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walking and fagging in upon the hills is the com" mon '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 better up to this work than London makers, and the price being about one-third of the London made ones. If boots 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 when they become old and seasoned, and have been 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 a sufficient number of nails in my boots, and therefore can speak feelingly on the subject; but this occurred only on 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 my left hand so much that I could not use it for several days; this was entirely owing to my boots being without large nails; partly cloth, and partly leather with buttons, are sometimes used, but I do not think they answer so well as the common lace-up boot, as you cannot regulate the degree of tightness over the instep. A boot also made like an ordinary Wellington boot, only stronger and of thicker leather, is a very good boot for cover and 'battu' shooting, but will not answer for the hills, or for any hard work, as wrinkles are invariably formed in the instep, seriously interfering with your comfort, producing tenderness, then soreness, and finally excoriation. When this happens with any boot, there is no remedy like diachylon plaster, put on warm and kept firmly on with the hand till it is well attached, in which case it will generally remain till the inconvenience be entirely removed.
Some persons are more liable than others to suffer from the pressure and friction of boots at the commencement of the shooting season, especially in warm weather; I therefore recommend them to take a supply of this useful plaster with them. It is always advisable to apply moderately warm water to the feet after a day's shooting; some refrain from this comfortable practice, contending that it makes the feet tender and more liable to excoriation. I have found the reverse to be the case, as the warm water, by removing incipient inflammation arising from friction, prevents that soreness which precedes excoriation; but, notwithstanding the warm water, sometimes the feet at the commencement of your taking strong exercise will become tender: under such circumstances, great relief will be derived from rubbing the feet well over in the morning, immediately before putting your stockings on, with either sweet oil, or with any kind of pomard; it will also operate as a preventive against excoriation.
To return from this digression on shooting boots to shooting garments. Having recommended woollen for the entire costume in Scotland, I must qualify such recommendation by restricting its use to the moors, as it would be altogether unsuitable for cover shooting; and as there is as good cover shooting in Scotland as in England, and perhaps, in many parts of it, better, or containing a greater variety of game, I will make a few suggestions on the subject of winter costume. The objection to woollen for the winter is simply because it could not withstand the briars, brambles, and blackthorn; in fact, in many covers a coat of woollen would be destroyed in one day, and trousers of the same material would share a similar fate: we must therefore have recourse to something stronger, and that is to be found in velveteens, cords, plushes, and fustians for coats, and moleskin and cord for trousers. Velveteen, I think, makes the most agreeable coat, and is not readily torn; it is, however, an uncomfortable one in wet weather, but covers ought then to be avoided, as they can yield neither enjoyment nor sport.
Any colour is preferable to black in velveteens, inasmuch as the black dye is prejudicial to the strength of the stuff, and, moreover, comes out when it is wet, and discolours your shirt, which is decidedly an additional objection. If wear alone be consulted, there is nothing like plush for cover shooting, but this is rarely used in England, except by gamekeepers. I have seen it very commonly worn in France.
For trousers no material surpasses moleskin, if it be of first-rate quality: it will resist briars, furze, and blackthorn; in fact, no description of cover will tear it, and after it has been once washed it becomes soft, pliable, and most agreeable to wear. Cord also makes good trousers, but after it has been washed a few times is easily torn. Fustian and moleskin make good coats, as far as wear is concerned, but are disagreeable from their stiffness, and their appearance is also much against them. As far as colours are concerned for shooting coats, dark ones are no impediment to sport in covers; but on the moors, or in field shooting, I am persuaded your chance of approach is considerably diminished by dark colours, late in the season when the birds are wild. In all sorts of stalking the colour of your dress is of the greatest importance; but I reserve my remarks on this point till I come to the subject of stalking.