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however they may be engaged, an unsullied term of happiness and relaxation. A keeper who performs his duty has a most fatiguing and laborious one to contend against; after losing a great portion of his night's repose, in watching the trust over which he reigns, he is frequently required to devote his attentions during the day-time to his master, in order to manage the dogs, secure and carry the game killed. For my own part, it is an ordeal which I should never require; any stout lad is sufficient to carry game, or to assist in chastising or leading a dog; but as regards the working of the canine assistants, one of the most interesting parts of the sport is the direction of them, which, if delegated to another, is in a great measure lost; where partridge shooting is the object of pursuit, the old-fashioned practice of a brace or leash of pointers or setters well broken is far more exciting than the custom of walking the birds up, accompanied by a retriever to secure the killed and wounded.
Public-houses are the greatest nuisances that can possibly exist in a country where a great head of game is preserved, especially if they be kept by persons at all disposed to harbour poachers. It may, in such cases, be almost requisite that the keeper should occasionally present himself at such places, in order to ascertain the movements of those whom he is compelled to watch; at the same time it requires very great circumspection to avoid the temptations afforded by such visits. A keeper who becomes habitually a frequenter of public houses is, of all others, the worst character that can be employed; whenever he does attend it should be specifically for the sake of making discoveries. The quantities of poached game, now that the sale of it is legalized, which finds its way to market through the medium of public houses is incredible, and most especially from Wales; during the season the stage coachmen make a regular traffic in it, being daily supplied, particularly with hares, many of which they vend in their progress through the country, and consign the remainder to their customers at the end of their journey. So long as this system of depredation is carried on, game in such districts will never abound, and by this means, being killed up so close, a head of it never can exist sufficient to be advantageous to any parties.
(To be continued.)
REMARKS ON THE BREEDING OF FOXHOUNDS.
There should be no subject of greater importance to the spirited owner of foxhounds than that of judiciously breeding the animal under consideration; and it is really surprising how some manage to scrape together a kennel of“ straight hounds," considering the little attention that is generally bestowed upon it. The few following remarks are given because they are practical, being the result of ten years' intercourse with, and the close observation of, probably the most fashionable-bred pack of foxhounds of the present day.
To obtain a good litter of puppies a careful selection must be made first of the bitch, and secondly of the dog intended to be put to her. In choosing the former, attention is essentially necessary to the following points. First of all, her age :
Whether is it better to breed from a young or an old bitch? Most decidedly from the former; for obvious reasons. She produces stronger and healthier pups than one old and worn-out, and is also from her youth more capable of nursing a greater number, and of doing them greater justice than the other. Huntsmen are, however, apt to run to extremes in such a case; they very naturally grudge to breed from a young and promising bitch, and, though they acknowledge the necessity of breeding from a young one, they too often select one which is roguishly inclined. What is the consequence? The litter when put to work show their mother's faults. This is the min of many kennels breeding froin young sleeping bitches, which, though faultless as to symmetry, are in the field lamb-killers, harehunters, skirters, &c. Now, it is a singular fact that the faults of a foxhound bitch descend to her grand-pups, whatever these faults may be; if she be an idiot, they will, more or less, be “silly;" if she have been seen more than once to kill a lamb, they will incline to do the like ; if she be a hare-hunter, so will they with equal determination; should she be noisy in the field, the fault will shew itself in them; and in any other malicious propensity the result will be the same. Most huntsmen breed from old bitches to avoid this snare. Their faults are all known, and those only are selected that have come of a good kind, and whose faults are trivial and easily corrected. In this case the hounds are steady, well inclined, and good hunters, but weak and ill-looking, and from a litter of five probably only one is fit to enter, the other four being drafted from being below size, weak, and harrier-like. The proper bitch, then, to breed from is one young in years, come of a good kind, and that has proved her excellence after two seasons' work; a good constitution, and a healthy
With regard to the dog you wish to put your bitch to, that must depend upon circumstances. In general great attention is paid to this by most breeders, whilst they entirely overlook the bitch. Breeders of race-horses know that there are certain mares which
produce good stock by any horse, and that there are others, and by far the greater number, that never produce good stock with the advantage of the best horse. This is also applicable to foxhounds. The dogs are often blamed when the fault is in the bitches, and vice versa. Supposing that your bitch is good, and you intend to take a litter of pups from her, you set about selecting a proper stallion hound; you look at the standard height of your pack, and select one as near that height as possible. Whether the dog or bitch ought to be the larger ? I would prefer a powerful, roomy bitch, and smallish dog; because experience shows that by these means you are more likely to have
will he get,
strong and large pups
had reversed the case, and there is much less risk to her when bringing forth. It is necessary that the bitch should not only be large, but of a large kind.
The next consideration is the colour, which ought to be as dark as possible, for nothing spoils the appearance of a pack of hounds so much as a third of it being slight coloured. You come to the particular parts of the hound. Age in him tells as much as it does in old horses or old men. The older he is the fewer
pups and the smaller they will become. One with youth upon his side should therefore be chosen, to obviate this, if he can possibly be obtained. His pedigree ought not, in any part, to be connected with that of the bitch, as there is nothing like crossing, provided it be done judiciously. If these things be attended to, healthy, strong, young hounds will take the place of puny, rickety pups.
I know this opinion will be rejected by numerous and powerful opponents, but having seen the wonderfully good effects of judicious crossing, I cannot but speak loudly in its favour.
Age, colour, and blood having been settled, the points are now most carefully studied.
1. The head: this most essential part of the frame deserves a few words. There is no dispute among breeders as to the legs and feet, but both a big and a little head has its advocates; and it is really a matter of difficulty to decide this seemingly easy question. A largeheaded hound* will be found, as far as I have seen, a steadier, and consequently a better hunting hound. His appearance is disliked, and this is more apparent when brought along side of a smart, fashionable hound. In a skurry or hill run, too, the big head will be left far behind; but should a check occur, and the scent become ticklish, a word from him then is worth a thousand. The light-headed houndt is quite a different animal; pleasing to the eye, lively, active, and nimble as a roe; never tiring, and always in the van. When twenty couples of such hounds settle to a fox on a good scenting day, how quickly they dispose of him! At what a pace they go ! fearing nothing. A gorse cover they draw undauntedly, and in a masterly
But should there be a deficiency of scent to hold them on, and abundance of riot, they get impatient, lose temper, and almost, I may say, unwillingly. If this is admitted to be correct, it will be obvious that the hound to be desired' is one with a light, handsome head, possessing all the caution and patience of the big-headed hound; and such a hound is valuable. With regard to points, the neck should be long, light, well set on, and not at all “ throaty ;' the chest should be ample, and the pectoral muscles largely developed ; the fore extremities must be faultless; the scapula must be well tied down, and the elbows well in, the action depending mainly on these two points; the legs must be straight and the feet small, well formed, and compact; his ribs ought to be deep, with a good curve, tapering gradually as they proceed backwards, and ending as near as possible to the ilium ; the loins must be well furnished with muscle, and slightly arched, more than filling the hand when grasped; the distance between the crest of the ilium and the foot ought to be long, provided the distances between the joints be kept in view, which greatly increases the stride and speed; the haunch should be plump and the thigh long, but fine at the hock, which should be prominent and bony; the stem should be well set on, nicely curved, and bushy.
* Of course what is here meant by a large-headed hound is one whose head is big, but at the same time well made, and no lumberabout it, and altogether of a large build. I admit he takes plenty of time to do his work, but what great advantage he is of in finding foxes ! the little hound goes over the ground probably in half the time, but should the scent be bad the big hound will find four foxes for the other's two.
+ In like manner a light-headed hound is one altogether of a smaller make than the former.
# The points here given answer for the bitch as well as the dog.
STAG-HUNTING IN THE WEST.
The month of August last was ushered in by a hot sun and a parched ground; this, which was full of ill omen to those who looked forward to mountain toil in the north, laden with gun and shot-bag, was to me full of hope, for I contemplated pursuing the red deer of Devon and Somerset with hound and horn over the soft
expanse Edmore, for which country it cannot be too dry, as the turf is never hard there. I will not contrast the sport I am about to detail with the pursuit of the same animal as followed in the Scottish Highlands, for I am afraid, as the one is so little known, and has so poor an advocate for its charms, that the northern sport would eclipse its rival by almost universal consent, backed as it is by so many eloquent and spirited descriptions, and not unfrequently favoured by royalty itself. There may be some, however, who prefer following the stag, as well as meeting their foe, openly, instead of using a rifle from behind a rock for his destruction; such, at all events, is the opinion to which I hold, and, I believe, most of those who have had the pleasure of a season with the Devon and Somerset hounds.
As the 12th of August opens the grouse season, so does it bring in that of our stag-hunting; and the 13th of that month saw a small field assembled at Hawkridge, five miles from Dulverton : it was a wet morning, and after waiting some time, the whip came to say that the hounds were gone to Hynam, and that a stag had been seen going into a wood near that place. The news turned out correct; several people had seen the deer go into cover by himself; so the pack was taken to Drayton Wood, and commenced drawing: unluckily, a hind was in company with the gentleman, and with the usual gallantry of his sort, he pushed her up, and laid himself down, and the whole pack were soon rattling at her ladyship’s heels. They were 'light however, and soon made way; the scent proving very indifferent, she was not pressed at all, and going by Court Down and Baron's Down reached Haddon; here the hounds changed and changed, now a hind, now a calf, now a young male deer, until one of the last sort, some two years old or so, was run into: the find and go away were very pretty, but the run bad, and the finish worse.
Friday, 16th._“Brendon Barton." Up jogs the old keeper on a beautiful morning. “Well, keeper, single stag harboured, I hope?” “No, yer honour, thay be zeven on 'em upon Oare, and not a deer by himself anyways upon this part of the forest.” “ We'll try to ride one out,” says some one.
Easier said than done, thought I: however, on trotted fourteen couple to Oare Common, and when we got there, the deer had walked on to the opposite hill, and joined seven or eight more; so they were let alone, and an unfortunate hind happening to peep at us just then, the pack was laid on her, and chivied her over the hills to Brendon Covers, and change, change, change was kept up during the rest of the day ; without blood!
TUESDAY, 20th.-Keeper's news a shade more enlivening; he had seen a deer walking away from a herd of stags early in the morning, but the fog had prevented his harbouring him well: it was on Badgeworthy Common, and an adjournment thither took place accordingly. When we approached the place, the keeper went forward to reconnoitre, and in doing so disturbed three stags, which galloped towards us. As prospects of a single deer were not of the brightest, we laid on the trio; but they, envious of the chorus behind them, picked up four more, considering, probably, that in union was strength. But they did not long stick to their text, for in five minutes they were dispersed here, there, and everywhere : this was just what was wanted: they all got frightened, and scampered away over different parts of the forest, to be found singly some day, and afford a good run. I was riding a young horse for the first time with hounds, and got flung out by his refusing a wall: as I was endeavouring to cut in, two noble stags passed me at different times, with a hound or two running each, so as just to keep them moving : the huntsman, with a few hounds, stuck to another; and just as I caught them up above Milslade, the stag rose from a field of standing barley, in which he had ensconced himself with a hope to escape detection. “ That's not the fust time her's been in mey feald by many," cries a farmer, digging in his spurs with increased energy, and going off down a steep path as if the take of the deer altogether depended upon the pace with which he descended the acclivity. Again we paid the Brendon Covers a visit, and in a short time the stag crossed to Countisbury Hill, and the sea. A boat put out from Lynmouth to capture him, but he was not to be taken on board; so leaving the water, tried his running powers again, and ascending the cliffs returned to Brendon, with two or three couple at his heels: he was too pressed to try the open again, and the rest of the pack, which were shut up at the Barton, being let out, soon brought him to bay in a beautiful spot some hundred yards above Waters-meet, affording an excellent opportunity for entering the puppies. He was a tole