Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/121

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97
THE SEARCH FOR FOOD. PITURI.

ground from a height of quite 7 feet. The distance between A and D, the space enclosed by these two nets, was over 120 feet. The Mitakoodi obtain their emu-nets by barter from the Kalkadoon.

In the weaving of the net, no true needle whatever is used, both this and the mesh-stick being substituted as follows (Fig. 227):—The former is replaced by the thick cord being rolled as required upon a twig or two about 18 inches long: the place of the latter is taken by the maker's foot which keeps each successive mesh, as it is netted, perfectly firm and regular by pulling on it with the back of the ankle. The net, as it is gradually completed bit by bit, is wound round a spear implanted firmly into the ground.

139. Sometimes a long alley-way (Pitta-Pitta yel-ka yel-ka) is built up in a convenient situation with bushes, boughs, and saplings intertwined: one end of this is closed in with the emu-net, while the other is left open and divergent. Its general shape is shown in the diagram (Fig. 228). Close to the opening, and about midway between the two sides, are the hunters who, concealed under cover of some bushes, &c., start imitating the emu's "call." The bird coming up, in answer to the sound, struts along either side of where the men are in ambush: the latter, rushing out, making a sort of wheeling movement and, once getting behind the creature, have no difficulty in driving it before them along the alley into the net where it becomes entrapped. The "call," a sort of "drumming" sound is imitated by blowing into a hollow log some 2½ to 3 feet long, from which the inside core has been burnt so as to form an aperture about 3 inches in diameter: when in use, the tube is held close to the ground in which a slight excavation has been made. These "call-tubes" are met with throughout North- West-Central Queensland. The alley-ways I only know of being employed in the Boulia district.

133. On the sandhills round above the Hamilton River in the Boulia District, a deep pit is dug during the middle of the day in close proximity to some wild vine bush, emu-apple tree, &c., and, to avert suspicion, the excavated sand removed to a considerable distance. The mouth of the pit is carefully covered in with light boughs and saplings hidden up with sand and not visited again until the following morning, by which time a bird, coming after the fruit, will probably have fallen in. The same method of single pitfalls is employed among the Kalkadoon along the Leichhardt-Selwyn Ranges. At Roxburgh, Carandotta, and in the Upper Georgina District generally, pitfalls were used in the old days, but such methods are now dying out.

From Mr. Coghlan, of Glenormiston, on the Georgina River, I have the following account of the "multiple" pit-falls to be met with on that station:—Arrived at the hunting-ground frequented by the emus, the men make a more or less circular fence or enclosure with trees, bushes, and saplings about 60 feet in diameter. Along this fence some half-dozen gaps are left, and at each of them a pit is sunk (Diagram Fig. 229, P.) about 2 or 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep, the mouth being cunningly concealed with boughs and grass. In the centre of the circle a bigger hole is dug, similarly masked by bushes, into which three or four men can crouch. With the "call-tubes" they imitate the emu's call, and the birds making for the direction in which they hear the sound, come up to the fence and run along it to the next gap where they fall unsuspectingly into the pit. Sometimes there are external wings to the circular fence also with gaps. The same enclosure may be used for three or four years in succession, the birds being hunted by this method during the pairing season.

134. In the Boulia District, on occasion, when a mob of emus happens to come within the neighbourhood of a camp, all the men and women may assist in surrounding and mustering them like cattle, subsequently driving them down to the nearest water-hole, where they are killed with nulla, boomerang, or spear.

135. In the Cloncurry District the Mitakoodi's commonest plan of catching emus is to sneak up to them while feeding and spear them with a heavy wommera spear. To prevent the bird seeing him the hunter covers himself with bushes,