Here lies Photographer Wallace Kirkland, in wait for a shot of a duck-filled Canadian sky, an assignment he received from SPORTS ILLUSTRATED two weeks earlier. Having already traveled to the Hay Lakes deep in the Northwest Territories, he is now near Strathmore, Alberta. It is Sunday, Sept. 30.
A few days later Kirkland wrote us a note, which I think explains his reputation both as an indefatigable photographer and a most entertaining writer:
When we arrived at Hay Lakes on Wednesday, timber wolves had the ducks skittery and any movement in the rushes started them off to the middle of the lake. Three a.m. Thursday drove by wagon to the south end of Lake Zama. Built a blind and spent a few hours hoping the ducks would return. At sundown back to camp. Had looked forward to a hot buttered rum, but while we were gone a couple of Indians raided the camp and cleaned up the two bottles I had left in my bedroll. Their drunken carcasses lay under a nearby clump of willow. Friday up before daylight again, but during the night a wild stallion had stampeded our team. All was set for cleaning up the assignment Sunday. But it started to rain before dawn. With a break in the clouds we crawled the last few hundred yards through the grass. Not a duck. The 50-mile gale had blown all the water out of that end of the lake and the ducks with it.
Weathered in, in what was now a comparatively duckless world, Kirkland had to wait three days until on Thursday he caught the once-a-month mail plane to Edmonton. There he heard about ducks near Strathmore, some 240 miles south.
November 5, 1956
I drove down by private car with two friends. We pushed a skiff into a bulrush island and they covered me with a pulled-apart musk-rat house. For four hours I lay there while they herded ducks. Then with a roar like a railroad train, about fifteen or twenty thousand took off—and I hope we got what was needed.
I did get in a bonus for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED by going on a TV sports program in Edmonton, to which everyone with a set listens. I told about the efforts SPORTS ILLUSTRATED makes for its pictures. I also thanked the Canadians for raising the ducks for U.S. sportsmen to shoot at.
And, Kirkland might have added, for a SPORTS ILLUSTRATED photographer to shoot at. For it was a Kirkland picture in our WATERFOWL PREVIEW two weeks ago which gave U.S. sportsmen good cause to look forward to a record-breaking season.