12 December 2011

Dude of the Swamp and Duck Hunting at Church Lake

Church Lake has always been a famous place for shooting. The haunt of ducks, snipe and geese as they pass up or down the Jordan in search of fresh feeding grounds. Many are the times that the usual quiet of the fields has been disturbed by those who seek this place to waste ammunition and sleep.

True, it is exciting to lie on the grassy shores or in the rushes and absorb the dew drops as they nestle in each leaf, awaiting the magical warmth of the sun to vaporize them. To hopefully listen for the whir which tells of the approach of the coveted game. To cuss the mud-hens as they noiselessly approach your hiding place and as they appear to your view, almost betray you into taking a shot. To sit and enjoy a pipe, listen to your friend on the opposite shore firing away, hear the splash or thud which awakens visions of roast duck and then relapse into a quiet mood and wonder if the horse has slipped his halter and is quietly loping up the road to the city. Some of the fellows go down and in two, or three hours return with "a few," as they call a dozen. Then some amateur goes to Evans & Spencer, hires a gun, buys some shells, and in company with a friend, starts for the lake.

To hear them talk, why it makes the horse tired to think of the load he must return with. A— and B—., the heroes of the last shooting affair at the lake, are young men well known up town, the former being a skilled shoer of horses, the latter a manipulator of calf skin, under Colonel Rowe.

On Thursday, the 20th last, these jolly hunters started for Church Lake, bent upon having a night's shooting. The grey mare stepped out briskly down the road and in an hour the party had arrived on the ground. After unhitching and tying the stepper to the fence, they cautiously approached the most likely portion of the lake and betook themselves to thinking of the glorious time they would have. The moon played hide and seek with the stars behind the clouds for a while, and then broke forth, shedding her mellow light upon the water and the meadow, and each blade of grass seemed fresh and green. Not so with the game which they sought. They flew high and were not so frequent as they wished.

The Dude of the swamps - the mud hen - was discussed at last, and the conclusion arrived at was as a Dude, the mud-hen is a complete success, being entirely useless. Thus an hour or more was spent and then their thoughts turned to the beautiful gray, which they had securely tied to a fence post. A— raised up and looked in the direction of the buggy, but no gray could he see. "The mare is loose," to B—. They walked out some distance but could not see anything of the brute. They walked on, and finally saw a white object testing the fence for the lowest portion. As the boys approached, the lowest portion was found, and over she went at a bound. The hunters broke into a run and soon had the equine corralled in the corner of the paddock. Horses, as a rule, go blind when they get loose, for they will not approach nor be approached by those whom they most willingly obey. This one was no exception to the rule, and over the fence she went. The duck shooters, now bare-headed, went tearing after her. As the first appearance of dawn came down over the valley, two bare-headed gentlemen might have been seen alternately chasing and coaxing with outstretched hands, the gray mare, which cantered up the lane and as she turned into the State road, switcher her tail and seemed to say, "Fare ye well, Brother Watkins, ah." It was farewell, for the horse came up to Jackson's gate and seemed to smile when A—'s father let her into the yard. Two hunters walked up, arriving in town about 10 o'clock. B— had the head of one snipe dangling from his belt, the cooking part having been lost in the mad chase after the mare. This was all they had to show for their night's shooting.

Gid. September 23, 1883. Duck Hunting. And Horse Following as Well. Salt Lake Herald 14(94): 2.