This section is from the book "The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation", by George Abbey. Also available from Amazon: The Balance Of Nature And Modern Conditions Of Cultivation.
Sporting we may assume, was primarily originated by man to procure animal produce such as deer, wild boar and hare, among mammals; and among birds, the bustard, cock-of-the-wood, blackcock, grouse, partridge, pigeon, geese and ducks, thus representing ground and winged game pursued for diversion and food. The pursuit of these nature-provided food creatures was, however, interfered with by wolves, foxes, and other flesh-eating and bloodsucking animals, also by eagles, hawks, and other birds of prey. These, therefore, as militating against the presence of the animals and birds desirable as affording pastime and food were hunted, trapped, captured and destroyed as vermin. Thus, we arrive at the definitions: game - wild animals good for food, called ground, and wild birds of edible quality, termed winged; vermin - wild animals of carnivorous habits, called ground, and wild birds of a rapacious nature, termed winged.
In sporting, the dog appears the first aid employed by the sportsman in the capture of the food-supplying animals, and also in the decimation of the beasts of prey. Of the former description were and still are the deer-hound, boar-hound, hare-hound or harrier, and greyhound. Of the latter were the wolf-hound, the wolf not being finally extirpated in England till 1350, in Scotland till 1600, and in Ireland till the beginning of 1700, the fox-hound and otter-hound, both still in vogue, with the terrier, for the purposes of sporting and destruction of vermin.
The horse also was requisitioned at an early date to enable the hunter to follow hounds and be up at the capture or kill of the quarry, all-important when the object was game, and hardly less essential when the purpose was securing some relic of the vermin in order to obtain the reward - premiums being placed on the heads of wolves and tails of foxes.
Up to the time of William the Conqueror all classes of the community appear to have vied with each other in chasing and killing wild food-supplying animals and birds as distinguished from the domesticated, and this not only on cultivated land but in the forest, which had become so much encroached upon and brought into cultivation as to interfere with the chase. From that time dates-the distinction between the qualified and unqualified sportsman, the former retaining hold on the wild food-supplying denizens of the British Islands by Forest Laws passing into Game Laws and Wild Birds' Protection Acts; and the latter in all time up to the present evading and breaking legislative enactments from a sense of right inherent in Anglo-Saxon blood to partake of the advantages bestowed by nature. The first implies the culture called sporting, and the latter the non-cultivation, termed poaching.
By the Forest Laws and Game Laws two kinds of sporting were made feasible, viz. stag-hunting, hare-hunting, greyhound coursing, and falconry - all diverting and food-supplying pastimes; foxhunting, otter-hunting, and other exploits by canine or engine-means in capturing and destroying vermin. The inference from these two opposites is that of sporting being ingrained in man, and as keenly appealing to one class of persons as to another without regard to sentimentalism. Game, therefore, must be protected and preserved, while vermin is also tolerated in co-relative degree, otherwise the life is taken out of sporting, and a national feature defunct.