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K. Ouchley

On the morning of December 20, 1987, I was working near the mainline Mississippi River levee in Tensas Parish. Waterfowl hunting season was ongoing, and I was prowling about in search of those who might violate federal laws that protect the long-term well-being of migratory ducks and geese. Before daylight, I walked a mile into a swampy, forested area that consisted of oak flats and meandering cypress sloughs. Palmetto blanketed the subtle ridges and drapes of Spanish moss hung motionless in the still, pre-dawn darkness. I squatted down and leaned back against a cedar elm to await the morning chorus. There was no sunrise on this cloudy day; objects just grayed into existence. Crows got up first and shouted monosyllabic insults at each other as they flew east toward the river. A pair of pileated woodpeckers were roused from their separate roost trees by the commotion and rattled morning greetings back and forth across the swamp. 

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