Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

Sandy Griswold. July 24, 1898. [Reminiscences of Hunting at the Lugenbeel Marshes.] Omaha Sunday World-Herald 33(297): 24. Forest, Field and Stream.

Reminiscences of Hunting at the Lugenbeel Marshes

But speaking about red-tail hawks. It is one of the singular things of bird life, but this beautiful, graceful king of the air is nowhere found so numerously as about the little landlocked lakes of our western sandhills. I have killed scores of them on my semi-annual hunting trips, and seen more about Anse's place in a single fall than in all my life together before. While crouched in a blind in the rice or reeds on a calm October afternoon it is not uncommon to see fifteen or twenty of these handsome but wary birds a-wing at the same time. They are inordinately fond of wild fowl flesh, and but a few crippled ducks escape them. They circle above the rice and rushes, this way and that, in and out, now mounting high the ethereal throne, now sweeping low until the tips of their rufous wings sweep either the rice tips or water's surface, here, there and everywhere, until their keen eyes detect the hiding redhead, teal or mallard, when down they dart, like an arrow leaving the bow, and it is good bye Mr. Duck. Although I have never found a nest of the redtail hawk, I know that they breed in the sandhills and build their nests in the sand, as there are no rocks or ledges, trees, snags or any sort of lodgment where they can deposit their eggs and perform the duties of hatching and rearing their young.

Anse Newberry, who runs a delightful duck shooters' hostelry on the shores of Raccoon lake, South Dakota, dropped in on the sporting editor yesterday for a short chat over old times. We recalled the first visit I ever made to the Lugenbeel marshes, what a bag of mallards we made, how we killed an otter, and the rock bass we yanked out of Three Springs' lovely waters. I can close my eyes now and again live over all those entrancing scenes. You certainly remember it Jack, it was but nine years ago. You remember what a picture of rapturous enchantment our little camp made, especially at eventide, when the sun was going down. We did not care then whether the fish bit of the wild fowl flew. nature supplied every want the senses demanded. Tints not detectable in the atmosphere kindled the glassy lake's surface and not a fragment of drifting cloud but found on its delicate texture a perfect image. Every moment appearances changed. Now it smiles in azure as tender as your sweetheart's eyes, then a little breath from the waving prairie grass lighted upon its quiet pools and a gleam of silver ripple flashed athwart. Now some impalpable shade turned it into purple, again a dull gray, then flitting lights and darks, like a sprinkling rain, danced everywhere, but finally the whole surface settled into the softest quiet and the most divine hues. What music there was then in the tinkling whistle of the yellow-leg, the far-sounding honk of the wild goose or the quack of the mallard.

  • A flood of sunlight, a circle of swallows,
  • An eddy of grass in the little hollows,
  • A wealth of cattle on upland meadows,
  • A bluebird's note in soft shadows,
  • A hum of bees from distant sweet clover,
  • A swish of reeds where the wind blows over;
  • A blue expanse to the far forever,
  • A dream of life and a pure endeavor.

Yes, indeed, those were days all too easily recalled. Anse told me that according to all signs the coming fall was going to be a glorious one for both wild fowl and grouse. The waters of all the lakes up there are in the best condition and at their normal depth. The wild rice crop is going to be an abundant one, the celery beds are flourishing, and the growth of wapato and Indian corn has never been more exuberant. He said there were many mallards and widgeon breeding on both Raccoon and Three Springs and he never in all his residence up there ran across so many teal nests. Anse also said that he never saw so many red tail hawks as he has this summer, and that when the hawks are plentiful the ducks never fail to be.

"Well, Sandy, won't you go 'ave a little sumthin'?" remarked Anse, as he rose to go, "Course you will, come on, we'll stop over to Tom's, jist in memory o the old days."

Did I go?