COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — He's traveled the continent with cameras to whet the world's visual appetite for the great outdoors. In the process, he's been treed by a grizzly, charged by an Alaskan bull moose and nearly skewered by a bull elk.

Yet one of his favorite photographs involves a common pheasant captured in a unique moment of perfect light just 10 minutes from his Coeur d'Alene home.

Professional wildlife photographer Tim Christie says he's "very proud of that shot" of a rooster ringneck at the peak of crowing as a puff of breath steams from its mouth.

It was the culmination of his spring quest for pheasant photos, involving days of driving, searching, sitting and shooting thousands of frames through his telephoto lens.

"The photo editor at Field & Stream told me it was one of the most unique photos he'd seen in a long, long time; high praise," Christie said. The magazine featured the photo in November for the two-page spread it devotes 12 times a year to showcase the best wildlife-related images available.

Even though he's published thousands of pictures, including more than 500 magazine covers over 30 years, Christie says he could wallpaper his home with rejections slips from photo editors.

A thick hide is essential to surviving in the business, he says, along with persistence, willingness to keep pace with technology and eagerness to head into the field very early, stay out late and then devote even longer hours following up on the computer.

The basic rules for wildlife photographers haven't changed during his career: Great photographs aren't made from the comfort of a warm bed, he said.

Yet the warm cab of his pickup tends to be the most productive photo blind.

"Many creatures are accustomed to vehicles," he said, showing the special sand-bag rest he uses to stabilize a telephoto lens he points out the cab-door window.

"But as soon as you step out of the truck, they're gone."

Christie has seriously pursued photography since 1978 after purchasing a used camera to photograph his young son.