Commission Merchant. Friday, January 7, 1876. Omaha Morning Bee 5(166): 4.
Another View of the Game Law.
A Commission Merchant Gives His Ideas on the Subject.
"Justice," in his plea in behalf of the antelope hunters and their rights, does not go to the root of the matter.
The question raised as to the right of dealers to handle game killed before the commencement of the "close" season, but which may have arrived after it, is of comparatively little importance.
What justice is there in this "protective" law at all? Take, for instance, the pinnated grouse of "prairie chicken" as an example.
The farmer contributes of his substance to "raise" these birds, as he does to raise his domestic fowls. Early in August, the old birds lead their broods of chickens into his wheat field, and the wheat along the margin is often beaten down and badly damaged by them. Later, they forage in his stubbles, and from early October on, they spend much of their time in his corn fields.
The farmer, as a rule, is not an expert "shootist." He don't sport a breech-loader and a brace of pointers or setters, neither can he cut his bird down when on the wing. Till September he seldom sees these wild flocks of his, except when he startles them out of the grass or stubbles. From October he may occasionally knock a few off his fences on frosty mornings, with his old rifle with the curly maple stock. He is comparatively helpless in the matter of levying on these flocks of his, till the snow comes down and covers up the loose feed. Then, the birds driven by hunger, venture into his traps, and he can market them the same as his poultry.
Has he not the right to do so?
The law says "No;" there are men of gentlemanly leisure, living in cities, who do sport breech-loaders and dogs and to them belongs the exclusive right to slaughter these birds which you have "raised."
They may come out in early August when your chickens are half grown and weak, find them there hidden in the grass, and leisurely butcher the whole brood, as they kick them out one by one from their hiding places, for this is sport, and the law is made to protect them in it. If the trail leads into your wheat fields, why, the dogs may beat through them, and the men may trample the edges to a reasonable extent to their laudable zeal to start the birds that the law "protects!" In short, the farmer is helpless in the matter. He cannot shoot them, and the law says he shall not trap or ensnare them at any time of the year.
He is deprived of a very considerable income. During the month of January, 1874, I paid out for "prairie chickens," in Omaha, nearly $3,000, all of which went into the empty pockets and to fill the famished stomachs of the "grass-hoppered" farmers, and I was but one of many buyers, while tons upon tons of birds were shipped through direct to eastern markets from interior points. The farmers of the State probably netted from $20,000 to $30,000 last winter from the sale of prairie chickens. But the new law stops this revenue, and the State will be that much poorer. But then, the birds will be saved for the sport of the men who framed the law.