Sharing moments in time…

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.

“Whats going on down there”?

She eventually came down – through a very nice little field of flowers on the hillside…..

Passing through the Posies….

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.

“Where are you…..We’re not done yet….”

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).

CHARGE!

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…. 🙂

Running bear – again, much more concerned about the female bear than any of us….

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.

Smiles and a return to the serene meadows

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…….

15 responses

  1. THIS is incredible I love these photographs and I would love to get that close to a bear myself one day! Do you do a lot of wildlife photography? If so I’d love to see even more!

    Need some photographic inspiration, visit Cogtography!
    http://cogtography.wordpress.com/

    July 18, 2012 at 8:16 am

    • Hi Tom! Welcome to my blog. If you look back through my blog entries you’ll see LOTS of wildlife of different kinds and places – I hope you enjoy them. There is still much more to come on this particular series with more bears and several other creatures of Alaska. OBTW – nice site. Your collection of different works is definitely inspiring.

      July 18, 2012 at 11:16 am

      • Oh fantastic I shall have a leaf through them! I LOVE wildlife photography! and Thank you very much 🙂

        July 19, 2012 at 4:30 am

      • Tom,
        Hope you enjoy them!

        July 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

  2. Pingback: A Recommended Peak! « Cogtography

  3. OH My God you are all blessed to have witnessed this and so close love the shots you got while your chest was heaving Damn

    July 18, 2012 at 5:13 pm

    • NFT – Thanks – there is no doubt we have blessed to see the things that we have seen!

      July 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      • I too have incredible encounters where ever I go I know my life is blessed as is yours. Maybe so we can share stories with others so they can stop and see the world around them.

        July 19, 2012 at 12:28 pm

  4. I can understand why you wouldn’t have been concerned with camera settings as the bear was coming through camp! I don’t think I would have been able to take any photos at all. Did your guide have an idea why the bears were acting that way? Some kind of mating ritual?

    July 18, 2012 at 8:33 pm

    • Jackie,
      We were at the end of the mating season so that was the primary issue of any aggressive we saw all week. We also got to witness mating behavior – I’ll put that in another post.

      July 19, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  5. Looks too close for comfort! Amazing shots.

    July 19, 2012 at 11:53 am

    • Thanks Lynne – It was great to experience!

      July 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm

  6. FANTASTIC photos! Wasn’t this your 2nd trip there? I’d love to go one day!

    July 19, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    • Thanks Carol. Yes this was our second trip and like the last years, this has been the highlight of our year (at least so far). It is an amazing experience being with the bears and other creatures (stay tuned) in their world.

      July 19, 2012 at 7:02 pm

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