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The Confessions of a Poacher   By:

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"Poaching is one of the fine arts how 'fine' only the initiated know."

[Illustration: THE SQUIRE'S KEEPER.]

The Confessions of a Poacher

EDITED BY JOHN WATSON, F.L.S., Author of "Nature and Woodcraft," "Sylvan Folk," &c., &c.

ILLUSTRATED BY JAMES WEST.

[Illustration]

LONDON: The Leadenhall Press, 50, Leadenhall Street, E.C. Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co., Ltd: New York: Scribner & Welford, 743 & 745, Broadway. 1890.

[Illustration] THE LEADENHALL PRESS, 50, LEADENHALL STREET, LONDON, E.C. T 4,463.

EDITORIAL NOTE.

[Illustration]

The poacher of these "Confessions" is no imaginary being. In the following pages I have set down nothing but what has come within his own personal experience; and, although the little book is full of strange inconsistencies, I cannot, knowing the man, call them by a harder name. Nature made old "Phil" a Poacher, but she made him a Sportsman and a Naturalist at the same time. I never met any man who was in closer sympathy with the wild creatures about him; and never dog or child came within his influence but what was permanently attracted by his personality. Although eighty years of age there is still some of the old erectness in his carriage; some of the old fire in his eyes. As a young man he was handsome, though now his features are battered out of all original conception. His silvery hair still covers a lion like head, and his tanned cheeks are hard and firm. If his life has been a lawless one he has paid heavily for his wrong doings. Great as a poacher, he must have been great whatever he had been. In my boyhood he was the hero whom I worshipped, and I hardly know that I have gone back on my loyalty.

CONTENTS.

[Illustration]

CHAPTER. PAGE.

1. THE EMBRYO POACHER 7

2. UNDER THE NIGHT 19

3. GRADUATING IN WOODCRAFT 32

4. PARTRIDGE POACHING 45

5. HARE POACHING 57

6. PHEASANT POACHING 74

7. SALMON AND TROUT POACHING 90

8. GROUSE POACHING 109

9. RABBIT POACHING 123

10. TRICKS 135

11. PERSONAL ENCOUNTERS 151

THE CONFESSIONS OF A POACHER.

[Illustration]

Chapter 1.

THE EMBRYO POACHER.

I do not remember the time when I was not a poacher; and if I may say so, I believe our family has always had a genius for woodcraft.

I was bred on the outskirts of a sleepy town in a good game country, and my depredations were mostly when the Game Laws were less rigorously enforced than now. Our home was roughly adorned in fur and feather, and a number of gaunt lurchers always constituted part of the family. An almost passionate love of nature, summers of birds' nesting, and a life spent almost wholly out of doors constituted an admirable training for an embryo poacher. If it is true that poets are born, not made, it is equally so of poachers. The successful "moucher" must be an inborn naturalist must have much in common with the creatures of the fields and woods around him.

[Illustration]

There is a miniature bird and animal fauna which constitutes as important game to the young poacher as any he is likely to come across in after life. There are mice, shrews, voles, for all of which he sets some primitive snare and captures. The silky coated moles in their runs offer more serious work, and being most successfully practised at night, offers an additional charm. Then there are the red furred squirrels which hide among the delicate leaves of the beeches and run up their grey boles fairy things that offer an endless subject of delight to any young savage, and their capturing draws largely upon his inventive genius. A happy hunting ground is furnished by farmers who require a lad to keep the birds from their young wheat or corn, as when their services are required the country is all like a garden... Continue reading book >>




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