Planning an autumn season birding and wildlife photography venture will inevitably mean intermingling with seasonal hunters, especially when the destination is a wildlife management area. The WMA destinations permit seasonal hunting on a limited basis as a means of wildlife population control via the tag system, so encountering a few seasonal hunters should be expected. Fortunately, most hunters are weekend warriors that frantically seek an easy kill in one of the many National Forests, so they tend to avoid the restrictions placed upon hunting in a refuge or wildlife management area. For this reason, weekdays are the best time for birding in refuges and wildlife management areas during the autumn hunting season, since only a few skilled hunters that are well aware of gun safety will likely be on the property.
Just like a hunter, a serious bird watcher will need to get the day started well before dawn, especially when seeking rare waterfowl images. Breaking camp in the dark is necessary when some travel time is required, because the goal is arrive prior to sunrise, before the birds take flight to continue on their migratory path. Wild animals are usually busy at dawn too and the blazing morning light will reveal every detail in a sharp photo image.
Early in the morning during weekdays is the best option for finding a peaceful setting in a wildlife management area and the chances are good that nobody else will be on site. Slowly approaching the parking zone and exiting the vehicle quietly will be necessary, so the wildlife is not spooked. This is especially true for waterfowl birding on foot, because the wild ducks know it is hunting season and when disturbed they will fly to the opposite end of the pond.
Along the Snake River at the Bruneau Duck Ponds, getting close enough to fill the picture frame is nearly impossible to do, since this is Idaho high desert sagebrush country and the waterfowl can see a visitor from a few hundred yards away. Wearing camouflage and crawling to the ponds before dawn is just about the only way to get close, which is something that hunters readily do. The parking area is a high ground overlook that present panoramic views of the ponds filled with a wide variety of ducks, but the distance is a few hundred yards further than what a 500mm camera lens can reach. As can be imagined, the Bruneau Duck Ponds present quite a challenge for birders that like to get close to the subject matter, which can certainly add to the adventure!
Leave no trace!
Donations help the Destinaton West project continue into the future!
Go Fund Me!
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies