Renowned Troy wildlife photographer Don Jones has a released a new book “Wild Montana.” The photo book features a host of Montana’s wildlife and birds, all of them taken in the field of wild animals — unlike other wildlife photography books, none of the photos are of game farm or captive creatures.
Counting children’s books, this is Jones’ 11th book.
“I’m almost as wealthy as the lady who wrote the Harry Potter books,” Jones joked as he sat with his cell phone at what he described as a “high spot” at the Freezout Lake Wildlife Management Area last week for a phone interview. “I love this book. It’s a nice collection.”
Jones has been shooting wildlife across the globe for 30 years, mostly for magazines. But he noted magazine work often ends up in the “bottom of a parakeet cage,” while books have lasting power.
He recalled one reader who said he bought one of Jones’ earlier books years ago “and it’s still on my coffee table.”
That’s the kind of compliment that makes a photographer feel good.
The book features photos from the past 12 years — they’re all taken with digital cameras along the way. He started his career shooting slide film, but threw most of them out — garbage bags full went to the Dumpster.
“I started all over,” he said.
Knowing that, the book is even a greater accomplishment. It features a portrait of a mountain lion and another of a wolverine.
He took the photo of the wolverine on Glacier’s Highline Trail, he said.
He was walking one way and a couple was walking the other way. He quickly stepped in between them to get his shot and then explained his actions — that a wolverine, one of the rarest critters in the woods — was right behind them. He ended up sending them a print of the beast.
The 120-page book features more common creatures as well, like mountain goats, bighorn sheep, buffalo and elk. It also includes a few amphibians and reptiles, including a sagebrush lizard and a western rattlesnake taken with a wide angle lens so he could show its habitat.
Some of the best photos in the book feature the creatures in their expansive habitat, from a grizzly sow and cub at dawn in Many Glacier to a great gray owl in a grove of old-growth Ponderosa Pines.
The book never lets you forget that Montana is truly a wild place.
Published by Farcountry Press, “Wild Montana” is hardcover and costs $26.95. It is available in local bookstores. Jones said he plans on having some local book signings in Glacier Park this summer.