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Parent Category: Kansas State History Articles
Category: Old West Kansas
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A short time after supper, Tenacious Gripe appeared with the mayor of the city, who wished to make the acquaintance of the Professor. The two august personages bowed to each other. It was the happiest moment in their respective lives, they declared. An invitation was extended us to delay our departure another day and try quail shooting.

The citizens said the birds were unusually abundant, the previous winter having been mild and the summer long enough for two separate broods to be hatched, and the brush and river banks were swarming with them. As we were about to abandon the birds of the West and seek an acquaintance with its beasts, we decided, after a brief consultation, to accept the invitation and remain another day.

Among the persons present in the crowded office of the hotel, was a man from the southwestern part of the state who had lately been interested in a trial before the celebrated Judge Lynch. Sachem interviewed him, and reports his statement of the occurrence in the logbook, as follows:

  A stranger played me fur a fool, An' threw the high, low, jack, An' sold me the wuss piece of mule That ever humped a back.

  But that wer fair; I don't complain, That I got beat in trade; I don't sour on a fellow's gain, When sich is honest made.

  But wust wer this, he stole the mule, An' I were bilked complete; Such thieves, we hossmen makes a rule To lift 'em from their feet.

  We started arter that 'ere pup, An' took the judge along, For fear, with all our dander up, We might do somethin' wrong.

  We caught him under twenty miles, An tried him under trees; The judge he passed around the "smiles," As sort o' jury fees.

  "Pris'ner," says judge, "now say your say, An' make it short an' sweet, An', while yer at it, kneel and pray, For Death yer can not cheat.

  No man shall hang, by this 'ere court, Exceptin' on the square; There's time fur speech, if so it's short, But none to chew or swear."

BUREAU OF ILLUSTRATION. BUFFALO_JUDGE LYNCH--HIS COURT.JUDGE AND JURY. SHERIFF. ATTORNEY. LOAFER. CLERK. DEPUTY SHERIFF.

  An' then the thievin' rascal cursed, An' threw his life away, He said, "Just pony out your worst, Your best would be foul play."

  Then judge he frowned an awful frown, An' snapped this sentence short, "Jones, twitch the rope, an' write this down, Hung for contempt of court!"

Sharp 8 next morning saw us on the road leading east of town, the two dogs with us, and a young one additional, the property of a resident sportsman. Our last acquisition joined us on the run, and kept on it all day, going over the ground with the speed of a greyhound, his fine nose, however, giving him better success than his reckless pace would have indicated.

Three miles from town, or half way between it and Tecumseh, our party left the wagon, with direction for it to follow the road, while we scouted along on a parallel, following the river bank.

The Kaw stretched eastward, broad and shallow, with numerous sand bars, and along its edges grew the scarlet sumach and some stunted bushes, and between these and the corn a high, coarse bottom grass, with intervals at every hundred yards or so apart of a shorter variety, like that on a poor prairie. Among the bushes, there was no grass whatever, and yet the birds seemed indifferently to frequent one spot equally with another.

In less than ten minutes after leaving the wagon, all the dogs were pointing on a barren looking spot, thinly sprinkled with scrubby bushes not larger than jimson-weeds. They were several yards apart, so that each animal was clearly acting on his own responsibility.

If it puzzled us the day before to discover any signs of game under their noses, it certainly did so now. There was apparently no place of concealment for any object larger than a field-mouse. The bushes were wide apart, and the soil between was a loose sand. Around the roots of the scrubs, it is true, a few thin, wiry spears of grass struggled into existence, but these covered a space not larger than a man's hand, and it seemed preposterous to imagine that they could be capable of affording cover. That three dogs were pointing straight at three bushes was apparent, but we could see nothing in or about the latter calling for such attention.

Shamus, who had accompanied us, wished to know if the twigs were witch hazels, because, if so, three invisible old beldames might be taking a nap under them, after a midnight ride. "But, then," said Dobeen, "the dog's hairs don't stand on end as they always do in Ireland when they see ghosts and witches." We believe that our worthy cook was really disappointed in not discovering any stray broomsticks lying around. These, he afterward informed us, could not be made invisible, though their owners should take on airy shapes unrecognizable by mortal eyes.

Muggs had suggested urging the dogs in, but the party, wiser from yesterday's experience, desired a ground shot, if it could be secured. The Professor adjusted his lens, and decided to make a personal inspection around the roots of the bush immediately in front of him.

Carefully the sage bent over the suspicious spot, and almost fell backward as, with a whiz and a dart, half a dozen quails flew out, brushing his very nose. Instantly every bush sent forth its fugitives. A flash of feathered balls, and they were all gone. Such whizzing and whirring! it was as if those scraggy bushes were _mitrailleuses_, in quick succession discharging their loads.

Only one gun had gone off, but that so loudly that our ears rung for several seconds. Mr. Colon had accidentally rammed at least two, perhaps half a dozen, loads into one barrel, and the gun discharged with an aim of its own, the butt very low down. Two birds fell dead. But alas for our Nimrod! Colon stood with one hand on his stomach undecided whether that organ remained or not. On this point, however, he was fully re-assured at the supper-table that night, and in all our after experience, we never knew that gun to have the least opportunity for going off, except when at its owner's shoulder, and he perfectly ready for it.

The two birds were now submitted to the party for inspection. They were fine specimens of the American quail, more properly called by those versed in quailology, the Bob White. This bird is very plentiful throughout Kansas, and just before the shooting season commences, in September, will even frequent the gardens and alight on the houses of Topeka. They "lay close" before a dog, take flight into air with a quick, whirring dart, and their shooting deservedly ranks high. They are very rapid in their movements upon the ground, often running fifty or seventy-five yards before hiding. When this takes place, so closely do they huddle that it is seldom more than the upper bird that can be seen. "Green hunters" sometimes pause, trying to discover the rest of the covey before firing, and experience a great and sudden disgust when the single bird which they have disdained suddenly develops into a dozen flying ones.

We had an eventful days' sport, expending more ammunition than when among the chickens, and with more satisfactory results, as we brought in over two dozen birds. More than half of these were taken by Sachem at one lucky discharge. He saw a covey in the grass, huddled together as they generally are when not running. At these times they form a circle about as large in diameter as the hoop of a nail keg, with tails to the center and heads toward the outside. Fifteen quails would thus be a circle of fifteen heads, and a pail, could it be dropped over the covey, would cover them all. Not only is this an economy of warmth, there being no outsiders half of whose bodies must get chilled, but there is no blind side on which they can be approached, every portion of the circle having its full quota of eyes. Let skunk or fox, or other roamer through the grass, creep ever so stealthily, he will be seen and avoided by flight. Sachem aiming at the midst of such a ring, broke it up as effectually as Boutwell's discharge of bullion did that on Wall Street.

We have since found the frozen bodies of whole covies, which had gone to roost in a circle and been buried under such a heavy fall of snow that the birds could not force their way upward. Their habit is to remain in imprisonment, apparently waiting for the snow to melt before even making an effort for deliverance. Oftentimes it is then too late, a crust having formed above. A severe winter will sometimes completely exterminate the birds in certain localities.

During this first day of quail-shooting, we also saw for the first time flocks of the snow-goose. The Professor counted fifty birds on one sand bar. This variety, in its flight across the continent, apparently passes through but a narrow belt of country, being found, to the best of my knowledge, in but few of the states outside of Kansas.

Our return to the hotel was without accident, and our supper such as hungry hunters might well enjoy. After it was disposed of, we gathered around the ample stove in the hotel office, and lived over again the events of the day.

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