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If, however, the huntsman takes them out daily in the morning on the road, which hardens their feet, and in the evening in the paddock, they are so orderly that anything may be done with them. For this purpose the men should be mounted in the morning, but in the evening they may be on foot.
Cub-hunting, which is the name given to the process by which young hounds are entered, begins in August as soon as the corn is cut, and the time will therefore vary with the season and the country. In some places, as in the New Forest for instance, it may be carried on at any time, but this month is early enough. It is better to take out the old hounds once or twice till they have recovered their summer idleness, as a good example is everything to the young hound. When the young entry are to be brought out, it is very desirable to find as quickly as possible, and some cautious huntsmen go so far as to keep them coupled till the old hounds have found their fox; but if they have been made steady from “riot "there is no occasion for this. If, however, they have never been rated for “ riot,” there is no great harm in their hunting hare or anything else at first, till they know what they ought to do; after which they must be rigidly kept to their game. But cub-hunting is not solely intended to break in and “enter” the hound, it has also for its object to disperse the foxes from the large woodlands which form their chief holds in all countries; and, as these cannot show good sport during the season, they are well routed before it commences, to drive the foxes into smaller coverts, while at the same time the hounds may be rendered steady, and by practice enabled to work their fox. Very often the master will take advantage of an opportunity to have a nice little burst to himself; and, if the hounds are not made to hustle the foxes through the large woodlands, good after sport cannot be expected. Independently of the above object, cub-hunting is practised in August, September, and October, firstly, in order to give the young hounds blood, which they can obtain easily from a litter of fat cubs; secondly, to break them from “riot,” while they are encouraged to hunt their own game; and, thirdly, to endeavour to break them of sundry faults, such as skirting, &c.; or, if apparently incurable, to draft them at once. These objects are generally attained by the end of October, when the regular season begins.
Harriers and beagles are entered to hare on the same principle, the scent of the fox and deer, as well as that of the rabbit, being “riot” to them, and strictly prohibited. Otterhounds also have exactly the same kind of entry, although the element they work in is of a different character.
THE BREAKING OF THE POINTER AND SETTER.
The following observations on the breaking of these dogs appeared in “ The Field,” during the spring of 1858, and are believed to embody the general practice of good breakers :
As the method is the same for each kind, whenever the word pointer is used, it is to be understood as applying equally to the setter.
It is scarcely necessary for me to remark that no single life would suffice to bring the art of breaking dogs to all the perfection of which it is capable, when the various improvements of succeeding generations are handed down from one to the other; and therefore I neither pretend to be the inventor of any method here detailed, nor do I claim any peculiarity as my own. All the plans of teaching the young dog that will be found described by me are practised by most good breakers; so that there will be nothing to be met with in my remarks but what is well known to them. Nevertheless, they are not generally known; and there are many good shots who are now entirely dependent upon dog-dealers for the supply of their kennels, and who yet would infinitely prefer to break their own dogs, if they only knew how to set about it. Others, again, cannot afford the large sum which a highly accomplished brace of pointers or setters are worth in the market; and these gentlemen would far rather obtain two or three good puppies and break them with their own hands, with expenditure of little more than time, than put up with the wretchedly broken animals which are offered for sale by the dozen at the commencement of every shooting season. To make the utmost of any dog requires great experience and tact, and therefore the ordinary sportsman, however ardent he may be, can scarcely expect his dogs to attain this amount of perfection ; but by attending to the following instructions, which will be given in plain language, he may fairly hope to turn out a brace of dogs far above the average of those belonging to his neighbours. One advantage he will assuredly have when he begins the actual war against the birds in September, namely, that his dogs will cheerfully work for him, and will be obedient to his orders; but at the same time he must not expect that they will behave as well then as they did when he considered their education complete in the previous April or May. No one who values “the bag” above the performance of his dogs will take a young pointer into the field at all, till he has been shot over for some time by a man who makes it his business to break dogs, and who is not himself over-excited by the sport. It is astonishing what a difference is seen in the behaviour of the young dog when he begins to see game falling to the gun. He may go out with all the steadiness which he had acquired by two months' drilling in the spring; but more frequently he will have forgotten all about it, unless he is well hunted in the week previous to the opening of the campaign. But no sooner has he found his birds or backed his fellow-pointer, and this good behaviour has been followed by the report of the gun, heard now almost for the first time, and by the fall of a bird or two within a short distance, than he becomes wild with excitement, and, trying to rival the gun in destructiveness, he runs into his birds, or plays some other trick almost equally worthy of punishment. For this there is no remedy but patience and plenty of hard work, as we shall presently find; and I only mention it here, in order that my readers may not undertake the task without knowing all its disagreeables as well as the advantages attending upon it.
Supposing, therefore, that a gentleman has determined to break a brace of pointers for his own use, without assistance from a keeper, let us now consider how he should set about it.
In the first place, let him procure his puppies of a breed in which he can have confidence. He will do well to secure a brace and a half, to guard against accidents or defects in growth. Let these be well reared up to the end of January, or, in fact, until the birds are paired and will lie well, whatever that time may be. They should be fed as directed in the last chapter. A few bones should be given daily, but little flesh, as the nose is certainly injuriously affected by this kind of food; and without attention to his health, so as to give the dog every chance of finding his game, it is useless to attempt to break him. The puppies should either be reared at full liberty at a good walk, or they should have an airy yard, and should then be walked out daily, taking care to make them know their names at a very early age, and teaching them instant obedience to every order, without breaking their spirit. IIere great patience and tact are required; but, by the owner walking them out himself two or three times a week and making them fond of him, a little severity has no injurious effect. In crossing fields the puppies should never be allowed to “break fence,” even if the gates are open, but should be called back the moment they attempt to do so. These points are of great importance, and by attending to them half the difficulty of breaking is got over; for, if the puppy is early taught obedience, you have only to let him know what he is required to do, and he does it as a matter of course. So also the