I stand in the ditch, the reeds pulled close to my face, for an hour longer, as hundreds more swirl overhead, sifting down toward the field, and landing just beyond the ditch. There is nothing to prevent me from waking up at 3 a.m., driving two hours from home, setting out decoys in the dark, and standing in the half-frozen water of an unremarkable ditch, just to watch such a spectacle. But I won’t. Not without a gun. Nobody does. The cost of admission to witnessing such extraordinary life so close and breathless and wild lies in the stilled form of the huge bird at my feet.