Recently I have taken up a second waterfowl season… Photo season! Once February 15th brings the close of dark goose season in Kansas, I typically had pack my gear and sulked around until the following fall. Last winter I began to take advantage of some optimum bird numbers and snap a few photos. Thus, I fell into a new passion, waterfowl photography. Although I have had no training, and merely have some older, basic gear; I am gaining some valuable experience.
Since I consider myself a student of “the game”, I try to continue my wildlife education when any opportunity arises. I spend countless hours in the field, marsh, or truck, glassing waterfowl with my trusty Alpen binoculars. Once I locate a concentration and gain permission, I scout the spot for best possible “shooting locations”. Blinds are the best way to prevent flaring birds or wildlife, thus I leave a pop up blind at a prime photography spot. The little pop up blind conceals my tripod, camera and body plus it allows me to move about and not spook nearby birds. Good cover allows the photographer to be totally invisible, thus inviting the birds right into his lap for a close shot.
Additionally, during my bonus season, I have the ability to study ducks and geese in an un-molested habitat. Thus I can gain valuable tricks to utilize in the coming season(s). It was here in my photo blind that I heard what true spit notes from a goose sound like, as well as the various range of volume and tones of a large group of Mallards. Furthermore, I have witnessed waterfowl that are rarely seen in my region during the hunting season. For instance, it’s uncommon to spy a Whitefront goose during the hunting season, but recently my little refuge is covered with hundreds of “specks” ! Canvasbacks and Pintails are also not typically seen here during the waterfowl season, but now are here aplenty. It’s a rare treat to view them and absorb the sights and sounds of the typical as well as the unorthodox birds. Anything I can learn from ANY encounter with wildlife makes me a more intelligent and experienced hunter. What follow are some of my favorite “shots”.
Story and photos by Tom Cannon