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SNIPE AND WOODCOCK IN IRELAND

BY

RICHARD J. USSHER

SNIPE AND WOODCOCK IN IRELAND

THE same

causes that make Ireland the favourite haunt of the woodcock have marked out this land as the special home of the snipe. In parts of the country which abound in rushes and have wet catchment-basins hours of walking may not exhaust the grounds where snipe are to be found. Of these resorts there are more or less in every county, the mountainous parts being prolific in upland bogs, and the central plain having its vast extents of turf-bog as well as its numerous lakes. These are sometimes united by river systems like those of the Shannon and the Erne, which afford many a league of marshy meadows along their shores; but it is in western counties—Kerry, Galway, Mayo, and Donegal—that the great unreclaimed wilds of Ireland are to be found.

It is not, however, the largest tracts of bog that afford the best snipe shooting ; extensive deposits of peat are not prolific in life of any sort, but all

along the western coast of Clare, and in parts of Kerry and other counties, there are great tracts of soft, green fields which provide these birds with endless feeding grounds.

In many parts of Ireland the population is small and too often diminishing, and in proportion as a locality is suitable for snipe it is little frequented in the wet season, except by the occasional cow-herd and the wandering sportsman.

If the latter be a hardy, active walker, and a ready snipe shot, the vast, lonely country before him, replete with this wild game, offers a boundless field for his energy. He speeds forward, despising mire and wet, as one agile bird after another springs aloft only to fall before his steady aim, and the discomforts of the ground and of the season are lost in the sense that he is invading the haunts of the shy, wild creatures of the marshland. He should be well repaid one day with another, for snipe are so numerous and widespread in the country that one can almost always look them up. But to be a successful snipe shooter one must not only be a good walker and a ready shot, but must have that hunting instinct which enables the sportsman to find his game during the various changes of the moon, of the season, and of the weather. This instinct is being

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