Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

April 1, 1894. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 29: 14.

Charlie Said So.

A Duck Story Related Confidentally by Rob Patrick.

Charlie and I were dissatisfied with the position of our blind. I know we were because Charlie said so. So we kicked away the sand, pulled up the boards which Jones had so carefully planted deep in the sands the night before in anticipation of our appearance for our spring hunt, and carrying them out on the southern point of the bar, built for ourselves the best duck blind in the state of Nebraska. Charlie said it was, so we had no doubts on the subject.

There we crouched in the newly constructed blind, while the morning breeze rippled the rushing surface of the Platte and the rising sun turned each yellow ripple into silver. The larks sang on the distant bank and a killdeer whistled shrilly on the edge of the neighboring bayou. It was an ideal spring day. Charlie said so and that settled it.

But in spite of the fact that our decoys were floating upon the heaving bosom of the turgid Platte in most enticing guise, and Charlie was a "master hand," (or mouth?) with a duck call, (he said so, which made it true,) we sat for hour after hour crouched in that most scientifically constructed blind, behind those most artfully arranged, bobbing decoys, with Charlie imitating and old, consumptive, broken-winded mallard drake almost continually, while every bunch of ducks on the river passed us a mile away. I got mad because the killdeer's note had a sarcastic ring to it, arose in my wrath and killed the bird. Charlie said that note had a sarcastic ring, so the killdeer had to die.

Then Charlie said we had not located our blind in the proper place. He said he could see way down the river where millions of ducks and trillions of geese were resting on a low bar; that if we had our blind on that bar we could kill a carload of game a minute. Well, Charlie said it, and I longed for telephonic connection with Omaha to get a train of freight cars sent down to Gretna. I knew, as soon as Charlie spoke, that we would build another scientific blind on that low bar and kill all those ducks, and I also knew that there were not freight cars enough at Gretna to take them to Omaha. I am a careful man and like to provide for coming events, and the unfortunate predicament we were to meet when we undertook to get the game home worried me greatly.

But Charlie was not worried. He called Jones from his concealment behind a stump, which was not a scientifically constructed blind, but which hid Jones so completely that I almost lost my breath when he rose like a ghost from it in answer to the hail, and demanded that we be placed on that distant isle. Then the patient Jones went across the bar, hitched himself to that great tub of a boat, rowed and dragged it to our scientific blind, which we reduced to fragments. We laboriously pulled up our decoys and loaded them, together with the fragments of the scientific blind, the dog and Charlie's duck call into the boat, and, amidst the rushing of stream, the shrieks of the tug whistles and the shouts of the assembled multitudes—but that's another story—we trusted ourselves to Jones and the tub to locate on the distant isle. "Now," said Charlie, "we'll get some ducks." How I longed for some way to get that train of freight cars to Gretna. After that speech of Charlie's the cars became a necessity.

The rapid current and Jones' lusty strokes soon brought us to the spot. My eyes were strained to see those millions of ducks and trillions of geese, but the bar was as bare as a boarding house table. But Charlie said they would come back so I thought of suggesting that Jones go back to camp to send someone to arrange for those freight cars, but held my peace.

Then Charlie selected a spot which he said was the best spot for a blind in the river. The spot was as large as the top of a small dining table and I was glad it was the one suitable spot on which to build that blind, for it was the only spot within two miles upon which one could stand without disappearing in quicksand or getting drowned. Charlie said he displayed great sagacity in selecting that particular point for the blind, and, in view of the circumstances, I agreed with him.

In view of the lack of underpinning on that bar, Charlie determined not to build a scientific blind. The announcement of this decision brought a great relief to my overburdened mind, for if Charlie had built that blind it would have taken all our solid sand and compelled us to do our shooting in quicksand or while swimming, and I cannot swim and shoot at the same time. So Charlie had me bring him the boards and hay from the boat, lay the boards carefully on the sand, put the hay on top of them, bring the decoys from the boat, set them in a fine semi-circle, carry the guns and grass suits and the cartridges to the blind, and we were ready. Charlie carried the duck call and the dog went over herself.

We put on our grass suits. Charlie told me before starting that every well equipped duck hunter must have a grass suit, so I had one with me. When one puts one of these things on he is twin brother to a sun-burned haycock, and if he will only sit still enough the ducks will come and roost on him. This, Charlie did not tell me, I found it out. Then we sat down on the hay with the boards underneath it, with our guns carefully concealed by our side and the dog hidden between us by our suits, and waited for the millions of ducks and trillions of geese to come back.

Then Charlie said "Mark." I looked away down the river and saw a dozen black specks against the sky. They came rapidly nearer, turned sharply to the left, and dropped into the water where the millions of ducks had settled and were gaily sporting in the water at the foot of an island a mile away. Charlie said that Jones would have to prevent that, so Jones again took to the tub, floated down to the island, and stirred them up.

Again Charlie said "Mark." Again I saw specks in the sky. Again they drew nearer and nearer and yet nearer. Then Charlie's duck call began to work and the flying ducks circled sharply to our decoys. On they came, set their wings just over our decoys and prepared to light. "Let them have it!" shouted Charlie. "Bang," "Bang," "Bang," "Bang," went the double barrels—and so did the ducks. Not a feather turned. Charlie said—well, his words are not contained in any Sunday school and I won't repeat them.

That thing worked just the same way for two hours, until the water about us was full of empty shells and not a duck was in our game bag. So we returned to camp wet, hungry and tired, and Charlie said more picturesque things; but I was relieved of my torturing anxiety about those freight cars. This is written to warn Charlie's friend not to ask him for particulars about his late duck hunt.