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is too cold for it. It is only by strict preservation that the breed of this beautiful and delicious bird can be kept up; for though if left alone it would undoubtedly find food, yet the attacks of poachers are so keen that unless it is protected it would soon be exterminated by them. It is supposed to have been first imported from the banks of the Phasis, a river of Colchis in Asia Minor (now called Mingrelia), from which it has derived its name. Its appearance is too well known to need description, but it may be mentioned that buff and pied varieties are by no means uncommon, a pure white bird being also sometimes met with. Pheasants are fond of thick underwood, especially where there are moist bottoms here and there, and brambles overgrown with climbing plants, in which are runs inaccessible to man, are their especial delight. They are polygamous in their habits, and the males begin to crow, in order to attract the hens, early in March. In April the eggs are laid, a very inartificial nest being made on the ground, generally at some little distance from the principal covert, and often in a hedge-row or in some small brake or spinny, where they are not likely to be molested by others of their own species. The eggs are on the average about twelve in number, of a pale olive brown, one inch ten lines long by one inch five lines in breadth. The weight of the cock pheasant averages about two and a half to three pounds, but instances have been known of its reaching to double the former weight. It is not very unusual to meet with a fat bird of four and a half pounds, but beyond this there is only one instance on record, namely, in The Field of February 25, 1859, where a cock pheasant weighing 5 lbs. is said to have been killed by Mr. H. Akroyd, Boddington Park, Nantwich.
The pheasant readily breeds with the common fowl, and hybrids with the black grouse are sometimes produced. The modes of rearing and preserving pheasants, and the diseases to which they are subject, will be found described in the fifth book, as belonging to the duties of the gamekeeper.
The HARE (Lepus timidus), as existing in our woods and coverts, only belongs to one variety; the Irish hare and the mountain hare not being inhabitants of them. The RABBIT also (Lepus cuniculus), being well known, need not be
minutely described, as they are only shot in this kind of sport when they come in view while beating for pheasants.
In various parts of England large coverts are planted almost with the sole view of affording protection to the pheasant. In Norfolk and Suffolk there are many sandy districts, where the fir is the only tree which will thrive, and, though rather an unprofitable one, it is planted in belts, which are particularly convenient for the purposes of the battue. Pheasants also are fond of roosting in these trees, partly because their limbs branch off at right angles from the trunk, and therefore form convenient perches, and partly because, being evergreen, they afford some protection from the rain in the cold winter months. Beech-woods are also favourite resorts for them, but in both instances there is a difficulty in getting sufficient underwood, and hence, wherever the nature of the soil is suitable, oak is preferred, especially as it is a timber which will pay better than fir. Ash is also pretty well suited to the purposes of the pheasant covert, but it has one great objection—in shedding its leaves so early that the poacher can see the pheasants perched on these trees a month earlier than on oak or elm. “An undergrowth of hazel is one of the best, as it forms a thick protection to the game without tearing the clothes or face of the sportsman who crashes through the bushes in pursuit of his sport. In any case there ought to be rides cut, and for the battue these are doubly essential. There are, however, two varieties of coverts which are sometimes used for this sport; firstly, those which are planted specially for pheasants, and, secondly, those in which these birds are only incidental to the coverts, and then the proprietor does not sacrifice his pocket to his sport.
DOGS FOR PHEASANT SHOOTING. It is now the fashion to drive the coverts with beaters, aided by a dog or two, or in some cases by a team of steady spaniels. In whatever way dogs are used, they should be broken to hunt close to their masters, and for this purpose spaniels or beagles are the best kind. The Clumber spaniel is easily broken, and on that account he is preferred by many people, and being mute, he does not disturb the game far before him, for which reason he is well suited to battue shooting. On the other hand, for wild-pheasant shooting, a dog which gives tongue is able to indicate to the shooter the exact line which the pheasant he is on is taking, and is on that account more useful to him. Sometimes the setter is trained to beat a covert, a bell being fastened to his neck, which remains at rest when he stands. At best, however, he is a poor substitute for the spaniel Beagles are used exactly
a like spaniels, and when well broken, they are quite as good; but they are too fond of “fur,” and can seldom be induced to prefer“ feather” to it. The three dogs which are represented in Book II. belong to the division known as “ springers,” the name being given from their being used in the " spring falls” of our coverts. The liver-coloured dog is the true Sussex spaniel. The lemon-and-white is known as the Clumber, and the black-and-white, in the background, represents the old Norfolk spaniel, a variety which is now dispersed all over England.
Each of these will be more minutely described in the next book.
THE COVERT GUN.
Two things are essential to this kind of gun—firstly, rapidity of loading, and secondly, a length of barrel which will admit of its being used in covert without being caught by the branches. The breech loader with a barrel of twentyeight inches in length, will be found to offer a combination of these good qualities, and such a gun is now in general use, among battue shooters especially. Some even cut the barrels down to twenty-six inches, but this is perhaps too short for practical purposes. The bore is generally a large one, few people shooting with a smaller than No. 12, and some adopting a still larger calibre. The size of shot is usually No. 5 or No. 6.
When a party is made up for a day's battue shooting, the keeper or keepers must be allowed to have the assistance of
several beaters, the number being proportioned to the extent of the woods. When all is prepared—that is about ten or eleven o'clock—the keepers and beaters together drive the game towards the points where the guns are posted. The positions of these will be shifted from time to time, and will vary according to the nature of the covert which is being beaten. Thus, if belts are to be driven, the plan is as follows :- At each corner of one end of the first portion of the belt is stationed one gun, and its proprietor should be a good shot, furnished with a breech loader or with a second muzzle loader and a man to load it. Then outside the covert, and walking close to the hedge on each flank of the beaters, is another gun, making in all four, while a fifth may accompany them inside, walking a little in advance of them. When all is arranged, the beaters enter, and with or without a steady dog or two, they walk steadily in line, tapping the trees and uttering cries which are usually “ Cock-cock," or some similar words. These should be only loud enough to enable each to keep the line by sound, for excessive noise only drives the game away before the line come up. If a bird rises, the keeper, if he sees it, or a beater cries “ Mark” or “Ware hen,” as the case may be, the latter being spared, unless the covert is over-stocked with them. If a gun is discharged, the whole line stop together till it is reloaded, when they proceed as before. Towards the end of the beat, the outside guns walk forward faster than the beaters, so as to reach the corner in time for the onslaught which may be expected, the pheasants here congregating till they are forced to rise, and then getting up rapidly one after the other, so as to occupy the attention of half-a-dozen men furnished with breech loaders, if the covert is ordinarily well stocked. After in this way beating out one portion of the belt, another is
and driven in the same way. In large woods the beating is conducted on different principles. Here the shooters are stationed in the rides or on the edges of the springfalls, at such intervals as to command them without much risk of shooting each other. The keepers and beaters then drive the game towards these rides, and the hares and rabbits are shot as they cross them, while the pheasants are treated in the same way when they can be induced to rise;
or if not, they are driven towards the open springfalls, where they are afterwards found one by one, and shot as they rise. In this latter part of pheasant shooting, very pretty shooting often occurs, the spaniels hunting the pheasant's trail up to where each has squatted, and displaying the good qualities of the dog to great perfection. As soon as one portion of the wood is beaten, the shooters are moved on to another, until the whole wood is exhausted, and then the day's sport is at an end. Sometimes the wood is netted off by low nets being run across it from one outside edge to the opposite one, and as pheasants never rise over these without going above the trees, and therefore in shot, they are successful in causing them to run to the outer boundary, where the expectant guns are posted. The slaughter in this mode of shooting is immense; but as few game preservers shoot their woods more than twice or thrice a year, the object is to let as few escape as possible, and hence good shots and breech loaders are at a premium.
WILD-PHEASANT SHOOTING. When these birds are only partially preserved, their numbers are not sufficient to warrant the invitation of a party for the purpose of a battue, and the shooter into the woods alone, aided by a couple or two of good spaniels. These being taught to hunt within gun-shot of their master, give him notice when they are on game by their tongues, and as he rushes forward to them (which he must do as rapidly as possible, malgré bushes, thorns, and brambles), they push up the pheasant, and on its rising, it is knocked over if the sportsman is fortunate enough to get a shot. A good dog well broken to this kind of shooting will give his master notice, and then work very steadily on the line of his game till he knows that the gun is at hand, when he dashes forward and is almost sure to make the previously running bird take to his wings for fear of losing his tail in the jaws of the spaniel. In extensive woodlands this is a most exciting sport, and with a strong and active man provided with a team of steady dogs, a goodly number of the pheasants which are found may be brought to bag. But scarcely any species of sport requires more complete correspondence