“Gentlemen” Plume Hunters

“Plume hunting” for sport and fashion was common in the years before laws were enacted to protect our birds. The following is an excerpt from A Florida Sketch-Book by naturalist Bradford Torrey in 1895, mocking those who engaged in such activity:

Great Egret in the Swamp; Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia. March 11, 2015. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally at Dreamstime.com.

“Happily, the lawmakers of the State have done something of recent years for the protection of such defenseless beauties. Happily, too, shooting from the river boats is no longer permitted,—on the regular lines, that is. I myself saw a young gentleman stand on the deck of an excursion steamer, with a rifle, and do his worst to kill or maim every living thing that came in sight, from a spotted sandpiper to a turkey buzzard! I call him a ‘gentleman;’ he was in gentle company, and the fact that he chewed gum industriously would, I fear, hardly invalidate his claim to that title. The narrow river wound in and out between low, densely wooded banks, and the beauty of the shifting scene was enough almost to take one’s breath away; but the crack of the rifle was not the less frequent on that account. Perhaps the sportsman was a Southerner, to whom river scenery of that enchanting kind was an old story. More likely he was a Northerner, one of the men who thank Heaven they are ‘not sentimental’.”

Torrey, Bradford. “Chapter 4: “Along the Hillsborough”.” A Florida Sketch-Book. 1895.


iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30255238

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website www.williamwisephoto.com is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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