[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—I do not think
that the reply to your remark on the subject of pheasant shooting ought to be allowed to pass.
I have shot all my life, though only over dogs, but I have attended many holocausts of both pheasants and grouse, and with your permission I shall tell you my experiences. Of course, the description of your correspondent is far too optimistic because, as far as pheasants are concerned, if the birds all come high and going strong, as all wild pheasants do, there would never be a holocaust ; the number of men who can kill high wild pheasants in the air are very few and far between.
I shall tell you what I have seen : pheasant after pheasant hit anywhere but in the head, and, if their legs are not broken, running away. I have seen nets put outside woods to try to induce hand-reared pheasants to rise, with guns placed just outside the woods within shot of the pheasants before they can get under way, so that they can hardly be missed. And where nets have not been provided, I have seen " sportsmen " down on their knees so as to get below the pheasants to shoot them ; and any that are hit are certainly " killed in the air " ! The wounded birds that can run cannot of course be collected till next day, and in large shoots many are not collected till several days after the shoot.
I wish that somebody who is better able to do it would put in a plea for the grouse, our own birds. I have shot them all my life, but only over my dogs, and I have been more than satisfied with a bag of from five to ten brace. Driving is not work for real sportsmen ; any man who can Meet a fine cock grouse, with all sail set, skimming over the heather, with a charge of No. 5 in the face is only fit for— I feel very much inclined to call him a potential murderer.
I say nothing about the number of birds that must go away wounded, but from what I saw it must be very large indeed ; charge after charge of shot poured into their tails as they sail away behind the butts. It would indeed be a proud day for me if I could live to see grouse driving made illegal, as well as the shooting of all hand-reared pheasants.— I am, Sir, &e.,