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calibre of 12 is a pleasanter gun to shoot with than 14, and will carry a larger charge without any recoil. Guns of 14 calibre are as hard shooting as those of any calibre, but very frequently recoil even with an ounce and a quarter of shot, and three drams of powder; in a 12 gun you may put 1J ounce of shot, and three drams and a quarter of powder. I, however, prefer increasing only the powder; but as the best of guns vary as to the charges they can best carry, the only way of ascertaining the correct charge is by experiments at a target, if you are very particular on this point.
SUGGESTIONS ON THE SHOOTING DRESS.
Dress, generally speaking, is so much a matter of caprice, and occasionally involves so much amourpropre, that it would be hazardous to give an opinion or offer advice on the subject. Almost every one is influenced by his own taste and fancy, occasionally assisted by the deferential suggestions of a confidential tailor, as to what is most suitable and becoming, what is fashionable and what is not so.
But as regards a shooting-dress the matter altogether changes its complexion, as it involves not only considerations of suitableness, but also of comfort and health,—objects of far more importance than external appearance. The sort and quality of dress will depend upon the time of year in which its use is required, and the country in which it is intended to sport. If in Scotland, on the moors, great benefit will be derived from having the coat, waistcoat, and trousers of woollen, on account of frequent exposure to wet and damp in the shape of fogs, mists, and rain; and as during the same day the sportsman will be often subject to alternations of extreme heat and cold, as he ascends from the valleys to the tops of the mountains, he will be less likely to suffer from these sudden and frequent transitions, and less liable to be chilled in a woollen dress than in any other, and will feel less uncomfortable when wet through.
The difference between the degrees of temperature in a valley and on the top of a mountain in Scotland, even on a fine day, must be felt to be known and believed. The transition on a very warm day in August, as you reach the summit breathless in the pursuit of game, is trying to any constitution, but more especially to those of sportsmen who have just left London at the end of the season. The only way to guard against such prejudicial influences, to which all must be accessible under similar circumstances, is to be provided with suitable clothing; and none will answer this purpose so well as that which is woollen, and it can be had of any substance, thin and fine for the commencement of the season in August, and thicker as the year advances.
A double-breasted waistcoat will not be without its advantage, opening it as you ascend the mountain side, and closing it immediately you face the sharp and cutting breeze at the top. From this practice I have derived much comfort, and prevented myself from catching many a severe cold; the warmth is thus retained, and the perspiration not suddenly checked, as it might have been, had you encountered the icy cold wind without this protection to your chest — a part of the body, which is at all times very susceptible of cold, but under such circumstances, especially so.
Flannel waistcoats are so indispensable for health as well as comfort when taking strong exercise, especially in Scotland, that no sportsman should be so unwise as not to use them; woollen stockings are also equally necessary; these also may be had fine for the commencement of the season, although I am convinced the fine ones will soon be relinquished for the thicker and warmer ones, as the water on the damp mosses in the morning, and also late in the day, is sufficiently cold to be disagreeable with thin stockings; and the thick stockings possess an advantage besides their warmth, in protecting the feet from being wrung or excoriated by the shooting boots, which is no uncommon occurrence at the beginning of the season, and to which you will be always subject with thin stockings, under strong made boots. The most comfortable boot for walking and fagging in upon the hills is the common "lace-up boot;" when you once become accustomed to it, you will wear no other. It must be made by a man experienced in making shooting boots, and I have always found country makers more "aufait" of this work than London makers, the price being about one-third of the London made ones. If they be well made, of good leather, and the tongue properly attached in the inside, they will keep out the water for a long time, especially if they be old and seasoned, and previously dressed with some of the mixture made according to any of the receipts which will follow this article. No new boots will ever keep out the water; it is therefore advisable to have your shooting boots made in the summer, wear them if possible once or twice on a wet day, have them properly dried, then dressed and put away; they will then be in good order for the 12th August. After boots have become wet, they ought to be dried gradually in the open air, not by the fire, and when perfectly dry then dressed. Let your boots be made wide in the sole, so that your foot may have sufficient room to expand, as it would be impossible to walk any distance without discomfort and pain with a narrow soled or tight fitting boot: be also particular as to length; the pain produced by too short a boot during a long day's fatigue would be almost beyond endurance. The fit over the instep may be exact, but not too tight.
If the small nails be of copper, the boots will be more durable, but the larger ones may be of iron, as it is absolutely necessary for safety to have large nails, both in the heel and the point of the boot, to prevent you from falling when passing over rocky places, with which almost every part of Scotland abounds. There is no security without them. I have occasionally had severe falls from the want of proper and sufficient nails in my boots, and therefore can speak feelingly on the subject; but this occurred only the first year of my visiting Scotland, for I subsequently never neglected this salutary precaution. The fall you receive is not an ordinary one, being amongst rocks, and as it generally happens on account of your feet slipping from under you, you may fall with your entire dead weight upon the edge of some rock, and may dislocate a joint, break a bone, or what is not uncommon, break the stock of your gun; or at all events receive a severe bruise or bruises. To save my gun on one occasion, on falling, I injured