Page:Mongolia, the Tangut country, and the solitudes of northern Tibet vol 2 (1876).djvu/270

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246

DIFFICULTY OF SHOOTING THEM.

daybreak and at midday. In any case they are rarely heard, and one bird repeats its cry only five or six times during the morning.[1] The long and irregular intervals between their call-notes, and their extreme shyness, make it difficult to shoot them, at all events in spring; besides which, the uneven ground in which they are found, covered, on the northern sides of the ravines, with dense bushes of rhododendron, and on the southern slopes, with prickly bushes of barberry, hawthorn, and wild rose, added to the numerous rocks, and the fallen timber, make it most difficult sport. In such ground as this a dog is of no use, even were it able to follow its master up the steeper places. You have only your ears and eyes to assist you, and even these are not of much use, for the wary bird sees or hears you long before you can come up to it; it is a fast runner, and will never rise from the ground unless surprised. You may hear the patter of its feet a few paces off, as it disappears in some impenetrable thicket, before you have time to raise your gun, far less to shoot; and its tracks are as completely hidden as though it had dived under water. Its tenacity of life too is marvellous. I have seen them fly after receiving a whole charge of shot at fifty paces; and, if only winged, run into the bushes and escape. If by some extraordinary luck you happen to see one close by, you fire at once, as your only chance of a shot, and the charge blows the bird to pieces and spoils it for preserving. The difficulties indeed are so

  1. The cocks fight during the pairing time.