21 August 2012

Duck Shooting About Caw Caw Island - 1868

Correspondence of the Milwaukee News.
Club House - Caw Caw Island, Sept. 24th, 1868.

Under the general head of field sports, there is no phase of its varied and exciting amusement which combines so much of zest and exposure, with a skillful handling of the gun, as what is understood by sportsmen as water fowl shooting.

Duck shooting stands at the head of this rare list, and requires the best guns, and the most skillful judgment for its successful accomplishment. The advice of the French cook as to preparing a fowl for dinner, applies with most pertinent force to the sportsman -- especially with a teal down the wind at ninety miles per hour -- "first get your duck."

If there is a place in the wide world where good shooting will bag 20 to 40 brace of duck in a day, that place is Lake Horicon, an artificial reservoir of some sixteen by four miles dimensions, in the middle of which is situated "Caw Caw Island." The Caw Caw sporting blub-house, erected upon this island the most ample accommodations for their convenience, including the best "sportsmen's ranche" -- boats, dog-houses and general shooting outfit I have ever found at any camp.

Three years ago I was a visitor to the "Caw Caws' upon invitation of its whole souled president, Wm. Young, esq., of Milwaukee, and with a repetition of the same compliment, I am again a guest to testify to the agreeable fact that absence has not dulled the edge of hospitality.

The bogs and marshes which surround this lake furnish most excellent and abundant feed for the waterfowl which breed in its water. Up to this date the club have shot 2,000 ducks, everyone being a native, the flight of northern ducks not having yet set in. Every known species and all varieties of duck are bred here and their number is legion. I have seen them rise in their flight a morning and fairly blacken the sky, stretching away in straggling lines for miles along the shore. Over five thousand ducks were shot last year and sent in by the club to their friends. All of these were killed by single flying shots, no unfair means, such as swivel guns or batteries being permitted.

Not a luck shot by this club or any of its quests [word not legible] said the members being all gentlemen of character and means, pursue their sport and scorn the posthumous motive of pride.

No lord is allowed to spoil, no mere being taken than can be used. The game is being brought in is hung up, the "lagged" and directed to the persons intended for. Then by a [words not legible] at early hours in the morning, displayed from the club house staff, the indispensable [word not legible] is heralded to be in readiness with his term on arrival of the boats, which, after a two mile row, land us within half a mile of the "Crossing," where the Milwaukee & St. Paul cars take all on board at 9 a.m., for the former place, the game to be delivered on arrival by express.

Thus almost daily throughout the shooting season the feathered freebooters of Horicon are "Caw Cawed" and sent in as presents to friends in town.

The predominating fowl thus far has been "wood duck" and "red heads"; the latter was never before so abundant in these waters.

About the 1st of October we look for the northern duck, and those migratory visitors which come and go until the lake freezes over -- which is usually about December 1st. I have myself broken ice half an inch in thickness in October, to get in upon some point and been well repaid for the labor.

The "Ranch" or more explicitly -- the club house of the "Caw Caws," is an institution with ample sleeping accommodations for twelve persons -- just the number of its members -- usually not more than half at which are present -- and with "William" as expert (colored) cook, for caterer, there is no lack of comfort and good living. The printed rules of the club greet the visitor at the door, and once within its portals, [words not legible], social intercourse puts every man on his honor.

I observed that the flight of ducks was very unequal -- some days filling the sky from morn till eve -- while on other days, especially those of wind and storm, no ducks were moving. The daily and almost unceasing shooting about Caw Caw, is at a station on the Northwestern railway called Chester. This is a favorite resort for gunners from Chicago. It has a fine hotel, plenty of boats -- and here you get the first flight of ducks and geese as they come down from the north.

"Halloa!" there's a signal at the wharf, "Rye" (which in the only name I have heard given to a useful and kind hearted young man of all-work about camp) has just come in from Mioskey's with supplies. It does seem that no idea of comfort ever escapes the attention of Mr. Young. Here are baskets of peaches, boxes of grapes, tomatoes, fresh potatoes, milk and eggs. There is too much of luxury in this for a 'hunters camp.' I must go back into town where I can get plain fare.

This spot is one that may excite a sportsman envy. It is as far ahead of any ordinary camp as a metropolitan hotel surpasses a "hog and hornining travel" in Indiana.

The generous characteristics of the club may be inferred from a fact which I take pleasure in here giving to the public. Mr. Wm. Young had a favorite dog called Old Bang, who, after a life of service as a valuable retriever, died on the island, and was buried here. The club have erected over his grave a beautiful white marble monument.

It is of appropriate design, bearing upon its facade of sculptured likeness of Old Bang with a duck in his mouth, and his name in relief on top of the stone, the whole design being some thirty inches in height, and over, shadowed by a group of graceful trees.

September 26, 1868. Field sports in Wisconsin. Duck shooting at Caw Caw Island. Daily Milwaukee News 21(332): 4-5. Obvious misspellings have been corrected.