Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/116

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The Passenger Pigeon

engaged in hauling birds to Petoskey for shipment, for which they received $4 per wagon load. To "keep peace in the family" and avoid complaint, the pigeon men fitted up many of the settlers with nets, and instructed them in the art of trapping.

Added to these were the buyers, shippers, packers, Indians and boys, making not less than 2,000 persons (some placed it at 2,500) engaged in the traffic at this one nesting. Fully fifty teams were engaged in hauling birds to the railroad station. The road was carpeted with feathers, and the wings and feathers from the packing-houses were used by the wagon load to fill up the mud holes in the road for miles out of town. For four men to attempt to effect a work, having for opponents the entire country, residents and non-residents included, was no slight task.

The majority of the pigeoners were a reckless, hard set of men, but their repeated threats that they would "buckshot us" if we interfered with them in the woods failed to inspire the awe that was intended. It was four against 2,000. What was accomplished against such fearful odds may be seen by the following:

The regular shipments by rail before the party commenced operations were sixty barrels per day. On the 16th of April, just after our arrival, they fell to thirty-five barrels, and on the 17th down to twenty barrels per day, while on the 22d the shipments were only eight barrels of pigeons. On the Sunday previous there were