THE WOUNDING OF BIRDS IN BIG SHOOTS
[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]
Sut,—I wish you would take up the subject of the atrocities that are undoubtedly committed in the name of sport in big shoots. I can quite well remember my disgust at being invited to visit the moor on which Lord — had shot some enormous number of grouse (1,800, I think) in one day. Just picture it ; a great sportsman ? It is notorious that the numbers of wounded birds in a big shoot is very large, and a wounded pheasant that can run is not easily retrieved, even by the best dog, to say nothing of the fact that he would have to disturb coverts that had not yet been shot, and of course, the size of the bag is all that counts.
I have known keepers hunting for wounded pheasants for days after a big shoot. In the case of grouse that come along close to the heather, and rise a little as they meet the shooting from the butts, the majority of the shots are fired into the " brown " of them as they go away, and the number that must carry away shot in some part of their unfortunate bodies must be very large indeed.
Many, I have no doubt, recover, but why should they be wounded at all ; others die a lingering death. When shooting over dogs, you can choose the birds you mean to shoot if you can, and they alone suffer if you hit them. I do not refer to partridges, there is absolutely no excuse for driving them, except laziness, and it ought to be made illegal.
The other game birds are very well able to fight their own battles, and men who hand-rear " wild " duck are past praying
for ; I once fired at one, and I am proud to say I missed it, but I have never forgotten my feeling when it alighted in a lake just behind me, and a few yards from me, and began to wash itself as if I had never fired at it !—I am, Sir, &c.,