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Woodland Archery
Part 3 of 6

Mid-April had hit the hills a greenstroke, leaving across them a yernal stipple on a tender gray background. The first bird that I heard was a gold-winged woodpecker crying "Pee-er, pee-er," from the ton of a blasted oak. This was while I was yet at work with my man, Dave Hale, laying on the bark of my lean-to. When we had got everything snug I sent him away.

"Come Sunday morning, Mr. Hale, "I said, "and see if I'm ready to go."

"Shill I send my shaver to tote ye some aigs termorrer?" he suggested, indifferently.

"Yes, a couple of dozen. If I'm not here let him put them in the tent. "

Hale was not out of sight, going diagonally over the stony ridge eastward, when I slung on my quiver with six arrows in it and handled my bow. I drew a deep breath. Alone once more. Laugh if you will, but I felt like yelling for joy when I had strung my yew and stood forth yet again a wild man in a wild place. Now for a cat-like prowl in the greening thickets. One glance around to choose my course, and then I struck westward. I was in a great hurry, for a week soon passes; every moment was precious. Here is what I set down in my note-book when I came in at noon for a lunch:
    "A glorious morning, and a long, slow stroll in the wood westward. Followed an oven-bird from tree to tree, and saw, with my glass, how it took worms and moths from the leaves and buds. It has a curious habit of craning its neck and leering with no apparent object in view. Many another species of bird has a like mannerism. The common dove gives its neck a rhythmical vermicular motion; the kildee oscillates its body, with its hip-joints as points of support, a movement more or less characteristic of all snipes, sand-pipers and plovers; and not a few birds have a way of making their restlessness obtrusive by gesticulating with the tail. With some it is a sidewise wag, others jerk the feathers upward, while a few strike downward with a curious twinkling movement, at the same time correspondingly jerking up the head. Most long-necked birds give to their necks an undulatory swing while walking.

"A very remarkable habit common to many different species is that of slightly moving the wings as if with a threat of flight. This gives the bird an air of extreme instability and nervousness. Most of the woodpeckers, when sitting upon a bough or a fence-stake, now and again go through a series of peculiar squattings and head-bobbings, meantime uttering, at short intervals, a characteristic squeal or chirrup.

"On the second morning of my stay I was awakened by a thumping noise. A razor-backed hog was using his nose crowbar fashion and trying to lift up the foot of my tent, so as to get at a lot of roasted potatoes left over from my supper. I got up and bounced a two-pound stone off his ribs, and saw him career away down the hollow. In that moment such a jumble of bird-song as I never heard elsewhere assaulted me.