February 3, 2012

Katmai Brown Bears - A Story of Patience

It’s time for another installment of this series! Remember the fishing hole at the Brooks Falls, where the big brown bears congregate? Okay, let’s picture the overall scene again.

As I surveyed the scene, it didn’t take me long to realize that there was an established pecking order and agreement among the bears at the falls. Every bear had its designated fishing “spot”. And if another bear came along and tried to infringe upon that space, growling would ensue and there would be a very brief tussle. (Sorry, but because of my positions on the viewing platform and lack of quick reflexes, I never got a good photograph of a bear fight.) When a bear caught a fish, it would eat it on the spot, go off into the woods for a private meal, or carry the fish over to the side of the river to enjoy a momentary picnic. After completing a meal, the bear would faithfully return to its claimed “spot” at the falls. 

There was one bear in particular that endeared me. He was the embodiment of the patience virtue. This particular bear has reportedly been nicknamed Otis, after somebody’s dog. Do you know how a dog can look intensely at an object or point of reference and not budge a single muscle because of sheer concentration? A slightly angled head adds to the studious effect. Do you know the look? Well, Otis had that look. I bet you can now identify him from the crowd! 

You see, Otis knew how to concentrate. And he had patience. I watched and watched that bear, waiting to see when he would budge or catch a fish. Yes, I was ironically a study of concentration too. Unfortunately, Otis was either a poor fisherman or else had staked out an incredibly poor “spot”. He would stand there for hours and not catch a single fish. I can’t tell you how many times the salmon would jump around him, but never quite close enough. I finally took a picture to record his shame. You can easily fill in the blanks for his thought bubble.

After watching Otis for countless hours over the course of three days, I finally saw him catch a fish! Many of us on the viewing platform couldn’t help but rejoice for the furry fella. He was near the end of his patience. His disgruntlement was evident, despite having a fat salmon now firmly secured in his jaws.

He soon settled down, relished his hard-won reward, and finally achieved contentment. After his meal was finished, he even indulged in an after-dinner, celebratory scratch. 

And then Otis returned to his “spot” at the bottom of Brooks Falls, ready to start again.


  1. I noticed Otis the first time I saw that photo. It was his stance, so determined looking. It's so much fun knowing the back story about him!

  2. Oh I just love how you told us this story. Poor Otis! Let's see, that thought bubble...

  3. Oh poor Otis! He looks like he's in a perfect spot but what do I know! Maybe one of the other bears will wander off to new pastures and Otis can get his spot!

  4. Ohhhh! Poor Otis! Yes, I know that "look!" I'm so glad he finally caught one!!Lolol...
    These shots are Amazing Girl!!!
    I would suggest throwing rocks to get a fight started BUT!!!Hahaaaa
    Happy weekend sweet friend!!

  5. Awww Otis looks like a baby and just learning...soooo cute!

    Wonderful story with a happy ending (I'm glad he didn't starve)

  6. wonderful story and photos. So glad that Otis got his fish

  7. I just had to come back to see the latest bear installment... WOW---I just cannot get over this.. What an experience you had. Thanks so much for sharing, Donna... I loved Otis also!!!!

  8. I'm back to look at the bears again! Just amazing my friend! ♥♥♥

  9. Wow...what amazing photos! So glad that Otis got his fish.

  10. Great photos, Donna!

    What an amazing trip! Your header is sweet too!


  11. I came over from Vee's blog and I agree you told this story in the most delightful way! I was rooting for poor Otis to finally catch a fish, the poor bear. Your photos are amazing!

  12. Vee sent me over. What a great adventure. I will be back. Drop by for a visit. Have a good day.


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