Hunting down your own dinner is a rewarding way to put food on your plate and also connect with nature. But how much do you know about this most ancient of human activities?
What do they call hunting in Britain?
In Britain, "hunting" is a short way of saying fox hunting. "Shooting" refers to hunting birds and rabbits. "Stalking" means hunting deer, since generally you have to sneak up on them at great length.
Who wrote the famous gun safety poem, "A Father's Advice"?
Mark Hanbury Beaufoy was an Englishman who loved to hunt. He wrote the poem for his son in 1902, and it was an instant hit. Gun-makers sometimes sent copies of it out with ammunition or gun cases. The poem explains how to remain safe out on a hunt with your friends.
What kind of bird comes in a "covey"?
A "covey," pronounced to rhyme with "lovey-dovey," is a small group of birds with around six to 14 members. Grouse and partridge tend to hang out in such groups in the wild.
Which of these is NOT a true difference between fox hunting and deer hunting?
Deer are "stalked," often by crawling through the mud for hours up and down mountains to get upwind of them and then shoot the sickest and oldest (which in some states, is legally mandated to keep the populations healthy now that large predators like wolves and bears are rarer). Foxes are hunted from horseback using hounds. While you cannot eat a fox, you can certainly eat a deer, the meat of which is called venison and is very healthy.
What is the Glorious Twelfth?
The Glorious Twelfth is a tradition exported from Europe, where house parties would be thrown and friends invited to stay to celebrate the beginning of the hunting season. While typically mid-season produces the highest number of birds, earlier in the season can be more pleasant in terms of the weather.
What's special about the ammo you use to hunt duck?
When a shell is fired, all the little bits of "shot" inside it spread across a small area. Some of these pellets invariably miss their target and fall to earth. Lead shot is used to hunt birds that do not hang out near waterways, as it can fall into the soil without causing environmental damage. However, bismuth shot is much safer near waterways, which would be poisoned by lead. Hence, the more expensive bismuth shells are used for duck hunting.
How many birds is a "brace"?
A brace is two birds. It comes from the Old French word meaning two arms.
What animal might you hunt with a .22 rifle?
A .22 caliber rifle has no kick and is very quiet, which means it is a good gun to use rabbit hunting, where you will usually be lying down and facing easily-scared prey. It wouldn't penetrate the hide of a boar, but its small bullet won't completely vaporize the insides of a rabbit.
You've hunted a partridge! When can you eat it?
Human teeth and human digestive systems aren't really up to the challenge of eating a freshly-killed bird: even if you could choke it down, you wouldn't get all the nutrition out of it. While you can kill a fish and pop it straight on the grill, a bird - like a sheep or cow - needs to be "hung" in a game larder. This lets the meat soften up enough that you can get the best out of it.
What's one way hunting benefits the environment?
Hunting provides a very strong financial boost to rural communities, where it effectively pays farmers to maintain copses, woodland, and hedgerows that provide habitats for birds and deer to be hunted - as well as for millions of insects, reptiles, amphibians, other birds, and flora. This sequesters carbon and boosts biodiversity. It also "air conditions" the countryside by absorbing heat, and reduces water inefficiency and flooding.
What's a form of hunting involving dogs, but NOT horses?
Beagling is when you hunt rabbits or hares using a pack of beagles, following them on foot. Beagles are a member of the hound family, noteworthy for their enormous ears, deep booming bark, and charming nature.
What is an over-under?
An over-under is an easier gun to learn on, as the barrels are both lined up with your eyes, meaning you don't have to compensate for the left and right barrels being aligned slightly differently. However, most hunters graduate onto a side-by-side gun, as it is quicker to load. Because the barrels are sideways, the gun doesn't need to be opened all the way to eject the shells, whereas with an over-under, you have to open it extra far.
Which of this is NOT a popular hunting gun manufacturer?
Burberry is a clothing brand noted for its check faux-tartan pattern. The other brands - Purdey, Holland and Holland, and Westley Richards - are all very fancy shotgun makers. Some families have owned guns from these makers for generations, that are still in perfect working order.
Why would you never hunt a bird with a rifle?
Birds are usually hunted with a shotgun as they are moving at the time they are shot. Shotgun shells spread the pellets out as they fire, so you don't have to be pinpoint-precise. Rifles fire a single bullet, meaning deadly accuracy is required. This is basically impossible when you're dealing with a bird in flight.
When is the season for shooting partridge?
Partridge are hunted from September through the end of January, with the last day being February 1st. This is because chicks are born in the spring, and thus it is the best time to hunt them is once they have grown up, so that they can reproduce. They are also the most fun to hunt when they fly faster - and they have more meat on them.
What is distinctive about the way snipe fly?
Snipe is a kind of waterfowl that tends to fly in a zigzag pattern, making it notoriously hard to hit. The word "sniper" comes from British India where hunters referred to hitting difficult targets as "sniping."
What is a "butt" in hunting terminology?
Grouse have really good eyesight and tend to fly along the the contours of the land. This means that if they come over the crest of a hill and see a hunter with a gun, they'll change course. A butt is a hole, usually lined with stones, that the hunter stands in to conceal him or her up to the chest. This leaves space to swing the gun, while also hiding from the bird.
What does a "gun dog" do?
A gun dog is a hunter's companion. As many birds or rabbits can be very hard to find when they are dead, a gun dog's job is to use its superior nose to find the dead birds and bring them back. Most gun dogs love their job so much, they will react with sheer joy merely seeing the gun being brought out of storage.
What two breeds are the most popular gun dogs?
Labrador retrievers (we said it was in the name!) and spaniels are the most popular gun dogs. In the case of Labs, they weren't originally bred for this, coming instead from the fishing villages of the island of Labrador. However, both breeds love to get wet and to work with their owners, plus they have great noses and are highly trainable. Golden retrievers are also popular, and so are Viszlas.
What is the best weather for pheasant hunting?
Windy days encourage the birds to fly well, but sunny days can mean you end up blinded as you swing the gun to track them - which is not ideal when you are holding a deadly weapon! Dry, windy, and overcast provides the best combination of high, fast-flying birds and good visibility.
What do you call the total number of birds shot in one day?
The "bag" is what you call all the birds you shot. It's traditional in some places for everyone to guess how many there were before the birds are counted, with the winner receiving all the honor (but generally no prize).
Why do some shotguns come in pairs?
On some hunts, where the birds come thick and fast, a loader is a great way to make sure you're always ready to go. Since all shotguns are a little different, having a pair is a great way not to have to adapt your shooting style every 30 seconds!
What is an example of good gun safety?
Muzzle discipline means training your mind so that you literally aren't able to stand around with a gun held in an unsafe position. If someone hands you a gun, a trained hunter will automatically point it muzzle down as they check whether it's loaded. They will never let the barrel point at anyone - even if it is empty (because you can never be 100 percent sure you didn't load it and then forget).
When hunting, where should you absolutely never shoot?
While sometimes you might shoot down to hit a rabbit, sometimes up to hit a bird, and sometimes horizontal to hit a deer, you should never shoot anywhere that, if you miss or if the shot simply goes straight through the target, you can't be totally certain where the bullet or pellets will end up. You shoot only where you can see. That means into a bank, into the sky, or in a large open field with hundreds of yards of empty space in which the bullet can drop harmlessly, and not over the brow of a hill, into a wood, or around a corner.
What is hare coursing?
Hare coursing is essentially beagling, but with greyhounds instead of beagles. It's very humane as the greyhounds make a swift kill.
What do they call those hilarious short tweed pants that hunters wear in Scotland?
Plus fours are a tweed pant that comes 4" below the knee, unlike a knickerbocker. This is how they got their name. They're considered good shooting attire because if you step in a bog that goes over your hiking boot, you can just change your sock and still have a dry foot. If you wore a longer trouser, you would have a soggy leg for the rest of the day!
What is the sandwich called that Scottish hunters eat during their break?
A bap is a soft white bread roll that stays nice all day and tends not to come apart if you fill it with delicious sandwich goods, making it the ideal way to take lunch with you out on the windy Scottish moors.
What's the difference between "driven grouse" and "walking up"?
Driven grouse are when the hunters go in a "butt" (see question 17) and the birds are driven toward them. "Walked up" grouse are when the hunters go in a line and walk along slowly, stopping to shoot grouse that they flush out. Driven grouse seem to appear out of nowhere and are already at top speed when the hunter sees them, making them the tougher option - though walking up is certainly tougher on the glutes!
What is a beater?
A beater is one of up to several dozen men and women who travel through the woods or bog in a giant line, flushing out birds for the hunters to shoot. Beaters are usually locals who want the opportunity to socialize with their community and get paid to hike across private land that isn't usually available for them to see. They bring their dogs and kids, and are fed in fine style, plus they are paid for their time. Most start doing it as kids and continue until they physically cannot manage the hike anymore.
What is a flanker?
A flanker is the man or woman on the end of the line of beaters. He or she usually has a bright colored flag. They stop the birds flying outside of the line and thus just disappearing off instead of flying over the hunters. As well as beating, the flanker's job is to keep an eye on the line of beaters and spot if anyone is falling behind or injured.
What does a gamekeeper do?
The gamekeeper is the most senior person maintaining the game on the land which is to be hunted. In some places they might be called a ranger. They watch out for poachers and hazards, put out feed, maintain fences and pens for some younger species of birds, and on large ranches and estates, they run the hunts.
If you host a group hunt, what do you call the guests who are there to shoot?
A traditional "rough" shoot might only involve one or two "guns," but an organized shoot might involve seven to nine. They stand at "pegs" separated by about 30 to 50 yards. It is considered very rude to shoot at a bird going over your neighbor's peg.
How do you traditionally decide who stands where?
The guns usually draw straws at the top of the day, and rotate through different numbered pegs throughout the day. This way, everyone gets to stand in the best and worst spots, to share the best and worst hunting opportunities fairly. An older tradition involved every gun drinking a small cup of sloe gin which would have their starting number in the bottom, but as alcohol and guns are no longer seen as such a great mix, drinking is now much more moderate.
What is a good hit ratio when shooting pheasant?
When it comes to shooting birds, a good hunter will hit more than 40 percent of the things they shoot, With deer and rabbits, the numbers are higher, as you only take the shot when you are sure you have the target in sight. Everyone's numbers go down when they shoot grouse, as these are much harder to hit than pheasant. The overall hit rate of a large organized hunt might be monitored by the gamekeeper, who will use a clicker to count shots during the day, then compare the total bag. If the group goes below 30 percent, teasing will ensue.
How do you tell your companion that a bird is about to fly over him or her?
"Over!" is the traditional cry to inform your neighbor that a bird is coming his or her way and that you do not intend to shoot at it yourself as it is too far away. As the guns will typically be separated by about 30 to 50 yards, you will need to shout!
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