A Great Migration

The snow geese of ChoteauRick Bass

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Pat Clayton

The road is empty, and the country is still empty. Immediately to the west tower the castles and crags of the Rocky Mountains, while the Great Plains sprawl to the east. Along this seam, there is no middle ground; you are either in the mountains or on the plains. In April I like to travel along the edge of these mountains up to Freezeout Lake, the vast marsh just north of Choteau, Montana, that is to migrating waterfowl in the Rockies what Atlanta or Dallas– Fort Worth airports are to human travelers: the hub. Not every duck and goose flying north in the spring pauses at Freezeout Lake—it is shallow and it freezes solid before any other large body of water in Montana, though it also thaws out first.

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