31 October 2013

Game-birds and Market Prices at Historic Brownville

The uniquely expressive valley of the Missouri River valley and its westward uplands hills and prairie were a faunal haven when Brownville, Nebraska was established in the mid-1850s. Once pioneer settlers created this residential place, thenceforth came a newspaper, the Nebraska Advertiser as started by Robert W. Furnas during the latter summer of 1856.

Its pages soon included terse but expressive details about local game birds, and their pursuit by various men with a loaded gun.

One of the earliest known instances reported was late May, 1858, when a prominent local sportsman gave some edible birds to the paper's editor:

"Mr. Wm. T. Den will accept our thanks for a present of a bountiful supply of local game — duck, plover and snipe of his own shooting. Mr. D. is sure shot, especially among feathered game. His delight is with gun and dog, and he never fails to bag game sufficient for his own bachelor table, and to divide with his friends. Long life to him."

There were wild geese and a vast myriad of other birds present along the wild environs of the river's flowing waters, sandbars, wooded islands, oxbow lakes and other associated habitats. The harvested take was indicated on more than one occasion when results were significant enough for the paper editor to scribe details. There was a variety in how particulars were presented.

An especially unique presentation was game as featured at one of the first banquets held in this river town, associated with a so-called "Christmas Hop" at the slight city of Brownsville.

"Do not forget the Christmas Ball, at the residence of A.M. Barnes, Esq., on Monday evening next. Mr. B. will spare no pains to get up an entertainment that will be agreeable to everybody accustomed to attend social balls. We are informed he is procuring an inexhaustible supply of quails, wild geese, wild turkeys, and everything else necessary to gratify the tastes of epicurians. He has also secured the service of a Brass and String Band, also a Melodeon. We suppose this will be the most brilliant affair of the kind that ever come off in the vicinity of Brownville."

Was it a grand event? The expressed plans indicate features that would result in a grand festivity for attendees.

There are so many unknown details, including the people that attended, and why. The pages of the newspaper may contribute further specifics as to reportable details and perhaps, based upon further focused research into census details or homestead particulars could convey a sense of local historic particulars and associated specifics of the people at this place.

As known newspaper reports continued, an upland bird species, was the subject of the next article, from a December 1860 issue of the Advertiser.

"That Eli Wilcox and John Coddington are some at bagging quail, and that Eli knows how to fix 'em up, we do assert; — Evidence that "quail fry" the other night."

It must have been an affair lively enough to get attention from the paper's reporter, whether by actual experience or from someone's comments.

Takable game was a repeated subject. A short article on "Game" on the same page of this paper's issue also mentioned quails, which along with "prairie chickens, rabbits, turkeys and deer, are now plenty, and fat as butter."

During the right time within these years, any epicurian or patron with money that wanted to feast on flesh of some wild bird only had to walk though the door, and take a seat at a table within a Brownville eatery and place an order for a delicious meal.

There were a variety of establishments ready to serve a suitable meal of bird meat.

"Those prairie chickens and quails, filled in with fresh bivalves, kept constantly in hand by Bob Morrison, at the Union Eating Saloon of this city as some, and no mistake, for all sich, a cup of good coffee; ham and eggs, etcetera, Bob's is a mighty good place." — January 1861

The plethora of wild game taken for eventual sale to consumers was once again indicated, in the next week's issued of the city paper.

"Western grub. So far as eating is concerned, the past few weeks, we have been enjoying the fat of the land. Venison, turkey, prairie chickens, quail, rabbits, fresh buffalo steaks and roasts, fried sassengers, and sich. Too good for poor folks." — January 1861

There were was an article issued as news to bring customers to the eateries, from February, 1861. It indicated there was "Food for the Hungry. Uncle Ben Whyte, long a favorite in this community and famous for getting up good things to eat," had opened a new eating establishment next door to the U.S. Land Office along a primary street within the river city. On the menu were chickens, quails, oysters, and ham and eggs.

A two-line advertisement was lower down the same column of newspaper print:

"For quail and prairie chicken - Uncle Bennys - We know the way!"

Another "eating house" was actively pursuing customers.

"Chapin is still running the City Eating House, in connection with Worthing's Saloon. He is prepared to accommodate day boarders, furnish single meals at all hours, and answer promptly to the call for oysters, pig's feet, ham and eggs, prairie chickens, quail, hot coffee, etc. etc."

Obviously wild game, including several sorts of birds, were readily available to be served, well cooked, and presented suitably upon a plate and provided to a patron at this Brownville business.

There are certainly other indicative facets of birdly facts among the pages — which would require an intensive, visual search of each and every page.

Search services indicate the next readily discovered item of interest is also from December, but in 1868.

Notes of occurrence for prominent fowl continued after the paper got a new owner, when J.L. Colhapp was the editor. Consider:

"Winter has only just set in this section, as wild geese were seen flying south yesterday." — December 1868

In January 1870, businessman J. Huddart wanted game, indicating a particular interest in prairie chickens, quail and wild turkeys. He would pay cash, according to his paid advertisement.

An alternative perspective of the diminutive quail was expressed in an October 1870 editorial, which conveyed the need to restrict "town boys" from hunting quail in the town suburbs. A few days before the paper was published, there was an outrage, with a resultant perspective indicated in an editorial:

"Monday three lights were broken out of the front windows of Tom McLaughlin, on the hill, and two of his children were standing in the door when the shot was fired, and heard the shot rattle against the side of the house."

The editor of the newspaper called for action to bring an end to this recklessness!

"This must be stopped even if it be necessary to arrest the boys, and put them through for it. Parents are responsible for the action of their minor children."

Sportmen at Brownsville

Mr. Den, as previously noted, was active in the shooting scene years later, and in 1871, because of his personal interest as well as his business, which sold supplies important to the fraternity. A spring event was noted on the page of the paper usually devoted to local events.

"A grand pigeon shooting match will take place at the Fair ground, at Brownville on Friday afternoon, the 28th inst., the winner of the match to receive a Parker's celebrated breach loading shot gun, worth $75.00, the pigeon will be shot at 21 yards rise from the trap and 80 yards boundary. All sportsmen are invited to participate, as a full supply of birds will be on the ground." — April 1871

Based upon the given details, it seems that domestic pigeons were to be the targets. The only other option would be wild pigeons, which may not have been readily available at this place, and at this time.

Interest in shooting sports and its camaraderie, continued to occur and the men soon formed an association, according to a blurb on page 3 of the Advertiser.

"Notice to Sportsmen. That a Brownville hunting club has been organized and that a meeting will be held at the store of W.T. Den on Saturday evening the 9th inst., for the purpose of adopting a constitution and by-laws to govern said club. All sportsmen are invited to attend and become members of said club. By order of, Captain." — December 1871

Spring shooting was prevalent these years, and another May report indicated the variety of Missouri Valley species in 1872.

"A good day's shooting was that of Henry Baker and Charley Whitman, on Thursday last; they bagged near a hundred birds, such as plover, snipe, curlew and duck." — May, 1872

The terse identifications convey such a variety. The plover may have been Killdeer or Upland Plover or any of several species; snipe could have been the Wilson's Snipe or maybe even any one of many sorts of sandpiper; curlew seem to indicate the Long-billed Curlew, put perhaps it was a godwit; and as for the variety of duck, well that could represent at least a dozen species.

Some of the earliest records of prices for game were issued during the first months of 1875 at Brownville, Nebraska. It was an era when game could still be shot and taken at any time, based upon state game laws.

This included harvesting wildbirds for what was an active game market along the Missouri River valley.

A perspective article was published in the January 13, 1876 issue of the Nebraska Advertiser on the "Game Law of Nebraska" considered the situation, and included this sentence of particular interest: "The farmers of the State probably netted from $20,000 to $30,000 last winter from the sale of prairie chickens," as known from the months prior to January, 1874.

There was obviously an active profitable market and an unknown number of shootists made money from selling taken prairie chickens to brokers or market reps for shipment beyond the confines of the state of Nebraska. Some indications of the market value for these game birds were denoted in the "Market Reports" section among the local news columns of the Nebraska Advertiser.

Prairie chickens and quail were the only two bird species available, and list in the "Market Reports" section, along with other items such as apples, flour, crop commodities, potatoes, eggs, domestic dressed turkeys and chickens, lard and dressed hogs. As a comparison, a few items were given for the representative, and very active Chicago market.

The season's news associated with game birds started in the January 14th issue of the Nebraska Advertiser, among the other newsy items in the Local Matters was the indication that: "Prairie chickens plentiful in market." Subsequent details provide actual prices and indicate that they were mostly constant for a two-month period. Prairie chickens started at $1 per dozen, and then remained at $1 to 1.50 per dozen. Quail were consistently offered at 60 cents per dozen.

Market Item Date Prairie Chickens
(Greater Prairie Chicken)
Quails
(Northern Bobwhite)
01/20/1875 $ 1.00 per dozen 0.60 cents per dozen
01/27/1875 $ 1.00 @ 1.50 per dozen 0.60
For comparison, on March 2nd at Omaha, further north along the Missouri River, prairie chickens were selling at $1.75, apparently for a dozen, and quails were being sold for $1.
02/03/1875 $ 1.00 @ 1.50 0.60
02/10/1875 $ 1.00 @ 1.50 0.60
02/24/1875 $ 1.00 @ 1.50 0.60
03/10/1875 $ 1.00 @ 1.50 0.60
03/17/1875 $ 1.00 @ 1.50 0.60

The March 24th market report did not list any game items.

During the weeks while these prices were given, there were vast flocks of migratory fowl moving northward along the Missouri River. There were wild geese. Wild ducks were prevalent.

This issue on the 24th for this newspaper said the wild geese and ducks were becoming plentiful on the area rivers and ponds.

In late March, the "Local Matters" column mentioned:

"Many of the ungodly Nimrods of this city went hunting ducks and geese last Sunday. Their guns and dogs seemed to work just as well as if it had been the middle of the week, but they will get hell for it hereafter, however, unless we have been misinformed about the matter." — April 1

In mid-April, wild geese were numerous, and there were "tem million cranes" on a river sandbar every night east of Hillsdale which was a place along the river's edge, and where the details referred to a river sandbar near this place, just a couple of miles north of the southern boundary of Nemaha county.

With the multitudes of many sorts of different birds shot during the migrational seasons, there is no apparent reason why geese and ducks were not available at a market at a local town. Yet, there was no apparent details indicated on the pages of the Advertiser.

Later in the year, there was an indication of market interest in Nemaha County, at Sheridan, according to the "Sheridan Short-stops" column, also in the Nebraska Advertiser in November. It said: "There will be a market at Sheridan for prairie chickens, quails, &c., as soon as the weather is cold enough to ship them."

Its an indication that local birds were being purchased for shipment to other, likely eastern, markets.

An extent of readily available prairie chickens, especially, was indicative for the mid-1870s among the Missouri River valley, which at this time must have had a greater prevalence of grassland habitat so essential for these prairie-land birds.

This unique historic perspective is indicative of another distinct aspect of the ornithology for Nebraska, and which has not been previously considered!

Plant Seeds From Hummel Park Going to China

By Dr. David M. Sutherland, professor emeritus, University of Nebraska at Omaha

Dr. Mary Barkworth, a plant systematist at Utah State University, recently put out a call in a herbarium listserve for mature grains of the grass Oryzopsis racemosa, recently moved by some American agrostologists into the genus Patis. She was requesting this material, not for her own research, but for a Dr. Chen, in China, who is working on the molecular systematics of this and related genera. I have been retired for a few years, but still keep an interest in grasses, even giving an occasional guest lecture to the UNO flora class, and I recalled from long-ago flora field trips, that there were several large colonies of this uncommon grass on the south slope of the north ridge at Hummel Park, in the Ponca Hills region of northern Omaha. On an afternoon jaunt with Jim Ducey in mid-October, we looked to see whether the grass was still there and found it in abundance, but the plants were very mature, and nearly all the grains of this season had dropped. After inspecting a fairly large number of inflorescences we discovered that a very few bracts were still holding the large black grains, and, in a period of about a half-hour, we collected exactly 15 grains, the minimum number needed by the Chinese scientist. Later that afternoon, they were packed them up in a small plastic bag in a padded envelope and sent to Dr. Barkworth, who will know the proper procedure for mailing them safely to China.

28 October 2013

Coot Shooting at Carter Lake

Email sent October 28, 2013 to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the chief of police of the City of Carter Lake.

This is to report an illegal shooting of a protected migratory bird at Carter Lake. I am asking that proper enforcement action be taken to find the culprit and to ensure this does not occur again. And to make certain that public safety is not threatened at Levi Carter Park.

The shooting of an American Coot occurred Sunday, October 27th at about 11 a.m. During a morning bird survey, while counting waterfowl from the south side of the lake from a public place within the confines of the City of Carter Lake, I noticed an American Coot acting odd in the water. Watching it through a spotting scope, it was seen struggling for some reason. It could not fly.

Suddenly the other fowl moved away towards the north as if trying to escape from a threat. Continuing to watch closely, there were two splashes into the water nearby the coot, apparently from some shot projectile. There was no report heard. It could not have been a pellet gun, as the pellets would not have been of a size sufficient to penetrate the birds' feathers, nor to cause the splashes observed.

Looking at the houses just to the south of where the coot about a football field's distance, there was no one observed during two or three close looks.

The coot was struck at least two more times and killed. Its carcass remained floating on the lake water.

This event occurred directly south of Levi Carter Park, so it is likely that if a bullet errantly bounced off the water, it could end up within the City of Omaha park. This would be an obvious hazard to people along the lake shore, such as anyone fishing or bird watching.

A closer drive-by look was done at the houses where the shots originated, but no firearm activity was observed. The few houses where the shot appeared to originate are at the lake shore, at 6th Avenue or 7th Avenue in the City of Carter Lake.

An attempt to report this activity to the CLake police was not successful as there was no one at the agency headquarters, immediately after leaving the scene and bicycling to city hall.

Request for Details on Habitat Work at Omaha Park

This email was sent October 25, 2013 to Omaha mayor Jean Stothert and Franklin Thompson, of the Omaha city council.

After conversations with a few people well aware of One Pacific Place Park, there is no clear indication of what is going to happen at this park. Neighbors and others want a park where the "natural features" such as the wetland feature will be maintained in a manner which conforms with what was originally intended. The prairie flora should reflect native Nebraska flora.

This project has already started, as the wetland area vegetation has already been removed and mowed to a barren condition in mid-September. This work, by the way, destroyed habitat which could have been used by wild birds, especially during the autumn migration.

Currently, there are marker flags around the wetland area, which are another obvious sign that the project is underway.

The following are items of interest and concern associated with the changes expected to occur at this distinct park.

1. Why was the vegetation cleared from the wetland area, weeks prior to any further work? one comment heard was that the park was "scalped"; with suitable planning and consideration, the work might have been compressed into a short time-frame of a week or two?
2. What will be the extent of any earth-moving work; does the basin need reworking to provide a suitable slope from west to east to facilitate the flow of water? When would this occur?
3. Will there be any reseeding necessary, and if so what particular species will be reseeded, and when might this occur? There is a preference to ensure that only species native to Nebraska be established.
4. How will the prairie vegetation be maintained; will it be mowed annually or burned occasionally? There are local experts who know how to maintain a vibrant prairie environment who could easily be consulted on what is necessary to ensure a quality prairie-like setting that requires minimal maintenance.
5. Is the pending work based upon the master plan for the park? Will the results conform with the original master plan for the park as developed in the late 1990s, or has this changed?
6. What are the plans for providing water to the wetland? What will be the expense associated with pumping water into the basin? Is there an expected period of time when water will be pumped, and does this pumping require a state permit for any well?
7. How has Omaha Parks Recreation and Public Property conveyed to the public the work expected to occur at this park?
8. Where can Omaha citizens, neighbors and park fans learn more the work expected to occur at One Pacific Place Park, which is a property owned by city residents and which should be managed in a manner interested citizens deem suitable for the greater public good?
9. Why has it required at least a half-dozen phone-calls over a three week period, with no call-back or email response, to try to learn more about what is going to happen at this park?
10. How can interested citizens actively participate in improving this park? This was not achieved through the recent public meeting. Perhaps a neighborhood group could host a planning meeting where there could be a discussion of plans and agreement on how to move ahead in a positive manner, based upon community collaboration, rather than a seemingly, isolative bureaucratic decision?

There is, at this time, no clear indication of the expected changes at this park, and the timeframe for any work.

This park is a asset to the neighborhood, and any pending changes can only be improved by an open discussion of what is going to occur, and how to ensure publicly-appreciated values for the long term.

24 October 2013

Season's Finale for Chimney Swifts in East Omaha

The sky-scape above eastern Omaha which had been the haven for so many Chimney Swifts when temperatures were warm and soothing, is now barren of these birds as the cold season descends upon the metropolis. The last of this years Chimney Swifts has left, migrating — as they do every year — to the south where bugs abound and are plentiful for capture as a days meal after their time up north.

This autumn season conveyed significantly different situations derived from numerous observations of the bugeaters about the eastern extent of the river city. Places were they had previously occurred in many hundreds were not even used as a nights' haven this year. Other chimneys, while known to provide a nightly roost, had a greater extent of use and on an extended basis than heretofore determined.

There is a variety of details to consider for the swift activity associated with multiple dates of observations from the first of September, through the last evening when a single swift dropped into the chimney of a Benson building. Include the records kept for previous years, and the opportunity for comparison expands.

Considering significant details from autumn at Omaha, an obvious indication is that many of the places where more than one thousand swifts occurred in 2012, were not the sites used by these birds this season. Specific places were visited on the same calendar date, with an intent to determine comparisons. In 2012, at more than one place and on more than one date, there were more than a thousand swifts, yet in 2013, none were observed at two significant chimneys, prominently in the Blackstone District as well as the Izard Industrial Zone with its two predominant, and large chimneys.

None of the autumnal counts this season had a count of more than one thousand swifts. The routine associated with observing these birds was similar to what has been done during past years to document their occurrence. Former haunts were barren, though it was apparent that the features of the chimneys had not been obviously changed. There was especially, a dearth of swifts in the morning, which is a completely suitable time for watching the birds depart from their overnight roost.

Significant this autumn, were two great chimneys. One was a church just east of the Walnut Hill Reservoir Park, where after being assaulted by an irate motorist, and eyed with skepticism by a nearby resident, the evening's observation spot at a park place, there were hundreds of swifts observed descending into their haven for the night. Also, and not to be ignored, there was a wonderful bunch of Common Nighthawks going southward above the scene. Other chimneys nearby also were used to a lesser extent.

Along Dodge Street in the south Dundee area, an apartment house with a big chimney was a haven as the season descended. More than 500 occurred one evening, and eventually the numbers of birds declined, with fewer numbers seen during the evening, until they were gone. There were only a few swifts present in Dundee, but upon revising the focus of attention, many more were prevalent in the Benson neighborhood.

Observations along the alley south of the main street of Benson ended the season. There were more than 125 on two evenings, in mid-October. The number of swifts then drastically declined to a single swift into a big structure at the east end of the business district.

Here was where where the last swift of the season, a sole bird, dropped into a chimney haven in the evening. This was not a new late date of occurrence, but was one of the latest dates based upon the many known days when the mighty bugeaters have been known to be present within Douglas County.

There were 44 dates when swift activity was personally observed during this autumn season. Observations from other area birders, including Win Finegan a resident in Dundee, and from NEBirds, were also helpful as the contributions helped to convey a broader perspective.

This is the season's summary, as determined for September and October, 2013.

Date Carter Lake District Fonten- elle Park District Down- town Omaha District Midtown Omaha District Bemis Park District Mercer District Cathe- dral District Izard District Carth- age District Saddle Creek District Dundee District Memor- ial Park District Benson District Rock- brook District
09/02 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 105 - - - - - - - -
09/03 - - - - 55 - - - - - - - - 4 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/04 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 6 - - - -
09/05 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 12 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/07 - - - - 140 - - - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/08 - - - - 137 - - - - - - - - 3 4 - - - - - - - - - -
09/10 - - - - - - 110 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/11 - - - - 20 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/13 15 - - - - - - - - - - - - 3 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/14 - - - - 210 - - - - - - - - 10 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/15 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 185 - - - - - -
09/16 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 81 - - - - - - - -
09/17 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/18 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 9 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/19 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 12 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/20 - - - - 285 100 137 12 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/21 25 - - - - 110 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/22 30 - - - - - - - - 54 - - 9 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/24 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 17 2 - - - - - - - - - -
09/26 - - - - 25 - - - - - - - - 72 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/27 - - - - - - - - - - - - 7 - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/28 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 505 - - - - - -
09/29 28 9 - - - - 155 - - - - 157 - - - - - - - - - - - -
09/30 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 140 - - - - - -
10/01 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 33 - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/02 - - - - - - - - 306 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/03 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 53 - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/04 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 62 - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/05 - - - - 85 - - - - - - - - 75 - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/06 - - - - - - 135 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/07 15 - - - - - - - - - - - - 136 4 - - - - - - - - - -
10/08 - - - - 65 - - 12 - - - - 124 - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/09 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 148 - - - - - - - - - - 6
10/10 - - - - - - - - - - 15 - - 174 - - - - 11 - - - - - -
10/11 - - - - 60 - - - - - - - - 101 7 - - - - - - - - - -
10/12 - - - - 145 - - - - 0 - - 12 - - - - - - - - - - - -
10/13 2 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 29 - - - - - -
10/14 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 2 - - 4 1 - - - -
10/15 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 2 - - - - - - - - - -
10/16 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 4 - - - - - -
10/17 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 7 - - - - - -
10/18 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 147 - -
10/19 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 132 - -
10/20 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 1 - -

The most significant negative event for this autumn season was the loss of the former swift haven at Central Presbyterian Church, along Leavenworth street. It was a sad day when this chimney of former importance was indifferently capped by ignorant property owners.

Details associated with the specific counts have intentionally not been included to preclude any discovery of roost sites which might result in efforts to block chimney access for the swifts.

Survey results from autumn 2013 can be compared to findings from previous years, and which would further indicate roost preferences by these birds during the autumn at Omaha.

There was nothing done at Omaha this year which might be beneficial to providing the essentials for the roosting requirements of the Chimney Swift.

The decline in of places essential for these birds continues. It is slight every year, but overall and continually there are fewer havens.

Wild Pigeons as Targets at Shooting Tournaments

During 1881 to 1884, seemingly innumerable wild pigeons provided the targets for marksmen to prove their shooting prowess at competitive tournaments. Birds were captured beneath nets, placed within the confines of wooden crates and transported to the tourney locale. Upon sudden release from their confines, the man with a gun with the best target perception to accurately blast the greatest number won a prize of some sort, along with bragging rights.

Following the great Coney Island tournament, and the backlash from the deaths of so many wild pigeons, as well as a dearth of the wild pigeons, it became obvious to some that there was a need for a substitute sort of target. The effort made the news just a few weeks after the New Jersey event.

"As the difficulty of obtaining wild pigeons for the trap is increasing from year to year, Yankee inventiveness supplies the want with sundry substitutes, more or less practical in trap shooting. With clay pigeons, smoke target balls, gyro pigeons, detonating bats, sparrows, blackbirds and other live proxies, it would seem that the average shooter could find ample use for the gun without using pigeons for his sport." — August, 1881

The following are some examples of known instances when wild pigeons were still being used as targets at tournaments at various cities in the United States. There may have been additional examples in the newspapers of the era, but the report may have only referred to pigeons, which may have referred to the tame rock pigeon, so only those pertinent to the wild pigeon, i.e., Passenger Pigeon, are conveyed in this sample of reports.

1881

Chicago, August 7. — The tournament of the Illinois state sportsmens' association closed yesterday after a fine day's shoot. The free-for-all four teams shoot was won by the Rock City gun club, of Tennessee, by a score of 39 out of a possible 40. Eight thousand wild pigeons were killed during the tournament. — August
Five hundred wild pigeons were shipped by express a few days ago from St. Louis to Canton, Ohio, where a shooting match is to be held this week. In shipping them the birds were packed so closely that they could hardly move, and they had neither food nor water on the way. When they reached Canton 225 dead birds were taken out of the boxes, and the rest, gasping for water, were too weak to stand. They were, however removed to coops in order to be prepared for the match. And big, double fisted men, with alleged souls in their bodies, call this "Sport." — August

1882

The next year started out with an article indicting another option for shootists.

Whether for humanity's sake or for private gain, we are unable to say which, some inventive mind has recently put upon the market a small piece of earthen ware calculated to take the place of live pigeons at shooting matches. It is round, about 12 inches in circumference concave, and is shaped that when thrown into the air from a "trap" it will sail off 50 or 60 yards as gracefully as a bird, its zig-zag motion making it quite difficult to "draw a bead" upon; it is very light and brittle and when hit will fly into fragments. The more humane "shootists" all over the country, are adopting these "clay pigeons," and we trust the day is not far distant when the cruel practice of shooting birds from traps will be discontinued by all sportsmen. The inventor of the "clay pigeons" should have a national medal. — January

They were readily accepted for use, with many reports indicating the soon came into common use. The use of wild pigeons did, however, continue.

Some of the members of the Council Bluffs Sportsman's Gun Club has a little pigeon shooting Saturday afternoon. Some fine wild pigeons had been procured for the event and an interesting time was had. ... — June
The twenty-fourth annual convention of the New York State Association for the Protection of Fish and Game will be held at Niagara Falls this year, beginning June 12, and continuing through the week. Numerous contests for prizes in pigeon-shooting, rifle practice and fly casting have been arranged. This extensive tournament will be held under the auspices of the Niagara Falls Shooting Club upon grounds on the margin of the river, in view of the rapids and the islands. The president announces that 15,000 wild pigeons, the best he has ever seen at a meeting of the association, are now on the grounds. — June

1883

Opposition to the use of live birds as targets continued to increase. In the spring, news came that proactive efforts were underway to address the problem by some people concerned with the practice. There was also political intrigue involved.

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to animals, of Cincinnati, recently caused the arrest of Charles Eckert, a member of the club, for shooting live pigeons from the trap. A great interest has been felt in the result of the trial, as the sportsmen of that city had decided to give a grand tournament there as soon as the birds could be procured. Considerable indignation is felt by the sportsmen of Cincinnati and Covington, Ky., against the Ligowsky Clay Pigeon Company, which, it is claimed, is using all its influence, and money as well, towards prosecuting trap shooters, and the breaking up of all shooting of live pigeons from traps. All sorts of threats are made. One is the effect that they will all sign a petition requesting sportsmen not to use the clay pigeon, and an agreement not to shoot them themselves, nor allow them to be shot on the club grounds. They also claim that the Ligowsky Company is entirely too much of a monopoly, and ask too much for their clay imitations. the inventor of the clay pigeon and trap says, however, that the company has nothing to do with the prosecution of pigeon shooting in England or this country. The attorneys for the defense filed a demurrer to the information, alleging that the acts charged, if committed, constituted no offense against the statute of Ohio. This demurrer was argued and submitted to Judge Warren Higley, before whom the case comes for trial. The demurrer was overruled, and a trial will soon be had upon the merits of the case. The result will be looked for by all sportsmen with great interest. — April
The final arrangements for the fourth annual tournament of the Kansas Sportsmen's Association have been completed. It will be held at Forest Park, Ottawa, May 29th to June 3d, under the auspices of the Ottawa Gun club. Five thousand wild pigeons will be furnished by W.W. Judy, of St. Louis. The tournament is open to the world. Large purses for prizes are being offered and negotiations are now pending for a great match between Bogardus and Erb to take place at this tournament. — May

From Paola, Kan., according to a news report, once the Kansas Sportsmen's association at Ottawa elected new officers, their next matter of business was to arrange a shooting contest.

The club expects to give a pigeon tournament, open to the gunners of Kansas and Missouri, about the 4th of July. It will be under the management of L.J. Perry, the secretary of the State association. A general invitation is extended to all who enjoy trap shooting to be present. Three thousand wild pigeons will be provided and the prizes will be liberal, and there will be no rebate. — June

Despite the litigation in the local court of Cincinnatti, pigeon shooting continued unabated in the vicinity.

A national pigeon shooting contest commences to-day at Cincinnati, and 5,000 wild pigeons are cooped for the event, which is to last four days. The champion shooting clubs of Illinois and Tennessee are on hand. — June

A Texas match was using a variety of targets.

A grand shooting tournament will be given by Major Wheadon, proprietor of the Park hotel, at Lampasas, Texas, commencing July 17, and lasting five days. Four thousand wild pigeons, together with clay pigeons and glass balls, will make this the finest tournament ever held in Texas. All lovers of the sport are cordially invited to be present. The mammoth hotel being just completed, the genial proprietor can furnish full accommodations for all who attend the tournament. — July

A second report mentioned when the shipment of birds was underway.

Hearne, July 13. — Mr. Otto Erichson passed through this place this morning with fifty-four coops of wild pigeons for the shooting tournament at Lampasas on the 17th of this month. the birds were shipped from Missouri.

Though they came from Missouri, it is not clear whether they originated within the state, though they may have come from the known roost in Oregon county.

Chicago, July 13. — The annual meeting and pigeon tournament of the Illinois State Sportsmen's association will be held here from July 24 to 28. There are 11,000 wild pigeons on hand, and $5,000 in prizes will be contended for. The chief events to be contested for are a $1,000 diamond badge representing the individual championship of the state and a club championship for teams of four.

1884

A lack of wild pigeons was first reported in the spring within a region where uncountable numbers had once been present, and provided a easily available source for taking what was needed.

Buffalo, April 27. — The prospect for securing live pigeons by the thousand for the state shoot are not so promising as they were a few weeks ago. In the hope that birds would fly further east the Audubon club's agent left them on the Wisconsin border. Now they have flown away, to where no one knows. Though trappers have looked for them for a week or more they have so far failed to find any pigeons.

The following report was from Washington, D.C., and indicates that a clay-pigeons as targets were being prominently used at some of the national tournaments.

Mr. Edward L. Mills, president of the Capital City Gun Club, and Mr. Wm. Wagner, leave this afternoon for Knoxville, Tenn. to participate in the five days' clay-pigeon shooting tournament to be held in that city May 20th to 25th inclusive. Thence they go to Chicago to meet Messrs. McKelden, Smith and Bailey, the other three members of the team to represent the club in the international clay-pigeon shooting tournament to be held in that city May 26th to 31st inclusive. From there, Messrs. Mills and Wagner go to Louisville, Ky., to compete in the match at wild live pigeons for the championship of America and purse of $5,000. Mr. Mills has been selected to represent the club as a delegate to the convention to be held at Chicago for the formation of a national association of sportsmen. — May

Fewer birds were being used as it was obviously problematic to find a sufficient number for a match, ranging from a few hundred to thousands, as indicated by this report from the west coast.

The trap-shooters of California have found much difficulty in procuring pigeons for their matches and often have envied their friends in the East, who were able at certain seasons to obtain an apparently unlimited supply of wild birds for trap purposes. It would seem from the following remarks of the American Field that the Eastern sportsmen are also in trouble: "We publish a communication from D.G. Cunningham, the Secretary of the Illinois State Sportsmen's Association, stating that it has been decided to postpone the convention and tournament of the association, in consequence of the impossibility of procuring birds. For the same reason, the Missouri State Sportsman's Association has postponed its convention and tournament. We are almost daily in receipt of letters asking where wild pigeons can be obtained, which we are not able to answer, as we do not know of any which can be bought. About two thousand birds altogether have come into the Chicago market, in parcels of from two to six dozen at a time, and were immediately bought up for the use of the local clubs. The dealers in pigeons seem to be in entire ignorance of where the wild birds will nest, and the outlook therefore is anything but promising. — May

Some tournament planners had no difficulties, however, in procuring live targets which included included pigeons, along with an alternative. Blackbirds were indicated as an alternative for the Texas tournament, to be held at Fort Worth.

The state shoot which will commence in this city on the 24th of June promises to be the great sporting event of the season, and will attract many visitors to the city. The Fort Worth gun club is sparing no trouble or expense to make the shoot the most successful one ever held in the Southwest. They have four men procuring pigeons and trapping blackbirds. Several thousand birds are already in the city and as many more are yet to come. — May

A final report from this year is from Oklahoma, and indicates that the birds were spending the winter season in nearby Arkansas.

The Vinita Gun Club have secured 3000 wild pigeons and will have a grand shoot on the 3rd, 4th and 5th of December. Being brought from Arkansas, only about forty miles distant, the birds will be stronger flyers than are usually provided and some excellent sport is assured.

Necessity would require that tournament planners find suitable alternatives to wild pigeons. These birds were becoming harder to procure in the numbers necessary for a particular time and place associated with a planned event. Shootists were among the first to deal with the changes wrought by endless eras of pigeon trapping and shooting. Others would also eventually realize obvious changes in the situation(s) associated with the Passenger Pigeon.

In subsequent years, there would be an increased used of clay pigeons, though live pigeons were still used, especially at tournaments in Texas and California.

The Game Birds of Long Island

By Nicholas Pike. Delivered before the New York State Association of Sportsmen at their Twenty-third Annual convention, Coney Island, N.Y., June 20, 1881.

The occasion that has called us together, is one of momentous interest not only to us individually, but to the people at large. Our main object and primary aim is to examine into, and recommend the best measure for the preservation of the game of our island, that of late years has been so ruthlessly destroyed; and if some adequate check is not put upon this wanton and reckless destruction, the time is not far distant when many species at least will be exterminated. Our efforts to protect our game birds from extermination by securing the enactment of proper, concise and stringent laws to that end, will subserve more than one purpose; not only will it protect our game from needless destruction, and allow their decimated ranks to recuperate by natural causes, so that the true sportsman may in the near future be enabled to find in plenty what he now so often seeks in vain, but it will do far more practical good in its benefits to the agriculturist, by the protection such laws will afford against the heartless and wanton destruction of the smaller birds, so many of which, living more or less upon insect life, keep in check the ravages of these silent and voracious pests.

All tribes of animal life were created to subsist upon some other, thus to keep in check their otherwise too rapid increase; this is seen even from the highest form of animal to the lowest form of insect life. No insect so minute but some other tribe of insects are their foes, and subsist upon them, another tribe on them, and on so ad infinitum. Were it not for this wise provision of nature, the earth would be over-run with insect life. It is here that the usefulness and necessity of birds are most apparent. It is well known to all who have made the subject a study, how much the agriculturist is indebted to the feathered tribe for the good they subserve by keeping in check the ravages of insects. Why, a single pair of insectivorous birds no larger than a common sparrow, will destroy more obnoxious insects in a day than any man. Have you ever stood and watched our little nuthatch, titmouse or creeper, hopping from twig to twig, prying into every crevice, with its sharp and pointed bill picking out even the minutest egg of insect life, examining every leaf and twig and seizing its insect prey with amazing dexterity; restless, ever on the move, doing a better day's work for the farmer and fruit grower than the ablest man he hires; and yet these little benefactors to man are ruthlessly shot down by any ignorant lad who is enabled to gain the use of a rusty gun. I would not so desecrate the name as to call him a sportsman, this merciless destroyer, who kills at random everything that is clothed with feathers, killing perhaps in one day's shooting the authors of more substantial good to the country at large; more good in many places, than he himself ever confers upon his country, society or himself.

As an illustration of the inestimable value of birds in destroying insect life, a better perhaps could not be offered than that of the introduced European sparrow. Most of you will doubtless remember, before the introduction of these birds, that the maple trees in our streets were infested by a measure worm, the larvae of a delicate white moth — the Ennomos subsignaria; these worms were so exceedingly numerous and annoying that no one could pass under any trees on which they were without having them dangling in their face or attaching themselves to some part of the clothing; besides this they stripped these beautiful trees of every vestige of verdure, in many cases destroying them; yet as soon as the noisy and pugnacious house sparrow was introduced, so rapidly were they exterminated that now not a single one can be found on any of our shade trees.

It is true that many birds are very destructive to the agricultural interests, these are chiefly confined to the gramnivorous or seed eating birds, though a few omnivorous ones do their share of destruction. Foremost of those most destructive is the well-known boblink — Dolichoux oryzivorous; the rice or reed bird of the Southern States. In the North they commit considerable havoc in the cornfields, and in the South the spring wheat and barley, and later the rice fields suffer immeasurably by this depredator.

Another great enemy to our cornfields is the red-winged starling or swamp blackbird — Aglaius phoeniceus. So well known is his character that in many districts he is called the com or maize thief. But whilst a few species are enemies to the farmer, by far the larger portion are his friends.

It is chiefly to the insectivorous birds that we must look for protection from the depredations of insects, and by reason of the incalculable blessing they are to the agriculturist, and the rich and varied melody nature has endowed so many of the species with, they well deserve our fostering care. None of the species belonging to the following families or genera should ever be wantonly destroyed:

None of the Sialia or bluebirds, none of the Sylviadae or warblers, a large family of strictly insectivorous birds; none of the Parianae or titmice, or the Certhidae or creepers; none of the Vireos or greenlets, or the Sittinae or nuthatch; none of the Tyranninae or fly-catchers, or the Troglodytes, wrens; none of the Picidae or woodpeckers; none of the Caprimulgidae or night hawks, and none of the Hirundinidae or swallows.

All the species belonging to these groups are highly beneficial to man, and include the main body of our strictly insectivorous birds.

Quite a number of families of omnivorous birds are equally worthy of our protection, in recompense for the good they conserve in keeping in check insect life, without taking into consideration their melody. The chief are to be found in families: Merulidae — Thrushes; Icterinae — Hairynests and Tanagrinae —Tanagers.

Now, by well-defined protective laws such, as your Association desire to have enacted, you would not only restore the decimated game, but also be the means of protecting our useful birds from wanton destruction. From a long residence in your midst, and intimate acquaintance with the western section of our Island, I am fully aware how, not only our game has been thinned out, but also our small birds. The time was, when it was the boast of the Long Islander that his favored Island was frequented by a larger number of species of the feathered tribe than any locality in our wide domain; for, independent of the large number of species, either resident here or always to be found during some part of the year, its position being so favorable, it was at times visited by many species whose natural home was the Gulf States or the Atlantic sea-board; besides this, species belonging to the inhospitable regions of the far North often found their way to our more congenial shores; these circumstances always rendered the Fauna of Long Island, particularly favored as to birds. But how is it now? Large tracts hitherto melodious with the song of birds are now comparatively silent. Every half-grown boy who can either buy, beg, borrow or steal a gun, new or old, bright or rusty, musket or fowling-piece, rushes out to the fields, woods. or shore, and pops away regardless of the consequences, driving away what he fails to kill. Such marauders should be summarily dealt with, through the agency of stringent laws, and no one individual, or body of men, are and should be more interested in the faithful carrying out of those protective laws than the real sportsmen of the country.

Nor is all the wanton destruction of birds to be laid at the floor of the youth of our cities; for it is a well known fact that there are men living along our sea-coast who make it a practice during the breeding season of robbing the nests of our Grallatorial or Wading Birds, for the pittance they receive from the sale of the eggs thus gathered. By this wanton destruction the Clapper Rail or Mud Hen — Rallus crepitans, has particularly suffered; cases are known where a single egg hunter has taken 100 doz. eggs of this bird in a single day; this is an unusual number, and occurred where the birds were very numerous.

The robbing of bird's nests prevails to a great extent right in our midst, in our own beautiful Park, within whose precincts we would think the feathered tribe would be secure; the practice of robbing the birds of their eggs is alarmingly on the increase, despite the printed rules and regulations posted on every hand. Were a few examples made of these despoilers, no doubt it would exert a salutary influence in deterring others from committing like offense.

But a few years ago how different were our woods and fields to what they are now. How well do I remember when the western end of our Island during the vernal season, was musical with countless songsters, and our coast in the proper season prolific with Snipe, Fern, Ducks and other waterfowl. When the shrill cry of the beautiful Blue Jay — Cyanurus cristatus, could be heard in every wood. When our well known friend the Quail — Ortyx virginianus, was everywhere abundant, and his familiar "bob-white" could be heard on every hand. When the spotted breasted Wood Thrush — Turdus mustelinus, uttered his brief but sweetly melancholy note in every deep wood. When the ventriloquist, the Yellow-breasted Chat — Icteria viridis, was one of our common birds. When the gay decked Scarlet Tanager — Phoenisoma rubra, in his bright red plumage, flitted through the green trees, and the sprightly and pert Redstart — Setophaga ruticilla, with his orange and black plumage, darted from twig to twig in search of its favorite wood. When not even a catbrier or alder bush, even in our suburban districts, but was the refuge and hiding place of such tiny choristers as the Yellow Throat and Summer Yellow Warblers — Sylvicola flavicollis and aestiva. Few were the ploughed fields where the Black-bellied Plover — Charadrius apricarius, was not seen, or their loud whistling note not heard. Now, I would ask how many fields of this character might be gone over in vain for them? During the season now passed, I have walked miles through woods and fields, sometimes without seeing or hearing even the commonest Finch.

Of the Rasorial Birds, comprising the true land Game Birds, our Island has but a limited number; of the first family, that of Pavonidae, but two species are natives of the United States, the Meleagris gallopavo or Wild Turkey, and the Meleagris Mexicanus or Mexican Wild Turkey, neither of which are found on the Island.

Of family Tetraonidae — Partridges and Grouse, but two species are known on the Island; these are the Pinnated Grouse — Tetrao cupido, commonly known as the Heath-hen, and Ortyx virginianus — the Quail, our old friend Bob White.

The Pinnated Grouse or Heath-hen has from time immemorial been peculiarly associated with the vast barren plains of Long Island, extending a length of over 40 miles, and a width of 6 or 7; in other words, extending the section of the Island from Hempstead to Shinnecock Bay; and although laws have been in existence from an early date, with the object of protection to this bird in particular, still such laws have been an openly violated or evaded, that their complete extinction from our Fauna, must soon surely be realized, if more energetic measures are not instituted and carried out to protect them. The first law passed by the State Legislature to protect these birds, was that introduced by Mr. Cornelius J. Bogert, a Member of Assembly from the City of New York, in February, 1791.

That statute declares among other thing, that "the person who shall kill any Heath-Hen within the counties of Suffolk and Queens, between the 1st day of April and the 5th day of October, shall, for every such offense, forfeit and pay the sum of two dollars and a half, to be recovered, with costs of suit, by any person who shall prosecute for the same, before any Justice of the Pence, in either of the said counties; the one-half to be paid to the plaintiff, and the other half to the overseers of the poor; and if any Heath-Hen, so killed, shall be found in the possession of any person, be shall be deemed guilty of the offence, and suffer the penalty. But it is provided, that no defendant shall be convicted, unless the action shall be brought within three months after the violation of the law."

The Quail or Partridge — Ortyx virginianus, was at one period quite common throughout the Island; his well known and familiar call of Bob White is universally known, but the persecution they have suffered has so thinned them out, that in many districts their cheery voice is but seldom heard. Not content with striving to exterminate them by the gun, it has become a common practice to take them alive in traps, made of sticks or lathe and a common figure-four trigger; to show how they have been destroyed, and how their present range has been restricted, I can well remember the time when I have repeatedly found their nests where the site of the present Prospect Park is, and it is needless to say how many fields or woods you would of necessity have to passover now, in order to find one.

In Family Columbidae — Pigeons, we have two species found on the Island, and both well known, the Ectopistes migratoria, or Passenger Pigeon, and the Ectopistes carolinesis, the Carolina Pigeon or Turtle Dove. Of the Passenger Pigeon we may say but a few stragglers comparatively are seen on our island when we take into consideration the vast numbers that every year congregate in our Western States. So, too with the Turtle Dove, their singular mournful note seldom falls upon our ear, and except at the period of migration are seldom seen in larger numbers than three or four together.

One of the main causes of the dearth of game on the Island is the wholesale slaughter carried out by those people on the shore who make a living by acting as guides to our sportsmen, and let out batteries and decoys through whose use such large quantities of water-fowl are annually destroyed. No shore in the whole Union is naturally richer in Grallatorial and Natatorial Birds than the bays and inlets of our favored Island, and on account of its proximity to our large cities, no locality has suffered greater from the abuses we complain of than this.

In order to more fully illustrate our subject, it will not be out of place to briefly review the Water Birds that are to be found upon the shores of our island, some of which are, however, now but occasionally seen.

It is in the Order Grallatores, or Waders, that the sportsman finds a large part of his favorite Game, for in these are included the Herons, Egrets, Bitterns, Ibises, Rails, Snipe, Woodcock, Sandpipers, Tatlers, Curlews and Plovers.

In the first Family, Ardeadae — Herons, we find our well known Green Heron or Green Bittern — Ardea virescens, known by every gunner by an unutterable name.

The Ardea Herodias — Great Heron and Egretta leuce — Great White Heron, are rare on our coast. The Nyctiardea gardenii — the Night Heron, or Qua Bird-is occasionally found.

The last in this Family is the Botaurus Minor — the American Bittern, called by some the Indian Hen and by others the Dunkadoo.

The next Family is the Rallidae — Rails. In genus Rallus we have the Rallus virginianus, or Virginia Rail; the Rallus crepitans, or clapper rail, and the Crex carolinus, or Sora Rail. The flesh of the latter is peculiarly delicious and furnishes the gunner excellent sport in attempting to follow this nimble-footed bird.

The family Scolopacidae embraces the Sandpipers and Snipe. In this family is the best known and most sought after of all the Game Birds of our Island, the American Woodcock — Scolopax minor.

The most numerous, perhaps, of rail the family is the Scolopax Grisea, or Red-breasted Snipe; its flesh is held in high esteem, is a favorite with the sportsman and great numbers are annually killed. The Scolopax Wilsonii, commonly called the English Snipe, is also much sought after. The Great Marbled Godwit — Limosa fedoa — known to the many sportsmen as the straight-billed Curlew and the Red Curlew, is not as numerous as the Short-billed Curlew, its favorite associate.

Of the sandpipers the following are found on our shores: The Tringa semipalmatus — the Semipalmated Sandpiper or Willet; the Little Sandpiper — Tringa minutilla; the Red-backed Sandpiper — Tringa alpina; and the Ash-colored Sandpiper — Tringa canutus. Of the Plovers, the Ringed or Piping Plover — Charadrius melodus — and the Kildeer — Charadrius vociferus — are perhaps the best known. The other species are Golden Plover — Charadrius virginianus; Wilson's Plover — Charadrius Wilsonii; and the Sanderling — Calidris arenaria. Our review of the Long Island Grallatores closes with the Long-billed Curlew — Numensis longirostris, and the Short-billed — Numensis borealis — both well known to our gunners. Space will not permit to mention all our Gallatores, but the foregoing includes the greater portion.

The last Order, called Natatores, or Swimming Birds, we must confine our remarks to the most conspicuous family that of Anatidae, embracing the Geese and Ducks. In the first sub-family, the Anserinae, is the well known Canada or Wild Goose — Anser canadensis; the Snow Goose — Anser hyperboreus, is rare on the Island. The last is the Brant — Bernida brenta.

The next subfamily are the Anatinae or River Ducks; we have species belonging to three genera, Marica — Widgeon; Dendronessa — Tree Duck, and Anas — typical River Ducks.

The Marica Americana, or American Widgeon, better known as the Baldpate, is one of our well-known Ducks whose flesh is highly esteemed.

The Dendronessa sponsa — Summer or Wood Duck, the most beautiful of all our water birds, is now rare on our coast.

The Shoveller — Anas clypeata, is held in high esteem for the table.

The Dusky Duck — Boschas obscura, more commonly known as the Black Duck, is one of our common Ducks but its flesh is much inferior to the Mallard, Canvass Back, and others.

The Blue-winged Teal — Boschas discors, are highly esteemed as an article of food; these birds are easily taken in hollow traps with the common device, a figure four.

The Green-winged Teal — Boschas carolinensis, is a common and well known species, whose flesh is excellent.

The Mallard — Boschas major, ranks next to the Canvassback and Red-head for the excellency of its flesh and food.

The Pintail Duck — Dafila acuta, or as it is sometimes called the Sprig-tail, this bird is highly esteemed by epicures. The Gadwall — Chauliodus stripera, closes our river Ducks. We now come to the Fuligulinae or Sea Ducks, comprising five genera, as follows: Somateria or Eider Ducks; Oidemia or Scoter; Fuligula or Pochards, Clangula or Golden Eyes and Haralda or Long Tails.

The Eider Duck — Somateria mollisima, is noted for the swiftness, elasticity and warmth of their down, in that respect excelling all other Ducks; their flesh however is inferior.

The King Duck — Samateria spectabilis. is now quite rare.

The Scoter Duck — Oidemia nigra; little esteemed.

The Velvet Duck — Oidemia fusca, of similar habits to the Scoter, and on account of associating with it often mistaken for it by some sportsmen.

The Black or Surf Duck — Oidemia perspicillata; the flesh of this species is coarse and strong.

The Scaup Duck or Blue-bill — Fuligula marilla, and the Pied Duck — Fuligula labradora, are both considered poor as articles of food.

The Red-headed Duck — Fuligula ferina, is second only to the Canvass back in its excellency as food.

The Ruddy Duck — Fuligula rubida, and Tufted Duck — Fuligula rufitorques, are both rare on the Island.

The Buffel-beaded Duck — Clangula rubeola, better known as the Butter-box or Butter-bill, though often fat and plump is not held in as high esteem as many other species.

The Golden eye Duck — Clangula vulgaris, is inferior for the table.

The Harlequin Duck — Clangula histrionica, commonly known as the Lord, is in plumage the most striking and remarkable of all the grotesqueness and oddity of its markings suggested its name. Its flesh is considered excellent. It is one of our rarest species.

The Haralda glacialis or Long-Tailed Duck, better known as the Old Wife and South Southerly, is common, but little esteemed for the table.

The last of the Anatidae are the Merganinae — Mergansers, all four species of which belong to the Fauna of Long Island. The time was when the Hooded Merganser — Mergus cucullatus, with his beautiful black and while crest forming when erected the segment of a circle, and its congener the Red-breasted Merganser — Mergus serrator, with its long pendant crest, were not unfrequently found along our shores, together with the Gooseander — Mergus merganser.

The Smew or White Nun — Mergus albellus, is more frequently found.

I cannot trespass on your time by individualizing the Tern, Gulls and other water birds that possess less attraction to the sportsman, as but few are in any way adapted to the table, their flesh usually being coarse and fishy.

Having briefly reviewed our Game Birds, in conclusion I would say, that it is imperative something should be done, the strong arm of the law should be invoked to protect our birds; the use of batteries, traps and decoys should be strictly prohibited; the most stringent laws should be enacted with that intent in view; these should be rigidly enforced without fear or favor, and free from all partisan or political influence to shield the offenders; pass good strong laws, execute them faithfully, and the time is not far distant when our woods will again, as of yore, resound to the melody of the feathered tribe, and when the true sportsman, under the sanction of wise and just regulations, as to the proper period wherein he may follow his favorite sport, may be enabled to be fully compensated for his endeavors.

June 23, 1881. Forest and Stream 16(21): 407-408.

Field Sports - A Poem of Greeting

By William E. MacMaster of the Albany Argus and the Philadelphia Press. Written for the occasion. [The shooting match at Coney Island, sponsored by the New York State Association for the Protection of Fish and Game.]
I.
Hail, brother sportsmen of the Empire State,
I give you greeting in my humble lay;
More noble hearts, or strife more truly great,
Ne'er nerved the heroes of our palmiest day.
 
II.
From Erie's shore to Coney's Island's strand,
From the old "North Woods" to the "Southern Tier,"
Here where the Atlantic laves our native land,
Again our contests signalize the year.
 
III.
In mimic war matched like a Spartan band,
With eye undaunted, nerves staunch as steel;
You'll win your honors from a comrade's hand,
In emulation which only sportsmen feel.
 
IV.
Like the bold clansmen or Auld Scotia's pride,
Where every plaid sheds lustre on the scene;
Here at her threshold our contests to decide,
New York gives welcome to all clubs I ween.
 
V.
Here then on wings poetic we will try,
Nor hope our Muse to amuse you with her lay;
Yet clip not our pinions ere the birds do fly,
Since ammunition's not restricted in this fray.
Then pass the amber cup with jolly cheer,
And crown our sportsmen heroes of the year;
For bards poetic, like birds who soar and sing,
Do flutter least when longest on the wing.
 
VI.
From scenes like these of gay and mimic strife,
We turn exultant to the sterner life: —
Where rosy fingers paint the dappled morn,
And merry huntsman, with resounding horn,
Summons the drowsy dogs to eager ear,
And rouse from leafy couch the startled deer.
Bid the well-trained pack with cautious pace,
"Point" well the grouse with an unerring trace,
While field and wood resound the flying war,
While every mountain echoes from afar!
Till vale and forest repeat the loud refrain
While the warm scent draws on the deep mouthed train.
 
VII.
Hurrah for the prairies
And sports of the field,
Where grouse in full coveys
Lie closely concealed;
Where mountain and forest
Nor deep tangled glen,
Interfere with our dogs
Or weary the men;
Where the untrodden acres
Like oceans are spread,
And the birds are still waiting
Our deluge of lead!
"Hie on!" what a magic
That sound to the ears
Of full-blooded pointers,
Whose instinct it cheers; —
They dash on like coursers
Until the warm scent,
Unerringly leads them,
Where now more intent —
Staunch as old veterans
To their "points" they stand,
Each "backing" the other
And waiting command!
Now swift on the pinion,
From stubble they rise;
The quick blood is mounting, —
Their flight fills the skies.
Escape? It is hopeless,
Our scattering lead
Is thundering over them!
And the dogs "mark" them, dead!
 
VIII.
When summer's o'er and autumn mild succeeds,
And quail or partridge on the heather feeds;
Before his lord the setter then should go,
And beat the cover carefully and slow.
 
IX.
When the days shorten and the nights grow chill,
And softer light doth rest on vale and hill,
The sportsman then will change his hunting ground
For lakes and streams where water-fowl abound.
Where heavy geese scream up against the sky,
And swift-winged teal almost our skill defy.
Where skies are darkened by mallard in their flight,
And the rice fields are garrisoned at night.
 
X.
Now comes the sport which gives such manly zest.
Wild fowl shooting, most difficult and best.
To measure speed and distance, and to bring
A teal at sixty yards upon the wing: —
Or land a widgeon with unerring skill,
On some safe log, convenient to your will;
Requires a master in the sportsman's art,
Whose every nerve obeys his head and heart.
 
XI.
Hunting in all phases, on the field or flood,
Makes men more hardy, more humane and good;
Gives health and pleasure, sets the spirit free,
Teaches love of nature — helps the memory;
And more than this, it teaches love of law,
Which will not kill to feed a greedy maw.
How the locks bristle and the eyebrows arch,
For quail or partridge massacred in March.
With what contempt true sportsmen shun the spot,
Whereon they meet some hunter for the pot: —
Poor worthless d — —, his head beneath a price,
Else Courts might ask if "Pott"-ers hunted twice.
 
XII.
Gladly would I sing when our hunt is o'er,
The pleasure which our camp has still in store;
The smoking viands of our morning air;
Appetites keen as is the morning air;
A hospitality that's no empty name —
Each guest a brother whencesoe'er he came.
 
XIII.
A cordial greeting, then, brothers of a race
Whose deeds are sung in many a loving chase; —
Heroes whose brows by fairer hands than mine
Are wreathed with chaplets-human, yet divine
May scenes like these their annual pleasures bring,
And bards more worthy of their merits sing;
While here with new fields and contests at bay,
I give you welcome in my humble lay.
June 23, 1881. Forest and Stream 16(21): 407.

Wild Pigeons and the Great Shooting Tournament at Coney Island


A vast roost of nesting wild pigeons along the Canadian River in central Oklahoma — on the frontier a great distance in the west from Coney Island — was the source of live birds to be used as targets by shootists at a great shooting tournament on the Atlantic seashore. It was a significant event in many ways, with widespread reporting that indicate details of the birds' capture and transportation, results of the contest, and protestations against the slaughter of the pigeons. The variety of articles are especially interesting in conveying a unique perspective of the times, associated with the Passenger Pigeon as expressed by people involved in this endeavor.

It started with a schedule for a shooting match, and the need for lively targets. A contract was signed to acquire wild pigeons, so a bird-trapping company found a spot where thousands of birds could be captured and transported. The initial place of action was the indian territory of central Oklahoma. Thousands of adult birds — taken from their nesting grounds — were captured by the men employed by the trapping company of W.P. Thomas, then taken by horse-drawn wagons to the freight station for the Missouri and Kansas Railroad at Atoka. Once loaded onto a special car, there was a quick journey eastward, to pens where the captives where kept until their eventual release, as targets for men with deadly guns.

A Car Load of Pigeons to be Shot. — A car load of pigeons is to start from Topeka, Kansas, to-night for Brooklyn, for the use of the sportsmen who assemble at the twenty-third annual convention of the New York State Association for the Protection of Fish and Game, beginning June 20, at Coney Island, and lasting until June 25. It will require 20,000 pigeons to meet the demands of the protectors of game. — June 5
Seven thousand wild pigeons from the Indian Territory are now in the coops at Jersey City, and eight thousand more will arrive on the 17th instant. ... — June 14

There was contention underway before the match even started. Henry Bergh, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, was making accusations in the press concerning the pending demise of thousands of wild pigeons. The president of the sportsman's group responded in a letter issued in Forest and Stream.

Mr. Crook to Mr. Bergh.
The following letter has been published:
New York, June 16, 1881.
Henry Bergh, Esq.:
My Dear Sir — My attention has been called to certain squibs in some of the daily papers to the effect that, as the President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, you had asserted your intention to break up the tournament of the New York State Association for the Protection of Fish and Game, to be held at Coney Island, commencing next Tuesday, and that I, a President of the last named organization, had returned the compliment by threatening to cause your arrest. I desire explicitly to deny that any such action has ever been contemplated upon my part. Had we the advantage of personal acquaintance with each other, such an unfortunate rumor could not have found its way into print. The association which I represent is largely composed of the most influential citizens of this State, embracing many who have honorably held seats in the State and National Legislatures and in the executive chair, and also including the representative business men of the several cities, towns and hamlets in this State, and also those who have been foremost in concerted efforts not only to protect but to propagate and cultivate fish and game. That such gentlemen should be classed with the cock-fighters and dogfighters neither just nor creditable to the person making such charge.


Nothing will afford me or the association which I represent greater pleasure than to assist your society in preventing anything which shall bear the resemblance of cruelty. The suggestion accredited to you to the effect that birds were to be drugged or mutilated could only originate in ignorance of the character, customs and purposes of the State organization. I assure you that due courtesy will be shown you and all others who may attend the tournament, and that nothing shall occur in any wise warranting any unfavorable criticism of our proceedings, and that the members of the association will prove your most reliable assistants in the humane work in which you are engaged.
Respectfully, etc., Abel Crook.

The final frantic push to get the entire lot of birds transported was evident from Oklahoma, as the start of the tournament was to commence.

Atoka, I.T., June 19. — Our little town was out in force last night, catching and hauling from pens and loading on cars 10,000 live wild pigeons for the use of the great New York State tournament, which begins on Monday, the 21st inst., at Coney Island. Capt. Elmendorf, Chairman of the Committee on Grounds and Pigeons, started on this morning's train in charge of the birds, and will arrive in New York on Tuesday evening. The energy displayed by the Captain in securing birds this time of year is worthy of imitation by our Western sportsmen. The car of birds with the car shipped from here last week is an ample supply, and assures the success of the tournament. — reported for June 19, as issued on June 20

There were daily reports of the shootist antics and events.

Sportsmen at the Seaside - The Opening of the Convention at Coney Island - The Shooting of Thousands of Pigeons Collected to Begin To-day - Essays Read Last Evening - $11,000 Offered in Prizes.

Ten traps will be kept going and several thousand pigeons a day will be shot at in the sports of the State Association for the Protection of Fish and Game at Coney Island this week. The prizes aggregate in value over $11,000. Yesterday the piazzas and halls of the Brighton Hotel were thronged by men wearing club badges, and as the day wore on their number was constantly increased. Most of them were stalwarts in their physical appearance. Thirty-six clubs are represented, each sending from five to twenty-five members. Altogether there were upward of 500 sportsmen gathered together last night.

Judge Henry S. Lott, at the head of a reception committee of twenty-five, took the sportsmen by the hand as they came in during the day, and at noon fed them with clam chowder. In the afternoon many of the delegates were taken up to Brooklyn to look at the prizes. Many preferred to look around Coney Island.

The convention of the delegates from the various local associations met in the evening. Many ladies were present. The order of business was interspersed with instrumental music, glees, tenor solos, recitations, and the reading of essays. The glee club of the Washington Gun Club brought out a fine original composition — "The American Sportsman's Song," with a Tally Ho chorus — which they sang with effect.

George A. Chappell, President of the Long Island Sportsmen's Association, bade the delegates welcome, and President Abel Crook of the State Association then opened the convention in a speech, briefly sketching the history of the association from its formation in 1859, and instancing some of the results of its labors. He claimed for it that it had initiated bench shows of dogs in this country, and had promoted fish culture and the protection of forests and game. Yet, he said, after an existence of twenty-three years, the purposes and work of the association were hardly known outside of the western and central portions of the State. To this he called the thoughtful consideration of members. The most valuable work, he thought, could be done by the local associations.

An essay by Gaston Fay, entitled "What Are You Going to Do About It? was read by F.K. Costner of the Nonpareil Club. It set forth, by some amusing anecdotes, the difficulty of enforcing game laws. Even if the writ of habeas corpus was suspended and the country put under martial law, the pot hunters would get a mess of birds whenever they could in defiance of a provost guard.

Nicolas Pike read an essay on the Game Birds of Long Island. He mourned the ravages of indiscriminate slaughterers and egg hunters. The robbing of birds' nests, he said, prevailed to a great extent even in Prospect park. Time was when the shrill cry of a blue jay, whistle of the quail, the melancholy note of the wood thrush, loud call of the black plover, and the varied tones of the yellow-breasted chat could be heard everywhere in wood and field. Now we can walk miles without seeing or hearing the commonest bird. The different varieties of game birds on Long Island were described by the essayist. — June 21

The reporting then got to the details.

Aiming at Flying Marks - The First Day of the Big Pigeon Match at Coney Island - Mr. Bergh and His Men Watch the Shooting with Field Glasses, but are Powerless to Interfere - Exciting Rivalry at the Traps.
Nine parti-colored tents, with club pennants flying, stood yesterday in a row to the right of the grand stand in the Brighton Beach race track. The members of a number of the Northern State sportsmen's clubs sleep in them by night, and receive visitors with lavish hospitality by day. In another very large ten open house to all comers is kept by the Brooklyn and Long Island clubs. The ten traps used to throw off the pigeons were pitched in the infield in front of the grand stand. White flags marked the boundary line of eighty yards within which a pigeon had to fall in order for the marksman to score a hit. In a pile of flat coops to the right of the marksmen's stand were 3,500 wild pigeons. Two squads of boys, some in red caps and some in blue, rushed out alternately to replenish the traps. During the shooting yesterday about 2,200 pigeons were used, of which about 1,659 were killed. The dead pigeons were barrelled up with ice and shipped to a Washington street dealer. ...

"This is the biggest shooting match ever seen on the face of the earth," said W.P. Thomas, who supplies the wild pigeons used at these contests, "and there never were better birds. Just see how they fly. Don't that fellow tower well?" he said, pointing to a pigeon which mounted straight up into the air. "There goes a tailer!" he exclaimed, as one flew straight away from the marksmen. "That's a driver" pointing to one that went skimming to the ground in rapid flight for safety; "they're hard to hit." The wind was blowing from the northwest with frequent hard puffs. "There are lots of incomers," said Mr. Thomas, as bird are bird came from the trap towards the marksmen. "That's because the wind blows in that direction. Ah, that fellow quartered well!" he said, as a pigeon went off to one side. "A quarterer makes the best shot," he added.

About seventy-five per cent of the pigeons were brought down. Some of the birds dropped like lead, and most of those hit fell close to the traps. The green sward was thickly strewn with feathers torn out by the shot. Sometimes a bird would be seen in strong, rapid flight after the smoke cleared away, and it would be impossible to tell whether it had been hit or not, until suddenly it would plump helplessly down. Sometimes they would have strength enough to fly out of bounds before falling. A crowd of boys hung about the outskirts of the field to pick up such birds, and the sometimes got dangerously into range. early in the day, while a policeman was chasing one of these boys, a boy fell into a ditch and broke his arm. Sportsman doctor set it for him.

Early in the day boys had distributed printed copies of an appeal from Henry Bergh. It was illustrated by a picture representing the writhings of wounded birds. The chief portion of the appeal was an imaginary speech of a bird begging sportsmen not to "immolate him on the blood-stained altar of inglorious rivalry." Between 12 and 1 o'clock Mr. Bergh, attended by a number of his officers, presented himself at the members' gate. He wore the big badge of his society, and he demanded admittance as an officer of the State. President Abel Crook told him that their sport was protected by law, that he had no rights in the premises as an officer, and that none but members could be allowed in the in-field.

"If you will come in the capacity of a gentleman," said Mr. Crook, "we shall be happy to escort you about, and to do you any service in our power."

"I desire to come in as an officer of the State," said Mr. Bergh.

"We do not admit any save gentlemen to the in field," said Mr. Crook, smiling, "and if you cannot come in that capacity you cannot come at all."

Meanwhile the steady popping of the guns went on. At every report Mr. Bergh winced and his features twitched. He harangued Mr. Crook upon the brutal and unsportsmanlike character of the shooting, and declared that he would forthwith apply to the State legislature for a law prohibiting it. Mr. Crook defended the sport in some good-natured remarks. Formerly, he said, when wild pigeons were netted for market, they were killed by crushing their heads with pinchers, as they popped up through the meshes of the net. Now that they were reserved for sportsmen to kill by shooting he could not see where the inhumanity came in. The discussion was carried on good-humoredly. Mr. Bergh and his officers then took seats in the grand stand and surveyed the scene through field glasses. They soon tired of this, and departed. Mr. Bergh prepared his bill and sent it to Albany as soon as he got home.

The real interest of the pigeon-shooting test was in the shooting of the ties. In the first ten rounds 26 marksmen killed their 10 birds apiece, 42 killed 9 apiece, 38 killed 8, and 39 killed 7. There was time to shoot off only the first class yesterday, and the three remaining will be shot off to-day. The prize of the leading score in this class was a parlor suite valued at $1,000; the second was $50 in gold. The distance from the trap was increased from twenty-one yards to twenty-six in this contest. On the first round eleven missed and dropped out. On the second round five more dropped out. There were only fine who killed their five pigeons apiece — F. Burritt and J. Langeake of the Long Island Sportsmen's Association; J.P. Fisher, Audubon of Buffalo; H.F. Gale and G. Loder, Onondaga of Syracuse.

The excitement over the contest between these five was intense. Members clustered thickly around the shooting stands, standing in perfect silence until the marksman fired, when a lusty cheer would go up if the pigeon tumbled. The wind was blowing hard, the sun was setting, and the judges had to stoop down to the ground in order to follow the flight of a "driver." Mr. Burritt fired first. His bird was a driver and skimmed along close to the ground. Bang! "She's hit; she's hit," said some. The bird winged out of bounds and was lost in the twilight. There was a deep "Ah! ah!" from the crowd. The rest brought down their birds close to the traps. On the next round Langeake missed and retired, but the others scored. On the third round Loder dropped out, and the contest was now between Fisher and Gale. Fisher is a large, burly man, and in his big white felt hat and gray flannel shirt looked like Buffalo Bill. Gale was bareheaded and in his shirt sleeves. He has shapely-cut features, and had as earnest a look as if he were William Tell shooting at the apple on his son's head. Buffalo Bill came forward for his fourth shot. The bird was an incomer, and dropped like lead. There was a loud hurrah. William Tell leaned anxiously forward and gave the word to the trap springer. The pigeon tumbled over before his wings had flapped a dozen times. The cheering was tremendous. Buffalo Bill came forward again. The pigeon was a driver. As the smoke cleared away he was seen winging his way into the distance. The Buffalo men who had crowded around their champion groaned with disappointment and turned to watch Mr. Fisher's luck with intense anxiety. He gave the word at once, and as the pigeon rose he struck it so plump and full that it fell without a flutter. Then there was a rush of congratulations on Mr. Gale and three hearty cheers were given. He had narrowly escaped being excluded from the class contest altogether. Although he killed ten in the first shooting, his name had been accidently omitted from the list of ties. When it was restored he had left the infield, and when his name was called did not respond. "Pass him over," said one of the judges. His friends objected, and it was decided to wait a minute or two for him. He came in and won. The last shooting was done at 31 yards rise. The second prize was won by Mr. Fisher. ... — June 22

During this time, pigeons were being sold at the New York City market for $2.50 to $2.75 per dozen.

Problems at the shooting event were soon apparent, according to news reporting.

The Coney Island Sports - Another Day of Pigeon Shooting by the State Clubs - Wounded Birds Flying Far Outside the Bounds - Shooting off the Ties - Challenges - The Tournament Likely to be Prolonged. Twenty-four hundred fresh pigeons were taken upon the Brighton Beach race ground yesterday for the second day of the sportsmen's tournament. The shooting was poor compared with that of the day before. May birds were so slightly wounded that they were able to fly far out of bounds into the reach of a horde of club and stone throwers on the lookout for crippled birds. May birds escaped the shooting at the traps only to be popped over by pothunters hanging around for chances to get a shot at a stray bird.

The poor quality of the shooting caused frequent challenges and called the talents of the retrievers into play. A bird as badly wounded that he can be caught with the hands in bounds is scored as a dead bird. When a bird is challenged the marksman may go or send after it. If the person who goes is an unskilled retriever, he may flush a crippled bird so abruptly as to scare it out of bounds, in which case the shot counts as a miss, although the bird may drop dead with the effort. A wary retriever will cautiously approach his bird from the outside, so that if he misses his grab the bird will be apt to struggle further in bounds and give him another chance to catch it. One pigeon yesterday made two strong flights, and could easily have gone out of bounds had it not been for the wariness of the retriever, who finally grabbed it right behind the judge's stand. ... — June 23

Rather than just report the scores, a sordid, apparently news-worthy angle was presented to convey how the wild pigeons respond once shot.

Contest of the Crack Shots. The behavior of birds when shot is very curious. Sometimes, although a fluff of feathers in the air shows that the pigeon has been hit, he will keep on in strong, rapid flight, the marksman anxiously watching to see whether he will escape bounds. Suddenly a slight unevenness will appear in the pigeon's flight, and a moment afterward down he drops all in a heap. Many times in the course of the match a bird has died just outside the boundary. During the shooting off of the ties of fifteen in the Pierce diamond badge contest, one bird went circling round to the right, striking the fence of the track just where the boundary string was tied, and rolling over dead. When the judges came up to look at its position it was just about two inches outside the line. A load of shot plump in the breast drops the bird like a plummet. A shot in the head sometimes has a peculiar effect. the bird will rise straight up in the air, fluttering convulsively. As a height of fifty or sixty feet his wings suddenly drop, and down he plumps to the ground without a flutter. Numbers of times birds when hit have dropped at the feet of their slayers. Once a bird dropped on one of the judges. On Thursday a bird darted off to the right with so strong a flight that at the marksman's stand there was a shout of "missed." The pigeon flew through the press stand so close that he could have been grabbed. He had a bloody side, and the shout went back, "No, he's hit!" He dropped close to the boundary line. Yesterday a bird flew right across to the place where the dead birds are piled up and dropped alongside one of the barrels in which they are packed. A pigeon hit so hard that he is not able to get out of bounds is scored as a dead bird; but often birds are only technically dead, for as many as half a dozen at a time may be seen flopping in the grass. Sometimes they may be seen walking around. Yesterday, in walking over the ground after the match, the reporter came upon a bird that had crouched down and died, his feathers spread and head drawn in as is he had been brooding over a nest. — June 25

The poor condition of the remaining pigeons was evident on the last day of the tournament.

The End of the Pigeon Shooting. The pigeon shooting at Coney Island came to an end yesterday. Only two matches were shot, but both of those dragged so that it was dark before the last was finished. The birds were in very poor condition, many being too weak to fly when sprung from the traps. The first contest was a class shoot of five-double rises, G.F. Gildersleeve of the Brooklyn Gun Club was the only marksman of the twenty-three entering who made a clean score, and he thus won without further contest the first prize, a bronze game piece, valued at $100. J.M. George of Bradford, Pa., won the first prize in the ties of nine, a $75 gun; C.A. Tucker of New York won the second prize of this class, a $35 suit of corduroy. The $25 clock, which was the prize for the leading score in the lies of seven, was won by J.M. Hersher of Osage City, Kan. ... During the tournament about 16,000 pigeons were shot. Although the attendance at the grand stand was not great, the entrance fees were so large that the tournament resulted in a small profit to the State Association. — June 30

A protest again the shooting of the pigeons soon made it into a Pennsylvania newspaper.

That indefatigable and over-zealous friend of dumb animals, Mr. Henry Bergh, President of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, is just now making himself rather ridiculous in connection with pigeon shooting. ... Mr. Bergh raves over this "cruelty" and talks nonsense about the birds being drugged with laudanum to make them unable to fly quickly. Now the members of the Convention are sportsmen, and men of position, and would not countenance any such proceeding, and the battues on such an occasion, are no more inhuman that is any sort of gunning. Mr. Bergh is determined to be present with his officers to look out for infringements of the law of 1875, which amply protects sporting clubs. — June 25, Carbon Advocate

There were additional indications of an obvious displeasure, readily indicated by derisionary tone and language.

It was computed that over eleven thousand pigeons were either killed or maimed at the so-called tournament of brutal fellows styling themselves sportsmen on Coney Island last week, leaving about as many more to be slaughtered or crippled during the present week. In addition to the natural bewilderment resulting from being thrown from a dark trap into a noisy crowd of the riff-raff of a great city, the pigeons in this case were greatly emaciated by the long and close confinement incident to their transportation from Kansas, thus making them an easier prey than usual to the marksmen. It is, therefore, not surprising that what they call the score is one of the best on record. But how the participants in the cowardly and inhuman pastime can go home and look their wife and children in the face, after indulging in it, is more than most people can understand. — June 27, Washington D.C. Evening Star

There were other editorials with a similar theme.

The pleasure to be derived from hunting something seems to be the only explanation for the use of pigeons in the shooting matches. Balls can be sprung from a trap just as surely as birds — in fact, even more certainly, as springs of metal answer more directly than those of living tendon. The ball responds to the crack-shot with unfailing proof, and scores his work with a precision that cannot be extracted from the quivering limbs of a trapped pigeon. The much-vaunted masculine contempt for fuss and feathers might be expected to assist in the decision of this question, unless it is counteracted by a barbarous taste for blood. — July 1
Barbarous Pastime. The bringing of twenty thousand unhappy pigeons from the prairies of the West to be shot by persons who call themselves sportsmen is a barbarous business and a blot on our civilization. the socalled sport is no more ennobling than that witnessed in the most depraved rat pit or dog fight. It is a case of the strong against the weak, to the great disadvantage of the latter. Let the sportive gentlemen who are pegging away at the pigeons test their skill on some less helpless game. Let them try a few vultures, or bald eagles, or South American condors, or owls, or hawks, or even bats. The larger of these birds would turn in destructive vengeance on their tormentors, while the smaller ones would cause them grievous annoyance. the bats would scare the sportsmen by the insertion of sharp claws among their hair. Why need they confine themselves to these creatures which navigate the air? Let them try rats. It is quite as noble to shoot a rat as a pigeon. Rats are vermin and pigeons are not. The rat is an unlovely being, whose flesh is not highly prized for food. Much skill is involved in shooting a rat which has a few seconds start of the shooter. Yet the murder is cruel. In the State of New York, where the butchery of the pigeons is going on, the "sport" happens to be legalized by a special enactment. Even if Legislatures will legalize such wanton cruelty, public opinion should frown it out of existence. — July 5, Memphis Public Ledger

There would be changes, as indicated by the targets used in subsequent shooting tournaments in different states. In 1885, numerous reports indicated the use of clay pigeons. Pigeons were still being used at multiple events, especially in Texas and California, though any indication of the actual species was not obvious with the scant details reported.