Page:The Passenger Pigeon - Mershon.djvu/28

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The Passenger Pigeon

even corduroy coats are rare. The powder horn is seen as often as the copper flask, and one hunter has a shot belt with two compartments instead of the English pouch. Of guns the assortment is as varied as the number of hunters, but the old, hard-kicking army musket with its iron ramrod is more popular than any other arm.

"We reach the edge of the clearing not a minute too soon. Now and then a distant shot tells us that we are not the first hunters out afield this morning. The guns are cracking everywhere along the road that skirts the woodland, and back in, close to the 'chopping,' some better wing-shots are posted by the openings into the woods where the birds fly lower, but where the shooting is more difficult. It is largely of the 'pick your bird' style, for the flight of a pigeon is very swift, and when they are darting among the tree-tops of a small forest opening, rare skill is required to bag one's birds.

"I prefer to take the flocks, even though they offer me more distant targets, and soon my gun-barrels are as hot as those of the rest of the skirmishers. Sometimes two or three birds drop from a flock at a single discharge, and then several shots may not fetch from on high more than one or two of the long tail-feathers spinning and twisting to the ground. It is fascinating to watch the whirling, shining descent of one of these feathers, and I pick up one and stick it in my cap as a matter of habit.

"This kind of pigeon shooting takes a good gun and