Wildlife photog Scot Stewart

Wolf pups raised in captivity offered Scot Stewart a unique photographic opportunity. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette Regional History Center)

MARQUETTE — History is often reduced to the first man to do something–the first to settle an area, the first to invent something. History is much more than that. Many individuals and communities lead to the development of an idea. The history of outdoor recreation in Marquette County is a great example.

A wide variety of people have contributed to make Marquette a mecca for outdoor recreation today–from dedicated volunteers who build trails, to the Scandinavians who brought their skiing traditions here, to tourists who race in the Noquemanon ski marathon or ride the single track bike trails, and many more people, organizations, businesses, and governments.

In the area of wildlife photography George Shiras III was a pioneer who is known for wildlife photography in general and nighttime photography in particular. It was still a new field at the end of the 19th century when Shiras was able to capture deer and other animals with trip wires and other devices thanks to the design and fabrication work of his partner John Hammer. Shiras’ award winning photographs were published in National Geographic, which was a new development for that publication at the time.

A more recent contribution to Marquette’s wildlife photography is Scot Stewart. When Scot moved to Marquette in 1969, there was little wildlife photography going on here. Photographers were primarily studio photographers or some did landscape photography. With the explosion of digital photography, it’s hard to imagine a time when photos of local moose, fox, or birds were uncommon. Some of these animals are also more regularly seen today than they were in the 1970s and 1980s.

Scot first got interested in wildlife photography when he was a child living in the Chicago suburbs and in New Jersey. In Marquette he was able to study with George Wilson at a non-credit class at Northern Michigan University. George raised a few wolves which he filmed and photographed, and Scot became his assistant. He was able to crawl into a wolf den to observe and capture close up images of wolf pups.

Since Scot didn’t have a car, he would hitch hike to areas like Harlow Lake, County Road 550 and 510, Pictured Rocks, and Laughing Whitefish Falls. These are some of the same places he photographs today. Presque Isle had a deer enclosure and the Shiras Zoo at the time. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources brought an albino buck to the Presque Isle enclosure. There were normally around 24 deer in the enclosure. That albino fathered several deer, passing on its genes. There are albino descendants around Marquette because of that first white buck. These generations of albino deer have provided an amazing opportunity for wildlife photographers throughout the years.

Learn more about wildlife photography at the Marquette Regional History Center’s Week Long Holiday Open House Dec. 7-12 featuring a narrated slide show by wildlife photographer Steve Lindberg. Enjoy a photo op with an albino deer by Steve Lindberg, and see the special exhibit “The Great Outdoors: The History of Outdoor Recreation in Marquette County.”


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