29 June 2013

Hunting Wild Geese With Oxen

Anonymous. March 20, 1880. Ottawa Free Trader 40(31): 7.

Shooting wild geese was, in the early days of California, an important industry with those men who hunted for the market, and was very attractive to the few amateurs that indulged in the sport. In those days goose shooting was a profitable business for the hunter, and it was no uncommon thing for a skillful one to make from $100 to $150 a day, even when he obtained but for or five double shots. The system pursued by the market hunters in shooting the geese was as follows: A docile ox was generally selected by the hunter for his attendant. Then the geese were sought on the large open plains, where they fed all through the day, going to water morning and evening. The hunter marked a flock a half or three-quarters a mile away, and then put his ox in motion, allowing him to feed as he went along, in order to make the geese remain unconscious of the lurking figure that moved behind the ox's body. Old goose-hunters affirm that those oxen seem to take a delight in assisting the shooter to work up to his game. They would approach the geese in an indirect way, never going straight towards them, and apparently feeding as they went along. It is also asserted that the geese used actually to know, after being shot at once or twice, the hunters' oxen. As soon as the hunter got within shot he discharged both barrels, one at the geese on the ground and the other as they rose, bagging from thirty to sixty geese. He either rested the gun on the ox's back, or allowed him to pass on, and then raked them with his small cannon. The gun used was generally a four-bore, and never less than six, weighing from fourteen to sixteen pounds, and the charge was from eight to ten drachms of powder and two to three ounces of shot. There was at least half a dozen engaged in this business, whose wealth might be computed as from $40,000 to $50,000, altogether the result of goose hunting.