Photos and article courtesy of Chris Utroska

“I woke up well before daylight on the morning of November 16, 2022. With just about a week left until the opening of duck season, I had two goals for that morning: finding ducks to hunt on opening day was the main objective, but getting some great photos would be a bonus.

As the sun started to rise over a public cypress brake in the Mississippi Delta, I could hear the unmistakable chatter and whistle of mallards flying overhead. I knew it was going to be an exciting morning. I watched and snapped photos for a while as groups of mallards crashed into the brake, with no clue that I was even there. Then I saw a group of pintails approaching the hole in the canopy of the huge cypress trees. This was going to be an opportunity that I couldn’t miss. As they made their descent into the brake, I got them in the frame of the camera and let the shutter eat. I took as many photos as the camera could in an attempt to capture this incredible moment.

After they landed, I reviewed the photos that I had taken and was happy to see that all had worked out and the ducks were in focus. This photo was a culmination of hard work, patience, a lot of luck, and a little editing. I was so honored and excited when I found out that it was chosen as runner-up in the annual Ducks Unlimited Magazine photo contest and would be published.”

Photo was captured with a Canon 80D and Canon 70-200 F2.8L. Photo is featured in the May 2023 issues of Ducks Unlimited Magazine.