16 JANUARY 1948, Page 18

The Old Pheasant Some years ago there was in evidence

a mania for introducing more or less new varieties of pheasant such as the so called, so uglily called, melanistic mutant and the versicolor. They were on the whole easier to breed and rear, and were therefore in favour with game farmers. Since artificial breeding has been greatly reduced by war and post-war conditions, such birds have not been distributed, at least in any numbers, and they seem to have entirely vanished from a number of shoots, where they had flourished. Even the hybrids are rare. The old sorts have thrived to an extent that has astonished and delighted a very large number of sportsmen. " Is the Caucasian played out? " is an old question answered very definitely in the negative. The surprisingly large bags have proved in some cases a considerable source of income. " Up goes a sovereign, down falls half a crown," it used to be said. Today the fallen bird has been worth a good deal more than a sovereign and has often cost a good less than a sovereign to breed.