Kodiak Brown Bear captured by D6 / 180-400VR

I’m a history nut and when it came to California critter history, I’m possessed! It started in the early ’80s, a burning desire to understand how the Grizzly Bear fit into the wildlife landscape of days gone by. Since they were extinct I had to search elsewhere starting in Yellowstone and then Alaska. Twenty years later, I had nearly 80,000 images of Alaska Griz in the files spending hundreds of hours with them in the field mostly watching, often photographing. It was in early 2000 I made my first journey to visit the giants, the Kodiak Brown Bears. Flying in a Wigeon, we flew into Frazier Lake for an intimate day with bruins. It was just the four of us, Sharon, Brent, Jake & I and the bears, it was magical leaving an impression that is hard to express in words. I’ve not been back with them since and it left a void that one can only understand if they spent time amongst the bears. I’m not under some grand illusion that they accepted my presence, more tolerated but none the less, they go about their lives as I watch, love and photograph them. That void was filled in the most grand and brilliant way last week that I want to share with you over many posts.

I’ll start with this six year old female that was most definitely the most endearing of them all. The photo will bring the most obvious of questions to light. “How close was she?” Just 30 yards max when this photo was taken but she got closer. “Weren’t you scared, I would be?” Hell no! She approached on her terms at her speed and within her comfort range. And she wasn’t the only one to do so during our time at the river mouth but she was the one that kept tuggin at my heart strings. This gorgeous 700lbs bear (Kodiak are the biggest of them all) over and over again would endear herself by her actions so that you wanted to curl up with her and take a nap. If you have a dog, a puppy to be exact, many of her actions would remind you of that puppy as it would slide on its belly scooting up to get another bite of grass. Or as it starred at the Bald Eagles flying overhead in total bliss. The fact that a critter capable of running you over in a matter of seconds and never look back never enters your mind. All you feel is an amazement for this gentle giant, what I consider the world’s most perfect couch potato just feet in front of you, eating grass. Spending hours upon hours last week amongst the twenty-two individual bears rarely seen by any other human in a region rarely visited by man in this day and age brings with it an inner satisfaction I would love to share with you all. My void of the past years has been refilled, a passion reignited. There is so much more of the story to share, bear with me.

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