I hang a left at the stop sign and skid sideways in a little November fishtail.
Visibility is down to beer-can-chucking distance. I aim for the tire tracks in the snow and goose it before I get run down by one of the potato trucks that frequent this road.
The dog is panting in the front seat and the windshield is fogged to hell. I take a swipe and knock a pile of maps farther down the dash to clear the vent over the wheel. A circle clears in the dog-drool windshield fog, but it’s snowing so hard that my sight distance isn’t much improved.
On this, the last day of pheasant season in eastern Idaho, I could not have asked for finer weather.
“They’ll be holding in this,” I tell the dog, though I’m sure she already knows.
It’s been a late winter and we’ve hunted most of the fall in a t-shirt. We’ve seen the flushes get longer and we shouted at the TV weather report more than once about the lack of snow.
The storm was supposed to arrive this evening, but like a little last-day miracle it was hammering down snow by mid-morning.
We throw caution to the wind and knock on doors that have not been fruitful before. We figure it’s the last day and not many will hunt in this.
A farmer wearing house slippers answers at the first house.
“Sure,” he says, adding that we’re free to hunt another section not visible from the road.
A month ago, he was less free with the use of his irrigation ditches.
In ten months I’ll wonder what was different about today and if I might be able sweet talk him in October. But at this moment, why doesn’t matter, we’re hunting new ground.
The wet snow makes it through the waterproof layer and soaks me up to my belt before we’re out of sight of the truck.
It’s all I can do not to whoop. The dog works a tight quartering pattern with a little extra zip in her step and I talk to her as if she understands english or even cares what I have to say.
I’m feeling so good that my spirit is not one bit diminished when we get back to the truck without a flush. It’s early, barely lunchtime. I know we’ll find them. I know that at some point during the day, the dog will work a bit of magic and lead me into birds bedded in deep grass under two inches of snow.
When they flush, I’ll have time to examine the turquoise feathers on their shoulders as they rise to my gun.
The day will be fleeting, but the moments will linger. In the heat of July, it will be this afternoon that I think back to.
At season’s end the remaining hours stretch on before us, filled with promise.