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Sitka Blacktail Deer are not only shy and elusive but also very hardy animals that survive brutal winters here in Alaska. They aren't big deer when compared to southern animals that don't deal with snow falls like here in Alaska. I've found deer tracks along the beach over the years but have only had a handful of physical sightings where I had the opportunity to snap a photo. This particular day was very eventful because it started off with a friend (overnighting at the lodge) sighting a brown bear swimming in the middle of the Port early in the morning. Upon hearing this, breakfast was cut short and clients were racing down to the dock to see if we could spot it. We gathered all our gear and headed out on the water to see if it was close to shore by now.

As we cruised by the area where the bear had been spotted, we noticed a head bobbing up and down but I couldn't quite put my head around what I was looking at. Not a bear, nor a shark fin. As we approached I couldn't believe that we were watching a deer traverse a 3 mile wide section of the bay. I was careful not to get to close and stress the animal out and everyone took out telephoto lens' to get a better shot. Where was the bear? Did the deer take to the water to escape? We waited and watched at a distance and made sure she got ashore. As she stood on the beach and caught her breath, I was simply amazed that this deer, with little body fat, just swam across extremely cold waters and survived. I mean, you and I as humans could not do this without the protection of a wetsuit or drysuit. But thats normal around these parts, as bear and deer swim long distances to go from island to island. On another encounter, I had spotted a couple deer swimming across a half mile section of water between islands but didn't have a camera on that trip. I've also seen bears twice doing the same again without a camera. So this was pretty special to be able to share it with guests and to see lots of smiling photographer faces!

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