Oxford native and Ole Miss graduate Joe Mac Hudspeth, Jr. moonlights as a wildlife photographer. His first book, In the Southern Wild, was published by University Press in 2003.
“Growing up the in hills of North Mississippi was the perfect training ground for becoming a wildlife photographer,” says Hudspeth. “At the ripe old age of 25 I happened to come up on a sleeping owl and, creeping within a few feet of it, got the shot. It was at that very moment that I vowed to save every nickel I could to buy the camera gear I needed to become a real wildlife photographer.”
Hudspeth’s special love of waterfowl is evident in his followup book, Return to the Southern Wild, and has been well received by lovers of the outdoors all over the South since its release in 2011. The book’s images are simply stunning, which is not surprising considering the many accolades he has received over the years for his shots of wood ducks. His photographs have regularly appeared on Mississippi Duck Stamps and Mississippi Sportsman Licenses. He was awarded the 1993 Grand Prize for Wildlife by The Roger Tory Peterson Institute for Natural History for a shot of a least bittern heron.
Those images appear in this new volume, along with striking scenic portraits and intriguing shots of everything from Mississippi deer, turkeys and alligators to wild hogs, snakes and gallinules—including the first photograph Hudspeth ever took: the screech owl he snapped with an old 110 Pocket Instamatic camera. In a unique section at the end of the book called “How I Got The Shot,” Hudspeth retells the colorful stories surrounding a dozen photographs and what he had to go through to capture each one on film. Included is the background of most famous shot, “Top Of The Morning” which also appears on the book’s cover.
Whether peeling back dew-kissed spider webs at dawn’s first light or submerged to his neck in a camouflaged duck
blind, Hudspeth has a true artist’s patience to wait out the perfect shot. Joe Mac has agreed to allow HottyToddy.com to run a selection of his favorite images, which we will feature periodically. He is in the process of completing his next gorgeous coffee table book, which will release in 2014. Return to the Southern Wild is also available for purchase through HottyToddy.com, with our proceeds supporting scholarships.
–Emily Gatlin, HottyToddy.com Editor-in-Chief