Tucked behind a scraggly bush, atop a small rise, Wyman Meinzer surveys the desolate landscape surrounding him. Scattered gnarled trees forever locked in a continual battle with the unpredictable winds and weather rise skyward, surrounded by dense patches of scrub brush. The dusty mounds of soil that make up the north Texas plains region stretch into the distance. Nearby his rifle leans on a rock, next to a small pack filled with equipment.
Far from Wyman’s location, about half-a-mile distant, he sees his prey, a small collection of coyotes. He checks to see that the sun is behind him and the predators are upwind from his position. The conditions are perfect. He digs into his bag and pulls out a homemade animal call crafted from a deer antler he found near his home not far from where he is hunkered down right now. He blows into it and the coyotes instantly pivot towards his location, their interest piqued by the possibility of a meal.
He blows it again and ducks lower behind the mesquite shrub, careful not to be seen. The animals begin to lope towards his position, the distinct call of rabbits that he has made pulling them in. As they get closer Meinzer drops deeper into the shadows, sets his call off to the side, and begins to make a squeaking sound from his lips that mimics mice. He lines up for the shot, this one will be perfect he thinks, and waits. Soon enough four coyotes are less than fifteen yards away from him, working the landscape, trying to ferret out the source of the mysterious sounds they heard.
The only thing moving is his finger as he continually presses the button on his 35mm camera with a 400mm lens, capturing stunning images that he has known and loved his entire life. After a while they wander off back the way they came, their curiosity dimmed. Meinzer sits up, smiles, slings his camera over his left shoulder and his rifle over his right, and heads back to his ATV sitting next to the rutted rocky road two-miles away.
He almost oozes a feeling of independence and freedom, of an unwillingness to be reined in.
It’s just another day at the office for Meinzer, a man Field and Stream magazine has called an outdoor legend. That is just one of a long list of accolades he has accrued over a lifetime of documenting the wilds of the west. But perhaps the one he is most proud of is being the official State Photographer of Texas, a place he has lived his entire life and one that defines him. He almost oozes a feeling of independence and freedom, of an unwillingness to be reined in.
Growing up in north Texas in the 1950’s on the League Ranch, a 27,000-acre spread where his father was a foreman, Meinzer spent all of his time roaming the rugged wilderness. He had pet bobcat and coyote pups, was riding horses almost before he could walk, and learned to be a cowboy. The love of the wild continued during his time at Texas Tech, where he studied to be a wildlife biologist. It was during school that he first picked up a camera and instantly fell in love.
After graduation he spent five years as a professional predator hunter for big ranches. During those long stretches out on the plains he perfected his photographic skills. When he wasn’t hunting, he was chasing the light, looking for natural beauty to document. He decided to dedicate himself to photography full time in the late 1970’s. His work has appeared on over 250 magazine covers and he has written and/or photographed twenty-four large format books. He estimates that he has shot close to one million pictures over his lifetime.
His work has appeared on over 250 magazine covers and he has written and/or photographed twenty-four large format books. He estimates that he has shot close to one million pictures over his lifetime.
It is in search of images for his next book that brought him into the backcountry today. After seven decades his bushy mustache and hair have gone grey and he might move a step slower, but he still is an outdoorsman. Drawing on abilities honed over his lifetime he is working on a book that will be titled, “The Art of Predator Calling: A Portrait in Tradition.” It is a skill that has existed for as long as mankind has walked the planet and one that he is versed in. The book will feature exquisite photos of the coyotes, bobcats and fox that roam the north Texas rangelands, and data he has collected over fifty years on predator calling.
To successfully create the pictures for this book he needs to disappear into the landscape and become one with the creatures he wants to document. It is not easy, but he wouldn’t have it any other way. “You have to learn to blend in well in the wilderness, how to improvise to get the perfect shot,” Meinzer says in a relaxed drawl. “There is nothing more challenging than photographing coyotes, they are the most difficult and elusive animal of which to create great images. But I wouldn’t have it any other way, this is my life and I love it.”