19 January 2013

Wild Pigeons - Immense Flocks by Kingston

From Our Own Correspondent.
Kingston, Wednesday, April 24, 1872.

Sportsmen in this county are having fine times just now shooting pigeons. Old hunters say they never knew these birds to be as numerous in this locality as they are this Spring. From every section come accounts of flocks of untold numbers being seen, while the stories told of the masses at their feeding and sleeping places are marvelous. In the neighborhood of the Big Indian and Shandaken are large woods where the birds roost at night, and hunters who have visited the place assert that the feathered denizens are millions in number. The weight of the masses which congregate upon the trees is sometimes so great that huge limbs break off and fall to the ground, carrying with them and crushing to death many of the birds. To hunt them it is only necessary to go into the woods after night-fall, and pointing a gun upward, blaze away; each discharge is sure to bring many fluttering victims to the ground. The roaring sound made by these immense flocks when they come to settle down at night or take their flight in the morning, resembles thunder, while the light of the sun is darkened as if a thick cloud floated between it and the earth.

From the Warwarsing section also comes astonishing stories on the same subject. Every day the flight of flocks innumerable are recorded, and the sportsmen are having fine times reveling among their feathered game. The chief rendezvous in that direction is said to be the headwaters of the Neversink, where a tract of wood four miles in width by fifteen in length, has been taken possession by them. It would be vain to estimate the numbers, but it can safely be said they reach millions. Of course these numerous flocks attract hunters not only from the neighborhood but also from a distance; and for the last week many have come from various points, more or less distant, to indulge in the sport. Among them are some who make a business of catching, killing and packing the birds for sale in the New-York and other markets.

The pigeons are creating intense excitement on the line of the R. & O. R.R. On Monday, from early in the morning until after 10 o'clock, it was one continual succession of flocks, numbering from one thousand upward. They flew so low that a good marksman could easily bring them down. In the towns of Olive and Shandaken every other man was out hunting; the ground was fairly covered with nets, while the stool-pigeons and flyers were working incessantly. Many thousands of pigeons were caught. One man had a wagon-load in three hauls, while many a good pigeon-hunter managed easily to entrap from 150 to 200 in one throw. Sunday, also, being a beautiful day, the hunters were out in full force, and the cracks of their guns in the woods sounded like the dropping fire of a skirmish line. [Our friend has been to war.] These pigeons are nesting above Big Indian, covering a tract of woods about fourteen miles square. They take a trip out for exercise morning and evening, (naturalists say they go to salt water and return every day,) thus giving the hunters an excellent chance at the game. I fear that in the eagerness of the hunt many sportsmen forget the State law which provides that no person shall kill, catch or discharge any firearms at any wild pigeon while on the nesting-ground, or break up or in any manner therein, or discharge any firearms at any distance within one-fourth of a mile of such nesting-place at any pigeon, under a penalty of $25 for each offense.

There is further provision against hunting on Sunday, under a penalty of $25, and our game constables would do well to look into the case.

A farmer in the neighborhood of the Big Indian nesting-place left two tons of hay standing out of doors. He did not watch it closely, and the pigeons carried away every spear of it to build nests with.

A family in Warwarsing were terribly scared the other day. While sitting quietly in their domicile the air suddenly became dark and filled with a loud, roaring noise. They imagined all sorts of things, including the day of judgment, but recovered when they found the source of their terror was an immense flock of pigeons which happened to pass over the house.

Correspondent. April 26, 1872. Wild pigeons. Immense flocks in the neighborhood of Kingston, N.Y. The feeding and nesting grounds. New York Times.