Kiwi photographer recounts run-in with wild black bear in Canada
A New Zealand photographer in Canada got the fright of his life when he was confronted by a large black bear in the wild.
"In that second I don't think I've been so scared, and so in awe of something in my life," said Larryn Rae.
The Aucklander was taking pictures of the scenery around Vancouver Island, Canada, on Thursday evening (Friday morning NZ time) before the excursion turned hairy.
He and his photographer friend were taking sunset shots at Botanical Beach when a pair of French tourists said they had just seen a bear around the headland.
Rae wasn't convinced at first but got out his telephoto lens and headed to higher ground for a better vantage point - eager to catch the bear in its natural habitat.
"I couldn't see anything at all just with my eyes so I looked through the camera's zoom, but I still couldn't see anything.
"So I put my camera down and right in front of me, 20 metres away coming towards me, was the bear."
Rae said he froze for half a second while a massive hit of adrenaline surged through his body.
"It looked huge, I thought I was lunch."
Coming to his senses, he backed away slowly and went down to the beach, planning an escape route if the bear decided to charge.
"I would have run into the ocean, and just tried to keep my camera above the water."
The animal followed him to the beach so Rae yelled out to the other families with young kids to warn them there was a bear coming.
At a safe distance, Rae snapped several photos as it tracked up the beach in the general direction of their equipment.
He said it looked like a typical black bear, very inquisitive and not scared of humans. It wasn't a cub but wasn't fully grown either.
"We were a little bit worried about the gear but we thought he was going to walk past it but suddenly he just turned, looked at the gear and went straight for it and started rummaging around.
"We figured that he had just sniffed out our muesli bar stash."
The pair were concerned for their equipment - including a drone - all of which Rae estimated cost around $15,000 in total.
"Matt started yelling at the bear to get it away from our stuff, but it did not flinch, it obviously saw that there were people there but it was not concerned at all."
It was when the bear singled out the drone bag that his friend took more serious action, throwing his pocket-sized protective hunting knife at it.
Rae said it wasn't visibly wounded but Matt accidently cut his own hand in the process.
"I saw the bear's head reel back, then it looked up in shock and wandered off," Rae said.
"We had a real nervous walk back through to the bush at dark to get back to the car."
Rae said the experience with the "unpredictable creature" was a complete rush.
"While it's not uncommon to see bears in Canada, it's pretty rare to see it in the way we did.
"It's one of the ultimate wildlife experiences, I've never experienced anything like it - seeing a wild animal in the wild with nothing between it and you for safety. It was pretty raw."
Rae is a professional photographer and was most recently recognised for this pictures capturing a rare showing of the Aurora Australis in Auckland.