Less than a year ago, photographer Roger L. Stevens Jr. fulfilled a dream when he self-published a book of stunning fox photos that he took near his home.
Shortly after that, he followed up with “June the Loon,” a book that traced the first few months of life of an iconic Maine bird.
Now Stevens is back with a book that will surely appeal to fans of his nature photos. “Maine Moose on the Loose” is a collection of photos — and a story — that Stevens captured over more than 20 years spent spying on the gangly land mammal.
“I’m trying to think about things that people would love to see, that they haven’t seen,” said Stevens, who learns what the public wants while selling photos at fairs and other events. “We have people come up every year to my booth and say, ‘I’ve been here five or six years and I haven’t seen a moose. Where can I see a moose?’”
To those curious visitors, Stevens has a piece of advice. Unfortunately, many visitors don’t like what they hear.
“When I tell them about getting up at 5 o’clock in the morning [to head into the woods when moose are more active], they’re like, ‘Well, I don’t know if I really want to do that.’”
The book works on two levels: First, the photos are memorable, and capture moose — including cows with calves and some monstrous bulls — in their natural habitat. Adults will be impressed. But second, like “June the Loon” and “What do Baby Foxes Do” — his previous two books — the text is presented in a sing-song rhyme, making it perfect for read-alongs with even the youngest children.
There are several photos in the book that are special to Stevens, and he remembers the story behind each. Among those: a shot of a bull moose that he took while hiking Katahdin.
“That is the only picture I’ve ever seen of a bull moose with Knife Edge [in the background],” Stevens said. “I was climbing Katahdin with a fella who had never seen a moose in his life. He was from Chicago. That was his first moose.”
And it was an up-close and personal encounter. While the photo looks as if it were shot with a telephoto lens, that wasn’t the case at all. In fact, the moose was within 30 feet of the hikers at the time.
“He was right there,” Stevens said. “The guy says, ‘What do I do?’ I said, ‘What you don’t do is run, because he’s locked onto us and as long as we stand still, he won’t do anything.’”
Stevens was right, the moose didn’t get any closer, and the man from Chicago wound up with a story to remember.
“That was about the closest I’ve been to a bull. He was too close,” Stevens said. “But it’s the mom and babies that scare me the most. You don’t want to get between ‘em.”
Of course, sometimes he doesn’t end up with a choice. If you walk into moose territory often enough, after all, you never know where a critter will pop up.
“You don’t want to get chased up the road by a cow moose,” Stevens said, likely speaking from personal experience. “They can move a lot faster than you think they can.”
Stevens will celebrate the relase of “Maine Moose on the Loose” at an event that will be held 2 p.m.-4 p.m. at the Lincoln Memorial Library on Thursday, June 25.
The book can be found in Bangor at the Briar Patch, Maine by Mainers, at the Maine Discovery Museum.
Or, you can contact Stevens directly to order a book: email@example.com, 1-877-794-1928, or Maine Focus Photography, PO Box 398, Lincoln, 04457.
And stay tuned for more offerings. The pool of ideas runs deep, Stevens said.
“[Next] I’m going to do a book about children going to the fair — ‘I went to the fair, and what did I see?’” Stevens said. “I’ve got a lot of good ideas. It’s just a matter of getting the money up front to buy the books.”
John Holyoke can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 990-8214. Follow him on Twitter: @JohnHolyoke