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ground at about twenty yards distance from each other, but as irregularly as possible. Wheat stubbles and upland grass are the most probable roosting places of these birds, but barley stubbles without seeds are nearly as likely, and even the seeds themselves are sometimes chosen. Few labourers sleep through the night without being aware of the use of the net, which cannot be drawn without some noise, and if they like they can always give the keeper warning and stop the netting at once.
Hares are taken by gate nets, after stopping all the meuses in the field, when a mute dog soon drives all within it into the net. Or they are snared in the fatal wire, or caught in small bag nets placed over some of the meuses, the others being stopped. The nets are the most fatal methods because they are soon put down and soon taken up again, whereas the wires require some little time to set. Long nets are sometimes set in the open, and the hares driven into them, and wires are also set on their runs, where they are caught even more easily than in the meuse. Hares and rabbits always stop and examine the meuse unless closely pressed, but they run carelessly along in the open, and put their necks within the snare without the slightest hesitation. An artist in his line will scarcely miss a hare if he is left undisturbed, and allowed to inspect the ground freely beforehand. So also in coverts, they are completely cleared by the clever poacher in a very short time, if be is permitted to get into them and set his wires. Long netting both for hares and partridges is the most difficult to circumvent, excepting by watching the poachers themselves and so taking care that they cannot meet together in any number without its being known. Scarcely any known method will stop it, for the nets may be fixed anywhere, and as the game is driven into them no bushing or similar set of obstacles is of any use.
The Scotch poachers in the Highland districts are very difficult to counteract, because they have such a wide scope, and can seldom be caught unawares. Even in the daytime they manage to get to leeward of the keepers and watchers, and thus are able to proceed in their task, shooting away till they have killed as much as they can carry. Grouse are netted in large numbers before the season and kept till they can be
sold, which I trust in future will not be till after the 11th of August. Here a first-rate keeper is required, aided by a clever set of watchers, and they will have their hands full just before the season, and towards the latter part of it, when the shooters are not so thick on the ground.
From the many difficulties which I have shown to exist in counteracting the poacher when he has once set to work, I must impress upon my readers the importance of taking every precaution to keep bim blockaded at home. This requires a considerable number of watchers who are to be depended on, but after all it is the only effectual way, and as such is the cheapest in the end. The grand secret in game preserving is to depend upon the prevention of mischief in its commencement, and not upon stopping it when it has gained its full swing. Many a man would stay at home if he knew that he was going to risk a murder, but if his blood is up, his pride and his obstinacy, or courage if you like to call it so, alike prevent him from allowing himself to be foiled.
GENERAL REMARKS-ENGLISH GAME LAW OF 1831-LAW FOR PERMIT
TING THE KILLING OF HARES IN ENGLAND-SCOTCH LAWS, INCLUDING THAT PERMITTING THE KILLING OF HARES, AND ALSO THE LAW OF TRESPASS-IRISH GAME LAWS.
The limited space which can be given to this subject in the present work prevents me from entering into the history of these laws, and I must confine my attention to the working of those parts of them which more especially concern the shooter. It is most unfortunate that the laws relating to game differ most essentially in England, Ireland, and Scotland—so that a sportsman who is only acquainted with the law of one of these countries, is constantly liable to break that which prevails in either of the others. This still
further restricts my remarks, as it will be necessary to show the sportsmen of the three countries the position in which they stand.
THE ENGLISH GAME LAWS.
To the general reader, for whom alone these remarks are intended, it may be necessary to premise, that offences of all kinds are punishable by the common law, which is dependent upon the practice of the courts, and is unwritten; and also by statute laws, which from time to time bave been made by the Acts of our Parliament. In the case of game there are several of the latter kind now in existence, as the Game Law of 1831; the law permitting the killing of hares; the law regulating certificates, &c., &c. Now, if it happens that the punishment for an offence is clearly provided for by the statute law, there is no difficulty, and comparatively little
expense; but if, on the contrary, the common law must be had recourse to, an action must be brought in the ordinary courts, and a heavy outlay is required. Sometimes the proof of an act having been committed required by the two laws is quite different—as in the case of trespass, which, by the common law, is committed by a person who remains upon a road, but sends his dog into the fields to beat to him. This offence, however, does not come under the definition of the 3rd and 4th William IV., c. 32, which demands an actual “ being upon the soil" of the person of the trespasser. The mere damage done in the trespass is also generally so trifling, and the proceedings at common law are so expensive, that few people like to have recourse to it; and in my opinion, if an offence is not clearly made out by one of the statutes made to apply to such cases, it is better under ordinary circumstances to put up with the consequences.
The experience of the last twenty-five years tells us that the present law is by no means as satisfactory as it might be made; but while there is so strong a feeling against any game law, as there is now in a large section of the people, it is dangerous to make the attempt to alter it. If, however, the task should be forced upon the Legislature; or if, at any future time, the Government should feel strong enough to carry a new bill, the following suggestions, made by Colonel
Layard (the chief of the constabulary in the East Riding of Yorkshire), to the Hon. Grantley Berkeley, are deserving of great attention-not only as coming from an official who has long been concerned in putting down crimes of all kinds in a county where game preserving is strictly carried out, but as being of a most feasible character in themselves.
The following are Colonel Layard's suggestions :—“With reference to the best mode of putting down the present system of poaching, which has of late been carried to such à fearful extent that life and property are unhesitatingly sacrificed to effect their purpose by those who live by it and acknowledge no other trade or mode of gaining a livelihood, I would suggest that a clause be introduced into the Vagrant Act empowering a magistrate to commit to the house of correction for any period not exceeding one month, or less than fourteen days, all persons apprehended with game in their possession between the proscribed hours of night-viz., one hour after sunset and one hour after sunrise, if such persons cannot satisfactorily account for having game in their possession, showing whence it came, and to whom it belongs.' Further, I would recommend that all game found on such parties as are committed, be sold by order of the magistrate to some licensed dealer in game, the proceeds to be applied, in the first instance, to defray all expenses incurred in the apprehension of the offender; and should there be any surplus, the same to be paid over to the county rate.' Thus, the constabulary of any county or borough, acting (as they have power to do) upon the right to search all suspicious characters entering towns or met on the roads during the night, would have the power to detain all such parties, and bring them before a justice; and by the frequent and constant recurrence of apprehension, and their loss of the game, poaching would cease to be a lucrative trade or occupation, as it now is.
As the law now stands, the police are daily searching parties on whom game is found in great quantities; and the notorious poacher will boast to them of having had a good night of it, or not, as the case may be ; but if one head of poultry was found on them, they could at once be detained.
“As regards the sale of game by unlicensed persons, it
has been suggested that all game found on suspicious parties, whether in carts, or boats, or other vehicles, should be liable to be seized by the police, and taken before a magistrate, “who shall have power to direct it to be forfeited and sold as before stated—if the person claiming it cannot prove an undoubted right to it by a legitimate purchase as a licensed dealer, or as having killed it on his own grounds.' It would also be worth consideration how far it would be advisable to increase the price of a licence for dealing in game, from the present lower figure of 21. to one of 101., thus insuring a more respectable class of tradesmen.”
THE NEW GAME LAW OF 1831 FOR ENGLAND AND WALES
(1 & 2 WILL. 4, CAP. XXXI.). I. Repeals the following Acts-viz., 13 Ric. 2, st. 1, c. 13; 22 Edw. 4, c. 6; 11 Hen. 7, c. 17; 19 Hen. 7, c. 10; 14 & 15 Hen. 8, c. 16; 25 Hen. 8, c. 11; 33 Hen. 8, c. 6; 23 Eliz. c. 10; 2 Jac. 1, c. 27; 7 Jac. I, c. 11; 22 & 23 Car. 2, c. 25; 4 W. & M. c. 23 ; 5 Ann. c. 14; 9 Ann. c. 25; 8 G. 1, c. 19; 10 G. 2, c. 32 ; 26 G. 2, c. 2; 28 G. 2, c. 12; 2 G. 3, c. 19; 13 G. 3, c. 55; 13 G. 3, c. 80; 39 G. 3, c. 34; 43 G. 3, c. 112; 50 G. 3, c. 67 ; 58 G. 3, c. 75; 59 G. 3, c. 102.
II. What shall be deemed game.-And be it enacted, that the word "Game" shall for all the purposes of this Act be deemed to include hares, pheasants, partridges, grouse, heath or moor game, black game, and bustards; and that the words “Lord of a Manor, Lordship, or Royalty, or reputed Manor, Lordship, or Royalty,” shall throughout this act be deemed to include a lady of the same respectively,
III. Days and seasons during which game shall not be killed.—Penalty for laying poison to kill game.—And be it enacted, that if any person whatsoever shall kill or take any game, or use any dog, gun, net, or other engine or instrument for the purpose of killing or taking any game, on a Sunday or Christmas Day, such person shall on conviction thereof before two justices of the peace, forfeit and pay for every such offence such sum of money, not exceeding five pounds, as to the said justices shall seen meet, together with the costs of the conviction; and if any person whatsoever shall kill or take any partridge between the first day of February and the first day of September in any year, or any pheasant between the first day of February and the first day of October in any year, or any black game (except in the county of Somerset or Devon, or in the New Forest in the county of Southampton) between the tenth day of December in any year and the twentieth day of August in the succeeding year, or in the county of Somerset or Devon, or in the New Forest aforesaid, between the tenth day of December in any year and the first day of September in the succeeding year, or any grouse commonly called red game between the tenth day of December in any year and the twelfth day of