November 01, 2011

Crossing Kolyma

"Mike!" Johan whispered anxiously, "Look out!"

As I turned around, I saw a large brown bear standing on the beach only 20 meters away — between us and our canoe — sniffing intensely and staring back at us. It was one of the most beautiful bears I'd ever seen. His fur was radiant in the sun, his rams were grey from age and he seemed startled by our presence.

I had no idea whether this was the same bear I had shot at from the canoe ten minutes earlier, or whether it was a different one. The first bear had fallen over, hit at least three times below his left shoulder. Before I had time to reload, he crawled slowly into the thick taiga. This bear took a step forward, stopped again and stood up on his hind legs, sniffing even more eagerly. I took a quick look at my young partner Johan and suddenly realized that he was unarmed. The Russian authorities had allowed us to bring along only one rifle.

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