Big Game “hunting”…

Wildlife photography can be funny… I guess, for that matter, photography in general can fit that same description. I have to admit that personally, when I get a chance to go out with the camera for any length of time here in the foothills or the Rockies west of home, I am usually “targeting” what I would refer to as “Big Game”. Bears, elk, bighorn sheep or even wolves are typically on my hit list for the day. I don’t go looking for the incidentals in most cases – I will gladly take them and enjoy the process and results as much as finding one of the local big critters, sometimes even more as the pace of shooting the smaller guys can be much more relaxed and encounters often last longer. So, when I got a couple of hours earlier this week, I went specifically looking for some of the small game that inhabits the area and that I have seen less of this year than I would have preferred. It was a bad time of day for shooting – mid-afternoon – meaning that in most cases the bigger animals aren’t as active anyways, but at least the overcast would help to hold back the typically harsh mid-day light and the cooler temp’s might keep the animals more active than if it had been 25-30C. That was the theory at least!

So, after about 45 minutes of cruising around some fairly familiar “hunting grounds” and seeing nothing other than some distant deer and a coyote hunting mice in the far corner of a field, imagine my surprise when I came around a corner I had passed just minutes before and saw a black “blob” at the side of the road. Knowing it could only be one thing at that height I was hard on the brakes, reaching for the camera all in one motion as I got the truck pulled to the side of the road and parked, put the hazards on and rolled down the window. Within seconds of me stopping and getting the camera up to my eye, he stood straight up and looked right at me, not concerned but certainly curious. He went back to milling about in the grass at the side of the road and then wandered along the ditch a bit into some of the underbrush. I thought at that point he may continue thru the forest down to the river valley and I would lose sight of him for good, but he came back to the road and hopped over the guardrail before making his way across the road and to the brushline on the opposite side. By now, another vehicle had arrived, but luckily the driver was aware and maintained a respectful distance, and the young bear continued to go about his business, alternating between short trips into the trees and back out where he was easily watched.

Dude... (click to enlarge)

Dude… (click to enlarge)

Shortly after, another vehicle pulled up and idled up fairly close to him… This was apparently his breaking point, as soon afterwards he worked his way back uphill and into deeper cover. I stayed put for a bit after the other vehicles had left in the hope that he would make his way back out into the open after the excitement had died down, but he didn’t show himself again. It was evident immediately that this was a young bear, and I was actually quite surprised that he was by himself and wasn’t in the company of his mother. Going on size alone, I would put him at no more than a small 2 1/2 year old, probably kicked out by mom this spring. Maybe a little concerning at that age that he wasn’t showing more fear of people in an area that is frequented by hikers, campers and day-trippers – time will tell I guess as to whether or not this apparent ease with people gets him into any trouble.

Cub and wolf willow (click to enlarge)

Cub and wolf willow (click to enlarge)

Moral of the story? Be there… good things can happen! The old adage “F8 and be there” didn’t come about without reason… You may go out and see nothing, but the one sure thing is that if you don’t get out there, you are 100% guaranteed to see nothing… plain and simple. Every now and then the stars align and fortune rewards you for your patience and persistence.

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~ by Kerry Statham on July 16, 2013.

4 Responses to “Big Game “hunting”…”

  1. Nice. I feel the same way with regards to really preferring and enjoying ‘hunting’ the big game as you know. But, again, because of time restraints, I have really been enjoying the quick 1/2 hour trips that I can manage now and then – forcing me to ‘see’, experience and learn so much about some of the wonderful critters that we are so lucky to share space with. Like you – I’ll take what I can get and love it either way! Awesome post Kerry….

    • Thank you Leah! Much appreciated… I am grateful for any time behind the lens recently as well, so this was a real bonus, especially considering I didn’t even see any of what I initially went looking for. Typical huh?

  2. When I’m in bear country, it’s pretty hard not to be looking for bears. I suppose that’s what happens when you don’t live in bear country. Nice post.

    • Thanks Lyle… I appreciate it. Admittedly, I am always looking and hoping, but there are some places around here you go where the bears are the more likely find, and other areas where the bears are a nice bonus – this was one of the latter!

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