Supplied by Old House Books.
The tips and tricks of a true countryman who started dabbling in the fine art of poaching as soon as he was old enough to slip unseen through a copse at dusk or slither along the river bank to a trout filled pool.
Seen through the eyes of the trainee poacher, we feel the lure of the night as the young rustic watches his father's eventide preparations. He assembles his wires, nets and snares; his dogs and the trusty old flintlock and then he is away into the night.
Our young man progresses to legitimate occupations such as coppicing and charcoal burning which enable him to keep watch on his patch and plan his nocturnal excursions. We learn of the age old methods of inveigling the spoils of a night time's work from its roost to the security of the poacher's pocket without troubling the keeper with a loud report of a gun.
There are chapters on poaching Partridges, Hares, Pheasants, Salmon and Trout, Grouse and Rabbits. We learn how to intoxicate partridges by feeding grain steeped in spirits; how to entice pheasants away from the safety of the keeper's cottage by the surreptitious dropping of grain on a daily basis. The night time use of nets to take salmon from pools and sleeping grouse from the heather are described as are ferrets working the hedgerows in search of the humble rabbit.
But of all the wildlife to which we are so comprehensively introduced there is just one trouble making species that appears page after page - the squire's keeper. As much native cunning is employed to avoid him as is used to encounter the game. Not always with success however and confrontations with the local Justices or maybe a crack on the head from an unseen keeper are carefully described.
Even if you are not contemplating a life of rural crime there is still much you could learn from this delightful book, so also could the local squire, his keeper and the constabulary but let us hope that they do not pick up too many tips about the fine art of poaching.
First published 118 years ago. Hardback 176 pages. Line drawings throughout.