Meeting a moose for breakfast – an interview with Chris Wheeler

Photographer
Chris Wheeler

Meeting a moose for breakfast – an interview with Chris Wheeler

JOANNE ELVES

Chris Wheeler says he lives in Whistler but I’m willing to bet he spends more time on the road than he does at home. Wait, let me rephrase that. He spends more time on the trails, in the water, on a horse or on a bike. As one of BC’s leading videographers, Wheeler brings the best of BC to you, to tempt you into what he calls his backyard. He has plenty of stories but sometimes the story is what he did to get the story – if you know what I mean.

A few summers back, Wheeler was on an assignment to capture the highlights of the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast region for an Explore BC video. The footage of riding horses and mountain bikes was easy to acquire but putting the paddle into the waters of Bowron Lakes to highlight a 6 to 10-day adventure on a 116-km paddle was going to be tough. How was he going to show the dramatic scenery, the wilderness camping and the wildlife in one day? He met Dave Jorgenson of Whitegold Adventures and everything fell into place including meeting a moose for breakfast. Here’s excerpts from a conversation with Wheeler.

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Photographer
Chris Wheeler

“Always keep your camera close by,” Says Chris Wheeler. “You never know when an opportunity presents itself.”

ZS – Capturing images to tempt people to try a ten-day adventure has to be tricky – how did you do it?

CW - Meeting Dave was the best thing that could happen. He knows the Bowron Lakes like the back of his paddle. So when he said he could show me a condensed version of the entire trip, I was all in. We met at 4 am., and headed backwards to the usual loop of the Bowron Lakes Circuit. Dipping in before sunrise and floating silently through the mist was unreal. When the sun came up we could see wildlife starting their daily routine.

ZS – The moose images are amazing. How did you did you capture the footage.

CW - We came around this corner and there he was! A huge magnificent moose shaking his velvet covered antlers as he munched on the vegetation he’d just pulled from the lakebed. He didn’t care that we drifted past him. I wasn’t expecting to see him so I wasn’t prepared. I had to calm down, grab my camera and control my shaking hands and film – without spooking him.

ZS – How did you feel as you filmed this moment.

CW – Being able to paddle a canoe past a moose and not interrupt his day was incredible. To find him without having to scout him out was a highlight. Sometimes on nature shoots I’m looking for the animals for five days. This happened in the moment and I know other people on Bowron get to experience that same excitement.

Photographer
Chris Wheeler

The moose didn’t care that we were there. He gave me ample time to beach the canoe, run up a little hill to plant the tripod. For photographers and videographers, moments like this are amazing.

ZS – How were you able to get that last shot of you two drifting by the moose?

CW – We kept our distance and he didn’t care. He kept dipping his head in for more greens so we were able to stop and I ran up the little knoll and planted my tripod and pushed record so we could drift by. He let us be in his life for about 20 minutes before he fished eating and walked off.

ZS – Did it change you?

CW – There is no way to explain the feeling of having front row seats to a moose in his natural habitat. I was honoured to be let into his world. Dave said it right. He said, “This is what a journey on Bowron Lakes is about. When you finish the trip, somehow it changes your life in some little incremental amount; leaves you a different person.”

If you go:

The number of paddlers allowed into the circuit is limited, so be sure to book campsites and a launch date with BC Parks’ Discover Camping service. You can also rent canoes right at Bowron Lake.
For guided trips look at local outfitters, such as Whitegold Adventures.

Contact Whitegold Adventures at 1 250 994-2345

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