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on a small circumscribed one, where it is important to husband the coveys as much as possible, it cannot be disregarded or contravened with impunity. For instance, were you to commence beating the ground from the southern boundary, the wind blowing strong from the north, especially at an advanced period of the season, when the birds are wild and strong on wing, although you and your dogs might constantly advance, so as to ensure your being between the game and the boundary, the coveys, on being disturbed, would not be driven up wind, but would pass you on both sides down wind, and go off the ground, interfering with your immediate and prospective sport. Having remained in Scotland several winters, and shot on the moors till the end of the season, I can speak with some certainty on this point.
Without first-rate dogs little sport can be expected, particularly as the season advances.
Setters are peculiarly suitable for grousing, as they can do more work, undergo more fatigue, resist cold and wet better than pointers, are scarcely ever footsore or lame, whereas high-bred pointers are easily chafed by the heather, and are liable to sore feet and lameness. In very hot sultry weather, perhaps, pointers have the advantage; but the weather of late years has very rarely been such as would in any way interfere with the working of setters upon the moors, in addition to there always being water at hand for them to drink when thirsty, there being no lack of either springs or burns; however, where a large kennel is kept, a mixture of pointers and setters will be found most advantageous.
Most young sportsmen are anxious to be out at daybreak, and in hot, sultry weather, it may not perhaps be a bad plan to shoot during the morning and afternoon, and rest a little in the middle of the day, but, generally speaking, it will be found more agreeable, and more conducive to sport, not to commence too early. During a long experience, I have never found that much was to be done very early in the morning. If you take your breakfast before starting, and are on your ground by eight, or even nine o'clock, you will have quite sufficient time, between those hours and six in the afternoon, to kill abundance of game, and you will have better sport and more enjoyment than if you had commenced as soon as it was light. There are two reasons which induce me to recommend eight or nine o'clock as the time for commencing operations, rather than at daybreak: in the first place, by allowing the grouse to remain undisturbed during their feeding-time in the morning, they will lie much better during the day; and, in the next place, you will escape that disagreeable sensation of languor, and subsequent fatigue, which invariably assails every man who rises many hours before his usual time.
When grouse are wildest in the more advanced part of the season, they lie better in the afternoon, immediately after feeding, than at any other time of the day, and frequently more shots may be had from about sunset, as long as you can see, than could have been obtained during the entire day; hence the policy of always leaving some good feeding-ground quiet till the afternoon.
In making the above observations, I am, of course, assuming that, previous to your commencing operations on the 12th, the keepers are possessed of every information respecting the places where the broods of grouse have been hatched; and, if they have done their duty during the summer months, they ought not to be at fault in this respect, especially if they have acted judiciously by cultivating a friendly alliance with the shepherds, without whose aid, assistance, and good offices, all efforts at preservation would be abortive. The shepherds being on the ground at all seasons, and in all weathers, know all the places resorted to by the birds, the spots where the coveys are bred, and can give the earliest and best information as to the encroachment of poachers, or appearance of vermin. The nests are also almost entirely in their power, to be either protected or destroyed; it is therefore most important to make friends of these men, and this should be done immediately on a moor being taken, by promising each shepherd a reward at the commencement of the season, on the condition of his affording every protection to the game in his power. I would rather have the shepherds friendly, without one keeper, than half a dozen of the best keepers, with the shepherds adverse. In some districts it is customary to give the shepherds one shilling per covey, but I do not think this is so good a plan as giving to each shepherd a fixed sum, whereby you avoid exciting jealousy, which might arise from giving one more than another; but this is merely a matter of opinion, and on this point each person will judge best for himself. I have known both plans adopted with success.
In the early part of the season, grouse take short flights and may easily be marked down, and even if not marked down, may be found again by following the line of their flight, till you reach the first turn in the mountain, within a hundred yards of which they will probably have dropped, near the top; if not there, you must try every adjacent corner and bend in the ground. They rarely drop on a flat, except it be a very extensive one, or on the summit of the mountain, except it be after having turned some corner: it is always as well to be prepared when you come in sight, by making your appearance over a top or round a side of the hill, as there is no bird more quickly on wing and instantaneously off than a grouse. Sometimes they are very difficult to be found a second time, and baffle the utmost industry and perseverance. I have often been puzzled and unsuccessful, when I expected tp have found them immediately, but the fact is they are very unequal in their flight, and sometimes go very great distances, and at others drop almost immediately on turning the first corner; in this respect much will depend upon the nature of the ground, independently of the weather. When the fiats are extensive and the hills few, but large and lofty, I have generally found that grouse took very long flights, and became wild early in the season, especially if the flats are wet and spongy; but on the ground where the hills are small but numerous, and the flats restricted and dry, I have found grouse lie well constantly throughout the season, on fine and suitable days.
In wet weather grouse are equally wild everywhere, and I have always considered it worse than useless to go out then, as you not only disturb your ground without the chance of sport, but make your birds wild for a future day. In a very hilly country grouse take short flights, but as there are so many corners round which they may have turned and dropped, the sportsman's patience and perseverance are frequently put severely to