The past couple of weeks were quite fruitful, with a once and a lifetime experience hanging out with a brown bear mama and cub. This fall has been bountiful for animal encounters and sightings. I wasn’t exactly expecting to film wildlife, as I was running a time-lapse of the river valley at my local lookout spot. While was running it I happened to see a bear at the edge of the river, or at least it took a second to register. I grabbed a quick shot of bear and reset the time-lapse. An older local couple who live up the hill were doing their rounds in the car with their small black and white dog, head first out of the passenger window, whose sole purpose seem to be bear spotting. They stopped and told me there was a couple of bears below, and went on to tell me to be safe and go have some fun! I thanked them, ran to my house to get my regular camera set up. I grabbed my keys to the car so I had some form of shelter in place if I had to. I went down the hill to see if they were still around. Initially I didn’t see them and went to a turn around, pulled a 180 and slowly went back the direction I had come. At last I saw them on a large slope scoping out the apple trees and stopped. I had no time to check settings, and realised I forgot my tripod. My adrenaline was going for sure, they were pretty close, albeit consumed in eating apples, the last of falls delights. I started my camera and tried to shoot from the window, it was a tad shaky, and unbalanced. So I eventually I made sure it was safe and jumped out to set up a sand bag on the rail of a fence, a tripod would been the preferred setup for my rig, however in a pinch the sand bag worked quite well. I had a good look at the bears to see their behaviour towards me being there, and they watched me, no doubt, as well. I was very slow in my movements, calm, and never gave them reason to feel threatened in any way. I kept a healthy distance you could say and somewhat close to the vehicle just in case she felt otherwise. She would look at me and then nearly simultaneously her cub would look. I lucked out and managed to get a bunch of shots and eventually the pair went off down into the bay. I was elated beyond words. To spend time with these beautiful beings and see them do things I had no idea bears did….all I can say is the magic is real. Before this encounter I had been working on quite a bit of content for an art installation idea called, valley flow, which you can see examples of in my last 2 posts. I was hoping to gather some more animal activity, and hello did the universe ever deliver! What’s even stranger or cool…the same night I went home to organise my footage, and wouldn’t you know it the mama bear came up my deck and we had this moment where we both looked at each other through a pane of glass, thankfully. She made the most beautiful sound and proceeded to jump up on the rail of my deck and climbed down the side of the house, and into the darkness of the night. From my own experience and through books I have read, the bear is a messenger of strength, family, vitality, health, and independence. I will also add that bears in my experience are quite inquisitive, playful and a highly aware beings. I was very touched by the experience which I think comes across a bit…hopefully at least…in my latest digital short film. I also did some of my own sound FX in this one, to match some of the footage, which I think really lends to the experience. I am creating a series of shorts which I will showcase in an art installation sometime in 2023 called, ‘Valley Flow’.
The title of this short is Autumnal: Wildlife of the East Kootenay
Also a special thanks to the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance for their support, as well as my family and friends out there, somewhere, on this tiny blue dot, we call home.
All animals were loved during filming.