little of both will bring about the required
education sooner than either by itself. The system should be to prevent
the chase, not to punish for that which is instinctive in the pupil.
Consequently, the quick obedience to voice spoken of as necessary for
setters and pointers, becomes doubly so for spaniels, and they really
ought to tumble over to voice or gun as if the latter had done it. But
this instinctive obedience cannot be taught during entry upon game, and
consequently until it is perfected the puppy is not fit to enter.

It is much more of a strain on the instinct of the spaniel to stop him
when he is bustling up game than it is to stop the setter when game
rises or runs away from his point. In one case restraint follows upon
restraint, in the other it follows excitement let loose.

Retrieving should be taught the same way as for a retriever proper, and
if it precedes the work of entering upon the finding of live game, the
latter will be all the easier for the breaker.

Wild spaniels in very thick cover are of more use than a highly broken
team. Where the covert is so thick that a worker of spaniels cannot get
into the thick parts, his highly broken dogs will not go there either,
because they have learnt to keep near to him. In this case, four or six
couples of wild spaniels to hunt up wild pheasants, woodcock, and
rabbits, make beautiful sport, but they usually need several whippers-in
to keep them somewhere in the neighbourhood of the shooters.

A friend of the author’s was once expatiating on the improved methods of
pheasant shooting, and explaining that the last generation knew nothing
of the charms and the art of killing driven birds, when, at that moment,
wild spaniels on the hill above us flushed four cock pheasants, they
came at us swerving through the trees down hill at a cannon-ball pace,
and four shots did not touch a feather. Yet this was the old style of
pheasant shooting—at least in that district, and it was on record there
that the last generation were first-rate performers in covert and out.
Amongst other birds they killed flighting duck and sometimes flighting
teal also at night, all of which, including the down-hill rocketers from
the spaniels on the hillside, are out of all proportion harder to kill
than the best birds that ever flew across the open and flat ground from
one covert to another, however the latter have “sailed” and “curved” in
their flights.

By mutual consent, after missing the cocks, we changed the subject of

It has been said that field trials have brought some good dogs to the
front, and enabled those who go to trials to judge for themselves of the
merits of individuals and of races; but they have also done injury in
one direction. There may be differences of opinion amongst sportsmen on
how spaniels should be judged at field trials, but there can be no
question that the use of field trials as a mere show dog advertisement
is misleading and objectionable. As these remarks are written, there is
an advertisement of spaniels appearing in which it is stated that the
owner’s breed has won “800 field trial and show prizes.” What the author
knows of the breed is that upon one occasion they won a prize at a field
trial,—a prize that was ear-marked for the breed,—and won it because
competition was weak and limited. That they have won 799 show prizes is
not denied. But if this is the way to advertise show dogs, then the
sooner field trials are dropped the better in the true interests of
sport. In this direction lies the danger to sporting interests; and
little differences about means and methods of judging are of
_comparatively no importance_. A variety of judges have acted under a
large variety of rules, and to the credit of the former, and in spite of
the latter, the best dogs have nearly, or quite always, got the stakes.
But there is also a tendency amongst judges to give the smaller prizes
and certificates of merit because a dog has done no harm, although he
may not have done any good.

If it is correct to absolutely disqualify a dog for ranging beyond
gun-shot and for chasing game (and it must be so in the interests of
sport), then, on the ground that every dog can be broken but not a tenth
of them are worth breaking, it is also essential to disqualify a dog
that cannot find game.

It is because the latter has not always been done that these remarks are
necessary. The quantity of game left behind unfound by the dogs that
have won minor prizes has surprised not only the author, but others also
who have come to visit these trials once, _and no more_. On the other
hand, the best winners have always been the best finders that passed the
not very severe breaking standard, as indicated above, and that is
obviously right.


The shooter who wants grouse driving and he who wishes for shooting over
dogs are by no means best suited in the same districts. The distribution
of grouse must be mentioned before any just estimation of the causes of
the different manners, habits, and instincts of the grouse can be

The birds have one special altitude which suits them best in each
locality, but this particular altitude differs with latitude and

Where the grouse are best served by high altitudes is in the
south-eastern border of their distribution. They are at home on the top
of the Peak district of Derbyshire, and exist much lower down. Farther
north and farther west their best moors are lower, and this goes on
until in Caithness the best elevation for the grouse is only about 100
feet above sea-level, as it is also in Argyllshire. Over all the
intermediate country, between parallel lines pointing north-east and
south-west, the grouse are best served by an intermediate elevation of
moorland decreasing towards the north-west. They exist in large numbers,
but not the largest numbers, above and below this elevation. This is
generally true, and although it would be easy to point to moors a few
hundred feet out of the theoretical best elevation that are better than
others exactly in it, there are then always local conditions that favour
such moors, and these are not to be found on the moors in the better
elevations on the same parallels. The moors of Dartmoor and the heaths
of Norfolk are both on the same north-east to south-west parallels.
Probably neither of them are for the most part high enough to suit
grouse in that latitude and longitude. It must be remembered that if red
grouse are, as is believed to be the case, the same bird as the willow
grouse, or rype, they are of Arctic origin, and, like other organisms of
that origin, survive out of the Arctic regions only at certain higher
altitudes as latitude decreases. The lower Dartmoor is obviously too low
for them, but possibly places could be discovered on the moor where they
would do well. The lower moors there are smothered with the bell heather
(_erica_), and this is not the food of the grouse. The real “ling”
(_calluna_) of the grouse food grows on Dartmoor much more scarcely, and
although there is plenty for old grouse, it is not easy to see how
chicks could get about to find enough of their natural food amongst
what, to them, would be forests of useless vegetation—namely, the bell
heather. On the South Wales moors the grouse are not very plentiful; but
the species is better served in North Wales, which is on the same
north-east by south-west parallel line as Yorkshire.

It is a curious fact that these parallels also supply an index to the
wildness or otherwise of the grouse, but not exactly. It would be more
nearly correct to say that this is true except so far as it is modified
by insular conditions. What is meant is that the parallel lines hold
good except as regard the islands where the grouse lie better than their
north-westwardness would suggest from the behaviour of the grouse in the
same parallels on the mainland.

It has been said that the wet climate makes birds lie: this is obviously
wrong, because they do so in Caithness, which is the driest county in
Scotland by the statistics.

It has also lately been repeatedly said that the Gulf Stream makes them
lie, but this also is surely wrong, because the one part most affected
by the Gulf Stream is the Port Patrick promontory in Wigtonshire, where
the author has found the grouse as wild as in Aberdeenshire. Yet in
Arran and in Islay, but slightly to the north-west of this point, they
lie like stones _all the year_. They do so also on the west coast of
Argyllshire, on that of Ross-shire, and in the whole of Sutherland- and
Caithness-shires, and also in the Lews and that group, in Skye and in
the Orkneys.

Elevation makes no difference to their instinctive habits, which are
clearly in-bred in the birds, and whether in the same districts grouse
are found at 2000 or at 100 feet above sea-level their instinctive
habits will be always those of the district, and are not varied by hill
and strath.

What, then, is it that makes some birds lie for security all the season,
and others fly for security as soon as they can use their wings? It has
been said that if you drive birds one year you will always have to drive
them, because it alters their characters. The author held to that faith
for years, but has lived to see the error of his imaginings. It is very
natural to suppose, if you teach the parents to fly for life, that the
children will inherit the same habit also. But although the author would
be far from asserting, as some naturalists do, that life-acquired habits
are _never_ transmitted, he knows that they are not often transmitted,
and thinks that the growing, or rather grown, wildness of Yorkshire
grouse can be amply explained on the Darwinian theory of the survival
and breeding of the fittest.

Early in the nineteenth century the celebrated Colonel Hawker found the
grouse so wild that he took himself back to Hampshire, voting grouse in
August a fraud. He only shot a few that sat better than the rest, which
implied that all those that sat worse than the rest were saved for
breeding. This natural selection of the fittest went on for another
fifty years, and then people took to driving grouse because they could
get them in large quantities no other way. That seems simple enough;
fifty or one hundred generations of selection of the wildest for
breeding, and of the youngest for the pot, made the Yorkshire grouse
breed earlier and breed wilder birds than before.

There is a natural and obvious apparent difficulty in accepting this
theory, but it is only apparent and not real. It is this:—Why did not
the grouse get wild in the same way and degree in the Highlands and the
Islands and in Caithness-shire? The reason why they did not is probably
that the Yorkshire grouse began by being strong enough and early enough
to all rise in a brood by the 12th of August. Consequently, the early
broods were saved. The Caithness-shire grouse and those of the Lews were
later, and never were all ready to rise together in a brood by the 12th
of August, and consequently the most backward were saved, since both
barrels would be discharged at those first up, and the crouchers escaped
while the shot was being rammed home in the muzzle-loaders.

If this is the true explanation of the difference of habit of the birds,
its root cause can be seen at a glance every autumn on the heather—that
is to say, its root cause, when the shot gun was first used to kill
grouse upon the wing, was in the state of the heather. The bloom of this
plant indicates the period when it started to shoot, and that is a
fortnight earlier in Yorkshire than in Caithness and the Lews. It may be
three weeks, or even more, but it is at least a fortnight.

The starting to bloom has no influence directly on the grouse nesting,
but the starting of the plant to shoot has; and therefore if the
survival of the fittest theory is accepted, all the wildness of the
south-eastern grouse, and the hiding habit, or natural instinct, of the
north-western grouse is explained by the state of forwardness of
vegetation in the districts two hundred years ago, which in all
probability was relatively what it is now.

Of course, what will make wild grouse lie now has not much to do with
the matter. Falcons will make them lie, eagles will generally make them
fly, as also will ravens. The birds are not very discriminating either,
and make mistakes, for they frequently lie well under an artificial
kite, and fly away if they see a heron in the sky. Probably they mistake
one for a peregrine and the other for an eagle. But there do not appear
to be enough peregrines anywhere now to permanently affect the habits of
grouse. Probably when there were lots of them all grouse did lie well;
we know that they did so, even in October, in the Duke of Gordon’s
country in the time of Colonel Thornton’s tour in the Highlands, about
1803. But the peregrines have not ceased to exist merely in patches of
country, and certainly not in the same degree as the south-east line of
grouse distribution is remote or the reverse. It is clearly because of
the falcons that the grouse acquired the habit of lying and hiding from
danger in the first instance everywhere alike. That is not the question,
but how it happened that when the danger ceased to exist in magnitude
one lot of grouse preserved the ancient instinct and the other lot lost

Grouse that lie for protection are often spoken of as “tame,” but this
term hardly truly expresses the primitive instincts found in the grouse
of Ireland and the west and north of Scotland. Grey-lag geese in
Caithness, nine hundred and ninety-nine times in a thousand, will fly at
the sight of man; but once, at least, a grey-lag was observed cowering
under an artificial kite, and this was not because he was tamer than
usual, but because he was more scared and more wild than ever before, or
since—for he was shot.

Most shooters in Scotland have doubtless observed that a little bad
weather sends a lot of old grouse on to the tops of the hills, not on
the high ptarmigan tops, but on to the bare places on the hills
immediately above heather slopes. There they would not dare to go if
there were a few peregrines about, because on such ground they are at
the long-winged hawk’s mercy. It was not until between 1840 and 1860
that much headway was made in Scotland against the hawks, and it is
quite probable that the grouse never would have acquired a taste for the
“tops” if the peregrines had not been killed, and the present trouble
about killing the old cocks would never have occurred in Scotland. This
subject is referred to at greater length and in more aspects in the
chapter dealing with grouse bags.

In Yorkshire, however, it seems obvious that the grouse were made wild
by Act of Parliament—that is, by the fixing of a date for the opening of
shooting which suited Scotland but did not suit Yorkshire at that time.

As everyone knows, there are doubts in the Highlands of Scotland as to
the best means of shooting a moor for the benefit of its next season’s
stock. From a conversation the author had in 1905 with Captain Tomasson,
who is the most successful of preservers in Scotland by the almost
exclusive driving method, the writer gathered that on one or two points
Captain Tomasson could criticise some articles that the author had
previously written, and do it in a manner to throw more light on the
subject, and for this reason he asked the tenant of Hunthill if he would
write a criticism of those articles, handling them in as severe a manner
as possible. The latter very kindly consented, and the following letter
is the result; but the ever-present want of space has not permitted more
than an outline of his views, which more elaboration would make very
much more interesting than this all too short letter is, or could be,
from the nature of the case. In the next chapter the author has
endeavoured to repeat the substance of the articles already referred to,
in order that as much grouse lore as is practicable may be stored in
this little work on so many shooting subjects. The articles referred to
were entitled “The Difference of Effect in Driving Grouse in England and
in Scotland,” or some such title, and it was not sought to be proved
that driving was bad for Scotland, but merely that whereas driving
increased Yorkshire grouse by 800 or more per cent., it has not done
anything for Scotland. This is not to prove it bad, but merely to
suggest that what has been gained in one way has been lost in another.
That partial driving has reduced disease in Scotland is not likely,
because we find that it is no more prevalent in Caithness, where there
is no driving, than in the Highlands where there is. Besides that, can
we expect it to do so when it failed so lamentably in Yorkshire, which
was much more “driven” in and before 1872 than Scotland is now, and yet
this practice was followed there by an outbreak of disease in 1873 and
1874 that has never been paralleled since? The author’s opinion is that
bags made in these days truly indicate the stock of grouse; but when, in
1872, there were 10,600 grouse killed over dogs by three parties of two
each on Glenbuchat, averaging 100 brace a day to each party (a fact
which the owner, Mr. Barclay, has been kind enough to give me), there
must then have been enough grouse left to have doubled the bag had
driving occurred afterwards. The birds would not lie to be shot then in
the middle of September, as everyone knows.

It may be fairly asked, “What is the use of double numbers if you cannot
shoot them?” But that raises a very broad issue, and what the author has
in mind is that overshooting now is far worse than want of attention was
then. It is stated in a pamphlet issued by the Grouse Commission, that
one acre of good young heather is enough to keep a covey of grouse for
the season. As a matter of fact the moor is lucky when it rears half a
grouse to the acre instead of a whole brood. In the author’s belief
there is no reason past human powers to remove, why the acre should not
breed the brood instead of the half-grouse. In fact, he has taken up
this question in order to draw attention not only to the fact that
season’s bags are smaller than they were in spite of improvements of all
sorts, but to try and induce a search for a reason for this state of
things in a contrary direction to that being taken. For this purpose he
would refer possible readers to his chapter on “Game Birds’ Diseases,”
and would also call to mind the very suggestive phase of wild life from
Africa—namely, that when antelopes, buffalo, and zebra were in countless
millions, nothing in the shape of disease retarded their increase, but
as soon as they came to exist in isolation and small flocks, disease
stepped in and well-nigh exterminated them. That the micro-organisms of
some diseases are often present in the blood of the big game animals and
do them _no_ injury, although they may be injurious to other animals, is
also very suggestive of what may be possible in the future on our grouse
moors—that is, if the practice of devoting them exclusively to grouse is
persisted in.

                                                “WOODTHORPE, NOTTINGHAM
                                                    “_October 2nd, 1906_

“DEAR MR. BUCKELL,—You ask me what I think as to your views _re_ grouse
driving in Scotland, and the conversations we had together. I do not
like to attempt to criticise, as I agree with you in nearly everything.

“As far as I can see, the point is this, whether the introduction of
driving has resulted in larger bags in Scotland than in previous years?
The case that you so ably put forward and support with so many
industriously collected facts and with such originality resolves itself
into the statement that there are not now so many grouse in Scotland as
there were in the years 1872 and 1888, which you rightly regard as the
maximum seasons during the dogging period. I think the comparison is
hardly a fair one, as of course you have taken the very best years in
the memory of man. What my experience shows used to happen in the old
years was that on these moors (many of them of much larger area than at
present) very large stocks of grouse were left in favourable years, and
these were augmented as the seasons went on till at the end of the
seventh year or so there was undoubtedly a very large stock of grouse
left. Big bags were made, but it was entirely hopeless with the means
then at one’s command to cope with those great hordes of grouse; then
came the disease, and swept everything clean away. What we contend has
been the principal advantage of driving in Scotland is that we are
enabled to control the outbreaks of disease to a greater extent than
formerly—that is, we kill by driving the older birds, leaving young and
vigorous stock; that we are enabled to keep the birds within moderate
dimensions; and that though we may not be able to have so many birds on
our moors as in 1872 and 1888 (nor is it desirable), yet, taking the run
of the seasons through, we kill more birds off our ground than was the
case in previous years. The seasons average better, but they are not as
they used to be in the old days—three good seasons, three very bad ones,
and one moderate one. Now there are two moderate seasons and probably
five good ones. For myself, I should go much farther than this. It is
only a series of accidents, in my opinion, that has prevented the grouse
stocks in Scotland from being quite as heavy as they were in 1888.

“Undoubtedly the grouse seasons run in cycles through some mysterious
law which we are at present unable to fathom. Towards the end of the
period one sees birds on the moors getting to look shabby and bad. In
the old dogging days immense quantities of these birds were left all
over the place. Now we are able to kill them off by driving and working
the burnsides. In the non-driving era in stepped the disease and swept
everything off the moor, and we had to wait in patience till things
recovered. Nowadays we shoot a little harder than usual, kill off all
the bad birds, and leave a fair stock, which with easy shooting soon
comes round again. For some years we have been unfortunate with these
periods. Thus in 1894 a very large stock of birds was left, which in the
ordinary course would have been the foundation of record seasons in the
next two years, but the terrible winter of 1895, which killed so many
thousands of grouse, spoilt this period, and things had to begin afresh,
though very large stocks had worked up again by 1901. With the terrible
storm of the spring of 1902, which practically destroyed most of the
older heather on the East Coast, the period was again prevented from
giving the results it should have done. We have now got up the stocks
again to very large dimensions, and with luck and the absence of disease
should break all records in the next seasons.

“I take it that the more food there is for grouse the better. The
evidence is that a grouse makes several thousand pecks of heather each
day before he gets his full supply of food. I think the bird only feeds
for a very limited time each night, and the shorter the distance he has
to go for his food the better, and as he feeds mostly just as it is
getting dusk he is not very well able to distinguish between good and
bad heather, and often gets a craw full of stuff which does not agree
with him. If you notice (as it is on most of the Welsh moors) where the
sheep have grazed the heather up to a wire fence, on the other side of
the fence the heather is perfectly good, and every grouse will be found
feeding on it. If through the late spring or from other causes one
cannot get a portion of the moor burnt, that part will invariably have
less grouse on it than where there is young heather.

“I do not think sheep of a certain class do much harm on a grouse moor
if they are properly looked after. The trouble is that shepherds do not
take enough pains to keep things quiet. Breeding ewes are very bad when
the lambing takes place on the heather, as the shepherd must be
continually moving about among them, and disturbing the ground at the
very time the grouse are nesting. Provided sheep are lambed on the green
fields below the heather, and provided the shepherd is careful and goes
about his work quietly, I think sheep do no great harm; and undoubtedly
the paths they make through the heather are an advantage to the grouse,
which are then enabled to move their broods about more easily. There is
much more heather where there are no sheep, and the more heather you
have the more grouse there will be. On a driving moor especially sheep
are better off the ground. The long line of drivers move the sheep a
great deal, and in hot weather this is bad for the sheep. One can leave
big masses of birds on the march secure in the knowledge that there is
no shepherd to come along and put them into a neighbouring moor. The
wire fences, which are a necessity where sheep are present, are, of
course, death-traps for grouse.—Yours sincerely,

                                                        “W. H. TOMASSON”

                               RED GROUSE


                      1. AS REGARDS ENGLAND
                      2. IN REFERENCE TO SCOTLAND
                      3. IN REGARD TO WALES

Theoretically the stock of grouse ought to depend upon the amount of
food present on the moorlands on which they live. In practice it does
nothing of the kind—at least, not if we consider heather to be the food
of the grouse. A sheep will eat twenty times as much food as a grouse,
and if only half the sheep diet is heather, which is giving them a
larger proportion of grass than they can get on most moors, then in
theory it ought to be that the clearing of one sheep off an acre upon
which there was but one grouse should result in an addition of ten
grouse to that acre. But in practice it is doubtful whether it results
in one single added grouse, or even one additional to 100 acres. But
this is not any proof that the removal of sheep is bad policy. There are
so many other things that have to be taken into account. Whether the
sheep do harm or good by themselves is not certain, but in any case the
shepherding is very bad for grouse chicks that have just strength enough
to go a long way down hill and none to get back again to the brooding
parent birds. The latter cannot carry their young like a woodcock, nor
can they, like a Parliamentary bird of fame, be in two places at once.
The author has not been able to arrive at any very definite conclusion
in regard to the negative or positive value of the presence of sheep
themselves, the evidence is so very conflicting. On the Ruabon Hills
there are 5000 sheep on the 7000 acres of the most productive grouse
ground in Wales; moreover, there are 70 commoners who each have a few
dogs, and the latter’s business is to keep the sheep off the cultivated
fields, either in the presence of their masters or not, as convenience
and occasion serves. Then, on Mr. Lloyd Price’s bigger moor of Rhiwlas,
the sheep have been reduced to a minimum, and belong to the keeper. Yet
here 1000 brace has been about the best of the bags, but they have been
improving. Now, if these two moors grew heather of equal merit, and if
they were at equal elevations, we could say at once that sheep are
valuable to grouse. But these things are very different on those two
moors, and we can say nothing, but merely record the facts. Again, in
Yorkshire the fashion has been to decrease the sheep to disappearing
point; but when Lord Walsingham made his great personal bag of 1070
grouse in the day on a 2200 acre moor, there were 1400 sheep upon it,
and there were nearly 2000 grouse killed there in that season. Even now,
in Yorkshire, Askrigg is about as productive, acre for acre, as any
moor, and it is common land, and fairly swarms with sheep. On the other
hand, this is not true of Broomhead, where a grouse and a half to the
acre have been got before now, but it was true of practically all the
moors where great bags were made in 1871 and 1872 and before. And as the
general grouse stock has never again reached the level of those years,
it may be that there is some value in sheep that has not been
discovered, and to which we cannot give a name. Some people believe that
the sheep help the grouse in winter, by uncovering the heather when it
is snow-buried. Probably there is a good deal to be said for that, but
more upon high ground than low moors, because of course the object is to
keep the grouse at home, and prevent them from migrating down the
straths in those large packs that may or may not return again. On the
lowest moors in the district it is probable that there is less advantage
in keeping the birds from seeking winter food elsewhere. They must needs
go for it below the heather belt, and this ground will not keep them in
the spring, as the lower moors undoubtedly keep a large number of those
grouse that in hard weather visit them from higher moors. No doubt many
half-starved grouse get killed when they visit lower grouse, and arable
ground, but unless the snow disappears very early in the spring the
lowest moors are always favoured by some visitors stopping to breed. For
them this is a change of blood, which possibly the higher elevation
birds never do get. Be this as it may, there is always some moor in a
neighbourhood, just as there is a piece of ground on nearly every
shooting, that will at all times have more grouse upon it than are bred
there, except when birds are too young to travel far. It is difficult to
put a limit on these winter movements, or to give any idea how far the
birds may not go for “black ground.”

This seems to depend a good deal upon the way the snow comes and stops.
It may be affirmed that no matter how far it may be off them, if grouse
can see black ground when their own is under frozen snow they will go to
it. This in turn may be covered up, and then they will again go
downwards. The late Mr. Dunbar, who sublet most of Sir Tollemache
Sinclair’s shootings in Caithness, told the author that he had known the
Caithness grouse driven to the seashore in hard weather, when the
heather was all covered with snow. It would be a most excellent
arrangement of Nature that the grouse go for food wherever it is to be
had, if it were left to Nature, but it is not. People on the cultivated
farms regard the arrival of the grouse as a great day, in which
Providence has sought them out for a blessing, just as the Israelites in
the Wilderness thought about the quail, which were possibly merely
seeking their own migratory ends, like the starving grouse. Those on the
lower moors see increased numbers of grouse, and kill them, knowing that
if they do not somebody else will. So that the general result of this
migration is that the total stock of the whole county, or country, is
kept much lower than any sportsmen or owners of moors wish, and instead
of being 1200 pairs left to breed on 4500 acres, which is Mr. Rimington
Wilson’s estimate for his crack moor near Sheffield, the spring stock
the country over does not average, in the belief of the writer, more
than 250 pairs on every 4500 acres, and in this estimate he does not
include the grass hills, the floe ground, or the ptarmigan tops, or deer

By the habits of the grouse the owners of moors are compelled,
therefore, more or less to pool their breeding stocks. Nothing seems
likely to overcome the difficulty except a system of winter feeding in
snow-time, and this is much more easily discussed than accomplished.
Even if oat stacks with the corn in the straw, and more oats added to it
to avoid unnecessary carting of straw, were erected, and protected in
the early autumn, in various parts of a moor, these to be of any use
would require to be visited in the very worst of the snow, in order that
the protection might be removed and the grouse might start to scratch
about for food. But there are many parts of many moors where an
expedition at such a time would be a work of danger, for many a life has
been lost in the snowstorms of the Highlands.

This digression into winter feeding of grouse arose out of the question
of sheep or no sheep. Difficult as this is in Yorkshire, Wales, and the
Lowlands of Scotland, it is very much more complicated in the Highlands,
where sheep have to be considered not alone as an addition to grouse
moors, but also as a protection to the deer forests. It is necessary to
the forest owners that they should not lose their rentals by the
movements of deer to grouse ground in the stalking season.

Where one forest adjoins another, exchange is no robbery; but where they
adjoin sheep ground the only two possible ways of preventing a loss of
deer are wire deer fences and the presence of sheep and shepherds. The
former is out of favour, and will probably never come in again. It
converts forests into parks, and park deer have no sporting value.
Consequently, only the sheep and the shepherds are left. To remove them
anywhere in the neighbourhood of forests is automatically to stock the
ground with deer. This may be a wise or an unwise policy as
circumstances arise, but it is very bad for the established forests to
lose their best beasts, which take years to grow. Then to have deer
forests interspersed through the more cultivated districts of the
Highlands would probably lead to a revolution, or at least to the
unauthorised destruction of the deer when they attacked the farmers’

The burning of the heather is rarely done half well enough. It is very
expensive in districts far removed from considerable population. There
is so much delay caused by waiting for the weather. The ideal conditions
are wet ground and dry air and heather, in order that the tops of the
plant shall be thoroughly burned and the roots and the heather seed in
the ground not much heated. But to wait for such ideal conditions would
be rarely to burn at all, and consequently risks are taken, but even as
it is, not nearly enough heather is burned. On some moors the author has
visited he could say there were 1000 acres of heather and that one match
would destroy it all. Where such enormous beds of old heather do exist,
it might be bolder than wise to apply that match and leave the rest to
chance. But it always runs this risk even when grouse are sitting on
their eggs. There are not many nests in such ground, nevertheless it is
a pity to destroy it all, for this old heather is the most valuable when
snow is on the moor, but the mere fact of burning strips through it
greatly increases this value as well as every other. It assists the snow
to drift, which in covering some parts deeply leaves the other bare.
Shelter and food is what the grouse most want in the storm, and the very
long heather supplies both to a very great extent. But a very little of
it will go a long way for this purpose. The grouse never eat it at other
times, so that it is _all_ left for winter feeding. These long old
heather patches may also have a value in collecting grouse on driving
days, but they have none for dog work; for grouse will not resort to
them unless forced to, and dogs cannot work to advantage in them.

Some people prefer burning in small patches to burning in strips, and
theoretically the former can be defended as enabling more birds to feed
when out of sight of their brethren and enemies. Nevertheless, the
grouse stocks in both England and Scotland reached their apex when most
of, if not all, the burning was done in strips.

A too heavy stock of breeding ewes, in contrast to as heavy a stock of
feeding or fat sheep, is said to destroy heather, and cause grass to
supplant it. Although the author has several times had cause to believe
this to be quite true, he has never actually seen these results.

Another cause of heather destruction has come under his personal
observation, and is very serious indeed when it occurs. It comes in the
form of a small beetle which some ten years ago (then, it is believed,
unnamed by science) attacked thousands of acres of the heather
(_calluna_), but would not touch the bell heather (_erica_). It
destroyed and bit through the roots of the plants, half starved the
sheep in consequence, and caused the grouse to entirely leave some of
the moors in the neighbourhood of Castle Douglas. The only stay to it
was fire, and square miles of heather were consequently burnt. On going
over the ground ten years afterwards, it was observed by the author that
only a very occasional root of heather had re-started, so that most of
the roots must have been killed, and there was evidently no seed in the
ground. But all the bell heather plants re-started to grow after the
cremation of heather and beetles together. Judging by the destruction
wrought, here is a pest that, under favourable circumstances to itself,
might destroy all the heather in the country, and incidentally grouse
shooting as well. The name of this beetle is _Lochmæa suturalis_.

Draining is receiving a great deal of attention, and well is the subject
worth it. The worst kind of land on any moor is what is called “floe”
ground. For the grouse it is useless, and nothing and nobody seems able
to make any use of it. It is not good for fish in the winter when it
forms a lake, nor for grouse in the summer when its islets of stunted
heather become dry hillocks surrounded by death-traps for little grouse,
not only because of their inability to get from one tussock to another
without swimming, but probably also because of the millions of insects
they breed. The midge flies swarm when these places are wet, and
possibly carry grouse disease in their bites from diseased grouse to the
healthy, which thereby become diseased. Probably few grouse chicks are
drowned in such places, because the old birds instinctively avoid them
for nesting. But neither they nor their chicks can avoid the midges,
and, as the author pointed out some years ago, in an article in the
_Fortnightly Review_, if Dr. Klein’s investigation of the disease did
really result in the discovery of the true cause of it, namely the
bacilli he cultivated from diseased grouse, then everything else he did
pointed to the conclusion that only by direct injection under the skin
could grouse disease be given from one creature to another, except in
close confinement, as when birds healthy and diseased were confined
together under one cloth and in a room. Since the writing of that
article the Grouse Committee has been appointed, and Mr. Rimington
Wilson, who is upon it, has been good enough to inform the author that
one of the points being investigated is the midge theory.

A great many people think that the Committee will do no good, but surely
in the present state of science it is only a question of money. Probably
critics mean that if the bacilli of the disease is discovered, or
re-discovered, we shall be no more forward, as the way to exterminate
them or their possible hosts will still have to be inquired into. But if
it should be discovered that the midges can convey the disease, and that
is an extremely easy thing to test, then we need not bother about the
life history of the interesting bacilli, but start and drain the
breeding-places of their intermediate hosts—the midge flies. This would
have one advantage outside all consideration of disease, for it would
add possibly one-third to the productive area of the average Highland
moor. Probably Mr. Rimington Wilson’s Broomhead moor is the most free of
any from disease, and it is generally considered also about the driest
moor in Yorkshire. All moors are quite well enough stocked with midges,
but occasionally in hot wet weather they come in clouds. It was so in
the autumn of 1873, and it was so again in the autumn before the last
outbreak of grouse disease in the Highlands. It has been said that
grouse disease is always present, and breaks out when the grouse are
weakly and food is scarce. These may be contributory circumstances, but
that is doubtful. In the hard winter of 1895—or was it 1896?—thousands
of grouse died from starvation, but none from disease.

The different methods of killing grouse one year are supposed to have a
great deal of influence on the breeding success of their collateral
relations the next. Apparently this is as if one said that an honest
tradesman was successful and had a large family _because_ his brother
the highwayman was hanged instead of being beheaded. But this is only
the superficial side of the question, which is one of the survival of
the fittest. It is said with a good deal of truth that to drive the
grouse is an automatic selection of the old birds for the poulterer, and
of the young ones for breeding. This is no doubt quite true, but at the
same time grouse driving has only been followed by enormous increases of
stock in England, and not in the Highlands of Scotland. The apex of
grouse stock in both countries was reached in 1872, and the question
arises why it was brought about by driving in the South Country, and, on
the contrary, practically before driving had made any headway in
Scotland. The difference of effect of what was the same system in both
can probably be accounted for partly in several different ways. Both
“becking” and “kiting” are also automatic selections not only of the old
birds, but particularly of the old cocks. This is easy enough to
understand in regard to “becking,” but is only to be discovered by
experience in “kiting.” It appears that the hens are not often shot
under a kite, and the reason is supposed to be that they are the more
timid, and make off before the kite gets near. Both these systems were
practised in the Highlands before driving was introduced, but so they
were also in Yorkshire. In the Highlands the grouse were not so wild but
that the shooter could select the old cock of a brood and kill him over
the dogs. In Yorkshire this could not be done; it was difficult to get
near the youngest broods, to say nothing of the old cocks, and it had
been difficult for half a century, as is pointed out in the chapter
headed “Grouse that lie and Grouse that fly.” Then, when these old cocks
became widowers and joined others similarly afflicted, nothing could
sufficiently reduce their numbers, and it was not reduction but
extermination that was wanted. Driving in Yorkshire accomplished this,
for there are no rocky “tops” there which defy the drivers. In Scotland,
on the other hand, the wilder the old cocks grow the more certainly they
get upon these “tops,” and the safer they become from the gun. When
driving is put off until the 1st of September or thereabouts, as it
mostly is in Scotland, the driving is not an automatic selection of a
large proportion of the old birds; on the contrary, they soon get up on
the “tops” when disturbance often occurs below, and they leave the hens
and the broods to “face the music” in the strath. Thus, on the rolling
moors of Yorkshire the wilder the old cocks become the more certainly
they get driven to the guns, whereas in Scotland the more certainly they
find security on the tops that never yet have been _successfully_
driven. Before peregrines were mostly destroyed, the old cocks dare not
venture on those covertless tops. From these facts it can be gathered
that it is not the driving that makes all the difference, but merely the
killing of barren and old birds, and that it does not matter how this is
accomplished so that it is done thoroughly. The assumption is that it
was done thoroughly in Scotland before driving began, and that it was
impossible to do it in England, where the birds were a fortnight earlier
and out of all comparison wilder. At any rate, we cannot deny that
before grouse butts were seen on one moor in fifty in Scotland, the
grouse stock had arrived at its highest point; that between 10,000 and
11,000 grouse had fallen before dogs at Glenbuchat in the season of
1872; that over 7000 had been killed in a month at Delnadamph, in
Aberdeenshire; and also that 220 brace had been killed to one gun over
dogs at Grandtully, in Perthshire, in a single day, as had a similar bag
a couple of decades before by Colonel Campbell of Monzie. Only once
since has as large a bag been made by one gun in the day, and that was
twenty years ago. Now Scotch moors do not equal the season’s bags
recorded above, nor do men make as big single gun-bags over dogs. Only
once in 1905, and again in 1906, have a pair of guns shooting together
equalled 100 brace in the day.

Another question arises here naturally. It is: Are the birds wilder than
they were thirty-five years ago, and does driving at the end of the
season make them wilder for the next season? No doubt it makes the old
cocks wilder, but the grouse hen is only just as wild as her brood
always. Even in Yorkshire, before the brood can fly the grouse hen lies
to be trodden up; she grows wild exactly in proportion to the wildness
of her chicks, and if we are to believe the biologists, acquired
character is not transmitted to offspring. The author believes that the
principal necessity in all grouse preservation is to kill a large
proportion of the old cocks whether they have had broods or not, and
consequently where wildness makes them secure they should not be made
wild by end of the season driving, either with or without a preliminary
of dog work. Had the author the planning and management of Highland
moors now as he had years ago, he would get rid of these
already-made-wild old cocks by driving each beat the day before dogging
it, but with drivers just so far apart as appeared to be necessary to
make sure of moving the old cocks but not the broods, which in any case
will not drive well as early as the first week of shooting. The
clearance of the objectionable brigade, which if left alone the first
bad weather will send to the “tops,” is as necessary for a driving moor
as for a dog moor, and as it is for one which has previously been both.
The greater market value of the dog moors in the Highlands over the
driving moors in England (grouse for grouse) makes it necessary to find
a way to negative the damage done by making the old cocks wild. But the
writer is not sure that the manner of going up to dogs is not
responsible for half the apparent wildness of the old cocks. It is well
known that nothing makes any birds fly so quickly as the thought that
they are seen. Walking straight to a dog’s point, the handler in the
middle and a gun on each side of him, convinces any self-respecting old
cock that he is seen, and off he goes. On the other hand, if the handler
advances in the tracks of one of the shooters, and these walk up 40
yards wide of the dog on either side, they may then safely pass the
point a considerable distance, and if it is necessary, they can, with
the handler, go back to the dog. If birds have allowed them to pass
thus, they will also allow them to close in on them, for they will feel
themselves surrounded. The old cock meantime has assuredly run forward,
and nine times out of ten also turned to right or left, and the chances
are great that one of the shooters will by these tactics just head him
off, and get a possible shot at a bird that would otherwise have stood
no chance of being killed.

The walking wide, in first driving, is practised on the Ruabon moors by
Mr. Wynne Corrie in order to secure a greater proportion of old cocks
and let off more young birds than would otherwise be the case. Mr.
Corrie has given the author some very valuable information upon his
management of the Ruabon Hills, but clearly if such tactics are
necessary on a moor where the old birds cannot by wildness take to the
“tops” and save themselves, they are ten times more necessary where this
can be and is always done. In Caithness-shire the old cocks can be
killed at any time of the season; they run there; and a dog that rodes
well and fast is a necessity. Mr. W. Arkwright, of pointer celebrity,
makes a practice of hunting down these old birds until he makes his
grouse moor similar to that paradise regained as a sign of which seven
women were to cling to one man. In practice it is only two hens that
cling to one cock, and this upset of the natural order has also been
observed on the Ruabon Hills, particularly in 1905; and the keeper there
tells the writer that when it occurs he _always_ notices that it is
followed by a good season. Here are two opposite methods accomplishing
the same end, and the author knows enough of the subject, besides, to be
able to say, Make your grouse polygamous by force of circumstances, and
each hen will be contented with half the ground she otherwise would have
considered hers by right of masculine strife.

In considering and comparing present-day bags with those of earlier
years, it is necessary to avoid comparing now well managed moors with
themselves at a time when they were badly managed. There are all degrees
of bad management, and what we have to do is to go to the moors that
yielded the best at the various dates and consider what was the
management that brought this about. Some of the best moors in Scotland
seem to have been very poorly managed in the great year of 1872. There
is Menzies Castle moor, for instance, which lies only half a dozen miles
or so from the record-breaking Grandtully moor, and yet in 1872, when
the latter surprised all grouse shooters, the former was said to be very
badly off for grouse, and the birds killed over dogs were nearly all old
ones. Nevertheless, be it noted that the bags of old birds made were
then far above the average of present-day shootings, which not only
shows what was expected by sportsmen in those times, but also how the
old birds sat to dogs. There were some peregrines to keep them in the
long heather.

All the old records of English moors point to the capacity of the ground
for carrying grouse, but to their scarcity nevertheless. The Scotch
moors, on the contrary, seem to have had as many birds in the first
years of the nineteenth century as they had at any time. Colonel
Thornton, in his description of his Highland tour, spoke of big packs of
3000 birds as common in the winter, and in October he found the grouse
lie too well in the Duke of Gordon’s country, whereas shortly afterwards
on a 12th of August the celebrated Colonel Hawker could do nothing with
the wild Yorkshire grouse, where the birds were also particularly
scarce. There is no doubt that this scarcity was brought about by Act of
Parliament, which fixed the opening season that suited Scotland, and by
a fortnight’s earlier breeding just made it impossible to kill the old
cocks in Yorkshire. They, in turn, would not breed themselves or let
others do so, so that the practice in Yorkshire became almost precisely
what it is now in those deer forests where they desire to exterminate
the grouse, and do it by leaving them _entirely alone_.

In 1849 there was driving in Yorkshire; for in that year, on Sir Spencer
Stanhope’s moor, Durnford Bridge, there were 448 grouse killed in one

The following bags will show what happened in Yorkshire at a glance, but
nothing of this sort of rapid increase, as a consequence of driving the
birds, will be found as applying to Scotland:—


 │              Year.               │      Total bags in braces.       │
 │               1829               │60                                │
 │               1830               │77                                │
 │               1831               │14½                               │
 │               1832               │31                                │
 │               1833               │82                                │
 │               1834               │69½                               │
 │               1835               │90                                │
 │               1836               │12                                │
 │               1837               │25                                │
 │               1838               │42½                               │
 │               1839               │26½                               │
 │               1840               │26                                │
 │               1841               │35½                               │
 │               1842               │21                                │
 │               1843               │91                                │

                           FOLLOWING THE ABOVE

                  (_About 1862 a little driving began_)

 │Year.│   Year’s bag at Dallowgill.   │ Year’s bag at Blubberhouses.  │
 │     │            Braces.            │            Braces.            │
 │1865 │                               │239                            │
 │1866 │                               │691                            │
 │1870 │                               │478                            │
 │1871 │2149                           │                               │
 │1872 │2417                           │807½                           │
 │1873 │208½                           │disease.                       │
 │1874 │177½                           │disease.                       │
 │1875 │508                            │no record.                     │
 │1876 │1576                           │725                            │
 │1877 │1345½                          │781                            │
 │1878 │1892                           │704                            │
 │1879 │781                            │241                            │
 │1880 │1015½                          │no record.                     │
 │1881 │945                            │388½                           │
 │1882 │1551                           │770                            │
 │1883 │2948½                          │346½                           │
 │1884 │2519                           │622                            │
 │1885 │1620½                          │277                            │
 │1886 │1312½                          │646                            │
 │1887 │2125½                          │no record.                     │
 │1888 │2501½                          │919                            │

The last figure was given to the author by Lord Walsingham about the
time the bag of 1070 grouse made in the day by his gun was discussed,
and might possibly have been added to later in the season.

Two points are likely to arise in an examination of the bags. First, was
it that the birds were not upon the Yorkshire moors, or only that they
could not be killed, that made the season’s bags so poor prior to

The other point is: Do big day’s bags point to great stocks of game on
the moors; and arising out of that, do great bags help to improve the

The answers, from the bags to be mentioned, will be found to be that in
the early days the birds were not on the Yorkshire hills, and if they
had been there they could have been killed in numbers, except the wild
old cocks. The proof is to be found in the facts that, as lately as
1872, there were 1099 brace of grouse killed in a day on Bowes moor
_over dogs_, and that the day after Lord Walsingham made his great
one-gun bag at Blubberhouses by driving, he walked up and shot in half a
day 26 brace, or more than the whole moor had yielded in many a previous
anti-driving season. It will be found, also, that big day’s bags do not
necessarily point to big stocks of grouse, since, at least twice, one
gun has in one day taken more than half the season’s total bag off a
moor. But that very big driving days on a small moor are better than a
constant worry by smaller drivings of the grouse is almost too obvious
to name.

Lord Walsingham killed to his own gun in one day of 1872 421 brace of
grouse when the season’s bag was 807½ brace; and in 1888, after a very
bad breeding season, he killed 535 brace to his own gun in the day, and
there were 919 brace bagged in that season. Similar proof of the skill
of drivers and shooters when the stocks of game were but moderate are to
be had elsewhere. The late Sir Fred Milbank’s best year at Wemmergill
was in 1872, when he got 17,074 grouse, and his best bag was 2070
grouse. Lord Westbury, his successor on that moor, had a best day of
about the same number, but his best year gave but 9797 grouse. Mr. R.
Rimington Wilson killed 2743 birds in the day in 1904, but the season
was not perhaps as good as that of 1905, when only 1744 grouse were shot
on the best day, when Mr. Rimington Wilson was good enough to inform the
author that the season was above the average, and that the direction of
the wind makes all the difference. In 1906, the day, chosen months
ahead, happened to be one of those heat record-breaking ones that caused
the grouse to refuse to fly more than once, and only about 1320 grouse
were killed on the first day, which, however comparatively bad there,
would be absolutely splendid as times go elsewhere.

Again, in 1905, Mr. Wynne Corrie had his record season, but his big days
were larger in the previous season. In 1904 they were 760½ and 781 brace
respectively, and in 1905 there were 638½ brace shot on the best day.
This is not as remarkable as the fact that in 1901 there were killed
there 3341 brace, before big bags were started; and there were but 2103
brace killed in the year of the record bag.

The apex of grouse stock having been reached in Yorkshire in 1872,
within a decade of the general beginning of driving, it was felt that
the way to enormous stocks was discovered, and that these stocks were
worth every attention and large capital outlay in the improvement of
moorlands, but as a matter of fact it is difficult to find that all the
improvement since has done any good to the head of game. If it has, it
can only be discovered over periods of years, and not by comparing any
one year with the results obtained in 1871 and 1872. The period of years
is the better test if it can be fairly applied, but results come out
differently altogether in accordance with the arbitrary selection of
dates to begin and end these periods.

It has already been mentioned how wonderfully grouse have done in the
absence of one of these improvements, namely the removal of sheep on the
Ruabon Hills, and sheep are just as plentiful at Askrigg, in Yorkshire,
where nevertheless Mr. Vyner has killed on a moor of 2000 acres, in
1894, 2775 grouse; in 1897, 2959 grouse; in 1898 there was a total of
2095 grouse; in 1901 there were shot 2686 grouse; and in 1902 there were
2898 grouse bagged.

Mr. Wynne Corrie has improved the best season’s bag at Ruabon Hills by
about 1000 brace, or one-third more than the previous best. He has given
the author four reasons to which he attributes the improvement, and as
his is nearly the only South Country grouse moor that at once shows a
great stock and also a great improvement over season’s bags of four
decades ago, they are here stated:—

1. Leaving as large a head of breeding birds as possible.

2. Improvement of the heather.

3. Sunk butts.

4. Not shooting any grouse over dogs.

Probably it will be gathered from the records of bags made that the
system of _only_ driving, in Yorkshire, has not increased the birds
since 1872, and that dog work and driving afterwards has also had the
same stagnant or retarding effect in Scotland, where also driving alone
has made no improvement either, that when it could be said of moors that
they produced as well as their neighbours, of similar area and
conditions, under previous management. This is all very disappointing to
those who give time and money to moor improvement, and sacrifice their
shooting several years in order to get up the head of game. It is not
pleasant to have to mention these partial failures, but it is felt that
if we do not look facts in the face as they are, there is little chance
of improvement. There is, in fact, a something _besides disease_ that
keeps the grouse stock below a certain point in the best of years, and,
as Allan Brown says, causes a little grouse to require as much land to
itself as a cow.

These bags are not quoted, then, merely because they are records, but
because they teach that there is something never yet found out that is
infinitely more important to discover than the bacilli of the grouse
disease. It must be more potent than disease in its effects of keeping
the grouse stock down. For their numbers from a stock-breeder’s point of
view seem utterly absurd. That vegetable-feeding birds weighing under 2
lbs. should want as much vegetation to themselves as sheep weighing 50
lbs. is the point, and there must be a reason for it, although it has
never yet been discovered or even searched for, as far as is known to
the author. But before dealing with that point it is necessary to show
the present stagnation under every system.

At that period when Yorkshire grouse were only remarkable for their
scarcity, Colonel Campbell of Monzie killed 184½ brace in 1843 in a day,
191 brace in 1846, and another bag of 222½ brace with no date mentioned.
On the Menzies Castle moor, before mentioned, it was said the 1872 birds
were mostly old and bred badly, yet five shooters obtained the following
bags in the three first days, namely, 205, 117, and 168 brace; in 1905,
an excellent breeding season, the bags were on the same moor 115 and 76
brace. Then at Grandtully, close by, the 1872 season yielded 220 brace
to the single gun of the Maharajah Duleep Singh in a day, and in the
first day of 1906 four guns got 35 brace. There were 7000 grouse killed
at Delnadamph, mostly by driving, in 1872, when, elsewhere, there were
no butts, as at Glenbuchat, where they killed nevertheless 10,600 grouse
over dogs. Nothing like the above is done over dogs now, the nearest
approach to it being at Sir John Gladstone’s moors, where upon occasion
within the decade about 4000 grouse have been killed over dogs, and 6000
later by driving.

Unquestionably the best average in England has been kept up at
Broomhead, the season’s bags of which have never been published, but the
two best days in each season have been, and as records alone they are of
great interest, even if nothing but facts could be deduced from them
(see table on opposite page).

Bags made on Bowes subscription moor on 12th August 1872 were for 30
shooters over dogs as follows:—85½, 65½, 56½, 54, 49, 45, 44½, 43, 50,
40½, 41½, 41½, 36, 35, 35½, 35½, 35, 33, 33, 32, 32, 29½, 23½, 21½, 23,
21, 16, 27½, 8, 5½ brace. Total, 1099 brace.

This remarkable bag on a 12,000 acre moor establishes many things, one
of which is that the grouse in Yorkshire could have been killed in
quantities at any time had there been enough guns, so that the broods
after being flushed by one shooter were quickly found by another, and
given no time to collect after being scattered. But the wildness of the
grouse on this moor is shown by the top scorer getting only about half
the bag that some shooters obtained on the Scotch moors of the time. For
instance, at Glenquoich Lodge, near Dunkeld, there were killed 124½,
114, and 88½ brace by three guns on the Twelfth; thus the three guns got
327 brace in the day, and this kind of bag was by no means unusual. In
Yorkshire there were numerous bags of 1000 brace, and over, made that
season. They occurred at Wemmergill, Dallowgill, Broomhead, Bowes, and
High Force (probably); at any rate, at the latter place, there were in
19 days driving 15,484 grouse killed, and at Wemmergill adjoining there
were 17,074 grouse shot for the season.

                         BAGS MADE AT BROOMHEAD

 │      Date.      │     Guns.      │  Brace in the  │Brace in the best│
 │                 │                │      day.      │    two days.    │
 │ Sept.  6, 1872  │       13       │      1313      │                 │
 │ Sept.  3, 1890  │       8        │      819       │                 │
 │ Sept.  9, 1891  │       8        │      630       │                 │
 │  Aug. 30, 1893  │       9        │      1324      │      2125½      │
 │ Sept.  1, 1893  │       9        │      801½      │        〃        │
 │  Aug. 29, 1894  │       9        │      1007      │      1694       │
 │  Aug. 31, 1894  │       9        │      687       │        〃        │
 │ Sept.  4, 1895  │       8        │      624       │                 │
 │  Aug. 26, 1896  │       9        │      1090      │                 │
 │  Aug. 25, 1897  │       9        │      1006      │                 │
 │  Aug. 24, 1898  │       9        │     1103½      │                 │
 │  Aug. 30, 1899  │       9        │      1013      │                 │
 │  Aug. 29, 1900  │       9        │      586       │                 │
 │ Sept.  4, 1901  │       9        │      712       │      1447       │
 │ Sept. 25, 1901  │       9        │      735       │        〃        │
 │  Aug. 27, 1902  │       9        │      693       │       950       │
 │  Aug. 29, 1902  │       9        │      257       │        〃        │
 │  Aug. 26, 1903  │       9        │      703½      │      1188       │
 │  Aug. 28, 1903  │       9        │      484½      │        〃        │
 │  Aug. 24, 1904  │       9        │     1371½      │      1777       │
 │  Aug. 26, 1904  │       9        │      405½      │        〃        │
 │  Aug. 30, 1905  │       9        │      872       │      1476       │
 │ Sept.  1, 1905  │       9        │      604       │        〃        │
 │      1906       │                │      660       │(roughly)        │

Writing in 1888, Lord Walsingham said he thought that the great increase
of grouse was to be attributed to the burning of the heather in
Yorkshire during the previous twenty-five years. But no moors the author
saw in Yorkshire about that time could bear comparison for regular
burning with the moor of Dunbeath, in Caithness, where the strips were
as regular and as well defined as the different crops in a market
garden; and again, about 1875, the author went over Bowes moor to
inspect for a possible purchaser, and he never saw any heather so badly
neglected for want of burning. Although there were very few grouse there
at that time, this was obviously due to the disease, for there had been
any number of them three seasons before.

Driving the grouse at Moy Hall moors was started in a partial manner,
without butts, in 1869, and the driving done between then and 1872 was
limited to the birds round the corn-fields, and could have had no effect
on the stock.

                    In 1871 the bag was 2836 grouse.
                    In 1872 the bag was 3002 grouse.

Between 1876 and 1879 no driving was done there, but in 1879 there were
103 grouse killed in six drives on the 1st of September.

In that year the kill was 5172 grouse, when the bag was assisted by
driving, but the preservation had not been so assisted.

In 1888 there were killed 5822 grouse by means of dogs first and driving
afterwards, and in the next season, which was a bad one, dogs were used
for the last time.

               In 1891 there were shot      3612 grouse.
               In 1892 the bag was          3513 grouse.
               In 1893 there were killed    4480 grouse.
               In 1894 the season produced  4563 grouse.
               In 1895 the total fell to    2511 grouse.
               In 1896 it fell lower, to    1402 grouse.
               In 1897 it touched lower, to 1131 grouse.
               In 1898 it began to rise to  1943 grouse.
               In 1899 there were shot      3416 grouse.
               In 1900 the bag was          6092 grouse.
               In 1901 the apex was         7127 grouse.

Since that year the season’s bags have not been published, and it is
believed that they fell off very much until 1905, when there was a good
recovery, but not a record, and disappointment occurred again in 1906.

From these figures we are not able to gather that driving and no dog
work has acted as a means of preservation and an increase of the stock,
but that it has enabled the grouse to be killed when they were there, as
they undoubtedly were in 1879, when the driving was so little understood
that it did not materially assist the bags for the season, as may be
gathered from the bag for the day quoted above. Nothing can be gathered
from these bags to suggest that anything like a remedy for the
stagnation spoken of has been discovered, and we hope in vain, year by
year, to see that advance of from 400 to 800 per cent. spoken of by Lord
Walsingham, eighteen years ago, in regard to Yorkshire.

It has been already pointed out that by draining a moor one may often
add a third to its heather-bearing land, and also that by removing a
sheep to the acre one conserves about ten times the heather food a
grouse eats. Yet neither of these methods has made very much difference
anywhere. Both have done something to add to the stock in places, and
both have also been disappointing in other places. Surely there must be
some reason that has not only never been discovered, but has not even
been looked for. It has been shown that were it only a question of
heather food, the removal of sheep, where they are one to an acre, would
multiply the grouse capacity of the moors by ten times, and the author
believes that the majority of moors have on them, even when they carry
sheep, ten times the heather the grouse require. If the former, to say
nothing of the latter, is approximately true, then there must be
something besides heather the grouse require, and the absence of which,
in quantities, prevents their increase beyond two to an acre even on the
_most favourable_ moors.

There is no doubt from the above facts that there is some such want, but
what it is the author can only speculate upon. It appears likely that
what is wanted by all young grouse, as by all young animals of other
kinds, is proteid. Young birds of all kinds take it in the form of
insects, or artificial substitutes. That little grouse begin at once to
eat heather is true, but it has never been proved that they can be
reared on heather and nothing else. On the other hand, it _has_ been
proved that they can be reared without heather, provided they get plenty
of insect food. They appear to be almost the easiest of game birds to
rear, provided they have leave to help themselves to the insects of the
fields, or are supplied with crissel and ants’ eggs by hand. For these
reasons the author has arrived at the opinion that, provided the young
grouse could be supplied with proteid (insects) for the first three
weeks of life, the heather is sufficient to support ten times the
numbers found upon the moors in most cases. Of course this could only be
done by hand rearing of the birds. But as the grouse seem to lay more
readily in confinement than partridges, and as these latter most
particular birds have, by the French system, been doubled and doubled
again, there seems to be no reason why grouse should not be increased in
the same way.

It may be said that disease would stop anything of the kind, but those
who advocate the increase of grouse to shoot by the decrease of the
parent stock have, it is to be hoped, had their innings. It can be
proved that where breeding grouse are kept up to the highest point,
there also they are the most healthy.

The author has doubts whether it is desirable to increase the hand
rearing of game; but in a book on shooting and game preservation the
ethics of sport are not practical if they limit production in any way.

The red grouse (_Lagopus scoticus_) may be shot from the morning of the
12th of August to the evening of the 10th of December. Heather burning
is legal at all times in England, but only from 1st of November to 10th
of April in Scotland, which is another means by which an Act of
Parliament has damaged the interests of the grouse shooter, since it
generally happens that not enough heather burning can be done in the
winter months, and September and October are quite as necessary burning
months as March itself.


Whether we ask the driver of game or the dog man does not matter, all
are agreed that the red grouse is the most sporting bird we have. It is
only necessary to see how artfully grouse butts are placed, in order to
make the shooting as easy as possible, to know that the grouse’s flight
is a match for the shooter. Successful drivings, or big bags in the day,
which is the same thing, require every assistance to be given to the
gunner, for in grouse shooting height is an assistance to him, although
it is the reverse in pheasant shooting. The reason is that the grouse
usually flies too low for a clear sight of it against the sky, and also
low enough to make shooting dangerous when the birds cross the line of
the butts. The time has not yet come with grouse, as it has with
pheasants to a great extent, when beats are planned to make the shooting
as difficult as possible. This is not wholly true of pheasants either,
because no one for the sake of increased difficulty places shooters
amongst trees, and especially fir trees, and nobody for the added
difficulty shoots his pheasants when the leaf is still on. In the same
way, a grouse driver does not put his butts where grouse cannot be seen
approaching, but selects a position 40 or more yards behind a slight
rise in the ground, in order that the guns may see the game before it is
within range, but not so much before that the sight of the gunners in
the butts will turn the grouse. So, then, to make big bags, every
advantage has to be taken to drive the grouse as easily for the guns as
can be done, and besides this the “crack” gunners excel in being best
able to select the easiest, or perhaps it would be better to say the
possible birds. They neither lose time in trying to get on to birds when
there is not time to succeed, or in shooting at others so far off as to
be at wounding distances.

The red grouse also puts the shooter over dogs to the test. Even at the
beginning of the season the direct walk up with the dog will generally
result in the old cock getting off unshot at. But with two gunners who
walk wide of the dog, the chances are that one of them will get a fair
shot at the old cock, which invariably runs away, and leaves his wife
and children to learn wisdom by experience and his example. Later on it
may be necessary to hunt the dogs down wind, and this proceeding nearly
always results in making birds lie much better than they otherwise
would; for the grouse are found by the dog when the latter is to
leeward, and the guns by walking down wind to the point complete the
surrounding movement. It may be said that unless grouse have their heads
up (when they are only fit for driving) they always are approachable by
guns, provided the latter set about it the right way, and have dogs good
enough to hunt down wind well and without flushing the game. The
qualities required in the dog cover a very wide range—a very long and
certain nose, and an absence of drawing up to game to make sure of it;
that is, an absence of hesitation in pointing. Then the degree of
accuracy of shooting that is enough in driving with cylinder guns at 25
to 30 yards range is not more than half enough with a full choke bore at
50 yards range.

There is ample scope for improvement always in grouse shooting, and the
author has never heard of the gunner who is always satisfied with his
efforts, either when shooting driven game or when shooting grouse over
dogs. Those who talk of the “battue” and “slaughter” in the same breath
have never tried, and those drivers of game who talk of shooting over
dogs as too easy for their skill find out their own weak spots when they
try it.

The proper driving of grouse to the guns is the result of local
education based on sound broad principles. The former it is obviously
not possible to deal with, and the latter have already been admirably
stated elsewhere, except for this: it has been assumed that grouse can
be driven everywhere, but this is very far from correct. They certainly
cannot be driven where they will lie well to dogs all the season.
Moreover, they cannot be satisfactorily driven when they resort to the
“tops” of the ranges of hills or mountains in the Highlands, where a
short flight puts them 500 feet over the “flankers’” heads. These
flag-men then have no more effect on the direction of the flight of the
grouse than the other “insects” in the heather have, for the drivers
resemble insects when crawling along so far below.

To state the principle of grouse driving shortly is possibly difficult.
It is based upon a series of incidents in the perceptions of the birds,
which are influenced by sight alone, and not by hearing or smelling.
They should first see a driver far off in the direction it is most
wished they should avoid flying to. If they take wing at this first
sight, then the act of rising should bring them into sight of a line of
men covering every point that they are not desired to make for. Local
conditions may alter all this, as it may be that grouse have a constant
flight, and take it however they are flushed, but generally they have
not. The means stated generally resolves itself into a quarter-circle of
beaters on the most down-wind side of a cross-wind beat, attached to a
straight line of beaters in the centre and upon the most up-wind side of
the beat, so that the men farthest down wind are the most advanced. On
the other hand, when the drive is direct to the guns with a full wind,
the line of beaters will have two horns each well advanced on either
side, unless local conditions make one side dangerous and the other not
so. Generally they do. The desired flight may or may not be at first in
the direction of the line of shooters. The first object may be
concentration, either in the air or on the ground. In the first case,
the grouse having been got to go towards a concentration point in their
flight, are gradually turned to the guns by men who are set at danger
points, and either show themselves to or are seen by the grouse at that
exact proximity that the sight of the unexpected will have most effect
in turning them. It is a curious fact that when flag-men are seen at a
long distance ahead of them, the grouse may or may not swerve in their
flight, but seen suddenly when so near as to leave just more than enough
time for turning before the impetus has carried them over the head of
the man with the flag, they turn off instead of merely swerving.
Consequently, the men who are set to turn grouse are a law to
themselves. They show themselves at the psychological moment, according
to the speed of the grouse. Only a very little is required to turn a
slow up-wind pack of grouse, whereas very much will sometimes not turn
fast down-wind birds. This turning the birds from the point towards
which they are driven is often necessary. Thus grouse may not be willing
to drive in another direction, or to drive otherwise might be to lose
the birds for the day, and to have the butts where the turn in the
flight occurs might be to allow the majority to go straight on into some
other moor, not to be seen again that day, if ever.

When birds are, or can be, collected or concentrated upon the ground, it
is much more simple. It is difficult then to make everything go right,
but it does not require quite the Napoleon of tactics that the other
method does. Obviously the concentration of grouse upon the ground
implies a larger beat than in the other case—one in which the natural
flight of the grouse will induce them to settle before they get within
sight of the butts. This concentration and settlement of the birds
enables a new formation of drivers to be made, for the collection of the
birds may have caused driving right away from the butts in the first
instance, and in most cases not directly towards them. The object of all
driving is not only to put as many grouse as possible within range of
the guns, but the more important part is that of keeping on the moor all
those grouse that go by the butts, to be used again and again the same

Another way of driving grouse is based upon the same principle, except
that the driving is simple, because the beats are short and direct to
the guns. In this case natural common sense is much more effective than
in the other two, which must depend upon local knowledge almost
entirely. But in all cases men to turn the grouse if they try to break
out have to be employed, and they are of no use unless they perfectly
understand what the grouse will do under every circumstance that may
arise. Some of these men are so clever that when shooters in the butts
are watching the operations and believe the big pack has broken out,
they suddenly see it turn and head straight to them. Then the gunners
recognise that the “pointsman,” if the simile is admissible, knows his
business better than they know it; for it is clear from their anxiety
that they in a similar situation would have shown themselves too soon,
and that the flag-man has timed the occasion as accurately as a railway
pointsman switches a train on to another line of metals. The short
driving system may be exemplified by Lord Walsingham’s great
performance, when he got 1070 grouse to his own gun in the day in 20
short drives on a 2200 acre moor. The long drive system may be
exemplified by the first drive in the day at Mr. Rimington Wilson’s
Broomhead moor, where 6 drives in the day is the outside limit.

There is a great deal of difference of opinion upon the best form of
grouse butt, and some difference upon the best distances apart for them.
But these are not abstract questions, although in conversation and books
they are treated as if they were. Much depends upon the manner of
driving. When the birds are brought from a distance and concentrated, it
is clear that they cannot have got used to the sight of the butts on the
ground to which they are forced. On the other hand, in short drives the
birds are practically never off their own ground, and consequently get
used to the butts, however conspicuous they are, and do not fear them.
In this case nothing seems to be better than the horseshoe-shaped butt
built up of turfs with heather growing on the top. Slight modifications
of the horseshoe formation are best made when the butts are used
alternately to shoot grouse driven from opposite directions. It is then
well that the entrance should be an over-lap of one end.

But where grouse are brought off their own ground, and are not used to
the sight of peat cutters and their temporary stacking of the peat, it
seems that sunk butts are of the most value. The latter are much the
more costly to make, because they require draining at a depth of 3 or 4
feet below the surface. The manner of making these sunk butts is not to
excavate to the full height of a shooter’s gun arm, but to use the turf
taken out of a partial excavation for making a gradual slope up bank
close to the pit, a foot or two above the surrounding surface—the object
being that the bank thus made should look like a natural heather bank,
and not present a black surface of peats to the sight of approaching
grouse. The biggest bags ever made have been obtained with the upright
peat butts; but The Mackintosh, who has had the largest day’s bag in
Scotland, prefers sunk butts.

The latter gentleman also puts his butts nearer together than anyone
else. The nearest are about 15 yards apart. This would not suit most
people. Possibly, though, this too greatly depends upon the nature of
the driving. Twenty yards apart may be far enough for very high
pheasants, and may prevent two guns shooting at one bird. If grouse
happened to be equally high, as some ground might easily make them, the
danger of shooting other’s birds would be lessened, and butts could with
advantage be nearer together than where the grouse flew low. In the
beginning of driving, butts were built 80 yards apart, now they are
usually made at 50 yards intervals. Low flying grouse, going half-way
between butts 80 yards apart, cannot be dealt with; their nearest point
to a gun is 40 yards, but at the moment when they are between the butts
they cannot be safely shot at, and before they get there they are out of

No doubt most missing of driven grouse is caused by shooting at them too
far away. This is the greatest fault of the novice. The next most
productive source of missing is shooting under coming birds and over
those that have passed the butts. After this, failure to allow enough
ahead of fast birds, to compensate for their movement while the shot is
going up, is the next most productive of missing, and shooting too much
in front of slow up-wind birds runs it hard.

Beating for grouse with dogs is usually done by going to the leeward end
of the day’s beat and then walking at right angles with the wind, and
turning into it at every march to the shooting, or boundary to the beat.
This, however, is a rule that has to be honoured by its breach, in the
hill districts particularly. Thus, when beating across the wind means
that one has to rise and sink at an angle of 45 degrees every time, such
a method has to give way. It also often happens when a fair breeze is
blowing that to start beating up wind near a boundary march means that
every bird will circle round and be carried by the wind out of bounds.
Then the rule again breaks down. The object is to drive the birds that
are not shot into ground to be beaten in the afternoon. This is best
done by an up-wind beat of the zigzag order when the wind is light, and
by a down-wind beat, starting from the windward march, when the wind is
fairly high, but not so high as to carry the game over the leeward
march. It usually happens that wind sinks about four o’clock in the
afternoon, or before. If this happens, it is a good plan to draw off and
go round to begin again at the leeward side of the ground into which the
morning birds have been driven. The majority of the Welsh moors are so
flat that they can be beaten in any direction, like those of Caithness,
but the Highland moors are as steep as the Welsh hills are before you
reach the heather ground. After you are once up in Wales, the walking is
easy in all directions. The Highland hills are very like those of Wales,
but with this great difference, the rises from the Scotch valleys are
clothed with heather and are the best grouse ground. In Wales this rise
is grass and fern-clad sheep farms, and often takes half a day’s work,
counting work as human energy, to surmount before shooting begins. For
this reason Providence created the Welsh pony.

The grouse have a very curious habit in the wet weather of affecting the
wettest and wildest parts of the moorland. Then, and only at that time,
you may find them mostly on the flat floe ground, where every foot of
peat is a miniature island, and where there is no shelter whatever from
the storm. This is probably because the grouse do not mind rain upon
them, but do very much mind brushing the wet heather with their
feathers. At such times grouse are generally wild, for they will not
“squat” and hide, but run very much. Then they usually have very good
scent, the dogs find and point them a long way, and then draw on and on
after them as the grouse run ahead. It is nevertheless just possible to
get good shooting by two guns going well ahead, very wide of the dogs,
and coming back to meet the point. It is the sun, not the wind or the
wet, that makes grouse hide in the heather, and probably the reason is
that they were originally an Arctic species, and can stand cold better
than very hot sun. In support of this view it may be said that grouse
disease seems to disappear in very cold weather, and moreover the red
grouse are, in everything but feather colouring and the white moult of
winter, the same as the willow grouse—an obviously Arctic race.

Amongst the methods of killing grouse that have almost died out are
first “becking,” second “kiting,” third “carting,” fourth shooting them
upon the stooks, and a variety of other devices for which the gun was
not used, such as snaring and netting.

Some of these methods of shooting had a great deal to recommend them.
First of all, “becking” is the art of hiding and the skill of calling
the grouse in the early morning, when this proud bird, exulting in his
superabundance of energy, rises into the air and crows defiance. He is
quite ready for battle, although it may not be the breeding season; for
they “beck” in August, as the author has often seen and heard through an
open window as he lay in bed waiting for the first breakfast-bell. The
loss of “becking” is the loss of an automatic destruction of the most
unfit, namely the old cocks, which are the only birds that will accept
the autumnal challenge, and come to make things hot for an unseen rival,
whose unrecognised voice sounds as if he had no right there.

“Kiting” has little to recommend it, except that it too is an automatic
preservation of the hens. They for the most part will not lie under the
kite, but make off at its first appearance upon the horizon. The
stronger and bolder cocks seem to delay matters until the thing gets
right above them, and then they too become scared, but dare not rise.
Thus they get kicked up and shot when the dogs can find them, which is
not always. When they are up, they twist under the kite like a snipe,
and are then more difficult to kill than by any other sporting method;
for they not only have a snipe’s twist, but about double their own usual
pace, exhibiting what the falcon will show any day of the week—that when
we think birds in a drive are doing their level best they are in reality
taking things easy. The writer has shot at driven grouse with a falcon
in actual chase. The grouse was seen to be approaching some distance,
perhaps 50 yards, before it crossed. There was no time to shoot in
front, and upon turning round it was seen that both grouse and falcon
were already out of range, but there was a high wind blowing at the time
this happened on the “tops” at Farr, in Inverness-shire.

“Carting” grouse is a poaching trick, based upon the knowledge that the
birds take very little notice of a cart, even when they will rise a
quarter of a mile away from a man on foot. The shooting is done from the

Shooting grouse on the stooks has only this in its favour: it pleases
the farmers. It is a butchery of those killed and a waste of many
wounded. But to hide up and shoot grouse as they come into the
oat-fields, whether uncut or in stook, is good sport. The birds do not
usually travel as fast as in grouse driving, but they are quite as
difficult, because they come so unexpectedly and silently. To make the
best work, it does not do to trust to hiding behind a wall, or on the
other side of a stook, because the grouse are as likely to come from one
direction as the other. The best plan is to build a grouse butt with the
oat stooks, in order that the shooter may straighten his back; for
nobody is so expert as to be able to shoot well from a crouching
position, although kneeling is just possible, and most uncomfortable.

Another form of grouse shooting used to be called “gruffing” in
Yorkshire. It was common everywhere, although it may not have a name
elsewhere. The method was for a single gun to approach hillocks on the
shady side and walk round them to the sunny side, when grouse that had
long become too wild to approach openly would often lie and afford good
easy marks by this method. This is only workable on nice sunny days, and
only practicable as late as October and November between 10 a.m. and 2

There is a wet-day method by which the author has killed a good many
grouse. It is with a retriever to walk the roads that traverse the
moors, or, better still, to ride a shooting pony along them. The wildest
grouse will sometimes take no notice of a passenger along the well
recognised roads, and they must be very unreasonable indeed if they mind
a mounted man. Your retriever will find all the grouse on the windward
side of the roads, and they will generally rise within shot. Why they
should affect the roadsides in wet weather is not so easily explained,
but probably it is that they prefer to sit on the roads themselves,
where their feathers are not in contact with wet heather. If so, they
just move off in time not to be seen by the coming traveller.

It has been said that grouse lie better to a black-and-tan and to a red
setter than to parti-coloured dogs in which white prevails. There is no
truth in this in a general way. After white dogs have been used until
grouse will no longer lie, they will often lie to either a black-and-tan
or a red dog, but only for a day, and only a few of them for that short
addition to the length of the dogging season.

Possibly they take the black-and-tan for a collie, and the red dog for a
fox. On one occasion the author saw grouse treat a red dog in a way
extraordinary anywhere, except in the west and north of Scotland and in
Ireland; but this was in the Lowlands of Scotland, where the grouse were
wild by instinct. The birds were seen to be standing up in front of the
pointing Irishman and flicking their tails in his face, and even when
the dog drew on they merely just kept their distance, still flicking
their tails. There was not the slightest attempt at hiding. Probably
this is the method they have when approached by a fox; it differs
greatly from the behaviour of the average grouse before the man and the
ordinary dog. Then crouching and creeping are characteristics of the
race, unless they are of the wild sort, when standing up to look for an
enemy is habitual, and flying upon sight is characteristic.

[Since writing the foregoing remarks, Mr. Charles Christie, of Strathdon
Estate Office, has very kindly, with the assent of Sir Charles Forbes,
made a search for the oft misquoted records of the Delnadamph bag of
1872. The bag was 7000 birds, not brace, and 1314 brace of these were
killed over dogs in five days by four guns, whose best effort resulted
in 435 brace. The guns were Lord Dunmore, Lord Newport (now Lord
Bradford), Mr. George Forbes, and the late Sir Charles John Forbes.

Sir Charles Forbes’ Edinglassie moor yielded 8081 birds in 1900.

Probably the record bag over dogs was the 10,600 grouse killed at
Glenbuchat in 1872, where Mr. James W. Barclay (the owner) very kindly
informs the author that driving was not started until after that year,
whereas the greater number were killed by that plan at Delnadamph in


At the present time there are in operation many more ways of preserving
partridges than ever before. Indeed, the history of preserving these
birds up to about 1860 could hardly be written for lack of material. For
some strange reason, at the period when stubbles were cut long (and the
author has shot in them a foot high as lately as 1870), and when
partridges sat so close to the points of dogs that to all appearances
they could have been easily exterminated, they nevertheless seemed to
require no artificial assistance, and even no designed limitation of the
reduction to the breeding stock. Perhaps it was that the close crouching
of the birds in good covert was the natural method of assuring safety,
and it may be that birds that could escape detection by the dogs could
also escape it by the foxes and the vermin.

The wilder the game is, and the more it runs, the more scent it gives
out to denote its presence to dogs; and with guns ahead, the birds that
flush wild do not escape in driving, so that increase of wildness is not
all in favour of the game even upon shooting days, and for the other 360
days of the year may possibly be against them, and in favour of the
vermin that hunts by smell.

Whether this protection by the wits assists birds on their nests at all,
and if so, as much as the loss of scent does, is too wide a question to
enter upon here. It is only necessary to remark upon that subject that
partridge preservation is to be divided, broadly speaking, into two
systems: first, that which protects birds against foxes; second, that
which is not called upon to add this heavy duty to the keeper’s ordinary

Roughly generalising, it is only in Norfolk and Suffolk where the
keepers are not troubled with the fox question, and consequently it is
only there that partridges can be safely left alone to find their own
salvation. But this system can go too far even in those favoured
counties, and naturally we find energetic shooters who try all round,
declaring that Norfolk and Suffolk are “played out.” As a matter of
fact, the very ease of preservation in those counties has done them a
great deal of comparative injury, because, while they have been going
back, or at least standing still, other counties have been going ahead
in a wonderful manner. Probably the progress made in Nottinghamshire,
Hampshire, Wiltshire, and Cambridgeshire is far greater than anything
done in the Eastern Counties, compared with what the respective stocks
were in those districts twenty-five years ago.

The first phenomenal partridge preservation and the first break away
from the system of letting birds preserve themselves occurred at Elvedon
in the sixties of last century. Then large numbers of partridges were
reared by hand on that estate, and at the same time, or a little later,
a great many people began to rear partridges by hand. One of these was
Lord Ducie, in Oxfordshire. The plan adopted there was to exchange
pheasants’ eggs for those of partridges with anyone who would bring the
latter; consequently, it may be said that Lord Ducie was one of the
first men to prefer partridge shooting to covert shooting. Now, on the
contrary, a very great many people set the partridge up as the first
game bird, and his popularity is growing.

But to return to the hand rearing of partridges: the difficulty of this
business is twofold. First, it is generally believed that the birds must
be fed with ants’ eggs to make a success. Second, it is asserted that
tame bred partridges “pack,” and that without old birds to lead them
these packs are likely to travel for miles and be lost to those to whom
they belong.

The first charge against hand rearing is not exactly true, because Lord
Ducie’s keeper succeeded in rearing large quantities of partridges
without the use of ants’ eggs. The author as a boy and in an amateurish
way reared birds about the same period, but by the use of ants’ eggs,
and consequently that experience does not go for much, because there is
no difficulty in the task where plenty of these insects are to be found
to feed the birds entirely for the first six weeks.

The trouble arises when there are some ants’ eggs but not enough to go
round, for this food has the effect of setting the young birds against
everything else. Lord Ducie’s partridges were mainly fed upon meal of
some kind, although the writer forgets what it was. Another precaution
that was taken was to distribute the coops very widely along the sides
of corn-fields, and there is no doubt that this plan obliged the birds
to hunt for insect food at a much earlier age than if they had been kept
upon ants’ eggs. Unfortunately, the chicks will not eat the ants
themselves; otherwise the getting of ant-hills to cart to the birds
would go three times as far as it does, for there are generally twice as
many wingless ants as there are eggs to every nest.

The second charge against these tame birds is that they grow too wild in
packs and fly right away, and this is a fact beyond all dispute.
However, it has been said that cock partridges will sometimes take to
young birds reared by hens, if the bachelor partridges are themselves
penned in the neighbourhood when the little chicks are first carried
from the sitting boxes to the coops. There appears here to be a possible
future for hand rearing without its old disadvantage of packing.
Probably most people will think that the cock partridge is better
occupied in assisting his own proper mate to raise the very big coveys
that are now manufactured by the joint efforts of birds and keepers.

This partnership arrangement came about when the keeper at The Grange
discovered how easy it was, with proper precautions, to make up the
nests of _sitting_ partridges to 20 or more eggs. The result of this was
that, although eggs had for many years been changed during the laying
period, to effect cross breeding, it now became possible to employ the
partridges themselves to do the work of foster-mothers—a vocation that
farmyard hens had only half performed hitherto, and done their part
badly. All destroyed nests, as well as those that looked likely to be
destroyed, could now have their eggs hatched without the intervention of
those fowls that always want to start laying again just as they are most
desired to keep their foster game chicks from “sowing wild oats.”

Obviously The Grange plan would not have been of much use had not a very
careful record been kept of when each bird began to sit; for it was
necessary that eggs added after the laying season should only be those
in precisely the same advanced state of incubation as those already in
the nest. Someone has said that the cock bird goes off with the first
chicks hatched, and leaves the hen to manage the other eggs; but this is
not so, and if added eggs are twenty-four hours behind the others they
will generally be left unhatched in the nest.

Probably all the great partridge estates have advanced as far as this.
It marks the time at Holkham in the north of Norfolk as well as Orwell
Park in the south of Suffolk. But although these two estates are hard to
beat in the matter of big days, the partridge yield is not the highest
per acre on either of these celebrated estates, and never has been. At
Holkham about 8000 birds on 12,000 acres is the most that has been done.
At Orwell 6000 birds upon 18,000 acres is not regarded as bad. Both of
these estates are considered the best possible land for partridges, and
both of them have also the advantage that foxes are particularly scarce
in the districts of Norfolk and Suffolk. No Hungarian birds have ever
been used at Holkham, although eggs are exchanged for fresh blood. At
Orwell this method is also practised, and as many as 1000 eggs in a
season have been obtained from Cumberland and Hampshire, by exchange
with Sir R. Graham and Lord Ashburton. Nests are made up to 20 eggs at
Orwell, and occasionally eggs are placed under hens until hatched, when
the young birds are given to old partridges on the point of hatching
out. But here the appearance of the old sitting birds is relied upon to
indicate when that time comes. Thus, when two partridges are seen
sitting on the same nest, it is taken for granted that the egg-chipping
stage has been reached.

Holkham has been the most famous partridge estate for a century, but
much of this fame is owing to the fact that it is a very large estate,
naturally well suited for game, and especially for partridges. Besides
this, it was one of the first upon which partridge driving was
practised, and this method seems to have raised the stock by double. At
the same time, the system of only using the same beat once in the season
limits the kill enormously.

This estate has beaten all previous records for a single day’s shooting
by a bag of 1671 birds in 1905. Naturally the thought at once occurs
that the Holkham _must_ be the best system; but when we understand that
this beat is made upon 2000 acres in 20 drives to 8 guns, and that this
is the total season’s bag of the very best beat in the very best
partridge land in England, and remember also that on 8000 acres of the
best land only 4749 birds were bagged as the whole season’s work, but
all in four days, the question arises, What would Holkham do in the
season if it were subjected to the most modern methods of preservation?

Another splendid estate for game, and one similar to Holkham in size and
dryness of land, is Euston. The Duke of Grafton has in a letter to the
_Times_ repudiated the idea that partridges are preserved at Euston by
the plan adopted there for pheasants. On the contrary, the partridge
preserving at Euston has been of the same character as elsewhere in
Norfolk and Suffolk. The ill-named “Euston plan” was not wanted there
for partridges, and was applied only to pheasants, and to them not as
has been very often described. The great difference between the Euston
pheasant system and the latest method with partridges, erroneously
described and applied to Euston, is that in the case of pheasants at
Euston the birds are not kept sitting on sham or bad eggs while their
own are being incubated. They are, according to the Duke’s letter,
allowed to sit on their own eggs, and when the latter are chipping they
are given more eggs in the same forward condition—such eggs as have been
picked up out of destroyed nests.

The system that is not employed at Euston, then, either for partridges
or pheasants, is that in which the period of incubating is _shortened_
for the wild bird by picking up all her eggs as laid and incubating them
under barndoor poultry.

By this latter plan the period of incubation of any individual bird can
be pretty nearly what the keeper wishes it to be, and its length will
greatly depend upon the number of foxes, the nature of the soil, and the
situation of the nests. The success of this system on Mr. Pearson
Gregory’s property in the great fox-hunting county of Lincolnshire was
perhaps the origin of ill-naming the plan after Euston, and came about
because of Mr. Pearson Gregory’s tenancy of Euston.

That the minor assistance should have enabled 6000 wild pheasants to be
killed at Euston per annum is sufficiently remarkable, and is a fact due
to the objection of the Duke of Grafton to hand rearing, and to the
initiative of the clever Euston keeper, who found a middle course that
turned out even better than hand rearing. But in the absence of foxes,
as Lord Granby has remarked, the soil breeds game at Euston, and it is
not to be supposed that the same system would suffice either upon a clay
soil where rain could drown out the nests or where foxes abound. For
such districts the essence of the new plan is the shortening of the
incubating period, or the “clear” egg system. The clear eggs used are
necessarily, and unobjectionably, pheasants’ eggs, as those of
partridges should not exist, and when they do exist are discovered too
late to be of any use for that season.

It was probably in the Newmarket district of Cambridgeshire where the
system of the short incubation period for partridges was first put into
practice; for, as has been observed, there is no such great need of it
in the sandy soils of Norfolk and Suffolk, which drain themselves, and
besides have not to contend with foxes. Possibly Stetchworth was one of
the first, if not the actual first, estate where it became a recognised
practice to take eggs and keep the birds sitting upon clear pheasants’
eggs until a number of 25 partridges’ eggs were chipped and ready to
place under the sitting bird, which might have been sitting but ten days
instead of the usual twenty-four. On various occasions this plan has
been described as if it were new, and an emergency plan, at Stetchworth
in 1905; but that is by no means the case, as it is the plan by which
the most hostile forces of nature in the shape of bad seasons have been
rendered comparatively harmless. Any plan that permits bags of about 500
birds and upwards per day to be made for many days, and in spite of such
seasons as the last five, three of which were wet and the fourth and
fifth bad with thunderstorms, must be wonderful.

Not content with the short incubation system, Lord Ellesmere has tried
every other at Stetchworth. Hungarian partridges in small quantities
have been attempted, and also the French system of preservation by
pairing birds in pens. When the author last heard about the latter
system, the results were not to be compared for a moment with those of
the real wild birds assisted by the short incubation plan.

Another place where all the systems have been tried (except the French,
as far as is known to the writer) is Rushmore, in Wilts, where Mr. Glen
Kidston has achieved a revolution in partridge preservation and vermin
killing. He is a believer in making it the keeper’s business to keep
down rats, and as a matter of fact that is another lesson that Norfolk
and Suffolk might learn from less naturally favoured counties. Where
this business is left to the farmers it is not properly done. As the
keepers have killed nearly 5000 rats in a season at Rushmore, it goes
without saying how the partridges’ eggs would have fared had these
horrible creatures been left to raid upon them. Unquestionably the
greatest service that keepers can ever do to farmers is to keep down
rats. Hand rearing and Hungarian eggs have been largely employed at
Rushmore, where there are plenty of ants’ eggs for all comers, and
plenty of space in which to distribute the partridge coops in
turnip-fields, and it is said not close enough together to make
“packing” a thing to be feared.

The principle that numbers bring disease is not feared at Rushmore, for
although as many as 1200 hand-reared birds were lost in a few days in
1904, the next season saw better results than ever.

The Duke of Portland has converted his Welbeck property of light
limestone subsoil into a great partridge district, and has employed
large quantities of Hungarian birds to effect the change, having turned
out as many as 1200 birds at one time. Like Rushmore, the Duke’s
property is not well watered, and there is no doubt whatever that
running or stagnant water is not necessary to young partridges when at
large. At any rate, there are a number of very fine partridge estates on
which it would be quite impossible for the birds to drink, except the
dew, until they were able to delight in flights of three-parts of a
mile. At Moulton Paddocks, near Newmarket, Mr. F. E. R. Fryer, who is as
admirable as a preserver as he is as a shot, supplies pans of water in
his fields for the partridges. He adjoins those great shootings of
Chippenham and Cheveley, and as he has scored nearly 1½ birds to the
acre, or 700 birds on 500 acres in the year, his management must be
beyond reproach. That is more than twice as many birds per acre as at
Lord Leicester’s fine place, Holkham; but then with such neighbours as
Mr. Fryer has, it is a less difficult task to keep a very high stock on
a small than upon a large place.

In Oxfordshire, Mr. J. F. Mason, of Eynsham Hall, has reverted to the
system that his neighbour Lord Ducie practised in the Chipping Norton
district in the sixties of last century. That is, he breeds large
quantities of partridges by hand; but the wet destroyed his chances in

In Scotland, Sir John Gladstone has had admirable success with Hungarian
eggs, and Sir William Gordon Cumming has tried the French system on a
larger scale than most people. At Stetchworth the partridge keepers have
no pheasant rearing to do; and of course this is the case where there
are no pheasants reared by hand, as at Euston in Suffolk and Honingham
in Norfolk. At the latter place, Mr. Fellowes, lately Minister of
Agriculture and a great farmer, makes his estate of 4500 acres yield
nearly 3000 partridges, and also 1200 _wild bred_ pheasants. In the New
Forest, Lord Montague manages to kill about 4000 more pheasants than he
rears by hand, and there is no doubt that the latest phase of
preservation is directly opposite to that of ten and fifteen years ago,
when the keepers did everything possible for the pheasants and
practically nothing for the partridges.

Crosses with the Mongolian pheasants have been tried in many places, and
they are everywhere reported easy to rear,—some people have said as easy
as chickens,—but they have not been tried, as far as is known to the
author, in the wild state, and whether the ease of rearing by hand will
be confirmed in that state of nature will make very much difference to
the future of pheasant preserving. On the other hand, several people
have reported that the cross-bred Mongolian birds drive away the common
birds from the food, and for this reason they will not be continued in
at least one quarter. At the same time, they are said to fly higher than
the birds we have already, but that again is not much of a
recommendation, since our pheasants can be made to fly high enough by
judicious handling, and no pheasants will fly high unless circumstances
compel them to do so.

The author believes that the map system of partridge preservation was
originated by Marlow, the keeper at The Grange, in Hampshire, and it is
entirely due to this plan that the Euston system with the pheasants, and
the short incubation system with partridges, as practised at
Stetchworth, was made possible. The map is an important item in the
organisation of preservation on this last-named estate, where, amongst
other eggs that are carried out to partridges sitting on unfertile
pheasants’ eggs, are a number of chipped Hungarian partridges’ eggs.
This plan of mixing the Hungarian eggs with those of the home birds is
the best and surest way of effecting a cross of blood in the following

It would not be wise to compare Stetchworth bags with those of Holkham,
because the conditions are so different. At the former a day consists of
a dozen drives, at the latter of about 22, or that was the number when
the record 4749 in four days was made. Then Lord Leicester and Lord Coke
appear to select guns for their deadliness, whereas Lord Ellesmere
generally has a family party. Besides this, probably few people would
consider the soil of The Six Mile Bottom district, which is the
adjoining shooting to Lord Ellesmere’s Stetchworth property, to be equal
to that of Norfolk and Suffolk as natural game country. At any rate,
even in the 1905 dry year, a great many partridges were driven off their
nests by a three days’ rain and deserted, some of them entirely, others
only for a few days. Here the system was equal to the occasion, for
those that came back to the clear pheasants’ eggs were given chipped
partridges’ eggs to go off with, and those that did not had only
deserted bad pheasants’ eggs in some cases, and when it was otherwise
the keepers were there to save the situation, for the nests and their
low situations were indicated on the map.

It has been shown above that even hand rearing cannot be relied upon, as
in Oxfordshire, to save the situation in spite of adverse elements; but
the latest phase of partridge preserving is a combination of three
methods—namely, 1st, the introduction of Hungarians; 2nd, the French
system; and 3rd, artificial incubation. It has often been affirmed that
the French system has failed badly in this country, but probably that is
entirely due to want of carefulness in matters of the smallest detail.
At any rate, Sir William Gordon Cumming makes each penned pair of
Hungarians produce an average of 19 young. This is so remarkable and so
satisfactory that it must be related in detail. In the first place, the
matrimonial relations are never forced, but those birds that have
refused to mate in the big pens where they have been since November are
turned loose. The affections of the others having been under
observation, each pair is removed to a circular pen of 27 feet diameter.
It has been observed that when a hen bird dies the cock will generally
take on her duties. The success obtained by this method of only three
years’ standing is already quite wonderful, and the season of 1905
resulted in doubling the bags, and also in a much larger breeding stock
being left. Sir William Gordon Cumming believes that given good weather
the bag will again be doubled, so that there is reason to believe that
there is, after all, no “best” about the new systems, but that a
combination of all may be better than any. Sir William Cumming adds that
after doubling his bag two years in succession he has left in the second
more birds to breed than he usually commences the shooting season with.

The following are explanatory letters from Sir W. Gordon Cumming and his

                                                   “ALTYRE, FORRES, N.B.
                                                       “26. 1. 06

“DEAR SIR,—I have adopted what is called the ‘French system’ of
partridge rearing for the last two years. Formerly I used to buy 20
couple of Hungarians and turn them loose at different parts of my
estate. I could see no appreciable difference in the result. I have now
built a pen, 40 by 60 yards, into which I turn 60 couple Hungarians male
and female in equal (?) proportions about the middle of November. A man
is told off to feed and look after them. The birds are ‘brailed’ before
being put in—_i.e._, a small specially constructed strap confines some
of the upper wings—sufficient to prevent flight. The pen is supplied
with gravel, bushes, water, etc., turfed 3 feet all round, and
plentifully trapped outside. Rats and cats are to be dreaded. About the
pairing-time the man in charge is constantly on the watch for any couple
who appear to be inclined to matrimony—it is a mistake to think that any
two birds will marry, they are extremely particular on the point, and
many remain celibates altogether. Any amorous couple is quietly herded
into one of two pens which are in the enclosure, and at once transferred
to a separate establishment, where are some 30 small circular pens,
about 27 feet in diameter, and there they reside till eggs result. The
first lot of eggs is usually transferred to a hen; the next batch is
looked after by the partridges themselves; occasionally a hen dies, when
the cock will nearly always take up her duties. Any birds that refuse to
pair are simply turned out. I calculate we averaged 19 young birds to
every couple so treated last season. I commenced serious shooting late
in September, and more than doubled my bag of last season, leaving on
November 10, 1905, a larger stock of birds at expiration of the shooting
season than I have usually commenced with. Of course we are largely
dependent on fine weather at the time of hatching, and have been very
lucky the last two years. If the fortune continues this year, I expect
to nearly double my bag of last year. I have probably given you some
information of which you are already quite aware. If I have neglected
any point, I shall be glad to write you further; or if you would like to
communicate with Mr. Bell, Gordonstoun, Elgin, N.B., my head keeper, he
would doubtless be able to make clear certain points that do not strike
me at present. I may mention that I have taken almost entirely to
driving birds—a system rarely, if ever, adopted on many estates
elsewhere in the neighbourhood hitherto, and with marked success within
a sporting view, and as regards result of the day. But we have much to
learn in this respect, and I think a little more experience would have
been beneficial in many ways.

“My Hungarians are supplied by Major C. Ker Fox, and have always turned
up in good condition; any found dead or weakly on arrival, he readily
replaces. I have shot Hungarian birds in their own country, and never
thought I could detect any difference between them and our own: last
year’s batch, however, were much redder in colour than any I have
previously seen.—Yours very faithfully,

                                            “(Signed) W. GORDON CUMMING”

                                                   “GORDONSTOUN, ELGIN
                                                     “_Sept. 29th, 1906_


“SIR,—As regards our method of increasing partridges, I will try and
explain, and answer your questions as well as I can. I have no
hesitation in saying to get up a large stock our system is the best. I
say this after many years’ experience with partridges.

“1. Do I pick up first-laid eggs? _No_, unless she lays more than 24,
then I reserve them for another nest; sometimes I allow them 26, not

“2. Yes, she would lay again; but I believe strongly in early chicks.
[This is an answer to a question as to whether the hen would lay again
after beginning to sit.—The Author.]

“3. I don’t take them gradually, or at any time, unless they lay 30 or
40, as they sometimes do; then I take them after they have laid 24, or
not until they sit or brood.

“4. Our success this season (1906) is almost 19 to the brood.

“5. I have not tried an unpaired cock partridge to take chicks, but I
think he will, as the ones I tried had lost their partners long before I
tried them: this was always successful.

“6. How to obtain the average turn-out of chicks. Some birds lay more
than they are able to hatch; these eggs are given to barndoor fowls
along with other eggs that are laid outside, by wild birds, on roadsides
and dangerous places: these eggs are given to the fowls _only_ on the
_days_ that the _partridges_ in the _pens_ start to _brood_, so that
they hatch out at the _same time_. Say one hen broods June 1st, you can
make her up in the way I have stated by setting 4 or 6 eggs on the same
date under a fowl, according to the number (as you like) the partridge
has. You can put more eggs in below fowl next day, if 3 or 4 partridges
have then brooded. This is the great advantage: there is no waste of
eggs on a partridge estate. I could turn out 30 chicks to the brood,
only I think 18 or 20 quite sufficient. Without outside help at all,
with eggs that are over-laid in pens, the coveys will easily run from 16
to 18 to a brood. This is not a hay-growing place, but if any nests were
going to be spoiled by the cutting of hay they can all be put to account
by this system.

“In wet weather you can turn out chicks on dry ground.

“On large estates I would give each keeper 10 or 12 pens for the paired
birds; this would give them an interest, and greatly help their show on
shooting days.

“Sir William must have grasped a wrong idea about me taking away her
[partridge’s] first consignment of eggs. I interfere as little as
possible with them and their nests at that time. To take away their
first eggs would throw them too late; this would mean probably three
weeks later, or thereabouts.

“When I said I have had a large experience with partridges I did not
mean in this system, but I have always been among partridges and have
seen lots of plans tried, but I am convinced this is the best.—I remain,
same time sir, your obedient servant,

                                                  “(Signed) ROBERT BELL”

One word must be added to the above letters: it is not safe to rely on
imported Hungarian, and home produced, partridges’ eggs hatching in the
same number of days; the former will often take the longer.

                       PARTRIDGE BAGS AND DRIVING

In the foregoing chapter it has been shown to what point the greatest
bag of partridges in a day has arrived in England. But more than double
the number of these birds has been killed in one day in Bohemia. The
biggest bag there has been 4000 in one day. The method of preserving
adopted there is to make an outlying estate serve as an assistance to an
inner preserved portion. But it is not, as has been thought, to catch up
birds and bring them in for a day’s shooting, as was done by Baron
Hirsch in Hungary. The birds may be caught up and brought in to breed,
or the eggs from outlying ground may be brought in to fill up nests. In
either case that is merely the English plan; but the author is assured
that where the biggest bags are made no removal of coveys in the
shooting season has occurred. The birds are fed in the winter, and
herein lies the principal difference between our own and the Continental
system of preservation. The snow there lies for weeks, and to keep the
birds alive wheat is given to them; but the Hungarian and Bohemian
preserves conclusively upset one notion that has got firm hold in this
country. They beat us very easily in partridge productiveness, and they
do it without driving. Of course Baron Hirsch’s big bags were made by
driving, but his was a system foreign to the country, and has been
fairly beaten by different methods that are generally employed. The big
bags are mostly made by a system of walking up the partridges in the
corn. The author, then, is constrained to look for other than driving
reasons for the increase of partridges, and he wholly agrees with Mr.
Charles Alington in saying that the reason driving increases partridges
is because preservers who drive the birds are not satisfied with the
stocks of partridges that previously did satisfy them. They cannot have
any shooting at all unless there are enough birds to give a day to half
a dozen friends; whereas before one covey gave sport, and would be
followed all day by a couple of guns, until only its remnant was left to
stock a farm or an estate. The author also agrees with Mr. Alington in
saying that it is not because old birds are killed by driving that this
system succeeds. Even where driving is practised, the keepers on some
estates net the birds after the shooting season in order to break the
necks of the old cocks and let off the young birds, which is quite
enough proof that driving is not an automatic selection of old cocks.
The latter should be killed, for the reason, that they occupy for
themselves five or ten times the ground that will satisfy a young pair
of birds. On one of these netting expeditions, Coggins, the clever head
keeper at Acton Reynold, caught a woodcock, so that even a night bird
may make a mistake in its most wakeful hours.

Mr. Alington described how one pair of very old partridges took sole
possession of a fence and made their nest, which, by him, old birds are
supposed to make earlier than young ones. He had these two birds
destroyed, and then there were ten nests made in that fence. This
partridge shooter also believes that no partridge lays before 10.30
a.m., and that she lays every day, and an hour or so later in the day
with every egg. Probably this is not a fixed rule. It would involve a
midnight egg, or a day missed, when there was a full nest to be laid.

Then it has been said that it is the “packing,” after driving, that does
the good, of course by initiating cross breeding; but for forty years at
least gamekeepers have been changing eggs from nest to nest and from
estate to estate, so that packing would be merely re-mixing those that
had already been separated by the gamekeepers.

The greatest assistance given by driving is probably the greater freedom
from wounds of the driven bird. The old bad days, when we killed all the
birds that would lie, and shot at all the others, were bad, because
there was no other way of getting a bag of wild birds; but probably if
nobody had ever tried to do so there would have been plenty of
partridges. In other words, it was bad shooting that destroyed the
stock. But more than this, partridge driving is liked; it has caused
much greater attention to be paid to the partridge than ever before,
because it is so much better sport than turnip-trotting, and so much
more bag-filling than shooting over the majority of show-bred or
show-dog crossed pointers and setters. It takes a very good dog indeed
to please in a turnip-field and to render it unnecessary to form line to
beat up the partridges. Besides that, driving is a social amusement,
whereas shooting over dogs is only good when there are but two guns or
less. The popularity of the big day extends to beaters, farm hands, and
farmers, whereas for the old method these people were merely tolerated.
Toleration did not assist preserving; popularity does so.

Although a swerving covey of English birds will present a task fit for a
king, there are very many very easy driven birds, including the majority
of straight-coming Frenchmen. Besides this, the position of the shooter
makes them easy or difficult as the case may be. Put too close under a
high fence, the birds are difficult; put farther back, they swerve, or
turn back over the beaters. When standing up to quite low fences, the
chances are very easy, and when the sun is in one’s eyes they are too
difficult for sport. The most beautiful shooting is when some birds come
over, and some between, a row of high elm trees such as one frequently
sees in the Midlands, but less often in the Eastern Counties.

There is no more beautiful sport than shooting partridges over good
dogs, and it is easy to get them good enough for the work in wild
country, where they are almost exclusively employed, but it takes brains
as well as nose and pace for a dog to be a help to the two guns in
turnips a couple of feet high, and such as contain a hundred thrushes,
blackbirds, leverets, rabbits, and pheasant poults to every covey of
partridges. It is true that if shooters in line, for sentimental
reasons, have a pointer running loose, they may call it shooting over
dogs, and any sort of animal will do for that, even if he is a dog show
Champion; but that is not what the author means by shooting over dogs.

If you have a line of guns to tread up the game, dogs are superfluous.
If you have dogs that can find everything, then a line of beaters is
superfluous, and besides in the way, too, for it makes birds wild.

Noise is often said to make partridges wild, but this is only partially
true. Noise in any one direction, such as talking, generally makes them
fly, but any noises heard from all directions simultaneously makes them
lie like stones.

No country is so difficult to drive as one with small fields and high
hedges, especially if it is also hilly. It is almost impossible to make
the partridges know that there is a line of beaters outside of their own
little field, and they are very likely to go out at the flanks and swing
back behind the beaters in the next field.

That the fox is the worst partridge poacher in the nesting season is not
questioned by those who know; but the plan described in the previous
chapter is a very good and the only way of securing many partridges in a
fox country. Nevertheless, this plan has been written down in the press,
obviously by interested people, who appear in all sorts of disguises in
the interests of game-food makers, who are aware that if the Euston plan
of pheasant preserving and the Stetchworth plan of partridge preserving
were to be commonly practised, it would be all over with game-food
manufacturers. The author first described the Stetchworth plan some time
before Mr. Alington’s book appeared, in which he related Mr. Pearson
Gregory’s wonderful success with partridges in the middle of the Belvoir
country, where foxes abound. In place of this safeguard against foxes,
futile attempts have put forward evil-smelling mixtures to protect the
nests; but, as Mr. Alington and Mr. Holland Hibbert have shown, when
foxes take one doctored nest they then hunt _for_ the smell, and in the
experience of Mr. Alington the mixture was successful the first year,
but in the next all the dressed nests were taken and the others left.
That a large number of keepers may approve of evil-smell systems, and
disapprove of the Stetchworth partridge, and the Euston pheasant,
systems, has no weight with those who know that there are wheels within
wheels, which can be specified if necessary.

That there are smells which destroy or negative others, the author is
sure, but he has no belief in drowning one by the strength of another.
No retriever can find a dead bird if a man stands close to leeward of
the latter and to windward of the dog’s nose. Out of politeness to our
race, we may consider this negatives the partridge scent and does not
merely drown it, but then the deer do not support that view, and can
smell a man much farther off than a foxhound can smell a fox. The
question arises, What is a strong smell to a fox, a dog, or a deer?

A gamekeeper can (because he has done it at Harlaxton, in Lincolnshire)
look after 1500 acres of partridge ground and get hatched off by the
Stetchworth plan 1200 eggs, and do it single-handed, so that the expense
that the interested critics of this system talk of does not exist.

The fox has just been condemned as a poacher, but all the same he is a
great friend of partridge preservers, if they would only look ahead. The
fox is the only influence in this country that prevents half of it
becoming poultry runs. He takes his toll, and deserves it. Land will not
afford more than a certain amount of insect life, and young partridges
cannot live without it. If it were not for the foxes, nearly every farm
and field would be a chicken run, and consequently wild bred partridges
would be impossible.

On the other hand, if it were not for the game preserver, hunting would
also be impossible in provincial countries and where money is scarce. No
foxes could live if the fields were devoted to poultry. The farmer’s
charges in the absence of game would cause three-parts of the hunts to
be abandoned in face of enormous poultry bills. Half the quarrelling
over game and foxes is exaggerated in the telling, and the rest is
caused by a misunderstanding of mutual interests. Outside the Shires,
and perhaps Cheshire and Warwickshire, hunting could not exist without
the game preserver; and outside East Anglia and the grouse moors game
could not exist without foxes, more especially partridges could not, at
least not for long.

It is quite a mistake to suppose that grey partridges are interfered
with by the red legs; of course, where dogs are used, red legs are not a
blessing, but everywhere else they appear to greatly increase the sport.
The two varieties often nest side by side, but the grey partridge cock
would not tolerate any such proximity from his own species, so that the
simplest plan of making two partridges grow on one acre is to have both

Straying away, in the winter and the spring, from cold or high ground,
is a great and objectionable habit of partridges. On some estates
nothing seems able to prevent it. In such cases the French penning
system described in the previous chapter seems to be made on purpose.

The driving of partridges in flat country is very much more easy than
grouse driving, on account of the hedges. They hide the beaters and the
guns from view as both go to their places for short drives. But these
same hedges often prevent proper flanking for long drives, and there are
a thousand pitfalls ready for the inexperienced driver of partridges to
fall into. Of course the chief factor in all driving plans is the wind,
if there is any. Success generally comes to those whose minds and plans
are the most flexible; for a plan that would be best one day would
almost certainly be the worst upon another.

In a short chapter on partridges in general it would be obviously
impossible to go into the minute details of driving, or to specify as
many of the pitfalls as have come to the author’s notice. Broad
principles briefly stated are all he has space for, and really almost
everything else alters with the locality. First it is necessary to drive
the birds with a view to their concentration. That is to say, every
drive should be arranged in such a manner as to make the next drive to
it as perfect as possible. The guns, then, will be posted where they can
do least harm to the next drive—not necessarily where they can do most
execution in the one under consideration. Consequently, the choice of
stands for any one drive must be regulated by the distance the birds at
the particular time of year are likely to fly after passing and being
scared by the line of guns. This distance will grow longer each week of
the shooting season. In September birds that would be likely to drop in
roots three fields behind the guns, might easily go six, seven, or eight
fields in November.

It is impossible to drive partridges very far directly up wind, and it
is almost impossible to turn them very much when going fast and high
down wind. Roots are even more important to big driving bags than they
are to “walking up.” At least, without roots most of the birds will come
together, and shooting will be quickly over in each drive, whereas, when
partridges can be first driven into a turnip-field, and secondly induced
to run, they then become scattered, rise in small lots, and give
shooters and loaders a chance.

The nearer the guns can be placed to the rise of the partridges, the
less distant the latter will fly. In a high fenced country noise is
often essential to prevent the birds in one field going back over the
heads of beaters in the next. The partridges generally decide where they
are going before rising, or as soon as they are up, and consequently the
flanks of your line or semicircle of beaters will be useless unless the
birds know of them either before they rise or the instant they are on
the wing.

Another point to be considered is, that partridges will not drive
backwards and forwards over the same fence many times, and if it can be
done, a fresh one should be lined for every drive. Often the nature of
the ground and the disposition of the hedges will not admit of this.
Ideal driving possibly only exists in the imagination, but if it can be
arranged that for every drive there is a turnip-field to drive out of
near to the guns, and another to drive into at the distance of the
birds’ flight behind the guns, then particularly heavy killing ought to
be possible in proportion to numbers of partridges present.

When there is no great amount of wind, backwards and forwards drives,
with the guns shifted up or down the fence slightly each time, are very
deadly with two sets of beaters. With one set only, on the contrary, the
plan of taking the birds all round the beat in four or more drives,
according to its size, is a good one, because it prevents either beaters
or “guns” having long waits or unequal distances to walk. Excellent
driving results have been obtained on an estate as small as 500 acres,
but this would not be possible without big root fields.

The best sanctuaries for partridges, and those of greatest assistance to
driving, are newly planted larch and fir coverts. Where estate planting
is wanted, then by extending it over a series of years, instead of doing
it all at once, it adds to the encouragement and to safe nesting-ground
of partridges and pheasants too, but the necessity of wire fencing it
against rabbits renders it of no use for ground game, which is all the
better for both its true purposes. In a grass country partridges will
remain and breed wonderfully well if about 5 acres of wheat are
cultivated to every 200 acres of grass land. On just such land the
author has killed two-thirds of a bird to the acre within twelve miles
of Charing Cross on the north side.

Some of the Hungarian and Bohemian bags have been as follows:—In 10
days’ shooting 10 guns killed 10,000 partridges at Tot-Megyr, in
Hungary, and the same season the first five of the ten days yielded 7020
partridges. This was on the estate of Count Karolyi. No birds were
brought in from elsewhere, and the method adopted was _walking up_. But
it was in Bohemia, at Prince Auersperg’s place, where 4000 birds were
killed in one day, which leaves Baron Hirsch’s records, and all those of
England, in the shade.


There are 21 so-called species of the true pheasant. Of these, 17 are
only varieties, with practically no differences except in colour and
size. Naturalists are not consistent in their classifications. If the 17
pheasants that include the common and the ring-necked variety are
species, then all our fancy pigeons are species also, just as our
numberless varieties of dogs are. The pouter and the fantail pigeons
have more differences by far than any of these 17 kinds of pheasants,
and the St. Bernard and the Japanese spaniel and Italian greyhound would
all have been received as new species had their discoverers been
naturalists. Indeed, the St. Bernard has structural differences from the
others about which in any other class of animal naturalists would not
hesitate for a moment. They would make a species of him for his extra
toe—that is, for his double dew claw. But it does not in the least
matter whether differences are marked in the index to nature as species
or as varieties, since the former term has lost its original meaning,
and no longer suggests a specific act of creation in the origin of

What matters is that the 17 varieties of pheasants are supposed to be
capable of breeding together fertile offspring, no matter how they are
mixed up.

But although crossing always increases size in the first few
generations, and notwithstanding that every first cross amongst these 17
varieties of pheasants has been glorified in description, it is not to
be expected that the cross breds maintain their glory in later
generations. Unfortunately, they do not revert to one type or the other,
but set up intermediate coloration.

There is no reason to suppose that the cock pheasant differs very much
from the hen in the pigments within the feathers. The difference we
observe is one of disposition of those pigments. In the hen the reds,
the greens, the gold and purples are mixed; in the cock they are
separated. In the 17 varieties of pheasants there are to be found cock
birds which at every point of the feathering have the complementary
colour to that which is in the same position in some other species. Even
the dark edging of the feathers is in some races green and in the others
purple. The backs are in some green, in others red; the breasts in some
species golden, and in others green. One cannot object to the
introduction of any of these 17 species so long as they are kept
distinct. But we do not want our pheasants to look as variegated as a
race of mongrels. The Mongolian pheasant is said to be more hardy than
our own cross bred, and in that case it would probably suit us better as
a bird of the coverts, but it drives away the other birds from the food,
which is a good reason as well as its white wing coverts for not wishing
to have it mixed with the home stock.

For some time it was believed that the Reeves pheasant would not produce
fertile offspring from any of the 17 sorts typical of the common
pheasant, but that is probably a mistake. Nevertheless, if it is true
that the hybrids breed in the third season, any such deferred
productiveness would not be likely to have the smallest effect on our
pheasant stock, and consequently the Reeves pheasant can safely be
turned out in the coverts without fear of changing the character of our
good sporting birds. The same is true of the copper pheasant, which, in
nature and Japan, exists side by side with the green-breasted
versicolor, and does not inter-breed with it. As the versicolor breeds
freely with our birds, and is but a variety in fact and only a species
by courtesy of naturalists to each other, it is pretty certain that this
copper pheasant, like the Reeves pheasant, can be safely turned loose in
our coverts. But the Reeves pheasant is a great runner, and it is said
that when he once does get started upon the wing he is apt not to
recognise the boundary fence, and may go 20 miles on end. If this is not
an exaggeration, and probably it is, the Reeves pheasant would be a most
objectionable bird. But in wild countries like Wales and Scotland, where
there are hills and hill coverts, there seems to be no doubt that the
Reeves would beat the English bird, not only in hardihood and
self-reproduction, but also in flying to the guns both faster and higher
than the common pheasant. It is a bird that prefers to run _up_ hill, in
contradistinction to the instinct of preservation that induces the type
race of bird to run _down_ hill. The Hon. Walter Rothschild has spent
more time and money on the pheasant family than anyone else, and
probably he is the very best judge of what would acclimatise with
advantage and what would not. With the reservation, then, that the
author does not believe in still further mongrelising the half bred of
our coverts, it is proposed to summarise Mr. Rothschild’s opinion.

The pheasants form but one section of the family Phasianidæ, the second
of the four families of the Gallinæ. The limitations of natural history
are set forth by Mr. Rothschild when he says that structurally it is
impossible to separate the partridges and the pheasants, and that the
spurfowls (_Galloperdix_) and the bamboo partridges (_Bambusicola_) form
connecting links. How true this is may be gathered from the fact that
Mr. Harting described a bamboo partridge in the _Field_ recently as a
cross between a pheasant and partridge. These birds have spurs, but then
the author has seen a common partridge with spurs on both legs. The legs
were sent to _Country Life_ at the time, and the spurs upon them were
sharp like a two-year-old pheasant’s. Of the pheasants there are 60
species according to naturalists, divided into 12 genera. Of these,
_Phasianus_ with 21 species is the largest, and the only one which
concerns sportsmen in this country. There are 17 of the varieties of the
type pheasant, including the new species called after Mr. Hagenbach.
There are 11 other birds called pheasants which properly belong to the
peafowl. These include 7 peacock pheasants and 4 Argus pheasants, which,
like many others amongst the 60 pheasants, do not fly well, and have no
place in shooting. The true pheasants are distinguished by their long
wedge-shaped tails and by the absence of a crest, but these have to be
subdivided into the type birds that are really only varieties, and the
four that are really as well as nominally different species.

These four are _Phasianus ellioti_ and _Phasianus humiæ_, which are
useless for sport. Then the copper pheasant from Japan (_Phasianus
sœmmerringi_) Mr. Rothschild thinks eminently suited for the coverts. As
it is a native of the same ground as the versicolor pheasant, and
neither seems to damage the purity of the other, it may be accepted that
its production in our coverts would not degenerate into crossing with
the common pheasants. The other of these four species is _Ph. reevesii_,
or the Reeves pheasant from China, with its 6 feet of length and, on
rare occasions, 6 feet of tail. The worst that has ever been said of
these two last-named species is that they fight badly and might drive
away the other pheasants, but in the case of the copper pheasant the
observation was only the outcome of its behaviour in pens. Mr. Walter
Rothschild thinks this bird more suitable for mountainous cold districts
than the common pheasant is, and that it should be given the preference
in Wales and Scotland, as altogether a hardier bird than the true type
pheasant. In this opinion he agrees with the late Lord Lilford, who was
by far the best authority of his time. Mr. J. G. Millais wrote of this
bird from having shot it at Balmacaan, on Loch Ness, and at Guisichan,
near Beauly, in the same county. At the former, then the late Lord
Seafield’s place, he found the bird a fraud and a failure, as in the
open flat coverts it ran more than it flew, and when it was forced into
the element it can make all its own, it flew low and gave no sport. But
at Guisachan, Lord Tweedmouth’s place, Mr. Millais had cause to regard
the bird as the finest of all the game birds that raced to the guns over
the mountain pines. He described it as leaving the common pheasants and
the blackcocks flustering along behind at about half the pace of this
king of the air, or comet of the woods. Truly sportsmen cannot read Mr.
Millais’ account without envy. But, besides the speed, the way this bird
can stop itself is a revelation. It does this apparently by offering the
full surface of its tail, its body, and its wings simultaneously to air
resistance; and if Mr. Millais is correct as to its speed and the power
it has of stopping within a few feet, it is a wonder that it does not
break its feather shafts as well as itself by the sudden pressure.

Of the 17 type birds it may be said that a true line of colour
distinction cannot be drawn, and that their markings run one into the
other as they are found East or West and North and South. It is well to
regard these two tendencies as different geographic variations, and
because the birds seem to have latitude variations in common whatever
their longitude may be, and longitudinal variations in common whatever
their latitude may be, to hold them all one species with local colour
variations and nothing more. In the West the pheasant tends to redness,
in the East to greenness, both of back and breast. The extremes are
observed in the old English pheasant and the versicolor of Japan. This
gradation of colour from East to West is not altered by latitude. But of
whatever shade and longitude the birds may be, if they are found in the
North they have a large quantity of white upon them, and if in the South
they have no white. It is therefore possible to settle the natural home
of the pheasant almost accurately by his coloration. The old English
pheasant is a native of most of Europe in our time; but the Romans
obtained it from Asia Minor, and it is named by ornithologists in
consequence _Phasianus colchicus_. In England there are now not any of
this breed; ours are all mongrels.

The Persian (_Ph. persicus_) is a near relation to _colchicus_, but has
very nearly white wing coverts, narrower bars on the tail, and is
dark-red on the sides of the belly. It inhabits West Persia and
Transcaspia, and Mr. Rothschild thinks it a good variety for
introduction, as it is hardy and flies fast and high.

A near relation is the Afghan pheasant (_Ph. principalis_), or Prince of
Wales pheasant. It only differs from the last-named variety in its
whiter wings, its maroon patch under the throat, the wide purple bars on
the flanks, and in the orange-red upper tail coverts. Mr. Rothschild
gives it a good character for importation, and those who have shot it at
home speak of it as almost aquatic in habit, and not only able but
willing to swim.

The Zorasthan pheasant, or _Phasianus zerasthanicus_, only differs
slightly in marking from the above-named variety—that is to say, it has
plain brown scapulars, and much narrower borders to the breast feathers.

The Yarkand pheasant, or _Ph. shawi_, differs from _colchicus_ in having
a yellowish-brown rump and whitish wing coverts. Mr. Rothschild
recommends its importation _viâ_ India for our English coverts.

The Siberian pheasant, or _Ph. tariminsis_, very closely resembles the
last-named variety, but differs in the greenish rump and the buff wing

The Oxus pheasant, or _Ph. chrysomelas_, comes from Amu-Darya. It is
distinguished for its general sandy-brown colour and the very broad
green bars on all feathers of the under side of the body.

The Mongolian pheasant has been introduced largely by reason of Mr.
Rothschild’s recommendation. It is known from all the others by the rich
red of the flanks, the green gloss of the plumage, the very broad white
neck ring and white wings. It is a very large bird. There is one point
on which it is open to doubt whether this bird has not met more than its
meed of praise. It is considerably heavier than the common pheasant, and
is said to fly better. But the last statement is a little difficult to
accept, for the bird is not like the Reeves pheasant, different in
feathers, structure, and proportion of wing to weight. It is merely a
very big common pheasant differently coloured and having everything in
true proportion. It ought therefore, by reason of its weight, to fly
worse than lighter birds. For big birds to fly as fast as small ones
they require not only the same proportionate wing power and space, but

Stone’s pheasant, or _Ph. elegans_, is almost a green bird, like
versicolor, except upon the flanks and shoulders. It is not well known.

The pheasant of Tibet, or _Ph. vlangalii_, is pale sandy on the upper
parts, and has golden-buff flanks.

Perjvalsky’s pheasant, or _Ph. strauchi_, differs from Stone’s pheasant
by its orange-red flanks instead of the dark-green and the dark-red
scapulars with light buff centres. It is recommended for introduction
without much hope of attainment. Its home is Gansu.

The West Chinese pheasant differs from the ring-necked Chinese bird by
the absence of a ring of white; its scientific name is _Ph. decollatus_.

The ring-necked pheasant, or _Ph. torquatus_, was introduced from China
to St. Helena about 1513 A.D. In England its first introduction is
unrecorded, but it exists here no longer in a pure state. It is
flourishing in New Zealand, and also in America. In some of the States,
including Oregon, it has bred so largely as to be a positive nuisance to

Two more pheasants, only slightly differing from the ring-necked bird of
China, are _Ph. formosanus_ and _Ph. satchennensis_.

The Japanese pheasant, or _Ph. versicolor_, is a beautiful bird with a
dark-green breast. It was introduced by Lord Derby in 1840, and although
the early crosses were no doubt large and beautiful, in the natural
course of things, when colours came to blend, as they do not at first, a
mongrel coloration would have been certain had not the crossing been so
limited as to make no difference.

Of these 17 true type pheasants it is usual only to take account of the
cocks. In the above not a word has been said of the equally important
hens, that are practically all alike, which is additional proof that
these are not species, and are only local varieties, breeding a little
less true to colour than the varieties of fancy pigeons and fancy fowls.

The golden pheasant is not of the same genus as those above, but is
closely allied to Lady Amherst’s pheasant. The former does not do for a
covert bird, because it kills the much bigger common pheasant. The
silver pheasant belongs to another genus, and also is barred from the
coverts in consequence of its greater superiority in fight than in


It is not certain whether pheasants are indigenous to this country. It
is known that they were cultivated by the Romans as domesticated, or
semi-domesticated birds, and as remains of pheasants have been found in
towns or camps of the Romans in Britain, it is assumed that those people
introduced the birds into Britain. It will be observed that the idea
rests upon the fact that the pheasants were not indigenous to Italy. But
Italy is to Europe what India is to Asia, the most southerly country,
and pheasants do not like low latitudes. The races of pheasant most
allied to our own cross bred are found from Asia Minor right across the
Continent to Japan, and it is quite possible that the Western race
extended across Central Europe to England. Obviously a strip of ocean is
no bar in Asia, and it is not likely to have been so in Europe,
especially as it is said that once the ocean did not flow between
Britain and the Continent. The first feast of English pheasants
mentioned in history occurred in the time of King Harold. The old
English pheasant, as we must call the bird which preceded by 1000 or
2000 or as many million years the introduction of the Chinese race into
England, was a red bird upon the back and the upper tail coverts, and it
had no white ring round its neck. The Chinese pheasant, on the other
hand, had the band of white and greenish colouring on the back and upper
tail coverts, and what we have done by mixing green and red together is
precisely what an artist does with those two colours. He produces some
shade of neutral tint. Consequently, our cock pheasants are only
handsome from coloration in regard to the necks and heads and the
breasts, which the crossing has not damaged. The present desire to cross
with birds that have white wing coverts, namely the Mongolian race, is
liable to mix colours very much more. However beautiful a pure white may
be and is, it has a very bad effect on the colours of fowls and ducks.
White crossing has produced barndoor fowls of every hideous mixture, and
the farm-pond duck with its washed-out feathering, which when compared
with that of the Rouen and the wild duck suffers by the contrast. The
Prince of Wales pheasant, the Mongolian, and even the Japanese
versicolor pheasants, are handsome birds, and may be desirable as pure
races, but any intermixtures of blood can only take place with the risk
of spoiling the glory of the cock pheasant’s plumage. The same remark
may be applied to crosses with the Reeves pheasant, which are much more
difficult to bring about, because the cross-bred birds only appear to
come to maturity in their third year, so that there is little danger;
for sportsmen want early maturity before all things in the pheasant pens
and coverts, where an immature cock bird would spell disaster.



The system of penning pheasants as we employ it came to us from France;
without its aid we never should have succeeded in making the enormous
bags that are now the fashion. One thousand birds in the day are now
more often killed than 50 were a hundred years ago, and there are some
places where the host tries to quadruple the 1000, and nearly succeeds.
But the author finds that the general opinion is that 1000 really tall,
fast birds is enough for anybody, and that when more are killed, and
especially when great numbers are desired, the birds are not usually
driven in a fashion to afford those difficult marks that are above all
desired by both bad and good marksmen.

The general way of starting to preserve pheasants is to buy eggs from
game farmers. The usual price is from £5 to 10s. a hundred, according to
the time of year. The early eggs are much the most valuable, and for
them is the most demand. But eggs early in April run many risks that
those of early May escape. That is to say, the eggs may be frosted in
the pens, and the chicks may suffer from a combination of cold and wet,
when either one or the other alone would not injure. At the same time,
it is always unwise to set up theory when nature is offering us free
education. The survival of the fittest has evolved a bird that begins to
lay generally about the 7th or 14th of April; that begins to incubate
from about May 1st to the 7th, and to hatch out from about May 24th to
1st of June. Obviously this is because birds hatched much later than
this have died out in natural surroundings, probably from being unable
to stand our winters in their immature state of plumage. No doubt, also,
eggs laid much before the earlier date have not produced chicks in
sufficient numbers to alter the habits of the birds. Various kinds of
forcing can be made to extend the breeding period at both ends, but
there is a desire to increase the number of pheasants reared by their
own mothers in the wild state, and there is every reason to believe that
forcing of any sort would reduce the proportion of hen pheasants capable
of raising a good brood in the open fields. They are not very
successful, and the reason that has generally been accepted is that they
are bad mothers, and go wandering aimlessly on as long as a single chick
is left to follow. As a matter of fact this is not the reason. The young
partridges and wild ducks in the rearing-fields leave the coops and hunt
for food in broods, but the young pheasant hunts, or rather wanders,
each for itself, careless of the presence of its fellows. This is how it
happens that in the wild state the hen pheasant cannot shepherd her
chicks. She cannot, like them, be everywhere at once. So the
thunderstorm finds many young unprotected by the mother’s wing; the
hawks and the crows have no mother to beat off before they can dine on
young pheasants, which they have only to find alone in order to kill
with ease. But the worst enemy to young pheasants is long wet ground
vegetation. They have to run about in it to get their natural food, and
if it were not for the frequent recurrence of the mother’s brooding wing
they would perish of cold. In the rearing-fields the constant changes of
young birds from one coop and foster-mother to another show how often
death would overtake the lost birds were there not a house of call at
every few yards. Obviously any cross bred that has the instinct to hunt
for food in broods or collectively, and not in units, would greatly
assist in the spread and increase of wild reared birds. In the absence
of any such sort, improvement only seems to be possible by means of
natural selection, or the survival of the birds that do not get lost in
the wet herbage, and in breeding from them in preference to those that
have been reared by hand. But land varies so much, that large broods,
say, at Euston in Suffolk, would not prove that the same birds could
have reared a brood in the clays of Buckinghamshire or Middlesex. Sandy
soil is much the best for game, not only because water does not stand on
the soil, but because for some reason the vegetation dries up so quickly
after a wetting. It is not the wet that falls on the chick’s back that
does the damage, but that which he brushes from the grass as he walks
through it.

All questions of colour would have to give way before any difference of
habits that would make rearing easier than it is. There is no reason why
pheasants should cost more to rear than wild ducks and farmyard
chickens, except that they are more delicate. Instead of being fed upon
meal of kinds, they have to be supplied with hard-boiled egg, new-milk
custard made with egg, or flesh, or blood, in their early stages.
Breadcrumbs supply all the early necessities of the barndoor fowl, and
the farther we go in pampering the farther we shall have to go. The farm
poultry in wild nature lived greatly upon insects, just as the wild
pheasant does now. It is to make up for the absence of insects that so
much nitrogenous food is given to the pheasant chick, but as none is
supplied to the domestic poultry it appears likely that pheasants kept
as poultry are now reared would in a few generations become as hardy and
easy, because those that could not stand it would die out. A race of
pheasants entirely meal-fed would be of the greatest possible value.

Doubtless the losses at first would be heavy, for the pheasant in nature
lives neither on corn nor seeds in its early life. When it is hatched in
June, all the seeds of the previous year have grown into plants, and
none of that year’s plants will have ripe seeds for a month or more. So
that when theorists tell gamekeepers that they should give canary seed,
and thus return to a state of natural management, they are advising the
most unnatural management possible; but, all the same, a very convenient
one, if it could be done.

The present most accepted method of feeding hand-reared pheasants is to
start them on finely grated hard-boiled egg or custard; in the second
stage, to give the latter mixed with fine-ground dry meal, in order to
stiffen the custard and render it capable of crumbling. From this stage
the birds go on by degrees to receive more meal and less custard, until
the time comes to feed them upon boiled oatmeal and boiled rice, as the
state of their bowels require a slight alterative. The oatmeal is
relaxing, and the rice just the reverse. From this point to crushed
wheat is a long jump, because the latter is not boiled and the two
former are. However, to make the consistency of the boiled food more
breakable and less sticky, fine flour or oatmeal uncooked will for some
time have been shaken into it as the cooked food is pressed through a
fine-mesh metal sieve. The object of this is to prevent the food having
a stick-jaw tendency, and thus remaining and drying upon the beaks,
backs, and legs of the birds. The usual practice is to place the food
upon a board for the chicks and to wash the board frequently. There is a
possibility that a quick way of spreading disease, when once it exists
on the rearing-field, is to throw about food on the ground. There it
mixes with the excreta of the birds, and is a possible although unproved
source of contamination. Dr. Klein proved that fowl enteritis was spread
in that manner, and perhaps pheasants take their well-known disease in
the same way; but this has never been investigated by a bacteriologist,
and the constant assertions that pheasant enteric is the same disease as
fowl enteritis is no more than a guess, and one that is very unlikely to
be correct. If it were so, the foster-mothers would be sure to die when
the pheasant chicks take the enteric disease and die off in large
numbers: only one authentic case of the foster-mothers having died from
fowl enteritis has been reported. Then the chicks remained healthy.
Fowls nearly always remain healthy when 50 per cent. of the pheasants
die off. The foster-mothers in the coops will require water, and it
should be boiled water given cold. It is not possible to leave water in
the pans and prevent the young birds drinking it, so that every
precaution has to be taken that the water does not introduce disease.
But the chicks will not require much other liquid than that contained in
their cooked food. A large proportion of the food given after the first
fortnight should be green vegetable, given cooked or raw, according to
the quality, or both, according to the appreciation of it by the birds.
Green food and insects are natural pheasant foods in the summer, when
the birds are young, and there is no reason why they should be deprived
of one because they cannot get the other. Enormous numbers of insects
are always in the trees of the coverts, and it was a habit of James
Mayes, when keeper to the late Maharajah Duleep Singh, to remove his
birds into covert the instant they began to look ill. He told the author
that he saved them by this means, and as mature and immature insects
drop in numbers from the trees probably the change back to natural
feeding recovered the lost condition.

Of course pheasants will eat ants’ eggs greedily; they would probably
grow healthy and strong on this food alone, just as partridges will. But
the insects do not exist in sufficient numbers to feed as many pheasants
as are reared. Whether some few ants’ eggs might be safely given to
pheasants the author does not know, but partridges must either be wholly
or not at all fed upon them. The birds will not look at anything else if
they can get some ants’ eggs, although the numbers are not enough to
keep them. It is usual to try to do without this food, and only to
employ it in case birds are off their feed and require a “pick-me-up.”
Young sparrows will feed upon the ants themselves, but small partridges
only take the eggs. This causes much more of the food to be required,
and although it is generally free food, the labour necessary to get
enough makes the free food very much the most expensive.

The kind of pheasant pen required for the birds to winter in is a large
one—the larger the better. The number of birds wintering in it must be
left to the judgment of the individual. It should be of grass, and so
large that the birds’ constant treadings do not destroy the growth. A
level piece of ground without shelter is to be avoided. Dry banks,
bushes, and basking and dusting mounds, as well as a heap of grit, are

Some people have had good results by leaving the birds in a pen of this
sort to lay, and have found that a number of cocks amongst five times as
many hens have not destroyed all chances of success by their fighting.
But the usual plan is to make small pens large enough for each to
contain five hens and a cock. Pens of 4 yards by 10, and 6 feet high,
made of wire netting, are big enough, but they cannot be too large for
the health of the birds, and as they last many years without removal, if
the ground is dug up and limed at the end of each laying season, the
expense of the first building is spread over fifteen or twenty years.

These pens are most cheaply made in close contact, for then two of the
sides will serve a double purpose, for each will be a boundary for two
pens. For 3 feet upwards from the ground the pens should either be
turfed or made of corrugated iron, in order to afford shelter and
prevent war with neighbours.

Another kind of laying pen most approved of late years, although success
came before its invention, is that of the movable pen. These pens need
not be more than a couple of feet high, but they have to be covered
over, whereas if the birds have one wing brailed this is not necessary
with the other kind of pen. Full-winged pheasants damage themselves
seriously by flying against the wire netting roof of a pen, and even
when roofs are made of string netting the shock birds receive on impact
must be nearly as bad as those that kill netted grouse upon the same
kind of netting. The object of these small light movable pens is to give
the birds fresh ground every day. But the moving must be an enormous
undertaking where many pheasants are kept, and it is conceivable that
those who sell half a million eggs in the year, and want 5000 pens for
the purpose, do not move them very often.

After birds have begun to lay in March and April, the next stage is to
place the eggs under hens in sitting boxes. These are of two kinds:
boxes in which the front opens out to a small wired-in network enclosure
in which the foster-mother can feed when she is inclined; and the other
sort, in which the only opening is from the top lid (which both kinds
have), and from which the incubating broody has to be lifted by hand and
then tethered to a peg while she feeds and waters. This is a tedious
process when there may be from 500 to 1500 hens to treat every day. It
is generally believed that the best kind of nest is one made upon the
bare earth under these sitting boxes. That may very well be where there
are no rats, but where this kind of vermin exists the author prefers a
false bottom of turf to the boxes, with a real bottom of small mesh wire
netting, which in no way interferes with the benefit eggs derive from
moistened mother earth, but effectually prevents losses from rats,
stoats, moles, and hedgehogs, although the latter would not be likely to
make subterranean visits in any case.

The pheasant coop is another article of furniture the preserver cannot
get on without. It is quite a light, simple, and handy contrivance, with
a backwards slanting roof, three boarded sides, no bottom, and a sparred
front, the centre bar being movable—that is, sliding upwards through the
roof. These pens are set out in the rearing-field before the eggs hatch.
That ensures the birds being brought from the nests to dry ground. For a
few days the chicks have to be protected from themselves, and prevented
from running away from their foster-parents. This is best done by the
use of two boards about 6 inches high, which are placed so as to form a
triangle with the opening of the coop as its base. Then the coop must be
very well ventilated, for it has to have a shutter, one that is always
closed at night, and the young birds are best not allowed to wander
about in wet grass before the dew is off in the morning, so that they
sometimes have to be fed, and then again shut up until the morning sun
has done its work, but this is only when they are very young.

The field chosen for laying pens, as a matter of human choice, differs
greatly from the ground the pheasant prefers. The latter is bog ground
for feeding in, and also very frequently the dry grass patches or
tussocks in the bog for laying upon, and only the coverts for roosting.
Human judgment not being able to supply all these in one small confined
place, compromises by supplying neither, and giving a dry, sloping,
sunny, sheltered, but treeless bare ground patch of earth, often turf in
the beginning, but bare earth before the termination of the laying

There are many other methods of providing for the wants of pheasants,
some of which cannot be recommended. There is no space to mention all,
and therefore the writer is obliged to confine his remarks to those he
believes to be the best, and those he has known to succeed up to
expectations. But a few remarks are perhaps necessary about some of
them. For instance, the plan of having laying pens moved annually is
good if suitable space can be spared. Wattle hurdles have been used to
make these cheap movable pens of all sizes. But they are objectionable
for small pens, as likely to keep the sun off the ground without keeping
the draught out. Indeed, they are very draughty affairs, and pheasants
hate wind, and do not succeed without sun. In order to successfully use
wattle hurdles of 6 feet square, the ground should be large enough to
fully benefit by the morning sun’s ray when at an angle of less than 30
degrees. Then, in order to keep out the draught, it is useful to convert
the bottom 2 feet of the hurdles into wattle and daub. This has the
misfortune of making them rather heavy to move about.

For years the annual digging up process was carried on with success at

In order to prevent insects from infesting the sitting hens, it is good
to have dusting sheds, and occasionally to remove the hens to these.
Slacked lime and earth kept dry under cover is the best material for
this purpose, but if it is necessary the same results can be attained by
the use of plenty of insect powder in the nests.

Pheasants in laying pens rarely get enough green stuff. It is for this
that daily movable pens are the best, because they allow the pheasants
to get grass shoots, which, however, are not the most suitable kind of
green food. Onions, lettuce, cabbage, turnip tops, turnips themselves,
and apples are all useful; but if the grass is full of clover none of
these will be necessary. Naturally everything depends upon the quality
of the grass and whether the birds eat it or not. Boiled nettles are
useful, but vegetable is best given to old birds uncooked, except when
potatoes are used. They have been known to eat the fresh uncurled
sprouts of the bracken, but the pheasant farmer who relied on this kind
of food would not be likely to make his fortune. Fresh smashed-up bone
seems to be necessary for the well-being of laying birds, and of course
grit—that is, small gravel, and if this has its origin in the seashore
it will probably contain enough shell of sea-fish to make a supply of
bone unnecessary.

The choice of food for penned pheasants will depend largely upon
prejudice and circumstance. Of necessity grain of some kind will be the
stand-by. If it is desired to keep the same hen pheasants for laying for
several years, but little Indian corn will be employed in the best
regulated establishments. It does not matter that this food, like
acorns, spoils the flavour of the flesh, but it does matter that the
birds become too fat inside for health. Probably the first season they
do not show a loss of egg productiveness, but later they do. Maize in
the coverts, to keep the birds at home when they scramble for food in
every field, is less objectionable than for birds that do not get much
exercise and live in want of it. Barley, oats, beans, peas, and wheat
are all useful in turn; and besides, as the breeding season comes on, a
warm breakfast of cooked oat or barley meal is useful. Greaves are
remnants from the soap boilers’, and are not very reliable foods; but if
_fresh_ meat can be obtained, a little of it stewed to rags in the water
in which the food is afterwards cooked is distinctly useful in
egg-producing time, but is not necessary then, and certainly is not so
at any other period after the birds are half grown. At the same time, to
make up for the absence of slugs to the penned pheasant, the author
would always give a little if it could be cheaply obtained. Very little
in the way of animal food comes amiss to the wild pheasant, which has
been known to eat mice, wire worms by the thousand, slugs of all sorts,
snails with shells and snails without, frogs, blind worms, and young

The greatest misfortune about penned pheasants is that they take no
exercise. As gallinaceous birds they ought to scratch for a living, and
that is difficult to arrange in movable pens on turf. It is quite
possible that they would be more healthy upon ploughed fields,
especially if a part of their daily grain was raked in before they were
removed to the fresh ground, but in that case they would lose the
plucking of grass and clover.

Pens with open tops and birds with one wing clipped have been
recommended in order that the wild cocks should visit the penned hens,
but whether it has ever succeeded or is merely a pretty theory the
author is not aware: he does know that it has often failed, and
infertile eggs have been the consequence.

It is questionable whether the cocks go to the hens as much as is
believed. In the author’s experience of pheasants, it has been the hens
that have been attracted by the crowing of the cocks. He has known newly
established laying pens to draw hen pheasants in numbers to ground that
they never before nested upon. Whether they would have entered the pens
if they had been open at the top is doubtful, but many of them laid
outside and had infertile eggs. After all, what is the crow given to the
cock for if he cannot make any use of it?

There is some difference of opinion as to whether most success follows
the incubation of pen produced or of wood produced eggs.

This is only to be answered with reservations. There is no doubt that 90
per cent. of fairly early eggs from well kept penned birds will be
fertile. There are two reasons against as large a proportion from home
covert birds. First, the latter are picked up less often, and run more
risk from night frosts. Second, you may leave a large proportion of
cocks and yet lose most of them by their straying off for miles with
favourite hens.

Mr. Tegetmeier, in his book on Pheasants, has collected evidence from
all quarters, and he gives many good reasons for not reducing the cocks
below a proportion of one to three hens. Mr. Millard has lately
expressed very strong views against leaving fewer than eight hens to one
wild cock. But perhaps Mr. Millard’s life, in connection with game-meal,
is not precisely that which would endow him with the most reliable
information from all directions. Be this as it may, it is within the
experience of the author that when one cock to five hens has been his
accomplished aim, he has had the satisfaction of seeing straying
pheasants in every part of an estate all breeding good broods, but the
disappointment of knowing that every cock had left the home covert and
that many hens were laying infertile eggs there. Probably there are
limits to the distance a hen bird will go to the crow of a cock. Here
was a case in which not one egg per cent. was good in the covert, but
out in the fields a mile or two away it was quite different. Every egg
was fertile and produced its chick.

The coverts are not really natural places for pheasants to lay in, any
more than they are for partridges. Generally, when pheasants begin to
lay the fields have too little covert to tempt them to make nests in the
open. Then they resort to the hedgerows, and when these are scarce, as
they are in the stone wall districts, many more birds lay in the coverts
than would do so if there was vegetation outside. However, in a stone
wall and partridge country, the author has seen as many pheasants’ as
partridges’ nests mown out of the Italian rye grass and clover-fields.
But these were late birds, because this mowing rarely begins before June
15th, and many pheasants have hatched out before then. If it could be
planned that all the pheasants left could be prevented from straying,
then fewer cocks would possibly do, and this might occur in a grass
country. But in a corn district the birds will stray, and when half the
cocks have departed, as they will with one or two hens to each, those
left would not have the proportion of hens aimed at; but where three
hens were attempted to be left to each cock, and two of them went away
with each of half the males, the other males left behind would have four
hens each; where five hens were designed, the real proportion in the
cover would be eight hens to a cock; and where the design was to leave
eight hens, the real proportion would be fourteen hens to a cock after
the strayers had left in similar proportions.

It may be replied that keepers should prevent straying, but, on the
contrary, it is just what is wanted, and it has come to be the best and
most fashionable preservation to encourage it.

Those who know best act in the belief that every cock pheasant that gets
away with one or two hens will become the sire of one or two good
broods, and they know, too, that those that remain with many more in
coverts have not the breeding instinct fully developed, and that if they
have chicks the competition for natural food will be too great for the
welfare of any. In other words, the old birds will eat up the insect
life before the chicks come.

Pheasant preservers have in their minds the preservation at Lord
Leicester’s, at Holkham, in Norfolk; that also at Euston, the Duke of
Grafton’s, in Suffolk; that at Beaulieu, in Hampshire, and have become
aware that with proper encouragement on suitable land the wild reared
pheasant is enough of itself, and on any land a great assistance to the
game stock.

The most noted success has occurred at Euston, where about 6000 wild
pheasants have been shot in a season. This is the most noted, because
the system adopted there advanced game preserving in general by one

The advance occurred in this way. When the Duke of Grafton succeeded to
the property, he told Blacker the keeper to stop the hand rearing of
pheasants. The keeper, however, begged for, and obtained, a compromise.
This was, that he might have hens under which to place eggs removed from
pheasants’ nests in danger, until he could find other pheasants’ nests
in which to place them. It has resulted, in practice, in keeping eggs
until the shell-chipping stage under the domestic hens, and then in
placing them under pheasants having their own eggs in the same state of
incubation. This has succeeded in producing big hatchings of pheasants,
many more than the birds would lay eggs in the ordinary course. But the
Duke of Grafton has denied that bad or dummy eggs have been used at
Euston, and consequently, although Blacker pointed the way, he did not
consummate the latest phase of pheasant preservation, in which all the
birds’ eggs are removed as laid, and are incubated under hens, while the
female pheasant is kept sitting on “clear” eggs, in order to be ready to
take a big batch of chipped eggs as soon as they are ready.

The object of this plan is that if the bird is killed, or is made to
give up sitting by bad weather, the eggs are nevertheless not injured,
but are merely passed on to be divided amongst other birds.

It has been said that there is no advantage in this plan, but one cannot
help thinking that only lazy keepers and their friends who sell game
foods would say so.

The argument is that the nests are not in danger from foxes until just
at the time of hatching. It is said that the birds lose their scent when
incubating, and that only when the chicks break the shell is there any
scent from the nests. As a matter of fact there is very little scent
from breeding birds whether they are sitting or laying, but to say there
is none, and that foxes cannot find them, is a total mistake.

Nests are taken by dogs and foxes, and by hedgehogs and rats, at all
times of the incubating period. If the birds gave out as much scent as
they do at other periods, there would be _no_ nests left in a fox
country. But nature and the birds, between them, do defeat the foxes and
the vermin in a fair proportion of cases. It has been affirmed that
incubating alters their system, and that the scent that before passed
out through the skin passes out with the excreta when the birds
incubate. That is to say, that there is a total change of system brought
about by the change of instinct. The stronger scent from the excreta of
sitting birds has been advanced as a proof of this. The author will not
discuss this theory or deny it, but he is certain that the whole loss of
scent can be accounted for in another way. There is perhaps a change of
scent in breeding creatures. To explain this, in a doubtful way, it has
been affirmed that in gestation the superfluous essence of a beast finds
a use in being drained by the blood to the embryo.

In birds, however, if they are discovered off the nest, your pointer
will frequently point them, but will not be able to do so when they are
upon their eggs. The pointer is not a close hunter like the fox, the
terrier, or the sheep-dog, all of which occasionally find too many
sitting birds. But that which most negatives the change of system theory
in birds are two facts. One, that off the nests to feed the birds have
scent; and the other is, that at any time of the year the birds have
power to withhold their scent by merely crouching tight to mother earth,
holding in their feathers and remaining motionless. The author has been
one of a party when the best dogs then in existence totally failed to
find a wounded grouse. Then it was resolved to lunch, and dogs were
dropped or coupled up where they were. Towards the end of lunch, one of
the dogs was observed to be pointing downwards with its nose not 6
inches from the ground upon which lay the wounded grouse. That is to
say, it had remained immovable and _scentless_ within a yard of these
crack dogs for more than half an hour. These dogs were the very best
amongst the most successful field trial winners of the time, and to
doubt that they had remarkable noses would seem absurd if their names
were mentioned. Some of them had won by finding game 100 yards over the
backs of their competitors. But there was absolutely _no_ scent from
that bird until it became exhausted. Nor is this unusual. A falcon
generally, and an artificial kite sometimes, will make unwounded birds
crouch like this, and they too will often give out no scent whatever. At
other times dogs will be only able to detect the foot scents made before
the birds were scared into close lying. If there could be any doubt
about the noses of the dogs the author has shot over, he would not dare
to write like this; but the best dog men of the present time will, he
knows, support him when he says there never have been better nosed ones.
Consequently, it is affirmed that birds can not only reduce their scent
at will, but _wholly suppress_ it, for a time at any rate. They can only
do this when motionless, and this seems a sufficient explanation of why
all birds are not found on the nests by foxes and vermin. The greater
difficulty seems to be to discover why so many are found; but as even
Jove sometimes nods, it may be that the partridge and the pheasant does
so too, and the slightest movement appears to be fatal when scent means
death. One thing it is difficult to explain: How is it that the breath
does not betray the presence of the game? The otter can be hunted down
the river by the bubbles of breath that rise from him. The submerged
moorhen and wounded duck can be unerringly found by the dog in the same
way and by the same means. Is it possible that birds can subsist without
breathing for periods that would be fatal to ourselves? The author
expresses no opinion, but there is a total absence of scent upon
occasion to account for; this entire absence is rare either during
incubation or at other times.

Those who think there is no advantage to be derived from removing the
eggs into safety during incubation, say that there is no danger because
there is no scent. Yet one of them at least, namely Mr. Millard, advises
the use of Renardine to prevent the danger which scent causes.

Mr. Alington, the author of _Partridge Driving_, describes how
Renardine, the preparation in which Mr. Millard is interested, was
effective in keeping off foxes from the partridges’ nests one year, but
was actually the attraction to them the next. Mr. Holland Hibbert had a
similar experience. Mr. J. Geddies, of Collin, Dumfries, wrote to one of
the papers recounting similar misfortunes. There have been plenty of
letters written by keepers giving contrary views, but probably the
papers have exercised a wise discretion in not publishing them. It would
be unusual if the makers could not get testimonials from a number of
their clients, and they certainly would not ask those to state their
opinions who were dissatisfied.

We have to remember that Messrs. Gilbertson & Pages’ representative
would not be commercial if he were impartial, and that the spread of
what is called the Euston system would obviate the necessity at once for
Renardine and for the more important and more useful game foods sold by
the firm named above.

Another objection to protecting nests by evil-smelling substances or
liquids is, that men can smell them too, and if it took a fox a year to
know that a peculiar sensation to his olfactory nerves meant partridge,
it would not take a reasoning being a day to do so. Indeed, with this
guide to nests, the stealing of eggs could be conducted by night as well
as it is now by day. Another so-called prevention of foxes consists in
small pieces of metal covered with luminous paint, but this again is
open to precisely the same human objection as the other.

Scent is very little understood, but there is no reason why a
non-smelling volatile substance should not be discovered some day that
will combine with the volatile essence of game and neutralise it, just
as the scent of ozone is neutralised in the presence of carbonic acid
gas. Ozone is only oxygen in a peculiar molecular form. When one atom
amalgamates with the carbonic acid, the others become simple oxygen
again, and as part of the air have no scent. An essence that will act in
some such way towards the scent of sitting birds appears to be desirable
in the interests of game and foxes. But even if it were discovered, it
would do nothing to save the nests in heavy rain, when every depression
in the ground is flooded, and when partridges, grouse, and pheasants are
forced to abandon incubation.

It is difficult to suggest when precisely it was discovered that
partridges would permit themselves to be interfered with upon the nest.

The credit has been given to Marlow, Lord Ashburton’s keeper at The
Grange. The author has no reason to dispute the credit, which is
probably properly bestowed. At any rate, Marlow made Hampshire famous
for partridges, and for years held the record for a day’s as also for a
three days’ bag, and but for hand rearing at Houghton he would have held
it for four days also, and _entirely without hand rearing_. This is not
the place to discuss partridges, except for the fact that the use of
dummy and clear eggs for those birds has been erroneously attributed to
Euston. Really it was an advance, and a very great advance, on the
Euston plan. But pheasants have been handled on the nests by careful and
clever keepers for many years, although it appears to be only recently
that it has come to be known that partridges could also be treated
familiarly, if proper precautions were taken. The principal of these is
not to attempt to touch the nest with the bird upon it until she has
been sitting close for three days at least, and then to make no sudden
movement when approaching or handling the nest. If these points are
attended to, the bird will not leave her nest far, if she leaves it at
all, and will soon come back upon the retreat of her supposed enemy.

But whether this system of egg preservation is partially practised or
the eggs are wholly left to chance, they should all be marked, either
with indelible or invisible ink. The former plan is of the most use in
preventing egg-stealing, and the latter is the most useful in bringing
home the theft, and perhaps in ridding a neighbourhood of an
undesirable. The invisible ink shows up as soon as eggs marked with it
are inserted in an appropriate solution.


There are some places in which it would be almost impossible to have
pheasants and not have sport. The desire is to shoot pheasants that are
difficult up to a certain degree, but no farther. For instance, in a
flat country one cannot make the birds fly too high to please sportsmen,
and in a hill country it is difficult to prevent them from flying too
high. The way pheasants are driven to the guns at Holkham seems to
please all shooters, and Lord Leicester’s management has always been
held up as a model of woodcraft. The park at Holkham is very large, is
surrounded by a wall, and contains within its area an arable farm.
Around the park inside the wall run coverts, and the first plan of
action is to drive the pheasants forward to small elevated woods, and
then to place the guns between the birds and their homes. In some places
the guns are posted three deep. It is the height of these rising places
that makes the shooting there so good. But very much time is saved by
the plan adopted by Lord Leicester of not shooting at pheasants until
they have been driven into the right spot. This not only saves the time
too frequently occupied elsewhere by stopping to look for game as the
line should be advancing, but also obviates the necessity of all the
ground being hunted over for wounded pheasants the day after the shoot.
It is a very clean performance in every way, and anyone who wants to lay
out pheasant coverts cannot do better than make a visit of inspection to
Holkham, by Lord Leicester’s leave. But the laying out of pheasant
coverts is like planting a tree. It is true that a tree grows while its
planter sleeps, and is therefore economic; but it is also true that an
oak grows when its planter sleeps the long sleep, and therefore it is an
investment for posterity. So also is a pheasant covert in a less degree.

The real test of woodcraft arises when coverts are flat and there are no
tall trees. Then it is still possible to make pheasants fly high enough
for anyone, provided a few favourable conditions exist. Before referring
to these, it may be well to say a word on the character of the pheasant;
for it is only by knowing this that a shooter can make sure of getting
the birds to behave as they are required to in unexpected or
unfavourable conditions. The pheasant, then, is the most timid of game
birds; whether he has been hand reared or is of wild bred origin, this
character clings to him. He is, besides, as superstitious as a young
lady alone in a haunted house. He is frightened at any material object,
but he is much more afraid of the unseen and suspected enemy. In the
pheasant pens some cocks get very familiar with their feeders, and will
even spar at and wound them with their spurs; possibly they think that
this treatment is the influence that brings the food. The same bird that
attacks a strong bearded giant of forty within the bars would go frantic
with fear if an unknown child of three summers toddled up to the outside
of the bars of the pen. In the coverts the bird is still the same
creature of impulse. If you make a noise, he will run before you, for he
understands perfectly well what is making the noise; but if you move
forward silently, and come upon the pheasant unawares, he will not run,
but will either crouch and sit tight, or fly, and very likely go back
over the head of his disturber. Indeed, it is generally as easy to guide
a lot of pheasants as a motor car, and much more so when the latter
skids. Pheasants do not skid; they do nothing for nothing, and
everything is done for a very good reason. Theirs are not chance
movements at any time. Knowing that a pheasant is superstitious, it is
exceedingly easy to prevent him from going on foot where he is not
wanted, but he is only superstitious as long as he is on foot. Noises
made by hidden “stops” will have no effect whatever upon him the moment
he gets upon the wing. Then he must see in order to fear.

These traits may all be made use of in causing birds to fly high where,
without artifice, they would not rise 10 yards.

For instance, assume that it is wished to beat a covert which has
pheasants and possesses only a few trees for roosting, and none that
will make a bird mount to get over them. That does not matter. Out of
just such a covert the author has seen the most pretty pheasant
shooting. The way of it was this. All the birds were run out into an
adjoining broom-field, from which in the ordinary way the pheasants
could have been driven back to cover with the beaters re-starting at the
other side of them, and at the end of the field farthest from the
covert, without any of the shooting being more than moderate in
difficulty. In the ordinary way of beating, stops would have prevented
the pheasants running out at the far end of the broom-field, and when
the beaters went round to join these stops, leaving the guns under the
wood and on the field side of it, the trouble would begin, because in
this case the pheasants would never fly very high. But a totally
different complexion can be given to this shooting by a very slight
alteration of the plan of campaign. In the first place, instead of half
a dozen boys being sent round to stop the pheasants from running clean
through the broom-field, a few of the most trustworthy men are sent on
this business, with instructions to tap sticks occasionally, but to
speak not at all, and above all never to show. The object is to prevent
the birds finding out what is making the tapping noise, and if they see
boys they will know directly what is the cause. By this means the other
side of the field of broom farthest away from the covert is converted
into a mysterious land, one into which no self-respecting pheasant will
enter on any account. Having run out the pheasants into the broom, and
placed the guns between the field and the wood, instead of driving the
pheasants back towards the wood, the beaters will be most successful in
making pheasants fly high if they attempt to drive them on, past the
mystery men at the farther end of the field. _Nothing_ will make the
birds go: they will all come back to their own covert; but instead of
rising wild and flying low, they are now as it were between the devil
and the deep sea. As they dare not face the spirit world, or the unknown
quantity, the more they are frightened by the advancing beaters the
better for their flying. It is one of the few cases where noise is
better than silence in driving game. The more the noise the closer the
birds will lie, and the closer they lie the higher they will rise, in
order to get back over the heads of their mortal enemies, whom they hold
dangerous in exact degree to their proximity. Then, when the pheasants
have gone straight up and turned back over the noisy beaters, they see
the guns between them and home, which has the effect of keeping them
from sinking as they go homeward, and often makes them rise higher

If, besides making use of this plan, including driving the birds away
from home on their feet and back to headquarters on the wing (which is
the recognised principle), the last operation can be performed down wind
and in a breeze, the success of the scheme will be enhanced, but it does
not depend for success upon those conditions.

Every shooter professes to despise pheasant shooting unless the birds
are converted into good “rocketers.” But there is a little doubt what
this term conveys to different sportsmen. The author has seen sportsmen
professing the faith of the rocketer, already mentioned, supremely happy
when standing 50 yards outside a covert and slaying the birds that rise
in the corner no farther away. Possibly the term might originally have
been used to imply a bird that had risen straight up, but the author
does not remember its use in that sense. For thirty years it has meant
to sporting ears a bird which has risen high a long way in front, and
comes with the impetus gathered in long flight over the head of a
shooter. If at that moment the bird is sinking slightly on outstretched
motionless wings, it is none the less a rocketer. The late Bromley
Devonport’s chaff about the sportsman who preferred to seek the rocketer
in its lair has doubtless lost its meaning, but all the same those who
surround the corner of a covert in order to shoot just risen or just
rising pheasants are truly cornering the pheasant, but not the rocketer.

How far a pheasant should come in order to get its best impetus is
rather a difficult question. Clearly it must not be so far as to make
the bird begin to look out for a place to alight. That is to say, it
must be under 600 yards in most cases; but that does not assist very
much. Probably the best distance from the rise always alters with
circumstances, but there seems to be no reason for extending it beyond
the midway distance between the first two “sailing” periods.

The pheasants, in common with grouse and partridges, seem to object to
meeting more than a certain air resistance. When they have got up to a
speed at which the air resistance becomes unpleasant, they hold their
wings out still, and sail or float for some distance before renewing
their wing vibrations. If they are shot before this floating occurs for
the first time, they have not come to their full speed. If after, they
probably have come to it. If game is making up hill, the floating occurs
much later for the first time than it does when the direction is
horizontal or down hill. It is possible then that, speaking strictly, a
pheasant does not become a rocketer until it has passed the first
floating stage of its flight. It may be that when going up wind it will
not be able to float at all, but if the wind is as high as this implies,
there is, again, the question whether the pheasant is entitled to be
called a rocketer. The term, however, has been so much abused by
misapplication that it has almost gone out of use, and people speak more
frequently of high or tall birds and of fast ones, of curling and
sailing pheasants.

Although pace is in great request by the pheasant shooter, he does not
generally appreciate the greater difficulty of shooting through foliage
at his birds. There is excuse for this. The shot does not do the trees
any good, and besides there is a distinct tendency to shoot to a
“gallery,” which in cover is limited by the surroundings. It
unquestionably enhances the pleasure of covert shooting to be able to
see what all one’s fellow-guns do. There are times when no birds come
except in one way, and this is apt to be dull for those not then
“engaged,” unless they can see the wings of the battle line.
Nevertheless, speaking of our best English sporting spirit, if we can
satisfy our own critical sense, we desire no other appreciation. But we
like to appreciate others and to criticise mentally their performances,
therefore we want to see them. The author, however, has pleased himself
more by success in killing pheasants between tall trees that he could
not see through than by any other kind of shooting. However, he would
not say that this is really the more difficult in practice, although in
theory it looks to be infinitely the more taxing. The author has missed
more easy game than any others, he supposes by mere laziness. If there
is anything special to be done, one is never late for breakfast; but on
a day off one often is late, and it seems to be the same in shooting. If
there is only just time, then the nerves are alive to take the smallest
chance, whereas, given ample time, the author at any rate can often take
just too long.

In bringing pheasants to the guns, it is often necessary to discriminate
between the wild and tame bred. The former are much more upon the alert
than the latter, and it is often impossible to drive them out of a
cover, for the very simple reason that they cannot be got to go into and
remain in it long enough to be driven out. Then pheasant driving becomes
beating a country, very much like grouse or partridge driving. Wild
birds are also much more apt to take wing before they are wanted to, and
to fly out at the flanks of the beats over the heads of the stops. But
provided the wild birds can be kept upon their legs, they will answer to
the control of the woodcraftsman just as well as tame bred pheasants.
Probably there is no difference in the speed at which tame and wild
pheasants travel, and one is as easy to shoot as the other when brought
to the gun, but the wild bred bird is not as easy to bring there as the
other. If he cannot fly faster—and the author agrees with the Marquis of
Granby that he does not—he can at least fly farther, and probably he is
more likely in hill country, where he is mostly in evidence, to take an
up-hill course. Both of these characteristics are apt to carry him well
out of range of guns that are posted as experience of hand-bred
pheasants suggests to be best.

Pheasants will rarely fly away to ground they do not know, but they can
be made to run there. The principle of driving them is to leave one end
open and close three sides by means of beaters or stops. But the birds
have a natural tendency to cling to cover as they run, not necessarily
woods, but any cover that can hide them; turnips and gorse, broom and
ferns, they particularly like to run in. But in driving pheasants along
narrow strips of covert side stops have to be well back from the
plantation, otherwise by becoming aware of stops far ahead the birds may
believe themselves to be pounded, and then they will fly at once, and
usually towards their homes—that is, in the opposite direction to that
in which they are wanted to go. At Holkham, for the reason stated, a
good deal of this shooting of “pheasants back” is prohibited; but in
many places it is the most appreciated of all, for those that fly back
over the heads of the advancing line in covert are sure to be high 100
yards behind the rise, whereas in the line they may give rather tame

The latest generation of pheasant shooters looks back at the sport of a
hundred years ago with indifference and contempt—indifference because
the birds were so few, and contempt because it believes the shooting was
very easy. Some of it was very easy, no doubt; but in those days there
were no rides through the woods, and some of them were so thick that
leather jackets had to be worn by sportsmen, who would force through
after spaniels, or try to, and often find that even then they could not
do it. The gamekeeper’s change of dress from velveteen to Harris or
home-spun cloth indicates the change that has taken place in the
coverts. Forestry has more or less come in, and with the more thickly
planted trees, blackthorn and bramble, white thorn and gorse, have been
stifled by want of sun and air. The pheasant now runs in the open
covert, whereas he would lie close in the bramble and gorse bushes,
which often grew 8 or 9 feet high. Pheasant shooting in the “hind legs”
was not child’s play; it was dreadfully hard work, and the snap shots
given were often most difficult, but the difficulty was not of the same
kind as that of the fast, high bird in the open, which is mostly one to
overcome by cool judgment and calculating trick, but it was one
requiring physical strength and snap shooting.

Often it has been said that our ancestors knew nothing of the rocketer.
But the hardest pheasants the author has ever had to kill have been
Welsh pheasants flushed by a team of wild spaniels, and these birds
often came a couple of hundred yards before they got within range, _and
all down hill_. That is to say, there still exists shooting done in the
same way in which it was managed before the battle of Waterloo, and that
shooting is infinitely more difficult than any that can be obtained in a
flat country.

The author has arrived at a time of life when he has no particular
ambition to enter into competition with his dead ancestors, but he
believes that their skill in shooting the few birds they had was quite
as great as that of their descendants. They were flight shooters, and if
they could hit flighting ducks and teal in the dusk of evening, they
could do anything with the shot gun, except that they knew nothing of
getting off their guns at the rate of 200 shots in 20 minutes.

This is quite a demoralising rate of shooting at first, but it is
attainable by everyone, now that every gun-maker has a high tower and
clay birds to put over the shooter in streams.

Fashion in shooting always seems to go by contraries. That which is most
difficult becomes most fashionable, and now that anyone may learn how to
hit driven game and “let off” quickly, by means of the shooting schools,
it is doubtful whether fashion will not turn round and favour that which
is less attainable, and not to be acquired by school teaching. This sort
of shooting education cannot help a man to shoot straight at the end of
a long day in hot sun and over the roughest peat hags. Only practice in
the thing itself will do that: there is no royal road to high form, as
there is for the butts.

In big shoots the tendency is to have two parties of beaters, to avoid a
loss of time. One party gets into position while the other is beating,
so that often guns have only to face about after shooting the game of
one covert in order to receive pheasants driven into the beaten covert
from another one.

A semicircle of beaters is advocated sometimes, but the wings are feeble
protection against pheasants breaking away, and it is much better to
employ stops, when there will not be the same necessity for the crescent

Beaters should be supplied with smocks. It is not fair to them to send
them through thick covert without some protection to their clothes, more
especially if the covert is wet.

Pheasant coverts are not now often full of ground game, and the beating
for both together is not as fashionable as formerly was the case. There
are usually difficulties; for instance, the rabbits cannot be got to
leave coverts, and the pheasants are not much shot inside them. But
where the guns are used to drive the pheasants to favoured rising
places, and no attempt is made to shoot the birds before they get there,
rabbits and hares can very well be shot in these beating operations. The
only difficulty in this is the delay that occurs in looking for the dead
and wounded, and really there should be no difficulty about that, if all
shooters made it a point of sportsmanship to have a good and reliable
retriever. But if canine steadiness is always useful, it is essential on
these occasions. Pheasants are running in front, perhaps in hundreds,
and a retriever sent for a wounded rabbit must be perfectly safe not to
get on the foot scent of one of the pheasants and rode it up, until
overtaking it he flushes hundreds and spoils the day. There are some
retrievers that it would be quite safe to send for a rabbit, because it
never goes far, and also for a hare, or pheasant, back, but for neither
of these forward, because there is no knowing that they will not run
into the bulk of the pheasants, and when once put on wounded game it is
the retriever’s business to follow until he gets it.

In very big coverts the stopping out of rabbits may safely proceed
before the pheasants are shot, if care be taken that the stopping is in
progress only in one part of the wood at any one time.

Sometimes it is necessary, in order to make pheasants rise far enough
from the guns, to run nets across a wood 100 yards or 200 yards from its
end where the guns are to be posted. Some people use a “sewin” instead.
This is a long string with a bit of paper or feathers tied into it at
every 5 yards or less. The whole is then lodged upon sticks stuck into
the ground. If one end is given to a man, he can by jerking the string
turn back large numbers of pheasants; but care is necessary to ensure
that the sticks are flexible, and that the string is firmly fixed to the
tops of them. The object is that the feathers or paper may dance when
one end of the string is pulled.

A succession of small rises throughout the length of a covert can be
arranged, by fixing at intervals short nets set up in the form of a V,
with the opening towards the beaters.


During the last decade it has been discovered that wild ducks can be so
managed as to give assured sport. Some people rate it a good deal higher
than pheasant shooting, and besides this the wild duck is very much more
easily bred than the pheasant, costs less than half, and if it does give
as good sport, or better, there is nothing more to be said. But the
artificially bred wild duck is very much more difficult to manage in
shooting than the pheasant. The latter is a shy, nervous bird; but the
duck considers things, and therein lies the trouble. If you treat him
affectionately, you cannot frighten him; if you keep him wild, you are
very likely to lose him altogether. You may so arrange, if you will,
that the wild duck is not the least bit scared at the firing of guns.
Probably this is the proper management, because, after all, when this
has been brought about, your duck only the closer imitates the game
birds that we love so well. You will send every pigeon clattering out of
the trees if you fire a gun in covert; but the pheasants take hardly any
notice, neither do partridges or grouse care for the sound of a gun,
although they care very much for the sight of a man, and shy at the
smoke but not at the sound made by a line of guns. The wild duck, unless
taught better manners, is as scared as the pigeon by the sound of
firing. Hence it is difficult to drive birds backwards and forwards over
a line of guns, because even if they will take that flight twice, they
will mount up five or ten times as high as a gun can reach. The more
shooting there is the higher they mount, and even if they want to come
down to a favourite pool they swing round and far above many times
before they venture to come near enough to the surface to afford a shot.
This is the nature of the really wild bird, which is nevertheless
partial to one home water, and is practically at home nowhere else.
Consequently, when duck are artificially reared, this wild and
pigeon-like habit must be eliminated in some way, otherwise a thousand
duck may show themselves only too well, and give no sport whatever. The
broad principle of getting shooting at hand-reared ducks is, therefore,
either to prevent guns from scaring them, or else to arrange that
instead of seeing the shooters constantly they only see them once, and
that once when the birds are going home. The first plan is very easily
arranged by constantly letting the ducks hear a shot or two about
feeding-time. It can even be brought about that the gun is the signal
for food, and when that has been accomplished the danger is not that the
birds will be scared away to sea or into the sky, but that they should
settle near the shooters and quack for food. But without making the gun
the actual signal for feeding-time, it is easy enough to let the young
birds hear enough of it to disregard it entirely. If this is not done,
the birds will not settle during shooting in the neighbourhood, and if
they will not alight they cannot be driven. Another difficulty is that
these birds love to associate in great numbers, and in a big flock what
one does they all do. It is clearly too mad for a moment and dull for an
hour when all the duck come over at once, and so end a morning’s

Two plans have been adopted for getting over the difficulty, both of
which are based on calling the birds to feed away from home, and driving
them back over the shooters in small batches.

This is open to sentimental objections, of course, but there are two
ways of doing even this: one of them seems to bear lesser sentimental
objection than the other. The most effective plan is that one which it
is said was adopted at Netherby when and before the Prince of Wales shot
there. The statement has often been made, and has never been
contradicted in public, so probably it is true, that when the birds are
called to feed away from their home waters by the sound of a horn, they
are penned up, and then let out a few at a time to fly home over the
heads of the guns. The Prince has expressed the intention of never
shooting at trapped creatures, and probably he is unaware how the
Netherby duck were managed, because if it is done in the way described
above there is a sort of penning, but so managed as to give the duck all
the world before them if they elect to take chances before they come to
the guns. There is absolutely nothing to show that the duck have been
detained longer than just enough to divide them into small batches, but
what the Prince of Wales has said does nevertheless express the
sentiment of sportsmen generally. The best deer shooting in the world is
of no sporting account if it is in a park and not on open ground, and
consequently there is a sentiment which counts for a good deal in the
manner of driving duck to the gun.

The other plan to effect the same results without awakening any question
of the ethics of sport, is to be found in feeding the duck, not in pens,
but in a wide expanse of covert, and teaching them to hunt all over it
for their broadcast scattered grain. If this plan is adopted, it is
fairly easy with clever management to send the duck home in small
batches, provided the feeding-ground is widely enough scattered, so that
one party of ducks cannot see another when it is flushed or when in the
air making for home. Duck imitate each other to such an extent that if
they did see one lot disturbed and made to fly home, probably a great
many would rise at once and do the same. Obviously the better way to
avoid this is to start the duck out of covert at the end nearest home
first—“home” being here, as above, used in the sense of the duck’s
resting-place, which is generally, but not invariably, water. At
Netherby it is said that ducks are made to consider the coverts their
homes in some cases. It cannot be laid down to apply generally that any
one system is the best, because all depends upon the kind of place the
birds are to be reared in. However, this may be taken to apply
everywhere—that it is easier to rise duck in small batches out of covert
and from several miles of streams, than from sheets of water where every
bird can see all that happens. The driving from pool to pool is oftenest
resorted to, but in that case the artificially reared birds are more
easily employed as an additional sport to many days than for regular
duck days.

At Netherby there have been 10,000 hand-reared duck in a season, and
difficulty only arises when it is sought to kill a good proportion of
these in one day. Here there are three or four different rearing places
or “homes.” Most of the eggs have in the past been purchased, and placed
under domestic hens in the manner of pheasants’ eggs. At Tring Park the
eggs are procured by penning off a portion of marsh and water of about 4
acres, and the birds are caught up, wing clipped, and turned out in
this, in the proportion of three duck to a mallard. At Tring the young
duck are started with some hard-boiled egg, bread-crumbs, and boiled
rice, but at Netherby this is done with duck meal; later, they are fed
on maize porridge mixed dryish, and later with maize whole and dry. At
Netherby they are given a little pan of water to each coop from the
first. This has to serve until they are three weeks old, when puddles 30
feet in circumference are made for them; and although ten in a coop is
the rule, and they are shut in at nights along with the foster-mother,
they crowd in hundreds into these clay constructed puddles. The food is
also given in a small pan at each coop. Any method which drops sticky
food on the backs of the ducks is sure to lead to trouble. At six weeks
old the birds are taken to their permanent homes, which at Netherby are
mostly the brooks or burns flowing through the estate.

Wet is not bad for young ducks as long as they can get under the
brooding hen, but wet and cold as well is not their best weather, and
none of the most successful breeders allow the little ducks to have
their fling in large sheets of water, or even ponds or brooks, until
they are six weeks old. When quite small, the greatest enemies of the
duck are hot sun without shade, and cold wind. In the early stages they
are best fed four times in the day, as at Netherby, where over 1000
ducks have frequently been killed in one day. There they are penned out
exactly as pheasants generally are, in a field surrounded with wire
netting to keep out foxes.

Obviously in no manner ever discovered can true wild duck be killed in
such numbers as these. That they have been caught in numbers equally
large in decoys, and could be shot by taking them away from the decoys
and letting them out a few at a time in the neighbourhood of the guns,
is certain, but it never has been done, and a decoy is only used as a
neck-breaking trap to supply the markets with duck, widgeon, and teal.

There is nothing whatever to be said against the hand rearing of wild
duck. If they are properly managed, they give far harder and better
shooting than pheasants; especially is this the case if they are left
long enough to get their mature plumage.

Some difference of opinion has arisen on the best size of shot to use
for wild duck. Probably No. 4 is the best size, if the particular gun
will shoot it well. The size to be most objected to is No. 6, which has
not penetration enough for the body shots at any moderate range, and is
not thick enough to make sure of hitting head or neck. If the latter is
to be relied upon, No. 7 is better than No. 6, but not better than No.
8. But if this principle is adopted, only shots should be taken when the
head and neck is well in view, for from behind these sizes can only
wound. They wound a good deal in any case, but when duck are coming
anything like straight for the gun (which seldom happens) body striking
small pellets glance off like hail. No. 4 shot may not hit often enough
to please shooters; but duck cannot take this size away apparently
unharmed to die by slow torture. For that reason it is the sportsman’s
size. The neck and head shot please the shooter, because they alone
inflict sudden death in the air, and the work looks to be a clean hit
and a clean miss; but when this appearance is obtained by the use of
small shot things are not what they seem. Nothing can be said when the
game comes down, but every bird missed must be suspected of being

All game birds cling to the ground or the tree tops when they are
flying, more or less, as the wind suits them. The real wild duck cling
to the water, and follow down the course of a stream in such a way that
two or three guns can be so posted as to command the whole lateral
extension of flighting duck or teal, except that both these birds are
easily scared by shooting to mount far out of gun-shot. When they are
mounted they do not necessarily follow the stream, for the reason that
they can probably see other water far ahead, and they make for it in a
direct line. But as the shots will mount them, so also a succession of
men posted in their line of flight will each send them a little higher,
and consequently the shooter should not only be invisible to the duck
before he has fired, but after also; otherwise he will spoil sport for
the next gun down stream, or up, as the case may be.

                             WILD WILD-DUCK

Perhaps it is a misnomer to speak of any duck as “tame,” it gives a
false impression; but by wild wild-duck is meant to be implied those
fowl that breed in a natural way, and are only to be killed with much
success by artifice. For instance, there are three great varieties of
wild-duck shooting besides the punt gunner’s business. The most
practical of these is “flighting”; the next often “indulged” in, if it
can be called indulgence, is “shore shooting”; and the third kind is the
“gaze” system that is practised mostly upon the Hampshire Avon and
Stour. There are many modifications of this system employed upon other
rivers and on chains of pools.

                            FLIGHT SHOOTING

Taking these in the order named, it may at once be stated that flight
shooting gives beautiful sport, but has the disadvantage that it is
selfish amusement, because one cannot invite friends to assist in a form
of sport that not only depends much on the weather, as all sports do,
but altogether upon it. “Flighting” is the interception of the wild duck
in the evening when they come from the sea or other resting-places to
their inland feed. Consequently, the line of flight must be known, and
besides, this knowledge is not quite enough, because a change of wind
alters the course of the fowl, which may be said to have a different
line of flight for every wind. But even when the fowler has hit off the
correct land spot where the fowl go over, that is not all. The weather
counts for much more than this; for it usually happens that upon a still
night the duck go over at so great a height that shooting is out of the
question. Then upon a starlight night they are so difficult to see that
hitting is out of the question, and it is only on cloudy, windy, moonlit
nights that much good can usually be done, and only then is much
execution likely if a good head wind is blowing against the fowl. At
most, flight shooting only lasts from a quarter to half an hour in the
evening. In the morning, when the fowl have fed and betake themselves
seawards, it may last a good deal longer, especially if, after those
have gone which are not inclined to rest in their feeding-grounds (and
there are generally a good many of these), those grounds are disturbed
purposely. Flighting is a sport that has one very great advantage: if
positions are well chosen—not too near either the day home or the night
feeding ground—no harm whatever is done by shooting every day. The fowl
cannot be driven away by that means. One hears the present generation of
shooters disparaging the easy shots their great-grandfathers gloried in,
but flight shooting is as old as the “scatter gun,” and it is still the
most difficult of all shooting. The author’s experience of shooting in
the half light is that it is next to impossible to hold sufficiently
forward. But this is an observation that he has never been able to
explain satisfactorily to himself. It is not suggested that half light
travels slower than good light, but merely that the true position of the
moving mark is not recognised by the brain as quickly as anything in a
good light.

                             SHORE SHOOTING

This sport is much more affected by the weather even than flight
shooting. Speaking broadly, the shore is a good place for a youngster to
learn the art of shooting in the early season, say in September. Then
the curlews and the golden and green plover will be young, and the most
blundering performer will hardly be able to avoid getting near enough
for a shot sometimes, and will not be able to prevent an occasional
foolish young thing flying into the load. A good many shots will be
fired at creatures going low down enough over water for the splash of
the pellets to be a guide to the gunner for his next shot. But too much
reliance must not be placed on any such appearances when the bird is
more than a foot above the water, because after the pellets have passed
the game they will be going so slowly as to appear far behind when they
splash the water, even when, in fact, they might have been straight for
the mark, or even in front. With shooting schools in such numbers, it is
much more humane to rely for education upon the class of shooting given
at them than to mangle birds that are of no use when killed. This remark
does not, of course, apply to golden plover, which are quite as good
food as a snipe, nor to green plover and curlew, which it is said are
good food, but only to the terns and small fry that are not eaten.

However, clay bird shooting can never teach confidence and knowledge of
what is and what is not at shooting distance. For this reason the
saltings and the shore experience of a young gunner are valuable to him,
although the real wild fowlers of the district have every right to
believe themselves injured by people who constantly disturb fowl by
shooting at “rubbish.”

The young shooter, then, should not begin by trying to see how far a gun
will kill, for it is no credit at all to kill far off. It is the easiest
kind of shot, because the “game” is moving relatively to the swing of
the gun far slower far off than near by. It may credit the gun-maker to
kill a long shot, but not the shooter when he misses the next near one.
Consequently, if one must go shore shooting in summer, or before summer
visitors have gone, a good way is to make a rule never to excuse a miss
as being too far. It is wonderful how, by beginning at near easy shots
and never missing, the ability gradually comes to make a gun do its best
at farther distance; whereas beginning at long shots teaches nothing,
and every miss begets loss of confidence, which is the one thing most
essential in shooting. But from the summer shore shooter to the veteran
winter business man of the shore, who makes a living by his gun, or at
least makes his day’s wages every day he thinks it worth his time to go
fowling, there is as much difference as between “W. G.” in his prime and
the stoniest stone-waller who ever blocked cricket balls upon an
artificial wicket. Your real clever wildfowler of the shore is not born,
he is made by a lifetime of experience. He and a new-comer may start out
in opposite directions, and the local may in a night and a day kill far
more widgeon and duck than he can carry home at two goes (most likely he
will take them in a boat), and your new-comer without assistance may
never have been within shot of fowl all the time, and probably will only
escape the rising tide by the help of Providence.

A would-be shore shooter, then, can only succeed by placing himself in
the hands of the best local fowler he can get to take on the job. This
remark is equally true with regard to the old sportsman from elsewhere
as it is of the novice down for a holiday. It is not here only a
question of the weather, but largely also one of geography. Every creek
through the mud flats has to be mapped out in the mind of him who would
make use of creeks in order to stalk wild fowl. Every bank at low tide
must be an hour-glass, to indicate just when it will disappear and the
feeding fowl will be washed off their legs and will have to find other
feeding-ground. Those fowl know already where they are going for food
the instant they are flooded out, and your real fowler knows it too, and
maybe is lying up in a mud hole to intercept them. A mud hole does not
sound like a bed of roses, but, by one who understands it, can be made
quite comfortable for a winter night’s sport with the mercury
registering 15 degrees of frost. Indeed, it is not much good at any
other time. It is only in the very wildest and worst of nights and days
that wild fowling is at its best. There must be snow for choice, and
frost also, even on the seashore. In fact, the weather must be so hard
that the fowl can only feed on mud flats that are tide-washed, for the
reason that everywhere else the ground is too hard, and too much covered
with snow and ice, to enable ducks to reach the mud bottoms of fresh
water, or to enable widgeon and teal and geese to feed elsewhere at all.
About once in ten years we have six or eight weeks of such weather, and
then the favoured spots swarm with fowl of all kinds to such an extent
that for miles and miles along the coasts birds on the mud and in the
air appear almost as numerous, and as all-pervading, as the great fat
snowflakes that have little less of wills of their own than the fowl
themselves, and are little less playthings and creations of the air and

In such wild weather three shots at knotts have resulted in a bag of 600
birds, to say nothing of the wounded. Then grey geese and brent fly low,
and follow the receding, as they have to move from the flowing, tide;
for they are always hungry, and it is no time to be particular. Ducks
then feed as much by day as by night, and geese possibly as much by
night as by day; for they are starving, and grow so poor in condition
when this weather lasts long as not to be worth shooting, or sending to
market when shot. It is as if the lion once more lay down with the lamb,
for the birds become almost fearless, and quite careless of their mortal
enemy man, who in the beginning of the storm rejoices in his victory
over the most wary fowl of the air, as the grey geese are, and in the
end hopes the weather may soon break to save the lives of the poor
useless things.

How is it that the fowl that are migrants, and have already come perhaps
2000 miles, are caught like this, maybe upon the north Norfolk coast,
when by flying away to the west coast of Ireland or to sunny Spain they
would find the condition of temperature they require and lots of food?
Probably those that were there when the weather started its avian trials
did that, and possibly the multiplication of migrants, as the storm
continues, are birds that have already had a thousand miles’ race to
ride before the storm and have been worsted in the attempt. If so, their
weakness and want of food is the cause. They have not the strength to
cross snow-covered England, where they could get no bite nor sup on the
way. In other words, they perish, like Mrs. Dombey, because they have
not the strength to make an effort.

It is not these belated and consequently starved birds that the shore
shooter wants to make the acquaintance of, but the first to arrive on
the wings of the storm, and consequently any aspirant to this kind of
sport should keep in touch with the best local fowler whose services he
can buy. The latter must telegraph the instant that the weather and the
fowl together forecast the coming storm, and the birds know before
thermometer and barometer together can indicate what is to be. Then the
gunner must take the first train and telegraph to his fowler to make all
arrangements, otherwise there may be a day’s loss of time when he does
arrive, because his fowler will be where the thickest of the fowl are,
and there will be nobody left behind who knows exactly where that is at
any precise period of the day or night. All who do know will be engaged
in the slaughter for themselves, for on the free saltings and the shore
all men are equal who are good fowlers, and the others do not count.

When such weather as this comes, history is going to be made, history
that will last a hardy honest small community a decade or more to
discuss, and for the robust it is well worth joining in, but it is also
worth paying for, and a good price too. It is true that by showing you
around a wildfowler does not lose his own sport, or not all of it; but
unless you are a good sportsman as well as a good shot, your joint bags
will not equal that of an experienced fowler by himself, and
consequently luxuries at zero and in a gale of snow have to be paid for
on a basis far higher than ordinary keeper’s tips. That is, they have to
if you want to come in for the cream of the sport.

                           THE “GAZE” SYSTEM

The “gaze” system of shooting is a Hampshire Avon equivalent for the
shooting from tubs that has been practised for many years. The shooting
from the latter is much more suitable for large marshes and open sheets
of water, whereas the “gaze” is a brushwood or furze construction
suitable for the river bank. But they are alike in this—that the
shooting of many guns keeps the fowl upon the move, whether they ring
round pools and marshes or follow the course of a stream. The habit of
all fowl to prefer flying over water enables a duck “drive” (for these
two methods are duck drives) to be successfully brought off without
drivers. We have read of Mr. Abel Chapman’s success by the tub method in
the Spanish marshes, and also of a royal son of King George III. and his
want of success in shooting fowl from a tub on the Berkeley Castle
haunts of the wild goose. At the latter other methods are now adopted,
but the sport is not very great, although this is because of the
difficulty of getting shots, and not because of any scarcity of fowl.
Mr. Chapman had splendid sport in Spain, but the fowl there were greatly
in excess of their numbers in England, and besides, they appear to have
flown conveniently low. Much shooting by many guns generally makes the
fowl mount very high, unless the shooters are very widely distributed,
and really the great objection to wild wild-duck is that they take a
mean advantage of the gun-maker, and often fly at heights no shot gun
will reach them. But very much depends on the frequency with which they
are disturbed, and unquestionably they have very pretty days of sport on
the Hampshire rivers by means of these “gazes.” Where there are very
many birds some will be certain to fly low enough to shoot, and they do
not usually mount, in flying down a river, as they do in circling round
a pool, to see whether a descent is safe. Probably this is because they
believe themselves to be leaving danger behind when following the course
of a river.

In making these “gazes” it is necessary that there should be protection
from the sight of the fowl coming from both up and down the river, and
also that the shelters should be so arranged as to enable shooters to
get into them without flushing fowl close by. The way the shooting is
arranged is for the manager to point out each man’s “gaze,” or hide, or
butt, to him, and give him just long enough to get there a minute or two
before shooting is to begin. Each gunner is requested not to fire until
a certain time by the watch, which is fixed upon so as to allow the man
with farthest to go to comfortably reach his “gaze” before time is up.
Mr. Robert Hargreaves, who has done a good deal of this kind of shooting
as well as most others, is of opinion that teal for the second barrel
give the most difficult of all shooting. He describes the action of a
company of teal as like the bursting of a bomb when they are shot at by
the first barrel, so that for the next shot the game may be anywhere and
going in any direction. This seems very admirable description, but it is
only thanks to those “gazes” that the first shot is not just as
difficult as the second. The teal seems to be the only bird that can set
the laws of gravity wholly at defiance, and at the glint of a moving gun
can shoot straight upwards, _apparently_ at the same speed it was
travelling forward before being frightened. Often the bird is by this
means out of range by sheer altitude before the shooter has recovered
from the intended allowance ahead that he expected to have to give, and
began to swing for, before the teal converted themselves into living
rockets, and thus disconcerted the shooter.

The beauty of this kind of duck shooting is that every species of duck
has a different flight from its successor, that the shooter never knows
what is coming, nor from what direction it will be. One never does see
all the grouse that pass near enough for a shot, and then one is only
watching one way; but in “gaze” shooting it is necessary to watch every
way. This is essentially sport in which humanity in a double sense is
the best policy. To shoot farther than you can kill is to wound duck
that will possibly die out at sea, and it is also to send all the duck
within hearing up one storey higher, and to spoil the sport of your
fellows as a consequence.

The best sizes of shot for duck are probably No. 7 or 8 if reliance is
to be placed upon hitting head or neck, or No. 4 if it is desired that
body shots should kill. Probably No. 6 is the very worst size to use,
because it has power enough to get through the breast feathers but not
through the breast bone of a duck at a moderate range. No. 8 does not
appear to the writer to do much damage to a coming duck unless it
catches him in the head and neck, and then it is fatal, and that is all
that can be said of No. 6, which has so much less chance of hitting the
vitals. There is a very well developed horror of plastering, and that is
the reason why No. 4 is very popular for wild duck. A choke bore and No.
4 shot are a good combination for this sport.

                            FLAPPER SHOOTING

Flapper shooting is killing wild duck before they have got their full
powers of flight. Its sport consists in getting shots. Very good
spaniels are wanted to make the flappers rise at all. They are very easy
to kill, and even teal flushed before the sportsman are about as easy as
a sitting mark. Indeed, to some people they are more easy, because a
sitting mark is very often missed not only by pigeon shooters but also
by platers of guns.

                          ENCOURAGING THE FOWL

It seems curious that wild fowl that spend most of their time in the
water particularly dislike wind, but so it is, and in making teal pits
or improving them, or in attracting fowl to a river, the more artificial
shelter you can afford the fowl the more they will be attracted to your
water. Near the coast this is generally well understood, and there, too,
the roughness of the sea greatly influences the birds to seek peace and
shelter inland; so that there are naturally good days and bad ones for
shooting from the “gazes.” In a smooth sea and fine weather duck seem to
prefer to go to bed, which they do in the daytime, on the sea. But in
rough weather the majority will find out any quiet places on fresh water
where the presence of other duck prove to them that there is safety. For
this reason some half-tame wild duck are a great attraction to the
really wild ones, but the former can be only kept at home by good
feeding, for wing-clipped fowl are _no_ attraction to the really wild
birds. Home-bred birds appear not so much to attract as to go and fetch
the wild ones, and this is the reason that wing-clipped birds will not
do. On the “gaze” system 800 duck have been killed in four days’
shooting by a party. Mr. John Mills, of Bisterne, using an 8 and a 12
bore, has killed 130 fowl in a day from one “gaze,” and on one occasion
100 cartridges were shot away from one “gaze” in a few minutes, and the
shooter ran out of cartridges and had to stop and look at the fowl for
half an hour. He killed 60 duck, and thought he could have doubled his
bag with another 100 cartridges. This was at Lord Manners’ place, Avon
Tyrrell. In parts of Dorsetshire as well as Pembrokeshire a great deal
of attention has been given to the formation of teal pits and the
cultivation of wild wild-fowl, but the biggest bags made have fallen far
short of those mentioned above, possibly because the fowl are generally
taken in an ordinary day’s shooting of other game, and not in specially
arranged big days.

                            RABBIT SHOOTING

From potting the unsuspecting rabbit sitting at his front door, and
spoiling two blades of grass for every one he eats, to killing rabbits
hunted out of heather by spaniels, there is nearly as wide a difference
as the whole range of the shot gun embraces. The rabbit is said to be
the schoolboy’s game, but the schoolboy might fairly retort that this is
because the seniors cannot hit him. He is certainly the easiest and also
the hardest to kill of all the British food for powder. It just depends
upon how he is treated whether he is worthy to be called a sporting
beast or not. A rabbit in strange ground, or one that knows he cannot
get home, is the poorest-hearted little beast possible, and is even too
much afraid to run away. Then we are often told what splendid sport
rabbits make for the gun when hunted by beagles. This is a fraud. It
sounds pretty, but in practice all the rabbits but one will be sitting
up trimming their whiskers with their fore feet and listening to the
direction of the hunt, for the beagles’ pack, and so only one rabbit is
being hunted at any one time. If you are watching a rabbit and hear the
hunt turn, you will get ready for the time the creature runs. But he
will not run; he will merely hop quietly out of the line of the hunt,
and sit up to listen some more.

In bracken that is not too thick the rabbit may bolt, but when it is
very thick the author has watched rabbits defeat a whole team of
spaniels by the higher strategic operation of sitting quite still. In
this stuff you see them at your toes, much too near to shoot, and cannot
see them at all when they are far enough away for half a load of shot
not to smash them. If you want pretty rabbit shooting, you must have
dogs that do not “open,” or else beaters. In fair undergrowth, in which
one can just see to shoot sometimes, rabbits when at home will make for
their holes fast enough, and they take shooting. But for difficulty in
covert they are as nothing compared with rabbits that have well used
runs through fairly long heather. Sometimes in running they will be
under the heather, and even under the level of the ground in the broken
surface; sometimes they will be above the heather. You will probably try
to shoot a little in front of them as they turn and twist along their
runs at great speed, but nothing makes a shooter feel so foolish as
shooting so much in front that the quarry never at any time gets as
forward as the shot went. The heather rabbit is quite capable of
creating this feeling, for when you lose sight of him he frequently
changes his course just as if he knew that his enemy was noted for
shooting well in front. Where under covert is very thick indeed, the
author has never seen pretty rabbit shooting, although he has seen
fearless spaniels trying to make the rabbits run, and succeeding in
making them crawl and hop by turns, but run very rarely indeed. They
seem to know that the spaniels cannot catch them in such places. Rabbit
shooting on a grand scale is nearly always a failure. You kill the
numbers, no doubt; but in order that you should do it the rodents have
been ferreted or “stunk” out of their holes, and the latter have been
stopped up, and most of the quarry appear to know they are in a trap,
and are philosophical enough to think that it is useless to run without
having a place to run to. You can certainly drive rabbits past the guns,
but you cannot always make them run. In only fairly thick under covert,
with rides for the guns to stand, fair sport is often obtained. You may
see the rabbits come up to the ride and then stop and hide. They fear to
cross. Then, when they are obliged to go, they make a rush of it;
evidently they know their danger, and think safety lies in speed. If
they can be got to cross like this, there is sport in it, provided the
rides are not too wide. If they are wide, you make a certainty of your
shot, and the sport is less. The best sporting width is that which
causes an uncertainty as to whether the shot succeeded, and an
examination in the bushes to see whether the shot was well or ill timed.
That is to say, the best sport is when the bushes take up a lot of the
pellets and the rabbit is out of sight before the snap shot is off.

Gas tar is as good as anything to keep rabbits out of their holes. It is
not bad when properly employed to get them out. But as strong-smelling
stuffs are generally used, they keep the rabbits in their holes for one,
two, or three nights, until hunger compels an exit past the paper dipped
in tar. It is a good plan to put the paper down the holes only on the
windward side of the burrows; this has the effect of blowing the smell
through the whole of the compartments, but leaves open bolt holes where
nothing will impede. The next day the other side of the burrow can be
doctored, and this will prevent re-entry. After this, shooting may take
place without many uninjured rabbits going to ground, but the wounded
will go in and die there; consequently, there is nothing like stopping
out if the rabbits can be got out. A very effective plan for this is the
use of a line ferret. It is best not to let the ferret try and bolt the
rabbits; that takes too much time. But if it is run through the holes
one day and tar-paper is inserted the next, most of the rabbits will be
found to have had pressing business elsewhere. Consequently, they can be
shot, and give better sport than if they had been subjected to
back-scratching by the ferret’s poison claws. But probably the best way
of all, where the holes are not amongst rocks, is to fill up all
entrances with a clod of soil or turf and sprinkle the latter with gas
tar or spirits of tar. Twenty-four hours later the process has to be
repeated, for the rabbits will have scratched out. This should be
repeated every day until the shoot occurs, but only the first stopping
will be much trouble; there will be few holes to stop afterwards. In
trying to make a big bag it is very necessary to put down netting to
keep the rabbits off the beaten ground. Stops will do, but are not as
effective as the net.

The preservation of rabbits implies, of course, the destruction of
vermin, especially cats. The next necessity is fresh blood in January or
February, and early and close shooting or trapping. Rabbits degenerate
quicker than most animals, and in-breeding and stale ground are the
worst causes. On some soils lime-dressing seems to be absolutely
necessary for the continued health and reproductive powers of rabbits in
warrens. Out of warrens, and especially where they are not wanted,
nothing seems to injure them. Neither disease, vermin, nor the
schoolboy’s gun will do them any damage where they are not encouraged.
This is probably because they are most healthy where they are most
scarce, and it is only nature’s justice that if they poison the grass
they should poison themselves also.

Shooting rabbits over ferrets requires much more attention than it is
worth. The rabbit always seems to bolt well when the shooter is not
attending; when he is all expectation, the rabbit comes and looks at
him, pokes his head out of the hole, where to shoot him would be to
destroy his value. Then, just as the ferret must be getting up to the
quarry’s tail to make him bolt, the head disappears and is seen no more.
Then in ten minutes or half an hour the experienced person says it will
be necessary to dig, because the ferret is lying up, or if he is muzzled
he is probably pounded, with rabbits’ backs to scratch on all sides of
him, but no rabbits to bolt. Then, when the most unexpected event does
take place, and the rabbits do bolt well, those you wound are sure to go
to ground with a broken leg or shoulder, and so stop proceedings, either
by detaining the ferret or by informing their fellows. Ferreting is not
nearly as good sport as shooting stopped-out rabbits. When beaters for
the latter are used, they should make no noise. The object is not that
the quarry should quietly canter along in front of a line of guns, but
you will want them to lie well, so that when disturbed in close contact
with some beater’s stick they may run well. The former they will do if
there is fair covert to lie in and no noise, not even “tapping” of
sticks. The latter they will do if they are poked up with a stick
instead of being thrashed up with a stake. The biggest record of rabbit
shooting is that of 5096 rabbits to nine guns in the day. This was in
1885, in Mr. J. Lloyd Price’s Rhiwlas warren. The load of shot best for
shooting warren rabbits, or any others if other game is not to be
bagged, is ¾ oz. of No. 3 shot. This saves plastering, and enables both
near shots and long ones to be taken. It was the load used with Schultze
powder when the bag above mentioned was made. Perhaps it is not correct
to talk of a bag of rabbits when such wilful slaughter occurs. There
must have been between seven and eight tons of rabbits for that one
day’s work.

If rabbits come out from a covert to feed in a rough banky grass field,
one that will afford good sport if the rabbits lie out in it, this can
be brought about by means of wire netting, the lower part of which is
set so as to fall by the pulling of a string. However, half the fun is
lost when rabbits are shot out of woods. This plan for keeping the
beasts out of their coverts is perhaps more useful in snow when the
trees are in danger, and when, too, the rabbits highly appreciate the
hay in the sheep racks. Indeed, feeding with £5 worth of hay would often
save £500 worth of young trees.

The enclosing of warrens with wire netting is a simple matter, and the
principle should be that rabbits can get in but cannot get out. This is
easy enough to arrange. There must be turned-in wire at both the top and
bottom, and turned-out wire at the bottom. This rests on the ground, and
there is no need to put it underneath. About 6 inches of turning-in is
enough. Three feet 6 inches is about the best height for wire, although
if the ground is quite flat probably 3 feet and an over-lap of 6 inches
to prevent climbing from the inside is enough. Then if, on the outside
in several places, a wall of turf is built as high as the fencing, and a
single turf is laid as a lead on to the overlay of netting, rabbits will
enter freely, but will not get out again. It is thought best to use
graduated wire, very small at the ground in order to keep in the young
ones, but it may be that the warrener will wish the young ones to fare
the best, and in that case, if the crops outside permit, it may be a
help to the young rabbits to let them escape through netting that keeps
in the old ones. They will all come in again some time by means of the
external turf walls, and then, having grown big, will have to remain.


To the insular Britisher there are only two sorts of hares, the brown
and the blue. Possibly they cross breed, but naturalists are mostly
opposed to this view. However, if they do not cross, the writer has seen
specimens in Caithness which he could not assign to either race. Nowhere
else in Scotland does there seem to be much ground inhabited by both

The blue hare is not only a creature of the moors, but of the top moors.
The brown hare never goes up there by any chance but he often occupies
moors of low level bordering the cultivation. In Caithness the highest
tops are usually not very high, and the blue hares are often found on
the moor only a few feet above sea-level. Consequently there are
opportunities for cross breeding which in the other counties rarely

Hares are said to be very prolific, but as a matter of fact they
increase only very slowly: what they might do in more favourable
circumstances is another matter. One writer affirms that when a brace
was confined in a walled garden there were 57 hares counted at the end
of one year. That is possibly correct, and yet the hare does not breed
well in confinement, which is the reason that parks are more often
devoted to deer and sheep than to hares, even when they are nominally
hare parks. The late Lord Powerscourt introduced brown hares into his
park in Ireland, where they did not increase; and the late Mr.
Assheton-Smith, of Vaynol Park, introduced the blue Alpine hare there.
In Ireland the latter is indigenous, but does not in winter change to
white, with tips of black upon its ears, as it does in Scotland and upon
the Continent.

_Country Life_ has lately reproduced a photograph of a family of six
brown leverets, and it is evidently wrong to affirm that from two to
five is the limit of numbers produced, as was done in _Country Life’s_
Shooting Book. Seven is the greatest number reported, but this requires
confirmation. What has given the impression that two or three are the
usual numbers produced is the fact that the hare does not seem to
confine herself to one nest. All her eggs are not put in one basket, and
this is instinctive wisdom; for little leverets give out a good deal of
scent even when quite young, and are easily found by foxes and dogs.
Cats are not fond of ranging the open fields, but prefer hedgerow and
covert, so that they are more dangerous to young rabbits than to
leverets, which are generally placed in the open fields without any sort
of nest or other protection than the great space about them.

Very large bags of hares have frequently been killed. Lord Mansfield’s
Perthshire bag of blue hares once reached very nearly 1300 in the day to
five guns, and over 1000 brown hares are said to have been killed in the
day quite recently. That the author has not verified, but formerly they
must have been nearly as plentiful in Suffolk and Norfolk as they are
now in parts of Bohemia and Hungary. Count Karolyi, for some years
Hungarian Ambassador to the Court of St. James, once attempted to make a
record: he killed to his own gun 600 hares in five hours’ shooting. It
is not this unique feat for which Hungary is most noted, but for its
constant supply over a large number of days. There they do not usually
kill hares during partridge shooting, but delay the big drives until
November. Nevertheless, at Tot-Megyr, six days’ shooting by nine guns
produced 7500 hares and 2500 partridges. Probably Mindszent, in the
south of Hungary, holds the record for a day at hares, for 3000 were
killed there by Count Alexander Pallavicini’s ten guns.

Big bags of hares are no new thing in that country, for as long ago as
1753 over 18,000 hares were killed with equal proportions of partridges
in 20 days’ shooting by 23 guns, including the Emperor of Austria and
the Princess Charlotte. In Suffolk, in 1806, a complaint of the number
of hares left on one estate was followed in the early spring by the
killing of 6012. Whether this slaughter satisfied the farmers or no is
not stated. Probably the biggest shoots of hares occur in the United
States, where the animals, almost precisely like our own brown hares,
are called “jack rabbits.” They have become so troublesome to farmers
that the latter turn out in regular armies when the “trouble” becomes
worse than usual, and the “jack rabbits” are done to death in countless
numbers. Another kind of hare found in the States is the “cotton tail,”
which in all outward appearance is precisely like our common rabbit,
except that it does not burrow. It is the perquisite of the nigger dog,
and if he is there, of the nigger dog’s master.

The “jack rabbits” give splendid coursing and a fine scent for hounds;
the “cotton tails” do neither, but gun-dogs invariably point them. The
hunting of the hare is probably the oldest of all sports now practised.
It was rated high by Xenophon more than three centuries before the
Christian era, and Xenophon would have made an excellent master of
harriers in our day if we could have induced him to leave his nets at
home. The fox never took precedence of the hare until earth-stopping was
invented, and without it the former would even now be the less worthy as
a quarry.

The brown hare prefers the open country to the woods, and is never found
in the latter until haytime and harvest have driven it out of the
fields. Even then it may take to a fallow field in preference to the
woods, and the author has known a little 10 acre field to have more than
100 hares in it upon such an occasion. In wet dripping weather—that is,
when the drip falls from the trees in covert along with the falling
leaf—hares prefer to make forms in the open fields. These they will
return to daily for weeks together, unless they are disturbed. But if
they are put off their forms they do not often come back to them again,
but make new ones. Consequently, if it is desired to have a great day’s
covert shooting, including hares, the open country should be beaten for
them several days before. The fact that they are disturbed will send
them into the coverts. On the other hand, after the coverts are beaten,
not a hare will be found in them for some time, whereas all the
pheasants that are left alive will be back to roost the next day at
latest, unless they have been driven to coverts that they know and like
equally well.

People affect to despise shooting hares, and when they are driven out of
coverts into the open they are of course rather more easy than pheasants
fluttering up at a corner; but in high undergrowth, in covert or out,
they are much more often missed than pheasants. In standing barley they
are very difficult, and if turnips are really high they are not easy
there. But the author has rarely seen clever hare shooting when the
beasts have been driven up to fences in the low country, and up to the
hilltops in Scotland. It is true that if only one or two hares come
together, it is simplicity itself to handle them, but suppose four hares
are each seen 20 yards apart coming up to your stand. If you can kill
the four, you understand woodcraft as well as shooting. If you do not
know the former, you will get one or at most two hares and frighten the
others away. Your object will be to get all the hares nearly together
before you take the farthest off one, then the next farthest off, and
you will have two very much scared hares starting probably from your
very feet for your second gun. The shooting then becomes extremely
difficult, because it has to be very smart indeed. Sometimes, instead of
four you may have twenty hares all within 80 yards, and it has been
known that by shooting at the first within range all the rest have
escaped without a shot. It is the habit of blue hares to follow each
other up the runs through the heather or over the moss and stones; when
one stops, the others seeing him stop too. Consequently, the way to get
them together is only to stop the first hare when he has approached near
and is also out of sight of the others behind, which any little
unevenness of the ground accomplishes. A sharp “click,” which was most
easily accomplished by cocking a gun in the days before the hammerless,
is enough. One stone rapped once only on another will do it. But the
hare must not see that, or any other movement, or he will be off at
once. If he has not the advantage of the wind, and so cannot get the
scent of the guns, a hare would run between a shooter’s legs without
seeing him if he stood absolutely still and bestrode the hare track. But
it is the “absolute” that makes all the difference. Some people say that
a hare cannot see straight in front of it, but this is a mistake; it can
detect the smallest movement although directly in front, and if it will
almost run against you, it will not allow you to walk from the direct
front up to it as it lies in its form.

When hares are wild, they sit high in their forms, and can be seen from
a long distance. However, when they mean to lie close, they are
remarkably difficult to see even upon open ground, except to those who
know what to look for, and the most experienced will often pass them.
Private coursers, especially when mounted, get extremely clever at
finding hares in their seats. In beating for them, when they are not
wild, the drivers who take a straight course will miss three-parts of
the hares, but if they zigzag, making half-turns suddenly, every hare
will believe itself seen and will run.

In beating flat country for hares, very much the same order as in
partridge driving in the open, and as in pheasant beating in covert, has
to be adopted. Stops and flanks are a necessity, but in driving
moorlands a very different system is adopted. The hares there will all
make up hill, no matter which way the beaters walk, so that a continuous
circuit round the hills, beginning at the lowest level and cork-screwing
upwards, is the plan if there are not enough beaters to cover the slope
at one operation. If there are, the beating is done as if it were the
desire to drive the hares along the slope or face of the hill, but as
they will all pass along the front face of the drivers and mount the
hill either near or far on, the guns will take up hidden positions upon
the tops. Any other system of driving blue hares has been found from
experience to be more or less misdirected energy. These animals are not
very much liked in the deer forests, because the deer understand the
hares’ movements as well as if they talked to each other, and a startled
hare usually means also a startled stag in the stalking season. But in
grouse ground the hares should not be kept very low in Scotland. Nowhere
are you very far away from a deer forest and eagles, and the latter are
satisfied to leave the grouse alone if they can get blue hare in summer
and white hare in winter. The Alpine hare is much easier for an eagle to
catch than either grouse or ptarmigan.

As to brown hares, they can only be plentiful where the relations
between landowner and tenant are of the very best. The latter can, if
they like, kill hares all the year round. Good land, a liberal landlord,
and yearly tenancies are the conditions under which hares can thrive.
The author likes to see plenty of them as proofs that the tenants are
not unsportsmanlike, and that the keepers are friendly with the farmers
and enemies to the poachers. Opposites in both cases have not been quite

It has been said that hares can be “called up” by poachers. Perhaps that
is so; the only cry of the hare the author has heard is that distress
note that will often, on the contrary, drive away the other hares. If
they will come to call, they must be in the habit of calling. It is the
note of the doe hare that is supposed to be imitated. If she calls her
young she has no cause to call the “jack”; she is found by him by the
trail scent, and is worried far more by his attentions than she likes.
It is not uncommon to see half a dozen “jacks” persecuting one doe hare,
and continuing to do so for hours if not for days together. The “jack”
seems to hunt the trail of the doe when it is hours old, and long after
any harrier would notice it.

The esteem in which the hare was held in the Middle Ages is shown by a
verse attached to an English translation of the Norman-French _Le Art de
Venerie_, by William Twici, huntsman to King Edward II.:—

         “To Venery y caste me fyrst to go,
         Of wheche iiij best is be, that is to say,
         The hare, the herte, the wulfhe, the wylde boor also;
         Of venery for sothe there be no moe.”

Who wrote the verse does not appear to be accurately known; evidently it
was not Twici.


Snipe shooting is the fly fishing of the shot gun.

There are only three species of snipe that regularly visit England, and
only one that breeds here. This is the full snipe. The great solitary or
double snipe is rarely seen, and as a sporting bird, therefore, does not
count. The jack snipe is far the most beautiful, and is met with some
years in fair quantities, but is rarely found in greater proportion than
one to five of the full snipe. The jack snipe is rarely missed by a
deliberate marksman, but a snap shooter who is used to the quick and
zigzag rise of the full snipe is often able to miss the little jacks,
for their flight is almost that of a butterfly. Besides, the jack snipe
has a very trying habit of pitching down suddenly as if it were badly
wounded, when it becomes tempting to the shooter to go and pick it up
with his gun at safety. Then the little creature is remarkably hard to
move a second time, and thus suspicion becomes apparent certainty, so
that when the shooter is about to give up all hope of finding the dead
bird the quick one flies slowly away, unharmed by a hasty shot, or by
the concentrated language which sometimes is mistakenly supposed to
follow. The jack snipe is the comedian of the gunner’s quarry. This 2
oz. bird is not much of a mouthful for a big retriever, and the only
reason it is not usually injured by even tender-mouthed dogs is probably
because it and all the other species of the family are naturally
offensive to the taste of the dog. They never would be retrieved from
choice, and the duty has generally to be forced upon the young canine
assistant of whatever breed it may be. Not many jack snipe come to us
before October, but a few have been found in September, and in every
month in the year, which has given rise to the speculation that they
might have bred here, but that has never been proved to have occurred by
the discovery of eggs. They are migrants from the North, frail creatures
which surrender themselves to the wind, and apparently thereby avoid the
wave. At any rate, large numbers of them do survive, although doubtless
many in adverse winds miss the coasts and perish, like woodcocks, in the
Atlantic Ocean. The course in the air taken by these birds is not well
known. It has been affirmed that many woodcock arrive first on the north
and west coast of Ireland, and most of the jack snipe on the south-east
coast, and although we are inclined to regard instinct—and the migratory
sense is an instinct—as an uncontrollable impulse which always acts in
the same way, it appears to have results that are not to be thus
accounted for, and the birds arrive in turn on all the coasts and by
various routes.

The Wilson snipe in America is closely allied to our full snipe,
although it ranks as a species. It is even more migratory than our own
bird, some of which always breed in England, Ireland, and Scotland. But
the Wilson snipe leaves the Northern States in the winter and makes its
way to the lands warmed by the soft airs off the Gulf of Mexico. Snipe,
then, in most of the States are only to be shot in the autumn and spring
migrations. Probably the finest snipe shooting ever experienced in
America, and only to be matched in India and Burmah, was that obtained
by Mr. Pringle in Louisiana, an account of which he has published in
book form.

The full snipe generally utters a sharp cry on taking wing, the jack is
silent; but the breeding cry of the former differs materially from its
note of fright, and at the same time that it utters the former it
sometimes shoots downwards and makes another air vibration with its
wings or tail. This has been said to be a vocal sound, but the author is
quite sure this view would not be held by anyone who watched the bird
through a field-glass. It may be seen to descend while making the noise
which has given it the rustic name of “heather bleater,” and it does
this with a closed bill; but upon occasion it opens its bill, and then
the vocal sound, as well as the other, is distinctly heard.

The powers of flight of the full snipe vary with the time of year. The
author once knew a grouse shooter of long experience and success who
prided himself upon his skill as a snipe shot. When, however, he was for
the first time in his life taken to a snipe bog in November, he never
let off his gun. The birds, he said, were too wild to shoot; but others
shot them, so that it may be said there are snipe and snipe. These birds
seem to feed all day and all night too; at any rate they may be found
upon their night feeding-grounds at all times of the day, and so fond
are they of favoured places that they return to them constantly.
Moreover, if one bird is killed on a favoured boring ground, another
almost invariably takes his place in a few days if the weather remains
the same. If it does not, every snipe in a neighbourhood may be gone in
a night. Snipe are dependent upon food they find by boring in soft
earth, so that frost compels them to change quarters. As a rule, wet
weather disperses snipe all over the mountains and fields; they can then
feed anywhere. Frost sends them into the bogs, and still harder frost to
the springs, still harder again to the west coasts and to Ireland.

Two occasions have been recorded where snipe collected in hundreds upon
dry arable fields, where apparently there was nothing for them to feed
upon, and where they returned after a snipe drive had been instituted.

Many are the “certain” methods of getting on terms with these birds, but
they are all to be taken with a grain of salt. Whether snipe will lie
best when hunted for down or up wind, and whether they should be shot
upon the rise or when their twisting is done, are questions to which
different and emphatic answers are often given. However, we believe in
each by turn and nothing long. The snipe is too changeable a creature to
conform to any rule whatever. He is nearest consistency in rising
against the wind, but even that depends upon the rate of the wind. When
it is only blowing gently, the snipe can rise away from you as you walk
down wind; but they cannot do so in heavy breeze, and consequently
walking down wind gives the easiest shooting, and sometimes also enables
a better approach to be made to the birds. On the other hand, if your
feet are cracking up ice, you will probably not get near to the birds
however you attempt to approach them, and they can hear you farthest off
when you are beating down wind. In very wet bogs a dog will generally
flush more snipe than he will point, but when they will lie to a dog,
down wind is still the best way, for although your setter will sometimes
flush by accident, he will point a great many that otherwise would not
rise at all, and this little 4 oz. bird gives out a great scent, one
that in favourable conditions enables a dog to find him at 50 and even
100 yards. A curious feature is that young dogs do not object to
pointing the game, although they hate to mouth it. Indeed, it is only
upon close approach to a dead snipe that a retriever first shows his
abhorrence, just as if he were suddenly taken by surprise in his
pleasurable anticipation of mouthing the game. In the _Snipe and
Woodcock_ of the Fur and Feather Series, Mr. Shaw gives the 1376 snipe
killed in the 1880–81 season as the best ever made in the British
Islands, but this is nothing compared with Mr. Pringle’s work in
Louisiana already referred to. His best season was that of 1874–75, when
his own gun killed 6615 snipe. In twenty seasons there he killed to his
own gun 69,087 snipe, and his best day, on 11th December 1877, gave a
bag of 366 snipe. Britishers may be inclined to doubt whether the Wilson
snipe gives the same difficult chances as our own full snipe, but their
habits are identical, as also is their flight. Probably, therefore, it
may best serve as a guide to shooters if instead of the author
attempting to decide which method of beating is the best, he quotes Mr.
Pringle’s words, for he surely is the champion snipe shot.

First, then, he preferred full choked hammerless guns by Purdey, and he
used No. 9 shot, with sometimes No. 8 in the second barrel. Presumably
these were American sizes. When the game was scarce, Mr. Pringle used a
pointer or setter in the ordinary way, but when there were lots of snipe
he only allowed the dog to point dead, and not to retrieve.

He found that there was great loss of shooting unless he himself walked
to the fall of every dead bird, as others would be sure to rise near the
spot and get away unshot at when this duty was done by deputy. Then this
champion snipe shot preferred to beat down wind with a beater each side
of him, but when he beat across the wind, as would be done if the ground
was awkward for the other method, he had both beaters down wind of him,
because of the habit snipe have of rising into the wind. By having the
beaters a little behind him, as well as on the down-wind side, he thus
got shots at birds they flushed, which would not have been the case had
they been up wind of the gun. When the end of the beat was reached, time
was saved by driving back, over the ground already beaten, to take
another down-wind beat. The ground must have been particularly sound for
good snipe bog. Walking up wind was sometimes necessary, and then the
arrangement of the beaters, of which there were two, was the same as for
the down-wind beat, but the wilder the snipe were the farther behind the
gun the beaters’ line was formed.

Mr. Pringle only used one gun, had no loader, and explains that with a
second weapon he could have killed many more birds. Probably most people
will not be sorry that he did confine himself to one gun.

The best snipe bag made in England in a day does not at all compare with
that from the New Orleans district just quoted. Mr. R. Fellowes is
credited with 158 in a day, and Lord Leicester at Holkham, in 1860, with
156 to his own gun in the day. In County Sligo 959 birds were killed in
the season 1877–78 by Mr. Edward Gethin; and Mr. Lloyd in 1820 wrote
that he accounted for 1310 snipe, whereas Mr. Mottram in the Hebrides in
1884 killed 992 snipe to his own gun by the end of October. Sir R. Payne
Gallwey tells us of an Irish bag of 212 birds in a day by one gun before
the time of breech-loaders, but does not mention the shooter’s name.

The moon has been credited with a good deal of influence upon the
behaviour of snipe; this is on the ground that they cannot feed in the
dark. But what is dark to a night bird? Probably there is no such thing;
certainly the fly-by-nights do not kill themselves by flying against
trees, and more than that, the snipe never does feed by sight. He bores
in the ground to feel for the worm; when he has felt its position, he
brings out his bill and thrusts it in again in the right spot, and out
comes the worm. Then he repeats the process. If these birds are not
always hungry, they must stand guard over their favourite boring patches
until they get so, for they rarely go away from them to rest upon
foodless ground unless they are disturbed either by men, dogs, or

Very few men ever excel in snipe shooting. The actual aiming at a snipe
is the difficulty. He may be there when you aim, but is not there when
the shot arrives. If you wait until he has done his zigzag flight, he is
almost sure to be too far off. If you can shoot just above him, when his
wing goes up for a twist, and at a distance of 40 or 45 yards, with No.
8 shot, you will probably kill him. That, however, is not very helpful
advice, and the only thing that the author can say that is likely to be
so is that the snipe becomes easy, by comparison, when he rises against
the wind and shows his white breast to the gunner. The author has killed
fourteen August snipe in as many consecutive shots, but he has done no
such thing with November snipe on a crisp day, and it would therefore
ill become him to say how it can be done, for the very good reason that
he does not know.

The snipe is credited with great pace, but in shooting driven snipe it
soon becomes evident that they do not require half as much allowance as
a partridge. It is the twist that makes pretence that they are actually
fast. They are particularly smart and quick, but distinctly not fast in
the sense that a driven grouse down wind is speedy.


Woodcock shooting over a team of spaniels is the fox-hunting of
shooting, according to Colonel Peter Hawker.

It is generally stated that woodcocks are decreasing in numbers of late
years, but this is possibly a mistake. At any rate, Lord Ardilaun has at
Ashford made the biggest bag ever known in Ireland only eleven years
ago—namely, 205 ’cock in the day; and in 1905 the record bag for
Cornwall was accomplished, but this is far from being the record for
England also. Still, there is no proof that because a big bag is made in
one day that there are as many birds as formerly killed in any one
season. Be this as it may, our method of covert shooting is now very
much in favour of the woodcocks. Formerly, when they were the principal
game of the coverts, the latter used to be beaten as often as it was
believed there were woodcocks in them. Now this is by no means the case.
Coverts are beaten once, twice, or thrice in a season, and times are
fixed with no regard whatever to the woodcocks. If it is an open season,
the inland woodcocks are likely enough to be there when the date for
pheasant shooting comes; but if hard frost has set in the birds will
have gone on to the west coasts of Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, and
possibly also many may have passed on into Spain. Then we say it is a
bad season in England for woodcocks, but that is merely because we beat
our coverts after the bird has flown. Still, possibly the best season
for woodcocks in England is that which most favours the killing and also
the preservation of the birds, if that is not paradoxical. When they are
found all over the country in mild winters, they escape the guns for the
most part, because their even distribution does not favour their being
looked for of set purpose.

Comparatively few are killed in the pheasant coverts, even if many are
seen. The guns are set in the line of flight of the pheasants, and
whatever set purpose a migrant woodcock may have by night, his only
purpose by day is to have no purpose at all. You can never trust him to
go a hundred yards in any one direction, and for this reason he offers
more chances to the beaters, who have no guns, than to the sportsmen who
have them. On the contrary, when the frost comes early and drives the
birds to those shores that know the Gulf Stream, then the woodcocks
congregate in coverts, and are made the special objects of the
sportsmen’s attentions. The longer the frosts and snows last the more
’cock are killed, and sometimes it happens that a stay is made to these
exterminating proceedings by the abject poverty and weakness of the
birds. This has occasionally been the case in Ireland, and the fact that
these birds were caught by frost and snow on one side, and by the
Atlantic on the other, shows that migration is not always salvation to
the migrant. Just why the birds became so weak as not to be able to go
forward to Spain or Africa, it is difficult to say. But possibly those
that get starved in this way are the late arrivals that find themselves
weakened by much flying when they first arrive on the Irish coast, and
without food can go no farther. Probably those already there when the
food begins to get scarce do go on.

Whether the woodcock are generally increasing or not, no doubt there are
more home breeding ’cock than formerly. There is scarce a boggy birch
wood in Scotland that has not its young woodcock in August, and
obviously these birds are bred there. They are not then much good for
the table, and if sportsmen would make a rule not to shoot them they
would probably increase much faster than they do. Most of the foreign
woodcocks come to us in October and November. Then they appear to settle
to rest on the first land they see, but they are to be found there only
for a few hours, and go on and distribute themselves over their
favourite country very quickly. The sea walls and sea banks, especially
when rough fringed with grass, are favourite places for these new
arrivals, which in Lincolnshire are in good condition when they first
come in, but are said to be poor and weak on arrival on the shores of
Devon. In Ireland the first arrivals, and the majority, settle on the
extreme north. Next in proportion, lighthouse information shows, they
arrive by the west coast. The snipe also arrive mostly from the north,
but the jack snipe come in largest numbers to the south-east coast of
Ireland. This points to the conclusion that woodcock arrive mostly from
Scotland, and it is suggested that those which breed farthest north
first move south by stress of weather. It is also suggested that our
home-bred woodcock do not remain in the winter, but move late in August
or early in September. These contentions are evidently conflicting, and
it is probable that the first is right, and that our home-bred birds
remain where food and shelter is plentiful, and only move when they are
not. The absence of home-bred birds in certain coverts in September has
often been noted after they have been constantly observed in August, but
this can often be accounted for by the springs running dry in the latter
part of August, and available food being consequently scarce. The old
birds are said to moult in September, and if this is correct it is a
very good reason why they should be difficult to find then; and if this
habit is invariable, it would be clear evidence against the
home-breeding birds migrating in that month.

It appears that woodcock can be encouraged by planting in suitable
places, and that this encouragement is not only to the migrants, but
induces more birds to remain and breed here. The increase of the latter
habit has been a startling and pleasing fact in natural history. Its
originating cause is not known, but that an enormous increase has taken
place is freely admitted. As the birds themselves have started this
habit, it appears that it is only necessary to spare large numbers of
these natives to still further increase the number of home-breeding

But no way of distinguishing them when on the wing seems to be possible,
although most useful work has been done by the Duke of Northumberland,
at Alnwick, in placing a metal ring round a leg of all young woodcock
found there. Amongst other things thus established is that the movements
of birds seem to be governed by no law capable of definition. For
instance, a bird bred at Alnwick has been shot in the Highlands of
Scotland, whereas others have been shot in the extreme south of England,
and another in Ireland. But the strangest part of the story is that most
of them do not appear to have been shot at all. Perhaps in that fact may
lie the explanation why the home breeding of woodcocks increases.

It has been said that coverts devoted to pheasants save the lives of
many ’cock, but it is also said that these birds do not like coverts in
which there are many pheasants. It is suggested that the pheasants eat
all the food, such as insects and worms, to be found under the dead
leaves. There appears to be very little in this contention. A woodcock
in covert is generally a woodcock asleep and not feeding. When flushed
he is as foolish as a daylight owl. But in hard weather, when he has
been unable to get enough food by night, and is compelled to feed in the
daytime also, and when you find him on the brook-side, he is no fool
then, and can fly as quickly as a snipe, and is as much on the alert.
The difference in manner proves that the woodcocks are very rarely
feeding when flushed by the beaters. In Ireland and the west of Scotland
the warm heather-clad hills hold the woodcock more than the coverts do,
until the birds are driven by snow or hail to the woods. Rain and mist
will afterwards drive the ’cock out of the coverts and back to the
hills, but it is thought that at Ashford fewer go back to the heather on
each occasion, so that the longer shooting is delayed in January the
more birds there are in those coverts.

Woodcocks lay four eggs; they pair, probably have two broods each
season, and they are in the habit of carrying the young birds out to the
feeding-grounds. They hold them by various methods: sometimes they clasp
them to the breast by the pressure of the bill, sometimes they clasp
them between the legs or thigh. One woodcock has been seen to carry two
young birds together, one by each of the methods described.

Probably no bird gives a more easy shot than a woodcock, and at the same
time none is so often missed. The reason may be that shooters are
inclined to shoot at twice the distance (at what they consider the
“come-by-chance”) that they fire at the game bred on and by the estate.
They are also frequently a little excited by the cry of ’cock, and
besides this, the birds have a queer habit of twisting round any tree
trunk or bush that happens to be near. These side darts are made with a
good deal of pace, even by birds that have been flying like owls. They
seem to be the outcome of sudden impulse; it would not be correct to
call them sudden resolutions, because whatever they are due to they are
liable to constant change. These twists are often at right angles to the
previous flight. The birds seldom go far in one direction, but have
often been known to take a flight of half a mile, with several of these
right-angle turns in it, and to settle after all within a few yards of
the place whence they were flushed.

The shooting of the woodcocks over setters or spaniels in the heather is
extremely pretty work, but only a dog experienced on this kind of game
is of much use. In covert the woodcock is rarely shot to spaniels,
except in South Wales. The usual plan is a party of guns and beaters,
and Lord Ardilaun hardly ever uses canine retrievers. The rocks make
marking essential, and it is found that good markers are preferable to
good dogs in ground so rough as to be difficult for the latter.

Bags of woodcock at Lord Ardilaun’s place have very frequently been
misstated. Possibly the most “authoritative” mistake is in _The Snipe
and Woodcock_, by Mr. L. H. de Visme Shaw, who says that in one day 508
’cock were obtained at Ashford. That is not so. Lord Ardilaun very
kindly informed the author that 205 ’cock was his best, but he explained
that he was away from his game book at the time he wrote, and it is very
likely, therefore, that Mr. R. J. Ussher is right in giving 209 ’cock as
the record for one day there. The 205 ’cock were killed in January 1895,
and at that time there were 508 ’cock killed in six days by seven guns.
The big day was January 25th. Although not in a day, in a season, more
’cock have been killed at Muckross, near Killarney, than even at
Ashford, or than anywhere else in the United Kingdom.

Several people besides the artist Chantrey have accidentally killed two
woodcocks at a shot. Possibly it was never done by design.

Probably the best single day’s bag in England was that of 101 birds in
Swanton Wood, on Lord Hastings’ Norfolk estate.

                               BLACK GAME

The season for these birds opens in the North on 20th August, and in the
South on 1st September. They have been lately exterminated in the New
Forest and in Norfolk, and have long since disappeared in most of the
counties south-east of Staffordshire. In Salop and Wales there are a few
of them, as there are also in Devonshire and Somersetshire and in all
the northern counties. They are and always have been absent from
Ireland, but are found throughout the Highlands and the border counties,
and are far more numerous in Dumfriesshire and Selkirkshire than
elsewhere. Probably the species is decreasing in numbers everywhere,
except in isolated patches of country where they are especially
preserved. They are found throughout North Europe and North Asia, but in
the Caucasus there is a second and only other species, which is smaller,
and in which the cocks are blacker, than in our species. A peculiarity
of black game is that the cocks do not acquire the lyre tails until the
third year, although the hens are said to be fertile in the second year.
The white under the tail of the black cocks is flecked with black until
the bird grows old, when the black gradually disappears. It is not at
all uncommon to see beautiful word painting detailing the glories of the
lyre tail, amongst other beauties, on 20th August, but this is not
painting from nature, for neither old nor young birds have the lyre tail
at that time. The old birds are then in full moult, and although they
can fly as well as ever, they lie to dogs then as at no other time of
the year, except in July and the earlier days of August. No one would
wish these old stagers to be shot then, where they are numerous enough
to afford driving later in the season. But where they are scarce, and
that is nearly everywhere, they are liable to become more so by the
inability of sportsmen to kill them at the only time of year they can be
approached. The man who shoots them during the first seven days of
grouse shooting breaks the law, but assists to save the race; for too
many cocks there always are, and the majority of them are too old, and
interfere with their younger relations in the breeding season. This
cannot be avoided as long as sportsmen make a practice of killing the
young birds over dogs during grouse shooting. Until after 1st September
the birds of the year lie close and to their sorrow rise singly, so that
one has but to find a brood and exterminate it. The old cock will not be
with the chicks, and probably the grey hen will get shot; but she is
more likely to escape than any of the young ones. Consequently, where
the birds are not separately driven later in the season, the
preservation and shooting of this fine game bird proceeds upon the
principle of killing all the young ones and leaving all the old. That is
exactly opposite to the principle adopted for all other game, and we
cannot wonder that the race decreases in numbers. Another reason for the
decrease is that moorlands are being more drained than they formerly
were, and this destroys the rushes, upon the seeds of which young black
game mostly live in their early period. They do not breed in the woods,
but prefer to have their chicks on the lower moors, where they can find
rushes, heather, and bracken. Whether they eat bracken in its early
stages of growth, as pheasants have been known to do, the author is not
aware, but upon the moorlands around St. Mary’s Loch, where there are no
coverts, there used to be large numbers of black game, and in hunting
the moors they were rarely to be found elsewhere than in the rushes and
the ferns. Probably, therefore, ferns as well as rushes are useful in
some way to them, although it may be because ferns are a great resort of
flies. The way that every young bird has to be found separately, and
each gives the dog a point (whereas the grouse in most counties rise in
broods), makes the keepers treasure the black game for the dog-breaking
facilities they offer. They teach dogs to believe that there is always
another in the heather, until they are sure there is not. But black game
offer very easy shots, and consequently sportsmen rather despise them in
this early stage. Then, on a sudden, a total change comes over the young
birds, as it were in a night, and they are transformed into birds as
wary as wild geese, and sit up on the hillocks to watch for danger.
After that they must be stalked, driven, or left alone.

Stalking black game with a rook rifle is nice sport—infinitely more
difficult than stalking red deer. With the shot gun it is still harder,
because of the necessity of a nearer approach. But difficult as it is,
the author once knew of a most extraordinary stalk. Two guns, unknown to
each other, both stalked from different directions the same black cock
on his fir tree; both, by luck or judgment, got up to the game; each
fired at the same instant, and when the game fell, each unaware that the
other had shot, claimed the bird. If that sort of thing can be done, it
cannot be very difficult. But probably it never happened before or
since, and as a matter of fact it is difficult to stalk black game.

If these birds were really plentiful they would be the most valued of
all our game birds for driving. Probably there is not a pin to choose
between their pace and that of grouse when coming down wind. The author
has watched them coming to the butts together for half a mile, and the
only difference was that the black cock were two storeys higher than the
grouse. That shows which would be most appreciated by sportsmen, who are
never happy unless they are accomplishing the difficult. But they are
too few to drive separately in most places, and do not drive well with
grouse. It would have been no uncommon thing had those third-storey
birds turned back in the air and gone off over the drivers’ heads while
the silly grouse were facing the music of the butts and dying in clouds
of smoke, for this reference is to black powder days. Your black game
can think in the air, like the wild ducks, and they can also fly into a
wind about as fast as with one, again imitating the marvellous and
unexplained power of some wild fowl, especially the teal. Pheasants,
partridges, and grouse are creatures of the wind more or less, and
pretty difficult to turn when the wind has got them, but not so your
black game; they smell danger from afar, often only suspect it, but as
they are like wild ducks, not slaves but kings of the wind, they will
act upon their suspicion, because it is nothing to them to beat up
against a wind, and besides, they are careless how long they fly. You
cannot drive wild ducks, nor pigeons, nor black game, if they suspect
your purpose. But when things are well managed they give great sport.
Usually they will not, like a grouse, almost knock your cap off by
rushing past your butt too near to shoot. They will be well up and look
to be going easy. There they deceive, for they will be coming quite as
fast as grouse if it is down a moderate wind, and if up wind very much
faster, so that the lead, or allowance, and swing required is far more
likely to be under than over done.

The author has taken part in killing 40 brace of black cock in a day,
with no more excuse than that it was good for the dogs; but the kind of
shooting in which anyone may be proud of a good score is in driving.
Then the shooters have every right to gratification, but the drivers
have far more. Late in the season, when black game are fit to drive,
they sit up in the fir trees to look out for the enemy. They are so
still in the dark Scotch pines that you may not see a bird as you go to
take up your stand, but possibly the quarry has been watching all the
time, and has observed not only the shooters but the drivers. Then your
black game will probably be able to get away by the flanks, or if not,
like the wild ducks, they may remember that there is always room at the
top. In other words, they have the habits of game birds in August and of
wood pigeons and wild duck in October. They are only unsatisfactory
because the young birds are too confiding to shoot, and the old ones too
artful to get shot.

The Duke of Buccleuch has had great sport with black game on his
Drumlanrig Castle estate, but his best years there were a long time ago;
the birds have been gradually growing fewer ever since. His very best
year was in 1861, when 1586 black game were killed. This total upon an
estate of more than 150,000 acres, although the largest, is nevertheless
very small when compared with grouse and partridge bags over estates of
one-tenth the size. Apparently the black game do not lend themselves to
great concentration of breeding birds, or if they do, their fertility
does not seem to be very great. Besides, concentration for shooting is
extremely difficult, as is proved by the biggest bag ever made in a day.
At Sanquhar, in Dumfriesshire, the late Duke of Buccleuch, with the
assistance of eight other guns, once killed 247 black game in the day,
of which over 200 were black cocks. This is probably the record day’s
bag for Scotland or anywhere else, but it is noteworthy that it is only
about one-tenth the number of grouse that have been killed in a day, and
we may fairly say that the art of preserving black game has to be
discovered, as also has that of introducing the bird into country new to
it, which is only saying the same thing in other words.

The author has shot black game on Dartmoor and in Caithness and in most
of the intermediate counties where they exist. Everywhere he has noticed
a too great number of black cocks in proportion to hens, and as
polygamous birds they should be treated like pheasants in this respect.
The other point most noticed is that not more than a quarter of the grey
hens breed. There is reason for this, and if it could be discovered,
probably black game might be reared in numbers equal to grouse. The
author merely speculates when he says that the excess of cocks has
something to do with the trouble, but probably a worse fault still is
that the old birds of both sexes are not shot, and the young ones are.
There is no greater mistake than to believe that driving is an automatic
selection of the old birds for destruction. This is far from the case in
grouse shooting in Scotland, although in Yorkshire it is different; but
your old black cock and grey hen carry years of wisdom to the topmost
branch of the Scotch pine, and from that vantage post meet human
strategy with avian tactics—and live to fight another year.

It is a great pity that someone does not take up the black game question
and study it thoroughly. There are hundreds of thousands of acres of
bracken, pine, and rush ground in Scotland, England, and Wales that have
no sporting value. They are too high for pheasants and partridges, and
do not grow the right food for grouse. The result is that they are
useless, but are nevertheless natural homes for black game, and are so
much appreciated that bachelor black cocks will inhabit them for years,
as also will a few old grey hens that do not breed, and the probability
is that they keep off all the breeding birds.

The grey hen lays from six to ten eggs on the ground. They are of a
yellowish shade spotted with darker colour of brown or orange-brown. The
playing-grounds and manners of the birds in love and war are best
described in Booth’s rough notes, and best illustrated in Millais’ game
birds and shooting sketches. However, both seem to suggest that all the
birds in the neighbourhood meet on one playing-ground. This is not so,
and there are sometimes and probably always several simultaneous
tournaments in very near proximity.

The black game has feathered legs but not feathered feet, as has
erroneously been stated.

These birds have been successfully introduced, and have bred for some
years, at Woburn Abbey. Capercailzie have also been added to the birds
of England by means of their successful introduction in the woods of
Woburn, by the Duke and Duchess of Bedford.

                            PIGEON SHOOTING

There are three kinds of pigeon shooting in this country: that from
traps; that against the farmer’s great enemy the wood pigeon (_Columba
palumbus_); and that of the wild blue rock pigeon (_Columba livia_)
along the cliffs. The stock dove (_Columba ænas_) is found amongst the
wood pigeons in small proportion to their numbers.

A few years ago the “trap shooting,” as it was called, was very
fashionable, and probably it will be so again, when the shooting schools
have sufficiently shown that they can teach anybody to hit targets sent
overhead, and cannot do much for any form of shooting that depends for
its accuracy and quickness upon balance and good walking powers. Not
that pigeon shooting is much of a school for this class of shooting
either, but it is shooting at birds going away from the gun and rising
at a fair range. At 30 yards rise the majority of those who shoot
pigeons fail to kill many more than half their birds with _two_ barrels.
It is a very poor shot indeed who misses as great a proportion of shots
at driven pheasants. Yet with this evidence constantly before the eyes
of everybody who reads his sporting papers, it is very frequently
asserted that driven game is much more difficult to kill than birds
rising in front of the shooter. Besides this, the pigeon springs from
the ground slowly compared with a partridge or a grouse or a snipe, and
it does not cause the sportsman to walk after it. The author has on many
occasions seen pigeons dropped within 3 yards of the trap constantly by
a man in good form, but he never saw a full-feathered grouse, partridge,
or snipe knocked over as near as that to its rise. The difficulty of
shooting rising game is to shoot straight quick enough; that of shooting
driven game is to wait long enough and shoot straight. For the first,
there is an individual limit for each of us, which no amount of practice
seems to improve. There is, for the second, no limit to the cultivation
of patience.

But this only applies to the single shot of each kind. The difficulty of
driving is not in the shot, but in the shots. There is no limit to the
number of possible chances, and for this reason one cannot exercise
patience and let the game get very near, lest other chances should be
lost. The real difficulty, then, in shooting driven game well is to
shoot the far-off birds as soon as the gun will kill them, in order to
change guns quickly and be ready again.

In pigeon shooting the double rise is the most difficult. Few kill half
their birds at 25 yards rise, and still folk will talk of the difficulty
of driven game as compared with flushed game. The author does not
believe there is any pigeon shooter who can, even occasionally, kill a
dozen blue rocks in double rises at 30 yards. He knows there are plenty
of people who can frequently kill a dozen grouse, pheasants, and
partridges driven overhead. And yet a rising blue rock is not “in it”
with the spring of an October grouse, partridge, or snipe for quickness.
A ten-year-old boy has been coached at the shooting school to kill
driven game well, but nobody ever saw or will see a ten-year-old walk
after October grouse and kill them well. An old man of eighty has made
quite as good work as the rising generation at driven game, but not at
shooting over dogs.

Still, pigeon shooting from traps is only now regarded as a test of
skill by a very small and decreasing minority, and the reason is that
the coming game has been invested with a difficulty that does not
properly belong to it, and one that will grow less each year as the
prejudice against going to school to learn skill with the gun decreases.
At present it is not the townsman who finds driven game difficult, but
the countryman who has learnt his shooting on game, but only a little of
it, and who is “above” going to school again.

The rules for pigeon shooting can always be had from the Secretary of
the Gun Club, Notting Hill; they are slightly changed occasionally, and
therefore it is not wise to repeat them here. There are five traps, each
of which is supplied with a pigeon, and either of these birds is
released for the man at the mark to shoot at when he calls “Pull.” The
operation of the traps is done by hand, but a hand that does not know
which trap is to be opened.

Ordinary game weapons are of no use in these competitive pigeon matches.
Guns are used of above 7 lbs., that will absorb the recoil of large
charges of powder and shot, the latter of which is limited to 1¼ oz. The
usual plan is to use small-sized shot, so that there shall be many of
them in this weight of load, and to use enough powder to cause the light
pellet to strike with as much energy as pellets a size larger from a
game gun and charge of powder. Pigeon weapons used always to be
chambered for 3 inch cartridges, but whether this will continue, now
that concentrated powders have come in and are much used for pigeons, is

Some very wonderful scores have been made in America by professional
pigeon shots. Probably nothing is more deceptive than the scoring of
long runs at pigeons, which may be the best blue rocks or very
blundering slow-rising fowl. In America they have not had a very good
class of pigeons, and their records are consequently not fairly
comparable with those made in England at best blue rocks. The American
birds are of the English race, but not of the blue rock variety. The
latter are a domesticated breed of the wild rock pigeons of the coast
caves, where its pursuit is vastly more difficult than shooting its
cousins from a trap.

The records of kills of even best blue rocks do not tell us very much of
the form of the men who made them. Some apparently very wonderful
shooting was done half a century ago, at 40 yards rise. Later, guns were
reduced in bore, and in weight and load; boundaries were shortened, and
12 bore charges of nitro powders were improved, so that conditions have
varied from time to time so much that nobody can say with any certainty
who were the best pigeon shots or at what period they lived. Probably
Horatio Ross got out of a gun as great a proportion of its accuracy and
power as any man who ever lived, and although the numbers of gunners who
can shoot driven game well has greatly increased, the number who can
shoot pigeons even moderately well has very much declined in England.
Our countrymen now lose the Grand Prix de Monte Carlo with nearly as
great certainty as formerly they won it. This does not appear to be
because the competition is more severe than it was, for the author knows
some winners of the Grand Prix whom he could not call first-rate shots.
One of the writer’s first pigeon shooting matches was at a private house
party at Vaynol Park. His experience there serves to illustrate the
differences between good blue rocks and what are usually called “owls”;
this term means any bird either bigger or with more white in it than a
blue rock has, also it serves to show that an occasional “owl” is a good
test of ready marksmanship. The writer had won a single stake, and only
required one more bird out of the double rise stake to win that too. It
was getting dusk, and the birds had been very smart. When the traps
fell, two white ones came out and circled round to right and left as
slowly as they could. Of course the shooter thought it an obviously soft
thing to get them both; but “certainties” in shooting have a way of
following the example of racing precedents. He missed both quite easily,
and had to pay instead of to receive—except in “chaff.”

It might be thought that something should be said on the ethics of
pigeon shooting, since the exigencies of polo have abolished it at
Hurlingham, and the screeching brigade have rendered this as a moral
victory in the press.

The author has bred pigeons in Lincolnshire dovecotes for this sport,
and is not a bit ashamed of the fact. Moreover, as Edward VII. was at
that time shooting them, the company is good enough.

                          THE WILD ROCK PIGEON

This bird generally has to be shot from a boat, and usually on a sea not
as steady as it might be. The pigeons live in the cliff caves, and
disturbance causes them to dash out with a speed and a twist that is
highly productive of sport that is not very fatal to the birds.

It is clear that there are limits to the appreciation of difficulty in
shooting, otherwise these cave rock pigeons would attract all those
shooters who can never get pheasants high enough or fast enough for
them. But they do not. There is certainly a chance of mingling the
pleasures of sport with the pains of sea-sickness, and so an excuse of a
kind for leaving the wild rock pigeon severely alone.

                            THE WOOD PIGEON

In summer these birds are widely distributed through nearly every wood
in the country, and the majority of the large flocks we see in the
winter come from abroad. Summer gives shooting to anyone who has
patience to wait for a very occasional shot, but in winter great sport
is to be had wherever the big flocks are found. These flocks often
number many thousands of individuals, and do not visit the same spots
every year. The attraction is always food: acorns, clover-fields, and
turnip-fields are most attractive. If left alone, the pigeons would soon
clear a big field of every blade of clover or of every turnip leaf. In
ordinary weather they are very wild indeed, and must be attracted to the
hidden shooter with decoys of kinds. But in hard frost, when there is
some frost fog in the air, through which the birds look as big as
barndoor fowls with their puffed-out feathers, they are almost careless
of man or gun. At least, they are so occasionally, and in such
circumstances the author has shot lots of them from the roadside hedge
without any concealment, but by merely walking along and shooting those
which rose nearest to the fence. Another way of shooting them is to wait
for them to come in to roost. The latter gives a few very sporting
shots, but neither plan is likely to give great sport, and the best is
undoubtedly to be had only by the double means of the use of decoys and
a constant and simultaneous disturbance of the pigeons in all the
coverts of a neighbourhood by a number of guns.

In this way the birds are kept upon the move all the time, they are
attracted to your hide by your decoys or dummy pigeons, and many times
over 100 and sometimes over 200 pigeons have in this way been killed in
one day by a single gun. The shooting is all the harder because of the
necessity of shooting from a shelter, except in snow-time, when
occasionally a white nightshirt is a good substitute for any hide, and
the gunner may stand out in the open unobserved by the birds. Very tall
bamboo rods are useful to fix up dummy or stuffed wood pigeons, _head to
the wind_, on the tallest branches of the trees near by the sportsman’s
hide. Others can be placed upon the ground to give additional confidence
to the coming birds. Even better results can be obtained by the use of
one or two live decoys on the ground amongst the dummy or stuffed birds.

A live decoy is best used on the principle of the “play bird” of the
bird-catching fraternity. He is made to rise from the ground
occasionally, so that he flaps his wings and settles again. This is done
by the pulling of a string which is fastened to the pigeon and works
over a lever. Anything in the shape of a couple of sticks placed some
yards apart, with the string fastened to the farther from the shooter
and running loosely over the top of the nearer, will answer the purpose
of hoisting up the pigeon 4 feet or a yard. In tying it to the running
string between the two sticks, it is necessary so to arrange as not to
impede the wing movement and not to turn over the bird in flipping it
upwards. It is not the rise that must be looked to for attracting wild
ones, but the natural way the bird settles after it has been flipped
into the air. This will be seen much farther away than the dummies on
the ground, or even those in the trees, but it is not so much because of
the distance whence it is seen as because of the confidence it begets
that it is the best form of decoy. In this sport the quicker one shoots
the better, because there are always more birds coming, and if you wait
they may get near enough to hear the shot, or even to see the smoke,
after either of which those particular birds are lost for the day. The
best position for a hide is in the fence of a covert, near to not very
tall trees on which dummies can be placed, and where the adjoining field
affords food—for choice, a turnip or a clover field.

The shooting at settling pigeons as they steady themselves is child’s
play, but the ambitious gunner need not wait for this, and will have
plenty of opportunities of being dissatisfied with his own skill. If
there should be big hawks about, as described by Lord Walsingham of one
of his famous shoots, the gunner is likely to realise that even wood
pigeons can emulate the twisting of the snipe and the speed of a
down-wind grouse, and do it all at one time.

It may be asked whether wooden dummies are likely to take in the live
birds. There is no doubt about that, if they are set head to wind, as
the real thing always sets himself. Moreover, it has occurred that a
peregrine has so much mistaken the nature of these imitations as on one
occasion to dash at one of them, hurl it yards away, and suffer himself
to become a gunner’s substitute for the tardy quarry, and so to gaze out
of a glass case ever after as a warning to rash and greedy humanity.

The author believes that Mr. Mason of Eynsham Hall, who now has Drumour
in Perthshire, holds the record for a day’s wood pigeon shooting. He is
not very certain of the score, but believes it was 253 birds, if memory
is reliable.

With all the records of trap shooting before him, the author cannot make
up his mind to occupy space with them; for, as already said, they are
not comparable amongst themselves.

                            DEER IN SCOTLAND

The kind of rifle best suited for red deer in Scotland is a double .303,
.256, or .275. These weapons with a hollow-fronted or a soft-nosed
bullet can be made to expend all the impact energy within the body of a
deer, whereas if hard the bullets would pierce a stag from end to end
and possibly do him no immediate damage. Magazine single rifles would be
almost as effective if they were not noisy in loading, and single
loaders are slow, but almost as extremely moderate in price as the
latter. The sporting range for a stag before the express rifles was from
40 to 100 yards. The express increased the range at which a true
sportsman would risk a shot up to 150 yards, and the high velocity
rifles named above are doubtless as deadly at 250 yards as the Henry
rifle was at 100 yards. The flat trajectory of a rifle giving an initial
velocity of from 2000 to 2400 feet per second is of even more importance
than the latter’s greater energy of impact, for deer are very easily
killed if hit in the chest cavity by an expanding bullet, as those are
which are soft-nosed or hollow-pointed. The latter is much the better
principle for deer, because expansion is then caused as much by striking
the soft flesh or the skin as it is by striking a bone. The cause of the
expansion in the latter case is hydraulic pressure, increased with the
velocity of the bullet, through the 87 per cent. of water of the deer’s










Deer forests vary in value even more than they do in rentals. Many of
them are let from year to year with “limits” of stags set by agreement.
When, as often happens, these limits are so high that the forests cannot
produce as many good deer, the yearly tenants possibly shoot bad stags,
and make up their number in this way. These bad stags are mostly young
beasts which ought to come in for the rifle of some future tenant. So
are prospects ruined by the “limits” that ought to improve them. Forests
of this character are well known, and only find tenants amongst the
uninitiated, who are too proud or too busy to ask for information.

On the other hand, where forests are let on lease or kept in the hands
of proprietors, a totally opposite system of “nursing” sometimes goes
farther than sporting sentiment approves. At one time, deer wire was
much resorted to in order to keep the fat winter-fed stags at home. But
a park stag has no sporting value, and so the wire has to a great extent
been abandoned. But feeding by hand is increasing. The fact is that
there are more deer than the forests will support both in winter and
summer, and deer that are fed get as tame as calves in the winter. In
the autumn the shooter will not be able to detect this result of hand
feeding, but he is very likely to hear of it, or even to see pictures
taken of the wild deer herd playing in the presence of the camera. This
is calculated to lower the values of deer forests, as the idea of the
red deer’s wildness is reduced.

Much more might be done than has been attempted by introducing fresh
blood from the Caucasus, where the stags are as big as wapiti, and in
the Carpathians cross freely with the Western sort to be found in
Scotland. The two varieties meet naturally in the Carpathian Mountains.
The wapiti second crosses are not considered successful. They are wapiti
without the size, and red deer without the antlers. But some of the
first crosses have been fine beasts. Crossing is rather out of favour in
Scotland, because park deer were used for the purpose, and park deer are
supposed to introduce domestic habits and appearance. But in the wild
high altitudes of the Caucasus is a race of deer as wild, as hardy, and
twice as big as those of Scotland, and also they have splendid heads,
out of all proportion more massive than the Scotch stags’ heads.

His Majesty the King prefers deer driving to stalking. Deer stalking is
a young man’s sport, except where the hills and hill paths enable deer
ponies to go almost anywhere. But stalking, and not driving, is the
sport of the Highlands, probably as much because driving deer is helping
one’s neighbours as for any other reason. The paintings of deer drives
that one still sees many engravings of are for the most part fancy
affairs. Deer generally move slowly, and not like race-horses. In going
through a pass they usually travel at a pace they intend to keep up for
five or ten miles. They may rush sometimes, but the author believes that
this artistic idea had its origin in the time of the deerhound. The
Scotch manner of finding deer is by “spying” with the telescope. The
Continental manner is by listening for the “roar,” or love challenge, of
the stags in the deep woodlands where “spying” would be impossible.
Consequently, the woodland deer of the Continent is shot in the rutting
season, unless he is driven. In Scotland, leases make the season
terminate by the end of the first or second week in October.

The sight of deer is remarkably sharp, but they trust much more to their
olfactory powers for protection, and they generally take a couch where
their eyes protect them from the down-wind enemy and their noses from
the up-wind approach of a foe. Then they prefer to travel up wind. A
novice may succeed as well as an old hand if he can shoot and judge
distances, because as a novice he will never try to stalk a stag for
himself. That higher sportsmanship is to be learnt with years, but at
the beginning the professional stalker is as necessary as the rifle
itself. To protect him, it has been said that the deer trusts most of
all to his sense of smell, next to that of sight, and lastly to that of
hearing. Probably at the same stalk it is not very uncommon to observe
both sight and hearing mislead the stag into danger, and smell to put
him right. The author has fired at and missed a stag, which started away
from the sound, saw the splash of the bullet beyond him, and, trusting
his sight before his hearing, rushed back towards the shooter; then he
has got the scent of the latter, and thus known all about the situation
in an instant. The echo may often confuse stags, and so make them
mistrust their own sense of hearing. They will often apparently gaze at
a man in full view of them and appear not to see him unless he moves.
The very slightest movement is enough. But although the wind in the
corries often plays curious tricks in warning a stag that is apparently
safely up wind of the stalker, it is doubtful whether it ever plays
tricks against the stag and sends him back into the arms of the stalker,
as a splash from a ball in the water does sometimes.





It may be remarked that since the Government have cut down the .303 to
25 inches, instead of its previous 30 inches, it makes a very fair
stalking rifle, although it is no longer the arm of precision it was at
long range. In order to maintain the velocity, they have been obliged to
cause more pressure in the chamber by altering the shape of the “lead,”
or leading passage for the bullet, from the chamber to the bore of the
rifling. If, however, they have been able to do this by this means, what
could they not have done by applying the same improvement to the long
barrel! Only in the last year before its condemnation, the latter had
been discovered to be the best barrel in the world when properly loaded.
But it required a bigger charge than the Government ever gave to it.
Messrs. Kynoch claim a great improvement for this rifle by the discovery
of their axite powder, and with all these improvements there seems now
to be no reason why the sportsman in ordering new rifles should be
satisfied with any less flat trajectory than that given by the
Mannlicher with its initial 2350 foot-seconds velocity. The author will
not discuss trajectories in this work, because he has reason to question
the accuracy of the text-books, including the last issued by the
Government; and it would be clearly unwise to challenge criticism here,
without having the space to enter fully into the matter.

                                BIG GAME

As we have nothing bigger than a red deer in a state of nature, all the
big game has to be looked for abroad. There is really no country which
can easily and quickly be reached where big game is to be shot.
Somaliland and British East Africa probably afford the best chances for
African species, Wyoming the best for wapiti in the United States. India
and the adjoining countries is now, as it always has been, the greatest
big-game shooting arena in the world. It might have been challenged by
South Africa in the days of Gordon Cumming, but that district was soon
shot out by the Boers. However, South Africa at that time will for ever
remain a lesson to game preservers. It swarmed with an enormous variety
of big game, against the increase of which the unmolested lions and
other beasts of prey were powerless for harm. They had no effect
whatever in restricting the increase of buffalo, antelopes, and zebra.
Yet the fashion inclines to believe that a few peregrine falcons would
seriously damage the stocks of grouse in Scotland and Yorkshire.
Probably, if the truth were known, there were as many grouse in Scotland
before anyone ever thought of killing vermin as there are now. It is
very often forgotten that vermin eat vermin as well as other creatures.

The question of rifles for big game would occupy more space than the
whole of these pages to treat of it adequately. Briefly, it may be said
that for each animal there is a best rifle, and for hardly any two
species is the same weapon the best. A compromise is effected by using
different bullets for the same rifle, and the principle on which to
choose weapons is to go for a thoroughly effective weapon for the most
important species to be hunted, and by altering the bullet make it do
moderately well for other less important beasts. In hunting for
elephants and buffalo, it is necessary to be able to stop a charging
beast with a temple hit. Both the elephant and the buffalo of Africa are
particularly hard to bring down with a forehead shot, or they were
before the days of high velocity rifles of from .500 to .600 bore. Those
of .303 bore and less are not to be trusted unless they smash the brain,
and themselves smash up in the brain, and not before or after piercing
it. A No. 6 shot pellet is about one five-thousandth the weight of a
partridge, and has no immediate effect on the bird unless it enters a
vital spot. The 215 grain bullet of the .303 weighs about one two
hundred-thousandth the weight of an elephant, and yet there have been
those who advise the use of such bullets for these beasts. It appears to
the author, who has never shot an elephant, but has listened to all
views of those who have shot them, that the small-bore men trust a great
deal to the natural timidity of the big beasts, and believe that they
will not charge even if they are wounded. Of course elephants differ in
temper at various times more than most animals, and a charging African
elephant at close quarters is possible, to say the least.

The big bore solid bullet has been displaced to a great extent by high
velocity bullets of less weight and diameter but more length. These
bullets are trusted to pierce farther than the old 4 bore bullet, and to
give as severe a shock. The object is to do as much damage within the
head as possible, and not merely to pierce it. Expanding bullets are not
to be trusted for this business, because the bone of an elephant’s head
from the frontal shot makes all bullets tend to flatten up too much,
unless they are very hard. In other words, for these hard-skinned,
hard-boned animals the biggest bullet makes the biggest hole, and any
expanding of the bullet tends to break it up and prevent an entry into
the vitals. For soft-skinned animals it is very different. An expanding
bullet is in every way preferable to a hard bullet, whether from big or
small bore. The latter has a tendency to go through the animal and
expend its energy on the other side, and the former tends to flatten out
and smash up large portions of the internal organs and to remain in

But every prospective big-game hunter will be wise to go to some of
those who make it a business and a specialty to fit out expeditions, and
there he will not only hear the latest views of those who have returned
from expeditions, but see the very latest designs for increasing the
effectiveness of rifles. If the author were going for big game, and
especially dangerous game, the first persons he would consult are Mr.
Henry Holland (whose opportunities of hearing the latest views of
sportsmen returned from expeditions are unique), Messrs. Rigby, Purdey,
Westley Richards, and Gibbs of Bristol, for the last new thing, because
rifles cannot be said to have reached finality, and are being evolved
and improved every day, as is also the powder to be used with them.

There is at present considerable difference of opinion as to whether
.450 high velocity rifles are equal to the task of dropping an African
elephant by a frontal shot.

Mr. Naumann believes that they are equal to anything, and he has had
experience; but then he may have been lucky in not having his bullet
deflected from the brain by the mass of bone it has to break through. A
great deal would certainly depend upon the angle at which the bullet
first struck the bone. Steel cores to the bullets prevent expanding or
breaking up of that part of the bullet, but not of the leaden covering,
and this expansion necessarily would greatly retard the speed and
distance of penetration.

                              A VARIED BAG

                             SEAL SHOOTING

There was some talk of a sportsman’s badge being earned by the person
who had killed a seal, a stag, and a golden eagle. The former is very
easy to kill, but very difficult to bag. It must be shot absolutely dead
instantaneously, or it struggles into the water and there sinks. It has
to be caught when basking on the rocks or sands, and this generally
means shooting from a boat in a sea which will not be still, so that the
chances of a brain shot are not great. To shoot seals when they come up
to have a look at a passing boat is to wound them generally, but if they
are killed they sink. Possibly the only advantage of shooting seals is
to save some fish. The salmon waiting to run up rivers are made to
suffer greatly very often. The seal of our coasts is not the fur seal,
and has little value when shot.


This is the finest game bird we have, unless it be considered that the
lately introduced wild turkeys are finer; both are the offspring of
imported birds, for the turkeys never were British birds, and the
capercailzie after extinction were re-introduced in the Taymouth Castle
district by the then Earl of Breadalbane.

The birds do not grow in Scotland to nearly the size of those of the
Continent, and fine as they are they give but little sport, and are
thought to be objectionable in many ways. One of these is said to be
that they eat the leaders of the Scotch pine and so ruin the trees; but
it is difficult to believe this to be correct, for the leaders of the
pines could hardly be reached from any other branch but its own, and
this would prove a very insecure seat for so heavy a bird. However,
capercailzie are increasing in Scotland, in spite of the determination
of many woodmen to keep them down. That they form a very pretty addition
to a day’s bag, and create the excitement that variety usually affords,
is true enough. There is no place equal to some of the less elevated
estates in Perthshire for variety of bag. There capercailzie, roe deer,
brown hares, rabbits, duck, teal, blackcock, pheasants, grouse,
partridges, woodcock, two sorts of snipe, and wood pigeons, as well as a
variety of the scarcer kinds of duck, may all be killed in one day. But
it is difficult to beat for the majority of these varieties of game in
any one way; for instance, capercailzie and black game seem to require
special methods of beating covers for them, and then they are not both
likely to take the same course, as the caper can make but little headway
up hill and the black game can. Where capercailzie are numerous they are
very interesting to drive and shoot, for it is not easy to do either
properly. But they are usually too scarce for special days in October,
and in August they give no sport in their half-fledged condition.
Seventy of these birds have been killed in driving in one day near
Dunkeld. The hens lay from 6 to 13 eggs. The full-grown
cock-of-the-woods weighs from 9 to 13 lbs. in Scotland, but is bigger in
Scandinavia. The hen lays late in May, and the birds are polygamous.
Linnæus gave the scientific name _Tetrao urogallus_ to the
cock-of-the-woods, which is known in Gaelic as Capultcoille. He is Tiwr
to the Norwegian, and Tjäder to the Swede; Glouhar to the Russian, and
Auerhahn to the German. These birds became extinct in Ireland about 1760
and in Scotland about 1780, and were not re-introduced successfully
until 1837, although repeated attempts had been made.

                               THE QUAIL

is rarely a winter resident in England or Ireland, but was so much more
frequently in the middle of last century. Then, too, large numbers used
to come to this country in May to breed here. They were supposed to
leave in September, but the author believes that the majority left
before the shooting season, as he has often found broods in the sixties
which disappeared before the opening of partridge shooting.

They cannot be forced, or even encouraged, to migrate to this country.
Instinct once lost cannot be re-created by any act of ours. The King
tried turning out a lot of quail at Sandringham, where they bred, but
being spared they migrated, and not one of them came back. Still,
although His Majesty is not likely to try this experiment again, it
seems to the author to have proved the possibility of success, provided
ambition does not soar too high. It shows that if we had quail leagues
in the various counties, we might greatly add to our sport by buying up
the imported live quail and releasing them. If we could get Hungarian
partridges at ninepence or a shilling each, who would not buy them? The
quail is quite as fertile of sport and breeds as freely, and after being
turned down in the spring wanders no more before breeding than the
partridge that has also been turned down, but in the autumn.
Consequently, although it does not always pay a single estate to turn
out either, it would pay the sporting interest of a county to do it.
Quail lay from 10 to 20 eggs, rear most of their young, and 10,000 of
these birds can be had in the spring for about £400. That is not much
for an addition of 10,000 game birds to a county in a time when each
head killed costs from 3s. 6d. to 5s.; but when the chances of the
breeding of these 10,000 are taken into account, it becomes a likely
50,000 and a possible 100,000 extra game birds. What does it matter that
those not shot are lost to the county? They will be re-imported from
Africa and Italy another season, and can be again bought alive, instead
of being killed for the London hotels and clubs. We are fond of
deploring the extermination of these migrants, but the receiver is as
bad as the catcher, especially when he eats in the breeding season that
which he professes to wish to preserve. Even on the lowest ground of
self-interest, a quail turned out in England is worth many dead ones.

The scientific name of the quail is _Coturnix communis_, and this
migrant is not to be confused with the non-migratory “Virginian Colin,”
“Bob-white,” or more truly partridge, the scientific name of which is
_Ortyx virginianus_.

Quail are beautiful birds to shoot over dogs, and although they will not
drive, the shooting of them over dogs can be indulged without doing any
injury to partridge driving.

                              THE LANDRAIL

There is no better bird for the table than the landrail, but he is
hardly a sporting bird. His flight is very slow, but he is sometimes
missed by quick shots who have been shooting rapid rising partridges and
shoot too quickly at these slow flying birds. The landrail has from 7 to
10 eggs, breeds successfully in insect-breeding seasons, and has been
shot in large numbers in a single field. A little more than a quarter of
a century ago, Mr. Farrer, Mr. C. W. Digby, and Alex. M. Luckham shot
24½ or 25½ couple of landrail in a field of clover-heads at the end of
Nine Barrow Down, Purbeck; and in 1905 there were 26½ couple killed in
the day about two miles west of this field. Sparrow hawks used to be
trained especially for taking landrails, as mentioned in Chafin’s
_History of Cranbourne Chace_, dated 1818. In 1880 there were 211
landrails shot at Acryse Park, Folkestone, and 35 birds in one day by
two guns in two clover-fields. The landrail, or corncrake, is known as
_Crex pratensis_.


The teal breeds freely in this country, and only requires to be less
often shot in the early days of the shooting season to multiply rapidly.
In those early days it affords no sport, but becomes a wonderful flyer
when full feathered. It has from 8 to 15 eggs. No captured teal can be
made use of for breeding, but their eggs are easily dealt with, just as
those of the wild duck are treated. It is possible to introduce teal to
a new place by placing their eggs in the nests of moorhens. The
scientific name of the common teal is _Querquedula crecca_.

                           THE GOLDEN PLOVER

This beautiful bird lays 4 eggs; it breeds on all suitable moorlands in
this country, but the majority of the golden plover found in winter are
migrants. When they first arrive, the shooter may boldly advance to a
flock upon the ground, which will often not move until within range; but
the bird soon gets wild, although after a successful shot the flock will
often return to see what is the matter with its disabled or dead
comrades. Its scientific name is _Charadrius pluvialis_.

                                ROE DEER

Too frequently the roe deer is killed in August, whereas then he is
never in condition. In driving Scotch woodlands for these little deer, a
very few good beaters are better than a great crowd of noisy boys.
Shouting and talking leads to the deer breaking back, for they are less
afraid of a crowded line of yelling boys than of the silent unknown
enemy which gives but an occasional tap together of two sticks. This is
a more effectual plan than tapping the tree trunks. Six beaters in this
way can be effective in a beat half a mile wide, and will send the deer
forward, where forty shouting boys will cause all the deer to break away
at the flanks, or to lie still until the line has passed, and then to
“break back.” The reason is probably that when the path of each boy is
accurately to be gauged by the sound made, the deer know whether they
will have to move or not long before the line approaches near, and
consequently act just in that way which is best to avoid a known danger.
But the few beaters, with the occasional tap of a stick, is something
quite unknown, and the nerves of the deer cannot stand it. They are up
and off long before the line approaches near, and they flee not to the
flanks or back, but straight ahead.

Roe deer are as easily killed with shot guns as hares—indeed, more
easily. The writer has known one to be killed with No. 6 shot at 60
yards range, and instantaneously dead, too. It seems to be causing
unnecessary danger to take out high velocity or express rifles for these
deer drives; and besides, with them it is impossible to make a bag of
winged game at the same time. A rabbit rifle is hardly powerful enough
to avoid wounding and losing deer, unless the vitals are hit with an
expanding bullet, and as the roe is generally shot running, the author
is not inclined to condemn the use of the shot gun as unsportsmanlike.
No. 4 shot are equally useful for roe deer and capercailzie and black
game, or the three principal occupants of the Scotch woodlands.
Pheasants also can be equally well killed with No. 4 shot as with No. 6,
and will be the better for the table by reason of the change. If a rifle
of any kind is used, an expanding bullet is by far the best to avoid
wounded beasts getting away. Roe deer are often condemned as inferior to
mutton, but the writer is not of that opinion. Half the mutton is spoilt
in flavour by the “dressings,” or rather “dips,” used for the protection
from or cure of sheep scab—a horrible disease with a filthy cure.

                             THE PTARMIGAN

Ptarmigan are generally walked up by a line of guns when a party can all
be got to ascend to the high tops inhabited by these birds, Alpine
hares, and little life besides, except for the eagles, which greatly
appreciate both bird and mammal. The eagle has been known to strike down
a ptarmigan in the air, although it probably catches them generally on
the ground. The reason why dogs are not much used for ptarmigan is that
the almost constant foot scent of hares leads to false pointing or else
to hunting their lines; both tricks are equally objectionable, and show
that the dogs have only been partially broken, possibly in the absence
of hares. In a hare country it is quite easy to have high-couraged dogs
that will point hares in their seats but will not notice the foot
scents. These are so seldom seen, though, that it is best, in their
absence, to walk up or to drive ptarmigan. They are in a sense the
wildest of British game, but it is a wildness that induces hiding for
safety rather than flight. Their protective coloration enables them to
deceive their greatest enemies, the eagles and the falcons, and they
naturally rely on the device of absolute stillness to escape detection
by other creatures. Generally they fly away at sight of an eagle, but
lie stone close when a falcon comes in view. The eagle can sometimes
kill them on the wing, but this is more frequently the falcon’s method,
and the birds know it. In winter they change to white, and the snow
affords them protection, not only because of its similar whiteness, but
also because they bury themselves in it for safety as well as for food.
In summer they are grey and white, showing grey from above and looking
white on taking flight. It is a mistake to say that they feed upon
heather; the majority of ptarmigan live winter and summer above the
highest altitude of the heather. The number of birds is nowhere very
great, nor could they be expected to increase very much; for the
vegetation on which they mostly live is scanty on their chosen rocks,
and is indeed the moss which grows on these apparently almost bare
surfaces. Were numbers large, ptarmigan would be more valued as game
birds, because of their greater activity in flight than the red grouse.
Often they fly like rock pigeons leaving their cliff caves, and, unlike
the red grouse, they frequently make very steep angle flights at a very
great velocity down hill, and then they can twist and swerve and curve
in a wonderful manner. To be seen at their best they must be visited in
October, but it is dangerous work when a chance exists of a snowstorm.
Ptarmigan are found all round the Arctic circle, although some people
think the American variety a different species. The birds sold in the
game-dealers’ shops as ptarmigan are nearly always willow grouse—the
rype of Norway. There the ptarmigan is the Fjeldrype, and in Sweden it
is the Fjallripa. Its scientific title is _Lagopus mutus_. The ptarmigan
is monogamous, and has from 8 to 15 eggs. Neither nests nor birds are
easy to find in the breeding season, and on the most open spaces, where
there is no covert whatever, the bird frequently escapes observation;
and, besides, the croak of the bird is very misleading, and will rarely
assist in the discovery of the locality of origin of the voice. Probably
the rocks assist this ventriloquism. Ptarmigan are not found in England
or Ireland, and no farther south than the Grampians on the mainland, and
Islay in the isles of Scotland. The largest bag ever made, as far as is
known to the author, was the 122 obtained by the late Hon. G. R. C. Hill
at Auchnashellach on 25th August, 1866. But the 142 obtained in the year
on the whole of the Duke of Sutherland’s property in 1880, when over
50,000 grouse were shot, much nearer shows how little sport may be
expected even on good ground. Ptarmigan, in common with grouse and
partridges, feign lameness to draw an enemy away from their young.

                                THE COOT

This is an excellent bird where it is found in great numbers, but is
only fitted to give much sport by driving. It rises slowly, but is fast
when on the wing, flies high, and takes a great deal of killing. Colonel
Hawker quite rightly advised those who would have wild fowl to preserve
their coots and not to keep tame swans. Wild fowl fancy themselves
secure in the presence of coots, which are most wakeful when the duck by
day are much disposed to sleep. _Gallinula chloropus_, the moorhen,
gives no sport, but is good training for retrievers. Linnæus gave the
title _Fulica atra_ to the coot. It lays from 7 to 10 eggs.

                     THE WIDGEON, OR THE WHEW BIRD

This bird breeds seldom in Scotland and Ireland, but large quantities
come from abroad in the hard weather; they are the principal attraction
of the punt gunner, and afford the chief profit of the decoy man. The
way to find widgeon is to discover their chief food, the _Zostera
marina_ of the mud flats, and then wait for hard weather and the night,
when they feed. _Mareca penelopes_ is its scientific name.

                               WILD GEESE

The grey-lag is the handsomest of these, and the only one that breeds in
Britain, and there only in the extreme north of Scotland. It goes South
early, and affords little or no winter shooting in this country. In the
early autumn some flight shooting and stalking are to be had in its
breeding homes.

                         THE PINK-FOOTED GOOSE

This is the principal of the grey geese to afford sport; it is this
species that gives such a great deal of shooting on the north Norfolk
coast, but it is not found in Ireland, which is famed in winter for its
black geese—the locally miscalled bernicle, _i.e._ the brent goose,
which, if not now found in thousands of acres, as described in _Wild
Sports of the West_, are still migrants in their hundreds of thousands.

The brent goose is entirely a marine feeder, and is consequently, along
with the widgeon, the great game of the punt gunner. There are many
other varieties of geese, both migrants and introductions, like the
Canada goose, but they count for very little in sport in this country,
whereas in Egypt, on the Nile, wonderful sport has been had with
Egyptian geese, and there is a regular harvest for Canada geese in
America, where as many as 200 flighting birds have been shot in a day by
one gunner. The beginner in punt gunning cannot do better than buy a
second-hand gun and punt, and learn from them what he really wants,
which will never be quite the same for any two men. Much depends upon
the man himself, whether he intends to have assistance, and whether he
has also a yacht to carry him and his punt and guns abroad. As many
people have started this sport who have not gone on with it, probably
advertising for the outfit would be a certain way of obtaining it at
small cost, even if the gun-shops were drawn blank, which is not likely
at any time. To be a punt gunner, one has to place oneself at the call
of the wind, at the mercy of the wave, and to become the plaything of
the tide. But then revenge is sweeping, if it is not also sweet.

                         DISEASES OF GAME BIRDS

A few weeks before the _Field_ induced Dr. Klein to take up the question
of grouse disease and to go to Scotland to investigate, the author had
prevailed upon M. Pasteur to offer to examine the disease, and it was
after this was announced in the _Times_ and _Morning Post_ that Dr.
Klein began his work. The author regretted that he did undertake it,
because it just prevented the necessary grouse being sent to M. Pasteur,
and that great man had a way not only of discovering bacilli but also of
some way of killing them. Dr. Klein may or may not have discovered the
bacillus of the grouse disease, but if so he never gave the disease to a
healthy grouse, nor did he even attempt to discover a cure for or
prevention from the disease, and however interesting to science his
discovery may have been, it was of no use in practice. If he did really
discover the cause of the disease, and if grouse are only subject to
take the disease in the same manner as the creatures to which he
administered his disease, then there appears no escape from the
conclusion that the disease is injected under the skin of healthy

Every one knows that grouse disease generally shows signs of its coming,
and yet when it really attacks a bird the latter often dies within a few
hours. The author consequently does not believe that the bare legs and
dull plumage associated with grouse disease always imply that the birds
have the disease, but only that they are in a condition in which they
can more easily take it, or have had and recovered from it. This view is
supported by the fact that, after the last attack of grouse disease in
Badenoch, it was noticed when the birds re-started to breed that the
young ones were well feathered on the legs and the old birds were not.
What had happened to those old grouse? Had they had the disease and
recovered from it, or had they only had that predisposing indisposition
that causes the leg feathers to fall off and the other feathers to look
dull? If they had had the disease, then it is not as fatal as Dr.
Klein’s experiments suggest. The chances are that tapeworm or any other
parasites, or even prolonged wet summers or bad food, will predispose
the grouse to the reception of bacilli, possibly by midge bites on bare
legs conveying disease from the sick to the healthy. This view is
supported by the fact that the grouse never get the disease, however bad
their food and however bare their legs in the hard winter weather, but
only when it is warm and damp and there are lots of midge flies.

It has often been said that all game birds and domestic poultry are
subject to the same diseases, and it is frequently suggested that the
grouse disease, pheasant disease, and fowl diseases are all one and the
same. That is an extraordinary belief, because pheasant disease nearly
always occurs when the foster-parents from the barn door remain
perfectly healthy. These views have had a still further upset in the
summer of 1906, by the fact that a large number of foster-mothers died
of enteritis, but without any of the pheasants becoming sick. It is
quite clear that the pheasant disease of the rearing-fields is as much a
mystery as it was before pathological research began, and is one of
those things that is waiting for investigation. How it is spread is not
even known. Post-mortem examinations without bacteriological research
are freely made, and opinions as freely offered, generally ending in a
recommendation to keep fewer birds. This advice is very wisely not
followed by those who want more, not less, sport. And the preservers
have this in their favour, that pheasants increase in numbers every year
in spite of disease. Game preservers are in these times well aware that
opinions given on a mere inspection of the internal organs can neither
lead to true knowledge of the cause of deaths nor even to wise
suggestions of how infection may be avoided. It is not known whether the
chicks catch the disease from the breath of already diseased birds, from
foul feeding on excretatainted ground, or from inoculation by means of
fleas or other vermin. Although these points could be set at rest in a
week when disease breaks out, it never has been done. It seems more
likely that, as in cramps, the disease bacillus is present in soils
suitable for it, and not in others, or else that some soils favour the
development of the diseases in the birds. The only way known to avoid
either of these diseases is to avoid the ground on which they occur, but
numbers of birds do not create either disease. The perfect health
usually found on the game farms proves this. There they generally have
as many pheasants on 100 acres as sportsmen expect on 10,000 acres. As
with grouse, the greater the stocks the more healthy the birds seem to

Partridges are most attacked by a disease known as “the gapes.”
Hand-reared birds can be dealt with more or less successfully by means
of fumigation. Carbolic acid crystals are volatilised on a hot shovel
within a closed coop containing the affected birds. However, this is a
clumsy way of dealing with the matter, and the best plan is to move the
birds that show signs of being troubled with the disorder to the woods,
where they can get lots of insect food as it falls from the trees. This
applies to both partridges and pheasants. In the wild state the former
are most subjected to “gapes” when the weather is very hot and dry. It
is not known how the worm that is the cause of the trouble gets into the
air passages.

There is a large number of other diseases to which game birds are
subject, but a preserver who can avoid those mentioned need not trouble
about the others. That is the reason they are not mentioned in this work
on Shooting.

But an additional word may perhaps be said on grouse disease. A
Departmental Committee of Investigation has been formed by the late
President of the Board of Agriculture to investigate the disease. One of
its first acts was to issue a pamphlet to correspondents to show what
had already been said and thought about the disease. None of these old
faiths are in agreement with Dr. Klein’s conclusions as they stand, but
it only needs one factor to be assumed to bring them into agreement, as
will be seen by the following table:—

 │A list of supposed   │A list of supposed causes of grouse disease   │
 │  causes of grouse   │  that are in agreement with Dr. Klein’s      │
 │  disease that are in│  conclusions, provided subcutaneous injection│
 │  disagreement with  │  of the bacilli by an insect is              │
 │  Dr. Klein’s        │  assumed—probably the midge fly.             │
 │  conclusions.       │                                              │
 │Tapeworm.            │Tapeworm.                                     │
 │Cobbold’s Strongylus.│Cobbold’s Strongylus.                         │
 │Bad food.            │Bad food.                                     │
 │Over stocking.       │Bad water.                                    │
 │Bad water.           │Wet warm weather.                             │
 │Wet warm weather.    │Bog or floe ground.                           │
 │Bog or floe ground.  │The first four acting by debility to          │
 │                     │  impoverish the blood and the plumage, so as │
 │                     │  to allow the midge to get at the skin,      │
 │                     │  especially of the legs. The last two acting │
 │                     │  by enabling the insects to breed.           │

It may be remarked that it is no answer to say that tapeworm cannot be a
cause of predisposition to disease, because it is always present. It is
greatly more in evidence some years than in others. The author never in
any other year than 1873 saw quantities of shot grouse from which
tapeworms exuded in yards of entangled mass from the shot wounds of the
dead birds. Then, however, they did so, and had to be withdrawn from the
birds before the latter could be bagged. The birds could not have been
left upon the moor, because the dogs would have gone back for them. Yet
with all these worms the only evidence of disease was an absence of much
leg feathering. The owner of Glenbuchat has been good enough to tell the
author that disease broke out there in 1872 after the shooting season,
but he never before heard of any disease in that year, and as a matter
of fact the grouse at Aldourie, in Inverness-shire, not far away, bred
well in 1873, and only were attacked by the disease later than the
shooting season of that year. But even 1874, the great disease year, was
by no means universally bad. That autumn they had a splendid crop of
grouse in perfect health at Crossmount, in Perthshire. The Rannoch Lodge
ground was only fair that year, but the author’s party there was
credited in the Scotch papers with the record bag for that season,
probably wrongly, as there was not one bird for five compared with the
little moor of Crossmount. 1873 was very wet in the August and September
shooting season, and the writer never before or since saw so many midges
as in that season. That grouse disease does not attack in winter
(although many grouse die then and in the spring of various complaints)
also tends to prove that the bacilli must have an intermediate host that
is not in evidence in the cold weather. Then the disease is not known in
Ireland and in the Lews, where the climate is mild and damp and
encouraging to midge flies. But there is really no place that the midge
can attack a grouse as long as he is full feathered, and in the mild
climate even if there were starvation there would not be bad food. But
it may very well be that the bacilli do not exist in Ireland or the
Lews, and until it is proved that they do exist there it is beside the
mark to set aside the evidence to be had where they do exist, only
because it does not conform to that of a place where they are unknown.

For some reason that the author is not aware of, the _Field_, which
commissioned Dr. Klein’s investigations, seems to have thrown over his
conclusions entirely. Without any remark upon the wisdom or otherwise of
this course, it is necessary to show how thoroughly it disagrees with
them. At random the author takes the issue of October 6th, 1906, and he
finds therein these four references to grouse disease. At page 581 is
stated that “pneumo-enteritis is the technical name of the grouse
disease.” On page 591, Mr. W. B. Tegetmeier writes: “During the present
year the number of grouse that I have seen affected by disease has been
unusually small, not half a dozen from all parts of the kingdom. The
extension of the disease to blackcock is an interesting fact that should
be known. The disease appears to confine itself almost exclusively to
gallinaceous birds.”

On the same page the _Field_ says: “Partridges were practically exempt
from pneumo-enteritis as long as they were allowed to breed naturally,
but overcrowded on foul ground they will become as subject to it as
pheasants.” And on page 592, in reference to pheasants it is said, “The
birds died from very severe pneumo-enteritis.” On September 22nd, page
531, Mr. Tegetmeier has an article in which he seeks every means of
discovering why foster-mothers have died of the disease and the
pheasants have not died. Consequently, it is evident that the journal
treats this disease as one and the same in all species of gallinaceous
birds. But Dr. Klein said at page 38 of his book on grouse disease, “In
pigeons and fowls the subcutaneous inoculation is not followed by any,
not even a local, positive result; the animals remained lively and
well.” In fact, Dr. Klein failed to give the disease he had discovered
to fowls or any gallinaceous birds whatever, but he said, “The most
striking results were obtained on the common bunting and the
yellow-hammer, for the injection of a small drop of the broth culture
into the leg is followed by fatal results.”

Obviously, if the _Field_ is right now, Dr. Klein did not discover the
grouse disease bacillus. And if he did discover it, any fowls dead from
or sick with disease may at once be regarded as victims of something
else; and other gallinaceous birds must be suspected in consequence of
being refractory to the grouse disease.

The author’s belief is that Dr. Klein did discover the bacillus,
although he failed to prove it, and that his experiments on buntings,
fowls, and other creatures went to suggest that the grouse is not a
natural host of the bacilli, that it or its virus becomes attenuated or
weakened every time it passes through a grouse, but that, on the
contrary, it becomes more virulent in passing through buntings and
yellow-hammers. This was suggested by the weakness of the virulence from
the bacilli cultivated from the diseased autumnal grouse after a severer
spring outbreak, and it is also suggested by the fact that in such cases
the grouse do not die rapidly, and that it is a slow disease from which
perhaps some grouse recover; whereas they do not recover in the spring.
The writer’s suggestion is, therefore, that when the bacillus is carried
from grouse to grouse it may be weakened, but that in spring it is not
originated in the grouse, but in some creature unknown, and possibly a
migrant bird of the bunting, hammer, or finch families. The importance
of finding this out, and testing the attenuation theory more thoroughly
in live grouse, is obvious, for if it is true that the blood of
successive grouse gradually weakens the bacilli or their virus, then it
is clear that the safety of grouse will be the constant presence of some
few diseased grouse on the moor.

The author only dwells on this aspect because it is not receiving as
much attention as some others, which are constantly being discussed, and
are therefore less necessary to mention.

At present thought is mostly in the contrary direction. But it is to be
hoped and believed that the Commissioners will investigate every
possible view from a scientific standpoint, and more important still,
from a practical one. For instance, if on a disease affected moor grouse
can be kept in health in a pen of midge-proof netting, we shall hardly
need to know where the midge gets his poison, but shall be exceedingly
likely to dry up his breeding-places and exterminate him as nearly as
may be.


 Abbott, Mr., 184.

 Accident to valuable dog, 104.

 Actions of guns, 48.

 Aldridge’s annual dog sales, 104.

 Alexander, Mr., 199.

 Alington, Mr. Charles, 259, 262, 289.

 Alnwick, 338.

 Ames, Mr. Hobart, 97.

 Ammunition, 56–62.

 Ancient and Middle Age shooting, 13–22.

 Ancient actions, 1–3.

 —— breech-loader, 2, 3.

 —— Venetian cannon, 3.

 —— weapon without cartridge-case, 1.

 Antelopes, 358.

 Ardilaun, Lord, 335.

 Arkwright, Mr. W., 126, 224.

 Armstrong, John, 141.

 Ashburton, Lord, 249.

 Ashford, 335, 340.

 Assheton-Smith, Mr., 323.

 Automatic rifles, 4–12.

 Avon Tyrrell, 317.

 Backing, 112.

 Badminton Books, 101.

 Balmacaan, 270.

 Bamboo partridge (_Bambusicola_), 269.

 Bang, Mr. Sam Price’s, 130.

 Barclay, Mr. James W., 245.

 Beaters, clothes for, 300.

 Beaulieu, 286.

 Bedford, Duke and Duchess of, 346.

 Beechgrove Bee, 199.

 Bell, Robert, letter from, 257.

 Belle, Mr. Lloyd Price’s, 130.

 Big game, 358–360.

 Bishop, Mr. Elias, 132.

 —— Mr. James, 140.

 Black-and-tan setter, the, 168–175.

 Black game, bags, 344, 345.

 —— —— colouring, 341.

 —— —— counties for, 341.

 —— —— eggs, 346.

 —— —— season, 341.

 —— —— species, 341.

 —— —— stalking, 343.

 Blubberhouses Moor, 226.

 Boar-hounds (German), 196.

 Boss & Co., 52.

 Boughey, Sir Thomas, 132, 198.

 Brackenbury, Mr., 129.

 Bradford, Lord (Lord Newport), 245.

 Brailsford, Mr. W., 135.

 Branches of pointers, 128.

 Breaking dogs, 107.

 Breech-loader, ancient, 23.

 Broomhead, 230, 231.

 Brown, Mr. Allan, 229.

 Buccleuch, Duke of, 344.

 Buffalo, 358.

 Butter, Mr. H. E., 105.

 Caminelleo Vitelli of Pistoia, 4.

 Campbell, Colonel, of Monzie, 230.

 Cannon, ancient Venetian, 3.

 Capercailzie, 361.

 —— at Woburn Abbey, 346.

 Chantrey, 340.

 Chapman, Mr., 172.

 —— Mr. Abel, 314.

 Cheetham, Mr., 161.

 Chemists, 1.

 Chesterfield, Lord, 174.

 Cheveley, 253.

 Chippenham, 253.

 Chipping Norton, 253.

 Choke-bore shot gun, 29.

 Christie, Mr. Charles, 245.

 Chronographic testing, 38.

 “Circling” dogs of old, 16.

 Close time, 234.

 Coke, Lord, 255.

 Colt revolver, 6.

 Compton Pride, Mr. B. J. Warwick’s, 137.

 Cooke, Mr. Radcliffe, 185.

 Coot, the, 368.

 Corbet, Sir Vincent, 140.

 Corrie, Mr. Wynn, 224, 228, 229.

 Cotes, Colonel C. J., 132.

 _Country Life_, 269, 323.

 Count Wind’em, 143.

 _County Gentleman_, 53.

 Coverts, 293.

 Crack shots, 88–100.

 Cross-eyed stocks, 50.

 Cumming, Sir William Gordon, 253.

 —— —— and his keeper, letters from, 256–258.

 Cylinder shot gun, 29.

 Dallowgill Moor, 226, 231.

 Dan, Mr. Statter’s, 141.

 Dan Wind’em, Mr. Llewellin’s, 143.

 Darwinism, 193.

 Dash II, John Armstrong’s, 141.

 Davies, Mr. George, 161.

 De Grey, Lord, 70.

 Deer in Scotland, 354.

 —— rifles and shot for, 354.

 —— roe, 365.

 Deer-hound, Scotch, 196.

 Delnadamph, 222, 230, 245.

 Derby, Lord, 273.

 Diseases of game birds, 370.

 Dog’s point, walking up to, 224.

 Dog sales, Aldridge’s annual, 104.

 —— shows, 103.

 —— trials, 102.

 Dogs and sport in America, 151–159.

 —— colour of, 197.

 —— evolution, 193.

 —— gun-shy, 108.

 Drake, Sir Richard Garth’s, 129.

 Drumlanrig Castle, 344.

 Drumour, 353.

 Ducie, Lord, 247.

 Duck shooting, best shot for, 306.

 Ducks, difficulty in driving, 302.

 —— encouraging the fowl, 316.

 —— flapper shooting, 316.

 —— flight shooting, 308.

 —— management of, when shooting, 304, 305, 306.

 —— shore shooting, 309.

 —— the “gaze” system, 313.

 Duke of Wellington and the rifle, 18.

 Duleep Singh, Prince F., 99.

 —— Prince Victor, 99.

 Dunbar, Mr., 216.

 Dunmore, Lord, 245.

 Durnford Bridge, 226.

 Duryea, Mr. H. B., 97.

 —— Mrs., 97.

 Edinglassie, 245.

 Ejectors, 49.

 Elephants, 359.

 Eley, Mr. C. C., 184.

 —— Mr. Charles, 184.

 Ellesmere, Lord, 252.

 Ellis, Mr. Thomas, 183.

 Elvedon, 247.

 English setters, 139–150.

 Euston, 250, 263, 286, 291.

 Eversfield, Mr., 199.

 Evolution of the dog, 193.

 Eynsham Hall, 253, 353.

 Falcons, 208.

 Faskally Bragg, 105.

 Fast birds, 45.

 Fellowes, Mr., 253, 333.

 Field, Mr. Barclay, 158.

 _Field, The_, 269.

 Field trials, 114.

 Forbes, Sir Charles, 245.

 —— Sir Charles John, 245.

 —— Mr. George, 245.

 Form in game shooting, 76–87.

 Forsyth, Rev. A. J., 1.

 _Fortnightly Review_, 220.

 Fosbery automatic pistol, 6.

 Foxes and partridges, 247.

 French army, 1.

 Fryer, Mr. F. E. R., 70, 253.

 Gallwey, Sir R. Payne, 333.

 Garth, Sir Richard, 129.

 Gas-tar, 320.

 Geddies, Mr. J., 289.

 Geese, grey-lag, 208.

 —— wild, 368.

 Gethin, Mr. Edward, 333.

 Gilbertson & Page, Messrs., 289.

 Gladstone, Sir John, 230, 253.

 Glenbuchat, 209, 222, 230, 245.

 Glenquoich, 231.

 Good points in pointers and setters, 122.

 Goose, pink-footed, 369.

 Gorse, Mr., 182.

 Grafton, Duke of, 250.

 Graham, Sir R., 249.

 Granby, Lord, 251, 262, 297.

 Grandtully, 230, 223.

 Gray, Mr. Thomson, 172.

 Greener, Mr. W. W., 7.

 Gregory, Mr. Pearson, 251.

 Griffith, late Mr., 38.

 Grouse, bags, 209, 226, 231, 232, 245.

 —— bags over dogs, 227.

 —— beating for, with dogs, 241.

 —— becking, 221, 242.

 —— breeding by hand, 214.

 —— burning the heather, 214.

 —— butts, 239.

 —— carting, 243.

 —— commission, 209.

 —— distribution of, 204.

 —— draining the moors, 214.

 —— driving, 238.

 —— effect of Act of Parliament on, 208, 225.

 —— effect of bad weather, 208.

 —— effect of colour of dogs on, 244.

 —— effect of driving, 209.

 —— effect of falcons on, 207.

 —— flankers, 239.

 —— gruffing, 243.

 —— kiting, 221, 242.

 —— methods of shooting, 214.

 —— on tops, 222.

 —— presence of sheep, 214.

 —— preserving and bags, 214.

 —— shooting on the stooks, 243.

 —— that lie and grouse that fly, 204–213.

 —— wet-day method of shooting, 244.

 —— Yorkshire, 207.

 Guisichan, 270.

 Gun Club, Notting Hill, 349.

 Gun-makers’ opinions of rifles wanted to shoot different animals, 8–12.

 Gun metal for old cannon, 22.

 Gun-shy dogs, 108.

 Guns at Waterloo, 15.

 Hackett, Mr., 140.

 Hagenbach, Mr., 269.

 Hail-shot forbidden in England and France, 17.

 Hall, Mr. A., 157.

 Hall’s Field B powder, 95.

 Hardcastle, Lieutenant, 62.

 Harding, Captain, 185.

 Hares, bags, 324.

 —— blue, 323.

 —— brown, 323.

 —— shooting, 326.

 Hargreaves, Mr. Robert, 314.

 Harlaxton, 263.

 Harting, Mr., 269.

 Hastings, Lord, 340.

 Hawker, Colonel, 206, 225, 335.

 —— —— method of trying guns, etc., 61.

 Heather beetle, 219.

 —— destruction, 219.

 Hibbert, Hon. A. Holland, 192, 193, 262, 289.

 High Force, 231.

 Hill, Hon. G., 85.

 —— late Lord, 85.

 Hirsch, Baron, 259.

 Holkham, 249, 254, 286, 292.

 Honingham, 253.

 Houghton, 291.

 Hutchinson, Rev. Mr., 169.

 Invention of gunpowder, 15.

 —— of rifles, 171.

 —— of wheel-lock, 17.

 Inventions made by chemists, 1.

 Involuntary pull of single triggers, 5, 52.

 Irish setter, the, 160–167.

 Italy’s invention of pistols, 4.

 Judy, Mr. Statter’s, 140.

 Karolyi, Count, 324.

 Kennels, 103.

 —— Duke of Gordon’s, 103.

 —— Lord Cawdor’s, 103.

 —— Lord Lovat’s, 103.

 —— Lord Rosslyn’s, 104.

 Kidston, Mr. Glen, 252.

 Kinds of retrievers, 177.

 King, Mr. John, 164.

 Klein, Dr., 220, 370.

 Kynoch, Messrs., 357.

 Labrador retriever, the, 191–194.

 Labradors, early, 194.

 Landrail, the, 364.

 Lang, Joseph, 131.

 Laverack, Mr., 141.

 Law-suit, Robertson _v._ Purdey, 55.

 Leicester, Lord, 253, 292, 333.

 Leverets, 324.

 Lichfield, Lord, 136.

 Lilford, Lord, 270.

 Lions, 358.

 Llewellin, Mr., 143.

 Lloyd, Mr., 333.

 Lloyd Price, Mr., 130.

 Lonsdale, Captain H. Heywood, 135.

 —— late Mr. A. P., 135.

 Louis XV., 1.

 Lovat, Lord, 141.

 Mackintosh, The, 240.

 Manners, Lord, 317.

 Mannlicher, 357.

 Mansfield, Lord, 324.

 Markham, Gervaise, 173.

 Mark II. Lee-Enfield carbine, 7.

 Marlow, keeper at The Grange, 254, 290.

 Mary Rose’s ancient cannon, 3.

 Mason, Mr. J. F., 253, 353.

 Match between bow and gun at Pacton Green, 19.

 Mauser pistol, 5.

 Mawson, Mr., 133.

 Menzies Castle, 225, 230.

 Methods of shooting the red grouse, 235–245.

 Milbank, Sir Fred., 58, 199.

 Millais, Mr. J. G., 270.

 Millard, Mr., 285, 289.

 Mills, Mr. John, of Bisterne, 316.

 Mindszent, 324.

 Minie rifle adopted by army, 20.

 Missing, source of, 240.

 Mitchell, Mr. Herbert, 146.

 Montague, Lord, 254.

 Moor, draining of, 233.

 Moors of Aberdeen, 205.

 —— of Allan and Islay, 205.

 —— of Caithness and Wigtonshire, 205.

 —— of Devonshire and Dartmoor, 204.

 —— of Ross-shire, Sutherland, Caithness, the Lews, Skye, 206.

 —— of South Wales, 205.

 Mottram, Mr., 333.

 Moulton Paddocks, 253.

 Moy Hall, 232.

 Muckross, 340.

 Munden Single, 193.

 Naumann, Mr., 360.

 Navy and Army competition, 7.

 Netherby, 303.

 New Forest, 200, 254.

 —— —— shooting, 15.

 Nicholson, Mr., 133.

 Nitro powders, 56.

 Northumberland, Duke of, 338.

 Notting Hill Gun Club, 349.

 Orwell Park, 249.

 Pacton Green, 19.

 Pallavicini, Count A., 324.

 Partridge bags and driving, 259–266.

 —— in Bohemia, Hungary, etc., 259, 266.

 —— eggs, imported, etc., 258.

 Partridges, distribution, 249.

 —— food, ants’ eggs, etc., 248.

 —— hand rearing, 247.

 —— incubation, 255.

 —— methods of preservation of, 246–258.

 —— over dogs, 262.

 —— “packed,” 247.

 —— protection by sense, 246.

 Pasteur, M., 370.

 Peregrines, destruction of, 222.

 Pheasant, Reeves, 268.

 Pheasants, buying eggs of, 275.

 —— coops, 281.

 —— difference in wild and tame bred, 297.

 —— feathering, colours, etc., 268.

 —— food, 277, 278, 279, 283, 284.

 —— made difficult, 235.

 —— made to fly high, 293, 294, 295.

 —— Mongolian, crosses with partridges, 254.

 —— nests taken, 287.

 —— origin of, 274.

 —— penning, 275, 279, 280, 281, 282, 283.

 —— protection from foxes, 290.

 —— scent, 288.

 —— species of, 267.

 —— timidity of, 293.

 Pheasant shooting a hundred years ago, 298.

 —— —— beaters, 299.

 —— —— dogs for, 300.

 —— —— nets, 300, 301.

 —— —— over spaniels, 202.

 —— —— “sewin,” 300.

 —— —— through leaves, 296.

 Pictures of sport, old and new, 13.

 Pigeon shooting, 347–353.

 —— species of, 347.

 —— trap shooting, 347.

 —— wild rock, 351.

 —— wood, 351.

 —— wood, bags, 353.

 Pilkington, Mr., 133.

 Pink-footed goose, 369.

 Plover, the golden, 365.

 Pointer, origin of, 127.

 Pointers, branches of, 128.

 Pointers and setters, 101–125.

 —— —— points in, 122.

 —— —— purchase of, 121.

 Portland, Duke of, 253.

 Powerscourt, Lord, 323.

 Practice of shooting, the, 69–75.

 Priam, Mr. Whitehouse’s, 131.

 Price, Mr. Lloyd, 183, 215, 321.

 —— Mr. Sam, 130.

 Principles of making automatic rifles, 6.

 Pringle, Mr., 330, 332.

 Ptarmigan, the, 366.

 Quail, the, 362.

 Quartering, 111.

 Rabbit shooting, 318–322.

 —— —— with beaters, 319.

 —— —— with dogs, 318.

 —— warrens, enclosing of, 322.

 Rabbits, destruction of vermin, 320.

 —— ferreting, 321.

 —— food, 322.

 —— hunted by beagles, 318.

 —— in bracken, 318.

 —— in covert, 318.

 —— in heather, 318.

 —— lime-dressing, 321.

 —— preservation of, 320.

 Rake, Mr. Hackett’s, 140.

 Ranger, Newton’s, 129.

 Recoil, 57.

 Red grouse, 214–234.

 Renardine, 289.

 Repeating shot guns, 6.

 Retriever, the Labrador, 191–194.

 —— origin of, 191.

 Retrievers and their breaking, 176.

 —— breaking, 188.

 —— entering on game, 189.

 —— kinds of, 177.

 Rhiwlas, 215.

 —— warren, 321.

 Rhœbe, Mr. Statter’s, 140.

 Rifle taken up by the army, 20.

 Rifles for different animals, 8.

 Rob Roy, Captain Lonsdale’s, 150.

 Roe deer, 365.

 Romp’s Baby, 129.

 Romp, Mr. Brackenbury’s, 129.

 Rose of Gerwn, 105.

 Ross, Horatio, 350.

 Rothschild, Hon. Walter, 269, 270, 271.

 Ruabon Hills, 215, 224.

 Rushmore, 252.

 Safety of guns, 49.

 Sanquhar, 345.

 Schultze gunpowder, 38.

 Seafield, Lord, 270.

 Seal shooting, 361.

 Second-hand shot guns, 23.

 Serjeantson, Rev. W., 97.

 Setter, the black-and-tan, 168–175.

 —— the Irish, 160–167.

 Setters, dog-show, 105.

 —— English, 139–150.

 —— liver-and-white, 197.

 Shamrock, Mr. W. Arkwright’s, 131.

 Sharp, Mr. Isaac, 170.

 Shaw, Mr., 332, 339.

 Sheep, removal, 233.

 Shirley, Mr., 182.

 Shooting, ancient and Middle Age, 13–22.

 —— schools, 25.

 Shot guns, on the choice of, 23.

 Shots, twelve best, in _Bailey’s Magazine_, 73.

 Shuter, Mr. Allan, 185.

 Sinclair, Sir Tollemache, 216.

 Single-trigger double guns, 52.

 Six Mile Bottom, 255.

 Size of shot pellets, 32.

 Smith, Mr. Winton, 199.

 Smokeless powder, 56.

 Smyth, Sir John, 19.

 Snipe, 329–334.

 —— bags, 332, 333.

 —— difficulty of shooting, 329.

 —— species of, 329.

 —— Wilson, 330.

 Spaniel, Blenheim, 195.

 —— breaking of, 200.

 —— values, 201.

 Spaniels, black-and-tan, 197.

 —— black field, 196.

 —— clumber, 198.

 —— cocker, 195.

 —— dachshund formation, 195.

 —— English springer, 195, 200.

 —— Mr. Eversfield, 198.

 —— field trial and show, 202.

 —— King Charles, 195.

 —— leaving game behind, 203.

 —— liver-and-white, 197.

 —— Nimrod, 198.

 —— of South Wales, 199.

 —— red, 197.

 —— retrieving, 201.

 —— Rosehill, 196, 198.

 —— Sussex, 195.

 —— water, 198.

 —— Welsh springer, 195.

 Spur fowl (_Galloperdix_), 269.

 Stamina trials, 102.

 Stanhope, Sir Spencer, 226.

 Statter, Mr. Thomas, 135.

 Stetchworth, 251, 252, 253, 254, 263.

 St. Mary’s Loch, 342.

 Stone, Dr., 166.

 Suffolk, sportsman in, 176, 198.

 Swanton Wood, 340.

 Tar-paper, 320.

 Teal, 364.

 Tegetmeier, Mr., 285, 374.

 Tomasson, Captain, 209.

 —— Captain, letter from, 210.

 Thornton, Colonel, 52, 208, 225.

 Tot-Megyr, 324.

 Turner, Mr. Sidney, 137.

 Tweedmouth, Lord, 185, 270.

 Twelve best shots, 92.

 Twelve-bore guns, 26.

 Twici, William, verses by, 328.

 Ussher, Mr. R. J., 339.

 Varied bag, a, 361–369.

 Varieties and species of the pheasant, 266–273.

 Vaynol Park, 323, 350.

 Velocity of light, 65.

 Venetian cannon, ancient, 3.

 Verses in head keeper’s room at Sandringham, 87.

 Walsh, Mr. J. H., 170.

 Walsingham, Lord, 37, 215, 227, 233, 239, 353.

 Wapiti, 358.

 Warwick, Mr. B. J., 137.

 Webley Foster revolver, 5.

 Welbeck, 253.

 Wemmergill, 231.

 Westminster, late Duke of, 136.

 Whitehouse, Mr., 131.

 Widgeon, the, 368.

 Wild geese, 368.

 Wild wild-duck, 308–317.

 Williams, Mr. A. T., 105, 199.

 Wilson, Mr. Rimington, 73, 217, 220, 228, 239.

 Winans, Mr. Walter, 69.

 Woburn Abbey, 346.

 Wolf-hound, Irish, 196.

 Wolseley, Lord, 40.

 Woodcock bags, 335.

 Woodcocks, 335–340.

 Wortley, Mr. A. Stuart, 70.

 Wynn, Sir Watkin William, 131.

 Xenophon, 325.

 Zebra, 358.

                              _Printed by_
                        MORRISON & GIBB LIMITED,


                          TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES

 1. Silently corrected typographical errors and variations in spelling.
 2. Anachronistic, non-standard, and uncertain spellings retained as
 3. Enclosed italics font in _underscores_.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Complete English Wing Shot" ***

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