Tom Liskey, whose photo graces the cover of Issue 12 (Winter 2013), was kind enough to chat with us about how he was able to capture this photo, and what it means to him.
Tom: It’s not a prevalent opinion anymore, but I like to believe God choreographs things like this. It sure felt like it the day I got the picture of the buffalo above.
My bread-and-butter job is writing about energy for a newspaper overseas. I was visiting the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes for a story about how the US drive for energy independence is encroaching on sacred lands and how fracking has become so decisive among the tribes.
At one point the tribal chairman said the reservation had recently taken delivery of some pure strain buffalo from the famed Yellowstone herd. He told me I could see them if I wished. I needed to be on the road, especially since a snowstorm was approaching. But I thought, screw it, this is once in a life time opportunity to see the buffalo.
A young game warden took me out to see the herd. His main job was to make sure that the propane heated water tanks in the buffalo meadows didn’t ice over. He also toted a .22 rifle to pick off coyotes tracking the herd. The bison had a newborn calf in their midst.
I thought he had the best job in the world. He joked he was happy to talk to another human being because the buffalo—who he dealt with all day—didn’t talk back that often.
We found the buffalo in a remote meadow late in the afternoon. The storm was worsening and when I got out of the truck, all I could make out were dark smudges on the horizon. We both stood there in awe and all of a sudden I was in the midst of the herd with the snow swirling around. The waning sunlight, the direction of the flurries and the trudging bison made the picture come together. I don’t want to sound cliched, but it was a mystical moment. They are majestic creatures.
My original idea was to get a picture for my kids. My daughter loves to draw wildlife. She likes it when I send her pictures of horses when I’m travelling. I didn’t realize how well the bison picture came out until I got to a hotel. But then again, I was just an observer. All I had to do was click a button. Someone else pulled it all together.
Tom Darin Liskey was born in Missouri but spent nearly a decade working as a journalist in Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi. His fiction and non fiction has appeared in the Crime Factory, The Burnside Writers Collective, Sassafras Literary Magazine, Hirschworth and Biostories, among others. His photographs have been published in Roadside Fiction, Blue Hour Magazine and Midwestern Gothic. He tells his children that when it comes to his profession he has done worse thing for less money. He can bee seen at https://www.facebook.com/tom.d.liskey and http://tomdarin.tumblr.com.