Victorian Poacher Sparks Will o’ the Wisp Scare August 3, 2010Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern , trackback
About six weeks ago Beachcombing gave space to a Victorian gamekeeper’s description of a Will o’ the Wisp (or something similar) seen in a wood one night. Tonight Beachcombing gives, instead, an account from the other side of the tracks. A poacher whose tricks might explain several nineteenth-century accounts of floating lights through the trees.
One of the most ingenious and frequently successful methods I employed for bagging partridge was by the aid of an old setter bitch having a lantern tied to her neck. Being somewhat risky, I only employed it when other plans failed, and when I had a good notion of the keeper’s whereabouts. The lantern was made from an old salmon canister stripped of its sides, and contained a bit of candle. When the bitch was put off into seeds or stubble she would range quietly until she found the birds, then stand as stiffly as though done in marble. This showed me just where the covey lay, and as the light either dazzled or frightened the birds, it was not difficult to clap the net over them. It sometimes happened that others besides myself were watching this strange luminous light, and it was probably set down as some phenomenon of the night-side of nature.
Beachcombing has in his filing cabinet a short list of anomalous phenomenon involving gamekeepers and poachers. Can anyone volunteer any more? drbeachcombing[AT]yahoo[DOT]com