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another, they soon become heated, are easily spoiled, and quite unfit to be sent away to any distance.
Birds packed up warm and sent to a distance would be totally unfit for use on reaching their destination, or even if not warm, if packed indiscriminately and crowded one closely upon the other.
No one bird ought ever to lie upon another. Some persons use hops in packing, which answer the purpose well; but charcoal is much cheaper, and I think somewhat better, as it can be introduced in the mouths of the birds, after the blood has been removed, if there be any. Some care of game after it is brought home is also very necessary in the warm weather of August and September.
The larder in which it is kept ought to be well ventilated, and, if possible, facing the north, the windows and all apertures securely covered with small wire net-work, sufficiently fine to exclude all flies, as in the event of a few blue-bottle flies obtaining entrance, any quantity of grouse, however numerous, would, in one single night, be entirely spoilt, as the eggs deposited by the flies under the wings and elsewhere would soon become maggots, which would render the contents of the box a mass of corruption before it reached London. The person who packs game should have a small hammer, a brad-awl, and a quantity of brads of the right size, as from the thinness of the sides of the box as well as of the top, when the dimensions I have recommended are used, splitting of both the top and the sides would be inevitable, if either too strong nails were driven in, or the brads used without the previous perforation of the bradawl.
A box of slender dimensions, when properly fastened down by brads, is much more secure from irruption by railway porters, than a strong box fastened by heavy nails. Small tacks must be used for fastening on the addresses, as there must be two for security, one on the top of the box and another on the side; as it frequently happens that the top address is torn off, by the removal of a heavy package which has been improperly placed on the top of game-boxes. As the lid or top of the game-box is only a quarter of an inch in thickness, the address must be nailed on it before it is placed on the box, allowing it to rest on something solid at the time of driving the tacks through; this operation could not be performed afterwards, as the lid would yield to the blow of the hammer without receiving the nails, a risk of splitting it being at the same time incurred. The contents of the box ought always to be written on the card, and the box booked at the steam or railway company's office.
If sent by goods train, the cost of carriage will be considerably reduced, and in cold weather this medium of conveyance is sufficiently expeditious
but not during the sultry weather of August, as there is frequently a considerable delay in the delivery, and moreover, at all times small parcels by the goods train incur the risk of rough handling, as well as of delay.
Black game is very inferior to grouse shooting, and only affords a few days' first-rate sport, as there are few districts which admit of its being followed continuously except as subsidiary to other shooting; it varies much according to the nature of the country, success depending more on a favourable disposition of the ground, than on the quantity of the game. If there be high mountains contiguous to the ground where black game are bred, your sport will be of short continuance, as on being disturbed and shot at a few times, they take up their abode on the tops of the mountains, soon congregate, and become very difficult of access, except by stalking at daybreak and at sunset, when they descend to the corn-fields; but if there be no high mountains, and the country be merely hilly, with a few small covers and brushwood, then sport may be had to a certain extent on every fine day till the end of the season. In August, before they have been disturbed, they will be found on the open heather, generally in the bottoms, where there is a mixture of rushes, these being favourite breeding-places, or in the brushwood or thick heather contiguous to the oat-fields, and they lie so close, that with a good dog you may frequently kill every bird in the covey: the old hen is almost always found with the young birds, and is generally the first to rise. After a few days, most of the' broods leave the open heather and descend to the immediate vicinity of the oat-fields, especially if the oats are ripe, attracted thither from a distance of many miles, and frequently crossing an arm of the sea or wide water loch of more than a mile in breadth. So long as the corn remains standing, or is in stook, i.e. in sheaves, black game may be found in the adjacent covers, and be easily approached; but after the corn is carried, they become more wary, roam about, are more dispersed, and are more difficult of access; it will be then necessary to exercise caution in approaching them, and to advance as quietly and carefully as possible.
One dog will suffice, and he ought to be remarkably good and staunch—an old, close-hunting pointer, who will not go out of gun-shot, and a good retriever will be all that you will require. Avoid speaking to, or calling your dog, or whistling, as any of these operations disturb black H
game more than firing your gun off. At this period of the season two or three brace of black game must be considered a good day's sport—in addition to whatever other game you may meet with to fill up the bag—and this quantity may be secured on every fine day with good management till the end of October, and occasionally in November on a fine, dry, frosty day. It is worse than useless going out on a wet or bad day, especially if the wind be high, as you will not only have no sport, but diminish your chance of success for the next favourable day. Avoid as much as possible going down wind when you are approaching any favourite spots: attention to this I have found from experience to be important.
A great quantity of black game may be killed by stalking morning and evening before the oats are carried, and as the seasons are generally late in Scotland, the stooks, i.e. sheaves, sometimes remain out till the middle of October; upon and about these, black game may be seen in abundance, two or three may sometimes be killed at a shot, provided the field is so situated that you may approach unseen under cover of some rock or other inequality of the surface. But I prefer the legitimate and more sportsmanlike mode of killing them, which may always be pursued on a fine day with success with a good dog, if there be cover of any description, capable of affording