Shooting with the stalking-horse by H. R. Robertson. Source: Life on the Upper Thames. Robertson explains, “HEN the sportsman has approached to within what he considers a fair range of the fowl, the stalking-horse is planted as firmly as possible in the ground, that it may serve as a steady rest for the gun. Mr. Harting speaks of the legs being spiked at the end for that purpose, but those we have seen were not so. A firm stand was secured by means of the swinging prop, which may be observed in a preceding illustration, held in the man's hand, and materially assisting him in carrying the animal. Two guns are frequently carried, a large duck-gun, and one "for the cripples," that is, to give the coup de grace to any that may have been woimded and unable to get clean away. The larger gun that we have drawn measures in all seven feet and a half; it carries a hundred yards, which is considered a very long shot indeed. When the ducks are fairly within range, and are well grouped, so as to bring a sufficient number in the line of the gun, it is usual to make a low whistling or squealing noise, which causes all to stop feeding and to look up. Then is the instant to fire, taking care to to aim well above their heads, as they see the flash before the shot reaches them, and immediately take to the wing. Nineteen ducks at one shot, and thirtytwo widgeon and teal at another, are the highest numbers that to our knowledge have ever been obtained. The man from whom we have made these sketches preferred to shoot without his cap, and we have accordingly so represented him; his reason being that he believed hair frightened the fowl less than any cap would have done. On our remarking that he must find it bitterly cold sometimes, he said we were not far wrong; and he accounted for the fact of his being somewhat prematurely grey by "the frostes getting at his hair” (203, 205).

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Related Material


Robertson, H. R. Life on the Upper Thames. London: Virtue, Spalding, & Co., 1875.Internet Archive digitized from a copy in the University of Toronto Library.

Last modified 7 May 2012