Open main menu

Page:Ornithological biography, or an account of the habits of the birds of the United States of America, volume 1.djvu/363

This page has been validated.

( 335 )


The different modes of destroying Deer are probably too well understood and too successfully practised in the United States; for, notwithstanding the almost incredible abundance of these beautiful animals in our forests and prairies, such havock is carried on amongst them, that, in a few centuries, they will probably be as scarce in America, as the Great Bustard now is in Britain.

We have three modes of hunting Deer, each varying in some slight degree, in the different States and Districts. The first is termed Still Hunting, and is by far the most destructive. The second is called Fire-light Hunting, and is next in its exterminating effects. The third, which may be looked upon as a mere amusement, is named Driving. Although many deer are destroyed by this latter method, it is not by any means so pernicious as the others. These methods I shall describe separately.

Still Hunting is followed as a kind of trade by most of our frontier men. To be practised with success, it requires great activity, an expert management of the rifle, and a thorough knowledge of the forest, together with an intimate acquaintance with the habits of the Deer, not only at different seasons of the year, but also at every hour of the day, as the hunter must be aware of the situations which the game prefers, and in which it is most likely to be found, at any particular time. I might here present you with a full account of the habits of our Deer, were it not my intention to lay before you, at some future period, in the form of a distinct work, the observations which I have made on the various Quadrupeds of our extensive territories.

Illustrations of any kind require to be presented in the best possible light. We shall therefore suppose that we are now about to follow the true hunter, as the Still Hunter is also called, through the interior of the tangled woods, across morasses, ravines, and such places, where the game may prove more or less plentiful, even should none be found there in the first instance. We shall allow our hunter all the agility, patience, and care, which his occupation requires, and will march in his rear, as if we were spies, watching all his motions.

His dress, you observe, consists of a leather hunting-shirt, and a