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Greg Macdonald Interview

Interview with Greg MacDonald


Wildlife Photographer and Hunter

Greg MacDonald is an incredibly gifted wildlife photographer. He lives in the quiet river town of Happy Camp which is located at the upper end of northern California, about 100 miles east of the coast. Greg knows how animals behave, where and when to find them, and I bet, what they are thinking. He is modest, gifted, hard working and can entertain you with endless stories. His photographs line the walls of our high school office and capture the raw nature of this beautiful area. He has a lot of great advice as well and I wondered how he has mixed hunting with photography.

  1. (Steve) How old were you when you began hunting?

I was 15 when I first began hunting.

  1. (Steve) What kind of hunting did you do?

I hunt mostly deer, although I used to hunt quail and grouse.

  1. (Steve) Where was that?

Our family has a ranch in Hornbrook, CA and I also use to hunt in Happy Camp, CA.

  1. (Steve) Who did you hunt with?

My step father introduced me to hunting when he married my mom. I have hunted with my family since I was 15. I also have hunted alone.

 

  1. (Steve) What was the area like?

The area we hunt in is high desert with some timber but lots of brush. It’s some of the best buck hunting in California.

 

  1. (Steve) What do you remember the most about what you were taught as a young boy?

The things I remember most about hunting as a young boy are: one – hunt hard from sun up to sun down! two – learn to plow through the thick brush, and three – never give up! My granddad would yell at guys, who weren’t hunting right, he’d shake his head and say, “what the hell is the matter with that guy?”

 

  1. (Steve) What was so special about hunting at that time?

The things that were so special about those days were;  well, that there was so much more wildlife than there is now, my grandparents were still alive and my grandmother would hunt with us also, with her 25-35. I remember how we would all go up and live on the property in the old hunting cabin. Grandma would fry fresh slices of back strap off the first kill on her old wood stove.  I remember one time we were let grandma off at the bottom of the hill and soon after she was flagging us down. There were 3 bucks, all with 20 inch spreads, right where we left her off. She jumped in the back with us as we slid around the back of the truck; emptying our barrels and watching those three deer run off without concern!

 

  1. (Steve) How about now? What area(s) do you hunt now?

I still hunt the same area I did when I was a kid but the old cabin has rotted to the ground.

  1. (Steve) How did you get started with photography?

While I was hunting one morning I watched a coyote kill a deer and that’s when I wished I’d had a camera to get that picture.

 

  1. (Steve) How much equipment do you carry?

My equipment consist of one camera body, three different lenses, an assortment of filters, tele convertors (MS), a tripod, and an assortment of predator and deer calls.

 

  1. (Steve) How far do you hike every year, looking for a great shot?

I hike in the hundreds of miles every year. Along with the hiking, I drive thousands of miles as well.

  1. (Steve) How do you define a great picture?

A good photo must have good composition, good light, and good sharpness and to invoke a strong emotion when it is looked at.

 

  1. (Steve) How much do you think you have invested in your equipment?

I have invested thousands. But I wish for much more expensive equipment!

  1. (Steve) Has your love of photography helped you with your hunting?

My love of photography has greatly influenced my hunting in that I have time to watch my subjects’ behavior and learn their habits.

 

  1. (Steve) How has hunting made you a better photographer?

Hunting and photography are extremely similar in that I need to stalk my subjects with both a gun and a camera.

 

  1. (Steve) Have you run into any dangerous situations while photographing wildlife?

During my second year of photography I found myself being charged by a bear. In the Marble Mountain Wilderness, I was alone, taking a photo of a bear that was about 70 yards up on hillside when my Airedale ran after the bear. The bear refused to run away, choosing instead to chase the dog who ran right back to me! The dog ran past me with Bear running right at me. I finally began to shout and the confused bear stopped.

 

  1. (Steve) Which photo is your most rewarding?

      Black Tail Buck in the Snow”. It was just an incredible experience to be there and capture that moment.

 

  1. (Steve) What is the longest you have stayed in an area waiting for the perfect shot?

I’ve waited all day hoping for the perfect shot.

 

  1. (Steve) What has meant more to you: hunting success or your photos?

Photos mean more to me than my hunting success. As I am becoming older it is less about killing and animal and becomes more rewarding watching and interacting with an animal. The photo becomes my trophy.

 

  1. (Steve) Do you have any plans of selling any of your work?

In my future, when I have more time, I would love to learn how to be successful at selling some.

 

  1. (Steve) Could someone contact you if they wanted to see more of your art?

Right now I am focused on caring for my wife who has cancer and needs my help; therefore I must wait until a less busy time.

 

I think I have learned more great tips on hunting through a few quick talks with Greg, during the days I get time to chat for a few moments, than I have from the hours of reading and watching shows.  I know I have enjoyed some great stories that have lifted my day!