I am getting ready to head to the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Bear Sanctuary with Brad Hill of Natural Art Images (find out more on his trips here). This is my second time heading into the Khutzeymateen, and I’m beyond excited to see what this year might have in store.
Map of the Khutzeymateen
The Khutzeymateen is officially known by many different names including: Khutzeymateen Provincial Park, Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, Khutzeymateen Inlet Conservancy, Khutzeymateen Inlet West Conservancy, or for those of us that like to use slang – the “Khutz”. The Khutz is a provincial park located off the coast of British Columbia established in 1994 and covers over 44,000 hectares of land. This park is only accessible by water, and only two operators hold permits to bring guests into the park. This makes it a very unique place to photograph Grizzly Bears, as you are one of under 200 people that get to visit the park that year. And when you are taking photographs you don’t have to worry about other tour buses showing up and crowding in.
I went to the Khutz in 2015 with no idea what to expect, other than that I was going to get to see Grizzly Bears. But I had no idea what to expect in terms of what kind of shots I would like to walk away with, other than by looking at the images that other photographers had taken in the past years. What surprised me the most was the number of interactions among bears that I was able to capture. There was tons of mating, at one point we could see at least three different sets of bears mating from one single spot. We also got to see a set of two cubs eating some grass with their mom keeping a close eye on us and them.
The top interaction that we witnessed on our trip was probably when a huge (almost black in color) grizzly came out of the
Battle of the Beasts
woods on the fourth day of our trip – we hadn’t seen him up to this point. He decided that he should be mating with this one female that another male was already courting. And to prove his point, he charged and attacked. The fight actually lasted about 5 minutes, which is a pretty long time, but if I didn’t have pictures from the beginning to end, I would have guessed that it lasted seconds, because if felt like it was over in a blink of an eye, and it felt like we had very little time to react.
As I prepare to head beak into the Khutzeymateen in just under a week, after having been there before I have the opportunity to think “what do I want to capture this year”. The answer is simpler than the execution, and I would have to say that given the amazing scenery in the Khutzeymateen, I would really like to walk away with more animalscape , or landscape shots this year. Although I would like to see another bear battle, I won’t hold my breath for that, as what we witnessed was probably a once in a lifetime.
If you want to see more pictures from my 2015 trip into the Khutzeymateen and read some of the stories to go along with them, visit the journeys page here: Khutzeymateen Collection
Stay tuned to the results of my second trip to the Khutz.