Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/120

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water-holes, numerous leafy boughs and branches of "gum-tree" (Mitakoodi, joo-a-ro) are utilised for a similar purpose. The whole camp of blacks working at it, will start throwing these in first thing in the morning; during the day the water becomes darker and darker and strongly-smelling until by the following morning at sunrise when it is almost black, the fish all lie panting at the surface and are easily caught. The simple "muddying" or "puddling" of the water by the feet, in small shallows, and hitting the fish as they come up with a stick, is a procedure common throughout North-West-Central Queensland.

127. Though the probability of the method is likely, I have not met with any spearing in the Boulia District; it is certainly in vogue among the Cloncurry and Flinders District aboriginals. Thus, going into still and shallow water, the Mitakoodi will, with a lot of splashing and noise, spear the fish as they shoot past. In running water or in flood time, the natives take up their position on an overhanging trunk or branch. On the Upper Leichhardt River, as is mentioned in sect. 252, spearing with foreign-made and specially constructed spears was found to be practised.

128. On some portions of the Georgina River, and in certain other creeks, the aboriginals will grope carefully along the mud and so transfix with their feet a sort of "cat-fish" to be found there.

129. A common way of killing fish is to bite into them deeply just at the back of the head; this is very frequently done by a fisherman before he is ready to leave the water, and who thus makes sure that on throwing the fish already caught on to the river bank, there is no chance of their skipping back into their native element (sects. 79, 80).

Fish are carried home to camp, &c., by passing a thin twig through the gills and mouth, the hook at its extremity—a shoot cut short—preventing the creature from slipping off.

130. Emus are trapped by being driven into nets with or without palisadings and enclosures; caught in pit-falls; surrounded and mustered in mobs; tracked and speared; or hunted with dogs.

131. Emus generally make for the water-hole day by day along the same track, coming either at early morn or mid-day. The hunters, having noted these tracks, will wait in ambush and allow the bird to pass down on its way to water, but while drinking will sneak round and silently as well as expeditiously rig up the emu-net some 30 or 40 yards behind the creature and right across the tracks. Since the emu usually spends some time at the water-hole, the fixing up of the net is not necessarily quite so hurried a performance as might have been expected, though it can be placed in position within a very few minutes. All being ready by the time the bird returns, the hunters will suddenly emerge from their hiding-places, and as the bird rushes headlong (any diversion from the path being prevented by the men stationed in suitable positions), drive it into the net, where it becomes entangled, and, with boomerangs and nulla-nullas, soon despatched. This method of emu-hunting is practised throughout all the ethnographical districts of North-West-Central Queensland.

The general appearance of two of these nets, as made in the Boulia district, is shown in the diagram, Fig. 226. The names given to the constituent parts are those applied by the Pitta-Pitta natives. These two nets were fixed up in position for my special inspection, close to the Boulia camp, in well under five minutes. A B C D are the strong terminal supports, ma-kun-ye, between 4½ and 5 feet long, fixed firmly into the ground. E E E are the slender intermediate supports, tin-ja (cf. sect. 241), about 8 or 9 feet long, forked at their upper extremities, which support the top-string of the net on the stretch, and lightly planted into the ground at on angle. X X X is the net itself, the yel-pi, made of flax-rope about ⅛ inch in diameter, and with meshes about 12 inches by 9 inches, the top ones hanging like curtain-rings from a top-string F, the u-wun-na, attached to the terminal posts. Each knot is called a ma-ti. By means of the intermediate supports on the top-string, the net in some places touches the