While millions of people including trappers have enjoyed Dr. Rue’s wildlife photos for many years, not many know that he was a trapper and a good one. In his early years he worked shift work at a local mill in New Jersey and trapped part time. He caught as many as 6 fox a night, which is not bad for a part timer. He once told me that being a trapper first was what helped make him a great wildlife photographer—he knew where to look for the animals!
Dr. Leonard Lee Rue III has been a photographer for over 70 years. Leonard’s passion for photographing wildlife and nature has taken him to all seven continents. He was raised on a farm in Northwest New Jersey and he insists, he is a naturalist first and foremost.
Leonard sold his first photograph when he was nineteen years old and went on to become the most published wildlife photographer in North America.
He has over 1800 magazine covers to his credit and has taken over one million still photographs. He has produced over two and a half million black & white photographs and his work has been published in every major nature magazine, and most minor ones, in the country. His photographs are used in books, advertisements, for posters, calendars, puzzles, T-shirts, clocks, cups, caps, brochures, etc.
As an author, Leonard has 31 published volumes that have sold over five million copies and has co-authored an additional seven books. Repeatedly cited by the N.J. Assoc. of Teachers of English for literary excellence, Dr. Rue is a charter member of New Jersey’s Literary Hall of Fame. He has also received the following awards:
- The Conservation Award by the Garden Club of New Jersey, 1973.
- The Golden Citation for outstanding accomplishment as an author, 1979.
- The Michael Award of New Jersey’s Assoc. of Teachers of English, for “Excellence in Writing”, 1987.
- The Outdoor Writers’ Assoc. of America’s (OWAA) prestigious “Excellence in Craft” award, 1987.
- The Honorary Doctorate of Science by Colorado State University in Fort Collins for his “dissemination of knowledge about wildlife”, 1990.
- The OWAA Jade of Chiefs Award for conservation writings, 1997.
- A charter member of the Belvidere High School Hall of Fame, 1997.
- The NANPA North American Nature Photographers Association’s highest award, the “Lifetime Achievement in Nature Photography” award, 1998.
- The NANPA North American Nature Photographers Association’s “Fellow” award, 1999.
- The OWAA 2005 Best Book Award for The Encyclopedia of Deer.
- New Jersey Bow Hunters Hall Of Fame 2007 Inductee.
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Dr. Rue and his wife, Ursula, operate Rue Wildlife Photos, a digital stock image library In 1989, in addition to still photography, Dr. Rue expanded his photographic knowledge and expertise into the field of videography and created Leonard Rue Video, a stock footage library. Shooting on assignment and continuous photographic trips amassed over 3,000 hours of broadcast quality Beta SP and DVCAM video footage and 1300 species of wildlife, nature and scenics, which has sold to companies and corporate producers for television programs and educational and advertising purposes, as well as being used in his own productions.
He has produced twenty-three educational and instructional videos, including An Eye On Nature, The
White-tailed Deer, Birds of the Dooryard, Wolves and how they live, and a series of The Lenape Indians.
Dr. Rue’s books include The Deer of North America which was heralded as “a notable achievement, a distillation in easy-to-read language of just about everything known about deer”, How I Photograph Wildlife & Nature, a compilation of the skills and individual techniques developed during his many years as the nation’s most published wildlife photographer and How To Photograph Animals in the Wild which he co-authored with his son, Len Rue, Jr.
Some of Dr. Rue’s other books include Way of the Whitetail, The Deer Hunter’s Encyclopedia, The Deer Hunter’s Illustrated Dictionary, Beavers and Deer Hunting Tips & Techniques. Dr. Rue’s latest book, Whitetail Savvy, was published in September 2013, featuring the full life history of the white-tailed deer.
Dr. Rue writes with the authority of one who has lived with his subjects and knows their every habit, habitat and haunt through personal research, as well as printed material gathered during years of research. Drawing from these materials stored in bulging files, research reports from many countries and clippings gleaned throughout the years from periodicals and newspapers, and the 17,000 plus volumes in his personal library, Dr. Rue’s books and articles are thoroughly documented studies written in a very readable style and are well-laced with his own photographs.
His first lecture was given at the age of twenty-two and, over the years, he has given more than 4,000 lectures and seminars for schools, professional and civic groups and clubs. He taught outdoor education classes for years and has traveled the nation presenting wildlife travelogues, seminars on deer and the wild turkey and, with his son Len Rue Jr., an all day seminar on photography.
Dr. Rue, raised on a farm, has spent a lifetime studying, photographing and living with wildlife in its natural habitats. His studies and photographic assignments have taken him throughout the world, from the searing heat of the desert to the iciness of the mountain peaks, to Alaska for fourteen summers and to Africa for seven, as well as to Europe five times, Asia, the Galapagos Islands, Australia, Antarctica and South America in addition to his extensive work throughout the continental United States and Canada.
“It’s a never-ending job”, says Rue. “The life sounds glamorous, but there’s a lot of hard work and discomfort involved.”
This did not deter Leonard Lee Rue III in his pursuit of excellence—in research, in writing, in photography. Sometimes it meant standing or sitting motionless by a mosquito-infested waterhole, waiting for animals to come for their evening drink, and then perhaps not getting a single photograph. Sometimes it meant being pursued by the very animal he intended to photograph. But, whether clambering over sleeping walruses on a beach, having a bear enter his campsite and curl up under his hammock for a nap or being charged by a wounded Cape Buffalo, Dr. Rue’s life has been filled with the unusual.
Whether it is as author, photojournalist or foremost authority on wildlife, it is the same man, fascinated by wildlife and intensely concerned with interpreting its beauty and encouraging each and every person to treat it responsibly, humanely and with an interest in both its future and our own.
To date, Leonard still writes columns for Whitetail Times magazine and photographs wildlife at any opportunity.
Dr. Rue’s driving force throughout his life has been the biblical admonition
Mark 9:23: “Canst thou believe, anything is possible to him that believeth.”