Wanderin' Round Ranger Creek Ranch

A panting coyote scurries through the brushland and dry creek beds.

My birthday was approaching. I knew that Ben had something planned, but figuring out the “what” wasn’t the easiest thing to do. After a long history of always guessing right and ruining the surprise, Ben had begun to get tight-lipped and secretative. He had this trip planned for months—and without me suspecting a thing!

As a good partner does, he pays attention to my frustrations. The biggest one having to do with photographing wildlife. If you’ve never tried your hand at shooting wildlife, I urge you all to try it! You’ll learn a lot— about life and yourself— for that matter. Like how sometimes you do everything “right” and the animal that you’re targeting evades you entirely, or how the moment you’re unprepared, they crop up and you miss the shot. I’m not going to lie, the rewards outweigh the misfortune. And honestly, out of everything that I’ve shot, my wildlife shots mean the most to me. The amount of time, effort, and planning that goes into those shots makes it worth it. But, then again, realizing that luck actually does play a major role in whether you even get the shot or not, makes you value those shots even more.

One of the reasons that wildlife photography has given me such a frustration is because where we live (and shoot), I’m at the mercy of land divisions. Many times, I’m somewhere and an animal pops up and I try to make their portrait but then a fence gets in the way, and in the 2 seconds I have to take the shot, the barbed wire plays with my auto focus, causing me to miss the shot. Or I try to take the shot manually, only to miss the focus because they’re moving. Now, my faithful and considerate husband can’t control all of these variables. But, he realized that he could control one of the main issues that I’ve had: the land division issue.

The plan would be for us to go to Ranger Creek Ranch outside of Seymour, TX. More appropriately: the middle of nowhere. We would stay in an air conditioned ranch house on a property that at one time had over 63,000 acres: our guide believed this number is still pretty accurate. Basically, this property still has gated off sections, but one big help is it also has a blind overlooking several portions of the area.

After a bit of rest at the ranch house, we embarked on a search of a blind that would face an area that would promise an opportunity to see something wild. After waiting for about 45 minutes, a doe popped up. I photographed the doe until it was out of view. Keeping our heads on swivels, Ben caught sight of something that was not walking like a deer or coyote. It was bounding. Could it be a bobcat?  I had the camera in my hands, what looked to be a bobcat through the viewfinder. It was crouching down into the grasses. It was then that my chair shifted and I went to reposition myself that I lost the cat. Now, these cats disappear in the grasslands. I knew that, but to think I’d lose it so fast is astonishing. This wasn’t going to deter me. We stayed put and waited for something else. It was about 5 minutes before a scissor-tailed flycatcher landed right below us. I’d have to put the camera outside of the blind a bit to capture it. Cooperating, it was pretty great to photograph one so close—and in good light.

Alas, the experience of seeing a bobcat, deer, and coyote so fast gives me hope for future visits. It was very easy to do this wildlife stuff from a blind, too. Truly, what a blessing! What an excellent day and a half! We plan to return often. This place looks like the quintissential Texas ranch and we can't wait to come back!