DAVE SANDFORD SIGNATURE SERIES IMAGE EDITION OF 20 [Signed and Framed]
Entering the world of the bears. In mid-September 2019, my guide & I landed one late afternoon in Katmai, Alaska via a twin otter float plane. That alone was an adventure, and I was in complete awe as I gazed out the window to the massive, rugged world below me. It has been a dream of mine since I was a boy to see the coastal brown bears of Alaska, and I would spend an entire week camping on the Alaskan tundra amongst the bears.
After setting up camp we wanted to take full advantage of every minute of daylight with the bears. With 55 lbs of camera gear strapped to my back, we set out on what would be the first of many 90-minute hikes to the section of the river we would most likely have success photographing brown bears. With winter hibernation around the corner, bears stood guard at salmon rich sections of the river, attempting to fatten their bellies with Sockeye Salmon. Arriving at Funnel Creek, we were immediately introduced to this tank of a bear who had earned the nickname, "Flapjack" (due to his floppy ear).
A face full of character, poise and calm demeanour, he was no doubt the alpha bear of this area and he had the battle scars to prove it. On his upper right back, he had a massive gaping wound from a previous battle. His skin and fur bunched up in one section, which you can see in this image, and another large portion of skin and fur hung like a flap across his back. It was clear to all that he was a battle-hardened veteran. With the weight of his belly and alpha disposition, it was rare to see him in a full-on charge; however, when he did charge, every other bear took notice and gave him space. His frame was so large and powerful that the water split with ease as he rumbled through the creek in my direction. Even as he stormed past us on occasion, Flapjack was unfazed by our presence.
He had one thing on his mind: hyperphagia-his mission to fill up on as much salmon as possible in preparation for the long winter ahead. I captured this powerful moment of Flapjack by laying on my stomach at the shore edge. Getting as low as possible provided me with this low angle perspective of massive Flapjack in full charge as he pursued the sockeye salmon in dramatic fashion. It was one of the most phenomenal days of my life and was my boyhood dream come true.
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