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stalker should content himself with what he can obtain. For many purposes the ordinary race-glass, the field of which is much more extensive than that of the compound telescope, is sufficiently strong, but for deer stalking it is quite inadequate. With regard to dress, all that can be said is, that it should be composed of such neutral colours as shall not easily be distinguished, and of materials which, while they afford protection from the weather, will permit the free use of the limbs.
THE SPORTING RIFLE.
As I have previously hinted, the form of rifle best suited to the sportsman altogether depends upon the particular kind of game which he is about to pursue. Thus, for rooks and rabbits, a very small bore is to be selected, such as is seen in what is called the “pea rifle,” from the ball being of that size. For red deer a ball of average weight must be chosen, but at least sixteen to the pound, that is, suited to a 16 gauge. In a conical ball, the absolute weight in this case will be about double that of the spherical, for on the average two diameters and a half may be reckoned on. Hence a smaller bore than 16 is often used; and even the Enfield rifle, the gauge of which is little more than half of this, will serve, though perhaps hardly to be depended on, if a bone is to be broken. Again, in still larger beasts, such as the elephant, rhinoceros, or lion, the heaviest projectile which the shoulder can bear is the only one that should be trusted, the immediate death of the animal being necessary to the safety of the sportsman. As an instance of the time which a small ball takes to produce death, even if passing through a vital part, we may mention that it has been stated, on excellent authority, that a rebellious Sepoy was shot through the liver and stomach with three of Colt's pistol balls, as he was coming up to attack an officer near Delhi; yet in spite of these serious wounds, which would soon prove fatal, he was nearly able to overpower the sword of the Englishman, who, however, at length cut him down; and on examination the three balls were all found to have passed clean through him, and through the vital organs to which I have alluded. The same thing may, of course, happen with any of the lower animals,
showing the necessity of using a ball large enough to produce such a shock to the system as shall cause a sudden rather than a lingering death. All these elements must, therefore, be taken into consideration in discussing the question; and no one can give or form an opinion without previously deciding on them. So, also, with regard to the choice between muzzle-loading and breech-loading rifles, all must depend upon the degree of accuracy and strength of shooting which will be demanded. There can be no doubt that per se quickness of loading is an excellent quality; and many a chance is lost in the forest from the time taken up in loading the old-fashioned tool. But if the breech-loading rifle shoots with less accuracy and strength than the muzzle loader (of which I am very doubtful), it cannot compete with it where these latter qualities are of greater importance than the former. For our British rifle shooting I am undoubtedly of opinion that the breech-loader is sufficient in the above respects, and that it will be found a most serviceable article in the hands of a good shot. On the other hand, in shooting elephants, tigers, and other very large quadrupeds, it will be perhaps prudent to keep to the old arm; at all events, until it is demonstrated that recent improvements have effected a sufficient alteration in the qualities of the new one. here only indicating the general principles on which the selection of a rifle should be made, leaving the practical details to be filled up in the part which treats of the various kinds, their construction and management. (See Book V.)
When rooks are to be brought down by the rifle, most men content themselves with sitting shots, using this kind of gun as being more difficult than the shot-gun, and therefore more worthy of a sportsman's notice. Rook shooting with an ounce and a half of shot is certainly only suited to boys o more elderly tyros; but with the rifle, at from sixty to one hundred yards, so small a target as the body of this bird presents is not very easily hit, and I have seen a tolerably practised shot miss the same rook half-a-dozen times in succession. There are some men who bring down these birds with unerring precision while wheeling round the nest on the wing, just as there are sportsmen who, not content with the difficulties of ordinary grouse shooting, use the rifle on the moors in lieu of the shot-gun; but these are the exceptions; and as there are very few Robin Hoods in the present day who with an arrow can bring down a goose when a quill is wanted, so these extraordinary rifle-shots are more frequently heard of than seen. It must be remembered that with these light balls the effect of the wind, if there is any, should be calculated on and allowed, as should also the difference of elevation in the sights when the shot is taken from a spot nearly exactly under the rook. Every rifle is sighted to allow for the fall which the ball makes when projected horizontally, and therefore it will be found that, if shot perpendicularly upwards, it will not hit the mark at which it is aimed, but the ball will pass on the side opposite to that faced by the shooter. The same applies to shot-guns, and those who use them at objects perpendicularly above their heads are very apt to be deceived. The force of gravity here only acts in reducing the length of range, and the consequent force with which the ball or shot is impelled, and when the passage of these is quite perpendicular it does not deflect them in the least. When, therefore, this kind of shot is taken, the aim must be such as to allow for this variation, and in proportion to the angle must be the allowance. In rook rifle-shooting at birds just fledged and barely able to fly, as is the case with those generally shot, they will often allow of a series of balls being those of their papas and mammas, that beyond fifty or sixty yards they are tolerably secure; but the moment the sportsman comes within that range they give a “hop, skip, and jump," and show their white scuts at the entrance to their holes. But when there is a spot which will enable the rifle shooter to get within one hundred yards of rabbits either on the feed or at play, they may often be picked off by a good marksman, but seldom more than a couple of shots can be obtained, as they are readily alarmed; and even if they are missed, they retire to their holes till dark comes on and puts an end to the chance of shooting them on that occasion. Occasionally the hand and eye are so quick that a snapshot” is successful; but there are few sportsmen who can attain this extreme excellence in the art; and I confess I have never seen the attempt successful, though I have known it tried by good shots. The rifle may be made of sufficient lightness to be easily and rapidly handled; but it requires such a delicate adjustment of the eye to the sights to insure accuracy, that it is almost impossible to cover so quick an animal as the rabbit.
fired at them, for the passage of the bullet makes very little impression upon them, and beyond the explosion below they find nothing to alarm them.
The quickness with which these little animals evade the eye of the shooter when they are alarmed renders them extremely difficult to shoot with the rifle, excepting when they can be taken as sitting shots, which its superior range to that of the shot-gun will often permit. Rabbits seem to know from experience, either in their own persons or in
Not having had any practical experience in this kind of rifle shooting, I can say nothing about it excepting at second-hand, and my readers must consult the pages of Mr. Scrope for full information on the subject. As, however, they may like to have an idea of what it is, I shall extract one or two passages from his most amusing and instructive book. The deer stalker should never attempt this kind of sport without being possessed of a strong, active, and hardy frame, together with nerves of iron and the patience of Job. For a “quiet shot,” the last quality is the only requisite; but few deer stalkers would consider themselves as worthy of the name who contented themselves with this imitation of battue shooting. There must also be an amount of train, ing which requires some time for its performance, and as a consequence the denizens of our cities who run down to Scotland in the hope of acquiring laurels, are generally doomed to be disappointed. Not only is simple walking and running required, but they must be practised at a high rate up hill and down in a half-stooping position as well as erect; and not unfrequently crawling on the ground for a long distance must be adopted, in order to reach a particular spot unseen by the deer. Now, these attitudes are very fatiguing if tried by the novice; yet unless they are practised, no horns will grace the hall. If the “ gillies” or hillmen are to have the whole management, as is indeed most frequently the case, the stalker is a mere machine, and his bodily powers only will be called upon; but if he attempts to take any of the control upon himself, he must have considerable knowledge of the habits of the deer in order to circumvent them. He must be full of resources to meet wile with wile; and, as there are few more cunning animals than the red deer, his task will not be a very easy one. Indeed, unless he knows every inch of the ground, however well he may be acquainted with the nature of the sport elsewhere, he had better trust to those who do.
According to Mr. Scrope, there are three kinds of stalking practised, but these I think should rather be considered under two heads-viz., stalking and driving. He, however, enumerates quiet stalking, quick stalking, and driving; but the second of these is only a variety of driving. It is quite true that in quick stalking the sportsman makes an occasional run to get nearer the deer as they pass, but still the essential feature consists in the driving the deer towards him while he is in concealment.
QUIET STALKING is thus described by Mr. Scrope :Premising that the two stalkers (Mr. Scrope and his friend) are respectively alluded to as Tortoise and Lightfoot. The first of these gentlemen, attended by their gillies, has just discovered a hart at some distance, and thus addresses his friend and pupil:
“ A noble fellow he is, Maclaren; I can just see his horns and the point of his shoulders. It is a glorious chance, for, once in the burn, we can get within a hundred yards of him, and that is near enough in all conscience. Here, Lightfoot, look at the fine fellow; pull off your cap, and rest the glass on the stone."
“Not the semblance of a deer can I see; but I'll take your