Similar to some other waterfowl, Canada geese usually spend midday hours loafing on the water. But, especially this time of year, they also embark on two feeding forays to nearby harvested grain fields such as wheat and oats. Just after dawn, and again an hour or so before sunset, Canada geese fly out in flocks to feed, often honking incessantly to one another.
The big birds always seem to have a favorite spot on a pond, lake or river where they spend the day and night. From there they frequently fly a direct route to eat. Once they arrive, they usually land in about the same location they used before, and eat until the waste grain is gone. Then they’ll fly to a different spot on the field or else find a new feeding location.
The same holds true for their daytime lounging. When geese return from a feed, they almost always pick a certain spot on the water.
To capture the photo on this page, I scouted the day before and learned exactly where the geese were resting on a small pond. After feeding, the birds returned, and I was waiting. Not just anywhere, but exactly from where the birds had left when they went to feed.
I had built a makeshift blind out in the pond. Dressed in waders and fully camouflaged, I awaited their return in waist-deep water, holding a camera and lens on a tripod. I hoped they would arrive before the light was too low.
They did. When they returned I was able to get both distant photos of the flock and also close up images of single birds with wings set and landing gear down as they prepared to alight. The event was a thrill.
Goose hunters can use the same tactics to get the birds within shotgun range. Of course, the use of decoys and a quality goose call will help. Both photographers and hunters must have permission to hunt on private land. Be sure to check with landowners.
Bill Marchel is an outdoors photographer and writer. He lives near Brainerd.