This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is about wildfowl hunting in 1910. At one time, wild birds were so plentiful on the Outer Banks that it seemed their numbers were inexhaustible. In the late 1800s market hunting with shotguns allowed the taking of dozens of geese and ducks, sometimes by mounting several guns on a boat or sinkbox. In one day hundreds of birds could be killed, then shipped to northern markets.
Of course, we now know that indiscriminate killing of wild birds leads to ecological disaster. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 and the Federal Duck Stamp Act of
1934 put an end to market hunting and the wholesale slaughter of
Bird hunting is a long tradition on Ocracoke. Ducks and geese were the primary targets, but small songbirds such as robins were also hunted for food, even within living memory. As late as the 1970s island boys routinely shot small birds within the village.
As David Cecelski writes in his book, A Historian's Coast, "[h]unting coastal birds was an old custom in North Carolina. Long before market gunning, watermen's families savored wild bird dishes ranging from fried tern to stewed blue heron. In fact, few bird species eluded the cook pot."
Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is a 1910 article about waterfowl hunting. You can read it here: http://www.villagecraftsmen.com/news102114.htm.