Close Encounters Photo Credit David Bachrach

Close Encounters

It had been planned the day before that we should all try to find the wolf on the beach in the morning. I was up at 4am, dressed fed and geared up by 5am and down at the beach. No wolf appeared but the morning light on the Devil’s Desk was too good to pass up. We bailed on wolf waiting and took off for the reflecting ponds in the middle meadow. It was our best day yet for shooting the mountains, with fairly clear skies and some interesting clouds and reflections.

The film crew wanted to get some wildflower shots back by Kent’s old campground, and it was a great opportunity for me to retrieve my bears paw cast. Unfortunately the plaster was a mess. Either I poured it too dry or the tides damaged the material, as it was just a crumbled mess when I found it. Oh well something to look forward to doing next year.

Off we went to the fishing grounds again. Only 3 bears fishing this time, it seemed they were not so keen. We waited for about two hours but the salmon just didn’t seem to be moving much so we called it a morning and headed back for our routine afternoon nap.

Praying For Fish

Praying For Fish

We headed out in the afternoon towards Nursery Bluff so that the producer could get some Point of View shots there. At this point we split up and I opted to go with Suzie and Steve, one of the other cameramen, to find the sow and her cubs. Steve told me that they decided to call the cubs Scrappy and Hope for the movie. The guides had called the sow Melissa for several years. But her name would probably change for the series. Steve is also highly experienced with bears and he assured me that she was safe to be around and that the worst case scenario is that she might knock us down trying to charge a bear that would appear behind us. I felt so much better. Steve is an outstanding photographer in his own right, and was very willing to give advice on shooting techniques. I told him I was having trouble getting sharp images with animals running directly towards me. He was eager to share his knowledge and the value of being in such an elite group was becoming more and more evident. I was learning new skills and getting good advice every day.

We found Melissa and the cubs a little farther away from their regular area. She was slowly expanding her range and getting more comfortable with certain bears being within her perimeter. She was certainly comfortable with us today, so we set up close to her and were again entertained by the cubs and their antics. They crossed over the shallow creek and once on the other side the cubs went ballistic.

Her Reflection

Her Reflection

They bolted like two colts on a lunge line running flat out in 10m circles around their mum. She was getting quite perturbed and huffed at them a few times but they were defiant and kept on circling at full speed. Mum spun around and around trying to keep an eye on them and finally she put a stop to it by blocking off their circle. She got them back in line and they wandered away into the tall grass.

Half Lotus

Half Lotus

Kent and the rest of the film crew caught up with us and we headed down to the flats, where the tide had just gone out again. The bears were doing their daily migration to the beach and they were coming in larger numbers now. Word was out that the salmon were coming. With each low tide they were catching more fish and this time the eagles had decided to join in. Tonight there were just as many bald eagles as there were bears. The fishing was great and just as the light started to fade the bears began to head back to the meadow. It was like they were punching out for the day. Kent had gone over to speak with the producer on the other side of a small rivulet. One of the female bears decided to make a bee line between them and me which did not leave much room. Because the light had faded I had pulled out my little point and shoot camera and was using it to video the bears walking past. I captured this female walking between the guys and me, only 3-4 meters away! It was absolutely exhilarating.  One of the other guides standing farther up the beach caught the whole scene with his camera. Thanks Dave! We headed back to camp, fully satisfied with the day’s shoot. I lingered back to catch the last reflection of Kukak volcano in the waning light.

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