THERE’S A BEAR!!!!
That phrase has many different meanings here in the Smokies. For some folks it screams F. E. A. R. (False Evidence Appearing Real) Truth is, the black bear is usually more afraid of you, than you are of them. Don’t believe me, next time you see a black bear walk up and try to pet him….kidding.
If you do find yourself close to a black bear, watch for some warning signs that he may be sending, you indicating that you are too close. If the bear stops feeding or changes directions, he is telling you in a subtle way to back off. The bear could become more aggressive by swating the ground with his paw, making loud grunting noises or even running toward you (charging). Simply walk away slowly, but keep a visual on him…do not run. A bear can out run you (up to 30mph for short distances) so if you do run, make sure you can out run who your with…again kidding.
Now, for a photographer, it means getting the perfect shot (hopefully from a safe distance). I confess, I do get close to the bears, sometimes it’s not intentional. Like one time a pair of cubs came within 6 feet of me while mama bear was behind me. Talk about an adrenaline rush.
Note: I do practice safe photography when near bears, if they give me warning signs, I back off (keep shooting) but I do try to keep a safe distance. Of course I want to be able to shoot again tomorrow, but I also do not want to lure ‘tourists’ to me, because they might not know what to do in case the bear becomes aggressive.
All bear photographs were shot in the Smoky Mountains, more specifically, Cades Cove.