Your route home after your Middle Fork Salmon River trip is likely to take you through the City of Salmon, where immediately after crossing the Main Street bridge you will be greeted by a large grizzly bear wading in a small, rocky stream plying for salmon. Robert Deurloo created this enthralling statue. Sculptor Robert Deurloo lives nearby along the Salmon River in the midst of the largest contiguous wilderness area in the lower 48 states. Surrounded by rugged mountains and inhabited by some of the animals he sculpts, he finds this postcard-perfect chunk of Idaho to be an ideal place for inspiration as a wildlife artist.
His sculptures are cast from molten bronze, but due to an elaborate and exotic patina process, they appear to be chiseled from the granite of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains. A combination of intense heat and various acids and minerals produce the polished stone patinas. A self-taught artist, his style blossoms from within, rather than forged by external teachings. He has learned over his 25-year career that capturing every detail in a sculpture can actually detract from the impact of the piece. An exquisite form, combined with a little mystery, will not only capture the spirit of the animal, but will allow a viewer to bring their own experiences to play in the appreciation of his works of art.
Grizzly bears don’t read maps and sometimes wander into Idaho from their homes in Canada or Montana. Sightings of Grizzlies in Idaho are rare. Like the grizzly, salmon are also becoming scarce. A few are still found in nearby rivers and streams but their future hinges on protecting their habitat and the removal of four downstream dams on the Snake River that inhibit their annual return to native waters where they spawn.
When taking time for recreation, Deurloo often boats, hikes or glides around the terrain near his home. It gives him an opportunity to reflect on his work and think about the future of the wildlife that resides in the nearby wilderness.
Writing about the bear statue in Salmon, he recently penned, “I don’t want the monument to be a memorial to the salmon. I want it to be a celebration of the return of the great Pacific Northwest salmon runs.”
Idaho River Journeys supports efforts to enhance and protect Salmon habitat. The Middle Fork of the Salmon is one of the few remaining viable spawning rivers for Chinook Salmon in the entire Columbia River Basin. For more information: