The Last Chicken

By Tom Reed

That morning Duane shared the land with me. It was his place. Had been his place, his family’s place year after year after year. Sure, it was public land, but it felt like it had another stamp, a generational one. I felt honored. Deeply.

We set out in different directions. Duane and Duke the setter going one way. Me with my entire pack another. I walked and followed. A light breeze came off the ocean into canine noses and I followed some more. Walking. Always walking, the sun warm now, the dogs panting and threading their way west then east then south then back west, but always into the wind. Pulled by it. Beckoned by it, really. Coming back to get watered, then bursting out into it again.

Then Ike, the older, went on point and Sage backed and I whoa'ed up the pup, Echo, and it was there, three good dogs all pointing and the birds went up wild and out of range, but there was a straggler and my gun swung and barked and then it was in my hand. Smelling of sagebrush and soil in a land of horny toads and cactus. An antelope buck barked at us from a rise, then took off. The dust from his hooves skeined into the wide.
feathersStory excerpted from "The Last Chicken" by Tom Reed, Mouthful of Feathers: Upland Hunting in the West.
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