IT is hardly necessary to recommend a double-barrelled gun. One of the barrels should be loaded with small shot or dross of lead for small birds and the other with large shot. These should have much less powder than an ordinary charge, so as not to tear and injure the animals. Paper, cotton or flax and powdered dry earthen ashes should form part of the naturalist's stores.
When a bird is killed, a small quantity of dry dust is to be put on the wound. For this purpose the feathers must be raised with a pin, or a gun-picker, close to the wound. The bill of the bird should have a small quantity of cotton or flax introduced into it to prevent the blood from flowing and spoiling the plumage. The feathers must be all adjusted, and the bird then placed on the ground to allow the blood to coagulate. Every specimen should be placed in a piece of paper of the form of a hollow cone, like the thumb bags used by grocers. The head should be introduced into this, the paper should then be closed around the bird, and packed in a box filled with moss, dried grass or leaves.
Birds taken alive in nets and traps are to be preferred to others for stuffing, and also those caught by birdlime, which must be removed by spirits of wine.
Birds should always be skinned the same day they are killed, or next day at farthest, particularly in summer; as there is a danger of putrefaction ensuing, by which the feathers will fall off. However, in winter there is no danger for some days; but in tropical climates they must be prepared soon after they are killed. The same observations apply generally to quadrupeds.
Bats and owls are caught during the day, in the hollows of aged trees, in the crevices of walls, and ruins of buildings. These are animals which, it may be presumed, are still little known in consequence of their nocturnal habits.
Those who prepare for the chase, with the intention of preserving animals, should take care to provide themselves with implements necessary for fulfilling the objects advantageously. The articles most needed are one or two pairs of large pincers, scissors, forceps, scalpels, knives, needles, thread and a small hatchet, as well as one or more canisters of preserving powder, some pots of arsenical soap, or arsenical composition, and some bottles of spirits of turpentine. Cotton may be employed in stuffing the skins, and therefore a considerable quantity should always be taken along with the naturalist. In parts of Asia and Africa, where this cannot be procured, tow must be employed, or old ropes teazed down; and where even this cannot be found, dried grass and moss may be used. M. Le Vaillant used a species of dog-grass while in Africa, which is very abundant in that country; and it answered the purpose remarkably well.
It being supposed that a traveler has an ample caravan, provided with all the necessaries which we have pointed out, and having killed a quadruped, he will skin it immediately, according to the method which we have pointed out. He will then sew up the skin after receiving a partial stuffing, and having been anointed with the arsenical soap or composition. All the extremities must then be imbued with spirits of turpentine, and the skin should be placed in some convenient place to dry, so that it may have the advantage of complete exposure to the air. The turpentine must be again applied at the end of three or four days, more especially around the mouth of the quadruped.
It will be of the utmost advantage to remain a week or ten days at one place; by which means the naturalist will have had time to render himself somewhat acquainted with the animals which localize in that neighborhood. And as some species frequently confine themselves to a very limited spot, by leaving the place too hurriedly he is apt to overlook them.
After the traveler has determined on leaving his cantonment, he must see that all the objects he has collected are in a condition to be removed. He must examine carefully each specimen, and see that they have not been attacked by the destructive insects, so abundant in warm climates. Should flies have deposited their eggs in the lips of the quadrupeds or birds, these must be destroyed by spirits of turpentine. When a set of animals or birds are thoroughly dry, they should be packed in a box or case, which has been well joined.
A journal ought to be kept detailing all the circumstances connected with the animals, the places in which they were killed, and the color of their eyes, together with any information that can be procured of their habits from the natives. People are too apt to forget particulars when engaged in such varied pursuits, and the sooner they are committed to paper the better.
When the traveler arrives in Africa, he will meet with animals of the largest size, such as the elephant, the rhinoceros, hippopotamus, giraffe, quagga, urus, bubulus, con-doma, as well as large antelope and deer. He will unquestionably find some difficulty in his endeavors to bring with him the skins of these animals, as in that country it is even troublesome, in many cases, to transport the necessaries of life. But the ardor of the zealous naturalist will here be increased by beholding such splendid specimens as he can never meet with elsewhere. All his energies will be strengthened and every sacrifice made to enable him to transport the fruits of his toils.
We need only to recur to the zeal manifested by Le Vaill-ant in his travels, and the rapturous delight experienced by him when he first beheld and killed the giraffe. He brought this large skin from Caffraria, where he killed the animal, a distance of two-hundred leagues from the Cape of Good Hope.
Should the traveler, accidentally, or in pursuit of natural objects, find himself possessed of the carcase of one of these large and fine animals, he would deeply regret not being able to fetch away the skin from want of a knowledge how to separate it from the body. We shall, therefore, suppose that he has killed an animal the size of a bull. He must first make an incision under the belly, in the form of a double cross. The central line must reach from the chin to the anus; the two other transverse cuts must reach from one foot to the other. These are always made inside, so that the seams may be less conspicuous when the animal is mounted. When the skin is stuffed, the hoofs are detached by laying them on a stone, and striking them with a hatchet or mallet. The nails or hoofs must be left attached to the skin. After this, the skin is removed from the feet, legs, and thighs, and treated in other respects as pointed out in skinning other large animals. The bones of the head must be preserved if possible, leaving it attached at the muzzle only. All the muscles must be removed from the head, and the bones rendered as clean as possible.