Being a hunter all my life and a guide for over 40 years, the deep respect for wildlife that I have pursued is evident in the following story:The Kodiak Brown Bear in corresponding photos was spotted one mile east of a lodge that I owned at the time in Kiluda Bay, on Kodiak Island.
The Kodiak Brown Bear in corresponding photos was spotted one mile east of a lodge that I owned at the time in Kiluda Bay, on Kodiak Island.
My day had started out (as it usually does), with several guests in my boats, as we headed out to find another location to fish. I spotted a bear, just as he had entered the water. We were about a ¼ mile from him. We watched as he started swimming toward the far shore, which is right at a mile from the end of the big spit. We had slowed our two boats almost to a stop, watching this unusual sight. As I approached too, about 100 yards behind the bear, he seemed to be unaware of our boat’s presence. But as he was swimming along, it then appeared as though he was having difficulty.
My other boat had now caught up with me and was also observing the bear. Suddenly, the bear stopped swimming and started to go under. He then raised his head straight up in the air and began pawing the water frantically like he was trying to stay up. But then he started swimming again. However, for a second time, he once more went completely under the water, resurfacing a few seconds later. I simply, without any reservation, made the decision not to let this struggling creature perish if I could help it.
I powered the boat up beside him just as he was going under for the third time. I grabbed him between the ears and heaved him up beside the boat and by having him firmly between his ears, kept his head pointed away so he could not bite me—which he was trying to do. It was then that things really got interesting! The bear actually bit the top side of the boat and had one paw over the side. By pushing and turning him, I was able to keep him at bay. Our boat was a 19 foot skiff. At that point, I asked one of my guests to drive the boat and he replied: “Hell”, I have never driven a boat!” (I might add the guest was white as a sheet). My reply is as vivid today as it was at that instant: “You better learn how to quick, ‘cause I am not letting go of this Grizzly Bear!”
I asked another guest to hand me a rope and I managed to get it through the bear’s mouth and behind his ears so he did not choke down. After the bear’s initial reaction to bite me, and by me talking to him to try and relax him for the ½ mile tow to the far shore, he appeared to become more subdued. Even so, he did actually bite a hole in my fuel line and an electrical line before he actually calmed down.
I had shut down the engine on our boat to avoid getting him injured by the prop and I then instructed the other boat to get in front of my boat with a rope attached to us, to tow us in. I then managed to get the bear in position behind my boat, beside the shutdown engine for the trip ashore.
With the bear now beside the engine, it made the tow much easier on him. He put his one paw on my engine mount and the other on the side of the boat as we proceeded. With me talking to him, he actually relaxed, just lying there in the water, looking at me very calmly. He seemed to understand I was trying to help him and that I meant him no harm.
As we reached the far shore, I let the rope loose. As the water became shallow enough he began to wade and when he reached the shoreline in knee deep water, he stopped and turned his head and for a few seconds just paused and looked at me as if to say, “THANKS!”
The above is an actual and true story by Larry Jarrett.