Arkansas Wildlife Blog and Gallery
Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas
My name is Michael Dougherty. I live with my wife Mandy, cat and uncounted chickens in Compton, Arkansas in Newton County atop Gaither Mountain (2,200 feet). Newton County is the undiscovered jewel of the US. When we discovered it, we dropped everything and moved here from the St. Louis metro area (Columbia, IL).
A few years back we purchased this home on nearly 22 acreas. It is nestled in the woods adjacent to the Ponca Wilderness of the Buffalo National River. In this very wild place we have begun a new life living closer to nature and we are working toward self-sufficiency. We have the predictable organic garden and cut wood. Our thinking is that the economy can't get better, and likely will get much worse, so this is where we will hunker in and take our best shot. A lot of people around here have the same thoughts. Better to cope with any mess in paradise, and with a community of like-minded people.
I am a professional nature photographer, and I do some free lance writing. There is no better place to live for that. Most all of my successful images are taken within 20 miles of my home, most are within 5. I have had some success in the Arkansas market, a bit unexpectedly fast really. In the last couple of years I placed 4 images in the new Arkansas Game and Fish elk brochure (including the cover), got the cover for the local phone book, the cover of an issue of Backyard Poultry Magazine, had my elk photography featured in the Newton County Elk Festival, and I got the cover for the Jasper/Newton Chamber of Commerce Directory. Arkansas Wildlife Magazine has graciously invited me to contribute an article on photography that will appear in the upcoming fall issue. I have had both the front and back cover of that magazine.
I really didn't expect my photography to take off as well as it has. It is not enough to have a knack for it, some things need to break your way, and they have. Joseph Campbell wrote about following your passion and he suggested the feeling about "being carried along by unseen hands". I have that feeling with my photography. I am very serious about it, but I have no illusions that the work I do has any durable significance. My framed prints are witness to the beauty of this special place and have sold well in a poor economy. I take my greatest satisfaction from selling them at a fair price to people who love nature. Nothing pleases me more than selling them to local people with limited resources who share my deep love of nature.
I also love to write. Since photography is my passion, I love to write about it and this place, Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas. My fantasy is that I might make a few bucks at some point with this blog by selling some local ads, but the truth is I just plain like to write, and I will do it anyway. There is something compelling for people like me in the process of stringing words together. I also like introducing people to NW Arkansas. There might be a book in there sometime, but I am not certain I am that disciplined.
My other business is web site creation, training and hosting. In one of my past lives I taught web site creation and Internet marketing. I love to do design, love to write, and I like visual arts. These traits mesh well with running a web business where content is king, and writing and visual expression make all the difference. I am focused on small businesses, whom I admire greatly. They work very hard for every dime. I help them create an effective web presence and teach them to take care of their website themselves. I also offer very inexpensive web hosting. Too many website sellers charge too much. I don't. This is one way I can contribute to the success of my clients. My web business is ozarkwebsolutions.com.
In the last year I became the first President of the Buffalo River Chamber of Commerce. Our goal is to elevate the Buffalo National River to national prominence with a ranking more in keeping with its natural assets. My photography photo illustrates the chamber website. To learn more visit http://buffaloriverchamber.com.
So that is the whole shebang. I do this mostly because I love it, and only secondarily because it pays anything. It is my hope that readers of this blog will find it introduces them to more satisfying experiences as photographers, and to the visual artist mother lode of the Buffalo National River and NW Arkansas.
Shameless Self-Promotion Department
My framed wildlife prints are on display and for sale at a number of locations:
Boardwalk Cafe/Arkansas House
Cliff House Inn
Point of View Restaurant
Lost Valley Canoe Store
Compton One Stop
Uncommon Grounds Coffee Shop
Notes to Entry:
My wife and I are private people and prefer the solace of nesting in our mountain top home to just about anything.
I have spoken of the environs, but not of the people. The folks here are as decent and welcoming as any you will ever meet.
There is nothing quite as gratifying as watching a doe and her twin fawns eat my pole beans.
Chickens make delightful pets as well as providing plentiful eggs. Ours free range, meaning they feel free to poop anywhere. Gathering eggs is like orienteering without a map.
When we first came here we had the feeling that we had come home for the first time. It was love at first sight, and we drove down every weekend until we bought.
Last year we had a black bear take up residence for about three weeks. Got some nice pictures, but he moved on after dining on a couple of my chickens.
I worked as a professional speaker and trainer, and a social work administrator, but thankfully I am now in full remission. I always loved photography more.
I don't do weddings. I don't do portraits of homo sapiens. I don't do nudie vanity stuff. I do animals, I do landscapes. Nature only. Thank you in advance for not asking.
I only take pictures of dwellings that are rotting. That probably says all you need to know about where my sympathies are.
You will find me often in Boxley Valley. Look for a cruddy jeep with magnetic signs. Don't look in the jeep windows, just visualize a small, composting landfill.
Don't do this on the trail. If you see a baby bear, back out. If the sow feels you are threatening, well, let's just say your affairs better be in order. Could be "lights out".