Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/367

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339
DEER HUNTING.

search through the greater part of the night, sometimes until the dawn of day, shooting from five to ten deer, should these animals be plentiful. This kind of hunting proves fatal, not to the deer alone, but also sometimes to wolves, and now and then to a horse or a cow, which may have straggled far into the woods.

Now, kind reader, prepare to mount a generous, full blood Virginian Hunter. See that your gun is in complete order, for, hark to the sound of the bugle and horn, and the mingled clamour of a pack of harriers! Your friends are waiting you, under the shade of the wood, and we must together go driving the light-footed deer. The distance over which one has to travel is seldom felt, when pleasure is anticipated as the result: so, galloping we go pell-mell through the woods, to some well known place, where many a fine buck has drooped its antlers under the ball of the hunter's rifle. The servants, who are called the drivers, have already begun their search. Their voices are heard exciting the hounds, and unless we put spurs to our steeds, we may be too late at our stand, and thus lose the first opportunity of shooting the fleeting game, as it passes by. Hark again! The dogs are in chase, the horn sounds louder and more clearly. Hurry, hurry on, or we shall be sadly behind!

Here we are at last! Dismount, fasten your horse to this tree, place yourself by the side of that large yellow poplar, and mind you do not shoot me! The deer is fast approaching; I will to my own stand, and he who shoots him dead wins the prize.

The deer is heard coming. It has inadvertently cracked a dead stick with its hoof, and the dogs are now so near it that it will pass in a moment. There it comes! How beautifully it bounds over the ground! What a splendid head of horns! How easy its attitudes, depending, as, it seems to do, on its own swiftness for safety! All is in vain, however: a gun is fired, the animal plunges and doubles with incomparable speed. There he goes! He passes another stand, from which a second shot, better directed than the first, brings him to the ground. The dogs, the servants, the sportsmen are now rushing forward to the spot. The hunter who has shot it is congratulated on his skill or good luck, and the chase begins again in some other part of the woods.

A few lines of explanation may be required to convey a clear idea of this mode of hunting. Deer are fond of following and retracing the paths which they have formerly pursued, and continue to do so even after they have been shot at more than once. These tracks are discovered