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with No. 6; but this can only be done when you can get a near side-shot, and are able to hit them behind the shoulder. When they are going directly from you they are not easily killed, even with large shot; and ought not to be shot at, unless you have dogs to pursue them. The shot generally used by amateurs is BB, with which you may kill them at seventy or eighty yards, if you can get a side-shot. If the country were rideable, I should think, with a pack of harriers, they would show excellent sport.
They are tolerable eating, the flesh being sweet and tender; but they are never fat, and, in my opinion, very inferior to good mutton. The cote-> lettes are, however, very good, and the haunches, if larded, are eatable with a sauce piquante. The other parts are good for soup, which I rather fancy is the best purpose to which they can be applied. The roe is in rut from the end of October to the middle of November; and, as they go about five months and a-half with young, they generally produce about the end of April or beginning of May. They sometimes have two young ones. The roebuck sheds and renews his horns every winter, and in March he may occasionally be seen rubbing them against trees, in order that he may get rid of the skin which covers them. In the second year he has two or three antlers, on the third four or five, and never more. There are a great many roe in France in the royal forests; but particularly in Brittany, where the woods are very extensive.
Good sport in all wild open countries depends so much upon good dogs, that to secure them ought to be a primary consideration with every sportsman. Little trouble and exertion are required for this purpose; and as good dogs occasion no more expense than bad ones, it is a matter of surprise that the latter should be so frequently in use as they are.
In the first instance, every beginner must buy his dogs; and there will be no difficulty in his purchasing good and well-bred ones, provided he will give a fair price. After this, the best plan will be to breed and break them; and well-bred dogs are easily broken if the proper means be adopted. Never, upon any account, buy dogs without a trial, unless you receive the most unquestionable guarantee as to their excellence. A pointer or setter may be broken at eleven or twelve months old. In breeding, take care not to breed, as it is called, 'in-and-in,' that is, from dogs nearly related one to another, as the produce is generally feeble and deficient in courage;
rather send to any distance to breed from a dog not related, selecting for your cross a well-bred and well-made dog, and one possessing first-rate qualities. A good working dog, with good temper, first-rate nose and stanchness, good legs and feet, and breadth of chest, is one not likely to disappoint you. Work, in my opinion, is the first, consideration, as all other good points, however excellent they may be, will be of little value without this quality; but there will be no difficulty in obtaining all you require if you will only give yourself the trouble to make the proper inquiries; and the satisfaction and pleasure derivable from the possession and use of good dogs will be an ample reward for any exertion or pains you may have incurred to secure them.
As to breaking dogs, when they are about eleven or twelve months old, or perhaps earlier, as circumstances may suggest, let them be brought home from their walks and shut up in a kennel, or fastened separately to dog-boxes; and let the person who is to break them take them out every day for two or three hours, so as to become thoroughly acquainted with them and on friendly terms with them; in fact, to be with them as much as possible; for more is to be done with all dogs, both young and old, by kind treatment, than by severity and harshness. Then let him endeavour to make them thoroughly docile and obedient; to know their navies, to come instantly to call, to drop immediately to hand. When this is accomplished, he may show them game with an old, steady dog. It is better, at the commencement, only to take one young dog out at a time. If he be very high-spirited, wild, and inclined to chase and run in, then put on a spike collar with a long cord to it; and when you perceive him disposed to advance too rapidly, put your foot upon the cord. This check, administered a few times, will make him cautious and careful. Should he be very wild and disposed to run riot, and get out of your reach and chase game, do not flog him; but have a boy to hold the end of the cord, and check him every time he attempts to advance on your old dog, who may be either standing or drawing upon game; and this will be a sufficient and effective punishment. In this manner I have broken the wildest setters in a week or ten days, without much interference with my sport, being out every day, and killing much game. When a young dog has felt the spike collar* once or twice, he becomes cautious, and will keep close to you; and thus, as you advance to your dogs drawing on game, or pointing at it, the young dog is afforded every opportunity of learning his business, and the boy in the rear with the cord in his hand prevents all interference with your sport, and will be ready to make him down charge every time the gun is discharged, by giving him a smart jerk with the cord should he attempt to dash forward, and repeating the same till he goes down to charge properly. When broken in this manner, dogs become very stanch, and seldom require subsequent correction; and it is a far easier and shorter method than without the gun, especially if they have received, in the first instance, that preliminary instruction which I have suggested.
Dogs taken into the field before they have learnt obedience in any shape or way, are much more difficult to be broken; it is, in fact, beginning at the wrong end; the whip is brought into action, and much severity resorted to; and this is frequently done by keepers who do not understand their business. Give dogs plenty of work, kill game to them, and be particular not to overlook any fault, and you will have no trouble with them : if you have commenced properly with them in the first instance, you will then find them quite ready to down charge, back, and do all that is requisite. The above is the main secret with regard to making good dogs, and keeping them so. The best of dogs, shut up in a kennel, and only worked occasionally, will commit faults, especially if they do not know the person well who shoots to them.