W. H Steele.

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Old Maquoketa (illustrated) 13

Memories of Father (illustrated) 15

My First Pair of Mallards . 19

Memories of the Old Bridge (illustrated) 23

A Day on the Maquoketa 27

An Evening's Fishing 31

The Big Pike (illustrated) 35

A Novel Muskrat Hunt 39

A Rabbit Hunt on the Prairie 45

A Day with the Squirrels (illustrated) 49

My First Ice-Boat Ride 55

Old Punch 59

An Old Negative (illustrated) 63

A Long Ago Kansas Christmas 65

Old October Days in Iowa 73

In Northern Woods 79

Autumn Days in the Rockies (illustrated) 83

Christmas in the Old Log-Cabin 91

A New Year's Deer Hunt (illustrated) 95

Springtime in the Country 99

Two Days on the St. Vrain (illustrated) 103

Lost on the Prairie 107

A Winter Night's Tale 113

A Day in Ellington Woods (illustrated) 115

Impressions by the Way 119

A Day on Lake Tetonka (illustrated) 123

A Trip to Spirit Lake (illustrated) 127

Little Partner 133

The Old Fishing Hole 139

Memories of the World's Fair, St. Louis (illustrated) .... 143

A Day at Cliff (illustrated) 149

A Day on Bear Brook 155

September Days at Madison Lake (illustrated) 159

CONT ENTS Continued.


An Autumn Outing in Nebraska 165

An Evening on Lake Waterforcl 171

A Day with the Buffalo Bass (illustrated) 175

A Practical Joke 179

Angling for Rats 181

How the Doctor Gained His Point 183

Jumping Chickens in the Corn 185

A Lake of Petroleum 187

Some Queer Catches 189



Old Maquoketa 13

Father's Last Picture 15

The Old Bridge ' . . 23

"Another cast and the spoon dropped lightly on the water" ... 35

"A comfortable position on the old butternut" 49

October Afternoon on Lime Creek 63

Hunting with Brother John 73

"The view that lay spread out around and below well repaid the

hours of toil" 85

"Several casts in the still waters failed to bring a rise" .... 87

Winter Morning Scene 95

"Entering the Narrows" 103

"Evening in Ellington Woods" 115

Oak Point 123

Thatcher Monument 127

Thatcher Cabin 129

The Electric Building 143

In the Philippine Village 145

"Mrs. S. climbed out on the rocks" 149

"The sunlit riffles of the bay" 159

"My twenty-six pound bass" 162

"Our angler lands at the mouth of Wilson Creek" 175


When my husband asked me to write the foreword to this
little book I was glad, for no one except the author can feel so
great an interest in this as I do. His articles and pictures for
the outdoor magazines have been a pleasure to both of us, and
it has long been my desire to see them gathered into a volume
in permanent form.

In "Memories of Bygone Days" there is no morbid
tendency to disparage present joys, but simply a wholesome

"Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain
Our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain."

We may make of memory a blessing or a curse, just as
we will. It is a stupendous thought that we are augmenting or
decreasing future pleasure by the way we spend today. "The
only use we have for our past is to get a future out of it."

"All the pleasures of today

One by one soon glide away

To the golden shore of sweet long ago."

Happy is that man whose memories are pleasant and
profitable company.

Hastings, Nebraska.

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Father's Last Picture.

Memories of Father.

Those of our readers who have reached the meridian of
life and are traveling down the shady side no doubt often look
back to boyhood, and live over again those glorious days on
the. stream, in the wood or in the thicket. I am thankful for
the faculty that enables me to look back and enjoy, in retro-
spect, those boyhood days.

Among the most pleasant memories of bygone days are
the fishing and shooting trips with father. He was a natural
woodsman, a good shot, and successful with the rod. Among
my earliest recollections' are the days I followed father through
the woods carrying his game for him.

Ah, well do I remember the first fish I caught ! It was
father who cut the little willow pole, tied on a line of linen
thread and a bent pin hook.

He showed me where to drop in my line near the roots
of a stump, then went back to his fishing, but kept an eye
on me.

As the pin hook sank slowly near the roots, a very small
pumpkin seed snatched the bait off my hook and disappeared


Memories of Father.

before I thought of jerking him out. I called to father and he
came and baited my hook again, and showed me how to do my
own baiting. Then, instructing me carefully how to hook and
land my catch, he went back to his fishing again. I continued
feeding them angleworms, and as the feast progressed the fish
increased in numbers and size. At last a big one grabbed the
bait so greedily that the bent pin got down his throat so far
it caught fast and I landed him.

Father had to release the hook, but that is all I allowed
him to do. I cut a willow stringer, placed him on it, and laid
him in the edge of the water.

This was the beginning of an angling comradeship that
lasted through the remainder of father's life.

Many happy days did we spend together on lake and

I remember, too, the first hunt we enjoyed together when
I got old enough to own and carry my own gun. It was a
cheap, second-hand single barrel, but to me it was a beauty
and I carried it that day with more pride and pleasure than I
have ever felt over any gun since.

It was a beautiful day in autumn that father took me with
him on my first squirrel hunt. Game was plentiful in those
days, and we had been in the woods but a short time, when a
grey flirted his tail at us, and scampered up a large white oak.
Father pointed him out to me, away up in a fork ; I took care-
ful aim, pulled the trigger, and at the crack of the gun down
came my first squirrel. He no sooner struck the ground, then
gathering himself together he started up the tree again. Grasp-
ing my gun by the barrel, I whacked away at him with the
stock. I missed the squirrel, but hit the tree and, of course,
broke my gun-stock.

I had some copper wire in my pocket, with which father
wound the broken stock, and I was in shooting trim again.
From this accident I learned two valuable lessons first, how
to repair a gun-stock in the field ; second, never to use the


Memories of Father.

wrong end of my gun on -game unless compelled to do so in
self-defense. We had a pleasant and successful day's hunt,
taking home with us a fine string of pigeons and squirrels.

This was our first hunt together, but not our last. As
long as I remained at home father was my first choice on all
shooting and fishing trips. Many a happy day we spent
together, tramping through the old familiar woods after squir-
rels, quail and pheasants, or following the windings of the
Maquoketa, after ducks and fish.

When I located in a distant city for the practice of my
profession, I continued my early morning shooting and fishing
trips as of old, but missed the companionship of father. How-
ever, he visited me nearly every year as long as he was able to
do so and, at such times, we enjoyed several clays of shooting
and fishing together. The last time he came I was living at
Forest City, Iowa, and we had some fine squirrel shooting.

I shall never forget that last beautiful autumn morning we
spent in the woods on Lime Creek. We got a fine bunch of
squirrels early in the forenoon and decided to return for dinner.
After crossing the foot bridge I made a snap-shot of father
before we took the short-cut through Mahony's Grove. That
was our last hunt together, and the picture I made that morn-
ing was the last father ever had.

Had I then known these lines from Riley I should have
exclaimed :

"Oh, the present is too sweet

To go on forever thus!
Round the corner of the street

Who can say what waits for us?"


My First Pair of Mallards.

Nothing revives happy episodes of the past more vividly
than a visit to one's boyhood home. Yet, although it affords
much pleasure to re-visit the old scenes, there is oftentimes
a dark side to the bright picture you had stored away in mem-
ory. The timber has been cut off the hills, the dear old plum
thicket is gone, the venerable walnut trees have been sacrificed
for lumber, and the river is not so deep, nor so wide, nor so
clear as it used to be. Many of the old schoolmates are sleep-
ing in the little village cemetery ; others have moved away ; and
saddest of all strangers are living in the dear old homestead
where so many happy hours were spent. A visit of this kind,
not long ago, carried me back to the morning of my first suc-
cess in duck hunting. The scene of this exploit was the "Old
Goose Pond," in Eastern Iowa. At that time it was a large
body of water and five or six feet deep ; but, when last visited,
the water had been drained off and the place where I shot my
first mallard was a vast field of waving corn. Standing on the
edge of the field, and looking across toward the distant hills,
memory filled all that fertile lowland with water, and the pic-
ture of a bare-footed boy, with a small single barrel in one
hand, as with the other he tremblingly poked aside the rushes
and cat-tails, seemed as real as on that eventful morning over
thirty-five years ago, when I pulled my first trigger on ducks.

I was always a great lover of field and stream, and, when
a boy, spent all my leisure time roaming the woods or following
the winding turns of the old Maquoketa. I was familiar with
every nook and cranny of that classic stream. I could point
out the dead tree overhanging the shallow riffles, where you
were always sure to find a kingfisher sitting, peering down into
the water watching for his dinner. The best squirrel trees
and fishing holes were known to me, and if I wanted a string
of bass, suckers, dace or chubs, I knew where to find them, and
the kind of bait and tackle that would take them. Others might


My First Pair of Mallards.

come home from the river with empty creel, and the proverbial
fisherman's luck ; but rarely did I spend a day on Honey Creek,
Coffin's Creek or the Maquoketa without getting a fine string
of fish ; and many's the time I have come home at night with a
willow stringer thrown over my shoulder and the tails of the
bottom fish dragging the ground behind me.

Returning from one of those Saturday fishing trips, as I
was passing near the end of Goose Pond, my ears caught the
sound of splashing water, and, thinking it might be made by
a family of muskrats, I determined to investigate. Crawling
cautiously to the edge of the thicket, what was my surprise to
see a mother mallard and her brood. She was giving her little
family their supper, and the way those little balls of down went
after the tender celery roots that the duck mother brought up
from the bottom for them was a caution. How I did enjoy
watching this most wary of our game birds and her young
brood at supper out there on the still waters of the old pond !
Then came a low but resonant "Quack! quack!" from the
rushes near the far shore, and the mother duck, answering,
swam off to meet her mate. I had been coaxing father for a
gun ever since Christmas, and had been told that I was not
yet old enough to handle one. But the sight I had just wit-
nessed aroused me to the verge of desperation. This being
the breeding ground of the brood, I knew they would make the
place their home, until the migratory flocks began to arrive
from the north in the fall. The place was seldom visited by
any one but myself, and it was more than likely I would get
the first chance at them when they would be large enough to
shoot. On arriving home, I told father of my discovery, and
pleaded again for a gun. "Well, Will," said he, "a boy is not
large enough to have a gun until he is large enough to earn it.
But if you can earn one during vacation, I am willing you
should hunt this fall."

I now had an object to work for, and I bent all my energies
to the task. I kept an eye open for opportunities to earn money
and saved every cent I earned. Like everything else in life that


My First Pair of Mallards.

one starts out determined to accomplish, I was surprised to see
how easy it was to win the goal. Early one September morn-
ing I counted the contents of my savings bank and found I
had just enough money to pay for a little single-barrel in a
down town store window that I had been keeping an eye on all
summer. My hard-earned hoard was soon in the till of' the
hardware man, and I was the happy possessor of my first gun.

The next day I loaded up my pockets with a bottle of shot,
a flask of powder and a box of G. D. caps, shouldered the little
gun, and made a short-cut for the old pond. On getting near
the place, I crept cautiously through the thicket toward the
water. There was an old dead stub of a tree, standing a little
distance from the edge of the thicket and only a few feet away
from the water. I felt confident that, if I could reach this point
without being seen, I was sure of a shot their favorite resort
about that time of day being not more than thirty yards from
the stump. In order to gain this point, I had to cross an open
space, covered only with a short growth of wire grass. On
reaching this open ground I took off my straw hat, dropped
clown on my stomach, and, pushing the gun ahead of me, wrig-
gled along slowly toward the coveted hiding place. It was
tedious work, and it seemed as though I would never reach it.
The occasional Quack ! quack ! of a duck, floating to my ears
from over the water, did not serve to quiet my nerves any, and,
when I at last gained the cover, it was a very tired and excited
boy that peered out from behind the old stub. Yes, there they
were the old mother and five of the young ones, but too far
out for my little gun.

All true disciples of Nimrod must be imbued with an unlim-
ited amount of patience, and on this memorable afternoon I sat
and watched those ducks, with hopes alternately rising and
falling, as they worked in toward my hiding place or swam
away from it. Just before sunset they glided off to their island
home in the middle of the pond and I had to give it up and go
home for the night. I suspect my face showed failure, even if
my heart did not acknowledge it ; for, on arriving home, father


My First Pair of Mallards.

inquired, "Well, Will what luck?" On telling him of my poor
success, he consoled me by saying: "Never mind, son. It is
very evident that those ducks have been shot at since you last
visited them. You say that there are now only five of the
young ones, while there were six all summer ; the missing one
was likely shot by some passing hunter from the cover of the
thicket, and they have become shy and keep away from it dur-
ing the day. If you will get there some morning before day-
light, you will be certain to get a shot at them when they work
"in to feed." The next morning was cold and raw, but I was in
my hiding place before it was fairly light. I could hear the
ducks diving and splashing in the water, as they gradually
worked in toward the shore. Just as the sun was creeping up
behind the hills across the pond, I raised up carefully and
peeked through the tops of the rice and cat-tails. There they
were near enough for a shot, but getting very uneasy. Throw-
ing the little gun to my shoulder, I caught a quick aim and
pulled the trigger, just in time to catch them before they got
on the wing. What was my surprise to see two of them remain
on the water one dead and the other so badly wounded it
could not get away. I was in full swimming costume in about
a minute, paying no heed to mud, water or cold and when I
swam back to shore with those two ducks I was the proudest
boy in the beautiful Prairie State. The fact that I had earned
my gun and ammunition and killed my ducks alone added
much to the pleasure. I visited the old pond many times dur-
ing the fall, and got several ducks and many grey squirrels
from the nearby woods ; but never again did I experience quite
the same thrill of pleasure from any successful shot as I did
from that which brought me my first pair of mallards.

Sports Afield.


Memories of the Old Bridge.

Last year we made a short visit to my boyhood home, the
beautiful little town of Manchester, Iowa.

As we glided noiselessly in an automobile over the modern
steel bridge that now spans the river, my thoughts wandered
back to other days, when the heavy farm wagons used to go
rattling over the loose planks of the old wooden-pile bridge.

The new structure is beautiful and desirable, and yet the
old bridge of boyhood days has a warm spot in my memory
which can never be supplanted by the more modern structure.
For as a barefoot boy I trudged over it, swinging the cane pole
that was soon to tremble with the struggles of redhorse or bass
pulled out of the riffles or deep holes above the old bridge.

Oh, those dear old bygone summer days ! As I leaned over
the quiet waters I saw reflected there a laughing face and
curly head crowned with an old battered straw hat, made from
oat straw and braided by mother.

Down a little closer, and shading my eyes from the morn-
ing sun with a brown hand yes, there he is, the giant black
bass that has evaded my snare so many times. The brass wire


Memories of the Old Bridge.

is dropped quietly into the water and worked down carefully
toward him. The world seems to hang in the balance as I
work the wire down toward those lazily opening and closing
gills. And then, bitter disappointment, just as the wire loop
reaches his nose, he makes a dash for midstream and is gone.

This experience afforded splendid preparation, though on
a small scale, for coming events in Curlyhead's life when ideals
would melt away like morning mists on the old Maquoketa.

Strange how some little event of early boyhood will go
with one and influence him through an entire life.

My experience with the giant bass of the old Maquoketa
was a demand on my inventive genius and skill and presever-
ance that I had never been called upon to meet before, and
did more to develop in me those qualities than any other inci-
dent of my early life.

For weeks I invented and tried new ways and new tackle,
only to meet with failure. \Yell do I remember the warm June
morning when success crowned my efforts.

A heavy fog hung over the stream and the sun looked like
a big ball of fire as it floated in the haze above the tree tops.
As I approached the favorite haunt of the old bass, the fog
drifted away before the morning breeze. Peering into the
depths of the dark water I discovered my old acquaintance
lying under the edge of a sunken log.

Dropping the snare in above him, I guided it slowly down
stream along the old log toward his nose. Never will I forget
the thrill of pleasure that shot through me as the brass wire
passed those gently fanning fins. A quick, firm jerk of the pole
set the snare on the bronze backed warrior, and the fight was
on. The pole bent in the shape of an arch as he tore through
the water in circles, trying to free himself from the wire.

In one of his mad rushes the pole broke. Nothing daunted,
I plunged into the stream and swam after the pole, which was
slowly moving across the river toward a deep hole on the other
side. I soon overtook the pole, and I got my second thrill that
memorable morning when my hand grasped the broken pole


Memories of the Old Bridge.

and I found my captive still safely anchored to the other end
of the line.

Swimming to shore I crawled upon the bank dragging my
trophy with me. To say that I was proud of my achievement
would be putting it mildly.

I had glory enough for one day and stringing my bass on
a willow I made a short-cut for town.

This is only one among many pleasant memories that send
my thoughts back to other days to early spring rambles along
the river in search of the first violet, and evenings spent in row-
ing or trolling for bass.

How the mossy bogs did quake as I tip-toed carefully out
on them to reach the beautiful fragrant water lilies !

And then those August and September days when I fol-
lowed old Sport over hill and vale after prairie chickens and
quail. But most distinct in all these pleasant memories of the
old bridge and river is my capture of the big black bass.


A Day on the Maquoketa.

"Hello, Doc ! Get a move on you ! It's almost 5 o'clock and
we should be at the Quaker Mill right now, if we expect to get
any bass today." Such was the greeting fired at me from the
door by my old chum Arthur Green who was impatiently
awaiting me to join him on a proposed fishing trip to the mill.
I jumped into my fishing togs as fast as possible, got together
my tackle, minnow bucket and lunch, and we were off.

It was one of those beautiful October mornings so common
in Northern Iowa during the Indian summer season, and as we
turned off Franklin Street and entered Acre's Grove I could not
but be thankful for the spark of Waltonian fire within me
which called me out on such a glorious morning. Chatting
merrily as we tramped along the sandy road, we found our-
selves on the bank of Honey Creek before we realized it. Here
was where we expected to fill our minnow pails. Taking off
our shoes and rolling up our trousers, we made a swing around
below the bar with our little seine and scooped up a fine lot of
minnows. Hiding our seine in the willows, we were off for
the mill. It was but a fifteen minutes' walk to the pond, and
storing our outfit in the old flat-bottomed boat, we were ready
for the day's sport.

Successful bass fishing is an art, even when the streams are
full of them, and the novice frequently comes home after a hard
day's work, tired and worn out, with an empty string the bass
upon which he doted being most conspicuous by their absence.
The most essential things necessary to lure the bronze-backed
beauties from their haunts are good lively minnows, good
tackle, a steady boat and, last but not least, a cool head and
patient judgment. Flattering ourselves that we possessed all
of these requisites, and reasonably assured of a good day's
sport, we rowed slowly up-stream. The ground covered by the
backwater of the pond had once been heavily timbered and
when the high log dam was built the water had backed up


A Day on the Maquoketa.

among the trees and caused them to die ; therefore the pond
was full of overhanging trees, dead branches, logs and stumps,
partially submerged, which afforded ample cover for the big
fellows who lazily loafed in their shade, expectantly waiting the
coming of some venturesome minnow, prowling crawfish or
unlucky frog.

The first open water we entered we laid down the paddles,
put on a couple of minnows and tossed them overboard. Arthur
was the lucky fellow and hardly had his minnow struck the
water before his line started for the log dam, but he struck too
quick and lost both bait and bass. \Ye were anxious to reach
a spot near the head of the pond where Crosby (our champion
bass-fisher that season) had been catching some big ones. So
we pulled in our lines and paddled on up-stream. A half-hour's
rowing brought us to the spot, and, gently slipping the anchor
over the side of the boat, we put on minnows and settled down
to the morning's sport.

It fell to my lot to get the first strike this time. With
fairly good aim I sent my minnow close in by an old half-rotten
log and anxiously awaited results. There was a miniature
whirlpool, the line straightened out and then went spinning
away at a lively rate. Mindful of Arthur's experience at the
dam, I waited until I knew that the greedy fellow had taken
the minnow well in his mouth ; then, with a sharp pull, I sent
the hook home. For a moment he seemed paralyzed with sur-
prise and came to the surface so willingly that I thought I had
hooked a small one, but was soon deceived. As if awakened to
the peril of the situation, he turned and made a bolt for a mass
of brush at the far end of the log. I held my breath for a

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Online LibraryW. H SteeleMemories of by-gone days → online text (page 1 of 12)