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Project Grouse

 

Sage Grouse in Northern Nevada in the 1890s
From Forest Service Historical Records
of
A March 31, 1964 Interview with Sid Tremewan, First Forest Supervisor of the Humboldt National Forest

"Sage chickens were so plentiful in the 1890's when I was on the Evans Place (ranch where he grew up located in northern Nevada near the foot of the Independence Mountains) they clouded the sky. I can remember killing them with a stick on many occasions. When returning home from school, all I had to do was gallop my white horse through a stretch of natural meadow. The birds were always thick on those meadows. They would be eating white clover and other vegetation. As I passed by, they would raise up like a bunch of blackbirds. When I was pretty near home I would get a stick about four feet long and three quarters of an inch thick. As i galloped along, I would starting slapping the stick from one side to the other. In a short time, I would have five or six sage chickens to take home for supper.

Another way I got sage chickens without a gun was by using a stick while raking hay. We used a one horse rake, and I generally had a long stick with a little brush on it to keep the flies off the horse. In the late afternoon, when it began to get dinner time, the chickens would walk way from in front of the horse and just outside of the wheel. I would just reach out and rap them over the head with the stick. Oh, they were thick!

Sheep bands destroyed a lot of nests in the early days. I watched as many as seven bands in a day go by the Tremewan Ranch. They would be so thick that they had to have an extra man out riding between the bands to keep them from mixing together. Years of this type destruction to the nests are what started to thin out the sage chickens.

Also hunting cut the numbers in some areas. During the 1890s , parties used to come out in wagons from Elko. they would camp for weeks at a time just hunting and fishing. When they were ready to go home, they usually had one last shoot. A dead-axe wagon wouldn't hold the birds they killed. They would just leave on the ground in big piles to rot. It was a contest to see who kill the most. "