Immense numbers of wild fowl are often captured in this way.
The “bird whistle,” already alluded to, is often used with good effect, it being only sufficient to attract the birds to such a proximity to the net as will enable them to spy the bait, after which their capture is easily effected.
This instrument, also known as the prairie whistle, is clearly shown in our illustration. It is constructed as follows: First, procure a piece of morocco or thin leather. From it cut a circular piece one inch and a quarter in diameter. Through the centre of this disc, cut a round hole, one-third of an inch in diameter. A semi-circular piece of tin is next required. It should be of the shape of an arc, as seen in our illustration; its width across the ends being about three-quarters of an inch, and its entire length being pierced with a row of fine holes. Next procure a piece of thin sheet India rubber or gold beater’s skin. Cut a strip about an inch in length by half an inch in width, and lay one of its long edges directly across the opening in the leather disc. Fold the leather in half (over the rubber), and draw the latter tightly. Next lay on the arc of tin in the position shown in the illustration, and by the aid of a fine needle and thread sew it through the holes, including both leather and rubber in the stitches. When this is done, the whistle is complete. If the gold beater’s skin is not attainable, a good substitute may be found in the thin outer membrane of the leaf of a tough onion or leak, the pulp being scraped away.
[Page 75] To use the whistle, place it against the roof of the mouth, tin side up, and with the edge of the rubber towards the front. When once wet, it will adhere to the roof of the mouth, and by skilful blowing, it can be made to send forth a most surprising variety of sounds. The quack of the duck and the song of the thrush may be made to follow each other in a single breath, and the squeal of a pig or the neigh of a horse are equally within its scope. In short, there is scarcely any animal, whether bird or quadruped, the cry of which may not be easily imitated by a skilful use of the prairie whistle, or, indeed, as it might with propriety be called, the “menagerie whistle.”
In our northern cold regions, where the wild geese and ptarmigan flock in immense numbers, this trap is commonly utilized. It consists merely of a large net fifty feet in length, and fifteen in width, arranged on a framework, and propped in a slanting position by two poles, after the manner of the sieve trap. It is generally set on the ice; and the trapper, after attaching his strings to the props, and sprinkling his bait at the foot of the net, retires to a distance to await his chances. Tame geese are often used as decoys, and sometimes the bird whistle