© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

The Christmas Goose

Hunting birds in the snow has always felt Christmasy to me. Perhaps it’s the Winter season or the blanket of fresh, white snow. Perhaps it’s the chill in the air blended with the rich warmth of a country chimney’s smoke. Or maybe it’s Charles Dicken’s “Christmas goose” or Julie Andrews and her “wild geese that fly with the moon on their wings.” But somewhere, something inside of me equates a bright, snowy rooster pheasant or plump Canada goose with the Christmas season.

This past Christmas Eve morning I joined my brother on a hunt for the aforementioned Christmas goose. A midnight snowstorm brought six inches of swirling Christmas snow, and with it flocks of hungry geese. We laid hidden and shivering in a field of Iowa corn stubble surrounded by dozens of decoys.

Flock after flock of wary geese were fooled by the ruse. And one by one, heavy loads of steel shot helped bring these big, late season birds to hand.

Gunsmoke and goose down lingered in the air around us while Tim and I exchanged rosy-cheeked smiles.

But only for a moment.

One last flock and was just cresting the hill.

The Christmas goose was about to be cooked.

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