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996
SHOOTING


rocky ground, owing to the possibility of an accident from glancing or deflected shot-pellets. Much of the success of a day's grouse-driving depends on the manner in which the drivers-are handled, and especially on the “ flankers,” whose business it is to turn in such birds as show a tendency to break away from the butts.

A few simple rules for the guidance of the shooter may be mentioned in connexion with grouse-driving. He should remain motionless in his butt, without attempting to conceal himself by crouching, until the moment arrives for him to throw up his gun, when he should refrain from dwelling on his bird, or reserving his fire until it is close upon him-the latter a very common error among beginners. An excellent method of determining the range at which to open fire is to mark some conspicuous object, a tuft of heather or a stone, about 40 yds. in front of one's butt, before the commencement of a drive. Above all the shooter should concentrate his attention only on birds coming at him, and not concern himself with those that have passed his butt: in nine cases out of ten by the time he has turned to fire they will be 60 or 70 yds. away, and the only result of his shot will be to wound, but not kill; apart from the cruelty of such a proceeding, it should be remembered that these “ pricked ” birds are a fruitful source of grouse disease. A good retriever is essential to enjoyment in grouse-driving, where only a limited time is available for picking up dead birds. The modern fashion is in favour of spaniels for this work, but a large wavy-coated retriever is usually preferable, as being less likely to tire or “ potter.” It is customary on some moors to burn the heather round the butts with a view to facilitating the recovery of dead birds, but this has also the disadvantage of rendering the butts more conspicuous to the grouse, which soon come to know the dangerous zone. In August grouse can be driven without much difficulty, but later in the season, and especially in a high wind, pack after pack will go straight back over the beaters' heads sooner than face the guns. Enormous bags of driven grouse are occasionally made on the Yorkshire and Durham moors; over 1300 brace have been killed in a single day at Broomhead near Sheffield, and there are several other well-known moors where, in a good season, 1000 brace are obtainable in a day's shooting. Grouse driving is believed to have been first practised in a very modified form on the English moors as early as 1805, but its usage did not become general until fifty or sixty years later.

Grouse-shooting over dogs, though lacking the excitement of grouse-driving, and not requiring the same high standard of skill in shooting, is none the less incomparably the higher form of sport. Owing to the almost universal wildness of all modern game-birds, its general practice is now almost entirely confined to the Highlands, where, especially on the western seaboard, grouse will lie to dogs practically throughout the season. Except on very ill-watered moors, where they suffer more than other breeds of dogs from thirst, large big-boned setters are preferable to pointers for grouse-shooting, as the latter are more easily affected by cold and damp, and in the writer's experience are more easily fatigued. Care should of course be taken always to work one's dogs up wind when possible, and in hot, still weather to beat the higher ground thoroughly, with a view to killing down the old cocks and barren hens which resort there. In stormy weather grouse naturally seek the lower slopes of the moors.

Partridge-shooting over dogs is a most delightful form of sport, popularly supposed to be extinct nowadays, but there are happilyPartridge-
shooting.
many parts of England where it is still practiced in suitable localities. None the less, modern agricultural conditions do not lend themselves to the use of dogs in partridge-shooting, and the most general custom is to drive the birds off the pastures and stubbles into the root crops where they can be walked up in line, a rather uninteresting method of shooting. Care should of course be taken always to walk across the drills; and where birds are wild, and time does not press, it will occasionally be found advantageous to work a field in a series of gradually diminishing circles. Much valuable time is often wasted in partridge-shooting in the search for dead and wounded birds; this can be obviated to a large extent by observing the golden rule that as soon as a bird is down the line should halt, and the dogs, whose business it is to retrieve the game, be allowed to do so, unassisted—or more correctly unhampered. If the bird cannot be found within reasonable time, the line should proceed, leaving a keeper and a steady dog behind to search for it. Where game is plentiful it is always advisable to employ one man with a couple of retrievers for the sole purpose of remaining behind the line to retrieve lost or running birds. As with all game, the modern tendency is to drive partridges: a form of shooting that of all others exacts the highest test of skill, not only on the part of the shooter, but also of the keeper who organizes the proceedings. To these requirements must be added a suitable tract of country for the purpose, and a large head of game; given all these essentials, partridge driving is a delightful amusement; without them it is usually a fruitless and wearisome undertaking.

In driving, the birds should be gradually and quietly collected into one large root-field, and sent from this over the guns, who should, when possible, always be placed in a grass-field where dead or wounded birds are more easily retrieved. Another field of roots should be at a convenient distance behind the guns for the purpose of gathering the birds, which, unless the wind be specially unfavourable, can then be brought back over them in a return drive. Long drives are not advisable; the more partridges can be kept on the wing, and the coveys broken up, the better. Where partridge-driving is carried on on a large scale, it is a good plan to supplement such hedge-rows as are convenient for the purpose by narrow belts of coniferous trees. These, if wired in to prevent disturbance by foxes, dogs, &c., not only provide admirable nesting-ground for winged-game, but afford better concealment for the guns, and cause the partridges to offer higher and more attractive shots. In shooting driven partridges, the sportsman should stand as far as practicable away from the fence, and concentrate his attention on the bird which first tops it. A driven grouse or rocketing pheasant will fly straight towards the shooter without swerving when he raises his gun, but not so the partridge, which can twist in the air almost like a snipe; it is this peculiarity, coupled with their startling scream, that proves so disconcerting to the young sportsman. Especial care should always be taken that the guns stand in a perfectly straight line within sight of one another: neglect of this precaution has often led to serious accidents.

Frequent change of blood is beneficial on estates where a large head of partridges is preserved, and it is advisable to kill of superfluous cock-birds before the commencement of the breeding season, though when partridges are reared artificially a better plan is to catch them alive, and use them as foster-mothers, a duty they perform admirably.

The pheasant, once one of the rarest British game-birds, has now, thanks to artificial production, become almost the commonest, and to shoot it over dogs among the hedgerowsPheasant-
shooting.
in October, as was formerly the practice, would sbooting be a manifest absurdity. Under modern conditions it can only be dealt with satisfactorily' as a “ rocketer,” i.e. a bird flying high and fast towards the shooter. As such, the pheasant has no superior, provided only it fly high and fast enough, but otherwise it is a rather uninteresting sporting-bird which invariably elects to seek safety by running rather than flight. Like the modern pheasant itself, the rocketer is a more or less artificial creation, and considerable organization is necessary to produce it in perfection. It is only of late years that keepers have recognized that sportsmen place little value on the mere magnitude of a day's bag, as compared to the difficult or “pretty” shots they may obtain. Much, therefore, depends on the management of covert-shooting, the handling of the beaters, the disposition of the “ stops,” and the pains taken to ensure high-flying pheasants, or the reverse. When the configuration of the coverts permits of it, pheasants should always be driven down-hill to the guns; on fiat ground the latter

should stand at such a distance from the covert-side as to permit