In Deep

Five days and five hundred miles from home without a single bird to hand.

Headed home tomorrow; a desperate last stand today.

I can hear them. Roosters in the mother of all willow stands, a wall twelve feet tall and thick as your inbred cousin.

On point. Can’t see her, but I could find her even without the GPS collar.

She’s radiating bird vibes. It’s the only place in the willows with negative sound. And tension. Movement held at bay. Bird and dog. Enough potential energy to stop the wind and reverse earthquakes.

I duck in, playing a game of vertical limbo. No paths through the cover, glad of my sunglasses as eye protection. Crashing and stumbling.

Rooster launches, brush too thick for a shot but I empty my gun anyway. 20 gauge, 3” fives. Neither barrel is enough to cut through the wooden curtain. I’m barely able to swing on the bird.

Stout pops her head out and I swear she can read my expression. Failure.

She’s slightly more tactful than my friends.

“Ever think about a 12 gauge?”

Yeah, I’ll think about it on the drive home.

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