Page:Ethnological studies (Roth).djvu/123

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
99
THE SEARCH FOR FOOD. PITURI.

morning a number of men sneak up towards the trees, and with loud shouting and every kind of noise will suddenly commence throwing sticks and boomerangs into them. The birds, being thus driven from their roosts by what they think to be hawks, fly low and in a direction opposite to whence the noise proceeds, but not being able to penetrate the bushes forming the palisade, make straight for the water-hole, where they are intercepted in scores by a fine-meshed net F F held up by two men standing just in front of it.

139. Corellas (Licinet's nasica), Galahs (Cacatua roseicassila). Cockatoos, &c., are entrapped on the water in the late afternoon, at Roxburgh, Carandotta, &c., in the Upper Georgina District. The hunter, after tying numerous grass twigs and leafy boughs round his head, neck, and face, which are thus completely concealed, swims out to some log or "snag" projecting just out of the water, and supports himself there by its aid, with only his head out. As the birds come down to drink they fly round the bushes, and alighting on the log, &c., are easily caught by the legs, pulled under the water, their necks wrung, and stuck one after another in the hunter's waist-belt.

Another and very common method throughout North-West-Central Queensland of catching these and other birds which fly in mobs, is to throw a light boomerang into their very midst when on the wing.

140. Ducks, Cranes, Diver-birds, and others, if not caught in the nesting-season by sneaking upon them unawares, may at other times be noosed with a long slender stick to the extremity of which a feather-quiil with slip-noose (Pitta-Pitta nun-te-ri) is attached. The hunter, concealed with leafy bushes tied round his head and face, waits patiently in the water for his prey, which, paddling along the water, soon comes into suitable position for the loop to be slipped over its neck. In the Boulia District at least, this method is employed.

141. The Pelican (Pelicanus conspicillatus) is caught as follows in the Boulia District:—At that portion of a creek or water-hole which the bird is known to frequent, the hunter will be sitting in the water in ambush under cover of the bushes or suitable overhanging tree, &c., and throwing empty mussel shells one after another to some considerable distance on the water. The bird, thinking that these are fish "jumping" on the surface, comes closer to see; at the same time the individual concealed, and still otherwise immovable, taps the water with his fingers to mimic the fishes splashing. The pelican, more and more convinced of the plenteous supply of fish in and around these very same bushes, &c., swims more into danger, and when arrived close enough is either hit with a boomerang or sometimes even caught by the hands.

In the Upper Georgina, at Headingly, &c., pelicans are caught at night when asleep on the river banks. The hunters, their bodies greased with ashes, and heads covered with bushes to conceal themselves the better in the darkness, will noiselessly swim up to the unsuspecting creatures and despatch them with boomerangs, nullas, &c. The Kalkadoon, in the Leichhardt-Selwyn District, often sneak upon these birds in the daytime.

142. All birds are roasted whole; in the larger kinds, the skin is subsequently removed by making a longitudinal incision down along the centre of the back, and thus turning the creature inside out, as it were.

143. Bandicoots, "Porcupines," "bilbi-rats," &c., are tracked and dug out of their holes in the ground. This "bilbi" (a doubtful locally-aboriginal term) is really a bandicoot—Peragale lagotis, Reid.

144. The Opossum (Trichoglossus vulpecula) is now rarely met with in the immediate vicinity of Boulia. Elsewhere it may be caught either in the daytime or at night by moonlight: in both cases by climbing the trees with, if necessary, "steps" cut alternately on either sides of the trunk. In the daytime the presence of the animal in the particular tree is determined by the nature of the double-claw marks; in the moonlight by actually seeing the creature, one man climbing up while another waits below as it is driven down.