« ForrigeFortsett »
putting the bait securely on the hooks. If it be badly opened, or unskilfully put on your hooks, even if well opened, you may lose all your baits and take no fish; you must, therefore, take care to get a person who thoroughly understands baiting the line to perform the operation. In the first place, the mussels must be taken out of the shell entire; especial care being taken not to cut the head in half, as the hook must be passed through the head, that being the only hard part capable of holding it, and then twice through the body, the latter being twisted round, so as to cover the point of the hook; with this precaution the bait cannot be taken without the fish being caught.
This line is set precisely in the same manner as the larger one, with two buovs and a stone at each end; but there is some difference to be observed as to the time of setting it, and also as to the length of time of its remaining in the water. The best time for setting this line is at day-break. If there be plenty of fish in the loch one hour will be quite long enough to allow it to remain; if fish be scarce, then two hours; but on no account longer, as skate, large cod, and conger eels would take your whiting or small flounders, and break and damage your line, his line not being strong enough to hold heavy fish. It will hold haddock well enough; but even these, when large, must be humoured and played with as you draw them to the surface, always having some one ready by your side with the gaff, to hook and lift them out of the water.
The Scotch haddock are sometimes as fine and weighty as the Dublin Bay, being from five to eight pounds; these, of course, require the gaff. If the weather prevent your setting this line in the morning, then the afternoon may be tried, about two or three hours before dark; and if the tide be rising, this time will answer as well as the morning. It must be taken up in an hour, or hour and a half, as the operation of drawing it in will require nearly an hour in favourable weather, and considerably longer if the sea be rough, and you have many fish. This line will require the same number of hands, and similar management in taking up, as the larger one; and must be deposited with equal care and regularity in the basket placed expressly to receive it. If the weather be fine and calm, the assistance of one man to row your boat, and another to gaff and unhook your fish, will be all that you will need; but if the sea be rough, the boat cannot be kept steadily in the direction you wish it to be without two men at the oars; and these men must thoroughly understand their business, otherwise the taking up of the line efficiently becomes a very difficult operation.
When the line is carefully taken up and depoSited methodically and regularly in the basket, it requires comparatively little time to prepare it for re-baiting and resetting; but if it be taken up in a careless and slovenly manner, and the fish not unhooked regularly, it will require hours to disentangle it. On being brought home it ought to be hung up immediately to dry, on a bar of wood placed horizontally between two poles; out of doors if the weather be fine and dry, within doors if it be damp or wet. Without this precaution it would soon become rotten and useless. When perfectly dry, it may be placed in the basket ready for re-baiting. This line, like all others, and nets, must be always kept out of the reach of mice and rats, especially when it is baited overnight, ready for setting in the morning. You cannot be too particular in this respect, the fresh mussel being an additional attraction.
DESTRUCTION OF VERMIN.
The preliminary measure towards the preservation of game is the destruction of vermin; without it, all other efforts and expense will be entirely unavailing; and as this can be accomplished by the adoption of proper means through the instrumentality of assiduous and competent keepers, I will endeavour to explain some of the methods which I have known to have been adopted with the greatest success. I will, in the first place, commence with ground vermin, viz. common cats, polecats, stoats, weasels, badgers, &c, these being the greatest enemies of grouse, partridges, pheasants and hares. After having disposed of these, I will invite attention to flying vermin.
Of all ground vermin, the common cat, when once addicted to prowling, is by far the worst and most destructive to game, especially to partridges when they are breeding; for if they fail in seizing the old bird on the nest, the young birds, so soon as they are hatched, are certain to be victimised one by one, till the whole brood is destroyed; they are equally fatal to leverets. A keeper must therefore make a point of destroying these prowlers on the very first opportunity, as when once given to prowl they never relinquish the habit, and prefer killing their own food to being fed at home; fortunately for preservers of game, they are easily caught. For them, as well as for all other ground vermin, no trap is superior to a common steel trap. Care and judgment are requisite in setting it, so as to answer your purpose and not take game, or be interfered with by sheep or cattle, although an accident will occasionally happen, in spite of every precaution.
The best trap is one of the ordinary size, about four inches in breadth, and five inches in length. Be particular, when you buy your traps, to select such as are properly made, as they are frequently put together in so careless a manner as to be almost useless. The strength and temper of the spring must be ascertained; it should be curved, and fixed to the bottom plate by an iron pin. The curved springs will last for years, and seldom or ever break, their tension being general; whereas the flat springs, from the tension being chiefly in the centre, are constantly giving way, and thus occasioning both expense and disappointment. When the trap is set, the drop or plate should lie evenly and horizontally between the teeth; if it be either below, or above, or oblique, it is faulty, and ought to be rejected. In setting, the catch must be regulated by the weight of the vermin you expect to take; it can be set so lightly that a mouse may spring it, or otherwise, according to circumstances. A keeper who understands his business will easily find out where cats or any kind of ground vermin are in the habit of resorting, by carefully examining, on the morning after a shower, and on all other suitable occasions, the gateways, roadways, and other passes, for the footmarks of the enemy, and, when found, he will do well to set his trap under the hedge, wall, or by the side of the nearest ditch to the pass or