Alaska – A close encounter – the camp “Bearly” survives….
As I alluded to yesterday, we had one interesting encounter with bears close to (and actually inside) our camp. The story begins with us watching 2 female bears out clamming on the beach just in front of our camp. As those bears worked their way back to shore, we positioned ourselves to watch them as they would almost certainly pass close to our camp. At that point, a large male bear came around the corner of the cliff and started chasing the two females. We watched as the two females ran into the brush by the camp and then ended up scaling the nearly vertical slate hill overlooking the camp. This is a photo of the first female up the hill – she is watching the developments and deciding whether it is time to come down.
She eventually came down – through a very nice little field of flowers on the hillside…..
Almost immediately upon coming off the hill, the male bear came running through and chased her into the woods. We didn’t get any photos in there as the brush was pretty thick, but imagine a scene from “Jurassic Park” where the trees were rocking back and forth and there were deep, LOUD roars emanating from the invisible fight. Moments later, the female bear appeared again and calmly walked across the meadow behind our camp (look at the photo from yesterday’s post). By this time, we photographers were inside the camp boundaries (as defined by the electric fence) and watching the action. The next thing that happened was that the male also emerged from the woods and worked his way towards the female again.
After what seemed like a few moments of peaceful co-existence, the male began the pursuit again and the female bear fled the advance and ran directly through the corner of the camp! I must admit that this turn of events took me totally by surprise and although I kept shooting, my thoughts about focal length and settings got lost in the action as evidenced by the next few shots. The first one is a partial shot of the female as she entered the camp. While my photo doesn’t show it, she was in a full run (and very close).
The same goes for the male pursuer…he followed pretty much the same path as he came by us. As I took this shot, he was about 10 yards away and moving past us at high speed. We were all toward the rear of the camp and the bears cut the front corner – narrowly missing the meal tent. The electrified bear fence was also taken down but we couldn’t figure out whether the bears had actually done that or if one of us had tripped over it during the action…. 🙂
After that, things returned to “normal” and the bears went back to grazing on the nearby grasses and seemed to lose interest in each other. This last photo shows my wife Dee still smiling after the previous few minutes adrenaline rush.
We all wished that we had taken some video of the event but none of us actually switched modes. My photos would also have been better if I had zoomed back out but that got overtaken by the events also. Sorry for the long post but thought you might be interested in how some of the encounters develop unexpectedly…….