18 August 2009

Ho! For the Ides of September Through Lenses of Long Ago

By Sandy Griswold.

Hard, indeed, is it to realize that in a few days over three weeks, and the sweet old summer time will again have passed. While September, really should be our expiring month, calendarically as well as properly of glorious summer season, it is not, but instead the initial month of all, and will be, ushered in upon us exactly one month from Thursday, next.

All is silent and full of ghosts of gloom.

A fish hawk floats down over the nearby rive bed and as he catches sight of the vacant space you blind has made in the thick reeds and canes, he gives an eery cry, guttural and hoarse, as if struggling with a cold caught from the damps of his evening hunting, and up he shoots into the space, and goes winnowing off over the lake.

The Dawn of Fall.

And then, just 15 days later and the wild fowl season will open, and the sportsmen are even already in a state of feverish anticipation, and when you take into consideration that there are today one thousand duck hunters in this state to where there was few dozens 20 years ago, well may you ask what the harvest will be?

While the prospects are fair, they do not come within a thousandfold of what they were even a decade ago, and timely, indeed, has been the action of the government and state in cutting down the daily limit on ducks and geese, and, in fact, feathered game of all kinds. And if added to this had been a law delaying the open season to October 1 or 15, much more effective would have been the general result. But more of this at another time, for in these days, with full appreciation of the coming annihilation of all game birds as well as animals, the time is drawing nearer and nearer to no shooting at all.

A Remembrance of the Past.

By way of diversion, and to awaken memories that can never die, I will attempt the sketching of a little picture that will thrust into the mind's eye, and more poignantly now, as the big locust twangs his vibrant harp in dull and dunning verdure of city park, dooryard, orchard and the farther woods, as well as that of broad field and sprawling marshland, bearing a subtle message of shooting days. A glance will show, I wean, and bring back to many and many an old sportsman the joys he has had in the glorious, but greatly lamented past.

Here it is:

Eventide in the Sandhills.

The hazy autumn sun is falling rapidly toward the purple rim of the our western sandhills, out at old Wolf, Hackberry, Ballards, Pelican, Beaver, Marsh, and hundreds of others, and the birds are all ready for the evening flight, from far off feeding grounds to the sanctity of their roosts on the broad waters of lake or pool.

Musquash Takes the Cue.

A muskrat makes his appearance in a clot of a vegetable puddle near his battered dome of chopped tule and cane stalks, and twitching his whiskers, comes paddling gracefully across the channel toward your hide in the reeds.

He is soon within the cover of the seivedge of the rushes, and you thought he had gone, but the next instant you see his flat brown head breaking the water not more than a yard or two from your boat, hidden in the cover so deftly and so perfectly.

He remains motionless a breathless moment curiously eyeing you, but when you suddenly pick up your gun he has vanished like a wisp of spray before a driving gale. Quick as you were, you were not quick enough, thanks to the all-protecting Eye. Like a flash of light he upturned and buried himself in the aqueous depths, his flat tail wiggling a fare-you-well as he disappears from your view.

The sun goes down, and in the ambient light which has fallen like a curtain over the far-flung waters, the evening flight begins!

Ask the Wailing Winds.

Ah's me! Will I, or any of you, my old comrades of the days gone by, ever behold the like again, that wild and wondrous scene - will we ever again have the shooting we had that never-to-be-forgotten October eventide, on that grand but lonely lake in the sandhills?

In the twinkling of an eye the air was filled with a whir and murmur like that intangible roar that comes to you at midnight from off the mighty ocean.

There were darting birds with swishing wings in the void above, over the rice fields and water all about you. Their numbers were incomputable, for nowhere in all this broad land was there ever seen anything like the wold fowl that then thronged the darking heavens as they did that long ago night when you lay in your blind among the tules on the shore of that lonesome lake in the ghostly sandhills!

August 7, 1927. Sunday World-Herald 62(45): 5-S.

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