Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Sandy Griswold. October 6, 1907. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 43(1): 2-M. Includes five pictures.

Metz Shooting Lodge in the Wild Sandhills

One of the Most Complete Game Preserves and Sanctuaries in the Country.

What the King of the Merganzer Club Has Done in Two Short Years.

Fortune surely smiled her blandest upon Charlie Metz when he made up his mind to possess the old Anse Newberry ranch up north of Cody, in Cherry county, and conceived the idea of converting the same into a sportsman's home - a game preserve and a game sanctuary. And the progress he has made during the short two years that he has owned the place is little short of the marvelous.

No more beautiful or attractive spot is to be found in the whole sandhills region. It is ideal in the lay of the land and configuration, with its charming lake and cold, running stream, its broad hay and grazing lands, and its abundance of both fish and game. And the buildings Mr. Metz has erected there, from one of the most modern and perfectly appointed hunting lodges, boat house, storage and machine house, game shed and out-structures, to the biggest and grandest barn in all Cherry county, would command attention in the oldest settled region in the country.

While the old Newberry home still stands there, it is in an enlarged and improved shape, the pretty country home of Frank Bowman, Mr. Metz's genial and capable overseer, and his interesting family. It stands to the right in the above cut of the ranch, in the midst of a thriving grove of young cottonwoods and silver poplars. Over to the left is the hunting lodge, boat house and other buildings with the big barn, corral and stock sheds in the back ground.

Mr. Metz says this is the recreation he most enjoys and longs for, and knowing his own capabilities better than anyone else, he intends to enjoy it as fully as possible for the rest of his days.

While the whole place, some two thousand acres, is meant strictly for a shooting and fishing preserve and sanctuary, it will also incidentally fill in the identity of a complete and modern ranch, with its stock and agriculture, and which will be attended to by overseer Bowman with strictest appreciation and care.

The hunting lodge, in the center of the cut, is a gothic affair-the dormitory, the principal apartment, a long airy and commodious room, running back from the front porch, to the big living room on the east side, with roomy cuisine and cold storage department to the west, tiled bathroom following, and butler's and chef's quarters, still in the rear.

The big sleeping room is appointed with the single aim for the hunter's convenience and pleasure, with its large southern stove, its gun, clothes and boot racks alongside; with its stationery wash stands, with hot and cold water all the time, and its double row of white iron single bedsteads, box-mattressed, snowy linened and blanketed to suit the inclination. There are eight of these beds, four on each side of the room, with a rugged area way down the center and between each. At the head of each bed is a handsomely appointed individual locker, with departments for both hunting and dress apparel. In fact, the whole apartment is one of the most complete to be found anywhere, even out-rivaling the famous Sui-sun Teal club in California, or the Saranac lodge in the Adirondacks.

The dining room also is a thing of beauty and a joy for ever, with his long Flemish oak tables and chairs; its most seductive buffet, sideboard, china closet and larder. And the cuisine, presided over by Abner Thomas, one of the most skilled of chefs, is a dream in appointment and completion. In fact, the Merganzer Hunting lodge stands peerless and alone in this western country in its charming ensemble.

Where Mr. Metz' modern and picturesque hunting lodge now stands was the rude log structure shown in the above cluster of cuts. It had but two rooms, with buffalo skin partitions, mud chinked walls, the crudest of furniture and but the fewest of comforts or conveniences, and still it was a joy to be there. All about was the untamed prairie.

But it was an ideal spot for the duck and chicken shooter, and Anse and Mrs. Newberry were the best of hosts. I can close my eyes now and look back and again enjoy the thrilling experiences of my first visit to this old-time shack and the famed Lugenbeel marshes.

I spent a week out there this fall, along with Mr. Metz himself, a matchless host, Louis Bismarck Metz, his jolly good brother, Colonel Frank Parmalee, the raconteur of the Merganzer club, and Billy and Allen Marsh, two of its most active members. Did we have a good time? Did Mistah Thomas feed us on the fat of the land? Did Colonel Parmalee manipulate the jigger and the shaker, and talk a few, and did Billy Marsh, Allen and myself wax fat, ragged and sassy? Well, I guess yes.

It is a quiet October evening and the sun has gone down. We linger in our blind of flags and rice. The Himalayan clouds pile up in the west, now glowing with topaz, now crimson fires running along their ragged edges. Again they change to amber, then purple, and finally into chilly gray. The atmosphere clear as a bell, after the gale which has blustered over Three Springs all the afternoon, tingles already with keenness of fall, and while the light wind still fans the rice tops, it comes from the south. There is a slender silvery sickle showing through the cloud rifts down low on the western horizon, and the misty starlight sparkles and snaps from the still surface of the pool on which the decoys softly bob. So still is it that you distinctly catch, from away off toward the lodge, old Abner's nasal twang as he sings, "One by One the Mile-Stones Pass," as he busies himself with the glorious dinner that we know awaits us. Plaintive, sweet in the deep quietude, there comes down to us the call of passing birds. High up somewhere in cloudland a flock of warblers are already on their way south. Listen, Pink! pink, pe-wink! pink, Don't you hear them.

Far away over Three Springs, where the shadows are growing inky black, suddenly rings the trumpet note, "pur-rut! pur-r-r-rut, rut, rut!" startling in its indescribable tones of the wild free life of that prairie wilderness. That guttural cry tells you that far out there in the darkness a big sandhill crane is guiding his broad-winged followers to their nightly roost.

Swish! Down we crouch and strain our eyes in fruitless search, but we know a bunch of ducks has passed low over our blind. Every wing beat reveals their identity as they speed away.

Redheads! They can't fool the old wild fowler. Still you hear them "wheu-u-u-u"-fainter and fainter grows the sound-then that tomb-like silence again.

That phantom-"one more shot"-chains you tight to your ready hide. Hark! A teal has splashed down in the water out beyond your decoys. Now a sounding surge fills your trained hearing, then a pattering of webbed feet and wing tips on the water, supplemented with a raucous "pank! pank! pank!" Mallards! And among your decoys.

Out through the ricey interstices protrude the black tubes of your hammerless. A flash of fire lights up the deepening dark. A sharp crack follows. You leap to your feet. You peer out onto the ebony waters. There is no commotion there, but again you catch the thrill of those quickly fanning but unseen wings as they throb away into the darkness of the night.

From the northwest, where the fabled Pleiades with their soft light glow in the heavens above, comes a weird concatenation of sounds from an old Dunderberg's sloping side. It is a greeting. The coyote's. That is the signal for home going. You tighten your belt, shoulder your dead birds, pick up your shell box, crunch through the weedy mire to solid land, then trudge off, light-hearted and happy, over the prairie for the light streaming from Abner's kitchen window, and where you know you will find sweet camaraderie and a glowing supper.

A cocktail, such as Fairbanks never dreamed of, from Colonel Parmalee's deft hands, a refreshing wash, banquet, cigars, fables, pinochle, sleep and still the coyote wails from the distant hillside, but that is all. it is obvious in Charlie Metz' cosy quarters until the pearl dawn tells of the coming of another October day.

Scenes at the Metz Hunting Lodge in the Sandhills

Scenes at the Metz Hunting Lodge 1907.
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