Sulking Kodiak Bear

A depressed, sulking Kodiak brown bear along the American River. Joseph Classen.

Miserable. Sopping wet. Wind-beaten and disgusted by a slow day of salmon fishing. That’s how I found myself one autumn afternoon while wandering about on one of my favorite Kodiak rivers. As I sauntered back to my truck, I looked out from underneath the canopy of my hood and spied what I initially thought was a washed up log lying on the gravel bar. As I got a little closer, I discovered that it was, in fact, not a huge chunk of wood, but rather a big ol’ Kodiak brown bear, soaked to the bone, sprawled out and dead asleep! I decided to keep my distance and watch him for a bit to see what he was going to do when he awoke. Well, he was in no hurry to move on. He’d lazily wake up for a few minutes, stretch, yawn, and then flop right back down in the dirt to go back to sleep as the rain continued to drench his thick, fall hide.

I eventually went around him, giving him plenty of space to keep enjoying his nap. While I continued to watch him from the other side of the river, another bear came along. This one was not in such a lazy mood. It aggressively ran up to the sleeping bear and proceeded to kick his butt down the river! The poor, tired bear that was so rudely awakened ran for his life, all the while looking back at his violent pursuer with a very confused look. Later that afternoon, I found that same bear a hundred yards or so down the river, flopped over a big log, with his head hung down…way down…low down! He had the most humiliated, depressed look I’d ever seen on the face of any animal. I snapped a few photos while he sulked and respectfully moved along. Sorry bear.

I captured much of that encounter with both video and still images. While the quality is not all that great on the video, as I shot it with a rather inexpensive video camera…in the pouring rain…you can check it out here. The still photos came out rather nice, and in fact, both the story and the primary photo featured here won first place in the annual Kodiak Bear Chronicles competition.

As with all images featured in the Photo of the Week blog, a large sized print (16 x 24 for this image) is available in any style at a 25% discount…but only during the week it is featured…so act now if you’d like one!