Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Rex M. [Eugene O. Mayfield]. March 17, 1901. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 36(168): 13. With two sketches.

Hunting Stories on Tap

Interesting Collection of Munchausen's Swap Tales of the Season.

Judge Stout Bright When a Boy and Ruminates on the Events of His Childhood.

Then He Grew to be a Big Hunter and Was Only Stopped by the Pappio—Some Rare Anecdotes.

With the advent of the duck season, and the consequent interest that is taken in such sport by a number of Omaha shooters, there have cropped out several stories of wonderful feats performed by well known individuals that have so far been kept from the public gaze through the modesty of those interested. Not that they were ashamed of what they had done, but because they feared that their friends might charge that the long bow had been drawn to such an extent that all of the resin had been worn off. But "truth crushed to the earth will rise again," quotes "Judge" Edward Munchausen Stout, and that is why he tells the following tales of his own experience on himself.

"When I was a much younger man than I am now," said the "judge," "I accompanied my father on a hunting expedition upon the Rawhide. We found a place where the ducks were so thick that we couldn't sleep at night for their ever-lasting squawking, and of course, we killed many of them. One morning while my father was getting breakfast at the camp I took his fine new gun and getting into a boat rowed out on a near-by lake and got ready to slaughter the innocents. I saw a big flock swimming not far away and rowed towards them. When I got near enough I picked up the gun and got ready to shoot when my foot slipped and as the boat dipped to one side the gun was wretched from my hands and fell overboard.

"'There goes dad's gun,' I said, and went back to camp.

"I told my father of what had occurred and he was much put out by my accident. 'But we can get it again,' I vouchsafed, because I marked the spot.'

"'How did you mark the spot,' he inquired.

"'Why,' I replied, 'when the gun went down I took out my knife and cut a notch in the side of the boat, right over where the bubbles were coming up, and then I rowed in here to tell you.'"

"Another experience I had while hunting," continued the narrator, "was out on the Big Pappio. I had hunted geese all day and towards evening, after it had got misty, started back to camp, empty-handed. I came to a bridge and as I was passing over it I saw a big flock of Canada geese beating up against the wind, I dropped down out of sight and the flock came directly over where I was. They barely missed the railing and raising up I caught nine of them by the legs before they could get out of the way. The smallest of them weighed about eighteen pounds. Of course I could not carry them all so I cached eight and started to camp with the ninth, which weighed near twenty-seven pounds. Half a mile down the road I ran into a flock of ducks in a pond and laying the goose down, having previously wrung its neck until it nearly come off, I began to creep up on the ducks and was almost near enough to shoot when I heard a ah-aunk! ah-aunk! behind me. Looking back, I saw the goose I had been carrying starting off in an opposite direction as fast as it could go. I had broken a wing in carrying it so that flying was out of the question. I let the ducks go and ran after the goose. When I thought I was near enough, I fired both barrels at the fleeting bunch of feathers, but missed. I dropped my gun and started in to catch the bird. Several times I had my hands on the tail feathers, but each time the goose escaped. This race kept up for nine miles when the chase led us again to the Papio. The goose darted into the water and I after it. I ran in until the water came up to my arms when I had to stop.

"But why did you not go farther," inquired Joseph Polcar.

"Couldn't swim a lick," replied Stout.

"You must have been a born hunter," some one suggested as Stout stopped to light his pipe and take a new lease on life.

"Yes, I am," he replied. "My father was a great hunter in his younger days. He hunted almost everything, including Indians."

"Tell us about the Indians," piped a pale young man, who was rolling a cigarette in the corner of the room, where the hunting tales were being related.

"Well, one time in particular," began Stout, "my father went hunting up on the Elkhorn. He had killed seventeen deer, all of them black-tails, and was getting ready to skin them when six Indians appeared over the brow of a little hill and began to shoot arrows at him. My father dropped down behind a big green cottonwood log and took a hand in the shooting. Inside of ten minutes he had killed three of them and wounded the others. But he was not to be let off so easily. Reinforcements came—dozens of them, and the arrows again made things lively about that cottonwood log. Once my father looked over the top and before he could get his head down thirteen arrows were stuck in his hat. That made my sire pretty mad and he began to shoot so fast that the gun got so hot that it set the green cottonwood log on fire and then the old gentleman was forced to jump into the river to escape."

Frank Bandle set up the matches and said to Sandy Griswold, "Can't you tell us some of your experiences." "I can," replied Sandy, "but Ed Stout and I have been trained in a different school, and my tales will appear tame besides what this modern Munchausen had been relating, but I did have an experience once, and I will tell you about it. I was hunting on the Boyer, near Bancroft, one time when I killed a duck. As I picked it up I remarked; There is a female canvasback. 'No, sir, it is a widgeon,' replied Frank Wilson, a local sportsman of Bancroft.

"I assured the gentleman that he was mistaken, but he did not believe me and offered to bet me $10 that it was a widgeon.

"'Who will we leave it to,' I inquired. 'To Sandy Griswold, the Omaha sporting authority,' he replied.

"I told him I would take the bet and when we got back to town we put up the money with a mutual friend and I came home."

"How did you decide the bet," a listener asked.

"Well, how do you suppose a man would decide a bet when his money was up and he was the judge," replied Griswold.

Bill Simeral is something of a hunter himself, and had listened attentively to the tales that had been related. Finally he was asked to explain about a certain rumored big killing he had made.

"I did bag a lot of game once," began Simeral. "I killed 806 quail, later one afternoon. Fred Baxter of Arapahoe was with me and did the same. We were late getting out, it being 1 o'clock in the afternoon before we started in a little single seated buggy. We drove twenty-one miles and began to shoot quail. We had six dogs with us and they retrieved the birds as soon as we shot them. But the most peculiar thing about the shooting was that the birds were all killed on the wing, and shot singly, too."

"Must have had a lot of shells with you," said a doubting Thomas.

"Had 800 each," explained Simeral.

Then an accountant who was in the crowd began to figure. "Let me see," he said, "One hundred quail will fill a wash tub. You killed 806 each. That means 1,212, or a little over twelve wash tubs full. To have killed that many birds you must have each fired a shot every second for all the time you say you were in the field. Perhaps you did it, but what I want to know is how you got all those quail back to town."

"That's easy," explained Simeral. "We each put 300 in our hunting jackets, and the rest in the buggy box, and when we got back to town we gave them all away except fifty each, which we made into two pies."

The church bells began to ring and the session was over for the time being.