COLUMN: Is it waterfowl season yet?

One of my favorite things to do towards the end of summer is sit on my balcony and glass for waterfowl. If you couldn’t tell by the sidewalks and grass-covered with goose poop in Cheat Lake, we kind of have an overabundance issue with geese. 

But that’s beside the point. 

As the summer begins to fade into fall, we’re all beginning to finalize our hunting preps. Some of us are checking our trail cameras before leaving them alone until September, some of us are watching to see where ducks and geese congregate and others are just relaxing, knowing what their plan is for hunting their private land. Some of us are doing all three. 

While I’m one of the guys that fall into the latter category, my favorite thing to do this time of the year is sitting on my balcony which overlooks Cheat Lake, watching the geese and ducks float around the marina. I need a pretty good optic to accomplish this, and my trust fully lies with Vortex.

My setup is simple: Vortex’s 10×42 Crossfire binoculars, a tall seat, a notebook and pen and a cold brew. 

Andrew’s waterfowl scouting set up is simple: A good pair of Vortex 10×42 Crossfire binoculars, a notebook and pen and a good brew. (Andrew Spellman photo)

I don’t watch them long in the evenings, maybe 30 minutes or so to see what they do and where they like to congregate. When the boating season is at its peak, they like to stick close to the boats. I assume they’re doing this because people are feeding them. As boating season nears a close, I see more birds congregating near the dirt bars in the middle of the lake or down river near the rock bars past Raven Rock. 

I watch, take notes, watch some more, and then finalize my notes at the same time I finish my beer. Through all of this, I can’t help but imagine what waterfowl season will hold for me. I’ve never harvested a West Virginia duck or goose. It’s just not popular here, but that’s why I think this season will be amazing. Unlike trying to fight for a good spot at a WMA for a deer or turkey, during waterfowl season the waters and banks are wide open. Maybe I’ll take a kayak out, or maybe I’ll find a good spot on the bank along the Cheat River that I can convince a friend to taxi us out to. 

I see these birds all year moving up and down the river, sometimes I can’t help but pull over and watch them splash around in the shallows of the marina. Considering every time I leave my house I take my binoculars, I tend to get sidetracked and watch the goslings and mallard ducklings following their moms around in circles. It’s a true treat, and something I don’t take for granted. It’s a shame that I do get sidetracked because I lose time on watching whitetails in spots I vet for hunting.  

As I write this on Friday night, the suds of the final sip of my beer settle in the bottom of my glass and the sun sets over hills rolling behind the Interstate 68 bridge, I’m taking final glances down into the water to see what the birds are doing. It’s beginning to get hard to see the birds now, even though these binoculars are one of the best I’ve used in low light situations. It’s just another day in the long, long summer of scouting, but the experiences I’m bound to have this fall and winter are nothing to be taken for granted. 

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