Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

E. Wiley. June 2, 1918. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 53(35): 11-W. Forest Field and Stream.

An Interesting Little Letter.

Grand Island, Neb., May 22.-To Sandy Griswold, Sporting Editor of the World-Herald: I have long been an interested reader of your grand efforts relating to the forest, field and stream. I once caught a six-and-a-half-pound black bass, near Stanton. I went there in July, 1877, and though I've been in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Kentucky since then, I call Stanton county the most fortunately situated and endowed locality I ever hunted, fished or farmed in. In years long gone it must have been the paradise of the red man. Just across the Elkhorn, south of Stanton, in the spring of '78, I plowed a little field that had been the site of an Indian village in the early times. It was on the ground where a great Indian battle was fought fifty years or more ago, which I read about in the World-herald a few years ago.

Forty years ago, between Stanton and Norfolk, along the river, you could see more ducks, brants, geese and even swans in one day than you can see now along the Platte from here to Omaha in a week in the hunting season.

In those days plenty of deer, wildcats, wolves, small foxes (called swifts), and elk now and then, and occasionally a stray Texas steer, that passed for elk in those days after being dressed, and piked in the river, from the weight of fifteen pounds down.

An old gentleman kept a hotel in Stanton in those good old days and he was an angler as well as a boniface, and a good one, too. He once caught a bass in a small lake adjacent to the Elkhorn that measured twenty inches in length. Was that a big one? You speak of the scarcity of blue birds, which reminds me that I have not seen one this spring.

Do you remember the October storm (blizzard) in the fall of 1880? Would not that have killed the blue birds?

And, by the way, what miserable weather we had last October. You sure are an observer and little seems to miss your vision. I consider a close observer of nature and its works, the pranks of sunshine, of wind and weather, of clouds, of rain and snow, is a poet, whether he knows it or not; and you are a poet, if there ever was one. I think the closer one observes the more he gets out of life. It seems that if observation was taught more persistently in our schools it would bring good results. So many people see and yet do not really see in a proper sense. A half dozen young people may go in search of four-leafed clovers and one of the number will easily find more than the total of the others' find.

Have you ever noticed how unsightly a wind-blown rag or dilapidated kite caught in trees, barren or leaves, disrupts the pleasure of your view, but the last year's birds' nests are in perfect harmony?

I have written this more to show that I appreciate your letters rather than with the idea that I could write anything of interest.

I never hunted or fished as a sportsman but more as a pot hunter, as it was the meat we wanted in those days. It's no fun for me to play a fish in the water. When they struck for me, they came on shore quite suddenly or went submarining to another neighborhood. That's all there was to it.