© 2012 Aaron Atkinson

Rooster Tail

Ten minutes into the last day of the bird hunting season, Indie quartered my way in the tall grass, headfirst into a brisk, frosty breeze that rattled the tops of the bluestem. Her feverish, fresh-from-the-crate gate froze to a halt fifteen yards directly in front of me. I tightened my grip on my shotgun as I stepped past my pup’s high tail and low, ‘sure thing’ nose.

It was then that I saw something a bird hunter rarely sees. Jutting out of a dense clump of grass four feet in front of Indie, a long, late season rooster tail sat exposed. Before the rooster exploded into flight, I remember fleetingly wondering if I might be able to step on the bird and not have to shoot it. Just as I was about to step on him, the big bird rocketed into the air.

My boot was too slow, but my trigger was plenty fast.

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