Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

March 20, 1921. Omaha Sunday Bee 50(40): 1-C.

Omaha Nimrods Need 13-inch Mortar to Bag Limit of Ducks Nowadays

Every fall when the ducks and geese begin winging for the southland, Frank Latenser, Victor Deitz, Tom McShane and C.A. Hall beat it for a leafy shack situated up the river 20 miles or so. It is their opinion that the Missouri has it all over the Platte as far as birds are concerned. Here they shoot at ducks to their hearts' content.

"In the old days one could go out a get a tubful of ducks without using two shells, but when the birds come down in the fall nowadays, in flocks of two and three birds, you have to use an 8 gauge loaded with nails to bag one," said Charlie Hall.

Frank Latenser, one of the original members of the Omaha Hit and Miss Club, has a boat in construction now that will make duck hunting seem like an expedition into paradise. Showers, modern electrical cooking equipment, elegant bunks and a store room big enough for trans-Pacific troop ship are among the features of this classical barge.

"Doc" Earnest Manning, former city health commissioner, and Dr. Frank Conan are a couple of Omaha sportsmen who have barely missed a day of any shooting season since they could fire a shotgun without falling down.

Shortage of Decoys.

Last fall there was a shortage of decoys, so all concerned decided to make their own. They had a local saw mill make them a lot of square blocks of wood with necks on them, and after using their pocket knives for a few days they finally deceived themselves into thinking that they had some decoys. They floated them but nix, the ducks would not be coerced. So Frank Latenser steered his flivver into town and got a load of oil paints. The gang then painted the ducks so brilliantly that when they floated them several parrots and flamingoes wanted to alight on the water. When a tribe of ducks did happen along, however, they all went color blind and came down. On this memorable day Charlie Hall came home with 22 ducks and the Hit and Miss club held a celebration that lasted until one of the members knocked down seven ducks with one jerk of the trigger.

But good shooting in the autumn was exceptionally poor in the last few years. The ducks go south in large flocks a mile above the earth and with marvelous velocity. In the spring they come up the creek lazily, sometimes staying a month or two in some favored spot.

"If one's wishes could have full play, then I would wish that spring would be autumn, and fall, spring, as far as fishing and hunting are concerned," said Charlie. "All one would have to do in the spring to get a full bag of ducks would be to take out the .22 caliber rifle and shoot through a bevy of them. The exact amount wanted, 25, would come down flop, flop, splash, into the pond."

Need 13-Inch Mortar.

"But when the frost is on the pumpkin a fellow ought to be equipped with a 13-inch mortar. The way to get the duck would be to wait until he was sitting pretty and preening his feathers and then let fly the whole broadside at him. If he escapes, why, maybe another duck would come down later in the season, and you could try the experiment all over again."

"Keen observers will have the chance to witness the heaviest northward flight of ducks and geese since the days of Columbus, if they so wish," said Hall. "The birds started coming up here early because of the protracted warm spell and this cold wave will stop a number of large flocks in our vicinity. The government's edict that prohibits spring slaughter of the birds was one of the wisest gobs of legislation that Uncle Sam's helpers put over during the twentieth century."