1200lbs Teddy Bear!

Kodiak Brown Bear captured by Z 9 / Z400f2.8

Every afternoon for four days, we found this female doing what these bears do best, nothing! Biologically speaking, if you wanna put on a ton of fat (ok, half ton) you eat a lot and then do nothin. This female has this down pat! An eight or nine old female, she is most likely pregnant and will give birth in the den over winter. You don’t get this old nor this size being a light weight, she has earned the respect of other bears by being a heavy hitter. She walks with an attitude and with a glance clears out the other bears from where she wants to feed. But with us, well, this is as much attitude we would receive from her. Floating by, I was leaning back as far as I could to get the framing you see with the 400mm. As the current took us down the river, she got bigger and bigger in the frame until I could no longer focus on her. We were just an arm’s length away when we passed her by which time she was board with us and had put her head down and closed her eyes. A prime example of a 1200lbs teddy bear!

“I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing!”

Kodiak Brown Bear captured by Z 9 / Z400f2.8

Having spent a couple of hours on the river fishing myself this day, I can understand how it tuckers ya out. But I didn’t eat anything I caught (at least not right then) like these Bears do who at times, seem to inhale them. It’s late September and it’s time to put on as much easy fat as they can. They eat and eat and then to make sure it turns into fat for the winter, they go to sleep. Some go up in the hills into a nice day den and others flop where they are on the wet beach. We were literally floating down near sunset last night shootin from the boat handheld, watching the action when we spotted this individual. We watched this bear pulllllll itself up this small rise overlooking the river, its eyes roll back in its head and then, flop over the outcrop! Out cold! The whole scene unfolding as if to say, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!

Hills of the Giants

Kodiak hills captured by Z 9 / Z400f2.8

When the tide is out, all one sees across the flats are gulls, kittiwakes and some ducks. Then the tide shift and the water starts to flow back to land and with the water, life. The salmon runs are in full force and as the salmon swell the river, the Kodiak Brown Bears seemingly come out of nowhere to appear. Once quiet flats have 15-30 bears roaming the flooded landscape chasing salmon and eating spent ones. They emerge from the hillsides that line the valley, hidden in that world until they want to appear. And when the tide goes back out, the bears retreat to their sanctuary to sleep, get fatter on what they just ate and wait the ten hours for the next high tide. I never go up in those hills looking for the bears, the advantage is all there’s. I respect their home, the hills of the giants!

Back in the Neighborhood!

3yr old Kodiak Brown cub captured by Z 9 / Z400f2.8

With amazing skill and total calm, Willy got us flown into bear camp just in time as the wind cam back up so we just had to hunker down by the fire and eat killer lodge food. Oh darn! With the breaking of the day, after another killer hot breakie we headed up the river to find out old friends from May, a little denser coat and a whole lot fatter! The salmon run is going and they are cleaning up, literally! The family group started off with us where we left off in May so there was no time wasting, great photography as soon as our feet it the water.

It was soooo entertaining watching the kid imitate mom chasing the salmon up and down the shallows. Mom (12-13yr old) slowly strolled the shallows picking the best salmon to eat as she went. The three “panic attacks” have yet to master mom’s skills. Which is fine to us as it makes capturing them splashing shots like shooting fish in a barrel (get it?!)! It’s going to be a mighty fine week, always special to be back in the neighborhood!!!!

The Season of The Big Game

American Bison captured by Z 9 / Z400f4.5

It was really apparent a couple of days ago like someone hit the switch. The hard edge to the light disappeared. Fall migrants started to pile into the feeders. White-tail bucks showed up with their velvet rubbed off and antlers polished. Fall has come to The Rockies! The deer’s pelts show their winter coats coming in (not super thick so a mild winter?) and the need to put on fat reserves kicking in. Fall is when big game which definitely includes Bison look their best for their portraits. I think we owe it to them to show up and tell their story. Now is a good time to see where you want to get to with your camera to make those photos. Higher elevations like Yellowstone Nat’l Park you want to get to sooner rather than later as fall comes sooner at the higher elevations. Locations like the Nat’l Bison Ranger you might want to wait perhaps another month as it is lower in elevation. And The Blackhills might be somewhere in between for a photographic adventure. If you’re thinking Maine Moose, that could be another forty days or so. And if you’re thinking Alaska, best jump on a plane now! Frost is on its way, the light its gorgeous fall glow. It is the season of the big game!


Boomers at The Ranch captured by Z 8 / Z14-24f2.8

Sharon, Maggie & I were on the back deck with the herd. One of the big White-tailed bucks was trying to make nice with all the does and single Bambi grazing on the apples I’d thrown out. I was photographing the buck with the one doe concentrating as I watched through the Z400 and clicking at the right moment. Then the light went away and a moment later, Boom! We looked to the west to see black skies, lightning coming our way. Boomers! We were so enthralled with the interactions we didn’t even see the fast forming storm behind us. We no sooner commented on it and the skies opened up driving us in.

Once in a while when a storm goes through near sunset, it will break and put on quite the show. I changed camera and lens, put on waterproof shoes and rainshell and waited a few minutes until the rain started to lesson. I looked to the east to an amazingly bright, full rainbow. I dashed out the door and up the slope to get a clear view of it all. The gallery of five images above represents the fifteen minutes the rainbow and skies slid on past. It was a glorious moment. We just love boomers!

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