In 1906 George Shiras III (1859–1942) published a series of remarkable nighttime photographs in National Geographic. Taken with crude equipment, the black-and-white photographs featured leaping whitetail deer, a beaver gnawing on a tree, and a snowy owl perched along the shore of a lake in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The pictures, stunning in detail and composition, celebrated American wildlife at a time when many species were going extinct because of habitat loss and unrestrained hunting. As a congressman and lawyer, Shiras joined forces with his friend Theodore Roosevelt and scientists in Washington, DC, who shaped the conservation movement during the Progressive Era. His legal and legislative efforts culminated with the passage of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
Camera Hunter recounts Shiras's life and craft as he traveled to wild country in North America, refined his trail-camera techniques, and advocated for the protection of wildlife. This biography serves as an important record of Shiras's accomplishments as a visual artist, wildlife conservationist, adventurer, and legislator.
Chapter One. Whitefish Lake
Chapter Two. Pittsburgh Roots
Chapter Three. Boyhood Days in Michigan
Chapter Four. School Days for Blue Bloods
Chapter Five. Camera Hunting
Chapter Six. Pennsylvania Politics
Chapter Seven. The Great Bird Mystery
Chapter Eight. Camp Life and Camera Traps
Chapter Nine. A Progressive Goes To Washington
Chapter Ten. The National Geographic Society
Chapter Eleven. Ormond Beach
Chapter Twelve. Bahamas, Mexico
Chapter Thirteen. Newfoundland and Nature Fakers
Chapter Fourteen. Eminent Personalities
Chapter Fifteen. Yellowstone and the Shiras Moose
Chapter Sixteen. The Kenai Peninsula
Chapter Seventeen. Roosevelt-Newett Libel Trial
Chapter Eighteen. The Crusade to Save Birds
Chapter Nineteen. The Shiras Bear
Chapter Twenty. Gatun Lake and Panama
Chapter Twenty-One. The Bullet Is on the Way
Chapter Twenty-Two. The Bird Treaty
Chapter Twenty-Three. Yellowstone Dam Fight
Chapter Twenty-Four. Kaibab Plateau
Chapter Twenty-Five. Final Bird Battles
Chapter Twenty-Six. The Big Book
Chapter Twenty-Seven. Last Days
Notes and References
James H. McCommons is a professor teaching journalism in the English Department at Northern Michigan University. He is the author of Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service.
"Chronicling Shiras's many achievements [...] and shedding light on his times, McCommons presents a full life with admirable economy."
– Library Journal
"In addition to being a thorough biography, an entertaining travel guide, and a rich and detailed history of the early conservation movement, Camera Hunter will enthrall nature lovers, enlighten scholars, and fascinate photography hobbyists and professionals."
– Foreword Reviews
"Bursting with authentic details."
– Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"This biography of a pioneer of photography and a dedicated outdoorsman and conservationist is an important contribution, especially to the history of progressive conservation."
– National Parks Traveler
"James McCommons has written a comprehensive biography of George Shiras 3d and the times and circumstances in which he lived [...] McCommons's book will bring Shiras his well-earned recognition and inspire a new generation of conservationists."
– James G. Sanderson, coauthor of Patterns in Nature: The Analysis of Species Co-Occurrences