New EKO Cam Technology
The rain pelted the tipi horizontally as the gusts of wind whirled through the terminal basin and tested our knots in the guylines. There were just five days left in Alaska’s Spring Brown Bear season, and, as is expected on the Alaska Peninsula, we just lost a day to weather. The time crunch was upon us. My friend Steve and I sat in the tent and discussed the plan for the following day. Our consensus was that we needed to head to the peninsula that divided the lake into two sides. We noticed a glassing knob there, and on the mountains above we could see a series of tracks in the snow leading into the area. We had an inflatable sea kayak, so this gave us the ability to quickly strike at any spot of the lake we needed.
The next morning, we set out for our glassing point in the middle of the lake. We rowed slowly against the current, stopping to glass each draw we pass. We scanned the mountain sides slowly and deliberately, trying to catch a glimpse of movement.
It was a large sow with twin two-year-old cubs. We beached the kayak and sat in the much-appreciated spring sun, watching our own private episode of National Geographic through our 10x42s. We were only after a mature boar, but every boar we had seen at that point was chasing a sow, trying to kill her cubs. We watched the cubs frolic and wrestle as their mother tried to restore her calories from the long winter. I reflected on my macabre vision of a large boar entering the scene, hell bent on infanticide; a contradiction between the admiration I had for this sow raising twins in such an unforgiving place, and my own self interest. Alas, we decided to move on.
We reached the peninsula and decided to split up to cover as much of the basin as possible. Steve filled his bear tag two weeks prior in Southeast Alaska, so if he spotted a bear, he would run the 500m to my knob overlooking the south side of the lake. I lie on a foam pad reclined against my pack. The sun warmed the crisp breeze that flowed across the lake, and I sat back from my binoculars and took a moment to appreciate the majesty of this place. Every corner of Alaska is unique and grandiose in her own way, so even those of us who call the state home can be surprised by her every time we peak into a new drainage.
I gathered up my gear to go check in on Steve, and as I approach I could see he was looking intently at something.
“Nate, there’s a lone bear walking up the beach. I think it’s a boar.” Steve 2. Nate 0. I was losing the spotting war badly at this point.
“He’s moving right down the beach, the wind is blowing from behind him, so I think we may be able to paddle right into him.” “Right. Let’s go cut him off.”
We loaded into the kayak and started in his direction. The plan was to gain as much speed as we could, while we were too far away for him to pick up our movement or sound and set a heading for just behind where we thought he was going. As the image of the blond mass grew larger, so did my excitement. My heart was beating out of my chest, elevating to new levels with each synchronized stroke of the oars. This was my moment. The bear continued directly down the shoreline. He was a brilliant blond bear, but we had yet to determine his maturity. We coast slowly in behind him.
“30 Yards, Steve-O. He has no idea we are here.