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But, ah, that finding of a pheas- if the flint did not miss fire, or ant amongst roots and hedgerows, the powder only flash in the pan, or in a snug bit of copse, per he would lay his game low, clean haps half an acre in extent, slop killed at forty yards' distance. ing down to the little brook such Our great-grandfathers had this as pheasants love, and in summer advantage over us, that they seem overhung with dog-roses ! is it uot to have shot more slowly than we one of the sweetest morsels of the do, and this is the one great good sportsman's day? It is noticeable of a single-barrelled gun : there is that our ancestors were fond of no hurry about getting in the mixed bags; and in the days of second barrel. reaped stubbles, and when the Mr Lancaster gives us some very whole face of the country was proper cautions about low-flying dotted over with beds of thistles, pheasants, and his diagram, No. rushes, and rough coarse grass, to 18, shows the danger of shooting say nothing of the beans which at them. Never to shoot at a bird would constantly be found stand in cover, unless you can see the ing in October, partridge-shooting sky underneath him-and no wood and pheasant-shooting could easily is so thick as to exclude it alto be combined, as we see from Mr gether-is a very good rule. There Markland and Mr Fawkes that will be exceptions to it, of course. they were. What would these Where, for instance, there is a gentlemen have said had they been large expanse of low brushwood, told that pheasants rising out of and you can see all round for more beans, clover, or turnips, were than a hundred yards, there is no almost invariably missed ? A much danger. But in high wood always larger proportion of pheasants were let your shot ascend; and this, of killed outside of the woods in those course, is especially necessary when days than in these, for the woods the ground is uneven, and you may wore then a great deal thicker, and have to shoot down-hill. fower rises or open spaces were to Many men, however, can never be found in them. October was restrain themselves when a woodthen really, what it is now only cock gets up, and will fire in daring nominally, the pheasant-shooter's disregard of human life under this month; and to pick up the scat- particular provocation, though at tored birds to be found, as other times careful enough. Mr have described, aniong the crops, Lancaster has no special advice to thickets, and hedgerows, near the give us about woodcock or snipe. places where they were hatched, His general rules apply to them as and before they had taken to the well as to other kinds of game. woods, was his great clelight. He but they have to be applied with did not invariably miss them, we a difference. That is to say, that may be sure. His spaniel, brought neither the woodcock nor the snipe out specially for that purpose, begin as they mean to go on,
and would soon let him know whether that a bird, when he seems at first there was a pheasant close at hand. to be rising or going straight, may He would then examine his prim- suddenly dip, or else what pig. ing, pull his hat firmly over his stickers call “jink," to the utter brows, and as the bird rose, throw confusion of tho inexperienced gunhimself well forward on his right ner. The "wabbling woodcock," leg, and take a long and deliberato as he is called in Pteryplegia,' aim with his single barrel, when, is not, however, a difficult bird to
kill, if he rises in a tolerably open on his memory, so as to be actuated place. It is when he lobs over by it almost mechanically when the tops of the hazel - bushes or birds rise, he will soon find his round the trunks of the oak-trees, shooting improve. But I am not almost always descending a little sure that the truth is not brought after he has reached a certain home to us by ground game, and height, that he presents so puzzling especially by rabbits, more effectua mark. Mr Lancaster gives somo ally than by pheasants and pardirections for a snap - shot at a tridges. More faith is required in woodcock. Ho recommends lean- shooting at rabbits, for when they ing forward, and looking at the cross a ride or any other narrow bird with both eyes open, instead open space, it is perfectly useless of looking along the barrel. There to aim at the animals themselves, is nothing now, however, in this you have to shoot right into the advice. The difficulty for many bushes ahead of them; and it is gunners is to act upon it. The man astonishing what difficulty many who has once acquired the habit of men experience in getting them. looking along the barrel can hardly selves to do this. They cannot break himself off it in middle age. believe that by shooting into To do so, at all events, would cost space where they can see nothing, more than it is worth.
they will just land their charge I have often thought that a where the rabbit is nearly sure to man must be born & snipe-shot. meet it. When a man throws his The certainty with which some gun a foot in advance of a crossmen will always take a zigzagging ing grouse or partridge, he at all snipe just at the right moment, events sees where the bird is going. and catch him on the turn, while But that is not the case with the others are always being thrown rabbit.
must shoot out, and shooting right away from upon principle, and without any him, resembles an instinct. Bir help from the evidence of the Lancaster wisely abstains froin senses; and I have always mainany attempt at teaching us tained that to make a man a firstthis subject. Every man must class all - round shot, there is acquire this art, if it is to be no training like rabbit-shooting. acquired, for himself; and I am Mr Lancaster seems to be of much very much inclinel to think that the same opinion. But let us see even with men who fancy they first what he says about hares. can shoot snipe fairly well, it First find your hare, we may is very much a matter of hap- truly say since the year 1880, and hazard. Some there are who re when found make a note of him (luce it to a cortainty, and these, for the benofit of posterity, who, , I think, must in some way be unless Lord Stanley of Alderley is specially favoured by Nature. more successful next session than
So much for winged game. By he was last with a bill for their studying Mr Lancaster's diagrams, protection, will talk of hares as we the young shot or the bad shot talk of badgers or wild cats--aniwill know where his shot ought mals which still survive in & few not to go if he wants to kill a bird privileged localities, but which not flying in any given direction, and one man in a million ever sees. see where it will go if he holds his “Hares,” says our author, “trarel gun in a particular manner. If he at a great paco, and though a large can thoroughly impress this lesson mark, are rery often missed.” It
is quite true that there aro very
but what even these will scarcely good shots at winged game who find it waste of time to glance are very bad shots at ground game, through his diagrams. But they and that many men wbo pride are, of course, intended principally themselves “ on never missing a either for beginners or men who hare," often cut a very poor figure take to sport after they have among the partridges.
made their “pile.” It does not should say that these are excep- really signify if the animals detional cases, and that most men picted are like nature or not, who can shoot fairly at birds would provided their movements are kill four bares out of five. To do natural, the object only being to so, if the hare is going straight show the direction of the shot, away, you must of course shoot a according to the position in which little over her; or, perhaps, the the gun is held, and to demonmost intelligible rule to lay down in strato how comparatively rarely it such a case is to shoot at the erown answers to shoot point blank at anyof her head, when you will probably thing moving. In Plate 42 we hit her somewhere behind the ears have a rabbit crossing a narrow or behind the shoulder, and roll opening between two beds of fern her over on the spot. “ A hare at full speed ; and, from the mo should never be shot at at a greater mentary glimpse he thus obtains, distance than from thirty-five to the shooter is to calculate where forty yards, especially if going his head will be by the time the straight away.” This is a very good shot has gone twenty or thirty rule, but we should be inclined to yards from the gun. Unless Mr improve upon it by fixing the max- Lancaster's drawing is very much imum distance at five-and-thirty foreshortened, I think the gontle yards. In fact, the error that most man is aiming a little too far ahead. men fall into in shooting at bares is . The shot will strike three feet in the very reverse of what they do in front of where the rabbit's nose was partridge-shooting. At birds, if whon he pulled in the trigger. they blunder at all, it is by shooting Will the rabbit have covered that too quick; at hares, it is by not space in the time I should doubt shooting quick enough. It is quite it. However, it is a fault on the proper to give a hare a certain right side, and may, perhaps, amount of law; but in the case of make a stronger impression on a straight shot, you are justified the pupil than if it were more exact. in firing as soon as you can make He will not miss many rabbits, we sure of hitting her head, if it is may depend upon it, by shooting only fifteen or twenty yards. Far too forward. botter to smash her head and ears Mr Lancaster also gives direothan to run the risk of hitting her tions for shooting a harə or rabbit behind, and letting her escape to coming straight to the gun. Such die in agony.
a shot, however, is very rarely But rabbit-shooting is the sport necessary. Generally speaking, for me, and hero all Mr Lancaster's you have only to stand still, and diagrams are good. Need I re- the animal will turn and give you peat once more that they are not & side shot. Besides, I do not intended either for veterans think that hares and rabbits shot craok shots of any age? These at in front are very easily killed. either know all, or do all, that Mr The front bones of the hare are Lancaster professos to teach, --not very hard, and, for the rost of the
body, it is the wrong way of the sumptuous enough to supplement fur. But you may very likely with a few remarks of our own. break a front leg, and put a shot Mr Lancaster says very well, into the oye, without disabling the " When you miss, try and think creature at the time, with the con- why you miss; and if you steadily sequences that may easily be ima- keep both eyes open, it will assist gined I confess should be very you in finding out the cause." It much inclined to label such shots may ; but my own opinion is, that “unsportsmanlike."
except in those cases in which It is quito true, as Mr Lancaster even a novice knows that he is says, that sitting shots at hares and going to miss when he pulls the rabbits are often clean missed : and trigger, no man ever knows, or as it may be necessary sometimes to could ever learn, why he misses. take a pot-shot of this description, He may take for granted that it is it is as well to know how to do it because he shot underneath or bowhen the time comes. Here, how: hind the bird, and he will generally ever, Mr Lancaster is not very clear. be right, but I don't believe he We understand why a man who would find this out by keeping his kills with No. 5 should miss with eyes open any more than by keepNo. 7 or vice versa, if he makes ing them shut. Mr Lancaster no allowance for the difference, says, "Put an exploded cartridge
“ becauso the trajectories are dif- into the gun, cover the next bird feront. But this is not sufficient carefully, then swing the gun and to explain why a man who, as pull the trigger simultaneously. many men do, shoots with the This will enable you to see whether same-sized shot all the year round, the gun was exactly where you should miss & sitting hare or meant it to be at the moment of rabbit when he kills nine out of pulling ;” and supposing it was ten running ones. One theory is where you meant it to be, you that when a hare is crouching, the would only learn what you knew fur lies closer on the body, forming before, that it was in the wrong a regular pad, and offering much place. If it was not where you more resistance to the shot, where- meant it to be, you would certainas when running the fur is ruffled ly discover that you had deranged by the wind, and the shots easily your aim by some movement of go through. Further than this, &
But how many misses hare or rabbit in its form presents are owing to anything of the its least vulnerable points to the kind ?
I believe a very good shootor, and, unless the gun is plan is to walk with a shooting. very close, may easily escape being party for a week or two with. struck in any vital part. How- out carrying
gun yourself. ever, Mr Lancaster's rule is the Pick out a bird when the covey right one-to shoot, that is, at the rises, follow him with your stick point of the angle formed by the to your shoulder, and in this way rabbit and the ground.
thoroughly familiarise yourself We have now travelled over with the whole business before most of the ground covered by attempting to fire. After a few Mr Lancaster in that part of his weeks you will be comparatively book which relates to the art of cool when a covey rises under your shooting. He devotes one page feet, and will have accustomed at the end of it to missing and yourself to taking your time. But its causos, which we shall be pro- even that will hardly get to the
root of the matter. I believe that like stones. Perhaps there were with many bad shots, and especi- three or four hundred acres of it. ally beginners, there is no concert The partridges had come down in between hand and eye at all. This twos and threes from the stubbles comes with practice more or less on the adjoining hill, and offered quickly, as the case may be, but the prettiest shots imaginable. My not by slow degrees. Some fine day friend, who was then perhaps in the youth suddenly discovers that his sixth or seventh season, had, of he can shoot. Of course, before this course, every chance, but he never he will have killed a bird or two killed a bird ; and I noticed that every now and then.
But then at as each bird rose he flung his gun last he will feel that he knows to his shoulder, and seemed to pull what shooting means, and will be the trigger like a man who had gin to feel sure of killing. It is neither the expectation nor the something like outside edge in intention of killing anything. As skating — it comes to you all at the bird flew away he didn't utter once. At least, I know this was a word, but stuck in another carthe case with myself, and I have tridge and marched straight on at heard many others say the same. the same steady pace, firing every I had my first certificate when I seven or eight minutes with the was twenty, and it was not till my same hopeless pertinacity, and the fourth season that I could really same imperturbable composure. shoot. Then suddenly all difficul. I was sure from the movement ties seemed to vanish. I didn't do of his body that his eye didn't very well on the 1st of September know what his hand was doing. --how well I remember it !--but in There is something which tells you a few days I was all right. And this when you watch a man shootgoing to shoot with a friend in ing, though I could not explain Northamptonshire on the 10th, I what it is. Now this young man killed my eight brace with hardly was very fond of shooting, was a mistake --- several double shots very clever, and in most things among them. But if I had been very painstaking. Yet he never asked how it was that I gener learned to shoot, and never would ally missed before, or how it was have done had he lived to be the that I came to kill then, I couldn't age of Methuselah. I can see him have explained it, either to myself now—see that long stretch of grass or anybody else.
There was no
and furze, the dogs standing every conscious mental effort. The eye thirty or forty yards; the birds had educated itself, but the re popping up, one, two, or three at sults were not apparent till the à time, out of the yellow prickly whole process was complete. bushes or the long rank herbage
Now I believe that with some which rose nearly to our knees. men the eye never thus trains I see him level his gun with the itself. Such men always seem to same unconscious expression on his me to shoot in the direction of a countenance, and I see the flash bird rather than at it. I made and the smoke, and the birds flying this observation to myself years safely away without the shooter ago when I was shooting with a looking to the right or to the left for friend much younger than myself either sympathy, advice, or banter. over a large piece of rough grass Now nothing will ever persuade and rushes, interspersed with gorse me that this man's infirmity was and brambles, where the birds lay curable.
curable. It was a defect of nature