|2004-09-14 - Close and dangerous encounter
We´ve paddled 90 km;s over the last two days and we´re camping on an isolated island in the middle of Kolyma. Hopefully free of boris midvjet (brown bear)! Weather is overcast with occasional rains and temperature is around 5°C. Very little wind, but far too many gnats.
Johan Ivarsson at the pen:
Today I experienced something I never thought would happen! It´s like one of those stories that you read about in old books, hunting tales which you never thought were true. Now, however, I´ve started to believe otherwise...
It happened during the lunchbreak. Suddenly, whilst chewing, we heard a noisy *CRACK* from inside the forest right above our heads. Mikael was the fastest one of us and grabbed the gun, and it didn´t take many seconds before we saw the head of a bear heading down the riverbank only 50 meters away from us. As he went down we could see the entire body of this huge bear, with a big hump on the back and his fur was gray around the head and down towards the belly. We could tell that this bear was an old, fully grown brown bear in his best years. A magnificent sight! He wasn´t moving too fast but still didn´t show any signs of slowing down as he turned against us when he came down to the waterline. *Bang*, Mikael fired a first shot in the air to try to frighten him and make him turn back. The bear stopped only for a second to take a quick look, then he continued going for us. The second shot (also in the air) didn´t help at all so a third came immediately. The bear, still going in
a slow walk, was now no more than 30-35 meters away from us. After a quick reload, the forth shot was fired in the ground in front of him and finally he stopped and climbed rapidly up the bank, towards the forest. As he came to the top he stopped and turned around, and what it seemed like, had a last peek. A fifth shot was fired in the air to make sure that he fled into the forest, away from us.
Stunned after what happened, Mikael and myself looked at each other, trying to realize what had actually happened, then we quickly ate the last of the lunch and started to pack the canoe. Just to be safe I stood as a guard with the gun, whilst Mikael was packing. Suddenly I heard a crack again and when I turned my head to the left, I found myself staring right into the eyes of the bear again!
He wasn´t more than 25 meters away. All of a sudden he was just standing there on the beach! The feeling when I was looking right into those eyes of the true king of the wild, that big creature...Well, I don´t really know how to describe it, but it was powerful! After returning to reality again, only after a second or two, I quickly fired into the air. He turned away immediately and walked up the side, stopped again and stared at me, continued up the bank, raised himself up and looked gigantic! I fired another shot in the air and finally he ran away!
We didn´t stay one more minute! We paddled away rapidly. None of us said a word for a long time. We just sat there thinking about what we had experienced. It was a frightening but yet remarkable experience. One thing is for sure, my respect for bears have changed totally. These are no harmless and cuddly animals! I still see the image of the bear before my eyes, standing there in front of me watching every move I make.
This experience has made us more worried about the near future. Will more things like this happen? And if they do, will we see them in time? If we don´t, we will have big problems!