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Ward's "Sportsman's Handbook" (S357: 1882)

Editor Charles H. Smith's Note: A brief review printed on page 146 of the 14 December 1882 number of Nature. To link directly to this page, connect with: http://people.wku.edu/charles.smith/wallace/S357.htm

The Sportsman's Handbook to Practical Collecting, Preserving, and Artistic Setting up of Trophies and Specimens. To which is added a Synoptical Guide to the Hunting Grounds of the World. By Rowland Ward, F.Z.S. Second Edition. With numerous additional Illustrations. (London: the Author, and Simpkin, Marshall, and Co., 1882).

     This very useful little book affords all requisite information for the traveller who wishes to preserve specimens of natural history, more especially large animals. The process of skinning quadrupeds and birds is so well explained, and so copiously illustrated by characteristic woodcuts, that the merest tyro would soon learn the art. The best modes of preserving reptiles, fishes, and insects are also given; and then follow instructions for the setting up of trophies, for mounting birds and fishes, and for dressing skins of large animals. A sketch of the chief hunting-fields of the world concludes the book, and in this part much useful information is given as to the more important animals characteristic of each region.

     The book is especially valuable in that it does not confuse the reader by a multiplicity of details, or leave him to choose between a variety of methods. The simplest and most effective appliances are alone recommended, and the great experience of the writer in the preservation and mounting of animals renders his advice on these points of the greatest value. The introductory chapter gives good outlines of the bodies and skeletons of the chief types of large mammalia, with the vital spots marked on each, so as to guide the sportsman in killing his game.

     We only notice a single point which appears to call for correction in a future edition. The use of the blow-pipe is recommended for killing small birds, and it is described as a tube of metal or wood about 3 feet long and 3/4-inch in diameter, through which pellets of clay may be propelled by the breath. Such an instrument would be of very little use, and we doubt whether any ordinary person could propel a ball of clay of this size with sufficient velocity to kill any bird at ten yards off. For using clay pellets, the bore should not exceed 3/8, or at utmost, 1/2-inch diameter, and the length had better be 6 or 8 feet than 3. The blow-pipes used in South America are usually 8 or 10 feet long, and under 1/2-inch bore, and with these, light arrows can be propelled so as to kill birds on lofty trees, while with clay pellets, humming-birds are easily killed at more moderate distances.

     The book is strongly and tastefully bound, and should be the companion of every sportsman and naturalist about to visit foreign countries.

A. R. W.

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