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that they can seldom be shot on the water, and if not killed dead they do not rise to the surface. The most likely method is to conceal yourself and send a man to hunt them out on the other side, when they will sometimes rise fearlessly and expose themselves to your shot.
DECOY-DUCK SHOOTING. It is a very common practice in France, and occasionally also in this country, to entice wild ducks within reach of an ambushed gun by means of decoy ducks. A hut is first built and carefully concealed by bushes, &c., near a small piece of water, which must of course be within call of the haunts of the ducks. Then fastening down five or six decoy ducks near one another on the water, their incessant quacking calls down the wild birds, and as these alight on the water they are swept off by the guns in ambush. It is not a very dignified sport, nor can I understand how it can be considered as anything more than a business; but there is no accounting for tastes, and I therefore mention it here as one of the means of shooting wildfowl. Both ducks and teal answer to the call of the decoy duck, but widgeon refuse altogether.
MARINE WILDFOWL SHOOTING.
Until the example and writings of Colonel Hawker introduced this sport to public notice, it was almost entirely confined to those who sought wildfowl for the poulterers, and were actuated solely by the love of gain. Nor has this kind of shooting even since his time become general, the difficulties and hardships in it being sufficient to deter most men. In the work on “Shooting,” which has made the name of Hawker universally known, the details are given at great length, not only of the mode of carrying out the sport, but also of the punt-guns, punts, mud-boards, &c., which are necessary for it. In the present day small yachts of six or eight tons are preferred by gentlemen to the punt, being more safe than those frail machines, and also being sufficiently roomy to carry a friend as well as the proprietor and a couple of men. Birds seem to bear the approach of a sailing boat much better than a punt propelled by a paddle, which necessarily makes some slight noise, however carefully it may be used. Besides which, they have generally been accustomed to see sails without being injured by them, whereas the punt is never without its sting. The various modes of carrying out the shcoting of wildfowl by means of the punt and puntgun must, however, be studied in the pages of nature, with the assistance of Colonel Hawker as far as theory can be made available.
OBJECTS FOR WHICH THE RIFLE 18 USED-TARGET SHOOTING-ROOK
SHOOTING-RABBIT SHOOTING-DEER STALKING.
OBJECTS FOR WHICH THE RIFLE IS USED.
THERE are two general purposes to which the rifle is adapted, the more important being the destruction of man by his fellows in war, while the subsidiary one is for amusement, either by means of target shooting, deer stalking, rook, or rabbit shooting. Where game is sought for in order to support life, as the backwoods of America, th rifle comes into play as a necessary, but in this country it can scarcely ever be adopted excepting for purposes of sport or war; and as this book does not profess to treat of the latter, the limits of the tool are readily assigned. There is a great difference between the military rifle and that intended for sporting purposes, chiefly depending upon the range, which in the former must be as extensive as possible, while in the latter it is rarely required to extend beyond two or three hundred yards, and, indeed, few sporting rifles are sighted beyond this. For our island purposes a small ball is sufficient, but in India and Africa, where the elephant or the lion must be despatched by a crashing and immediately fatal injury to the brain or some other vital organ, nothing less than two or three ounces of lead is thought sufficient. Again, in the military rifle it is thought a sine quâ non for the purpose of safety that the cartridges should not contain any detonating powder, because they may explode, when collected in masses, with a most disastrous result. But in the sporting rifle there is little or no danger of such an accident; and several very efficient breech-loading pieces are used with cartridges containing detonating powder. All this will, however, be fully described in alluding to each particular rifle.
TARGET SHOOTING with the rifle is a very common amusement in some countries, and in Switzerland it is quite a national pastime. Latterly it has been gradually becoming more popular in England, but as yet it cannot be said to have obtained a hold upon the people. In the army it is, of course, regularly practised as a part of the business of the profession; but what I am now alluding to is target shooting with the rifle as an amusement, conducted in the same way as modern archery. There is a Swiss club in London, whose members meet at regular intervals at the Hornsey Wood Tavern; and there are two rifle regiments of volunteers—the Victoria, and the Honourable Artillery Company, but the two last are of a military rather than a civil character, though composed of civilians.
The TARGETS, whether for civil or military purposes, should be carefully backed by some dense substance impervious to balls, and no mere fence of planks should be relied
A wall or a faggot pile will either of them suffice, but nothing less impervious will do. The height should depend upon the distance at which the shots are fired; but for two or three hundred yards, a height of twenty feet and a breadth of thirty will secure against accident, though I have seen even this missed; but then such an unpractised shot should not be allowed to display his ignorance at a longer distance than fifty yards, when he could not fail to effect a hit. In the middle of this large bulk an iron or brick target is placed six feet high, and for sporting purposes generally square or circular, with a bull's-eye in the centre, surrounded by rings, as in archery. In military shooting the target is six feet by two, and is marked off by perpendicular and transverse lines into small squares. T'he Swiss use linen squares set in frames, each of which is marked with a bull's-eye surrounded by three rings, which score in the same way as in archery. Another plan is to measure every shot in inches from the centre of the bull's-eye, and the average of the measures of the whole number shot by each person is called " the average string,” while the sum of the lengths is "the total string." This is the best test for sporting rifles, because most of the objects which are likely to be shot at are of an irregularly square orcircularform, and not like man, three squares of two feet each, placed one on the top of the other. Those therefore who like to practise target rifle shooting with the intention of becoming good game shots will do well to procure an iron target six feet in diameter, and back this with a wall or faggot pile about forty feet wide by twenty high, after which they may fire away and endeavour to make the best “ string” they can.
An average string of one inch at one hundred yards, and two inches at two hundred yards, is first-rate practice, and is seldom attained. Where
expense is an object, and the screen must be reduced as much as possible in size, an archway is constructed at a distance of a few yards from the shooter, so that his balls cannot possibly escape the screen; for if they are directed outside it they are stopped by the arch. This is shown in the accompanying cut, in which a represents the rifle, which is directed to the upper edge of the screen d,
and passes through the trajectory c; but if it were held any higher, the ball, before it could pass in a higher line so as to rise above d, would be stopped by the arch b, which may be placed conveniently at the front of the loadingshed; e is the target. This plan is very commonly adopted in France.
Rooks and RABBITS need scarcely be alluded to as pabulum for the rifle, each being too well known to need any description.
The Stag, or RED DEER (Cervus elephas), is the largest of the British deer, of which three varieties are knownviz., the red deer, the fallow deer, and the roebuck. The first is considerably the largest; and the following dimensions-given by Mr. Scrope in his interesting work on deerstalking—will afford some idea of his enormous size :
ft. in. Height at shoulder
3 111 Girth at shoulder
4 7 Height from top of head to fore-foot 5 6 Length of antler .
2 6 From top of antler to ground
7 10 Gross weight.
308lbs. In colour, the stag is usually of a reddish brown, with blackish muzzle, and mane mingled with grey; the inside of the thighs and flank being lighter, and approaching to a fawn colour. Deer under one year are called calves ; till three, a male a brocket, and the female a hearst ; at three, the male a spire, and the female a hind; at four, a staggart; at five, a stag; at six, a warrantable stag; and after this, a hart. The female does not breed till three years old, and has only one calf. The male is known from the female by having a pair of horns, which are shed yearly, and change in form with every succeeding year. Each fully-developed horn has a brow, bay, and tray antler, and two points also on
The three first are termed the rights; the two points, the crockets; the horn itself, the beam; the width, the span; and the rough part at the junction with the skull, the pearls. The age is known by the horns and by the slot. The BROCKET has only small projections, called