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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/817

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The Object of the Game Laws is not, however, wholly confined to the restraint of the illegal sportsman. Even qualified and privileged persons must not kill game at all seasons. During the day, the hours allowed for sporting are from one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset; and the time of killing certain species is also restricted to certain seasons. Thus:—

Partridges may be shot from September 1 to January 31.
Pheasants may be shot from October 1 to January 31.
Black Game may be shot from August 20 to December 9.
Grouse may be shot from August 12 to December 9.
Bustard may be shot from September 1 to February 28.
All other wild birds from August 1 to February 28.

It is the Wild Birds' Protection Act of 1880, referred to above as 43 and 44 Vict. c. 35, which has fixed the close season for wild birds other than those specified in the Game Act of William IV; by Sec. 3 of this Act is made a punishable offence to kill any between the first day of March and the first day of August, or to have any killed birds in possession after the fifteenth day of March. This Act was amended by 44 and 45 Vict. c 51, exempting birds received from abroad, and included larks in the schedule of protected birds. The sand-grouse may not be killed at any time. Local Acts are also occasionally passed, extending the close season in the interest of certain species. By an Act passed in 1892 the sale of hares and leverets killed in the United Kingdom is prohibited from March to July inclusive; in Ireland the close season is between April 1 and August 12. This Act does not apply to foreign hares.

The Exercise or Diversion of pursuing Four-footed Beasts or Game is called hunting, and to this day is followed in the field and forest with gun and hound. Birds are not hunted but shot in the air, or taken with nets and other devices, which is termed fowling; or they are pursued and taken by birds of prey, which is termed hawking, a form of sport fallen almost entirely into desuetude in England, although now showing signs of being revived in some parts of the country. Men have been engaged from the earliest ages in the pursuit of four-footed beasts, such as deer, boars and hares, properly termed hunting. It was the rudest and the most obvious means of acquiring human support before the agricultural arts had in any degree advanced. It is an employment however, requiring both art and contrivance, as well as a certain fearlessness of character, combined with considerable powers of physical endurance. Without these, success could not be very great; but, at best, the occupation is usually accompanied with rude and turbulent habits; and when combined with such, it constitutes what is termed the savage state of man. As culture advances, and the soil becomes devoted to the plough or to the sustenance of the tamer and more domesticated animals, the range of the huntsman is propor-