Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Shooting of Partridge

by Farida Mestek 

Last month I blogged about interesting facts and curious habits of partridges and today I'm going to tell you some interesting facts (at least for me) about shooting them.

 According to Robert Blakely, the author of “Shooting” where I take my information and occasional inspiration from (I still dream about writing a Regency novel about a shooting party), tells us that the shooting of partridges is a popular sport. In fact, it is more universally entered into than any other of the sporting amusements of Britain. It is more homely and domestic than moor shooting; and can be enjoyed by the comparatively weak and aged. 

We are told by distinguished sportsmen, that the footing of partridges, though a very requisite qualification in pointers, is one of the last things that should be expected from them; for they are not to be relied on until they get fairly to comprehend from the sportsman that they are not to catch the bird; the only thing required of them is to point out where it is. It is well known that partridges will generally lie closer and better to dogs that wind them, than to those that track them; the reason given for this is, that when they are winded, the dogs do not go straightforward towards them, but follow the scent left by their devious course. When birds see dogs trace their footsteps down wind they will fly off, for they cannot take the scent till they are near them. Another matters is of some importance in commencing partridge shooting in September, and that is, that dogs brought immediately from the moors, and put upon the hunting of the partridge, are in many cases unfit for the purpose for some days, till they are again broken in to their new task. 

Some sportsmen recommend being very early in the field for the partridge, while others maintain this is a comparatively useless custom. However, if we could take anything like an accurate census of sportsmen's success in partridge shooting during the months of September and October, we would find the most productive hours to range from eleven till three in the afternoon. But after the month of October, and from this to the end of the partridge season, we should not insist on being earlier in the field than about mid-day. The weather now becomes sour and ungenial in the fore part of the day.

It is an established maxim in partridge shooting, that broken coveys yield the best sport. It has been whimsically said, that while the young birds have the old ones with them they are “up to every move on the board”. Deprived of their natural leaders and protectors, they seem lost, and have no settled idea of safety. This is the fortunate time for sportsmen to make play upon them and press their dogs to ferret them out, and trace them from one spot to another. 

As the season advances, the size of the shot to be used for partridge shooting should be enlarged. For the first fortnight No. 5 and No. 6 are recommended; after this No. 4 and No. 5. In October, No. 3 will be found the most eligible.

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