Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Sandy Griswold. November 21, 1920. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 56(8): 19-N. Includes three pictures.

Autumn Days in the Sandhills Where Waterfowl and Grouse Abound

Leaping Lightly Over the Centuries, the Hunt Still Goes On - From Herodotus to Charlie Metz and the Splendors of Assyria to Those of Our Own Sandhills

Snugly nestling in the broad and beautiful basin of the Three Springs, amidst the ever picturesque sandhills of Cherry county, is the widely famed Charlie Metz ranch and shooting box-a cluster of modern structures, from the big ranch house itself and the model Ducking Lodge, to a multitude of structural accessories in the way of spacious barns, feeding sheds, corral, boat, machine, game and other buildings, it is one of the most complete resorts in all the country, from the palatial log homes of the wealthy New York sportsmen in the Adirondacks, to those charming shooting boxes roundabout the Sui Sun marshes in California, where the San Francisco gunners lead the life.

I have been a guest of several at them, in both regions, as well as down along the Chesapeake, along the gulf coast and the big wilderness of Canada, and yet at none of them have I found the ideal any more pronounced than at Charlie Metz's, I repeat, widely famed sandhills shooting villa.

Among the Western Hills.

With empires crumbling and royalty running garages in many nooks and crannies of this sadly jolted old world of ours, it is still our overpowering privilege to go hunting, not in the want columns of the World-Herald, but out among our western hills where the gleaming lake and broad marshland stretches away in svelte tranquility where the wild fowl fly in the protean days of autumn, and where the soft sun filters through flotillas of lacey clouds and filigrees with scurrying shadows the delicate traceries of enduring hills and endless plains and riant waters. Out at Charlie Metz's ranch.

Hunting today is in the paradoxical position of becoming more and more of a luxury, and at the same time more and more the overruling pastime of all men. But to hunt successfully in these modern years, you are compelled to go farther from home, remain a longer period of time, and expend more money, energy and care, than in the halcyon old days when there was neither law nor conscience, even be you on the list of a Charlie Metz. Like every thing else, hunting is showing an upward curve, and while there is less to hunt with each fleeting season, there are more people hunting it.

The joys and excitements of the word, it must be borne in mind, range all the way from the crack at a muskrat or a cottontail by the farmer boy, to the mighty exploits of the men who penetrate the untracked wilderness for moose and deer and bear, in all the varying degrees of intensity, and with the same impulses, we are all listening to the same call, that of the silent places. Whether one or the other, you are a loyal member of America's ever growing legion of outdoor sportsmen.

It Was Ever Thus.

But it has ever been the same, from the ancient Egyptians along the Nile's bordering deserts, down to the youth of today. Herodotus tells us of his hunting preserves, and down through the centuries in Biblical literature and that of the Hellenic civilization, as sung by Homer, it was the same, the hunt was the thing. In Assyria, particularly, the enclosed hunting preserves of the kings were so spacious and so numerous and so luxuriously appointed, that they were called paradise by later historians. And they tell of like hunting palaces maintained by the potentates of ancient Persia. Cyrus, for one, it is related, devoted the wealth of four great cities to defray the upkeep of his hunting homer. From these legends and old wives' tales grew the idea of game preservation, and from eon to eon it has been the same, until in the present it is much of a personal affair, the matter of hunting preserves, lodges and shooting boxes which now dot many a former sandhill's wastes in western Nebraska, for the comfort and convenience of scores and scores of guests.

As I intimated, it requires considerable means to devote even a few weeks to hunting, even when so favored as many are with such friends as our late present host, Charlie Metz. If this be so, imagine then, the expenditure necessary to own and maintain a private hunting resort, with its shooting boxes, its fishing stands, camps and shacks, with the essential equipment and personnel, even the hunting lodge itself, if maintained for one's exclusive pleasure and that of one's invited guests, is an expensive outlay in upkeep and equipment. When the brief summer and autumn season of use through the twelvemonth is duly considered, the cost is proportionately large.

Such a place is the Three Springs ranch, where so many Omahans, and other people, too, from distant cities, are given many happy days, and keep alive the time honored tradition of hunting de luxe.

The photographs on this page give some vague idea of Nebraska's hunting camp par excellent. It would be difficult to name a more complete place of the kind, and it is characteristic of the type of the very best in this country.

The Metz hunting lodge is the exemplar of this region, and its generous owner is one of the state's best known sportsmen. As a former active business man, he has a fine reputation for his expert knowledge of all matters appertaining to the life he likes best to lead. A real upland hunter by inheritance, by inclination and training, and of course an ardent lover of the great outdoors and all its wild life.

The Lodge in the Basin.

Six miles north of the little Northwestern railroad city of Cody, at a point known as the Hay Creek basin, this lodge is located. Mr. Metz picked the site because it was there on the broad and reedy waters of Three Springs, under the shadow of old Dunderburg, he did some of his earliest duck shooting. The camp is large enough to accommodate most comfortably some fifteen or twenty guests, excluding the servants. It is a happy combination of a camp in the wild and the appointments and conveniences of a city home, and withal it maintains its rugged individuality with the atmosphere of true sportsmanship and wild life on every side.

We were there this fall, with Professor Pat McAndrews, were there for ten days, and every one of them was a thing of beauty and a joy forever. And that, too, notwithstanding our sport on both ducks and chicken was somewhat attenuated owing to the inclement weather.

Fierce Blizzard Raged.

When we arrived there, on the morning of October 29, weather conditions could not have been more ideal, and the prospects were particularly luminous for both chicken and ducks, but Saturday evening there was a change, and the outlook became speedily and unmistakingly forbidding, and on Sunday morning a fierce blizzard was howling in from the northeast, and in the flash of an eye, the beautiful scene was changed to one of dreary desolation. The lakes all froze up solid as iron, and the snow, in places, drifted to the depth of from ten to twenty feet, the wild fowl all scurried south, and the grouse back into the hills. Hunting was absolutely out of the question, and continued so for nearly a week.

On the morning of November 3, Governor McKelvie, and party arrived, and while the shooting had picked up a bit, it was still a meager quantity. But that cut little figure with the governor and his party; they were there for an outing after several weeks of strenuous labors in the political field, and they had it, one of the finest and most delightful time they had ever experienced, and they got a reasonable bag of both ducks and chicken, at that.

The governor and party came up via the state fish car, and their journey was a pleasant one, of course. In the group was, of course, Governor McKelvie himself, Leo Stuhr, secretary of Agriculture; Game Warden George Koster and son, Herko, George L. Carter, exstate warden, and now the main guy of the Peters Cartridge company in this section of the country, and E.L. Gillham of Niobrara.

Party of hunters at the Metz ranch in 1920.
[Full Size]

The Metz ranch and shooting box in the Three Springs basin, as seen from the uplands to the southeast. Three Springs beyond and the outlines of Old Dunderburg in the distance. Governor McKelvie and party, with other guests. Back Row-Arthur Metz, Mr. Gillham and secretary, Leo Stuhr. Second Row-Sandy Griswold, Governor McKelvie, Charlie Metz and Game Warden Koster. Seated-Hergo Koster, George L. Carter, Herman Metz. Inset-The lord of the manor. Photos by R.J. McAndrews.