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the different sort of ground which he will go over, and the excitement and pleasure, when his dogs make their first point at a long-searched-for covey, and as they subsequently draw after single dispersed birds, will be considerably greater than that which he will experience who can kill three times the number without the use of dogs.
In a wild country, where birds are scarce, the first difficulty is to find the covey. The primary object, when you have succeeded in this respect, ought to be to kill the old birds, and drive the others in the direction of some good lying, such as clover, turnips, furze, or whatever the contiguous land may afford in the shape of cover; if your dogs are good, and you manage well, you ought to get the greater part of the covey ; if, however, you are shooting over ground where birds are scarce, and you are desirous of increasing your stock, never on any account kill any covey down, always leave at least four birds.
In partridge shooting, always give your dogs the wind as much as possible, and as this principle is important as to the success of your day's sport, it ought to be attended to in the morning before starting, so as to regulate your beat during the day; a great deal frequently depends upon your entering a field from the right quarter; a good marker is very requisite, two if you can have them, as single birds at the beginning of the season lie
very close, and are easily passed by the best of dogs. The best shot is No. 7, to commence with, and, as the season advances, No. 6, but never larger -- some use 5, and even 4, which in my opinion is a very great mistake; you will wound and destroy more birds with large shot, but you will bag more with small without wounding others, and be more satisfied with your shooting.
Partridges are very easy birds to kill, their flight being steady and regular; if a covey rises within tolerable distance, there is always time for the effective discharge of both your barrels without any hurry; in fact, at the commencement of the season birds rise so very close that you are obliged to wait till they are at a proper distance. Nothing, in my opinion, is more unsportsmanlike than to kill your birds too close, so that they are not fit to be carried home.
When birds are going straight away from you, they are generally on the rise, especially if they are approaching a hedge, therefore take good care not to shoot under, and when you have a cross shot, shoot at least a foot before your bird. As the season advances, and birds become strong on wing, and difficult of access, always follow your birds, and endeavour to break your coveys, by which means you will be more likely to have sport than if you went continually in pursuit of fresh coveys. I have shot much in wild countries where birds were not over plentiful, and I always made it a rule to follow birds as long as I had a chance of finding them, and found this plan answer. When partridges are wildest they will generally lie close, if you can disperse them and drive them into cover. I have even known them lie till nearly trod upon in a rough fallow. If a large covey rises at a distance, off a bare place, when the season is advanced, it is sometimes good policy to fire at them, although out of shot, as, if not shot at, they will in all probability drop on a bare place, again commence running, and, as you approach, get up a second time out of distance, whereas had you fired a shot, they would have dropped in cover of some sort, and allowed you to get tolerably near them, when you would do well to fire both barrels if you have the slightest chance, as after this they will be sure to lie better.
On a dry day, with a slight breeze, even in December, a good shot and good walker, who will persevere and follow up his birds in a country where there is any tolerable cover, either in the shape of turnips, furze-fields, or hedge-rows, will be certain of sport; whereas few shots could only be had by not deviating from your beat, and continually advancing in pursuit of fresh coveys.
REARING PARTRIDGES FROM EGGS.
If you can get eggs, partridges are easily raised under hens. A particular sort of hen (the bantam) has been specially recommended, but I have found the ordinary one answer every purpose. Having a number of these at your disposal in the different farmyards in the neighbourhood, the partridges' eggs must be placed under them when they are sitting, and their own eggs withdrawn, and this can be easily done, without in the slightest degree alarming the hens, by the farmservant who is in the habit of attending upon and feeding the poultry. Whenever the bird leaves the nest, a few days before hatching, it will be as well to sprinkle warm milk-and-water on the eggs. As soon as the birds are hatched, or perhaps on the following day, if it can be conveniently postponed, as the young birds do not partake of any food under twenty-four hours, but derive all their support from the warmth imparted under the wings of the mother, they must be placed under a coop, with the old bird: this coop must have been constructed expressly, having a bottom to it, and small intervals in front through which the young birds can pass; to this, however, there must be a second coop attached, with open work, covered with netting, affording space for them to run about. After a few days, when the young birds become accustomed to the spot, the netting from the outer coop may be removed during the day, but replaced at night as a protection from vermin. The best place to have your coops is in an old kitchen-garden, walled in, as in this they will be more secure, and finding plenty of food, more readily learn to take care of themselves. In the first instance, you must feed them with eggs boiled hard, chopped up with cress, and with an abundant supply of ants' eggs: the latter is the best food you can give them.
Select a good aspect for your coops, so that the birds may have the benefit of the morning and midday sun, and be sheltered from the north winds. The young birds require great attention, and must be fed regularly three or four times a day: each bird will require about one egg daily. If the weather be wet and cold, they will be very liable to a disease called the pip, and will require extra care and immediate attention, as they soon succumb to the first attacks of the malady if it be not counteracted, and these exhibit tbemselves by the bird gasping for breath as if he were nearly suffocated, accompanied by weakness, so that in attempting to walk he falls down. Something of a stimulating character I have known afford instant relief and save the bird: three-fourths black pepper and one-fourth mustard, mixed together with a little butter, and made into small pills, and