The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

November 18, 2012

Wildlife lover captures their beauty

BY MARY WICOFF
Commercial-News

OAKWOOD —

While growing up in the Oakwood area, Sherri Easley and her siblings used to go on nature walks with their father. From those outings, she developed a love for the outdoors and animals.

“I love wildlife,” she said. “I see things that are different from what most people see.”

In fact, wildlife is her favorite subject when she’s painting or taking photographs. A close-up photo of a bison’s eye, which shows the reflection of a pickup truck, was published in National Bison Magazine. In the spring, Westville Library will have a show of her photos, and will display her artwork later next year.

She also makes calendars every year, using a variety of wildlife photos.

“I’m not a person you’d find in a mall,” Easley said with a smile. “I like nature around me. Real beauty is in what is natural.”

When she takes walks in Kickapoo State Park or near her Oakwood home, she takes Mr. Bojangles with her. “He’s ready to dance,” she said of the 4-year-old Chihuahua.

Easley had never had an indoors dog before, so she was hesitant when her son, Brandon, offered her a puppy from a litter. She was worried about housebreaking, but Bojangles was a quick learner.

“I devoted time to him and training, and he never chewed up the furniture,” she said, and he didn’t bother the other items in the house, including several deer antlers and bison skulls.

“If you’re going to have a pet, you need to understand it,” she said. “Do research and learn what they require.”

The dog is best friends with Jeepers, a 9-year-old cat. Autumn, 13, a calico, keeps to herself.

To give him a good quality of life, they started taking walks, and now walk several miles a week. Bojangles even takes his own supply of water.

“I enjoy it as much as he does,” she said.

Easley takes her Canon with her to “shoot” the wildlife. “They teach you patience,” she said. “You learn the patterns of animals.” She likes taking photos, as those images can stay with her forever. Several of her nature and wildlife scenes hang on the walls of her home, and have won awards.

Easley and her husband, Douglas, used to raise bison in Williamsport, Ind., but they gave up the farm about three years ago. She’s always loved big animals, she said, and has a special affinity for bison because of her Native American heritage. Her Lakota name is “Chases Buffalo.”

Her paternal grandmother, born in Oklahoma, was Choctaw, and her family moved to this area when she was 3. Easley’s mother has some Cherokee blood.

Of the five children in the family, Easley said she seems to feel her Native American heritage most strongly. Her home is filled with paintings, statues, dolls, artwork and other items reflecting her background, and she does Native American art work.

She even lives by the philosophy in a Sioux Indian prayer that says people should walk the righteous road, and think about the legacy they leave. “Your life should be a good reflection of you,” she said. “You should treat your life like a book. You never know what’s coming up in the next chapter.”

Easley said she has a compassionate heart, adding, “If there’s an animal in need, you should help it.”

She has done her share of rescuing abandoned or injured animals, including a sparrow.

She’s instilled that love for animals in her own children, Brandon LeClaire of Danville and Lindsey Shepherd of Mooresville, Ind., and her six grandchildren.

She and her husband are contractors with Carl’s Whole House Clinic, and he also does computer repairs.

When Easley called to tell the Commercial-News that she had “shot” a 16-point buck, I immediately had a negative reaction that such a regal animal would be destroyed. When she mentioned “photo,” however, I had to laugh … and was relieved she was “hunting” animals with a camera, not a gun. What a nice way to preserve the animals’ beauty.

FYI

Sherri Easley is available to take pet photographs. E-mail her at shoglala2@comcast.net and put “pet pictures” in the subject line.

The Pets column runs every four weeks. If you would like to have your pet featured, contact Mary Wicoff at 477-5161, send an e-mail to mwicoff@dancomnews.com or write to Commercial-News, 17 W. North, Danville, IL 61832.