Forest and Stream, October 4, 1883


Tourists and sportsmen -- Field sports - Hunting : BirdTourists and sportsmen -- Field sports - Hunting : FoxTourists and sportsmen -- Field sports - Hunting : Waterfowl and shorebird

THE Roman legions were once sent to rid the Balearic Islands of a plague of rabbits; in the Seventeenth Century Spain dispatched a company of lanceros to Hispaniola to kill off the droves of wild dogs, sprung from the hounds which had been imported by the Conquistadors to hunt the Indians; and now from the dwellers in Accomack and Northampton counties, Virginia, comes a cry for hunters to destroy the superabundant and poultry-peculating foxes. Before the war this peninsula country was famous for the excellence of its foxhounds and the skill of its huntsmen. The planters kept large packs of choice dogs, and had plenty of time to hunt. Great stories are told of the exploits of dogs and men. But when the war came on the planters were ruined and the famous packs dispersed. The people have not yet recovered from the effects of the war. They have been too busy to do much hunting. Well-bred foxhounds are few and far between.

The foxes meanwhile have had it all their own way. They have increased and multiplied until they have become a positive nuisance. The farmers will welcome sportsmen and hounds who come to wage war on the vermin. The country is a grand one for this kind of hunting.

The game of Accomack and Northampton counties is not confined to foxes. Quail are there in abundance. They are to be found just out of the towns and on the plantations and farms. The bays and water courses are the resort of immense quantities of wildfowl, geese, brant, mallards, black ducks, curlew, snipe, willets, etc. The birds are found on both the east and west sides of the peninsula, but the east side with its islands is most famous. The shooting grounds are easy of access, board is very reasonable, guides and boats are to be had. For wildfowl the middle of November is the best season. The grounds are reached by steamer from Baltimore to Bell Haven, Va.


reprinted from Baltimore SunSea -- Shellfish - Oystering : BaysideSea -- Shellfish - Oystering : PlantingSea -- Shellfish - Oystering : YieldNatural resources -- Conservation - Resources

THE oyster commission appointed under a joint resolution of the last General Assembly, and composed of Prof. W. K. Brooks, Jas. L. Waddell and Hon. Wm. H. Legg, met Monday, Sept. 24, at John Hopkins University and spent the morning in discussion about districting the bay, with a view to the protection of its oyster beds with as little restriction as possible upon the present yield. The commissioners have sought to devise some plan which would result in the gradual improvement of the oyster property of the State, and at the same time interfere as little as possible with the supply for the immediate future. This is a point to which the commission have given careful attention. Many of the remedies which have been suggested to them would result in future improvement by killing the oyster business of the present. But they are seeking to devise measures which will interfere with the present yield of the beds no more than is absolutely necessary.

It was suggested to take from the counties of Dorchester and Somerset, and any others that may have it, the right to grant licenses to dredge, and place such powers wholly in the State authorities. It is further proposed to draw broad lines from prominent points, beyond which no dredging shall be done, only tonging men being allowed to take oysters in the restricted waters. These waters would include indentations and bays making up into the land and shallow parts of the bay, and all places where tonging is profitable. The broad, deep waters of the bay, it is suggested, shall be divided up into alternate broad and narrow strips. The broad strips are to be inspected annually and from time to time, and dredging will be permitted in them in proportion to their ability to stand the scrapings of the dredger's instruments. They may be thus worked yearly or biennially, or at longer periods. The narrow strips are not to be dredged at all. They will be natural beds for the growth of the oyster, and will furnish spat to supply the adjacent broad strips with young oysters. This spat will drift off into the neighboring bottom and find lodgment there, where in a year or two the spat will make oysters large enough to handle.

It is also proposed, in order to improve the oyster production, that a portion of the bottom of the bay be improved by dressing it with oyster shells. This will give the spat something to clutch as it drifts over the bottom, and secure a lodgment of young oysters. While there may be some who will complain at being excluded from dredging in the narrow strips, the greatest good is expected to result to the mass of people, and of course ultimately to those few who in the first instance may suffer some inconvenience from being excluded from what they think are their rights to the whole bay and all its tributaries.

Prof. Brooks read to the commission a very interesting letter which he had just received from Crisfield, Md., from Mr. Church, an oyster packer of that place, saying that in July he sold to a New Jersey oyster farmer a cargo of oyster shells which had accumulated at his oyster-packing house. These shells were taken to Long Island Sound and scattered upon the bottom. When Mr. Church visited the spot five weeks afterward he found these shells completely covered with young oysters. Dr. Brooks exhibited four of these shells, sent to him by Mr. Church, and upon each one of them were enough oysters to have yielded a bushel if all had grown to maturity. This incident shows how easily oyster beds may be restored and stocked by the expenditure of a little capital and energy, provided proper protection can be given to the young oysters. Dr. Brooks six years ago called attention to the advantage of shelling the bottom in the way which is now yielding such good results in Connecticut. Dr. Brooks reported at this meeting that he had just finished the tabulation of the results obtained by the commission in their recent examination of the oyster area of the State.

The average examination of sixty-one beds given 27-100 of an oyster to each square yard, or one oyster to each 3 7-10 square yards. In 1879 Lieut. Winslow found as the average of all his observations in Tangier Sound that there were 419-1,000 of an oyster to each square yard, or one oyster to each 2 4-10 square yards. If the average for the whole bay in 1879 had been no higher than Winslow found it in the Tangier Sound, the Maryland beds must have fallen from 419-1,000 to the square yard to 27-100 to the square yard in three years. That is, they have lost thirty-five per cent. of their value since 1879. This is by no means the whole of the truth, however. In 1879, when Winslow made his observation, the beds of Tangier Sound already showed signs of exhaustion, and were much worse than the beds of the State at large.

The injury to these latter beds is therefore much greater than these figures indicate. The commissioners have also ascertained the ratio between living oysters and dead shells on the different beds of the State. In 1876 Lugger found as an average from twenty beds that there were 3 7-10 bushels of living oysters to each bushel of dead shells. In 1879 Winslow found as the average from seventeen beds that there were 1 96-100 bushels of living oysters to each bushel of dead shells. The commission find as the average of forty-six beds that there are only 1 35-100 of living oysters to each bushel of dead shells. These results show that at the same time the oysters are growing scarce the labor required to capture them is growing greater, as the number of dead shells which must be handled for each bushel of oysters is increasing.

Forest and Stream
New York
October 4, 1883