Tom Walker: Alaskan Wildlife Photographer & Sourdough Extraordinaire
Meeting a Legend
I can’t recall the exact date I first met the legendary Tom Walker. It was somewhere around
I had spent the day working in the park, and as I recall, it was wet and soggy. The thought of cooking in my rented van was less than appealing, and so I ventured into the little village of Denali to find a warm meal. At that time Denali wasn’t the size it is today, and from what I can remember, the only place in town was a rustic little bar known as the Lynx Creek Pub.
Somewhere among the wooden benches and Paul Bunyan plaid tablecloths, I was introduced to the man I now call “Old Mentorous One.” Being a young photographer at the time, I was well aware of all my peers, guys and gals, I was competing with for the pages of magazines, books, calendars, and other publications around the world. I knew of Tom; he had no idea who I was.
It’s been over 30 years since the day we first got acquainted. Since then we’ve spent many days in the field together—adventures that included snowy owls in Barrow, caribou in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, polar bears on the shores of Hudson Bay, ptarmigan and Dall sheep along the Haul Road, humpback and killer whales in SE Alaska, and brown bears in Katmai and Kodiak. Over the past 10 years, we lost touch with each other, but I’ve never forgotten this wonderful man who mentored me on all things Alaska.
Jack of All Trades in the Alaskan Bush
If you know anything about Tom Walker, you know he’s not just a world-class photographer and writer. Along with these skills he’s been a professional hunting guide and a commercial boat captain and bush pilot; he’s built several log homes by hand, writing at least one bestseller on the subject. Tom is the real deal, a genuine Alaskan Sourdough with numerous books on the subject of Alaska.
Wild Shots: A Photographer’s Life in Alaska
With that, I want to introduce you to his most recent book titled Wild Shots: A Photographer’s Life in Alaska. As described by the publisher,
“This new memoir by renowned wildlife photographer, author, and naturalist Tom Walker shares his adventures living in Alaska for more than five decades. Wild Shots blends natural history with stories about Walker’s wide-ranging forays into the wilderness to photograph animals–beginning as a clueless “cheechako” (newcomer), but ultimately becoming a seasoned old-timer revered by many. Vivid, clear prose beautifully captures the landscape both around his home just outside of Denali National Park and wilderness destinations across the state.
Following a loose chronology, Tom tracks his evolution as a novice wildlife watcher raised in the dusty hinterlands of Southern California to a more knowledgeable observer to homesteader and photographer to vocal conservationist. Collectively, the stories convey how, through all life’s travails, nature remains his source of inspiration, joy, and solace through visceral experience and his patient lens.“
Congratulations Old Mentorous One. May the gods of nature and Mother Earth grant you the success with this book you so richly deserve. Mother Earth needs more people like Tom Walker.
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