Google Real Alaskan Adventures in the Wild of Alaska: April 2012

The Salmon Nose (knows)!

The Salmon Nose (knows)!

NOW that's a Schnoze!  Proboscus Salmonoid??  No, it's called Oncorhynchus  kisutch, Coho Salmon and the males have these hooked noses.

Unlike Hollywood, Nature constructs for purpose NOT "appearance of purpose". BIG DIFFERENCE!  Not enough is said about the nose of a fish. No one talks about that?  But it is by far, better at smelling particles than anything on the planet- bar or bear none!  
Let me explain...

I'll be as brief as I can, but one thing I learned in Alaska is how prolific everything is with the ever changing seasons (which are HIGHLY visible here) and the fish know it better than we do.

This fish's life began 4-years ago and could have come from any Alaskan river. BUT IT IS the same river he was born in 4-years ago. They leave the rivers and follow them for miles to the ocean water the following spring after they are spawned. Look at the inset map and see where they go-remember the North Pacific Ocean is a BIG POND! They spend 4-years of their life there dodging Killer whales and ALL manner of hungry mouths.

This photo was taken while rafting the Talachalitna River after being flown into Judd Lake. We are many miles from Cook Inlet(Ocean) but large salmon numbers make it back to these pristine rivers and the fishing is Great!

Those Salmon that make it through their 4-year Oceanic cycle, return to the same streams AND SPOT they were spawned in to spawn as their ancestors did- then die!  Many of them travel the ocean shores heading to the spot where the river they were spawned in flows into the Pacific. Then they head up that river to the next one finally arriving at their spawn site. THEY DO ALL THIS by smelling their way home. It can be hundreds of miles! What a Nose!!

We all have a place, purpose and timeframe for our days on Earth. I think the Salmon understand that better than Humans do. WE ALL PALE IN COMPARISON TO THE CREATURES IN NATURE!  


Worried Awareness- Grizzlies are in the Air!

There's a scent floating around the mountainside woods at my place. A scent neither myself nor the Moose have smelled since late last fall. It's early spring now 40's during the day and high 20's at night, that's the first week of April in Alaska. No daffodils yet! We still have 2 feet of snow here on Bald Mountain.
When the snow begins to melt during the day that water can enter some of the bear dens especially the younger ones who have not figured out about dening on the north side of gulley’s so that don't happen. North slopes don't get the sun in early April. The Sun hits those areas later in the month or early May. In my book I speak about these juvenile bears that have much to learn once they are on their own.

To the Moose, a young Grizzly smells just like an old Grizzly and that smells like trouble. As I said before, the Moose have not smelled this scent since last fall and now, SOME of the boys are back in town!
Her "worried awareness" is quite evident by her expression.

Her ears have her back covered (they are both trained in that direction) and her eyes see a little bit ahead of her and she can see good on both sides.  The nose of a Moose is very good too and they can scent things 100's of yards away BUT the Grizzlies is ten times better or more!
The cows with calves are the ones that are nervous all the time about the Grizzlies. Many Moose calves are taken by these bears each year. In fact, there are areas where Grizzlies are prolific and decimating the Moose populations here. Along the corridors of the Chilikadrotna and Mulchatna rivers in western Alaska is one current example. The Moose generally make it though, as long as the wolves don't proliferate to the point they are in the game too! THEN the Moose ARE GONE!

I feel bad for the Moose this year. They had a rough winter this year and now the Grizzlies are in the air...

A Day in the Life of a Brown Bear

ZOOM in on this Google photo and look around first. Look for details,then come back and read on.

Many see a beautiful picture here and get lost in the scenery. I've done it many times sitting in these wild Alaska places. However, there is a MUCH bigger PICTURE here many don't see.

Let me shed a little light on it for you.
The male in the foreground was wandering back to one of his favorite spots just ahead of him. Over the years many bear have used this spot and you can look at the bank and confirm its wear from the bears using it. If you look closer you will see the river dumps into the ocean bay here and that means it is loaded with salmon as the tide comes in- a perfect spot! Generations of these bears know that.
When you look up ahead as he is doing, you'll notice another bear is in his favorite fishing hole. He no doubt spotted that bear back down the river but came on up anyway to size 'em up. Problem is, it's a female and worse yet, she has a cub. You can see his head just to the left of the male's head and the cub already has his eye on the big male too!(Zoom in) These cubs know that males will kill them in order to bring the female back into estrus during the fall mating season. That makes the male something to be feared year round when you are a young bear.
For the male wandering up the river this throws a whole new twist in the mix for him. Males don't go out of their way to pick trouble with the females when cubs are involved. A woman's wrath pales in comparison, if you can believe that!
Females Grizzlies or Brown Bears are unequaled when it comes to ANYTHING threatening their cubs- bar none! I have worked to get close to many big brown bear over the years BUT NEVER females with cubs. That is certain disaster and I am well aware of that. Whenever I am hunting big game in Alaska, my greatest fear was stumbling upon a sow with cubs. Worse yet, stumble upon them and find yourself between the sow and her cubs. YOU'RE in serious trouble when that happens.
So...what is about to happen in the photo?
The male will continue to approach his favorite "occupied" spot and "test" the waters so to speak. He will not be well received, but will try and snag a fish anyway. Then growling and posturing will unfold and escalate to the point the male will retreat to a different spot. After all, there are thousands of fish to choose from this time of the year and it is not worth the WRATH!

Experiencing Nature, the Sooner the Better!

Connecting your children with nature and wildlife at an early age is important. Master Thomas Gardner is pictured here absorbing the sight of his first Moose! 

Alaskans are fortunate to have an "envelope of nature" surrounding us, fortunate indeed! Throughout my book I speak to this importance and its effect on your life. People must free themselves from their cubicles, mundane lifestyles and indoor routines and enjoy the outdoors more wherever they are. MOST are far to removed from the natural world and it’s causing problems. Not only to their mental health, but the environment too! It's a lose, lose situation.
Most Alaskan’s, of all ages, enjoy the outdoors and spend a great deal of time in it. It's healthy for ya! So, get your camp gear ready, pack the right food and don't forget toilet paper! Don't let that deter you ladies...
Take chances now and again and see where it leads you. I think it is good for your brain to go somewhere and not know where until you get there.
When you plant trees, vegetables or even potatoes too close together, none of them do well. People in the city are planted too close to each other, makes them harder to "grow" too!