about buck wilde

Buck Wilde is a wildlife behaviorist documenting survival strategies of bears and wolves in the Alaska wilderness where a face-to-face encounter can unfold suddenly. When Great Bear Stakeout (BBC Worldwide, Discovery Channel) filmmakers were challenged by a 1,200 pound grizzly they called Van, Buck and his camera crew were able to ‘talk’ the one-eared bruiser into backing off by communicating with a body language cue used among bears. When confronted by wolves, he’s learned the same cue takes on a different meaning in the wild canine psyche and can invite further engagement.

Buck’s next filmmaking adventure, Talking with Bears, Dancing with Wolves explores wilderness survival at the top of the food chain to discover what unarmed hunter-gatherers may have learned from canine and ursine foraging strategies and how they negotiated face-to-face encounters with these apex predators.

“Every cameraperson who was lucky enough to work with you loved it – they all talked about how somehow you would always get them in the right place at the right time to get the magic behavior.  I know how – you have a genuine respect for animals and people.”

-Vanessa Berlowitz (BBC Series Producer, Great Bear Stakeout)

Buck’s ability to communicate with wild animals draws light-hearted comparisons to Dr. Dolittle, yet his face-to-face negotiations are based on pioneering science by Charles Darwin (The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals) and Dr. Paul Ekman (with 24 years of trial and error in the wilderness).

buck wilde and coastal wolf in alaska wilderness, © photo courtesy of cassandra hermer

Buck_Wilde_coastal_wolf-2

 

“We’ve come to the Alaska wilderness to meet bear (and wolf) whisperer, Buck Wilde.”

-David Attenborough (BBC Narrator, Life of Mammals)

“Buck Wilde has an infectious passion for wildlife that transfers incredibly well on to television.   There are no platitudes, hyperbole or insincerity in this man.  What he tells the viewer, comes straight from the heart or from a lifetime of accumulating knowledge about the creatures he talks about.  He was a pleasure to work with.”

-Justin Kelly (Director, Man vs. Wild with Bear Grylls)

Great Bear Stakeout is contemporary natural history filmmaking at it’s best – strong story and strong characters – in this case both bear and human.  Buck Wilde and Chris Morgan’s on-scene, in-the-moment commentary gave insight, context and emotion that was riveting. It was like having your own personal bear guide. No matter how many times I watched I couldn’t turn away.”

-Chris Weber (Discovery Channel Commissioner)

“Thank you again for your amazing contributions to the team – we were all so grateful for your calm, philosophical manner, your absolute passion and insight into wildlife and wilderness, and your sheer determination and commitment to help us deliver.  Every cameraperson who was lucky enough to work with you loved it – they all talked about how somehow you would always get them in the right place at the right time to get the magic behaviour. I know how – you have a genuine respect for animals and for the people you work with – and it pays off. The bears worked that out, and so did the crew. ”

-Vanessa Berlowitz (BBC Series Producer, Great Bear Stakeout)

“To me, Buck Wilde is a bear brother. It was an honor to work with him on Great Bear Stakeout – a chance to learn from his incredible depth of knowledge about the bears of the Alaska Peninsula, and just as importantly to be around his warm heartedness, good humor, humility, and deep devotion to wild places. A kindred spirit for sure. It’s an experience I hope to repeat someday. Thanks Buck!”

-Chris Morgan (Presenter, Great Bear Stakeout, PBS Nature)

“Buck is a great guy (and my wife’s mother says he has the male charisma of a young Brad Pitt in Thelma and Louise. She’d like to get stuck with him in a storm in Alaska.) He is a great companion and a deeply knowledgable and perceptive naturalist.”

-Matt Aeberhard (Wildlife Cameraman, Great Bear Stakeout)

“I’m really pleased to see you back on screen. You have a strong presence Buck and your talent with the bears is as always, spectacular. The incident with Van and his seal when he challenges you is an exceptional piece of drama, made all the more poignant by your eloquent description of the event. It’s really really good!”

-Andy Chasney (Editor, Frozen Planet, Great Bear Stakeout)

“You were amazing in front of the camera! You gave me goose bumps and I had to hold back the tears at the end of programme too! Buck, in Germany they would call you “an original”. For me, you are simply a star!”

-Rolf Steinmann (Wildlife Cameraman, Great Bear Stakeout)

“First of all- thank you so much for your contributions and companionship throughout the last trip- in hindsight, to think of a trip without Buck Wilde would be impossible- you were such a central figure in helping us achieve what we wanted, as well as having us understand the bears (I think you found some like-minded individuals when coming to understand animal behaviour), and on top of that keeping camp efficient and more importantly keeping moral elevated.”

-Jeff Wilson (Producer/Director, Great Bear Stakeout)

buck wilde great bear stakeout-1

buck wilde napping on great bear stakeout (bbc, bbc worldwide, discovery channel)

48 Comments

  1. JohnHoffman

    Hi Buck. Just a note to say thank you for your guiding this summer in Katmai . I finally arrived home October 11 and left again on the 29th for South Georgia Islands. From one extreme to another. I frankly liked bear viewing over penguins and elephant seals. Have not been able to work on photos yet. Being with you was great, good to be with a ” local “. I understand you may have been with Marion Owens? She was a great aid tome this summer also. All the best, hope our paths cross again.
    John

    • Hi John, great to hang with you in grizzly country too. Give me a giggle once back ‘on the grid’, and be careful around the male elephant seals until then. They can be fast and aggressive. Far greater risk than a Katmai bear.

  2. William Miller

    Hi Buck, just recently started following you! When there’s a show on PBS about the Alaskan bears. You can bet I’ll be watching. Not sure you’ll remember me but we do have a common past. I’m Bill Miller from the BEA class of ’67. Keep up the great work and those wonderful wildlife pictures coming.

    Bill

    • Hi Bill, thanks for noticing our wildlife films (currently focused on coastal wolves but nothing commissioned yet). How could I forget you?

  3. Silvia Furtwaengler

    Hi Buck,

    I watched the Unter Grizzlys (1/2): Das Abenteuer beginnt yesterday on the ZDF – I think you called it, Great Bear Stakeout ….I could really see how much you love Bears and that Parsnip and Pushki have found a place in your heart.
    Thank you for the wonderful documentation and sorry for my bad english
    silvia

    • Silvia, helping make Great Bear Stakeout was a real treat for this bear enthusiast. Glad you enjoyed the show. Saw Parsnip and Pushki briefly last month and they seemed to be eyeing up the island again but I didn’t go out to confirm. Pushki is now a long-legged yearling but has that same cute hoppy gait.

  4. Chasie Childs

    Hi Buck, I watched the “Great Bear Stakeout” yesterday on the Discovery Channel and was immediately caught up in the story and images of Parsnip and her cub, Pushki. And, now I remember seeing your photography at a conservation fundraiser that I attended here in State College, Pennsylvania…so I imagine that there is a central PA connection for you. I hope that this summer goes well for you and the team (and the bears!) as you return to photograph them.

    • Hi Chasie, Parsnip and Pushki stole my heart too. Hope to see them soon (within days). And I am a Centre County boy. Learned most of what I know about wildlife encounters from my father on Bald Eagle Ridge and Valley. He was quite the naturalist. Both of my brothers are wildlife biologists.

  5. Cynthia

    Buck,

    It was so great to see you again, even if it was only on TV this time. I could not take my eyes away from the screen – the bear action was fantastic! The memories from our trip with you on the Kittiwake two summers ago came flooding back as I watched.

    What a spectacular show!

    Cynthia

    • Hi Cynthia. Glad you liked the show. It was a great Katmai Coastal Bear Tours trip.
      Will never forget our face-to-face encounters. On way in for scouting trip this week
      to relocate wolves. Hope to see you back up here someday soon. You have great energy.

      Buck on the Beach

  6. Deane

    Just caught the Great Bear Stakeout on Discovery Channel. Heart wrenching and heart warming to see the lives of these bears. Thanks for all your work on the show to give us the privilege to share a glimpse into these wonderful creature’s world.

    • Hi Deane, those bears can grab your attention for sure. They’ve robbed me of a normal lifestyle, thankful for that!
      Working for BBC and Discovery Channel was a privilege to help share these wild creatures and their wilderness home.

      buck on the beach

  7. Rick Gerber

    Hey old man, I just finished my 1st watching of the Great Bear Stakeout – really incredible stuff – I’m sure I’ll give it at least a couple of more viewings. Hope to hear more about Parsnip and Pushki if you or some of the others have a chance to see, ID & follow-up with one or both next season, but watch out for old Van – that was a little too close for comfort. Please keep up the fantastic work – obvious when I see this kind of material that this is what you were meant to do. Hope to see you around the old stomping grounds again sometime. BE WELL !! Gerb (one of the “old retired guys” for over a year already)

    • Hi Rick, how great to hear from you again. Glad you liked Great Bear Stakeout. Heading back out to same wilderness filming location to relocate our grizzly stars (and wild canine characters as well). I’ll be sure to post any sightings of our main characters when back on the grid. See you back in Happy Valley.

  8. Kyle Keiser

    What a beautiful ending to a Mother’s Day. Your dedication and sacrifice to do such an amazing journal of the Grizzlies is stunning. Thank heaven for your passion. Thank you for bringing the untouchable so close. We as humans need this understanding to be a responsible ambassador for earth. The images and stories feed the inquisitive!

    • Kyle, I can tell you appreciate what has been motivating me out there for twenty three years. The bears are magical with so much power, yet so benevolent and tolerant given half a chance. Of course they are wild and potentially dangerous, but so are cars and planes. We don’t shoot them on sight. The Bear reminds us of our fragility and place in the original order of things.

      Buck on the Beach

  9. Shane

    Howdy Buck, I’ve only just watched the Great Bear Steakout on catch up TV. Can only agree with previous comments on this blog. Some of the best Wildlife filming I’ve ever seen. A perfect mix of different Grizzlies, and without being too graphic the harsh reality of life & death as a bear. You were the stand out guide for me, though everyone in the team deserves credit. I noted the US version has not been broadcast yet. Hope it’s as good as what we’ve just witnessed. And hope such film making stirs people’s emotions in US too to ensure we preserve & treasure our Wilde places on this planet. All the best for the future & in closing another series following Wolves !!! Also have of admiration for these animals! I’ll write to BBC to get their skates on !!! Shane….

    • Shane, thanks for the kind words about Great Bear Stakeout. The team was ultra talented and the bears were uninhibited to say the least. It made a great combination for an entertaining and informative program for sure. The great bear has been symbolic of wilderness for millennia yet I wonder how many modern folks make the association? On to wolves!

  10. Rolf Steinmann

    Dear Buck,
    you were wonderful in Great Bear stakeout. Several times what you said and how you dealt with the bears gave me goose bumps. In Germany we would call a guy like you an “original”! For me you’re simply a star!
    Take care
    Rolf

    • Hi Rolf, what a treat to work with a passionate and talented camera person who is obviously a rising star. I’m glad you liked my on-screen contributions to a film all of our dream team will be proud of. Off-camera, please know your passion for filmmaking has rekindled mine. Thanks for that.

  11. joe laslett

    Hi Buck,

    Can’t really add any more than has already been said! A remarkable documentary. I can honestly say the most complete and balanced presentation of any animal i have seen on film. Beautifully shot and produced – the layering, during certain scenes, of the experts in the foreground engaging with or observing animals in the background was incredibly effective. Television/the world desperately needs more people like you. People whose compassion and passion for the natural world cuts through the confusion of modern life. Very humbling indeed. Thank you. Joe

    • Hi Joe. It was a privilege to be part of this production, a dream team of accomplished professionals from stem to stern. The film’s production genius comes from Emmy award-winning executive producer, Vanessa Berlowitz and producer, Jeff Wilson. I learned so much about filmmaking from them on this film, the lessons were endless. My contributions on-screen and off were just what I do as a wildlife encounter expert. And yes, immersion deep in the wilderness for twenty three seasons has transformed my persona into something that contrasts with social norms and that’s OK with me.

  12. Lia

    Good luck! and lucky you. I must be part bear because I love watching sunrises and sets. With your soul to soul connection I’m sure you’ll be fine.

    • I always feel comfortable with the bears and wolves. It’s just the weather and filmmaking that are especially challenging.

  13. Lia

    Hello Buck, like the others in the UK the BBC series of Great Bear Stakeout was wonderful viewing. As gripping as a soap opera 😉 You talking to Van when he got close was one of the highlights for me. I didn’t realise he was called “Van” after Van Gogh because he’s missing an ear. It doesn’t seem to have affected his senses, or maybe made the rest of him stronger. All the best for another 24 years with the bears, soul brothers and sisters. Lia

    • Hi Lia, glad you liked Van. He sure did add some tension to our story to say the least. Heading back into bear country May 8th. Wish me luck.

  14. You were fantastic Buck and a real honour to work with!

    • Justin, if I came across on camera (have yet to see here in US), you deserve much of the credit. Can’t imagine a more talented and effective director. So mate, the honor was mine.

  15. Nancy Schneider

    Dear Buck,
    I just want to say an enormous thank you to you and the rest of the team for bringing me so close to my most favourite animal on this planet, the awesome Grizzly Bear. I admire your dedication, patience, knowledge and understanding of these wonderful creatures and their environment, it certainly made The Great Bear Stakeout avid viewing. The photography/filming was outstanding, it thrilled me and broke my heart in equal measures, nature is so cruel at times. Please update us if you can on whether Callie and her three cubs survived. Once again thank you to you all for such a superb programme.
    kind regards,
    Nancy

    • Nancy, thanks for taking the time to checkout my blog. THe Great Bear Stakeout team is glad viewers like you appreciated our efforts to portray the bears’ lives so intimately. The filming (I can only imagine since the show hasn’t aired here in the US yet) opportunities were spectacular and cameramen Matt Aeberhard, Barri Britton, Mark Smith, Nick Turner and Rolf Steinmann surely delivered with great style. Bear expert, Brad Josephs is the most likely of us to revisit Callie this coming summer. You might want to check with him late August or September. Sincerely, Buck Wilde.

  16. Robbie

    Hey Buck,
    Just finished watching the Great Bear Stakeout – what an amazing programme! Bears and Alaska might be 2 of my favourite things, though I have yet to encounter either – something I intend to change… The scenery looks magical, and the bears are magnificent and terrifying all at once. Your encounter with a seal-less Van was one to get the heart racing I bet! I hope to see more of your work in the future, and I’ll certainly go and seek out your previous work now.
    All the best,
    Robbie

    • Robbie, thanks for your impressions of Great Bear Stakeout. The scenery is magical as are the bears. The encounter with Van was serious but turned out without more than the need to change underwear. That was one of six or so such encounters that made my hair stand up, none with physical contact. Considering my countless (thousands) face-to-face encounters over the past 23 years, the great bear is usually very tolerant.

  17. Karen

    Buck,

    I just watched the second programme of Great Bear Stakeout. Your skill, knowledge and experience just shone through the programme. Thank you for sharing the passion you have for the bears and the area. Marvellous!

    Thank you.

    • Thanks Karen. Twenty three summers on location, add the world’s best filmmakers and you’ve got the recipe for Great Bear Stakeout.

  18. Christina

    Dear Buck
    What a fantastic two episode programme on the Bears,i never took my eyes off the t.v. my heart was in my mouth and yes i agree Parsnip is a good mother to Pushki. I admire the determination of your drive and skills along with the other members of the film crew and without this I wouldn’t be able to share the joys of the wild and the animals that you film. It was very well put together and most enjoyable to watch ……….Well done to you all please do another documentary soon.

    Christina x

    • Christina, the BBC put together an incredible team and chose ‘the last best place for bears’.
      As for the drama with Parsnip and Pushki, it was real, intense and seemingly never ending.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on the shows. The team appreciates it very much.
      Production was a ton of work and feedback from viewers like you keeps us in the game.

  19. Kathy Slavin

    I would like to thank you for passing on your knowledge, and obvious love of Grizzlies, on the BBC Great Bear Stake Out. It was one of the best wildlife shows ever!! Once Again Thanks
    Kathy

    • Kathy, thanks for feedback. We’re glad you liked the BBC’s Great Bear Stakeout. I live in the US and haven’t seen it yet. Discovery Channel airs May 12th and can’t wait to see how their version of the program narrated by John Goodman turns out. Producer Jeff Wilson deserves a lot of credit for orchestrating a team of bear experts, outfitters and filmmakers through challenging weather and tons of bears. He won everyone’s respect. As for my love of the grizzly’s (of course I do) but also realize they’re wild symbols of a great wilderness and not some petting zoo.

  20. Gaele

    Hi Bucke

    I don’t usually leave messages but I thought the great bear stakeout was truly amazing. You and your team captured an amazing place with amazing animals, the emotions I went through while watching it exhausted me.

    It was one of my favourite wildlife programmes, I do hope Parsnip and Pushki are ok and do you know how the mother with her 3 cubs got on?

    Fantastic filming congratulations

    Gaele atkinson

    • Thanks Gaele. The ‘last best place for bears’ is an amazing place. I’m currently staging for my next expedition there, my 24th season. Will be posting images from forthcoming May-June scout, so stay tuned for news about Parsnip and Pushki. It was an honor to work with some of the world’s best wildlife cameramen: Barrie Britton, Matt Aeberhard, Mark Smith and Rolf Steinmann. They know wildlife filmmaking.

  21. Freya Hemmings

    Hi Buck, thank you for giving us all this amazing experience of watching these bears. As a mother of three I look at all the stuff we have / think we need / worry about in our crazy human environment and to see the struggles and successes of these bears helps remind you of what’s really important. Beautiful, informative, enlightening. thank you, Freya

    • Thanks Freya, the parallels of motherhood must be especially striking to a mom. It was an honor to be part of the Great Bear Stakeout team and we’re glad mom’s like you enjoyed the programs. Your words tell me you got the message we tried to deliver. It’s no coincidence that our Emmy award-winning Executive Producer, Vanessa Berlowitz is also a mother. She decided to go with Parsnip and Pushki storyline early on in production.

  22. Gursharan Kalsi

    Hello Buck, have so enjoyed Bear Stakeout on the BBC..what a wonderful series of progs. I’ve seen grizzlies in Yellowstone but never close enough yet they intrigue me..beautiful, majestic animals and your knowledge of the bears has been a wonderful insight. Wildlife has a true friend in you..your empathy, understanding and respectful relationship with the bears has been wonderful to watch. We truly began to understand their lives..just wish there were more episodes. Thanks so much and all the best to you and the bears. Gursharan

    • Thank you, Gursharan. These bears have taught me most of what I’ve learned about wilderness survival and wildlife encounters, and for this I owe them dearly. What an honor to be part of a filmmaking dream team to deliver to viewers what I’ve been held in awe by for twenty tree years. Have no idea as to what magic BBC and Discovery Channel producers like Vanessa Berlowitz might be up to next, but we can bet it’ll be big, beautiful and brilliant.

  23. Helena Rice

    Dear Buck,just a message to say how wonderfull your film was about those great Bears,I live in Scotland and we once had Bears long ago ,i just love anything to do with the wild,keep upthe wonderfull work you do and at the end of your film i saw the emotion in your voice and the sadness in your eyes at leaving Parsnip and Pushki i hope one day you will see them again take care a fellow conservationist Helena x

    • Thanks Helena, I hope to see Parsnip and Pushki again in June. Just to explain that sadness in my voice and eyes, it comes from knowing most people have no empathy for wild animals. Someone once asked me if I thought animals have souls. My immediate response was one I stick to today, “If humans have souls, then so do the animals because we are the same kinds of beings.”

  24. Jim Smith

    Buck, keep up the splendid work and happy birthday on April 3rd…
    Semper Fi, Jim

    • Hey Jim, you know me better than most having met shortly after starting this twenty three year wilderness saga. As you know it hasn’t been easy, but it’s been one heck of a ride. Thanks for your support and friendship over these fleeting years. Semper Fi, Buck.

Leave a Reply