It started with bears, the moment I laid eyes on one. It was simply the shaking of a blackberry bush and a blurred sighting of its rear-end as it charged across the trail, but it was powerful enough to determine the direction my life would take. I was 21, entering my senior year of college. I had no idea bears could be a career.

The further down the trail I walked from where we intersected, the more I wanted to return for a chance at a better look at the bear and feel my own heart beat as strong as the paws unearthing rocks and dirt in its scurried flight. After graduation, I moved to a town of 100 people with no roads leading to it at the southern tip of the North Cascades, near where I first encountered the bear. The small mountain community introduced me to many more bears that summer, along with what it meant to actually share a space with them. It was a life that left me enchanted.

That’s when I started writing. I followed bears to Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, and Wyoming again, and kept writing about my encounters with all species to friends and family back home. After nine years, the subjects and lengths of the emails have varied widely. But at first, the emails were a few paragraphs that could have been summarized in one sentence: Wildlife saved me from a dull life before it really began.

Wildlife guiding led to encounters I never would have otherwise experienced, people I would have otherwise never met, and acted as an outlet for the facts I’d absorbed from all my bear books. And yet, after a few seasons, it was too much and not enough all at once. Guiding allowed me to get close to animals, to understand their world. I wanted that for all people, and not just for a day. I wanted to convey the land’s importance in a way that would make people care about their own backyard. I craved a wider audience and deeper impact than guiding allowed for, which is where my book and photographs come in.

I enjoy the challenge of navigating the unknown, delighted by the surprise a corner in the woods or the end of a page can bring. I like following my curiosity and seeing where it leads, much like tracks in the mud, a long trail, or one-way ticket. The world is full of wonder, magic, strangeness, and beauty. My mission is to remind people of it.

“There are two things that interest me: the relation of people to each other, and the relation of people to land.”

— Aldo Leopold

Wherefore Wildlife Ecology (unpublished manuscripts), in His Life and Work.