A Jackson native won a national award for a photo of a great gray owl taken in Teton County. The Audubon Society awarded Steve Mattheis the 2018 Grand Prize Winner.
The winning photo is an image of the first great gray owl he spotted after a six-week drought. He followed the owl throughout the evening and the winning shot is of the owl struggling to maintain balance on a branch after failing to catch a rodent.
“During that struggle to maintain balance, I snapped that photo and I just had the perfect wing position and the perfect background and it was staring right down at the barrel of the lens,” recalled Mattheis.
Mattheis said he’s been fascinated by great gray owls for the past couple of years but it’s hard for him to pinpoint why.
“Some kind of an aura or mystic of owls, and great gray owls, in particular, seem to be very charismatic,” he said. “And they seem to be more tolerant of me and I think of people. They also hunt sometimes in enough light to actually make good photos.”
Mattheis’ photo along with the other Audubon Photography Awards will be part of a traveling exhibit.