Page:The Aborigines of Australia (1988).djvu/58

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43
HUNTING.

allowed to depart without molestation, if so disposed, but it not infrequently happens that both parties associate together and enjoy a feast and a corroboree previous to their final separation.

The mode in which the blacks catch the kangaroo, the principal animal on which they depend for subsistence, is simple but ingenious. They dig holes in the plains, so deep that a man would be concealed in one of them up to the shoulders; across the openings of these they place thin saplings, so arranged, however, that they would afford but little support to a weighty body placed on them. These they cover with brambles, grass, and other material, so as to render the spot as nearly as possible similar to the surrounding ground. Into these traps the unsuspecting kangaroos tumble through the frail hurdle and become an easy prey to the cunning huntsman. It is more than probable that a bait of some description is placed near the concealed opening to entice the animal to its doom, or that some other stratagem besides the mere forming of the trap is resorted to, as the game must be very plentiful indeed to render it probable that any of them would fall into such a simple snare except by the merest chance.

This, however, is not the only means used to destroy this chief of the animal tribes of the Australian forest. The spear is his most inveterate and most destructive enemy, ever ready in the hand of the aboriginal to pounce upon him at each available opportunity.