22 September 2009

Carter Lake Once Nimrod Paradise

Old-Timers Bagged Plenty of Fowl There - Too Many Hunters Spoiled the Broth Though.

Now a Bird Reserve

By Howard Wolff.

The old timers can lament over "the good old days of duck hunting" and tell the youngsters about those phantom flocks numbering well into the thousands.

They can tell "us kids" about the memorable shoots of old when gun barrels became so hot from continued firing that often it was necessary to draw the firing piece through the water to cool it off sufficiently to continue the slaughter.

And the general trend is always a lament. And we youngsters, those of us who have known the thrill of the double kill, or have shivered in willow-covered blinds, can lament along with them.

Yet our laments are generally second handed, for we knew not the sport of the days that have passed, never to return. And yet again, we have a bit of crying to do ourselves.

Carter Lake Closed.

And our wail concerns Carter lake, only a few years ago so very fertile a spot for duck shooting enthusiasts; so very popular; often so munificent in its returns.

No longer is the early-morning silence shattered; no longer must the winged voyagers scan with wary eye the suspicious clots that may hold men - and their destruction-belching guns. For all is peaceful, all is tranquil, now. In 1926 Carter lake was made a bird refuge. Guns were silenced for all time, and here the wild fowl may rest undisturbed in their annual migrations for the northlands into southern waters.

Many of us, the younger shooters, received our early raining at Carter lake. It used to be a great spot for the kids. Mornings in season would find boys there in droves, hoping for a random shot, vying with the older men in seeking game.

The general bag ran to mud hens, but an occasional teal or now and then a mallard or widgeon was reward to repay the loss of sleep. And then, "when the flight was on," there were ducks for all. Even the poorest shot among the kids was sure to spot enough on these mornings to send the hot blood coursing through his young body in exhilaration.

Hunters in Danger.

But towards the end it became unsafe. Too many hunters lining the banks, with others out in the lake in boats. too many random shots with ever the possibility of maiming or even killing unfortunate nimrods. Finally, in 1926, it was all stopped. And today, the birds have a safe sanctuary. Yet it has been a great loss to the kids, who now have no place handy to do their shooting, and for that I lament.

Here in the great Mississippi-Missouri basin, finest for duck shooting in the world, there should be sport for all. Those fortunate enough to belong to shooting clubs, or able to take weekly jaunts into the sandhills, can always get their quota.

But the occasional hunters are just out of luck. Lakes within an easy radius of Omaha are now privately supported by gun clubs, while river shooting is generally out of the question for the youngsters.

While Carter lake offered its possibilities, the kids were given an opportunity to serve their apprenticeships. But that is closed to all shooting now. And again I lament. Not that it isn't a fine thing, as it is, but my laments are for the kids.

February 17, 1929. Omaha Sunday World-Herald 64(20): 3-B.

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