Trading Bullets for Film: Meet the Official State Photographer of Texas

We all know that Yeti is the best at what they do: making insanely rugged and perfectly insulated coolers to take on your most badass adventures. But it turns out that they also produce some of the best outdoor short films on the Internet as well. It only makes sense, since telling stories and drinking around the campfire go hand in hand. Over the past year, Yeti has released more than 20 videos featuring the stories of inspiring men, women, and traditions in the outdoors across the world — from dory rowers in the Grand Canyon to steelhead anglers on Russia’s east coast.

Their latest, Chasing Light, chronicles the life of Texas predator hunter and outdoor photographer Wyman Meinzer. Through a nostalgic montage of film, video reels, yellowing photographs, and rumbling voiceovers from hardened Texas-bred cowboys, we're introduced to Meinzer, whose love of the wide-open land of his home state stems from his rugged upbringing in the badlands with a father who would tell him to saddle up his horse when “it was snowing, with 30 mile-per-hour winds blowing from the north, and it’s 15 degrees out there.” Meinzer’s dig-your-heels-in attitude carries from that introduction through the entire seven-and-a-half-minute film, documenting his transition from fur-trapper and predator hunter to becoming the state of Texas' official photographer.

Meinzer is a backcountry renaissance man with a story to tell. He lives in an abandoned jailhouse and spent seasons in a remote trapping cabin. He sold furs to pay for college and for the loans on his truck. He learned to call in coyotes within 15 yards of where he sat, and kept detailed logs of each hunt and pelt to learn more about the animals he was harvesting. He never worked in an office or took off to make it in the city. Instead, he spent his mornings chasing light to lead him to his next hunt, which led him to discovering a new appreciation for that light. “Early in the mornings when I left camp, I had to climb out of a canyon, and I would see the light just touching the top of the ridges,” he says in the video. “And down in the canyon was frosty and white and dark. The contrast just fascinated me.”

So Meinzer traded his bullets for film and kept shooting with the same accuracy he did before. “I appreciate more now going out and photographing an animal instead of shooting it,” he reflects. It took him three years to get his first photography gig — “I made up my mind that I was gonna make myself good enough to be published.” Now he is the official state photographer of Texas and has had more than 250 magazine covers published.

Chasing Light may not have anything to do with coolers — but for a story about a guy this cool, we don’t care.