Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Sandy Griswold. April 21, 1901. [Novel Experience at Waubonsie - Fowl Hunting Recollection from Forney's Lake]. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 36(203): 18. Portion of column.

Forest Field and Stream

"Yes, and there is another gentleman who had a sort of a novel experience down at Waubuncey, too," chimed in Frank Fogg. "About the time Parmelee's party sunk their sink-box. Arthur J. Webb was also in the neighborhood. He had a farmer friend down there in those days by the name of Mustard - a smart fellow of course - who lived off on the Waubuncey bottoms about five miles from McPaul, and about the time to which you refer. Mustard invited Webby to make him a visit and join him in a duck hunt. As a matter of course Arthur accepted and supplying himself with one of the celebrated Lawrence grass hunting suits, which were introduced that year, a couple of hundred of those never-failing Peters' shells; and a small vial of Charlie Lewis' twelve year old, he took the first train pointed toward McPaul. Before arriving at this little hamlet, Webby conceived the idea of having a little fun with the natives by donning his grass suit before alighting from the Pullman, so he put it on just before the train pulled in. Colonel Mustard was not at the depot to meet him, and after strutting around among the rural gazaboos lounging about the station for a few moments, Arthur started to foot it across the pasture lands to his friend's domicilium. He got along famously until about a half mile from Mustard's house, when he had to cross a broad grazing field, in which 300 or 400 mild-eyed Texas steers were placidly browsing. Webby had reached about the middle of the field when the long-horned bovines caught sight of his queer looking form and they made for him. Suspecting their fell intentions, Arthur, like a flying hay-cock, cut a beeline for the nearest barbed wire fence. The wild cattle snorted, flourished their tails and kicked up their hind hoofs in the enthusiasm of the chase, and observing that they were rapidly overhauling him, Arthur dropped his new $125 hammerless and let out a few more links. At this critical juncture Colonel Mustard saw him coming, and grabbing up an ax from the near-by wood pile, he started to the rescue. Webby beat the hilarious steers to the fence by a block, but alas, got entangled up with the barbs when he reached it, and it would have gone hard with him, had not Colonel Mustard arrived just in the nick of time with his ax, and while he held the snorting herd at bay, Arthur finally extricated himself and landed in a disheveled but picturesque heap on the right side of the fence, but minus his gun, grass suit, shells, duck call, hat and bottle. Oh yes, he recovered his gun, a little mared by hoof strokes, and part of his shells, but the steers ate up his grass suit and he never did hear what became of the piece of bric-a-brac he had purchased of Lewis. That afternoon, however, Webby and Colonel Mustard went out on the flats and walloped the mallards and bluebills right and left."

"Speaking about those Peters shells," observed Tom Davis, "why I was up at Cut-Off lake the other afternoon shooting mudhens with a 32 Winchester, and while standing on the platform of the lake club house saw a loon floating gracefully on the waves way across the lake, and I took a crack at it. The fact is I emptied about a dozen and a half shells without any result other than to make the great feathered buffoon of the waters dive, and I was about to give it up when Charlie Frager says: "Here, try one of these Peters shells, we always use them up here for long shots, and you will find that they beat all the cartridges you ever see." Of course I took the proffered shell and to my intense gratification flattened the bird out upon the surface like a pancake. "What did I tell you?" exclaimed Charlie as he ran down to the pier to his boat to go and get the loon. "you can hit 'em anywhere with those Peters shells."

"Never heard of Frank Parmelee's experience down on the Waubuncey with a sink-box, did you?" remarked Sandy McDonald to a little knot of shooters over at Townsend's the other evening. "No! Well it is a good one. It was in the fall of '93 and Frank and Fred Montmorency, together with three or four other Omaha gunners went down to Frank Forney's for a few days with the ducks. They took down with them a big, barnlike structure, which Jack Knowles had made under Parmelee's personal supervision, and which he said was a sink-box exactly like those used by the wealthy New York and Philadelphia sportsmen down at Currituck and on the Chesapeake. No one had ever tried one in this neck of the timber before, and the party sanguinely counted upon killing a carload of ducks. It cost the party $4.90 expressage on the box down to McPaul and $5 more for a team to haul it out to Forney's lake. Once on the spot they were all excited and eager to test the merits of their new contrivance. There was a big flight of birds on and they were as jubilant as so many boys out for a Saturday holiday. They launched the box and then pushed it out into the center of the lake with the aid of Forney's boat and when they had located the most likely spot they endeavored to sink it, but couldn't do it. They managed to get it about half submerged, however, and then to make sure in getting it down, the whole bunch, there was five of them, I believe got into it, forgetting all about their boat, which the waves soon washed ashore. Then they discovered their situation and became alarmed. There was not another single hunter on the lake and they did not know how they were to get back to land. They tried the efficacy of their united voices, calling for help, for an hour or so, but failing to attract the attention of anybody they began firing their guns in volleys. This they continued until late in the afternoon when they ran out of shells and when Forney, who was onto their predicament from the moment they allowed their boat to drift away, but he did not make himself known until they had exhausted their shells, just as he wanted them to, pretended to discover them. Then he rowed out and brought them in, and sold them the 300 or 400 old black powder shells he had on hand for $5 a 100. But they had an elegant sufficiency of the sink-box, and allowed it to float unmolested into shore, and after they were gone Forney hauled it out and turned it into a chicken coo, and to this day it ornaments his place down on the fabled Waubuncey."

"I have got a better one than that," remarked Judge Stout, as McDonald concluded, "on Bill Simeral, the Barrister. You all know, of course, that Bill owns the best kennel of Gordon setters this side of Cut-Off lake, and one day last fall he came out to Waterloo with a friend, after quail - Bill, of course, bringing with him a brace of his crack Gordon's - Rags and Old Sensation. They proceeded to the home of a farmer friend, a few miles south of the town and while they were preparing to sally forth on their rampage against ortyx virginianus, the farmer's little boy, who had a funny stammer in his speech, by the way, came running into the house and exclaimed: 'Mis-is-ter Sim-sim-er-l, there's tree bi-big f-f-fox squir-squir-els in t-the tr-tr-ee out b-by the b-b-barn; c-come an' k-kill 'em.' The Barrister, as you all know, never refuses an opportunity to take a shot, so he grabbed up his old blunderbuss and ran out to the bran yard, followed by his dog Rags. And true enough there were three fox'ens cavorting about in the spreading branches of an old elm, and Bill at once opened fire upon them, and before the last one reached the safety of its hole, he had emptied no less than seven shells at them, much to the disappointment of Rags and the boy. As they strolled back through a small garden patch to the house, they started a rabbit from among the headless cabbage stalks, which accidentally ran into Rags' open jaws and was captured. Of course Bill's dogs are too thoroughly trained on birds to deign even a glance at a cottontail, but this one ran right plump into Rags' mouth, and he had to close down on it. There was nothing else to do. After the momentary excitement had subsided, and Bill had picked up the rabbit and with the air of Napoleon handed it to the kid, they started on to the house, when the little fellow, gazing up into the lawyer's face, said: 'S-s-s-ay, M-m-mis-is-ter S-simeral, d-d-don't you w-wish o-o-old Rags c-c-could c-climb a-a-t-tree?'"