South Australia - Sport
- Athletics and Gymnastics
- Boxing and Wrestling
- The Adelaide Oval
- Fox Hunting
- Greyhound Racing
- Horse Racing
- Pigeon Racing and Shooting
- Rifle Shooting
- Roller and Ice Skating
Swimming and Bathing
- City and Public Baths
Pigeon Racing and Shooting
A Brief Essay on Pigeon Shooting
Now tell me my friends, was the like ever heard,
That a cat should be killed for killing birds!
For as an old father Tabby was often repeating
I thought birds and mice were on purpose for eating.
(Advertiser, 8 October 1868, page 2e)
This blood sport originated in England about 1790 and before long it became a profitable venture for publicans who "gave a fat pig, a silver watch or a second hand gun to be mpeted for [by people] who were too blind to see that the entrance, the profit on the birds, and the dinner ticket... and the consumption of coarse liquors, left a wide margin of profit for the liberal Boniface."
"With such gatherings, and the prospect of gambling in a small way, there sprung up professed pigeon-shots who travelled the country, and made a profit of their expertness if they won, or probably brought matters to a wrangle if they could not. It was part of their education - the height of their ambition - to learn old tricks and to invent new ones. "They bribed the ""trapper"" to pull slowly, to select large and conspicuously coloured birds from the hamper for them, to abstract one or two wing feathers so as to retard its flight, or to squeeze it as he placed it in the trap... This trap or box was so arranged as to throw the birds on one side when the string was pulled, and ensured a side shot favourable to the cheat's practise or position."
Clubs were established in the early 1800s and matches took place for large sums "which staggered the propriety of the more experienced and sober of their own class..." Pigeon shooting came to South Australia with the first emigrants and by the early 1850s matches were reported at Thebarton as being conducted by Mr Barnett of the Wheatsheaf Tavern. In the first event in 1853 a fowling-piece valued at £12 was shot for in sweepstakes between eleven shooters "at six birds each".
In 1854 a series of matches was conducted and a "party of crack shots... agreed to patronise the ""spread"" " which consisted of five matches for stakes ranging from one to twenty pounds a side. There was a tie between three shooters in the final event for they killed the whole of their birds and as there were no more birds to shoot at the stakes were divided equally.
A spectator of one of these so-called sporting events has left a description of the needless slaughter:
A pigeon which had been hit, but not killed, sought shelter in the spreading branches of one of the trees under the shade of which the ladies sat. It was badly wounded and gave a piteous little cry as it alighted. A few seconds suspense, during which the backers of gun or bird anxiously looked upward while making and taking fresh bets as to whether it would die, and their suspense was ended by a mangled mass of palpitating flesh and warm blood and feathers falling plump into a lady's lap...
The feathers of departed birds were floating in the air like moths on a summer's evening, a pile of large hampers was filled with the slain, one wounded bird which had got away was endeavouring to balance its wearied body on the palings, the dog which picked up the fallen was almost beaten with fatigue, and the odds against the birds were going steadily up to the time we left.
The shooting of birds on a Sunday, including pigeon matches, was considered by some to be a desecration of the Sabbath and in 1848 a Walkerville resident aired his opinion:
From the Company's Mill, for several miles around Walkerville, wherever a bird, small or great, presents itself, the deadly weapon is pointed... To the Christian, who wends his way with solemn mien, invited by the church-going bell to come to the house of God, the continuous reports of fire arms are very grievous...
I feel it my duty to direct public attention to the covert shop-keeping with door ajar in the village on the Sunday, where powder and shot (not to mention other things) can be purchased all day long.
General NotesAccording to the Register of 15 August 1885 at page 5d the first pigeon match in South Australia was held on Mrs W.A. Barnes' property at Bowden.
Live pigeon shooting at the Kangaroo Hotel on the South Road is reported in the Register,
6 and 12 December 1853, pages 3c and 3e;
at the Cremorne Hotel, Unley on
13 December 1856, page 2f; also see
22 June 1866, page 2e,
25 April 1905, page 6f and
7 December 1905, page 4f,
9 September 1921, page 10e and Place Names - Thebarton.
Pigeon shooting matches are described in the Observer,
8 April 1854, page 5e,
9 December 1872, page 3b.
"Cruel Sports" is in the Advertiser,
8 October 1868, page 2e,
"Pigeon Shooting" on
22 July 1869, page 3d; also see
23 July 1884, page 3f.
A carrier pigeon contest is reported in the Express,
7 April 1885, page 2c.
"Home-Loving Pigeons" is in the Register,
24 November 1887, page 5d.
A meeting of the SA Gun Club is reported in the Observer,
28 September 1901, page 20d.
"Carrier Pigeons" is in the Register,
25 June 1884, page 5b.
A carrier pigeon contest is reported in the Express,
7 April 1885, page 2c.
An inter-colonial pigeon shooting match is reported in the Advertiser,
11 July 1887, page 7e; also see
11 July 1887, page 3g,
27 and 28 May 1891, pages 7d and 4b,
30 May 1895, page 4b,
28 May 1897, page 4b.
"Artificial Flying Pigeons" is in the Register,
20 December 1880, page 5b.
The interest taken in homing pigeons is discussed in the Register,
15 September 1881, page 4g,
15 June 1905, page 8h;
also see Observer,
30 July 1892, page 20a,
20 August 1892, page 19c,
25 February 1893, page 19b,
22 and 29 April 1893, pages 20a and 20e,
13 May 1893, page 32c,
26 August 1893, page 19e,
1, 8 and 29 September 1894, pages 19e, 20e and 20b,
18 May 1895, page 26e,
14 and 28 December 1895, pages 21a and 20a,
22 May 1897, page 20d.
Also see Express,
14 January 1893, page 6d,
7 September 1894, page 4c,
28 May 1898, page 7d,
28 January 1899, page 7e,
2 November 1894, page 3e,
23 April 1885, page 7d,
28 May 1897, page 7c,
4 September 1934, page 11a,
9 July 1909, page 1f,
21 August 1909, page 3h,
17 November 1909, page 4c,
8 September 1911, page 6c
A Grand National Handicap at Morphettville is reported in the Chronicle,
26 August 1899, page 31e.
The first annual dinner of the SA Homing Pigeon Association is reported in the Chronicle,
18 April 1903, page 31e; also see
5 May 1904, page 4b.
A parliamentary debate on pigeon shooting is reported in the Advertiser,
7 and 12 December 1905, pages 8h and 6e.
A photograph is in the Observer,
30 March 1912, page 32,
9 October 1920, page 26.
"A Sportsman on Sport" is in the Register,
7 December 1905, page 4f.
A charity pigeon race is reported in the Express,
2 August 1907, page 1f.
"Grand National Race - Heavy Losses" is in the Register,
18 November 1909, page 4h.
"Australian Homing Pigeons for the Front" is in the Register,
8 March 1918, page 6f,
"Gallant Homing Pigeons - An Important Hobby" is in the Register,
2 October 1920, page 10c,
9 October 1920, page 11b.
An obituary of James Loutit, pigeon fancier, is in theRegister,
7 May 1920, page 6h,
Observer, 15 May 1920, page 37b.
"Coursing and Pigeon Shooting" is in the Register,
9 September 1921, page 10e.
"Pigeon Racing" is in The News,
10 September 1926, page 10c.
Information on Mr Baulderstone, the champion of the world in pigeon shooting, is in The News,
11 July 1928, page 4c.
Photographs are in the Observer,
22 May 1930, page 32,
29 May 1930, page 17.