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the test, before he finds the objects of his search. On many moors where grouse are abundant, following coveys is not resorted to, you pursue the beat fixed by the keeper, and have abundant sport; but as the season advances I am persuaded the most successful mode of proceeding is to follow your game, especially when it is marked down, even though a single bird, and on no account to relinquish the pursuit of a wounded bird so long as there is a chance of finding him. For your trouble and perseverance in this respect you will generally be well rewarded, in getting numerous unexpected shots, in addition to securing your wounded bird, and experience the satisfaction of having acted in a sportsmanlike manner. The same chances in your favour result from following coveys, as should you not succeed in breaking and dispersing the covey you are in pursuit of, you may find other birds; but in the event of success, you may secure every bird in the covey, especially if you have the good fortune to kill the old cock at the commencement, and this you ought always endeavour to do 'per fas aut nefas,' as he will frequently show his head above the heather as he is running off, with a view of leading you away from the young birds. If you avail yourself of this opportunity, you may secure the remainder of the covey, whereas, had you allowed him to escape, you might not have seen either him or the pack again during the day, or if you had, it would have been only after considerable trouble and extra walking.
On a dry, frosty day, especially if the frost be a black one and the sun be out, wonderful sport may be had, as many coveys and single birds will be found to lie as well as at the commencement of the season. The more frequently the beat can be changed the better; twice a week is sufficiently often to go over the same ground, as grouse become not only very wild if constantly disturbed, but will leave their ground.
With regard to lunch, biscuits and sandwiches ought to suffice, with cold tea or wine and water for liquid. Spirits of all sorts ought to be scrupulously avoided, especially the raw Highland whisky, than which no liquid is more prejudicial, if you are desirous of shooting well; it produces a feverish, unquenchable thirst, which no amount of liquid can either satisfy or allay. 'Obsta principiis;' resist the first inducement which presents itself in the shape of a clear rivulet or cool spring, and you may then be able to persevere till lunchtime; but if, on the other hand, you yield to the first temptation, and merely 'take the chill off' the cold water with a little whisky, you will then be obliged to persevere throughout the day, as thirst under such circumstances and influences 'vires acquirit eundo,' and the remedy frequently indulged, will not only produce discomfort, but eventually bad shooting. Sometimes bad shots shoot well for a time under the influence of a powerful stimulant; but when the reaction takes place, there is generally a lamentable falling off, and this is sometimes the case with good shots who have resorted too freely to an injurious stimulant.
In fact, the effect of spirit-drinking on the nervous system and on the constitution generally, when persisted in regularly and continuously, is of so decided and marked a character, that sportsmen who are victims of this baneful habit, from having been first-rate shots, gradually descend to the rank of second-rate performers; always variable in their shooting; never certain of the easiest shot—shooting brilliantly during some portions of the day, at others wretchedly, and these inevitable results are mostly accompanied by a gradual decline of health. Having on many occasions witnessed the lamentable consequences of this pernicious habit, I venture to entreat all young sportsmen to beware of the approach of the insidious enemy, to resist him 'in limine,' as the decided foe to all sport and enjoyment.
The habit of resorting to any stimulant is easily contracted, but is with difficulty abandoned; indeed, I have never known an instance (and many have fallen beneath my immediate observation) of
spirit-drinking being abandoned when it had once become a confirmed habit and practice, till death closed the scene, preceded by attacks of delirium tremens ; of course several years elapse before this terrible climax is arrived at, but come it must, and with such rapid advances, and with such inevitable certainty, that the scene closes just when the prime of life would have been reached.
There are persons who tell you that the Scotch climate requires whisky, that there is something in the atmosphere of that country which enables those who visit it to imbibe with impunity a quantity of alcohol which would be most injurious in England. This is a great delusion; and even if it were only partially so, the risk of the practice being subsequently continued and confirmed into a habit, ought to operate as a warning to resist the first approach of so insidious and dangerous an enemy. Spirits are unnecessary except in certain cases of sudden indisposition, when they may be used with the greatest advantage, especially cognac of the first quality; and no sportsman visiting the Highlands, if be can afford it, ought ever to be without this invaluable specific. When used, it is a friend; when abused, a terrible enemy.
For the purpose of quenching thirst when induced by strong exercise, few liquids are better than weak wine and water, or cold tea with a small quantity of cognac in it—beer, especially if it be strong, although it may allay thirst for the moment, subsequently increases it—it adds fuel to fire, under the influence of heat and strong exercise. A quart-bottle of cold tea, with a table-spoonful of cognac, ought to be a sufficient quantity of liquid for a day's use; but the smaller the quantity of liquid the sportsman imbibes, of any sort, the better he will feel, walk, and shoot, and the more he will enjoy his dinner after the sport be over.
It requires but little firmness to resist the first temptation to drink whisky-and-water, but it is most difficult to resist this insidious form of potation when it has once become a habit to that extent, that a well-filled flask is always carried in the pocket; to resort to it frequently under the solicitation of thirst is the natural and inevitable consequence of the means of relief and gratification being so near at hand, and the well-filled flask is soon a necessity, and the enemy destined to undermine the constitution and destroy health becomes the inseparable companion; and the sportsman who thus yields to a pernicious influence lays up for himself a certain store of future care and painful anxiety.
'Et servare sibi curam, et certum dolorem,
I insist strongly and earnestly on the importance of resisting all temptation to contract a baneful