Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/104

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The Passenger Pigeon

through which the ropes run, where he waits concealed for the flights.

Many trappers use two nets ranged along opposite sides of the bed, which are thrown toward each other and meet in the center. When enough birds are gathered upon the beds to make a profitable throw, the operator gives a quick jerk upon the rope, the net flies over in an instant, while in its meshes struggle hundreds of unwilling prisoners.

After pinching their necks the trapper removes the dead victims, resets the trap, and is ready for another haul. To lure down the birds from their flight overhead, most netters use "fliers" or "stool-pigeons." The former are birds held captive by a cord, tied to the leg, being thrown up into the air when a flight is observed approaching, and drawn fluttering down when the "flier" has reached its limit. The latter is a live pigeon tied to a small circular framework of wood or wire attached to the end of a slender and elastic pole, which is raised and lowered by the trapper from his place of concealment by a stout cord and which causes constant fluttering. A good stool-pigeon (one which will stay upon the stool) is rather difficult to obtain, and is worth from $5 to $25. Many trappers use the same birds for several years in succession.

The number of pigeons caught in a day by an expert trapper will seem incredible to one who has not witnessed the operation. A fair average is sixty to ninety