Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Edward. Stout. August 7, 1910. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 45(45): 7-N.

That Old Queen Ann's of Stout Household

Its Pristine Glories and the Use Little Eddie Put It To.

Omaha, Aug. 6.-To Sandy Griswold, Sporting Editor of the World-Herald: Years ago in the dreamy days of my early boyhood, there stood in the corner of the kitchen, entry at my old home out near Waterloo, one of those fearfully and wonderfully made firearms known to our forefathers as a Queen Ann's musket. How well I remember the old gun with its long barrel and heavy stock and how I longed to get my hands on it and try it on the clustering yellowlegs or huddling teal down at Hanger's lake.

This old Queen Ann had been a noted weapon in its pristine days. Stories were told around the fireplace o' wintry evenings by my revered father of how the Britishers had broken for cover whenever my great grandsire had pointed it in their direction, at the battle of Oswego, and well they might, for its huge iron bore and mighty barrel seemed capable of blowing a whole army off the map if only loaded to its capacity.

You can bet I never doubted that it had evoked the death yell from the red throat of many a blood-thirsty Iroquois, and when I did finally make its acquaintance it lacked none of the chief attributes which had made it formidable in the days of the Old Frontier.

The great brown barrel, long mahogany-like barrel, heavy ramrod and bands of steel, had lost none of their significance, they were all there.

One great change, however, had taken place in its mechanics. When my father at last became convinced that there was danger to be feared no longer from either Indian or wild animal out at our Waterloo home, he brought it in here to Omaha, and had old John Petty transform it into a smooth bore, percussion cap shotgun. What a lock that was old John put on it. It yawned open when at full cock like one of Rube Basher's bear traps, and when the hammer fell, something had to go.

It was during this period of its existence that its fame as a game destroyer became established for miles and miles around Waterloo, and even here, among the old day Omaha sportsmen, Judge Kennedy, Yank Hathaway, General George Crook, George A. Hoagland, Judge Lake, John Collins and others, and traditionary tales of marvelous shots at vast distances performed by the old blunderbuss had been poured into my youthful ear by many of my dad's old cronies. Twenty-one blue wing teal at one discharge, a wild goose at ninety long steps; a coyote at seventy-five yards, with No. 5 shot, and a whooping crane from the old Elkhorn bridge to the point below the first bend, were only a few of the exploits of this wonderful game getter.

Many's the time I hung over my father's old rocker after he had come in from a day's hunt, and with breathless interest listened to the details of the expedition.

There was a low, wet place, just south of our place, where, in the early springtime, the pintails used to come by the thousands, and one Mach morning I saw an immense flock settle down within easy range of the old cottonwood fence that ran down to the Elkhorn. My father and mother were both in town that morning in attendance at a lawsuit over the line marking a neighbor's land, and without once thinking of the heinousness of the crime I was about to commit, I ran at once to the house and got that fascinating old smooth bore. It required many minutes to get the hang of the powder horn and shot pouch, but I finally succeeded, and ramming down a good, big load of both, I hurried off to where I knew those pintails were regaling themselves on the oozy flat.

I got down on all fours, and after a tremendous lot of struggling, reached the protection of that old briar-covered fence, dragging the old musket after me. There were the long-necked, pointed-tailed ducks, at least 500 of them, scattered about the wet grounds, in little clusters, some busily engaged pecking at the tender tendrils just pushing up through the damp loam, others standing idly on one leg contemplating the scene, and still others, squatted flat, with their heads under their wings, dreaming, probably, of the weedy estuaries and wild tarns of their breeding grounds up about Baffin's bay.

Carefully poking the old cannon up over the low logs, I took long and deliberate aim at an especially attractive bunch of feeding springs, said a short prayer, shut my eyes, and pulled the trigger!

There must have been a deafening report, but I didn't hear anything. I felt something, though, like as if the whole of Douglas county had flew up and crashed into my face. Then everything was blank. How long it remained blank I don't know, but when I came to, my waist was covered with blood, and when I put my hand to my nose it felt flat and flabby, and I knew my whole mug was smeared with gore. I saw my hat lodged in a wild gooseberry bush twenty yards back of me, and the old musket, which I imagined was still smoking like a prairie fire, with the long wooden barrel-gutter torn half off, the steel bands ripped loose, and the ramrod half out, lying near.

I picked it up, recovered my hat, collected my thoughts and staggered home, with an aching head, blackened eyes, and dobbled with blood from nose to knees.

I was in bed a week and I really believe my shoulder never has gotten well.

My father? Oh, he didn't say much! Only remarked that it was worth more than a term in school to me, and I heard him tell mother that he had just loaded the gun heavily that morning, expecting to get a shot at an old hen hawk which had been making early matutinal calls at our chicken yard, and it was a real miracle that they still had their cunning little Edward with them.