There are lines between fear and respect as an Alaska Professional Guide that quite often are ignored or swept under the rug.
First, you have to understand the difference between fear and respect.
- Fear: be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or threatening .
- Respect: admire (someone or something) deeply, as a result of their abilities, qualities, or achievements; to avoid harming or interfering with.
I have been honored to be taught and mentored by some of the most experienced Professional Guided and Big Game Hunters that Alaska and all of North America has to offer.
In addition to being Professional Guides, we are horse-Outfitters and conduct 90% of our Adventures and Big Game Hunts on horseback.
There are two fears, that as a trainer for the Survival & Guide Training in Alaska, that I observe, evaluate and educate / counsel about frequently.
- Grizzly Bears
The Line Between Fear and Respect
Horses. The line between fear and respect. The line here is an important one. If you tend to spend as much or more time of the fear side of things, no matter how well hidden, you will end up hurt. Period. Worse, you could end up getting someone else hurt.
Our horses are range horses. They live wild and free for approximately half the year. They live side by side and with the wild critters of Alaska. They are tough, sure-footed, know the Alaskan terrain and waters.
They also get tired. They can get cranky and want the work to be done. We occasionally have what we call “explosions.” These usually happen when a horse is being packed. Most typically, a packhorse, already loaded, having his load tied on (“tying the diamond”), goes psycho. An explosion is also usually short-lived and a mess. Once in awhile, they are not short-lived and can be dangerous.
An animal between 800-1,500 pounds, throwing a temper-tantrum (for whatever reason) is a dangerous thing.
The safest place to be for a person dealing with the temper-tantrum (if you have to be) is close. I say this, because the tell tale for me is the “reaching” while attempting not to get too close.
Grizzly Bears. The line between fear and respect. For a Professional Guide, the mighty Grizzly Bear is the most dangerous animal in North America.
A magnificent animal, the Grizzly Bear is beautiful, yes, but so incredibly strong and that strength is so blatantly obvious in every way he moves. Canny and cunning there is no bigger challenge to be had than to get closer.
That line between fear and respect is shakier when speaking of Grizzly Bears, and the issues that come up are professionalism and safety.
Professional Big Game Guides are there to Guide and protect. Not to kill game. A Professional Guide may be forced to kill a wounded Grizzly on the run or to stop a charge, but to end a Grizzly Bear after a client only puts one shell into that bear is unethical and smacks of fear, not respect and not safety.
The hunting clients that I guide, hunting for Grizzly Bear are all coached all through their hunt until the opportunity arrives that 2 shots are fired first and always. Two shots, one after the other into that Grizzly Bear without hesitation or thought, then we’ll see.
The line between fear and respect is sometimes a very faint line, but the line is there. These are animals that are completely capable of causing incredible damage to a human and death. They are not animals to be taken lightly or the dangers to be ignored.
Understanding and acknowledging your own fears will help you attain a more healthy way of being a Professional (and ethical) Guide, by respecting the capabilities and power of the animals we as Alaskan Guides deal with as a course of doing our jobs.