Bernie Boettcher - Making Dreams Come True

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Dreams Come True

By Bernie Boettcher


Earlier this year I wrote that I wanted to chase a bear until it chased me back.

This almost happened.  I chased (actually, quietly stalked) this bear to get a good picture along the Snake River below the Tetons.  What I didn't know was that there was another bear hidden in the trees 30 feet away from where I was stalking!  He started snorting and breaking all sorts of large branches, which I took as a sign to get the heck out of there!  I think he saw me the whole time I was sneaking up on his mate.


This is not something I typically tell everyone about, but after a lot of races, and sometimes before, I go in search of wildlife.  Earlier this year I mentioned to Buzz a quick list of animals I wanted to see or come in contact with this year, and after another racing season is winding down, I realized that I got to see most all of the animals I mentioned.

Got to run where the mountain goats run.  Went up into the Maroon Bells wilderness area and came upon this herd of goats.  Same sort of thing happened.  While I was tracking them, they were tracking me!  I lost them in the cliffs and sat down on a rocky overlook to enjoy the view, and four of them came walking right up to me where I sat!


One of the first on my wildlife list this year was a mountain lion, and though I first saw one  just 3 feet away, he was in a cage at a wildlife rescue center.  The next one I saw came about midnight after I'd run up a mountain to put out a lightning caused fire.  That one was pretty scary.  Got to see a bobcat, and shook hands with it.  Got to see a bald eagle flying in front of the Tetons, and catching fish in the Snake River in front of me. I got to see a herd of a dozen bighorns, and got within 20 feet before they saw me.  I've seen at least 50 wild turkeys and numerous birds of prey.   I've cornered and played with many snakes of many stripes.  On several occasions, I stalked up on moose.  Some were bulls, some not.  Three times I had to wade up to my butt in water to get in range.  Once I crawled on my belly for a qaurter mile just to sneak up on a sleeping bull, only to find out he wasn't afraid of me at all.

Still haven't been able to slap a deer on the butt, but this Buck came to our house the other morning to taunt me ...


Last month I spent an afternoon with 17 mountain goats at about 12,000'.  They got so comfortable with my presence that several of them came up to me, as close a 4 feet away!   I know a lot of you out there just know me to be a race fiend, but some of you might be surprised to know that racing's often just a side effect of me getting out there to see wildlife.


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