Monday, September 14, 2015

Foxes and other “Vermin” – Article XII - Rambling Recollections of Berriedale, Badbea, and Neighbourhood – Part A

Article XII written by Alexander Gunn aka A Native of Badbea was printed in the Northern Ensign on 19 February 1880 – Part A

fox_hunting foxes electric scotland
Fox Hunting in the Highlands Young Foxes with Vixen 


“Another prominent person in Berriedale was Alexander Fraser, the fox-hunter, who kept a pack of fox-hounds, for the purpose of exterminating a troublesome breed of foxes that existed on the estate, and whose depredations among the young lambs, and grouse were very extensive. There was a price set on the head of Mr Fox, and every man who produced a "bush" was paid 10s, and the same for the head of an Eagle. Smaller and inferior fry were paid for in proportion, till the premium dwindled down as low as 1s 6d for the head of a common crow."

"The shepherds were the only persons who were allowed to carry a gun. They were in the habit of erecting rude huts here and there, with the carcase of a sheep in close proximity, when all the birds of prey were expected to come and feed. These consisted of eagles, gleds, ravens, hawks, owls, magpies, and crows, not the least destructive of the tribe. I have seen the common crow pounce upon a newly dropped lamb, and in less time than I have taken to write this, pick the poor lambs eyes out, thereby, of course, causing its death.”
eagle and magpie peter trimming Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), Struy
Magpie squawking at a Bald Eagle. The magpie has a nest nearby. Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), at Struy
Raven at Clach Glas White Tailed sea eagle flies to its nest with fish. Rob Harrow
Raven at Clach Glas White Tailed Sea Eagle flies to its nest
Shooting platform near Dingwall Hoodies (or crows) with the sheep
A recent shooting platform at Dingwall Hoodies (or crows) with the sheep

My Comments:

G D Armour The Highland Fox Hunter
The Highland Fox Hunter By G D Armour

Charles St John published, at a similar time to Alexander Gunn, a nice description of Fox-Hunters in the Highlands:

"Of all ways of earning a livelihood, perhaps there is none that requires a greater degree of hardihood and acuteness than the trade of a vermin-killer in the Highlands - meaning by ‘vermin,' not magpies, crows, and ‘such small deer,’ but the stronger and wilder carnivorous natives of the mountain and forest - the enemies of the sheep and lambs. In the Highlands he is honoured with the title of "The Fox-hunter"…. When you first come upon him in some wild glen, you are somewhat startled at his appearance and bearing. He is generally a wiry active man, past middle age, slung round with pouches and belts for carrying the implements of his trade; he wears a huge cap of badger-skin, and carries an old-fashioned long-barrelled fowling-piece. At his feet follow two or three couple of strong gaunt slow-hounds, a brace of greyhounds, rough, and with a good dash of the lurcher, and a miscellaneous tail of terriers of every degree.’

Source: Sketches of the Wild Sports and Natural History of the Highlands, by Charles St John, 1878, Ch XXX Fox-Hunting in the Highlands

 19 2 1880 NE (Article XII) part a copy 1 1879, 17 July NE Original 1 copy B

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