been the only daily-draw, public-access waterfowl hunting ground in Lake County.Duck hunters come from all over the state to work the marsh’s mallards, woodies, teals, shovelers and other waterfowl. But Indiana duck hunters can’t touch sandhill cranes.  I swear these cocky birds know it.  

At dusk they’ll Kah-HOon proudly and buzz the tops of the oaks and maples, low enough so you can make out individual belly feathers.  Follow a flock until they settle and stand 20-30 yards away from a feeding sandhill. It will stare right back at you, ticking its head side to side curiously between nibbles.

Ultimately, it will decide you’re less interesting than the smorgasbord of insects, reptiles and amphibians in the marsh water.  Get a little closer. That crane will unfurl like an exploding umbrella, shooting from the water and flapping a comfortable distance away to glare at you. It’s a sight to see. 

Maybe I’m wrong about the sandhills.  I could be projecting, that old psychological standby. I humbly admit I am no avian expert.  You’ll have to come out to the Grand Kankakee Marsh yourself. Just one piece of advice, imparted by expert walleye fisherman, wildlife encyclopedia and long-time Grand Kankakee Marsh statesman Dick “Flip” Phelps:  “Just don’t stand under ‘em when they’re flying.” 

You see, if sandhills see you there, they’ll TRY to crap on you.  Is it genetics?  Territorial marking? Coincidence? Believe what you want. 

I think they find it funny. Kah-HOon!