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upon the labours of the husbandman, taking portions of wheat, barley, oats, peas, or other grain, when first sown, or when about to ripen, but the quantity, unless the game be very abundant, is but trifling, and consequently the loss of it is not experienced, for I would by no means advocate the preservation of game to such an extent as to be injurious to the agriculturist. It is, on waste land, or that which approximates to that condition, which is best calculated for the purpose; there game may be encouraged to great advantage, without incurring much expense, and most clearly without producing any detriment to the crops.
The facilities of locomotion which the railways afford will no doubt become, in course of time, the means of game being preserved on remote estates not occupied or visited by their owners, in trust for minors, or which, from other causes, are not now attended to. They will no doubt be gradually brought into a more useful and flourishing condition. I could not but feel surprise when, a short time since, I paid a visit to Mr. Jones's training establishment at Rockley, in Wiltshire, to find that the estate, which is extensive and well adapted for preserving game upon, was quite neglected: surely it would be a very great acquisition to any gentleman desirous of sporting, to make a proposal to rent the manor, and a part of the mansion, a very excellent one, the whole of which, as a matter of course, is not required by the present occupant. Many very valuable districts in South Wales might, in a similar manner, be rented, and a head of game encouraged at a very trifling expense, so that, in point of fact, it would cost very little more than keepers' wages.
Gentlemen who are desirous of enjoying this very delightful recreation, and who are not possessed of a sufficient territory of their own, might, with little cost and care, very readily preserve a good head of game in Wales, by entering into an arrangement with the owners and occupiers of land, upon which, at the present moment, no care is taken of it; such an arrangement would be a mutual benefit. Everything that promotes the distribution of the circulating medium in an unfrequented district cannot fail to be advantageous to the inhabitants. On many of the small estates and farms in South Wales, the game is of no consideration whatever; and the holders of them would gladly enter upon terms for the preservation of it on very moderate conditions; and thus, by combining several of them together, privileges of shooting might be very easily obtained. Limited tracts do not, as a matter of course, present inducements to incur the expense of keepers, inasmuch as the cost of preserving one thousand acres is nearly if not quite as great as that of preserving four or five thousand, woodland districts, as a matter of course, calling forth a greater power in the protective department than an open country does. It appears almost unnecessary to suggest that in cases where a preserve is to be formed by the combination of small estates and farms, that a portion of the agreement must be to the effect that it should continue for and during a certain period of years, at least twelve or fourteen, providing that the occupants of the land should continue in possession during that length of time.
For the purpose of establishing a head of game where little or none is in existence, several circumstances require consideration. In many instances it happens that some lawless characters have been in the habit of trespassing without opposition, and they consider themselves to have acquired almost a prescriptive right; it sometimes requires much determination and perseverance to convince such gentry that their company will be dispensed with. They are not unfrequently troublesome customers. Another class of persons generally more annoying, who, being armed with a certificate and a sort of tacit privilege from the occupiers of the soil, pass nearly the whole of their time in the pursuit of game; although ranking somewhat higher in their position in society than the common poacher, they seem scarcely to possess feelings one degree more refined. It ought, therefore, to be an understanding in the conditions upon which the right of shooting is obtained, that such persons should be disposed of by the proprietors of the land. To preserve a head of game so long as their trespasses are permitted, would be an effort of impossibility.
It is on all occasions, in our peregrinations through this world, most desirable not to give offence to any individuals, let their condition be what it may; to a man of high principles and good feelings it must be a source of great annoyance to create unfriendly sentiments with persons in such a sphere in life as those with whom he may have personal meetings. All these matters being duly weighed, and the most advisable course determined upon, the next consideration worthy of notice will be that of engaging keepers, and the arrangements relative to them; upon their qualifications and duties so much depends. One man will preserve a great head of game, where another will have comparatively none; one man will be constantly at variance and quarrelling with everybody with whom he comes in contact, while another makes friends; not that it is desirable he should be too friendly with a numerous body of acquaintances, by some of whom he may be tempted to transgress his duties towards his employers, but, as the old adage says, more "flies are caught with sugar than with vinegar," conciliatory manners are at all times most essential. If every man who offered himself for the situation could be deemed eligible, there would be very little occasion for expatiating on the duties; but that is not the case, quite the reverse; and, unfortunately, those who require their services very rarely know anything of the practical part of the business. It is an occupation which gentlemen never undertake. The task is such that amateur keepers have not yet embarked their talents in night-watching and destroying vermin; and it is an acknowledged axiom, that no person can acquire a perfect knowledge of any occupation unless, at some period, he has entered into the detail thereof, and, in point of fact, served an apprenticeship to it. The proficiency of a keeper is not to be determined by his ability to kill a given number of pigeons from a trap, or by his prowess in pugilistic encounters; at the same time it is requisite he should be a good shot, and that he be possessed of courage, resolution, power, and a knowledge of the art of self-defence: the latter will give him a great superiority over the yokels with whom he may at times come in contact, but he should be guarded
by a disposition not inclined to a display of his power unnecessarily.
This is a subject which has frequently called forth the attention of the
It is a very common occurrence with those who take but a superficial view of human nature, of man, his social habits, and his course of life, to ascribe to those who are in any way engaged in those pursuits which are designated pleasurable amusements, to assign to all,
however they may be engaged, an unsullied term of happiness and relaxation. A keeper who performs his duty has a most fatiguing and laborious one to contend against; after losing a great portion of his night's repose, in watching the trust over which he reigns, he is frequently required to devote his attentions during the day-time to his master, in order to manage the dogs, secure and carry the game killed. For my own part, it is an ordeal which I should never require; any stout lad is sufficient to carry game, or to assist in chastising or leading a dog; but as regards the working of the canine assistants, one of the most interesting parts of the sport is the direction of them, which, if delegated to another, is in a great measure lost; where partridge shooting is the object of pursuit, the old-fashioned practice of a brace or leash of pointers or setters well broken is far more exciting than the custom of walking the birds up, accompanied by a retriever to secure the killed and wounded.
Public-houses are the greatest nuisances that can possibly exist in a country where a great head of game is preserved, especially if they be kept by persons at all disposed to harbour poachers. It may, in such cases, be almost requisite that the keeper should occasionally present himself at such places, in order to ascertain the movements of those whom he is compelled to watch; at the same time it requires very great circumspection to avoid the temptations afforded by such visits. A keeper who becomes habitually a frequenter of public-houses is, of all others, the worst character that can be employed; whenever he does attend it should be specifically for the sake of making discoveries. The quantities of poached game, now that the sale of it is legalized, which finds its way to market through the medium of public houses is incredible, and most especially from Wales; during the season the stage coachmen make a regular traffic in it, being daily supplied, particularly with hares, many of which they vend in their progress through the country, and consign the remainder to their customers at the end of their journey. So long as this system of depredation is carried on, game in such districts will never abound, and by this means, being killed up so close, a head of it never can exist sufficient to be advantageous to any parties.
(To be continued.)
REMARKS ON THE BREEDING OF FOXHOUNDS.
There should be no subject of greater importance to the spirited owner of foxhounds than that of judiciously breeding the animal under consideration; and it is really surprising how some manage to scrape together a kennel of "straight hounds," considering the little attention that is generally bestowed upon it. The few following
remarks are given because they are practical, being the result of ten years' intercourse with, and the close observation of, probably the most fashionable-bred pack of foxhounds of the present day.
To obtain a good litter of puppies a careful selection must be made first of the bitch, and secondly of the dog intended to be put to her. In choosing the former, attention is essentially necessary to the following points. First of all, her age:
Whether is it better to breed from a young or an old bitch? Most decidedly from the former; for obvious reasons. She produces stronger and healthier pups than one old and worn-out, and is also from her youth more capable of nursing a greater number, and of doing them greater justice than the other. Huntsmen are, however, apt to run to extremes in such a case; they very naturally grudge to breed from a young and promising bitch, and, though they acknowledge the necessity of breeding from a young one, they too often select one which is roguishly inclined. What is the consequence? The litter when put to work show their mother's faults. This is the ruin of many kennels breeding from young sleeping bitches, which, though faultless as to symmetry, are in the field lamb-killers, harehunters, skirters, &c. Now, it is a singular fact that the faults of a foxhound bitch descend to her grand-pups, whatever these faults may be; if she be an idiot, they will, more or less, be "silly;" if she have been seen more than once to kill a lamb, they will incline to do the like; if she be a hare-hunter, so will they with equal determination; should she be noisy in the field, the fault will shew itself in them; and in any other malicious propensity the result will be the same. Most huntsmen breed from old bitches to avoid this snare. Their faults are all known, and those only are selected that have come of a good kind, and whose faults are trivial and easily corrected. In this case the hounds are steady, well inclined, and good hunters, but weak and ill-looking, and from a litter of five probably only one is fit to enter, the other four being drafted from being below size, weak, and harrier-like. The proper bitch, then, to breed from is one young in years, come of a good kind, and that has proved her excellence after two seasons' work; a good constitution, and a healthy
With regard to the dog you wish to put your bitch to, that must depend upon circumstances. In general great attention is paid to this by most breeders, whilst they entirely overlook the bitch. Breeders of race-horses know that there are certain mares which produce good stock by any horse, and that there are others, and by far the greater number, that never produce good stock with the advantage of the best horse. This is also applicable to foxhounds. The dogs are often blamed when the fault is in the bitches, and vice versa. Supposing that your bitch is good, and you intend to take a litter of pups from her, you set about selecting a proper stallion hound; you look at the standard height of your pack, and select one as near that height as possible. Whether the dog or bitch ought to be the larger? I would prefer a powerful, roomy bitch, and smallish dog; because experience shows that by these means you are more likely to have