Mother grizzly bear and her cub (Photo by Brocken Inaglory)

Mother grizzly bear and her cub (Photo by Brocken Inaglory)

July 15, 2014 | by Sabrina Rufus

The skies are clear on this mid-afternoon in July, with a light breeze blowing in from the Pacific Ocean. A flock of geese fly overhead, honking loudly to one another.

A grizzly sow plops down on the small, grassy ridge overlooking a knee-deep creek. She exhales deeply. Her year-old cub sits down beside her, both bears gazing downstream. The cub then joins her, and lies down. His chocolate shaggy head is resting on his paws.

Seagulls squawk excitedly in the distance, awaiting the arrival of the salmon. Waves crashing on the shore lull the family to sleep.

Soon they are startled awake by a loud splash!

The sow is on her paws in seconds. They watch as a large male with a scar on his muzzle stands up with a big salmon in his jaws, water dripping from fur and scales into the creek.

The fish is so big. It moves the bear’s huge head as it thrashes around, trying to get out of the death grip.

He warily looks at the sow, knowing she could charge at any moment. He’s an experienced bear. He knows how dangerous a mother protecting her cubs, can be.

But she won’t charge. Not when there’s plenty for everybody to eat.

The sow leads her cub further upstream to a fishing spot where her own mom took her and her sister when they were cubs: a tree that fell in a windy storm lies across the creek. A perfect place to catch a salmon.

The cub waits as his mother ambles onto the fallen tree, sitting down on the smooth rocks. Decades of the constant waterflow have smoothed the dark coloured stones. He opens his jaws, yawning with anticipation.

She positions herself on her haunches; staring down at the slow running, clear water and waiting for a silvery flash to dart by.

Suddenly, she spots one a few feet down. She ready’s her legs to pounce.

Her young cub sees it too...

Just as she leaps off, he tramples through, scaring away the delicious feast. She stands up, shaking her cinnamon-coloured coat. She cuffs his muzzle with hers, making a groaning noise. As if she’s telling him “patience!”

She then releases him and climbs back up on the tree.

Croaking ravens, squawking seagulls and screeching eagles gather, wanting to steal some red flesh for themselves.

She readies herself again as some unsuspecting fish swim up. She checks the cub to make sure he’s out of the way. She looks where the salmon will be, and jumps.

Landing with a loud splash!

Caught one!

The silvery salmon wriggles and thrashes in her jaws as she walks out onto the shore with her prize. Her cub whines, running up to her, and trying to bite at the salmon.

She dodges his move. It is now his turn to catch his own.

Scavengers gather round as she tears the salmon apart, lapping up the little pink spheres that ooze out of the fish’s white belly.

Once she’s done, she joins the cub in the freezing water, leaving scraps for the birds.

Ravens dive in from every direction, croaking angrily that it’s their own.

The cub stands still, facing downstream. Just then, a few silver flashes dark by his legs. He ignores those ones and focuses on the other ones swimming towards him. The salmon think his legs are harmless branches. But little do they know...

He looks where they will be and lunges.


Three salmon scatter away. His body fills with excitement as he lifts up his prize.

The large male salmon is thrashing around, trying to get free. Its thrashing around so much that the cub’s whole head moves with the salmon.

Many salmon later, they leave the scraps for scavengers and amble off into the forest for a much-needed nap, their bellies round with salmon. They will fish again tomorrow.

About the Author

Sabrina Rufus is a young First Nations writer from the Wuikinuxv (Owikeno) Nation in BC's Great Bear Rainforest.

Read more about Sabrina Rufus.

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