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The Art of Wildlife Photography

Lesson 16 of 24

Cougar Fund: America's Greatest Cat


The Art of Wildlife Photography

Lesson 16 of 24

Cougar Fund: America's Greatest Cat


Lesson Info

Cougar Fund: America's Greatest Cat

so yeah we'll talk about america's greatest cap which I think is the cooker yeah they're the cat's bobcats and links but and jaguars in the south but I've never seen a wild cougar in my life until nineteen ninety nine and people would say well why don't you photograph cookers I mean everybody's got a cooker pictures you know you've got lions you've got leopard you got tigers you've got you know polar bears you got everything why don't you have cougars that's well ninety nine point nine percent of all cougar pictures come from places like this this is a place your big sky montana animals montana triple d there's a bunch of other ones across the country montana seems to have a majority of them this is an aerial view over the game farm looks like these are all kennels with different animals in them have a company house here and for years I we get in debates with friends and talk about what game farms were and I thought they were questionable you know people say well they go there they tak...

e the animals out you can take pictures of great to see a mount line you know pet him whatever and I happened to go to see a friend who was involved in this he told me how great it was and how great animals were taken care of and how weather fair get taken for walks and stuff and I want to see him just to visit him I forgot all about the game for a mission we talked about and I saw these cages from road and I thought it was like a turkey farm or a pig farm or something like I see in nebraska where I grew up and I realize that this is what game from looks like and this is the only one I've seen but but I know people have gone to different ones and they said this is kind of typical and actually this is some better betterthan others but I saw foxes or three foxes there seawolf their cage right next to each other I thought wolves usually kill foxes wolves you zico coyote loves you sicko cougars of the camp so I thought that's odd you would put him like next door to each other and you would put in a dozen wolves in a pen that's I don't know thirty feet long and you know I saw wolverine walking back and forth pacing like you see in a crappy zoo totally neurotic in a walking back and forth you know you've seen it animals in their cages that you know our while genetically is not rescue they breed them here everybody wants babies they get too old they go bye bye nobody wants him you can't give in to a zoo get too many shots of them wolves arsenal that's a lobo from so nobody wants them anymore for magazine you're wetter he goes away I could see how they do that I won't go into so for about fifteen or twenty years I've been fighting game farms and you could go there and you can shoot anything I want snow leopards siberian tigers lions black bears robbers and they take him out and put him in what looks like a natural habitat and they have electric fence around them bears don't behave they use cattle prods moving around to put him on big flatbed trucks cage on like a cherry picker on a flatbed truck to come to places like muay canyon lands or maybe it's the hardwood forests the new england put him out through a piece of meat over there canyon and make a mountain lion jump over the top and everybody you know a lot of workshops go there's big money for workshops look for workshops he'll see you can photograph baby mountain lions and the spring and you khun photograph wolves in the winter sea just exactly what that means but it's it's pretty criminal demands unethical it's probably the worst thing that's ever happened awhile the photography flooded the market people see diamond doesn't get a wolf picture that I'll never see a mountain line I'll just live without it and then one day nineteen ninety nine february fourteenth it was valentine's day was coming back from a trip a friend of mine who to my office actually she lived out on national elk refuge she said kevin my husband saw him outline with three four month old kittens on miller butte miller butte you saw them go into this cave here and she says you might check it out the next morning is our day break and so these three kittens that being pretty amazing first really while mount lines I stayed there for forty two days I thought I would have one chance the mountain lions will be there and then move off you know that probably a shot in the dark sort of thing and within a couple of weeks this was seen on a sunny saturday afternoon and late february people came from all over you know just people who wanted to watch obviously some filmmakers lots of attire for years much of kittens play this is mom with two of the kittens she'd killed enough just above the dam there's only time that that time one of their two of the time when to kill the calf down below the den and one ofthe decided only time I saw her go with the kittens she disappears sometimes for a day sometimes for two days I wonder where she goes she wasn't like you know l crawford you think but ten thousand would be like going to your refrigerator it wasn't hard for big animals what she goes a mile that hunting season is open they're going a mile that way hunting season's opener here she's coming back late one morning she'd been out all night hunting sneaking back to the den and if you could see this getting here kind of waiting for her see that blending isn't amazing how well they blend in kittens waiting for her to come back they were nursing they would eat meat if it was close and they would follow her if she was killed close and I my little brother how there and I was shooting sixteen millimeter or shitting in eight hundred with the two x and one for extender like look like a coke bottle and had a six hundred I had all the gear and I had bean bags I had mono pods and embrace it again there's this film nineteen ninety nine I would've loved to have sixty four hundred eso digital I shot all the high speed film I could find in the world and negative film etcetera and I shot five hundred rolls of this family and here they're playing with the little elk for and my girlfriend at the time so you should put a book together we should do a book about this experience forty two days nobody's seen mount lines wild mountain ones for forty two days is that another on collard thereon chased by dogs it was a very close syria on national al coffees so you had to be one hundred twenty five yards away which was good nobody bothered him so I said you put the book together you know you write it you find images so she wrote the spirit of the rockies care a blessing and then we said really we need to do a film talk about how do we do this how do we make a difference we need to do a film we need to do a film of a hunt you know show how what happens we'd gone to the game fish department asked him but did raise the the number of of quarter from five to twelve that year even though fifteen thousand people came specifically according to the gate of the refuge fifteen thousand people came specifically to see the cougar's it was a once in a lifetime experience way more than would come to see anything that wolves have come down from yellowstone that was no big deal to them they seem in yellowstone so even in spite of that they ignored that so here's a short film that way did and just a really quick there is as you said it is a hunting film so there is atleast one animal that is shot right is that correct in the film so if you were watching with kids and you don't want them to see that that's a warning for you it's not a children's film maybe ah in the winter of nineteen ninety nine an event occurred that would cast light on the collision of two worlds theorize vel in six weeks day of a mountain lion and her three cubs on the national health refuge in jackson wyoming would forever more change how these elusive predators are perceived by those who hunt them and those who argue for their protection this spectacle marked the first time in history a mountain lion has been documented in the wild for an extended period of time wildlife watchers photographers and film makers came from around the world to witness the once in a lifetime event one of the most important animals and you understand is the mountain mine way wanted to make a film about the whole ecosystem on da we were so fortunate because we thought we'd never get pictures a mountain lion to the film way were determined to do in the wild of course but then this mountain lines showed up millet butte just outside jackson hole on dh with three little cubs on it was just wonderful to behold with them rolling about in the snow and playing with stones and sliding about wrestling each other oh it's amazing I mean I think that that one saturday alone I think we had three or four thousand people out here trying to see the mountain lions and every weekend particularly was very popular and every day there were probably twenty to thirty or forty people at that one spot where people were taking photographs so I think that thousands and thousands of people maybe ten fifteen thousand people that winter came out to see them outline I remember on the very first fine day that we have there I look down the road and actually purposefully counted them and there was seventy one vehicles doesn't doesn't dozens of people enjoying this spectacle but less than three months later the wyoming game and fish department would more than double the quota of mountain lions to be killed in the area a decision that shocked the residents of the town of jackson pleasing on ly a few I think the game of fish decision to go ahead and raise it quotas and in light of the popularity of those lines was incredibly arrogant and I've never seen that kind of arrogance rarely persecuted in the early nineteen hundreds mountain lions were completely exterminated in the eastern united states in the west in spite of dwindling habitat and increased pressure on their range mountain lions hold on but uh under the gun mountain lions are valuable commodities to the hunting public guided hunt spring in thousands of dollars to the outfitter who is charged but a thirty dollar license fee by the wyoming game and fish department a state run agency which depends on the hunting constituency as their main source of revenue leaving the average taxpayer and non hunting wildlife enthusiast out of the loop I think the game and fish has conflict adventures their whole livelihood depends on selling licenses but in this win win situation who loses and where does this leave the wildlife watcher casual tourist the ranch family and day trip guide who relies on tourism and their clients hopes of seeing a rare animals in the wild making here in eighteen ninety five they were they were the first people in jackson hole I mean they talked about colder and all of that stuff them guys didn't come here to live I mean when you come here to live and you know build your home and try to survive from nothing that's the big difference not you know with the people the natives here and they've been they my family's been here a long time and so far none of them has had a that I know of him has had a nance with when I started it was you I go all over the regulations weren't bad and then then my opinion the outfitters got into it and they wanted all of the money for themselves and they didn't want to share it with anybody at all and if you just didn't play the cards away they wanted and they done everything in the world to put you out of business and that's how I that's another thing that led up to the you know the protection of some of these animals was I could see the road that the outfitters we're going down was that it's a daddy there's nothing there uh and it's just a matter of time um I don't want to be one of those guys you know uh those guys they are not outfitters they don't know what the word outfitter meets and they won't know till the till the day they sell the business to them it's a real estate deal and uh sell license for something and got perhaps the most controversial aspect of the hunting tobacco is the shooting of females which account for nearly fifty percent of mountain lion killed by hunters adult females are either pregnant or have dependent young for the majority of their lives mountain lion cubs remain with their mothers for an average of fourteen months on while it is against wyoming regulations to shoot females with kittens at their side lion mothers rarely travel with their cubs instead they're left the den site to wait their mothers return without dogs in pursuit of lions I've only seen two lions in their natural state and I'm a guy that lives in the mountains from june till oh january's or even well it's march now and I'm still up here so pretty much you around I'm a guy that's in the back country with binoculars in his hand glass and here and there so if somebody's going to see a cat on uh regular basis I would have to say it but me and I've only seen two so mills where biggest population here is disappearing young buck for a book see the nubbins on his horns a lot of people are blaming the big disappearance of the big bucks son poachers but uh big portion of our big bucks or going to the mountain lands right here with two walk see where this one on the left hand side is pushing in so much harder than the one on the other side where one on the left is the larger of the two cats if you just want to get on a track and expect to see the lion by tracking the cat you'll never see it we'll never catch up to him and he will figure out that you're tracking him and here you see a way before you ever see him and he'll play games with you the rest of the day we'll stay far ahead of you are fined up ahead of you know where you'll never see him but he'll see you all day long once you been tore up by a line you don't wantto twice all right let's go see what they got wait wait no no no oh oh way ahead of harvest this home it so it's an adult and it's a good size tom on and the nice thing about having him like the conditions like it iss if we knew it was a female we knew it was nursing or something like that we have the option of letting it go oh so we're going to go ahead and harvested from today and save a lot of sheep I love I love lions there don't get their beautiful over my don't ever see him to the point where they're not around but when they get populated to the points where they're decimating other wildlife's we definitely have to control wait oh the primary species that we're managing the range for but we also have heard of over five hundred bison now uh bighorn sheep on the beauty about thirty of those this winter moose along the grove aunt river somewhere around forty to fifty and some winters those air primarily the species I think they're uh recognizable and significant while mountain lions are perceived to be abundant feels biologists have little hard data on their actual population counts so difficult are they to study and while more and more people report mountain lion sightings so to two more people venture out into their world to escape explore and to live people are under that misconception will I never see line I've never seen one you're not going to see a line uh generally speaking unless it was by accident or just luck luck has got a lot to do a c in line seeing the lions in the national elka futian jackson was very rare that uh it just don't seem like it happens female mountain lions leave their cubs and dens while they hunt often overnight later the females will return to lead their cubs to the kill slowly teaching them the ways of wild prey it is during this apprenticeship period that man delane cubs learn independence and how to survive on their own in the wild I watched that family for forty two days she left every night sometimes she'd come back in the morning sometimes she wouldn't come back to the night that next night or the next day I guarantee you those cubs are too small to survive without her so she didn't come back if she got shot something happened to her along the way they would not have survived and it would have died a slow cruel death because someone took their mother we've seen uh four five cats up there and well is right and I mean you never very seldom saying but these cats were close enough that they got pictures up and uh like I say this that's the reason I don't say anything about it if I do the game and fish in the outfit association they get together and the next thing we have it's a huge cat and that's exactly what happened you know it makes me cry now to think of the fact that always meant lines are probably dead because of this increase in the the quotas around here just just crazy selfishness really for outfitters to make money out of such beautiful creatures when they must have brought so much income into the town on dh they were so appreciated by so many people after all that part the spirit of these mountains you look up in the grove entre and you know that up there there's these really while cretin it's important they should be there in which instance does the experience of the mountain lion go farther when it is shared by many or exploited by a few with so much left to learn about mountain lions the long term effects of hunting on the species social structure is yet to be known as is the fate of the mother lion and her three cubs from the national look refuge in the meantime we can only hope that the lions are out there and that when we are fortunate enough to be out there but they're unless perhaps unseen but alive thriving in the wild places where we are but visitors for a very short time wait that was uh was an experience there were a lot of aa lot of reaction online people both saying I wish I hadn't seen that um other people saying thank you for showing what it's actually like knowledge is very important whether it's pleasant or not it is very important so thank you for sharing that well come on I know that we are short on time and we've got another video that we want to get to so I'd love to hear your thoughts and then quickly move on to the next one so quickly we started the care and I started the cougar fund because of way went to the game fish and we went to all these meetings and found out that there's no protection for young number one and in but we didn't weren't against mountain lion hunting per se because we didn't want to be like these rabid yeah tree huggers ten years twelve years have now evolved and we decided among the board the rejection and we've learned more about cougars is through research scientists that there's actually no no biological reason to shoot cougars for sport zero uh doesn't increase ungulates doesn't increase l car like this man said you know they're taking their dear and you know it's all bullshit sorry but it doesn't increase increase the prey species and that's kind of you know they're regulated by them amount of prey that's out there sort of wanna one predator prey relationships obviously you have to remove cookers if they're endanger people in danger and sometimes they do that you know you get too close to school yards or something and we're not certainly you know first of help they wouldn't move them unlike the bear that was euthanized anything so there are instances but basically have no biological reason to shoot them for sport so we started cougar fund hope you people if you could join the cougar fund will be wonderful and anyway leave this a little lighter note hugh miles who is a gentleman there with the beard the talks I had met him many years ago as a filmmaker is one of the great filmmakers and world news from bbc geographic and he did a did a film called lion of the andes which is still available from national geographic all while only wild cougar film done and he had invited me down here like fifteen years ago to patagonia teo join him in this filming effort he feels like my style any knew I respected wildlife and the environment come down and my biggest regret I was doing polar bears and I never took advantage of it so last year um my friend lost april my friends when I say we should try to his guides are still there and stuff so we went to patagonia is one of the still images called accounting condors there's a few still images and I hadn't seen a cougar for about ten years you know even though I live in cougar country and they're called helmuth there what's the spanish word for cougars they're called mountain lions and the west cougars and the rocky mountains pumas in south america and mexico and so here's a short video of our fun experience down there and we used to use old guides were still there and one of his one of the younger guides you'll see on the film chili number one so this name taylor doesn't have a tail seems to be maybe a born that way eighteen months old pretty cool I'm in a coma for three four years so the two sisters were gone now somewhere they're probably all funding again or maybe just resting and uh burning off their all the young men are coping it's absolutely perfect place from from an animal that's an ambush hunter like that be just hiding in this tall grass and they just wait for the one narcos or so they have such great eyesight and they're working you know heard so they could call until the other would not go so they can see the slightest movement fair relationship and not afraid relationship between humans and puma is uh it's good to see a puma become to be a human being afraid weren't you with a warning call when I tell you the rest of the herd that have one over there that is watching over there and the other one far away is the same direction way just watching up so I still think that they could be behind us you go take a look over here see sister I'm definitely gonna miss them when they're when they go amazing what experience to be living their territory by foot just be able to read about happen see they're coming passing in front of us just let them go do stuff darted they're not trapped in a colored harassed by dog cheese in the tree okay there you go a little lighter the last one a little bit more fun well it's tough you know you have tio yeah I mean we love issue passion about cougars and bears and uh I love being here we spent a five weeks there and there's a lot more video but that's just a little sliver of cougars air pumas are hunted and not chaste and not chasing dogs and and not collard and not persecuted you know and they a totally different animal you know we're within ten feet sometimes on dh that uh they don't pay attention to us and much like uh there are places in california and colorado boulder I mean they see cougars every day and not get excited or the places they get all upset but your mediator I go through a lot of statistics but you're much more likely to get you know die by dog bite by bee sting by snake bite but lightning strikes they're going on then being harmed by cooker so you had to put in perspective when you go hiking officers you know there's ways of you should you should be jogging in tow sunset in cougar country by yourself that kind of thing takes a sort of one on one you know protective thing some around twelve fifteen people have been killed in the one hundred fifteen hundred twenty years by cougar so figured out now it's your chances pretty good you're not going to get killed by cooker were entered by courier so that's our story and thank you for watching

Class Description

Short on time? This class is available HERE as a Fast Class, exclusively for Creator Pass subscribers.

Learn wildlife and outdoor photography from one of the most prolific nature photographers of our time in The Art of Wildlife Photography with Tom Mangelsen.

Drawing lessons from his 40 years of observing and photographing the Earth's last great wild places, Tom will discuss the complex process behind his breathtaking wildlife photographs. You’ll learn:

  • What it takes to be a great wildlife photographer
  • How to capture wildlife in their natural environment
  • The best places to find animals
  • How to increase the visibility of your work
  • The importance of respecting wildlife and wildlife ethics

Tom will cover the basics of gear and scouting and teach you how to think about lighting when capturing animals in the wild. Tom will also offer a critique images and portfolios submitted by viewers.

If you have a passion for outdoor photography and want to capture the spirit of wildlife in your camera, join Tom Mangelsen for this inspiring and educational class.


a Creativelive Student

There is probably just one word that comes closest to describing Tom Mangelsen’s photography. Glorious. There are other good words too, of course. And they are also inadequate. Mangelsen’s panoramas are (cumulatively and separately (any one of them)) the best I’ve seen. Mangelsen teaches by example and his examples are exemplary. I’ve seen several photographers giving courses on CreativeLive lately many of whose photos I would love to have taken - but with Mangelsen I envy his possession not just of his photos but of their subjects too. And he does possess his subjects in ways many outstanding photographers fail to - possesses them and then leaves them to continue on with their lives. There are other reasons I’m grateful for this course too - his field trips and critiques have shown me (as with other CreativeLive courses) just how lazy I’m being with my work. And if his critiques aren’t motivation enough I only have to view his slide show ‘Last Great Wild Places’ for more inspiration. The photos in this series are revelations all on their own - even without commentary. Thank you CreativeLive for continuing to bring us the finest wildlife and nature photographers at work today - and thank you to photographers like Tom Mangelsen for giving us a look at the way they work.


I could not stop watching this class and set aside time each day until I finished it. I guess you could saw that I binge watched it. Then I was really sad when it was finished! Like a good movie that stays with you and that you don't want to end! This is a wonderful class and the best I have taken at CreativeLive. I learned so much and have a great fondness for Tom Mangelsen. He really knows how to pull you into his passion. I am so grateful to have taken this course and grateful to Tom for all that he has done in his career to further his craft and to share it. I am inspired! If you are going to purchase and course from CreativeLive, this is one to be sure to take!!! Thank you again.

Dub Maitland

Excellent class! An incredibly talented photographer who has a vast knowledge of the subject matter as well as an outstanding ability to deliver the information. It was as enjoyable as it was informative. I first saw Tom's work in an office in Denver in 1991 and have been inspired by him ever since. Thank you Creative Live, for giving us the opportunity to spend this time with the Master! And thank you Tom for your willingness to share your talent with us! Dub Maitland, Missoula, MT.