I got another reminder this past weekend of how fortunate we are to have such abundant natural resources in and around Fort Collins. Once the holiday season is over I need to keep myself busy. I’m never sure exactly which day it will arrive, but sometime right after the first of the year I get spring fever. It’s odd because I look forward to winter. I enjoy the colder temperatures, the mood of snow covered landscape photos and the cooler feel of winter light. Regardless, I get antsy this time of year, so when I got an invite to tag along and photograph a goose hunt I jumped on it.
I’ve never done still photography in a live hunting situation, so when I pulled into the field I was still undecided how was going to approach this. While the group went about setting up decoys I wandered around their blind. I marked distances, evaluated backgrounds and picked a couple spots behind the blind where I could hide my camouflaged self and camera. In the end I decided to start with some longer shots so I drove to the south end of the field and parked. I assembled my camera gear, walked to the edge of a cattail marsh and sat down. I began searching the sky for signs of the morning flight from Fossil Creek Reservoir. Wildlife photography is often long periods of waiting and watching so I made myself comfortable. Throughout the year a lot of the work I do is focused on a specific species, season or event. When I get dialed into one thing it’s easy to miss other activity happening right under my nose. I can remember a number of trips where I commented “it’s pretty slow right now, there just isn’t much going on.” That morning was different, as time wore on I began to notice all kinds of life. Song birds were jumping around the weeds picking up seeds. A pair of redtail hawks cruised above the cattail marsh. A lone bald eagle paid a visit to a cottonwood tree behind me. I heard the yip of a nearby coyote. The longer I sat there, the more I began to see. As if on cue, a pair of red foxes emerged from the cattails. For the next hour I watched and photographed these two foxes hunt and play throughout the field. They finally bedded down for a mid-morning nap a short distance from where I sat giving me a couple of unique poses and expressions. As I walked back to my vehicle I realized I didn’t take one photograph of geese, but I did make several other images by simply finding a spot, sitting down and letting things happen. I’m pretty sure the next time I’m feeling things are a bit slow I’ll remind myself of this winter morning and that in the natural world there is never nothing going on.
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