Originating from glaciers and pools near the top of the Aleutian Range Mountains in Alaska, the McNeil River flows down into the Lower Cook Inlet and is a major source of water for much of the fauna in the surrounding areas consisting mostly of harbour seals, salmon, bald eagles, arctic ground squirrels, red fox and brown bears. Many marine birds, wolves, moose, wolverines and waterfowls can also be spotted here.
The location earned the title of a reserve for these creatures almost half a century ago from the Legislature of the State of Alaska. About 25 years ago, the reserve’s area was made larger in order to better accommodate the brown bears. Nowhere else in the world can such a large number of these bears be found. Tourists can observe them in their natural habitats, napping, looking after their young and simply going about their daily lives. However, getting into the reserve is difficult as only a few people are given permission to enter and take pictures of the bears living inside.
All hopeful tourists have to get special permission to see the brown bears and people are selected by means of a lottery. Most people who enter their names will not get the opportunity to make this visit. Only 13 people can enter in one day and four day entry passes are given only from the first week of June to the last week of August.
Drew Hamilton was one of the lucky few to get their names drawn in the lottery. Part of the technical wing of the Fish and Game Department of Alaska in the reserve and the son of the owner of Times Citizen and publisher Mark Hamilton, Drew unwittingly got up close and personal with a huge brown bear and managed to walk away without even a scratch on him.
Appearing out of the blue as he was filming a group of bears on the banks of the river, this bear walked right up to Hamilton but did not seem to be the least bit concerned about Hamilton sharing his space inside the reserve. In fact, in the video below it almost looks like the bear is smiling as he stands near Hamilton’s camping chair taking in the amazing view and enjoying the wind. The bear even sat near Hamilton for a few moments before walking away leaving Hamilton awestruck with his encounter even though he managed to keep calm throughout.
Most people would have broken out into a cold sweat and would have run away screaming but in this scenario neither man nor animal made a sound the whole time except for when the bear got up to leave and Hamilton says ‘hey, hey, hey’ as if cautioning the bear to not come any closer.
Even though the encounter and the video happened in 2012, it only went viral in 2014 after it was posted on Youtube. Since then it has been circulated widely on several international media platforms. You can check out the video here.
Featured Photo Credit: Youtube