Waterfowling America Vol. Three


One of the foremost writers on waterfowling history, Wayne Capooth, M.D. chronicles the colorful accounts of waterfowling in the olden days. Let him take you on a journey back in time in Volume Three to witness waterfowling as practiced in the Upper Mississippi Flyway, the Central Flyway and the Pacific Flyway. Visit Sandusky Bay, Lake St.Clair, Lake Koshkonong, Devils Lake, Spirit Lake, the Platte River, Humboldt Bay, Suisun Marsh, Great Salt Lake, the Columbian River, the Klamath region of Oregon and many other waterfowling areas.

This three-volume set covers the entire United States, state by state, if that state had a significant waterfowling history. Vol. I covers the Eastern seaboard; Vol. II covers the lower Mississippi Flyway states with Texas included in this Volume. Vol. III covers the Pacific and Central Flyway states and the upper states in the Mississippi Flyway above Missouri. See TC for content for each Volume.

Waterfowl hunting was and still is a major form of recreation in the United States. Starting as subsistence hunting and market hunting, it reached its peak as a recreational sport in 1939 with over 44,000 waterfowl sportsmen and nearly 3,000 waterfowl hunting clubs and privately owned hunting marshes. Waterfowling evolved from subsistence to sport after the Civil War brought prosperity and affluence to broad segments of the population. Waterfowl, considered a delicacy by many, was in great demand for the table. With the rapid expansion of industrialization, increasing numbers of people found themselves with the means and leisure to engage in waterfowling as recreation. The construction of the railroads made the transportation of waterfowl to northern markets faster; while at the same time made travel for sport hunters easier. Market gunners and guides welcomed and needed the additional income provided by the arrival of the sportsmen. With refrigerated railroad cars and cold-storage warehouses, market hunting was in its heyday. Market hunting ended when enough sportsmen rallied on the side of conservation and game laws were enacted by states and the federal government, which put an end to market hunting, while waterfowl hunting clubs continue today. This triology covers it all.

All out-of-print books are in “as new condition,” which means the covers are bright and there are no damages to covers or text pages and show no shelf-ware.

All Volumes of Waterfowling America are extremely hard to find. Volume Three is highly requested for purchase. No hardcovers were ever printed.

PRICE is based on the book being out-of-print, rarity, collectability, demand, subject matter, limited first edition or an additional edition, softcover vs. hardcover with dust jacket, how hard is it to find one on the secondary/out-of-print market, and condition of book.

PRICE: SOFTCOVER, $400, plus $6.00 for shipping and handling. 438 pages, color chapter pages and frontispiece, over 100 images, published 2008. In stock to purchase.

TERMS OF PURCHASE: Every out-of-print book I sell is unconditionally guaranteed to meet your standards and expectations. If you are not completely satisfied, please contact the seller within seven days. If returned, book(s) must arrive in the “as new condition” in which it was purchased and mailed and must be returned within 7 days. Return postage is at purchaser’s expense.

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EXCERPTS FROM NEVADA CHAPTER . . . . From Captain James H. Simpson’s “Report of Exploration across the Great Basin in 1859”: “June 5, 1859 – Curlew, pelican and ducks and other aquatic birds frequent the locality, and the lake [Carson Lake] is filled with fish. During his exploration, he skirted Carson Lake to the south and then into Carson Valley. Simpson’s route, which proved to be considerably shorter that the Overland Trail (Humboldt River) route, also avoided the dreaded “Forty-Mile Desert” of the lower Carson River Basin. This route was used by the Pony Express, Union Telegraph and the Overland Stage Company in the early 1860s.

While camped near Carson Lake, Simpson reported on his first encounter with the Northern Paiute people, called “Cattail-Eaters,” particularly noting their hunting techniques. “The duck-decoys they use on the lake to attract the live ducks are perfect in form and fabric, and I obtained a couple for the Smithsonian Institution.” He obtained four such decoys – three canvasbacks and one redhead, three males and one female – for display in the Smithsonian Institute, along with the skin of a redhead.

Robert Ridgway, the ornithologist who examined the decoys for the Smithsonian, commented: “In the winter this [redhead] is an abundant species in the lakes of the Great Basin. It and the succeeding species [canvasback] are frequently used by the Paiute Indians in making very artistic and elaborate decoys which have a body of bent and twisted tules, with the skin stretched over it, the head prepared and positioned in a style equal to that of the most accomplished taxidermist. The floating decoy is anchored by a stone tied to a string, the other end of which is fastened to the bill.”

The Battle Mountain people used decoys called “stuffed bird” – three in a line tied to a single string – along the Humboldt River to attract waterfowl. The Native people in Spring Valley also used “stuffed birds.” Two Utes groups reportedly used decoys with duck-skinned coverings and tule bodies – the Timpanogots Ute of Utah Lake and the Pahvant Ute around Sevier Lake, another shallow-water area excellent for waterfowl. Omer C. Stewart also reported that a Ute group in western Colorado, the Uncompahgre, reportedly used decoys of “bark bodies” covered with bird skins.

Ducks decoys were also used in the western Great Basin in California. In the areas around San Francisco and Monterey Bays, Coastanoan groups were reported as early as 1776 to have made and used duck and goose skins stuffed with grass to attract migrating waterfowl. Stephen Powers, another early observer of California Indian life, noted in 1872 the use of duck decoys in conjunction with nets to take waterfowl in Maidu territory, also in the Central Valley of California. Powers spent the month of October 1875 in western Nevada among the Northern Paiute Indians at Pyramid Lake, Honey Lake and Walker Lake, and the Washo around Carson City. He donated a decoy and the skin of a widgeon used for covering a decoy that he obtained from Pyramid Lake to the Smithsonian. He described the decoy thusly: “Immoowe, duck decoy, a duck skin well preserved and neatly stretched on a frame of tules, so as to float on the water – very life like.”

During the 1930s, when numerous groups of California Indians were visited, the use of duck decoys was affirmed for subgroups of Yokutts, Tubatulaba and Kawaissu of southern California, as well as the Klamath and Modoc of northern California and southern Oregon.

Tule duck decoys recovered from Lovelock Cave, immediately north of the Carson Desert on the shore of the Humboldt Sink, have been dated at 2,080 years before present. Complete decoys and fragments thereof, representing several species of ducks and geese, occur in other archaeological sites in the Humboldt Basin as well. The decoys were generally of two types: bird skin-covered and plain. Feathered or plain, decoys were ordinarily crafted in the fall when the tules were dry but before they became brittle with age or damaged by wind and rain. Long stems of hardstem bulrush were first selected to make the body of each decoy. In addition, several stems of cattails were needed to make ties for the body, and more cattail stems and leaves were required to form the decoy’s head. Decoys that were to be covered with whole duck skins required less attention to the details of the head than those that would have feathers inserted in the body, or be left unfeathered. Heads for the plain and feather-covered decoys required realistic features. They were made separately and then attached to the bodies. Given that the head was normally left attached when a duck was skinned, for the skin-covered decoys the head was merely stuffed with grass or shredded tules and a stick then added through the decoy body to keep it upright. Heads for the plain or feather-covered decoys were usually made of cattail leaves. [Tule Technology Northern Paiute Uses of Marsh Resources in Western Nevada, 1990, Catherine S. Fowler.]

The cache of decoys from Lovelock Cave and from others recovered from the Humboldt Basin were of common merganser, white-fronted goose, Canada goose, ring-necked duck, white pelican and coot. The Humboldt Cave, about 12 miles southwest of the Lovelock Cave, also yielded a decoy body with a mudhen skin stretched over its surface. Besides the Native peoples at Stillwater and the Humboldt Sink, the Northern Paiute people at Walker River, Pyramid Lake, Honey Lake and Surprise Valley also reportedly hunted waterfowl with decoys.

Decoys were used in conjunction with two common hunting techniques for non-molting waterfowl: shooting with bow and arrow and netting. Setting out five to ten decoys in open water, the waterfowler concealed himself in blinds of tules and cattails – the natural marsh cover. The fowler sometimes used voice calling to attract waterfowl. Once within range, the fowler shot with special made arrows. The arrow was made with a carved foreshaft of greasewood featuring either a bulbous projection an inch below the tip or a small obsidian point. . . .


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