Saturday, February 7, 2009

Tale of 6 Bears

My friend Ken Gauthier, from Canada, passed along this great story and photos. The story and photos were done by Tom Spears. Thanks go out to both Ken and Tom.

Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely, one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire, a black bear Sow gave birth to five healthy young cubs. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as four cubs, but five was, and is, extraordinary. I learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set myself a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom - no matter how much time and effort was involved. I knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for six weeks, I had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them. I used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on my digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.

I stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, I found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK. I stayed away from the bears as I was concerned that they might become habituated to me, or to people in general, as approachable friends. This could be dangerous for both man and animal.
After Halloween I received no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated.
This spring, before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007.
I saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, an improbable second once-in-a-lifetime photograph.
On April 25, 2008 I achieved my dream.
When something as magical as this happens between man and animal, Native Americans say, 'We have walked together in the shadow of a rainbow.'
And so it is with humility and great pleasure that I share these photos with you.


Steve Ballmer said...

... enjoying your blog!

pompi said...

wow..I love those photographs..and I LOVE those bears..beautyful..

Lori Anderson Designs said...

Holy cow, man! Great photo!

Karen Stefaniak Trask said...

The story and the pictures of the bears really made my day! Thank you for posting.

Toni said...

Kudos to Ken for bravery with a camera, so the rest of us might benefit. I have both enormous respect for and enormous fear of bears, so that's not a photo op I would've pursued. Amazing they all survived, I think!

Gloria Ives said...

Those are amazing
and they arrange themselves in such a poetic fashion
as you do your words.

JULS~ said...

Truly beautiful animals ... wow.

morrow said...

Beautiful photos and wait a great experience the photographer had.

Neil Bytes said...

Imagine if all the bears started running toward you.

California Girl said...

I live in New Hampshire and I hadn't heard that story or seen any news. That is wonderful. My family and I live in the White Mountains and we have usually have at least one bear amble through our yard each year. Two years ago, one of them showed up unexpectedly as my husband was outside throwing a ball uphill to our dog. The dog was charging up the hill when he caught the scent. He turned his head as he was about to pass my husband and, instead, slammed into the back of my husband's knee at full speed, dislocating the patella & severing all three ligaments. To say it was gnarly is an understatement. One operation and 12 mos of PT later, my husband is almost back to normal. Thanks to that big old bear!

♥ Kathy said...

That was the most awesome set of pictures ever! They are so cute (they can kill me I know but I'm sticking with the cute)!

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