I ask my neighbor if he’s ever been to Chico. He met a girl from there who invited him to her mom’s, in Paradise. He took his shotgun since it was bird-hunting season, and drove his truck in the late October afternoon until the mud was so thick he had to pull over.
Tens of thousands of geese overhead, everywhere. So loud, he had to wad his ears full of cotton.
Chuck lays down in an irrigation ditch with his gun, waiting. He’s not even in camo. There’s a landing strip where they come in, but after they land, they take off again, swirl around, and come back in. He counts four varieties, and gets one of each, for a four-bird limit.
When he shoots, they don’t even scatter. One nearly hits him in the head when it falls to the ground.
Chuck loads them in his cooler and goes to his girlfriend’s mom’s house, asks if he can clean them on the deck. It’s easier to get the feathers out when the bodies are still warm.
He guts the birds and wraps the remains in a plastic bag, then buries it in the back yard so the bear won’t get to it. He has pictures but says it doesn’t matter, because you can’t experience the memory the same way.