Return to the Southern Wild
Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr.’s first attempt at wildlife
photography occurred some thirty years ago when he
photographed a sunning screech owl with a Kodak
110 Pocket Instamatic camera. Since then the self-taught
photographer has turned his hobby into a part-time
job with his work appearing in numerous state,
regional and national publications. In 1993 he
received national recognition when his image of an
immature least bittern was awarded the “Grand Prize
for Wildlife” by the Roger Tory Peterson Institute for
Natural History. Since 1997 his photographs have
graced the Mississippi Duck Stamp and Mississippi
Sportsman’s Licenses and he has published signed
and numbered lithographic prints of them. “Top of
the Morning”, his most well known photograph, was
a favorite at Ducks Unlimited banquets.
In the Southern Wild, his first coffee table book, was
published by University Press. A true conservationist,
Joe Mac works with and supports numerous
organizations including Delta Wildlife, Ducks
Unlimited, Mississippi Wildlife Federation, The
National Wild Turkey Federation, The Nature
Conservancy and Wildlife Mississippi.
When he’s not at his “real job” selling print media
advertising you’ll find him knee deep in Mississippi
wetlands getting “up close and personal” with
I’m often asked :“Where do you take most of your wildlife photographs – All over?” My standard answer is “No, mostly right around home in Brandon, MS. I’ve still got a real job.” Most are shocked at that answer and tell me they’ve never seen some of the wildlife and scenery I’ve photographed here in Mississippi.
Mississippi is one of the most diverse and beautiful states in the country. From the rocky bluffs in Tishomingo County, to the Pascagoula River Basin, from the Mississippi Delta, to the plantation pines in the Southwest, and everything in between, there’s a lot to see and photograph here at home.
RETURN TO THE SOUTHERN WILD is a collection of images I’ve taken over the past 30 years: some from a stationary blind in Lafayette Co, some from a Poke boat in Madison County, some from the window of my truck in the Mississippi Delta, some just walking around in Noxubee County and some from my wife’s bath tub! I hope you enjoy the images within these pages and that they inspire you to “get your feet muddy” right here in Mississippi. I can assure you I’m planning on photographing in areas of Mississippi that I have never visited before!
With more than 40 years in the field of wildlife conservation, I have participated and witnessed many programs aimed at increasing various fish and wildlife populations. And some of them have been highly successful, like the restoration of the wild turkey, of which we have all reaped the reward. And during this tenure , I spent a majority of my time with Ducks Unlimited, working for waterfowl habitat conservation, again, witnessing many great successes over the years, including resurgence of wood duck populations.
And recently, I have taken time to reflect on the importance of wildlife conservation in Mississippi, which was time well spent.
Might it be that we simply like to hunt and fish? Without a doubt, that is definitely part of the reason. The rich traditions that come with hunting and fishing are something we all know and enjoy. That’s why we work so hard to keep the duck flying, the deer running, and the white perch swimming. Might it be that this is a way in which we connect with our past? Perhaps. Aldo Leopold called that “split rail value,” where our use and enjoyment of wildlife and other natural resources links us to the very foundation of our great country’s history. Might it be that these critters give us the subject matter for the stories of past days in the field, where we recall fond memories and maybe even stretch the truth a bit to embellish our stories?
Clearly, all of these things lead us to place great value on our fish and wildlife resources. Ultimately, what we really value in life is our relationships with family and friends. The ducks, deer, turkeys, and crappie are the focal point that brings us together and allows us to enjoy the great traditions of hunting and fishing.
Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. has been a close friend for many years. His photography captures the true essence of Mississippi outdoors and has graced the pages of every local, regional, and national magazine focused on conservation and outdoor recreation. Joe Mac has a sincere love for Mississippi wildlife and the special places he’s captured on film for nearly a quarter century. His images of wildlife remind all of us why we cherish Mississippi’s natural resources.
As I reflect on a long career in wildlife conservation, I have to look no further than “Return to the Southern Wild" to understand why we work so hard to protect the beauty of natural places and the abounding wildlife within our great state of Mississippi.
So I salute Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. for giving us yet another reason to come together and celebrate the outdoors.
To order copies of RETURN TO THE SOUTHERN WILD, Mississippi Sportsman License prints and Mississippi Duck Stamp prints, OR for information on digital and canvas prints call Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. at (601) 992-0752 or his cell phone (601) 594-2464. You may also contact him via email at email@example.com.
Click here to download order form
Hudspeth fascinates with his
'Return to the Southern Wild'
Hard to tell it from his pictures, but Joe Mac Hudspeth Jr. of Brandon is a self-taught naturalist photographer.
True story: The first wildlife photo he took came on an old Kodak instamatic camera. Hudspeth now uses much more sophisticated equipment, but has never lost the basic skills of his trade: a talented eye and the ability to be in the right spot at the right time to get the shot.
His images grace auction prints for conservation groups, the Mississippi Sportsmans License and so many state duck stamps. They have been featured in magazines, newspapers, including this one, and other publications. His first book, In the Southern Wild (University Press, 2003), earned much deserved acclaim.
Hudspeth's second, Return to the Southern Wild, is self-published and is now being circulated throughout Mississippi in select locations. It is priced at $40.
A long, wild trip
The subtitle is aptly named - A Photographic Journey by Joe Mac Hudspeth Jr.
It is a chronicle of his three decades behind the lens, and even includes that first picture, taken with the small Kodak, of a screech owl.
The book is a testament to the thousands of hours of his dedication to getting the shot.
"Some of my best shots just happen and I just happened to be there when it happened," Hudspeth said. "An example is Top of the Morning (the book's cover shot, left). It just happened while I was sitting in a blind waiting on some wood ducks to appear and do something cute.
"When I looked out the back of the blind a fog bank was moving in and completely hid the sun. I happened to have a small 70/210 mm lens with me and I turned around to photograph the eerie scene. At that moment a drake wood duck landed on the dead snag and stayed long enough to let me capture two images."
Lucky? Sure, but usually not always.
"More times than not I sit in a blind for hours and never even turn the camera on. That's the challenge of what I do," he said.
His book, his choices
The second book takes us further into Hudspeth's world than the first.
"Self publication of the book gave me the freedom to use the images I wanted," Hudspeth said. "It's more work, yes, but I like having that control. I was able to get a better mix of wildlife in the book."
Waterfowl, and especially his personal favorite wood ducks, are featured. But there are chapters on shore birds, turkey, deer, birds, more wildlife and even scenery.
"The book includes the first two photos I ever had published, back in the 80s, and even some from last year," Hudspeth said. "It truly is my journey. And it's been fun."
-Book Review by Bobby Cleveland
Clarion-Ledger Outdoor Editor
August 3 – 5
Mississippi Wildlife Extravaganza
Prairie Arts Festival
West Point, MS
St Domonic’s Senior Talk
Loblolly Arts & Craft Show
Canton Flea Market
Summit Fall Festival
October 24 & 25
Mississippi Library Conference
November 7 – 10
November 16 & 17
Pearl Jingle Bell Market
St. Domonic’s Hospital Gift Shop
For more information on upcoming events you are welcome to contact me
at (601) 992-0752 or firstname.lastname@example.org