Some carried long bows and forked arrows; others harquebusses, muskets and Lochaber axes. They wore thin-soled shoes, tartan hose, knotted handkerchiefs, sky-blue caps, and garters fashioned from wreathes of straw. Thus equipped and adorned, they, the Irish nobility of Braemar, ventured into the Highland countries to hunt deer.
Numbering fourteen or fifteen hundred, these noble hunters would rise with the sun to consult on the particulars of the day’s enterprise. After deciding the best place to herd their quarry, they dispersed in all directions. Sixteenth-century Londoner John Taylor, ferryman by trade and chronicler by avocation, relates the details of one such hunting party. The participants were intrepid. No obstacle proves too formidable to overcome. They waded “up to their middles through bournes and rivers” in search of cover. Upon a signal from scouts charged with spotting game, the “tinchel,” or circle of sportsmen, would close in, driving the startled ruminants toward other hunters lying in wait, who greeted them with hundreds of snapping Irish greyhounds and scores of “arrows, dirks and daggers.” In less than two hours’ time “fourscore fat deer were slain” for the noble hunters “to make merry withal.”
If you wish to secure yourself a piece of savory humble pie, the recipe below, which also appears in Sala’s work, should, despite its fragmentary character, spare you any unwarranted culinary humiliation.