BearHead Photography's Favorite Pictures
BearHead Photography has many images to showcase his expansive portfolio on mammals of North America, and these are his favorite pictures.
It's not often you come across three bull moose hanging out together. I first only saw one moose, and it was only once I hiked up and over a hill did I see that there were three moose. After spending over three hours with them and only getting mediocre pictures, that all changed in a heartbeat. I couldn't believe my good fortune when they all left the pond and went up on the ridge and stood still for just a few moments. Being all along with these moose with this setting was a moment I will never forget.
Coming at You
When brown bears are fishing they can become very excited and chase any fish they see. This brown bear was patrolling the river all afternoon when a salmon got stuck in shallow water near where I was standing. She turned immediately when she saw this and bolted like a freight train after that salmon. She had every determination to catch that fish, and she was successful.
Grand Prize Winner National Geographic Photo Contest
It is hard to understand just how vast Alaska is until you have been. Denali is over 6 million acres, and the majority of that land is all backcountry access only. Wildlife can truly live their lives and never be influenced by human activity. A large moose takes advantage of a nice evening to eat from a pond and to get away from the bugs.
Grizzly bear cubs are very playful when they are young. These cubs had been rolling around, and when they finished the one cub stood up and put its paws together.
Highly Honored Photograph Natures Best Photography Competition
Hearing a wild wolf howl is one of the greatest sounds in nature. Often times I hear the wolf, but never get to actually see the wolf. This white wolf howled for a long time, so it gave me time to track the sound and maybe find the wolf. When I went over a rise and saw this white wolf on the top of the ridge, my heart about stopped in pure excitement! Moments like this is why I'm a wildlife photographer.
Getting light in the arctic is not easy. It is often overcast and very grey. After spending all of our time with this bear in grey light, the sun shown through a hole in the clouds for just a few seconds to bring the landscape to life.
On only the coldest of mornings can hoar frost happen. Not only does it have to be cold, but their has to be moisture in the air as well. When the sun made it over the ridge, the trees began to shine because of the hoar frost. A buffalo was underneath this tree trying to stay warm and find some food as it was -40 degrees.
The Wild Coast
In Alaska you just never know what you might encounter with wildlife. There is such great diversity, and the animals are in numerous areas. Once this bear noticed the bald eagle had a fish, it went over to investigate. The eagle had eaten all it wanted and flew over the bear as it went to rest and digest its meal.
It is hard to describe just how awesome a large tidewater glacier is! In Glacier Bay National Park there are a number of really large glaciers that come all the way down to the water from high in the mountains. This particular glacier has carved out a massive area that has in the last few hundred years filled in with sea water. The expansiveness of the area and the grandeur of the glacier and mountains was quite the site to see!
Finding the elusive bobcat is a hard task. After putting in days and days, I finally caught a break. I found this cat along a river as it was hunting for ducks. With a heavy snow falling and it walking a little ridge, it was a perfect winter setting.
Great grey owls have the largest wingspan of any owls. They can have a wingspan of over 60 inches. Seeing this large bird fly directly at me was an intimidating experience.
There are too many times to count when I had a great setting with wildlife, but no light. Having both come together perfectly on this morning was a dream. As I ran to the stream, hoping they would cross in the perfect morning light, I waited only briefly before they decided to cross. The morning light, reflection, and mountains made for a dramatic backcountry Alaskan scene.
Observing the northern lights never gets old. Each show is very different from the last, and unpredictable. This night started off very slow, and then all of a sudden this beam appeared and started moving around! Watching it move over the mountains was a memorable experience.
Mother bear bent this tree down and used it to rest on. The tree made for a great jungle gym for the cubs to play on too. After they were done playing, they came next to mom and leaned over the tree branch all at once.
I love getting off the road and away from everyone and finding my own shot. There are many times I spend hiking through the tundra or woods and don't come up with anything. But those moments when you do find wildlife to yourself are the moments you never forget. When I found these three bull moose together I was ecstatic. I followed them for over three hours before this special moment occurred, and I was more than happy that I waited and followed to see what photographic opportunities they would present.
Great grey owls are a majestic owl of the forest. They perch on tops of trees to have the best vantage point to hunt from. With this view, it looked as if it was watching over the Tetons.
Into the Mist
Not long after I spotted this bull elk, his females headed for the river. It was a foggy morning, but when I got to the river, there was more fog there than in the meadow. It was such a neat, eerie feeling seeing the elk go in the river and disappear in the fog. In the fall when the temperature drops over night, a fog can occur, and it provided a dramatic scene for this large bull elk as he entered the water.
It is not very often that you have a crystal clear view of Denali. On my last camping trip of the summer I was fortunate to come across this scene. In Wonder Lake was a mother and calf moose taking there time eating the grass of the bottom of the lake. I could not think of a better way to end my summer.
Finding an ermine in the winter is not an easy task. Finding a small white animal in a land of snow is like looking for a needle in a hay stack. Fortunately, this little guy came out of his hole right when we were going by and my friend spotted him. When he first saw us it just stood there to try and figure out what we were.
The winter in Glacier is not pleasant. It is often quite cold and snowy, and the wind will blow up to 90 mph at times. On this day, the wind was around 40-50 mph and making it hard to take a still shot. Fortunately, I was able to position myself in a place to capture the bighorn in front of the mountain when it walked on the ridge.
The plants and bushes in the tundra can be very tall. I often forget just how big the moose are because they are usually only a foot or two above the bushes. This massive moose had no problem moving around in the fall because he was so much taller than everything.
Humpback whales are usually a solitary animal. The only time they will be with other whales, is during mating season and when food is at its peak. These whales dove at the same time in hopes of rounding up little herring fish.
There were only a couple of bears that fished on Brooks Falls that were fast enough to catch salmon that did not jump right to them. This bear was probably the most successful bear at catching salmon that there was. As this salmon tried to sneak by, at the last second the bear turned its head and that salmon was caught.
Being able to watch a large polar bear close up in it natural environment is a great experience. Once he determined we were a little to close, it let us know by showing us his teeth.
Hunting for ducks is not easy for a bobcat. Trying to get out far enough into the river to jump for a duck can be a difficult task, since they don't like to swim. After deciding not to jump for a duck, the bobcat jumped between logs to avoid getting wet and swimming in the cold water.
Rise and Shine
Bears are just like humans when they wake up from a nap, groggy. This bear family had a good rest on the tidal flats, and were woken by the rising tide. They weren't ready to get up yet, but had to. The two cubs clung to their mother and wanted more rest, but mom knew better because of the rising tide.
In the summer in Alaska, the nights just turn dusky and not all the way dark. It was nearly 11 p.m. when I spotted this mother and her 4 cubs for the first time. I was getting ready for bed, but that quickly changed and I hurried to find them again. They were moving down the lake shore looking for salmon to fish for. It was my very first time ever seeing a mother and 4 cubs, and having them all walk in a line on the lake shore sure made my night a lot better.
Call of the Wild
Wolves howl to get the attention of other wolves in the area. This wolf had gotten separated from its pack members and was trying to locate where they were. At first she was calm and relaxed, but then she really started to howl. As she stood on the rock howling, it was a cold enough morning that her breath was visible as she howled.
Most owls are nocturnal. As the day wore one, I could see more and more short-eared owls beginning to hunt. This owl was hunting as the last light of the day was shining.
I love experiencing and seeing new things in nature. As I was driving, I faintly saw a streak in the fog. I stopped, and then noticed the faint outline of a rainbow. But there was no rain, so it had to be a fog bow. I parked and began hiking in the fog looking for something to photograph with the fog bow, and found these trees. The heavily hoar frost covered trees really made the fog bow behind them stand out and show off how great it was.
In the mountains in the morning it is often foggy after a rain storm. The moisture in the air combined with the usually cooler temperature, can create a very heavy fog. As the fog was beginning to burn off, the larger trees began to cast a shadow across the fog and add a neat effect to the look of the forest.
Sunsets in Yellowstone are often not that colorful due to the amount of clouds in the sky, or due to no clouds at all. Seeing that a great sunset was about to happen, I began to look for an animal to put in the picture. Finding a bison herd on a ridge added great contrast to the setting sun.
Going for a Ride
When cubs are real young, it is somewhat common for them to latch onto mom while she is swimming. This little cub was tired of walking in the grass and decided to climb onto mom as she moved around and save its energy.
A Powerful Look
Wolves are a very pretty and powerful animal. When they stop and stare at something, they mean business. They are a very social creature, but do not like wolves that they do not recognize. This wolf was scanning an area before heading that direction to make sure the coast was clear.
Alaska is an incredible state to see from car, train, boat, and even plane. Seeing glaciers from above gives you a much large appreciation for their size and power. Flying directly up this glacier let me really see exactly how powerful these ice waterfalls are in carving out the mountains.
Going underneath a glacier into a cave that has formed underneath was very surreal. The colors and natural design of the ice cave is indescribable until you have been in one. An ice cave forms by a river that moves underneath the glacier. The natural color and design of the ice was like nothing I had ever seen before.
Finding tigers in the wild is not an easy task. They mostly stalk their prey, but will sit and wait for hours in the middle of the day for something to walk by. When they are in the tiger grass they disappear completely, and only once they come out do you realize why they cannot be seen in the grass.
We found this bear taking a nap on the beach. We slowly approached, and it kept sleeping for a long time. When it began to wake up, it stretched its legs and sprawled out. For just a brief moment it brought its head down to its paws, and looked like a human relaxing on the beach. This type of look you don't see from bears very often at all!
I knew this morning that the sunrise would be nice. When I heard en elk bugle, I began to search quickly for him. Seeing him stand their in front of the mountain as he called out was a great moment.
After climbing up the mountain and searching for sheep, I finally found a few walking a ridge coming my direction. As this sheep paused to check me out, Mt. McKinley rose in the background.
Moving as One
Being a sloth bear cub is the good life. Mother watches carefully over all day, and anytime they are on the move the cubs get a free ride. As this family moves through a boulder field, the cubs watch carefully so they don't hit any rocks.
Adolescent bears are at the bottom of the totem pole in a bears world. Bears don't like being chased or harassed, so when they see another younger bear they try to be dominate over that bear because they are tired of getting pushed around. Neither of these bears were giving up ground, and growled and fought back against the other.
A Bear's Range
Black bears tend to spend the majority of their days in the woods. It's really difficult to find a scene with a black bear where there isn't mostly woods in the picture. It was a real treat watching this bear as it moved by the lake with the mountains surrounding the valley!
After wolves have made a kill they will eat some and then go take a nap. After they move off other animals and birds move in to start eating. This wolf did not like all the ravens gathering on its food, so it ran back to the kill and jumped at the ravens to scare them off.