Life on a lek

THE MIDDLE OF A BIG RANCH, EDWARDS COUNTY – The day began with us getting lost in a pasture Tom Turner literally knows like the back of his hand. (Thank goodness we took GPS readings the last time I was out there.)

Our plan of taking down a flimsy blind by the lesser prairie chicken lek, and replacing it with a better photo blind, was dashed because gale-force winds would have taken the blind, and possibly us, to North Dakota as soon as we untied it from five t-posts.

So I sat in the blind that was bellowing in the wind. The chair I sat on collapsed and dumped my tender tush on a cactus.

And the only serious cloud in the sky seemed to be pasted to the sun as it rose in the east, keeping the lek shrouded in gray while surrounding ridges glowed in perfect light.

But the prairie chickens came, maybe as many as two dozen males, and danced and fought despite the jumping blind and the guy with a big camera lens within.

Of the 400 or so frames I shot, maybe 40 came when the sun finally appeared about two hours after dawn.

Ideal conditions – hardly.

Photography as good as I’d hoped – nope.

Worth the morning – you better believe it.

As they have for centuries, two male lesser prairie chickens vie for dominance on a lek Wednesday morning.

Lesser prairie chicken males fight for territory at a lek in Edwards County.