The wild ducks are more destructive to grain this winter than are the geese. At least that is the complaint of the ranchers. While the geese feed more or less during the day, the ducks confine their depredations to the night, when the darkness prevents the herders from successfully warring against them. Charles Chapman has been greatly annoyed by ducks, and his grain has suffered to a considerable extent. But Charlie has hit upon an expedient that is not only protecting his grain, but threatening to annihilate the duck family. He stretched five strands of barbed wire fence from the top of his barn to a post twenty-five feet high, placing the wires about eight inches apart. A hair trigger shot-gun, loaded, was fastened on the side of the post, at the top, the muzzles pointing along the wires. From one of the latter a small wire ran to the trigger of the gun. This trap was set Thursday night of last week. The wires were only thirty-four feet in length. About 2 o’clock a.m. Friday Charlie was awakened by the discharge of the gun. Then followed a chorus of “quacks.” He went out. On the ground in the vicinity of the wires he found twenty-three ducks; nineteen were dead, the remainder crippled so badly that they couldn’t fly. Ten of the lot had been struck by the shot from the gun. The remainder had flown against the wires, the shock killing them. He reloaded the gun and put up one of the wires that had been loosened from the pole. Between 3 and 4 o’clock the same morning he was again waked up, but didn’t go out. When he arose in the morning he picked up thirty-seven dead ducks — making a total of sixty killed during the night. He was in town Friday, and told us that he intended erecting at least 500 yards of the trap on his grain fields. The experiment was suggested to him by recollections of the manner in which prairie chickens killed themselves by flying against the telegraph wires “back east.” The experiment would be a costly one to large ranchers, but if the game was bled immediately so that it would be fit for the market, the sale of ducks would be more than meet the outlay.
February 3, 1883. Columbus Daily Enquirer 25(29): 1. From the Gridley (Cal.) Herald.