In the mountainous wilds of British Columbia, Canada, circa 1885, a young grizzly bear cub suffers the accidental death of his mother from a rockslide while digging for honey. Forced to fend for himself, the cub struggles to find food and shelter. Elsewhere in the mountains, a large male grizzly is pursued by two trophy hunters (Jack Wallace (actor) and Tcheky Karyo). Although the younger hunter attempts to kill the bear, his shot fails to take the animal down, and the wounded bear flees. Coming across the grizzly a short time later, the cub attempts to befriend him. Uninterested in the cub and distracted by his wound, the adult bear warns the young orphan away with a growl. The cub approaches again, however, and manages to soothingly lick the other bear's wound. A friendship forms between the two bears, and the grizzly takes the orphan under his wing, teaching him to fish and hunt. At night, the cub suffers from nightmares, reliving the tragic death of his mother.