Kodiak Brown captured by D6 / 180-400VR w/TC-14eIII
Where the Uganik River empties into the bay are vast coastal sedge grass flats. When you fly over or cruise the coast in a boat, the vast green comes crashing down the mountains emptying into the bay except where the river empties. Centuries of times have brought down the sediment creating a fertile landscape supporting a vast garden of Eden of grasses that grows as tall as your head. It’s in this forest the giants come to forage like cattle, fattening in early spring on this lush garden. They bring their young, they find new mates and they start their summer amongst the flats. This is where we spent a week amongst the Kodiak Browns.
Kodiak Browns are recognized as different from those you might find on Alaska’s mainland or Yellowstone. The one thing that makes them different is, they are the giants! A large mainland Griz would be the smallest Kodiak Brown. This size thing is what makes them the scariest of all the bears to folks. This fear comes from misinformation and myth and not the reality of being with them. Yes, you surprise a Kodiak Brown just like any Griz, they will run you over, and then after you are there flattened, badly hurt, do they turn around to see what they just ran over. So DON’T surprise a bear. Simple. That’s how we spent the week amongst them!
The vast beauty of Kodiak Island is the stunning backdrop for our Brown experience! We boated up from the rustic Bear Camp (no electricity, no running water, no internet :-) ) in shallow bottom craft permitting us to access up the river at high tide. We traveled into the sedge flats by boat about a mile passing Browns, some with cubs, as they fed, slept, doing that bear thing. We would put in and wearing hip boots, get out and then wait, watch, and revel in it all! I shot the whole time with the D6 / 180-400VR w/TC-14eIII. I used the length not because we needed to keep our distance from the Browns but because the water world of the sedge flat didn’t permit us to travel just anywhere we wanted.
It’s really pretty simple, you plant yourself and let the Browns do their thing. When done correctly, they “accept” you as part of the landscape so they eventually come to you. That’s what they did over and over again. We had at least twenty-two individual bears surrounding and amongst us during the week. One, the 700lbs 6 year old female you see here in these images was by far our favorite. She invited us into her world over and over again as she ate, shit, slept, and played about the grasses as only a Brown of that size can.
The grasses were only about 2-3 feet tall at the time of our Adventure so it was safe to be out in them. Once they got taller, being on the sedge flats is very dangerous. Remember, DON’T surprise a bear! This female would eat to its heart content and then as all bears do, fall asleep in the sun. They are the perfect couch potato with really only one thing on their mind, get fat and go to sleep in the winter.
As you go through the images you will see one image where just the very top of her head is visible and the next, you can see all 700lbs of her. One aspect of the Browns that amazes folks is how this large animal can disappear in literally no cover. This fact alone is why you DON’T chase after bears but let them approach on their own account. It means you need to be where they like to hang and then hang yourself. You might spend hours upon hours standing in the sun or rain or wind waiting, watching. You might not take any photos or a couple thousand in a matter of minutes. It means you have to love simply being in their world, amongst them knowing that at some point, they will be right with you.
You will see some images with LOTS of Brown in the frame. That’s from those moments, which were many, that they came right up to use. No, I carry no spray, no gun, just decades of experiences being amongst them keeping me safe. This female came as close as fifty feet a number of times while she fed. There was not once a tinig of fear only admiration and awe. I know of or have experienced nothing in this world like time with the Browns!
There are 16 images here, click on arrow to view them all. You can see a larger collection of images from our Adventure on my Portfolio Pages.