If you’ve ever been to a national park, you know that approaching wildlife is typically frowned upon.
And for good reason. That’s their turf, and things can go from bad to worse in two seconds flat if they feel like you’re encroaching on their territory. But what would you be able to witness if they couldn’t see you?
That’s exactly what photographer George Turner aimed to find out when he set up shop in a small structure that’s known as Suicide Hide because of its proximity to European brown bears. Located in the Finnish-Russian forest, the region of Ruhtinansalmi has the highest concentration of these stunning, powerful animals in all of Europe. For three days, he hunkered down just a few feet from these bears, and what he managed to capture is unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.
After preparing for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, Turner set out with his equipment in toe to capture up-close and personal images of brown bears.
He got so close to them, in fact, that many would assume that these photographs were staged or manipulated before hearing Turner’s story.
The goal? “To put myself outside my comfort zone…quite literally, as it turned out!” he explained to ViralNova. “In all seriousness, this hide is one-of-a-kind and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”
For days, he sat in the tiny structure and waited for his subjects to show themselves. Without knowing he was there, the bears went about their business. The resulting spectacle was something that’s rarely seen with human eyes.
Although the hide wasn’t exactly luxurious, Turner explained that he wouldn’t trade the experience for anything in the world. “They were easily the best three days of my life,” he writes.
“Two moments really stuck out,” he said. “The first was seeing an adolescent bear close up. I’ve never felt such respect for an amazing animal like that.”
“The second was seeing two cubs playing about two meters from my hide, totally unaware of my presence.”
When the adventurer was asked about audience response, he was happy to say that people have been loving the series. “People seem to be really enjoying my experiences. It’s so important to me that they do, since I’m aiming to inspire people to get out and explore more!”
Next on George Turner’s list is following a pack of wolves around Yellowstone National Park. Who knows? Maybe he’ll run into a few more brown bears along the way. If you’d like to keep up with Turner’s travels and learn more about his incredible work, be sure to visit his website. For regular updates, follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.