The trapping of rabbits has always been a "bone of contention" to humanitarians on the score of its cruelty, and to render the capture more in accordance with their views, various modifications of ordinary rabbit traps have been made. "Burgess's Improved Humane Trap " (Wm. Burgess & Co., Malvern Wells), Fig. 130, has india-rubber-covered jaws, in which the rubber is ribbed, and in that way holds the leg firmly without breaking it. Traps with deep-roughened iron jaws are also made for the purpose.

Burgess's Improved Humane Trap.

Fig. 130. - Burgess's Improved Humane Trap.

Snaring Rabbits is only practicable in the open, and is generally practised where traps may not be used. The snares are of two kinds. Ordinary, for strangling the rabbit, and knotted, for catching rabbits alive; cost of the former complete is 2s. 6d. per dozen, and the latter 35. In choosing places to set them, the most open part, midway between the ends of the run, must be taken, and the snare must be set either before or after a beat (flat place made by the jumps of the animals). The stake or peg is driven in, then the noose, 3 in. in diameter, formed and placed in position, and a hand breadth at the knuckles from the ground. The best runs to set on are those most distinct coming from a plantation, from a burrow, hole through a hedge, and any well-worked one. The snares must be visited night and morning, and not left set by day where there are pheasants or poultry.

Rabbit Snare.

Fig. 131. - Rabbit Snare.

Netting Rabbits is of two kinds, one by bolting and the other by driving. The bolting requires a dog with a nose to indicate the hole nearest the rabbit, two or three good working ferrets, and nets for placing over the holes. The nets, called "purse," complete with pegs and rings, cost 6s. to 7s. 6d. per dozen. The work is very simple. The dog marks a rabbit. Nets are placed over the bolt holes, the ferret put in (having been duly stringed). The rabbit or rabbits bolt into the net or nets, but the ferret pins one or more rabbits and has to be dug out, the digger being guided by the string. That is not sport - of course not, our purpose is to capture the rabbits. If sport be the object, the ferret is muzzled, the dog is duplicated, and the ferreter with accomplices carry guns, nets being dispensed with, or only partly used.

Better for sporting purposes in respect of rabbits is the bolting system by means of fuses, usually made of thick brown paper or cardboard cut into strips 1 ft. long and 2 in. wide, the strips being soaked in a solution of saltpetre and cayenne pepper, dried, lighted and placed in the hole rolled up. Rabbit fumes for bolting rabbits (Wm. Burgess & Co., Malvern Wells) cost 4s. per gross. The fuses are also used to make the rabbits lie out. At Weald Hall, Brentford, after the use of these fuses, 6 guns shot 1,027 rabbits in one day, and the next day 405 more.

Netting rabbits by driving is a wholesale means of capture, and is practised in coppice and wood-side where rabbits come out at night to feed. The nets are made in lengths of 50, 100, and 150 yards, and to hang from 2 to 5 ft. the colour being grey, green or tanned, 3 ft. netting being usually employed, and the stakes to hold it up cost 6s. per dozen. The rabbits are allowed to breed and fatten until late summer or autumn; then the netting is affixed after dark alongside the wood-side or place of day harbouring, and rabbits outlying are driven into the net. In the morning nothing is seen but a beaten track and a goodly amount of down. In one instance along a plantation-side, where at one time 200 rabbits were counted in the dusk of the evening at the close of September, not one was to be seen after the first week of October.

Ground game are also kept down by sportsmen, dogs, foxes, stoats, weasels, and birds of prey, but these hardly accord with the requirements of cultivators where game-preserving is not carried to an extreme, and on account of the depredations committed, growers of crops have been obliged to seek powers from the legislature enabling them to take repressive measures.

By the Ground Game Act of 1880 every occupier has a right to kill, take and sell ground game, but not the right to shoot between the expiration of first hour after sunset and the commencement of the last hour before sunrise; spring traps, except in rabbit holes, and poison of any kind are prohibited. The Hares Preservation Act, 1892, however, enacts that during the months of March, April, May, June, and July it is unlawful to sell, or expose for sale, hares or leverets. The close time (March to July inclusive) simply aims at preventing the extinction of the hare by restricting the cruel, wanton, and wasteful decimation during the breeding season of a very desirable food-animal. Nevertheless, hares and rabbits may be killed during close time, but not exposed for sale.

Hares are coursed by greyhounds, but this has greatly fallen off, not so much by scarcity of hares, due to the passing of the Ground Game Act of 1880. as to the close preservation of game that preceded the Act and rendered its passing imperative in the interests of tenant-occupiers, the sight of a greyhound so frightening the game-preserver that coursing meetings, at one time so popular almost all over the country, were suppressed one after another in rapid succession, not many remaining in 1880. Thus a very ancient sport passed into relative oblivion, and is only kept from complete obliteration by the national annual meeting at Aintree and the aspirations evoked by the Waterloo Cup. Nevertheless, the British greyhound (Cams Grains) accords with the quaint description given in a work printed in 1496, by Wynkyn de Worde (the Book of St. Albans), as to what a greyhound should beHeaded lyke a snake, Neckyed lyke a drake, Fottyed lyke a catte, Taylled lyke a ratte. Syded lyke a breme, And chyned lyke a beme.

Hares are still hunted by harriers or beagles. This, popularly called beagling, is generally regarded as a prelude to foxhunting, inasmuch as when a person has been entered to beagles and has learnt to study hound work, only his or her purse debars riding to foxhounds. Every follower of the little hounds is, therefore, a foxhunter in posse and if at times the line of a fox tempts them astray, they will, especially towards the end of season, compensate by driving out-lying foxes back to their coverts and teaching them to stay there.

Beagling, like foxhunting, is antagonistic to the over-preservation of ground game, and being in accord with national instinct in respect of sport being accessible to all chase aspirants, commends itself to a large number of persons with moderate means, and in districts where there is practically nothing to take the community out of the humdrum of ordinary occupation, hare-hunting has enervating and good fellowship influence on the national life. Even meets of harriers, foxhounds, and (it must be conceded) stag-hounds, have much to commend them in these respects, and in the chase of wild animals there is nothing but what appeals to man's nature as humane.

Rabbit-coursing is quite another thing from beagling and foxhunting. The rabbits are turned down on ground to which they are strangers, and are simply driven through fear of shouting men and howling dogs to make a run (of a sort) for life without so much as a chance of escape. Sport of this nature only appeals to pothunters-degraded and vicious sportsmen,