The name ‘Dennis Fast’ is often synonymous with polar bears, owls, foxes, fireweed and nature images of northern Manitoba. Some folks own his work as oversized canvas prints on the walls of their homes or businesses, while others enjoy paging through his coffee-table books or calendars. Either way, when one looks at a ‘Dennis Fast’ image, one sees artistry and pure talent and we’re proud to call him a fellow ‘Kleefelder’.  

As with many of us, the past two or three years have been a blur and so it was with Fast.   

He has been submitting images to multiple wildlife organizations for years and has even had some pictures published. Fast continues the story. “And I was kind of ignoring them for a few years and then last fall the National Wildlife Federation called and asked, “Do you still want to be one of the submitters? If not, then we'll remove you.”  to which Fast said, “No, no, I'll stay on and I promise I’ll submit. So I sent some pictures and forgot about it and the next thing I know, well six months later, I open an email that says “Congratulations. You got one of your pictures in the calendar.”  

Fast says, an NWF representative had warned him earlier, that the competition to get one's images into the calendar was going really tough because they had reduced their calendar from 18 months down to a 12-month edition, so what he heard next was unbelievable. “She says, and not only that, but we sent our four favourite images to the NWF membership, and they voted yours for the cover. So that was a real shock and surprise.” 

Fast says NWF has 6 million members.

He says they'll be printing about 2 million calendars, but that there’s a catch. The calendars are being sold only to the NWF members. Fast says, if you’d like to get your hands on a calendar, you’ll need to become a member of the National Wildlife Federation.  

The image Fast received the honour with "is a simple image of two polar bears on the snow." He says, “Humor still works in wildlife, and I think that's what made it work.” 

Fast explains the backstory of the image. “In fall polar bears wait for the ice to freeze before they can eat. They’ve been starving all summer and they’re waiting for the ice to freeze on Hudson Bay, so they can go out and hunt seals. While they’re waiting, they wrestle a lot. It’s sort of play-wrestling. They don’t really get serious and hurt each other, but it gets pretty rough then, they rest. I've watched two bears that were just wrestling for 45 minutes, then lie down and one guy had his arm over the other ones’ back and they were sleeping. So you get these quiet moments too.” 

Which is exactly the moment that Fast captured. The one polar bear is holding up his paw to support the head, of what appears to be a very pooped polar. Fast calls the winning image, “Polar Bear Chin Prop”.  

"Polar Bear Chin Prop" will be the National Wildlife Federation calendar cover image."Polar Bear chin prop" will be the cover photo on the National Wildlife Federation's next calendar. (Photo credit: Dennis Fast)