I thought I’d post another image from our Katmai brown bear photo tour last fall. I’ve shot this bear for so many years now; it’s awesome to go back and revisit these bears year to year, particularly the bears that are so great to photograph as this one.
When I first started photographing this bear, he was a young subadult, just out on his own. He’s nearly doubled in size over the last few years, and now is a good size bear, though still has a number of pounds to gain before he reaches his full size.
One thing that becomes so readily apparent when photographing bears is how truly individual they are. They can be as different from one to another as we are. Some bears will walk right on by, fishing and wandering the river, with little more than a sideways glance at us, while others wont’ come close at all, and seem to always keep an eye on people around the area.
This means a lot when it comes to things like how to act in bear country; it means the generalized ‘protocols’ that we read about and hear are, while valuable, not set in stone. It’s more important to pay attention to the bear, and to closely watch the bear’s signals. than to think about some line in a book at that said “In situation A, you should do B”; hard and fast rules rarely hold true, but never more so, perhaps, than when dealing with 1000lb+ predators.
Good bear sense means knowing bear behavior, and paying attention more than remember guidelines.
I stress this kinda of thing in all my safety talks, whether it’s for photo tours to places like Katmai National Park, where the brown bear population density is as high as anywhere, or backcountry backpacking trips in the arctic and the alpine mountains, where bears are fewer and further between. Being attentive and attuned to the surroundings, to the environment, is how to conduct yourself in the wilderness; and where there are brown bears, it’s wilderness. So pay attention.
…. and remember to focus on the eye! 🙂
PS, Be sure to have a look at the Coastal Brown Bears Photo Tour.