Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/112

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The Passenger Pigeon

they sat in rows on the trees or passed in clouds over-head. Before we arrived, a party of four men shot 826 birds in one day and then only stopping from sheer fatigue. Other parties continued the fusillade until the guns became so foul they could not be used, and would return to the village with a wagon-box full of birds. Scores of dead pigeons were left on the grounds to decay, and the woods were full of wounded ones. H. Frayer, a justice of the peace, informed us that a few days previously he had picked up fifteen maimed birds, his neighbor, a Mr. Green, twenty, and a Mr. Crossman, thirty-six, all in one day, after a shooting party had passed through.

The news of the formation of the nesting was not long in reaching the various Indian settlements near Petoskey, and the aborigines came in tens and fifties and in hordes. Some were armed with guns, but the majority were provided with powerful bows, and arrows with round, flat heads two or three inches in diameter. With these they shot under or into the nests, knocked out the squabs to the ground, and raked the old birds which loaded the branches. For miles the roads leading to the nesting were swarming with Indians, big and little, old and young, squaws, pappooses, bucks and young braves, on ponies, in carts and on foot. Each family brought its kit of cooking utensils, axes, a stock of provisions, tubs, barrels and firkins to pack the birds in, and came intending to carry on the business until the nesting