|In launching this Book about Decoys, I hope to supply a want and afford information to those who are interested in this special and peculiar branch of Fowling. To the Naturalist and Wildfowler, as well as to the Topographer and Antiquarian, I chiefly appeal. But whether the title, one of unknown import probably to nine out of ten people, will attract the attention of Sportsmen at large remains to be proved. My object, con amore, is to place on record the method of constructing Decoys, as well as the manner of taking Wildfowl therein.|
I shall include also all obtainable data and notes connected with the History of Decoys past and present, before such are for ever lost. With this object in view I have taken much trouble in acquiring all possible information on this sport-one rapidly being forgotten; and one that, for amusement and instruction to all lovers of wild birds, has no equal. That the history of Decoys without some such effort as the present would speedily have been lost, could not fail to be the case, as the old Decoymen die off, and Decoys annually cease to exist.
No book of any kind has yet been published on the subject, and lest none should appear the present work has been undertaken.
As an example, I may state that in our Eastern Counties alone there formerly existed some 100 Decoys, which, at a moderate estimate for those days, took on an average 5,000 Ducks apiece yearly; in other words, contributing to the markets the enormous total of half a million birds, of a purely wild and valuable nature, and this too without firing a shot.
England and Ireland, as well as many parts of Scotland, are still admirably suited for Decoys; not, it is true, as a means of profit as of yore, but as a constant source of amusement. For surely a Decoy, however small it may be, haunted by numbers of beautiful Wildfowl, affords a fund of interesting instruction that may always be resorted to with advantage by both sportsmen and naturalists.
It may be said with confidence, that there is scarcely a park or property in Great Britain where a moderate venture in the shape of a Decoy, costing from £100 to £150, could not be constructed. Its annual expense might be £30 to £40. Any fairly intelligent keeper could work it well enough to supply its owner daily during the winter with a dainty dish for his table, besides now and again plenty of birds to spare for friendly presents as well.
There may possibly exist some few unworked and almost forgotten Decoys of which I have not heard. Should this be the case, I shall be grateful to know of them, in order, if possible, to rectify such omissions.