Preparation for prairie chicken photography much of the fun

A male lesser prairie chicken looks around on a lek in Edwards County.

You know those “perfect” wildlife photos you see from time to time, the ones with razor-sharp focus, outstanding lighting and the animal’s image captured at an ideal moment?

Some are luck, but most take a lot of preparation.

Tuesday morning I was amid Edwards County ranchlands, preparing for what might be a chance for some good wildlife photography.

Tom Turner and I were scouting for male lesser prairie chickens displaying on leks. The goal was to watch from a distance to see where most of the males had staked territories, then place photography blinds there after the birds had left the lek at mid-morning.

Tom knew the probable location of two leks, which we found holding displaying birds. We heard birds calling on two others we lacked the time or conditions to precisely find.

Tom Turner pounds in a long t-post to anchor a photography blind beside a lesser prairie chicken lek.

By 11 a.m. we had blinds on both active leks, staked down with full-sized t-posts to hold them in the wind- – hopefully.

I logged GPS coordinates so I could find them well before daylight in the future.

Along the way we watched prairie dogs scoot from hole to hole and jackrabbits do their ears-back streaks across the prairie. Several times we spotted herds of mule deer or whitetails watching us from the skyline. It was a bit surprising that some bucks were still carrying antlers.

Mule deer bucks watch from a sandhills ridge Tuesday morning south of Kinsley.

The preparation is over, and now we wait for a couple of days of photography when the weather and my schedule permit.

The anticipation is much of the overall enjoyment, too.

Even the best preparation doesn’t assure great photos. You always wonder ahead of time if luck will be on your side.