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Be Careful What You Wish For(long bear story)

Discussion in 'Other Animals' started by drr1531, Sep 16, 2018.

  1. Back in the summer of 2015 I went on a bear shoot on the coast of Katmai NP. The shoot was organized by a friend who is a full time pro. There was one other guy with us who was a pro with 30 years of experience shooting wildlife. The three of us had the area that we were shooting to ourselves. There was a big old male bear that was the master of the valley where a nice salmon stream runs into a bay. Our guide called him Scar for obvious reasons. He was pretty well torn up, much of it fresh, from battling for supremacy of his little kingdom. One day on our way back to the boat we ran across the old boy resting in a bed that he had dug out in the sand at low tide. The old ragged looking bear laying in the cold rain really told its own story. The white claws are indicative of an old bear and our guide said to his certain knowledge Scar was over 15 years old.

    1) D4, AF-S 80-400@400mm, 1/200s, f8, ISO3200
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    So last month we returned to the same location. Our first day on the creek we were surprised to see that old Scar was still around albeit much reduced from his previous size/stature. While still a huge bear he was a shadow of his former self. On his hips, shoulders, spine, and ribs there was very little muscle covering the bones. With no recent battle scars and judging by the lack of deference shown him by smaller bears in the area it was clear that he was no longer king of the valley. One thing that was not diminished on the old boy was the size of his claws. My friend and I discussed how cool it would be to get a good closeup shot of one of his feet(careful what you wish for).

    2) D850, 200-500 VR@260mm, 1/1000s, f5.6, ISO2500
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    Contrary to what one would assume, the largest bears aren't the most dangerous. The larger bears tend to be more wary of people and keep some distance away rarely walking the same side of the creek that we're shooting from. And when they do so they completely ignore you as if you're an inanimate object on the bank. Not so with some of the sub-adults. Like human teenagers young male bears are trying to find their place in the hierarchy of life and are constantly testing the limits including those with people. That can pose problems. On the other extreme of the spectrum, old bears that are struggling to feed themselves can become predatory towards people out of desperation. After watching this old guy for a few hours that fact found its way into my thoughts.

    So one day the old boy uncharacteristically crossed the creek and came out of the water directly in front of me about 20 ft away. For a tense moment or two the old starving bear thought crossed my mind. But I was watching him closely and he wasn't even looking at me. While keeping my eyes on the old guy I swung the camera around and without using the viewfinder pointed it in the direction of his feet and fired a burst. Not exactly what I had in mind but I did get one in focus frame of his claws.

    3) D850, 500mm f4, 1/1000s, f5.6, ISO500, tripod/Wimberley (full frame image)
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    4) And a parting shot of his snowshoe sized hind foot.
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  2. West


    Jan 2, 2012
    Vancouver BC
    Great stuff (y)
  3. Wow! Great story and images. Those feet shots are incredible.
  4. great narrative and even better pics
  5. Wow...for sure. Those claws are impressive . Great story
  6. Kingfisher


    Dec 26, 2010
    Love the story and shots! Definitely a heart pounding adrenaline rush. This is why I love nature so much!!!!
  7. I love this! Those feet are so huge! I wonder how much longer he will live. There was a human killed by a grizzly in my home area this past week.
  8. Tinstafl


    Aug 6, 2008
    Wow great shots and good story.
  9. Thanks for the comments, everyone. Glad you enjoyed the story.
  10. Great stuff, one for the campfire story-time for sure. Hope the heart pounding has stopped.
  11. Excellent - I like all the images and the information you provided.
  12. Love the pictures and even more the story behind them. Thanks so much for sharing. Great job in keeping your cool as well.
  13. In those situations the heart pounding doesn't start until after. At least for me.

    Thanks, Allan. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Thanks, Jim. There were a couple more bears that were recognizable from our last visit. Pretty interesting.
  14. Terrific story and photos, very nicely done.
  15. Always enjoy your pics and stories. Thanks for sharing them.
  16. It is kind of sad, when they become old they lose their stature like people do. Very nice set Dan , thanks for sharing.
  17. Thanks for the comments, Louie.

    Thanks, Jack. Glad you enjoyed the post.

    Thanks for the comments, Binnur. It is interesting to observe. One fundamental difference is that (hopefully) we have family and/or community to surround/support us. Once they leave the protection of their mothers animals are on their own.
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