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We stopped next to a pond. The day was arriving overcast and unseasonably hot. I put down the gun cases and unzipped my vest. The rice fields stretched to the horizon in every direction. I was about to collapse when T.H. said, "We'll set up here. That way, we might get some ducks coming into the pond as well as geese feeding in the field. Travis likes them both. That's right, isn't it, boy?"
Travis didn't hear him. Or at least he didn't pay him any attention. He was too busy sniffing my pockets searching for more spicy sausage. When T.H. wasn't looking, I gave Travis another patty. It was gone in a single gulp.
T.H. dumped his bag on the ground. Much to my surprise, he pulled out two long, white surgical gowns and a big pile of diapers. "Here, put this on," he said, handing me one of the gowns. He had to be putting me on. Where was the traditional camouflage?
He put on his gown and picked up an armload of diapers.
"Diapers? What are they for?" I asked.
"Decoys," he said. "Ain't nothing that decoys snows better than diapers."
This was unbelievable. Diapers for decoys, white gowns as camouflage. T.H. had to be kidding.
He was dead serious. "Follow me and spread these out," he ordered. "The geese are going to be in the air right quick, and we're going to knock clown a bunch of them. Those boys back at The Farris are going to be eating their words tonight." T.H. started dropping diapers in the field. I squished after him.
Spreading the diapers was no easy job. There were hundreds of them. Sweat fogged my glasses and dripped off my nose. I kept tripping over my gown. My legs felt like jelly. Travis kept hounding me for more spicy sausage. "Daggone," said T.H., "I've never seen a dog take to anybody like that." I patted Travis on the head and snuck him another patty. He swallowed it and stared at me, begging for more.
I was so exhausted that it took me a moment to hear the honking. Geese, thousands of them, were getting up. A solid wall of birds was forming like a cloud. It began rolling over the rice fields toward us. "Let's go!" hollered T.H. He threw down the last of his diapers and sprinted back to where we had left the guns. I stood there, numbed by the sight. I'd never seen so many birds. "Come on!" T. H. shouted. A rush of adrenaline gave me a second wind. I plowed through the furrows after him.