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are always wild when they collect into wisps. There is safety in many eyes.
These rules hold good in the large majority of cases. The snipe, however, is so uncertain a bird in every respect that one can never say for certain how he will act under any given conditions. Nine times running we may find snipe lying like stones on a heavy day following a light night, and the tenth time we may find them almost as wild as hawks; nine times running we may find the birds almost as wild as hawks when a bright day follows a pitch-dark night, and the tenth time we may find them lying like stones.
Whatever the conditions of moon and weather may be, the two hours after daybreak and the two hours before dark are nearly always the best for snipe shooting; often the birds will lie well during these four hours and be quite unapproachable the rest of the day. In snipe shooting one cannot be too early at work after it is light enough to sight a bird. Before the first two hours of daylight are over, very frequently indeed before the first hour, the large majority of the birds—unless the night should have been dark and frosty, in which case they will be still intent on seeking food-leave their feeding grounds and scatter themselves over the higher
country. From two hours to an hour before dark they begin to return to their feeding grounds. When people are heard to say, “There are no snipe about at all,' or “There are so few snipe about, they are not worth going after; you may tramp the whole day and not find three birds,' the keen snipe shot, he who considers that a little personal inconvenience adds zest to the sport rather than otherwise, can often laugh in his sleeve. He is out with his gun at dawn ; and as soon as ever there is light enough to shoot, he swiftly visits all the favourite feeding spots of the birds, returning with half a dozen couple or so about the time other people are sitting down to breakfast. These other people start their day at nine-thirty or ten o'clock, and come home early in the afternoon vowing there is not a snipe in the whole country. Our keen and knowing friend at from three to four o'clock in the afternoon makes another rapid tour of the birds' favourite feeding spots, again meeting with just reward for his endeavours.
HAUNTS AND HABITS
SNIPE shooting per se is the same thing wherever we may find ourselves, whether we are shooting over mud in India, a morass in Morocco, a bog in Ireland, or a marsh in our own merrie England, for England is still merrie England to the sportsman, however dull and dispiriting she may appear to the life-long toilers of the city. What is not the same thing wherever we may be is the going
As a general rule, the best snipe shooting implies the worst going, and when the going is really bad, he who would engage in this most entrancing of sport must be prepared to face much. The worst going and the best snipe shooting in the kingdom are the going and the shooting on an Irish bog. Bog-trotting may almost be described as a fine art, attainable to perfection only after long experience and practice. The practised eye tells well nigh instinctively where the