Bear With Me

As foretold, I am back with another post featuring a Black Bear.  I am changing it up a bit.  This is not a Bear we encountered at Yellowstone National Park back in May of 2013.  Nope, nothing of the sorts.  This fine specimen was actually taken at the Grand Tetons.
Black Bear shot in the Grand Tetons May 2013

We headed down to the Tetons after our Yellowstone visit on our homeward leg of the vacation.  From a wildlife perspective, the Tetons have never really given us much to put in our tins.  We did get a Moose during one of our visits, but beyond that, that park has rarely offered up anything in the mammal category worth talking about.. much less adding to our gallery.   That changed in a significant way on this trip.

Black Bear shot in the Grand Tetons May 2013

Hit the jump to read an interesting story about this encounter!

The two shots above were worked up for the UB competitions.  I prefer the first image mostly due to the open mouth and more alert pose.  Unfortunately, the far ear got a little close to the top of the frame than I wanted.  The second shot solved that issue, but lost some of the character in the composition.  They both benefited from being taken at CLOSE proximity.. and there is a funny story that comes along with that.

Black Bear shot in the Grand Tetons May 2013

First a little background.  During that particular trip out to Yellowstone, we decided to stop throwing caution to the wind.  You have a tendency to forget that you are out taking pictures in the wild – there are no walls, no natural barriers to keep an unruly subject from fantasizing what a tasty morsel you might make.  Nope, you are in their backyard and you are pretty much at the mercy of the particular animal’s disposition that day and hopefully some distance between you and their prey instincts.  To give what is likely a false sense of security, we purchased bear spray.   We were both surprised at the physical size of the device.  The initial thinking was that it would be similar to the personal pepper sprays that are available on the market.  Apparently those bears are not even phased by those puny human doses – this looked more like a small fire extinguisher.  It took some effort but it would barely fit in the back pocket of my cargo shorts.

Black Bear shot in the Grand Tetons May 2013

With that bit of background, we can get to the story where Linda tried to get me killed.  The afternoon started innocently enough.  We had found a hiking trail that was located off of a rafting waypoint.  There was a fairly long road that went down to a pull off area the local outfitters use for their day excursions.  Things are a tad foggy at this point likely due to short term memory loss from utter terror, but I believe we were alone at the time with an outfitter group either just leaving when we got there or possibly just arriving after what we will call “The Event”.   We spotted the trail entrance and was on our way across the parking lot when we noticed a group of 3 or 4 people exiting the trail.  They looked to be conservationists or possibly rangers. We waited for them to get back to the parking lot before we continued toward the trail – figured the birds might be a little jumpy with the previous hikers and this would give them time to calm down.  Turns out.. that delay was a godsend.

Black Bear shot in the Grand Tetons May 2013

You see, before we got to the trail head, this bear came walking out.  I can’t imagine how close those hikers must have been to that bear.  Figured they would have warned us if they had seen it as they exited, but none were offered up.  This bear was close and it was heading our way – luckily more preoccupied with grazing.  Linda on the other hand was standing behind me in all out panic.  Now to bring the background topic full circle.  Linda went for the bear spray in my back pocket.. the pocket that barely fit around the canister.  Translated.. she nearly de-pantsed me trying to get it out.  This has resulted in months and months of discussions and quandary.  Was she trying to SAVE me (her narrative of “The Event”).  That is one way to interpret it.  There is also another way to describe her actions.  Remember the old adage I reference in the previous post about the best way to survive a bear attack … sacrifice a companion.  Sure, kneecapping your friend (or husband) is the more obvious way.  A devious person conveniently causing her friend (or husband) to lose his pants preventing him from effectively running to safety is another.  Two valid theories .. you get to decide which one you believe.

Note, the last shot looks a lot scarier than it really was.  We followed him a short ways and ended up getting in our car and heading out in the same direction he was walking.  An oncoming car got in his way.  They were stopped and busy taking iPad picture of it.  That pose was him ridiculing stupid tourists and their damn iPads.  He made it up to the highway and gave us one final laugh before we went our way.  He climbed over the guardrail and was getting ready to cross the highway – this gave us some concern for his safety, but he actually looked both ways – let a car pass by and then head to the other side of the road.  One evolution away people … one evolution away.

Take it easy everyone and bear with me .. only one more bear post to go!



4 comments on “Bear With Me

  1. His Lovely Wife

    Okay this is only half the story. Once a bear is spotted in your path, a normal person would look for opportunities to quietly retreat. Not Brian – he kept taking pictures! I finally got the stupid spray out of his pocket as he kept clicking away. At this point, I remembered how the clerk who sold us the spray handed over a one page flyer on how to use the spray as well as recommending that we go online to watch the video. I was really wishing I had watched that damn video at this point as I fumbled to figure out how to arm the spray. Bottom line, not only was Brian lucky he did not get de-pants but he was really lucky he did not get bear spray up his behind. Once the bear moved off the path and returned to the woods, guess what Brian wanted to do. That’s right folks, he wanted to keep hiking down the path which would put us closer to the direction the bear had disappeared. Being the voice of reason, with bear spray in hand, I had to practically drag him back to the car.

  2. admin

    Ummmm did you see the first two pictures!?! Would Mr. Lik go running to the car if a cuddly bear came out to visit .. think not! You have to be able to sacrifice for your art .. or as in this particular case put myself in harms way in order to bring my loyal readers the best possible images I can produce. Besides, I wasn’t in that much danger being a committed runner in all (faster than my wife hehehe). Now, what I didn’t know was how close I was to being de-pantsed AND blinded – eesh, some people we do anything to collect on insurance hehehe.

    Thanks for giving us the rest of the story!

  3. Ron

    Yikes, I can see the whole scenario unfolding! Brian de-pantsed and sprayed with bear spray somewhere, flailing around and easy pickings for the bear. This story would be featured on one of those morning TV shows.

    And again, Linda, remember that if that happened it would have made a nice photo for all of us to see. You have to be ready for all kinds of Brian photos.

    Thanks for the pictures and the alarming story! And Brian, when Linda tells you that you shouldn’t go following a bear off the trail, you might want to listen to your smarter half.


  4. admin

    I was thinking more of it being featured as prime evidence for her TRIAL!

    I need to check her tins from that trip – I bet she DID get pictures of me and hasn’t told me about them – probably because it would be secondary evidence for her TRIAL!

    How long have you know me (subtracting the adoption years)? Have I ever been one to let reason get in the way of a good shot to share of my blog? Remember, I risk my life to bring you interesting pictures to enjoy from the safety of your sofa. This is Life Intrigued, not Life I Was Too Scared to Experience (besides, those bears are cute and cuddly)

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