As far as we have been able to judge, we are inclined to this opinion also, and do not recollect ever having succeeded in toling any other species of duck, unaccompanied by the canvass-back, although we have made the effort many times.
A species of mongrel water-dog, or often any common cur, is taught to run backwards and forwards after stones, sticks, or other missiles thrown from one side to the other. In his activity and industry in this simple branch of education, within the comprehension of any dog, consists the almost incredible art of toling the canvass-back.
This may not be an inappropriate place to speak of this wonderful mode of decoying ducks, termed toling, so extensively practised upon the Chesapeake bay and its tributaries, where the canvass-back and red-heads resort in such numerous quantities every fall.
She and Harry Goldthwaite were on one side, and they led off their whole party, going nonchalantly through wicket after wicket, as if they could not help it; and after they had well distanced the rest, just toling each other along over the ground, till they were rovers together, and came down into the general field again with havoc to the enemy, and the whole game in their hands on their own part.
We have seen some of the descendants of these sagacious animals on the Chesapeake, engaged, not only in bringing the ducks from the water when shot, but also toling them into shore within range of the murderous batteries concealed behind the blind.
This form of disease is not uncommon among those dogs used in toling ducks on the Chesapeake bay, these animals being obliged to run incessantly to and fro over the gravel shores, in their efforts to attract the canvass-back. We have seen many dogs that have been made cripples by this arduous work, and rendered prematurely old while yet in their prime.
"Why do you say that?" demanded the other, keeping his eyes on the eagerly beckoning boy who was emerging from the thicket. "Might be a trap, you know," Bandy-legs went on. "Heard about such things. The little critter may be just toling us on like they train a dog to do down in the duck regions along Chesapeake Bay." "Oh, rats!" Max remarked. "That look of terror on his face ain't put on.
Although the toling of ducks is so simple in its process, there are few dogs that have sufficient industry and perseverance to arrive at any degree of perfection in the art.
In 1676 Master Mace wrote of the singing in English churches, "'T is sad to hear what whining, toling, yelling or shreaking there is in our country congregations." A few feeble efforts were made in America at the beginning of the eighteenth century to attempt to guide the singing.
The toling season continues about three weeks from the first appearance of the ducks, often a much shorter time, as these birds become more cautious, and are no longer deceived in this way. The canvass-back toles better than any other duck; in fact, it is asserted by many sportsmen, that this particular variety alone can be decoyed in this mode.