Why couldn't I let it go? The thought kept creeping back into my mind as I worked my way down stone to stone on the narrow wooded ridge.
My wife had said it as I walked out the door of our simple country home. I didn't reply, didn't look back. That was three days ago. I was tracking a creature who had done me more injury to pride than body.
I couldn't let it go. The wounds Honey Boo-Boo inflicted hadn't healed yet but the disgrace of being beaten by a 14 pound chicken drove me on with a simmering frenzy.
I'd brought the beagle with me and managed to pick up her trail. We tracked her ever deeper into the forest. On the second night something spooked the dog and she ran off. Hopefully she went home. Thinking that Honey Boo-Boo got her was too upsetting to contemplate.
I was pretty sure now where the errant bird was heading and had decided the best course of action was to get ahead of her and lay in wait. Some feel the ambush has no honor, but I don't see it that way. In such a game as the chicken and I were playing it was winner take all, no quarter asked, none given.
I reached the bottom of the gulch and entered the brook, ensuring that no tracks were left behind me. I was close now, I could feel it. The water got deeper as I progressed. It went past my knees, then my waist, finally it was at my chest. The footing in the creek bed was soft but as long as I kept moving I didn't sink enough to get into any real trouble. I held my shotgun over my head, the five shells I'd brought strapped to stock. The water began to move faster - I could feel the current pulling at my legs as I moved forward. I inched closer, thankful that the depth of the water was receding until it just covered my knees. I was there. Between the overhanging branches I looked down. A ten foot water fall was cascading into a small clear pool. I picked my way cautiously down till I reached the edge of the pool and I secreted myself into the foliage.
It seems like ages go by. Waiting for your enemy in the bush plays tricks on your mind. Time lags and accelerates on it's own accord. Every creaking of a branch, every wisp of wind carries with it the potential for explosive action. Intense focus is required, being at one with the surrounding your best camouflage. Flexing each muscle group in a rhythmic procession stops cramping. Slow deep breathing from the diaphragm calms nerves and keeps the body oxygenated. I play out the actions I'm going to take, mind-scape the events that will soon be unfolding. The shell is in the breach, the safety is off. I pull the hammer back, and I wait.
Then I hear it, a barely audible cooing. I know that sound, the noise of a chicken. Next I catch a whiff of that distinctive smell. A wet chicken. She was close, closer than I ever could have hoped! A flash of white drifted out of the greenery and there she was by the water.
I watched as Honey Boo-Boo took a drink, then settled back to preen for a moment. She was no more than eight yards away. I raised the shotgun to my shoulder and pulled the trigger.
The explosion reverberated off the face of the waterfall and a plume of feathers drifted up in the air. I stood up to take stock of the carnage but what I saw before me shocked me to the core. I had only winged Honey Boo-Boo, her left wing to be exact; completely blown off. I had used a number four shot as I felt that the twenty quarter of an inch balls that blasted out were more likely to devastate my target. Honey Boo-Boo must have shifted just as I unloaded on her. She looked at me with unfettered rage and as I broke open my gun to reload she charged! In the seconds before she slammed into my midsection I though that perhaps I should have brought the pump action, or even my trusty side by side. Who would ever have believed a chicken could be so hard to take down? I'd lost my grip on the shotgun as honey Boo-Boo and I grappled in the underbrush. Chicken blood blinded one of my eyes as she attempted to gore me with her ragged stump. The diabolical bird furrowed her talons over my forehead, giving me a scar I'd have for the rest of my life. I worked my left hand down to my belt as I held her throat with my right, pushing her back and away from me. I opened the clasp and pulled out my Bowie knife, then everything went red.
I woke some time later. Dragging myself to the pool edge I drank. Everywhere I looked there were white feathers stained russet, but no Honey Boo-Boo. As much as I searched I couldn't find the shotgun and night was closing in fast.
It was time to go, time to go home. As I worked my way out of the woods I felt like I was being watched, and perhaps I was. I figured that an itinerant fox or coyote had grabbed Honey Boo-Boo's sorry carcass and that was the end of it. I sure hoped it was the end.