• Lush vegetation on the top of Spectacle Island's North drumlin dominates the foreground. Boston's skyline can be seen in the distance.  The park's logo with tag line minutes away, worlds apart empashises the stark contrast between the city and islands.

    Boston Harbor Islands

    National Recreation Area Massachusetts

Hunting

Small game, such as hares, were likely hunted by colonists

Small game, such as hares, were the most likely object of hunting on the Harbor Islands

Hunting certainly took place on the Boston Harbor Islands in the historical period, that is, from the 16th century onward, but is poorly documented. The types of game hunted and the methods used must therefore be inferred from the sparse historical accounts. In 1632, for example, people were forbidden to shoot fowl on either Pulling Point (present Winthrop) or Noddles Island (present East Boston), those places having been reserved to a John, or Jobe, Perkins for netting fowl (Shurtleff 1890:443). Or, in another example, when Governors Island (now part of the airport) was granted to Governor John Winthrop in 1632, the grant included the "privilege of fowling" (Shurtleff 1890:449). In 1634 William Wood claimed that Deer Island was so named because of the deer that swam there to escape wolves on the mainland (Shurtleff 1890:464). And once on the island the deer were undoubtedly hunted by colonists. Snow reports that in 1725, a year many bears were killed in the Boston area, two of them swam to Spectacle for refuge but were killed there (Snow 1971:116). More recently, in the 19th century Lovells was known for its tame rabbits, which were also hunted (Shurtleff 1890:55). But this is the extent to which hunting is mentioned in the antiquarian histories of the islands. So, without further documentary evidence, one must simply assume that hunting of at least large and small mammals and various types of birds took place on the Harbor Islands.

What remains…
The historical resources associated with hunting on the islands might include the hunters' blinds, shell casings, and remains of traps or weirs. With the possible exception of shell casings, none of these remains are likely to be more than 50 years old and therefore would not be historically significant.

Prepared by Nancy S. Seaholes, 2009

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