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Outdoor writing contest: Wild goose chase

Sun., Dec. 26, 2010, 8:07 a.m.

Brook Tingey
The Spokesman-Review's High School Outdoor Writing Contest illustration for the 2010 winning entry, "Wild Goose Chase," by Brook Tingey of Lakeland High School in Rathdrum. The illustration is by Dale Hamilton of Spokane Valley ( Dale Hamilton / for The Spokesman-Review)

There were 20 seconds left, 19, 18… My fingers scrambled with the different colored wires. Ten seconds until the entire building is blown into oblivion. My life flashed before my eyes and I began to prepare myself for certain doom.

With time running out, I began to pull on random wires, hoping to unarm the bomb… 3, 2, 1…

I braced myself but still jumped as the clock hit 0 and the timer went off.

BANG! I hit my head on the bunk bed as I sat up. My ‘alarm’ was still going off. It was 3:30 a.m. I reached over to turn it off so I could go back to sleep before remembering why I had set my alarm clock for this early.

I sprang out of bed and ran up the stairs to make sure my dad was awake. He wasn’t, so I made a lot of noise in the kitchen while making myself breakfast. After several minutes I heard the shower going and knew my dad was up. My dad and I loaded our duck hunting gear into the pickup truck. I checked to make sure my hunting license was in my pocket. It was.

I grabbed some snacks to eat in the car and then once again checked to see if I had my license. It was in my pocket.

I grabbed our new 20-gauge shotgun with the youth-size stock on it so my little 11-year-old, 65-pound self could hold it up to aim.

My free hand pulled my license out of my pocket just in case it had traveled out of my pocket. My grip slipped on the gun and I caught it with both hands. In order to make it to our special hunting spot before hunting hours, we had to leave.

After several minutes of driving my dad told me to make sure I had my license. Of course, my pockets were empty.

We turned around, drove home and I ran in and grabbed my hunting license off the floor where I had dropped it. We left again with hopes the morning would improve.

Within 10 minutes I was sleeping and didn’t wake up until we got there. We got out of the car and in my excitement I couldn’t seem to get my waders and boots on fast enough. The crisp, cold air nipped at my ears, so I reached for my hat and slid it over my head. We took off through the mud and reeds.

Once it was late enough to start shooting, I had several opportunities to get my first duck, but either the gun safety was left on or I just flat out missed.

Once we moved after my outrageous sneeze scared everything in a 50-mile radius. We were hurrying across a mudflat. We could see ducks off to the right coming toward us and if we hurried, we could be in position to get a couple shots at them.

It was all going just fine until my boot got stuck in the mud. I called to my dad who was up ahead of me, but he was already too far away for me to explain my predicament. I pulled and pulled, and my foot finally came out of the mud. Unfortunately, it also came out of my boot and I began to fall face-first into the mud. With my hands full, the only thing I could do to catch my fall was to stick the gun out in front of me. My dad reached the other side and turned around just in time to see me stick the entire barrel straight into the mud. He started over to help me. I could tell he was mad, but as he neared me, he became really calm. He just took the gun and started taking it apart so we could clean it.

“I’m so sorry! I didn’t try to. I got stuck and tripped; didn’t mean to!” I started rambling off apologies until my dad interrupted me. I couldn’t figure out why he wasn’t mad. I know I would’ve been if I were in his shoes, or boots that is. I voiced my questions out loud.

He simply replied, “That’s why we got this gun and not the expensive one you wanted.” We got the mud out of the barrel put the gun back together and continued hunting.

As the morning went on, the gun accumulated several more scratches from various trips down rock piles, which resulted in my high pitch-squeals.

On the way back to the truck I was finally able to take my first duck.

I was as proud as ever, even though it had a broken wing…and couldn’t fly away…and it took me eight shots.

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