The camera is our tool and we have set up inside a rugged log cabin in roadless country. As we walk the last bit of the way to the hide, through a portal of dense shrubbery, it is almost impossible to not feel one’s pulse rising. Along the way, Micke stops and shows us bear droppings and a clawed stump where the bear has been looking for ants. Suddenly, we can see a bright glade, surrounded by pine heath. Once there, we are welcomed inside hide & see’s hide, pleasantly warm on this cool, early summer evening. Here, the beds are already made, Swedish fika (coffee and pastries / snacks) has been prepared and our vantage points are waiting.
Once inside, we must be silent and preferably without perfume or aftershave. Going outside to answer the call of nature is strictly prohibited. At hide & see you will find a modern indoor toilet, with cleverly devised ventilation to keep the animals from catching our scent.
Micke has considered everything. The delight is in the details. For example, each photo opening has its own separate shelf that won’t move because of someone else’s movement when you are taking pictures, one of the simple, yet clever solutions along with footrests for the height-adjustable spotting chairs. There are Sami engravings on the platter that is used to serve soft flatbread, suovas (lightly smoked reindeer meat) and home baked buns with handpicked lingonberries. As the hours pass and your mind and eyes begin wandering, you can find yourself looking at interesting, unexpected details here and there, or reading interesting literature about animals and the natural environment.
Bear spotting means waiting. Hours of relaxation and meditation, perhaps rare in your everyday life. As you wind down, it all becomes an interesting time for self-reflection.
When you are out in the forest, you can be sure that the bear knows about you long before you are aware that it’s there.
“You can’t set an alarm for a bear. It comes whenever it pleases. I’ve laid out plenty of treats for it though”, whispers Micke, pointing towards the carrion outside.
“There’s a female with two cubs, they sometimes come here and I have seen what they like. It’s my own secret recipe”, he smiles.
A female with cubs? Isn’t that dangerous?
“Of course, you must show respect towards all wild animals. A female that considers you a threat to her cubs will of course react, just as I would if someone threatened my children”, explains Micke.
He says that it depends on how you act, on assessing the bear and the situation. In our case, the bear knows very well where we are. When you are out in the forest, you can be sure that the bear knows about you long before you are aware that it’s there. There are many misconceptions about bears, the claim that they whistle as a warning for instance.
“The whistling sound you can hear from a bear is a result of it sniffing and breathing through the nose. The suggestion to play dead when you meet a bear is also a bit of a myth, that would at most be taken as a sign of submission. The bear has a sense of smell seven times more sensitive than that of a bloodhound, it can sense the level of adrenaline in your body, you cannot trick it”, explains Micke.