I don’t pretend to be a good wildlife photographer, particularly when comparing my shots to those in ALASKA magazine and other publications. But with limited equipment-‐-‐a point-‐and-‐shoot camera-‐-‐ and a lot of tromping around in the backcountry, I’ve managed to capture a few images that I think are worthy of display.
Over the years I’ve derived a lot of pleasure in observing wildlife in its natural habitat. One of the difficulties in getting close, however, is that my friends and I are generally making so much noise to keep bears at bay that we scare everything else away.
I really respect professional wildlife photographers because I know how much time and effort it takes to get those images. Some of mine were pure serendipity, like the moose I walked up on in South Fork’s Hanging Valley, or the three bears crossing the Denali Park road.
I have nothing against hunting, especially for those who need the meat for their table, and I once hunted some myself. But today, I simply enjoy chance encounters with wildlife—wherever they might be.
The is a photo I wish I could share, of a Gray wolf, but I can’t because I didn’t have time to take it. The sighting came about 10 years ago in Eklutna Valley, when during a grouse hunting trip in early October, I walked within 25 feet of a large adult, which I think was male. We stared at each other for about 20 seconds and then he ambled off into the woods, howling in low tones. His howl was soon joined by another, perhaps one-‐fourth of a mile away. I live for such experiences.
Another was seeing a wolverine in upper Meadow Creek Valley, only the second during a lifetime in Alaska. I’ve also seen a few lynx over the years. One visited our backyard in Eagle River a few years ago, but my photos are too poor to share.
Spotting wildlife near populated areas is always a challenge,
but with time and persistence, one can generally see some of Alaska’s wild critters.
They’re out there.