Klamath Basin, northern California, USA: Oct 12 - 15
There is a long dike road on the southern edge of Tule Lake --water to the north and fields to the south. At one time this basin has far more habitat for waterfowl. Now there is a struggle to determine who gets the available water, the ranchers or the refuge. The Klamath Basin is still an awesome place, but I know it once was far more.
So peaceful out here on the refuge. Smoke rises from a far off burn in Lava Beds National Monument -- a controlled burn I’m sure. A tractor hums in a distant field and kicks up a cloud of dust, probably harvesting onions or potatoes. We hear the murmur of coot, grebes and occasionally a goose. Duck numbers are low and they don’t have much to say anyway.
Four mule deer feeding in the first of the many fields on the right. I know they are bucks before we are close enough to see horns – stocky compared to the does. One of the 4x4s is especially large beamed.
A mile or more farther down the dike road we spot a fifth buck, a pretty 3x3. He is feeding in the overgrown clutter between the dike road and ditch off to our right 50 yards away. He seems close enough for a photo, but heat waves blur his image.