wordsfromanneli

Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


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Beary Scary

Years ago, before I got a good camera, I took this photo of a grizzly. It’s not  very clear, but I really didn’t want to do a close-up.

This is the Orford River which flows into Bute Inlet on the west coast of British Columbia.

We had tied the fish boat to a small dock in a bay around the corner, and then took a ride up the river in our aluminum skiff. The area was known for grizzlies and we wanted to see one, but I hadn’t counted on two things:

that we would actually see one not too far away,

and that the mouth of the Orford has a lot of sandbars.

I’ve had nightmares about bears forever, but it would still be a big deal to see one. I knew if a bear actually came along and tried to chase us, we could just turn the skiff around, rev up the outboard, and roar out of there.

On the way upriver though, we were pushing the boat off one sandbar after another with the oars to keep in water deep enough to use the motor. These sandbars were spotty and just when you thought you were in the clear, up popped another one. So I was even more nervous than usual. And of course that’s when we saw him.

Even with his hind end in the water, as he swatted at salmon going by, I could tell he was huge. We watched for a moment or two, but when he saw us, we knew it.

His head came up and he stretched his neck up tall. Then as he sauntered in our direction along the fallen log that you see lying across the river, we thought it was time to get out of there.

There are some things you do in your life that seem okay at the time, and later you say to yourself, “What was I thinking?!”

This was one of those times.

It was a big thrill to see the bear, but what if he hadn’t been so agreeable? Didn’t I know how fast they can run for a short sprint? And what if we had gotten high-centered on one of those sandbars in our haste to get away.

Everything could have ended up differently.

And I wouldn’t be able to tell you anything about it,

because bears don’t have Internet inside their bellies.

 


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The River Sportsman

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In the town of Campbell River, above the banks of the Campbell River, is a wonderful sports shop called The River Sportsman. In one corner of the store you can sit almost on the river while you have a coffee and decide which fly rod you want to mortgage the house for.

Oi veh! My tongue is in my cheek as I notice the camo gear on the right. You may remember my post about camo gear. https://wordsfromanneli.com/2018/03/09/camo/

Inside the store are many samples of wildlife that have been mounted (taxidermed) – (stuffed animals). The lighting is very bright and the glass cases in which some of the mounts are kept reflect the light, making it difficult to get a good photo.

The first is a grizzly, which is not USUALLY found on Vancouver Island, although several instances are recorded of grizzlies who have obviously swum across from the mainland, most likely island hopping and making short swims to finally reach Vancouver Island.

This is not a particularly large grizzly, but I wouldn’t want to meet him just the same. Intimidating teeth and claws, in spite of his pretty smile.

Another bear we don’t have here is the polar bear. Of all the bears, I think he is the most dangerous and close to the size of the Kodiak (which, like grizzlies, are a subspecies of the brown bear). The largest polar bear on record weighed 2209 lbs. and stood 11 ft. 1 in. on his hind legs. The bear on this photo is nowhere near that record, but I wouldn’t want to get a bear hug from him.

Another animal we don’t have on the island is the Rocky Mountain goat. It makes a handsome addition to the zoo in the sports shop.

Now we come to the animals that are prolific on Vancouver Island. Cougars are all over the island. I can’t imagine why I worry about black bears  when I’m mushroom picking, when I really should be worrying about these cats instead. They are much more likely to attack a person than a black bear is, especially if that person is walking alone or with a small pet.

The sports shop is full of birds and mammals on the walls and in glass cages. One of the walls has a wolf mount, but I didn’t feel inclined to take its picture. Now that I’m writing about the prolific cougar, I’m wishing I had a wolf picture to place with  the cats. Wolves are also plentiful, especially on the northern part of the island. I have no illusions about what a wolf can do to a deer or a lamb on a sheep farm.

The visit to The River Sportsman was entertaining for me while my friend shopped till she dropped. Maybe they put these animals in the shops on purpose to keep customers in the stores. It seems to be working.