Today, I returned to my former documentary site in the Whitewater Management Area, the the former town of Beaver, Minnesota, and the exact place where I filmed Walked The Burn, The Paper Wasp Documentary, and Winter Bugs; wildlife stories with some true crime thrown in, but not by my choice.
This is where my heart would be broken over and again. This is my first journey in the valley, the one I claim that I was broken into service to others by God, through seven seasons. A place I’d walk through blizzards, thunderstorms, floods, and a lot of hot sunny days. This is where I would discover another reason for my arrival once there, when I was free to go anywhere I wanted to go.
I gave up an all expense paid trip by a publication I was hired to write and photograph for. My assignment was to cover my Alaska adventures over two weeks, but I cancelled it to stay on my projects that I had already committed myself to finishing; because this was the valley that called to me. I could accept or decline the work ahead.
I continued my 13+ mile outdoor beat for over the next 15 years and became the voice for the wildlife through my work, through my galleries, through speaking engagements, exhibits, outdoor radio, outdoor television, news, and more. I started every day saying snd praying, “God, put me where you can use me.” My upcoming days were always my next wildest adventures—they still are.
God has placed my work worldwide in the homes of dignitaries, celebrities, entertainers, and the poor window’s home that didn’t have any money so I gave her my work. God has made my work evergreen.
I’m not going to sugar-coat my walk; not even one day was ever easy. This is blufflands, it’s rugged land full of broken brush, quicksand, bogs, apex predators but the worst encounters I had were with the evil plans of men who blackmailed me, stole my documentary files, and threatened me.
One investigator explained it this way to me, “Lisa, you don’t understand, this is redneck woods, and you’re an outsider.”
It’s where I was monitored by them with radios, groped, followed, stalked, sneaked up on right behind me, had my equipment and gear stolen, tampered with and blackmailed. It is where I was ear-marked and cut, where I stepped on spikes buried on my trail that I stepped on puncturing through my shoe into my foot, where I was shot at and followed as I walked, crawled, dragged myself across rocks to try and avoid but always ended up, finding the illegal activities. It’s the very place that inspired many more books, award-winning stories, book series, and now a graphic novel that ties to a couple more series I’ve created, this one boldly called, Redneck Woods. “Keeping them Local”.
My return today was bittersweet. I walked to the old fence post and met a grasshopper with steel blue eyes gazing back at me. I thanked him for being there at the gateway of my walk.
Beaver, Minnesota is the ghost town that will forever haunt me. The wildlife refuge that provided a backdrop for my photo work for over the next 583 consecutive days of my life. Then, the next 15 years documenting our Minnesota bald eagles, wildlife, nature scenes, and the changes of the land and even myself.
Today, I’d already shot several hundred pictures before I arrived, before I would cap my day at over 1300 shots. I wanted to shoot and film a few shots in the Whitewater Valley before moving on to other towns, other stories. I wanted to create the shots that will be the end notes and the book trailers for the upcoming releases of my books.
I didn’t expect to hear the old owl calling out while I was filming one of the takes, but I wondered if my nemesis, the old cougar was near, the bear, or the wolves, or the eagles that remained that I’d studied all those years.
So when you look in the windows at my wildlife work inside, know that every picture I paid the price to shoot it. Every picture has its own story and part of my soul.
You are looking at: 100% of God’s hand on me and protecting me though the right people and sometimes even His wildlife He sent in when the sheriff didn’t respond; or the Conservation Officer turned out to be a fake using the credentials of a real officer; or the rogue Minnesota State Trooper who couldn’t find the highway he was standing on—a man whom I was sneaked up on twice. You can read about him in my final eagle book.
Check back for the trailer.