Duck Netting In Japan: Novel and Exciting Sport Carried On with Great Ceremony.; Bag of 187 Birds Shown for a Days Effort at the Old Emperors Game., Daily Racing Form, 1920-03-25


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DUCK NETTING IN JAPAN Novel and Exciting Sport Carried On with Great Ceremony Ila r of 187 Uirils Shown for a Days DaysKlVort KlVort at the Olil Kiii eror Game Some years ago when serving iu a manofwar in Japanese waters it was my privilege to take part in a sport as exciting as it was novel It consisted wingThis of netting wild duck on the wing This has been a pastime of the Emperors of Japan for many ages and as far as known is confined to the imperial domains domainsThere There are two or three of these duck preserves in the country the one 1 had the pleasure of visiting bing situated about ten miles from Tokio TokioIu Iu former days it was customary to attend these ducknetting parties in court or full dress and I have met a retired naval officer who well re ¬ members having taken part in one dressed in frock coat ami cocked hat Fortunately for us the dress of this occasion was optional so needless to say cocked hats were not in evidence evidenceOur Our party numbering about twenty British and Japanese started off from Tokio iu a long pro ¬ cession of rickshas each drawn by two coolies Except for a single halt during which our ricksha men had a drink of native tea or cold water certainly nothing more potent I do not think we broke out of a steady run during the whole ten miles milesOn On reaching the duck grounds we were met by some court officials The head keeper with several assistants was also present presentThe The first thing impressed upon us was the im ¬ perative need for silence As nothing was to take place for an hour or so we were taken around the grounds anil had the principles of ducknetting ex ¬ plained to us usThe The whole place was laid out with the softest of green turf so that no sound of footsteps should disturb the wild fowl In the center of these grounds was a large pond where judging by the noise there must have been thousands of duck The pond itself however was invisible owing to a thick fringe of trees round the waters edge Itadiating from this central pond were a number of wet ditches some eight feet or ten feet deep and six feet wide in each of which were a number of lame decoy duck The latter are fed by a keeper daily and their calls at feeding time soon attract the wild birds which are thus enticed into these ditches ditchesHOW HOW THE WILD GAME IS NETTED NETTEDHaving Having been shown how the birds came to be there the next thing was to secure them We were first divided into parties of eight and then turned over to the care of tin head keeper Each was given a net somewhat resembling a prawning net lint with a handle about ten feet long made of bamboo These we were instructed to carry behind us as if about to make a cast with a fishing rod so that they should iot protrude beyond the edge of the ditch ditchAt At a signal from the keeper four of us crept along either side of the ditch a few feet from tin edge We were thus facing one another across tin ditch only three or four yards apart each crouch ¬ ing low with his net held iu readiness readinessWhen When the keeper saw ail were prepared he clapped his hands Immediately there arose a great quacking and the air was full of birds nets and much shouting All our party with the ex ¬ ception of two Japanese were novices at this game and while we were endeavoring to wield these clumsy nets our expert friends were doing great execution executionWhen When the duck had cither been netted or had made good their escape from this first ditch the whole affair was a matter of a few seconds only a move was made to the next a short distance away After one or two ditches had been dealt with we novices began to get the hang of it and managed to more or less hold our own The Japa ¬ nese next to me became intensely excited I re ¬ member that in his efforts to Kecjire u bis big he all but toppled me and the man on his other side into the water waterNetting Netting these birds is not so easy as one might suppose for as everyone knows the wild duck is very fleet on the wing and takes very little time to get up siieeil Then a net only two feet wide at the end of a tenfoot pole is not the handiest of things to manipulate Also in addition to defeat ¬ ing the maneuvers of the bird one had the other nets to compete with withIt It was a case of everyone for himself ami there was no such thing as poaching poachingOn On making a catch one was supposed lo swing ones net around behind where an attendant was in readiness to remove and dispatch the bird The experts however were seldom content with om bird but frequently netted two ami even three at a time A shipmate of mine standing opposite en ¬ deavored to do the same but his face was a study and his language unprintable when on opening hi net to catch a second bird the one already bagged made off offBy By far the greater number of these wild fowl were teal but occasionally a mallard would get up Whether there are any grounds for this belief I cannot say but it is generally supposed in Japan that if one of these mallard should succpcd in getting back to the main pond it would give the show away awaySo So to prevent this a falconer is always in at ¬ tendance with a falcon on his wrist ready to be launched at a moments notice I watched this bird at work and it was marvelous the speed at which it Delected it prey from among the teal and brought it to earth As a reward for its prowess the falcon is always given the mallards heart heartAt At the end of the days sport the bag was counted and found to consist of 1ST birds These our Japanese hosts distributed among the party and away we sped in rickshas at top speed for Tokio and our respective ships which were lying off Yokohama YokohamaAlthough Although we should probably have preferred a good days wild fowl shooting we nevertheless thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this ancient Japanese sport and the wardroom mess testified to the excellence of Japanese teal at dinner that eveniiiL P M in Bailvs Magazine

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