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noticed in a kind of pass amongst the rocks the tracks of deer so numerous, we concluded that this must be in the direct course from one feeding ground to another. Here we built up a kind of screen of rough stones and débris from the mountain side, as a kind of blind to hide behind in the event of deer passing that way; and though our whalers are expert in the pursuit of their own calling, they so entirely lack the ordinary requirements of sportsmen, in the true sense of the term, we fancied they might, on a pinch like the present, assist in a “ drive.” Having this object in view, the men were initiated, as far as circumstances would admit, into the mysteries of the art; and though they never had killed a deer before, they entered fully into the scheme. Some of them were posted in the pass, we amongst the number. The others were sent off, with instructions to avoid giving the herd their“ wind,” and, when at sufficient distance, they were to endeavour to approach within range, when, if the stags became alarmed, they would naturally move off in the direction of the pass and give us the chance we sought. Nothing could have been more successful than the plan, had the old stag towards whom the little herd seemed to run for protection on the first indication of alarm only taken the expected course. He did nothing of the kind; after a rapid survey of the besieged ground the
herd turned tail, literally, and made off in a direction we never contemplated. From our vantage ground we could see the whole proceeding with our glass, and we followed the dusky forms of the herd as they went away at a topping pace down the valley towards some special retreat they were known to frequent. As they go, the men bring their guns to their shoulders to try their luck at a long shot, but all to no purpose; the beasts escape without the loss of an antler tip, and pretty as the sight is to us who are only lookers on at this attempt, it is a disappointment we all equally deplore.
Our observations were not entirely without a purpose. During the chase of the deer we had time to look about us, and as our schooner lay in Widdie Fiord, a harbour on the northern shore, we could see that only a narrow neck of land divided us from Icy Fiord, the point for which shipwrecked sailors in this inhospitable land make, in the hopes of meeting with a ship to take them home; we endeavoured to trace a course from the northern shore, by which escape could be rendered more secure. These valleys, through whose windings the deer wander, may be part of a continuous system, which start from the fiord on the western coast, and lead down to the swampy lowlands where we found the herd. Speculating on these things we return to report our failure to the ship, and are content to assuage our hunger by appeals to the Australian meat tins, that in our estimation are certainly not composed of venison.
Sportsmen as keen as ourselves may, on reading of deer-stalking in Spitzbergen, be tempted so far in the hope of enjoyment such as we had in their pursuit. To these we would recommend the study of the newest chart of Spitzbergen, and advise them to adopt the precaution of carrying a pocket compass, whose use should be well understood, in the event of getting separated from their party ; a watch is of little use, and may, with prudence, be left on board.