Birds of Nebraska: Newspaper Accounts, 1854-1923

November 11, 1894. Omaha Sunday Bee page 19.

Duck Shooting Among the Sioux.

To the Sporting Editor of The Bee: Allow me to preface this article with an acknowledgement to the sporting editor of The Bee for the kindly hints he gave that were of considerable value to us on this trip. It had been our desire for years to reach a place known in common parlance as the "hunter's paradise," and although we have spent much means, time and effort, the results until now were a disappointment and we invariably went home disgusted. It is with much pleasure I report this trip, for a theme of this kind is always interesting to the sportsman.

Having equipped ourselves with the necessary accoutrements for a few days outing we boarded an Elkhorn Valley passenger to a point in the distant west. There we disembarked and procuring transportation by team we proceeded north in search of the lakes and marshes we were in quest of. The Dakota state line running east and west, marking the boundary between South Dakota and Nebraska is only two and one-half miles north of the point where we landed, quite contrary to what the average way represents, and to our surprise we found ourselves within the Pine Ridge reservation. It was of little consequence were we were, for we came prepared to stay and to find game if any was in the country. Latitude or longitude concerned us very little. We had no permit to be sure, but we were innocent invaders and soon cultivated the friendship of Shark Fish, Cloud Dog and other unprepossessing Brules, whose names I cannot recall, for each effort has given me the lockjaw. We felt reasonably safe in not being molested or ejected from that patch of country reserved for sun dances, scalp lifting and other absorbing sport.

Diligent inquiry at Cody gave us some information, but it is to Mr. Newbury, who owns a large ranch just this side of the state line, that we are indebted for many valuable pointers. His kindness and unselfish hospitality, characteristic of all frontiersmen, is proverbial. During the late Indian insurrection, he was one of the settlers that did not decamp and it was because of his friendly intercourse with them and knowledge of their language that insured his safety. No Indian comes to his house but is given food and shelter. They may not be exactly welcome guests, for they appear anything but tidy and inviting, but they are treated generously just the same. This gentleman directed us to the lakes and afforded us every assistance. This necessarily enhanced the pleasures of this trip very much. These marshes or lakes are located in a deep basin or depression of the earth's surface, embracing perhaps ten square miles of territory. There is but one outlet to these lakes and generally it is dry. There are two lakes proper, separated by sand hills running north and south between which is a draw or obliterated channel, formerly connecting the two lakes. Surrounding these lakes are graduated hills, some of which are quite lofty. This gives it a romantic appearance. These lakes receive their supply from springs and hunters must be very cautious not to get in one of these boggy pools as it has no bottom.

The North lake, containing an area of perhaps three or four sections, is the most beautiful and picturesque of the two. It sweeps way to the west and northwest, into pools and shallow marshes. This marsh is covered with wild rice, celery and food, such as water fowl live and wax fat on. I am informed by Mr. Newbury that seldom is the solitude of these immense marshes disturbed by the hunter. This was quite evident to me by the indifference with which some greeted our appearance. I remember as we slid our boat in the lake and by the way the southeast shore affords the most favorable landing, thousands upon thousands of ducks of all kinds rose in the air. As we slowly and noiselessly paddled our boat toward the north marshes myriads of teal, mallards and red heads flitted hither and thither and at times would come within twenty-five or thirty yards of us. I observed mallards, commonly regarded as a very shy and suspicious bird, remain sitting upon the water not over fifty yards distant, craning their necks and apparently scrutinizing us with absorbing interest. Our party comprising only four, namely, Douns, Remington, Hermsen and myself, camp was pitched about one mile from the lakes, upon dry soil, and were we could get plenty of pure salubrious air. We were conveyed by team to and from the lakes, thus entailing very little work. Mr. Douns and I took command of the North lake the first evening's shoot, while Messrs. Remington and Hermsen the South lake. We steered for the north side and were wise enough not to fire a shot until we were located and well concealed. We had just moored our boat when George pulled on three mallards, bagging two the first shot, and the other with the second. As I picked up my gun three more drifted in and I killed two of them with one shot and George the other. We continued the slaughter until we had knocked down some thirty-five, and, feeling satisfied, we returned to camp. The shooting in the south lake is not so good as experience has demonstrated, hence Messrs. Remington and Hermsen were not so fortunate. The second evening, having selected a more favorable point, where the ducks croned, George and I bagged conjointly eighty-five, DOuns and Hermsen being credited with sixty, Remington and myself with twenty-five. This I consider excellent for a two and one-half hours' shoot in early September, before the flight from the north commences. It is noteworthy that the game breeds right here and I am informed that mallard ducks remain here the year round. I think this is the ideal hunting ground for one that appreciates sport of this kind. The expense is nominal and the benefit derived from an outing of this kind in the way of health is inestimable. Hunters coming here must come prepared with everything for camping purposes. For eighty-five miles north there is not a white settlement. A few straggling cowboys are occasionally met, but Indians are the sole occupants allowed permanently on the reservation. There are some antelope here, jack rabbits plentiful, but chickens and grouse this year are quite scarce. This is supposed to be due to the extreme drouth have killed off the insects upon which the young brood subsists, and consequently they perished. We observed a scarcity of insect life, except that most pestiferous of detestable animals, fleas, and they simply devour one. Those contemplating a trip into the reservation should procure a permit, then all possibility of trouble is avoided.

  • J.H. Lowrey.