Three hundred lots. A handful of open space tracts. Bull-dozed new ponds. Jogging trails along the streams where the new residents can enjoy wildlife watching.

But for now, a half section of farm ground in old wheat, a smattering of snowberry along the cricks, gone-awry tansy and thistle. Cover.

You walk this ground as you did last year. It’s good for one hunt a year, maybe two. You take only one dog. One dog, the old one, who stays close and hunts pheasants better than the others, more thoroughly, less ram-charger-hell-bent-go-daddy.

This place is close to town. Closer to the blade. They came here as your kind has come for centuries: lured by word-of-mouth, tantalized by brochures, urged by magazine articles that rated your town as a “Top Ten.” You came then too, so you are well aware of the dark crow of hypocrisy perched on your shoulder.

Farm ground went under the blade. Tracts surveyed. Nail guns spit. Places to live and raise your children and clean air to breathe and those amazing mountains on all sides. Good country.

But soil as black as an Angus turned over for the last time, covered in asphalt, concrete.

Then it all fell out.

The money stream dry. The realtors waiting tables. The construction guys on the road somewhere else. Some other boom.

Now it is as it has been for one hundred years. Farm ground. The surveyed and staked ground before you like some glowering storm off in the distance, a storm that promises to drop ice on the highway and force you elsewhere.

You are aware of time here. Aware of economics. Aware of change. When you come here as you have come every year for a half dozen, you wonder if you’ll have to find some other place next year. If this place will be no more. You do not think of these things in other places where change seems to creep as slowly as lichen across granite.

You walk behind the old dog and watch him move through the snowberry and tangle rose. You scrape along behind him and look for tracks in the snow. You start to pick up some, tracks of running roosters, a covey of feeding Huns, a doe-fawn combo. The old dog cuts parabolas on open ground, then finds a line that only he can feel and follows it, as if being reeled there. Then, a point. The cock bird goes up and you swing and pull and touch his warmth when the old man brings him back.

You go on now, thinking about hunting and unaware of time and change and development. There’s a hen beneath a solid point, and then another rooster warm in your hand and then you are out of cover and out of ground to hunt.

Two roosters on good ground. Two is enough. Save some for next year. Save some now. The ‘dozers will get the rest.                                       –TR

Author: Tom Reed

Four English setters tell me what to do.

4 thoughts on “Staked”

  1. Bruce, you had me.

    I know what it is to mourn the loss of spaces we love. I cannot drive through the place that I was raised without feeling loss. If you love the land you choose to stay or to leave, and I don’t know which is worse.

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