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who are acquainted only with the gentle and graceful form of the fallow deer, with their broad palmated horns and spotted skin, reposing under the shade of the silvery beeches, or brousing on the soft perennial verdure of the southern parks,* can bring from the recollection of these "dappled fools" but a faint idea of the red deer in his mountain solitudes, ranging, as Mr. Scrope says, "free as the winds of heavens, and whether picking his scanty food on the mountain tops, or wandering in solitude through the beech groves, or cooling himself in the streams, giving grace, character, and unity to every thing around him."
Let us take our first view of these beautiful creatures, with their branching heads and feet of wind, as they appear approaching the Glen Croinie :
"And now the stately herd began to crown the summits, and were soon descried from the glen, hanging on the sky-line in long array. Those in the van gaze steadily on all sides, onward move the others in succession, their horns and bodies looming large against the sky. Heavens! what a noble sight! how beautiful! how picturesque! See how they wind down the crags with short measured steps. Now hidden, and now re-appearing from behind some impending masses of rock. Now the prudent leader halts his forces and closes up his files. Those in advance are scrutinizing the glen, whilst the rear-guard, wary and circumspect, are watching the motions of the pursuing drivers. As the men come forward in a vast semicircle, the
herd begin to mend their pace,—calves, hinds, and harts come belling along and wind down the oblique passage of the steep, putting in motion innumerable loose stones, that fall clattering over the crags.
Beset upon their flanks
and their rear, and seeing no obstruction
And so for the present we must leave them,
"Illi inter dumos arrectis auribus acrem
Arripiunt sonitum,-sed tunc nec pascua cordi
Læta prius, nec stagna placent; tremor occupat artus,
If any of our readers, however, of a somewhat bolder nature, would see more than we can tell them of the sagacity and the self-possession, of the courage and noble bearing of the deer, of his beautiful motions and his symmetry; or if they would behold him in his wrathful mood, when chafed to madness by love and anger, and hear the angry roar and bellow of the rival monarchs of the herd; then they must be content to spend many a summer day" albeit unused to the melting mood,"-panting against the iron ribs of Ben Derig, or toiling over the naked scalp of Ben-y-gloe : they must be willing, if occasion calls, to have their faces forced into a bog in Glen Mark, or Glen Brear; they must eschew the power of the Wizard Knight who haunts the forests of Glenmore; and, above all, they must fly the enchantments of the Leannain spell, and not form tender connexions with "the Fairy Sweethearts" on the mountains, as certain deer hunters are said to have done, and to have been detained for weeks in their dangerous and unhallowed intercourse, while their lawful wives were exposed to imminent peril from the jealousy of this irritable and capricious race. Should they behold, as the morning dawns, a number of neat little women on a knoll, dressed in green, milking the hinds-that is the race of the
*It is singular that Gilpin should consider the sheep as a more picturesque animal than the fallow deer! See his Forest Scenery. In the same spirit he prefers the yew
tree to the cedar of Lebanon !
unbaptized-let them flee, nor stop till they have gained the nearest stream, for there
"No fairy strikes, no witch hath power to harm." We will, the while, like Hamlet, to our book.
There are three ways of pursuing the chase of the red deer in Scotland; by driving,-by coursing with deer hounds,-and by stalking. The first requires a great plenty of game, and a large space of unoccupied ground. On the continent, Mr. Scrope tells us, it is still practised on the grandest scale, the game of a whole province being surrounded by the marshalled peasantry of a prince or noble, and fixed to some central spot for slaughter. Spottiswoode has mentioned that Queen Mary hunted the deer in the forest of Marr and Atholl in 1563; and Barclay tells us, that two thousand Highlanders were employed for several weeks in driving the deer to the amount of two thousand, besides roes, does, and other game. Three hundred and sixty deer were killed, five wolves, and some roes. This method is still resorted to in the forest of Glengarry and other places; but since the woods have been destroyed, and fire arms improved, the system has given way to the more exciting amusement of deer-stalking. Tecond system of hunting with stag-hounds could not be practised in
mountains and abrupt country of Scotland, where a horse could not follow, though Ossian describes the car-borne Fingal whirling over the hills of Morven, like a meteor from a stormy cloud: and to pull down the stag with the greyhound, unassisted by the rifle, seems more than the powers of the dog, unless under extraordinary circumstances, can achieve, except in a time that would be tedious from its length. There remains then the third method of deer-stalking, so graphically described in Mr. Scrope's work, the art of which consists of approaching the deer unheard within rifle shot (a work of great delicacy and difficulty), assisted by deer hounds to follow and bring him to bay, if only wounded. Now, there is no animal more solitary and shy than the red deer. He takes the note of alarm from every living thing on the moor-all seem to be his sentinels; the sudden start of any animal-the springing of a moor fowl--the scream of the plover-or the smallest bird in distress will set him off in an instant. It was this habit of starting and affright, without any visible or sufficient cause, that probably gave rise to the Celtic superstition, that the deer beheld the ghosts of the dead: the deer of the mountains avoids the place, for he beholds a dim ghost standing there." He is always most timid when he does not see his adversary, for then he suspects an ambush. If he has him full in view, he is as cool and circumspect as possible: he watches him acutely, endeavours to ascertain his purpose, and takes the best means to defeat it. He is never in a hurry or confused, and when he does take his measure, it is decisive. When hotly pursued by dogs, a stag will select the most desirable spot in the mountains where he can stand at bay. His instinct leads him to the river, where his long legs give him a great advantage over the deer-hounds. Firmly he holds his position, while they swim round him powerless, and would die from cold and fatigue before they could make the least impression on him. Standing on a rock in the midst of a river, he makes a most majestic appearance. Unapproachable in the rear he takes such a sweep with his antlers, that he could exterminate a whole pack of the most powerful lurchers, that were pressing too closely on him
* Lucas, the keeper in Richmond-park, says, that the Buck (fallow deer) shows much more courage before the dogs than the Stag, and often turns against them.
in front. Superior dogs may pull him down when running, but not when he stands at bay. A stag is seldom brought to bay a second time by the same dogs who overtook him at first; for they exhaust themselves by their clamour and exertion, while he is in a comparative state of rest and recovering his wind. Mr. Scrope, at p. 59, has given us a most animated description of a hart brought to bay in auld Hulan :
"In a narrow projecting ledge of rock within the cliff, and in the mid course of a mountain cataract; the upper fall played close behind him; and the water coming through his legs, dashed the spray and mist around him, and then at one leap went plump over into the abyss below. The rocks closed in upon his flanks, and there he stood, bidding defiance in his own mountain-hold, just at the edge of
the precipice, as it seemed on the very brink of eternity. The dogs were baying him furiously. One rush of the stag would have sent them down into the chasm, and in their fury they seemed wholly unconscious of their danger. All drew in their breath, and shuddered at the fatal chance that seemed momentarily about to take place."
There are also two similar descriptions further on in the volume (pp. 213, 223), of equal strength and force of colouring. Mr. Scrope, or rather the hero of his book, Mr. Tortoise, commences his campaign, by starting from Blair Castle for the Bruar Lodge, in the forest of Atholl ;* and, as he proceeds, discourses in such noble terms of the great and difficult art which he is pursuing, that we would fain transcribe them all; but as that cannot be, we must be content in hearing him say :
"In the pursuit of this sport all your powers of body and mind are called into action, but, if they are not properly exercised, the clever creature will inevitably defeat you. It is quite an affair of generalship; and if you have any thoughts of the army, I would advise you to scan all our motions, that you may gain a knowledge of ground, and skirmishing. You will find that almost every step we take has a meaning in it. We shall creep along crafty paths, between clefts and recesses, and make rapid and continuous runs, ac
cording to the various motions of the quarry; so that when the deer are a foot, the interest and excitement will never flag for a single moment. See what a boundless field for action is here! and what a sense of power these rifles give you, which are fatal at such an immense distance ! When you are in good training, and feel that you can command the deer, your bodily powers being equal to take every possible chance, the delight of this chase is excessive; and here ends my eulogy."
We must now suppose that a fine hart is seen; but we must first explain what the word seen means in the mouths of the foresters of Atholl. It approaches something to the "videor videre" of the Roman orator; or, it means what our friends the antiquaries will understand, when having scraped the moss off a single letter, the only one left, they pronounce. on the whole inscription, as . . . I . . -read DUILIUS; for it must not be supposed that the stag is visible, as in the Epping hunt, in his bodily form, and to the naked eye; but that at some immense distance-per æquora montium;-or as Plutarch calls it, weλáyíor rɩ Xevμa-the tip of his antlers is to be perceived by a practised vision through the tube of the telescope. The plan of the campaign is now opened.
"We must all go round by the east beyond yon two hills, which will bring us into the bog; we can then come forward up the burn under cover of its banks, and pass from thence into the bog again by a de wind, when we may take his broad
side, and thus have at him. It would be quite easy to get at the hart if it were not for the hinds on the top of the hill; but if we start them, and they go on belling, the harts will follow them, whether he sees them or not. Above all be silent as the
"It is a fact, that one of our most gallant and celebrated generals (why should I forbear to mention Lord Lynedoch ?) declared that he got his knowledge of ground in this forest."
grave, and when you step upon stones, tread as lightly as a ghost. If your back aches insupportably, you may lie down and die; but do not raise yourself an inch to save your life. (One man remains to watch the course of the deer after the fire, another follows with the dogs, and a third carries the rifles.) The party then advanced, sometimes on their hands and knees, through the deep seams of the bog, and again right up the middle of the burn, winding their cautious course according to the inequalities of the ground. Occasionally the seams led in an adverse direction, and then they were obliged to retrace their steps. This stealthy progress continued some time, till at length they came to some green sward, where the ground was not so favourable. There was a great difficulty it seemed barely possible to pass this small piece of ground without discovery; however, the dangerous pass was
pted. Tortoise then made a in andy to lie down with the dogs, and plac; himself flat with his stomach, bega vorm his way close under the low ridge of the bog; imitated, most correctly and beautifully, by the rest of the party. The burn now came sheer up to intercept the passage, and formed a pool under the bank, running deep and drearily. The leader then turned his head round slightly, and passed his hand along the grass as a sign for Lightfoot to wreathe himself alongside of him. . . Tortoise then worked half of his body over the bank, and stooping low, brought his hands upon a large granite stone in the burn, with his breast to the water, and drew the rest of his body after him as straight as he possibly could. He was then half immersed, and getting close under the bank, took the rifles. The rest followed admi
rably. They proceeded in this manner above twenty yards, when, the ground being more favourable, they were enabled to get on dry land.. A sign was given to Peter Fraser to come alongside, for they were arrived at the spot at which it is necessary to diverge into the moss. In breathless expectation they now turned to the eastward, and crept forward through the bog to enable them to come in upon the flank of the hart, who was lying with his head up the wind, and would thus present his broadside to the rifle when he started; whereas, if they had gone in straight behind him, his haunches would have been the only mark, and the shot would have been a disgraceful one. Now came the anxious moment; every thing hitherto had succeeded: much valuable time had been spent; they had gone forward in every possible position, their hands and knees buried in bogs, wreathing on their stomachs through the mire, or wading up the burns, and all this one brief moment might render futile, either by means of a single throb of the pulse in the act of firing, or a sudden rush of the deer, which would take him instantly out of sight. Tortoise raised his head slowly, but saw not the quarry; by degrees he looked an inch higher, when Peter plucked him suddenly by the arm, and pointed. The tops of his horns were alone to be seen above the hill in the bog, no more; Fraser looked anxious, for well he knew that the first spring would take the deer out of sight; a moment's pause, when the sportsman held up his rifle steadily above the position of the hart's body; then making a slight ticking noise, up sprung the deer, as instantly the shot was fired, and crack went the ball right against his ribs as he was making his rush."
Κάρη δ ̓ ἄπαν ἐν κονίησι κεῖται.
What with the vigilant timidity of the deer, its acute hearing, and its exquisite power of scent, so delicate as to detect the slightest taint in the passing breeze, "smelling the blood of an Englishman," even on the zephyr's faintest wing, and moreover having scouts or sentinels, tanquam milites stationari, placed on every commanding post of danger, it seems as much as human skill and enterprize can achieve, to gain mastery over these noble brutes in the present day. Have they advanced in intellect and sagacity, and dread of man-their foe? for father Æneas, who had neither stalkers (Onpórkowo), nor rifles, nor telescopes, found no difficulty
* An excellent story is told, p. 230, of a French Count, who, in one of these parties, after many failures, brought down a hart. He patted the sides of the animal, and in his happiness held a snuff-box to his nose-" Prenez, mon ami, prenez donc." This operation had scarcely been performed before the hart, which had only been stunned, sprang up suddenly, overturned the Count, ran fairly away, and was never seen again. Arrête, toi traitre," cried the astonished Count," arrête, mon enfant. Ah! c'est un enfant perdu! Allez donc à tous les diables!"
with his bow and arrow * in bringing down seven fat bucks upon the Libyan shore, and successfully overtaking the wounded in his heavy armour, and, sword in hand, or, as old Stanyhurst gives it,—
"No ships thence he 'scried, but three stags sturdie were under
With wine their venison was swyl'd, bestow'd by nobil Acestes,
There is an opinion amongst many, founded on tradition, that the deer attains a very extraordinary age, amounting to some hundred of years."Longa est Cervina juventus." Mr. Scrope has given us the following
"In the year 1836 the late Glengarry, accompanied by Lord Fincastle, now Earl of Dunmore, was hunting in the garth of Glengarry. The beaters had been sent into a wood, called Tora-na-carry a fine stag soon broke forth, and was going straight to Lord Fincastle, but owing to a slight swell, or change of the current of air, he turned towards Glengarry, who fired at, and killed him. On going up to him a mark was discovered in his left ear. The first man who arrived was asked, 'What mark is that?' he replied, 'That it was the mark of Ewen-Mac-Ian-Og.' -Five others gave the same answer; and after consulting together, all agreed that Ewen-Mac-Ian-Og had been dead 150 years, and for 30 years before his death had marked all the calves he could catch with this particular mark: so that this deer, allowing the mark to have been authentic, must have been 150 years old, and might have been 180. The horns, which are preserved by the Glengarry family, are not particularly large, but have a very wide spread. Now this circumstance," says Mr. Scrope," is clearly and honestly attested; it was communicated to me both by the late and present Glengarry; we
must, therefore, either subscribe at once to the longevity, or we must imagine, what indeed seems to be the most probable, that, as the old forester's mark was known to all the clansmen, some of his successors might have imitated it without the knowledge or sanction of their chief. According to tradition, Captain Macdonald, of Lochaber, who died in 1776, at the age of 86, knew the white hind of Lochtrig for the last 50 years of his life; his father knew her an equal length of time before him, and his grandfather knew her for sixty years of his own time, and she preceded his days. These three gentlemen were all keen deer-stalkers. Many of the Lochaber and Brae-Rannoch men knew her also she was purely white, without spot or blemish :
"White she was as lily of June,
And beauteous as the silver moon, When out of sight the clouds are driven, And she is left alone in Heaven." She was never seen alone, and tradition furnishes no instance of any shot having been fired at the herd with which she was associated.
*"We are told that the most perfect shots and celebrated sportsmen never succeed in killing the deer without practice; indeed, at first, they are sure to miss the fairest running shots. This arises from their firing at distances to which they are wholly unaccustomed. It is seldom that you fire at a less distance than 100 yards; and this is as near as I could wish to get. The usual range will be between this and 200 yards; beyond which distance I never think it prudent to fire, lest I should hit the wrong animal, though deer may be killed at a much greater distance. The sportsman accustomed to short guns, in shooting of deer, invariably fires behind the quarry. Deer go much faster than they appear to do; and their pace is not uniform, but they pitch in running, and this pitch must be calculated on. The fire in the midst of a sharp run, or when a man is dead blown, must also be taken into account, or as he lies on his stomach in the heather."
GENT. MAG. VOL. XII.