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manently, wooden hutches, similar to those used by warreners for rabbits, are very serviceable; but these are expensive, and require time and trouble to place them, but when once fixed may remain the year round. The best situation for them is in an old, unfrequented road, in the centre of which they ought to be placed, with a hedge on either side about eighteen inches in height, carried to a distance of six or eight feet. These traps can be made by any village carpenter, from oaken or other slabs; the former are, however, the best, being more durable. The bait must be in the inside of the trap, hung up immediately over the drop or plate; so that the former cannot be reached without the latter being trod upon by the vermin; in which case the doors instantly fall, securing the enemy. The doors of the trap should not be raised above three inches; if higher, pheasants or hares may enter and be caught; and, in consequence of this liability these traps must be constantly looked after, as it is not an uncommon trick on the part of poachers to visit them in the evening, set them higher, and come early in the morning and help themselves to any game which may be caught. The inside of the doors should be lined with tin, to prevent the vermin from biting their way out. There should be a small sliding door at the top of the trap, through which the bait may be intro
duced and fixed; it will also admit of your ascertaining the nature of the prisoner when the doors are down. If you have vermin dogs with you, you can open the doors, and allow them to settle the account; if you are without them, raise one of the doors about an inch, or rather higher, as may be necessary, according to the size of the delinquent, who will immediately on seeing the light try to make his escape; which you will prevent by securing his neck with the door with one hand; a heavy stick in the other settles the account.
When in quest of badgers, if you cannot find their earth, search for the place where they have recently been feeding; which you will easily discover by the upturned earth where there is cowdung, as they work there in quest of beetles, on which they chiefly subsist. They are not very destructive of game, except when they have young ones; and then they take eggs, or any young game they may find; and being offenders to this extent are considered in the light of vermin by keepers, and treated accordingly. The trap for these animals must be set very carefully; every part of it, and all that appertains to it, must be well covered and concealed; otherwise they will discover and avoid it, being very cautious and distrustful. They seldom or never come out of their earths the first night the trap is set; from which it may be inferred they are well aware of some one having approached their retreat, and are on that account fearful to venture out. Should you not take them on their leaving their earth, and you fancy anything has occurred to alarm them, you may then remove your traps, as they will not return to that earth again, but move off to some fresh abode.
Otters are also easily alarmed, in the same manner, and move off immediately to some distant retreat. For them the same kind of trap may be set, and in the same cautious and particular manner; at the entrance of the earth is the best place; within it, if there be cattle feeding in the immediate vicinity of your operations. Set two traps, if possible, as one may be avoided. Their places of resort are easily discovered by the quantity of work made near their earths, and by their well-beaten tracks to them. They are generally on the banks of rivers, on the sides of fresh or sea-water lochs, or on the sea coast where the coast is rocky. Their earths are mostly under large rocks or stones, or under the root of an old tree. They are not amphibious, as they cannot live under water, although they can dive very well, and remain below the surface a long time; but still they are obliged to come up at intervals for fresh air. Buffon says they do not venture into the sea; but this is a great mistake, as I have frequently seen them swimming and diving in the sea in pursuit of fish, and I nearly caught one one night, in a drag net, when trawling off the sea coast for salmon. I have also found numerous earths close by the sea, with well-beaten tracks leading directly from them to the water's edge, and caught several at these places.
A farmer living on the same coast, on whose veracity I can depend, told me he once witnessed an interesting contest between an otter and a conger eel. He first perceived the otter, at about fifty yards' distance from the shore, arrive at the surface of the water, having fast hold of the eel; but he no sooner reached the surface, than the eel dragged him under the water again. The contest lasted in this manner for upwards of a quarter of an hour; the otter, on each succeeding occasion of his reaching the surface of the water, arriving a little nearer the shore; till at last he accomplished his object, having vanquished his antagonist, and dragged him on shore. The otter was, however, so much exhausted, and so dead beat, after his victory, that he allowed the farmer to approach him in the rear, unheard and unperceived, when he struck him on the head with a large stone, and secured him.
I have also been told by some sailors who were lying at anchor in a smack on the same coast in an adjoining loch, that they have frequently seen several otters co-operating simultaneously in dragging conger eels from the sea up the rocks to their retreats; thus assisting one another in securing their prey. They are very numerous on the sea coast and on the rocky hanks of the seawater lochs in the west of Scotland. It requires a very good dog to face and kill them, as they are savage and bite sharply, and the old ones possess as much strength as a good-sized dog.
I will now direct the reader's attention to the various methods of taking and destroying birds of prey—viz., hawks, hooddies, jays, and magpies. There are several kinds of hawks, all more or less destructive of game; the most so are the Hen Harrier and the Blue Falcon. The cock hen harrier, or ring-tail as it is sometimes called, is of a lightish blue, with two white marks or rings round his tail, within an inch or two of the extremity, which is white. There are also two black lines near the extreme points of his wings. His length between the extreme points of his wings is between three and four feet. The hen bird is of a light brown, with the same white marks about the tail and wings as the cock bird. These birds have the credit of making two repasts daily of either grouse, partridge, duck, or plover, and as they only remain where game abounds, they are not often disappointed.
When in quest of game, they may be seen