Dutch Fork: From the Hunt

Venison, rabbit, opossum, squirrel, wild turkey, dove, rice-bird, black-bird, robin, and partridge came from the hunt and "bird-thrashings" (sometimes called "bird-whippings" or "bird-switchings"), curious and rather uncongenial events that were common enough in Newberry and Lexington into our century, and not to be found in other parts of the region. In the winter of the year, young men and boys would gather at night at hedgerows or brushpiles with pineknot or "lightered" torches. A fellow on one side would make noise while his companions waited on the other. The startled birds, upon flying out of their roosting places, would be blinded by the lights, and in the midst of much commotion and joking on the part of the menfolk, be knocked down by dogwood branches or "thorn brushes" made of possum-apple, locust, or other thorny branches tied into bundles. The birds ("any kind that came out") were made into pies; but as food became more plentiful and cleaning tiny birds too tedious, the event was continued awhile only as a communal sport, as a carryover from the old days when it had had a culinary purpose. Whether it is of European or Indian origin, no one seems to know. Happily, the custom has been discontinued in our day of dwindling wildlife. As one old Dutch Forker commented recently, "There use to be a lots of birds; but there aint no birds now." The great wealth of wildlife in the old days would likely stagger a modern. The rice-birds which came in numerous chattering flocks to cover the fields have dwindled to an occasional few at the bird-feeder; the congregations of great blue herons and flocks of cranes on Broad River are reduced to isolated pairs; the mischievous and prolific Carolina paroquet is extinct; and the eagle roosts no more in his eyries on the rocky cliffs of Saluda. (Kibler, 1988)

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