Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

September 24, 1922. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 57(49=52): 3-W.

Says One Month Enough to Hunt Prairie Chickens

By Sandy Griswold.

Inconsolable, as some few sportsmen seem to be over the fact that the open season on prairie chicken does not begin until October 1, and is limited to that month alone. They are all wrong, at that, and with but few exceptions, after due reflection over the changed conditions that time has wrought, I think they will agree with me.

To start with, to give the birds something like a fair chance with the gunner, October is the ideal month for the sport. By the time this period rolls round the young birds are fully feathered, strong of wing, and pretty well inured to the dangers that beset them, and, therefore, have some sort of a chance, thought slender it be, of matching their wits against those of the gunner. And more than this, in October the birds reach the very acme of their gastronomic attractiveness, and so far as the real provident sportsman goes, he is satisfied with the present rules and regulations governing the shooting.

Plenty of Sport.

To be permitted to ramble afield during the whole of this matchless month they are quite sure to get all the sport they desire, or should be allowed to indulge in, anyway.

The fact that a large preponderance of Nebraska sportsmen are being more and more convinced, with each recurring year, that the open season must be delayed as well as curtailed, if they hope for any chicken shooting in the future. This is the sentiment that is today stronger and more widespread than any other consideration that has swayed chicken shooters since it has become such an overwhelming necessity in these latter years.

With the fairly liberal season now vouchsafed, there is little doubt but what all conscientious lovers of this, the grandest of all field shooting, in the estimation of many, with the ever increasing pressure for conservation will become absolutely satisfied.

The Ideal Month.

Yet, as I said before, and I include all time from the moment the chicks chip the shell to the time they "pack" in immense bunches for protection against the oncoming cold and snow, that the rare month of October is the one proper and ideal month for their pursuit by the gunner.

Picture in your mind's eye, all you old times who have enjoyed the blissful days in our broad hay and corn fields, and on our measureless prairies, that I have, will have no difficulty in doing, a scene like this.

Side by side with some beloved comrade, and the old dog, companion of many a glorious and memorable hunt, ranging out in front of you, or quartering this way or that, you tramp the teeming spaces; the bedraggled pasture lands, up the sere sandhills and down the chequered draws, and in the hazy, sensuous atmosphere of the rarest climate between the two oceans, find a happy refinement of glorious exhilaration that you could not even dream of back in the late days of sweltering August or early September.

Surrounding Charms.

Besides the unalloyed pleasure you experience from the fact that you are engaged in an honest recreation, there is still greater delight you derive from the surrounding charms of the waning autumn days.

Shut up, perhaps in office, shop or counting room, all through the hot period, the sights and sounds in the droning fall weather, you seem an altogether different personage.

Such an outing in October, with the birds even moderately abundant, and strong enough of body and wing to test the steadiest of nerves and keenest of vision, is a revelation, another existence. Each enchanted faculty brings back to you memories of other sweet days, in the long ago, of other camaraderie, other scenes, but none more righteous or beautiful.

To such a chicken hunter the morning and evening jubilate of the meadowlark as he struts before you through the dessicated sunflower stalks, or stands proudly erect on those cream-colored pillars of his, on fence post or corn-shock, never sounds half so delightful or melodious.

Glories of Autumn.

The rudy vested robin, now marshalling for the long pilgrimage, hops festively along the dank bank of creek, or swale, or goes undulating over the yellowing hayfield, emitting from yellow beak that sharp staccato farewell, is an incident to always be recollected. The modest but gaily tinted flowers of the autumn-time, the aster, the adder's tongue, Indian plume, wild parsnip and lobelia stare up into your face as you stroll along, like old time friends.

Again you catch the ventriloquil caw-caw-caw of old Jim Crow and his pals streaming low over the solemn fields on slowly flapping wing; the incessant twittering of the redwings amongst the reeds of all the low places and a medley of other sounds fully as welcome and so sweet, that they greatly lessen the fatigue of your glorious chase.

And then again, from off somewhere from over the low rolls of the prairie, from fretted river or marshland expanse, now and then, you may catch the resonant call of the wild goose, the trumpet of traveling swan or whoop of crane, mingling with the quack of mallard or the eerie cry of soaring hawk, and all these harmonies of nature, with the never-ending prairie, with its soft rolls and undulations of topaz grass and wind striped weeds.