DECOY, among fowlers, a place made for catching wild fowl. A decoy is gene rally made where there is a large pond surrounded with wood, and beyond that a marshy and uncultivated country : if the piece of water is not thus surrounded, it will be attended with noises and other accidents, which may be expected to frighten the wild fowl from a quiet haunt, where they mean to sleep in the day-time in security. If these noises or dikur bances are wilful, it has been held that an action will lie against the disturber. As soon as the evening sets in, the decoy rises, and the wild-fowl feed during the night. If the evening is still, the noise of their wings during their flight is heard at a very great distance, and is a pleasing, though rather melancholy sound.
The decoy ducks are fed with hemp seed, which is thrown over the screens in small quantities, to brine• them for wards into the pipes or canals, and to al., lure the wild-fowl to follow, as this seed is so light as to float. There are several pipes, as they are called, which lead up a narrow ditch that closes at last with a funnel-net. Over these pipes (which grow narrower from their first entrance) is a continued arch of netting, suspended on hoops. It is necessary to have a pipe or ditch for almost every wind that can blow, as upon this circumstance it depends which pipe the fowl will take to ; and the decoyman always keeps on the leeward side of the ducks, to prevent his scent reaching their sagacious nostrils. All along each pipe, at intervals, are placed screens made of reeds, which are so si tuated, that it is impossible the wild fowl shouldsee the decoyman before they have passed on towards the end of the pipe, where the purse net is placed. The in
ducement of the wild fowl to go up one of these pipes is, because the decoy ducks, trained to this, lead the way, either after hearing the whistle of the decoyman, or enticed by the hemp seed ; the latter will dive under water, whilst the wild-fowl fly on and are taken in the purse. It often happens, however, that the wild-fowl are in such a state of sleepiness and dozing that they will not follow the decoy-ducks. Use is then generally made of a dog that is taught his lesson : he passes back wards and forwards between the reed screens (in which are little holes, both for the decoyman to see, and the little dog to pass through ;) this attracts the eye of the wild fowl, who, not choosing to be interrupted, advance towards the small and contemptible. animal, that they may drive him away. The dog all the time, by the direction of the decoyman, plays among the screens of reeds,•nearer and nearer the purse-net ; till at last, perhaps, the decoyman appears behind a screen, and the wild•fowl, not daring to pass by him in return, nor being able to escape upwards on account of the net covering, rush on into the purse-net. Somtimes the dog will not attract their attention, if a • red handkerchief, or something very singular, is nth put about him.