The itch started about a month ago. There was no burning sensation, no redness, no painful inflammation. Nope, the 'bear' itch is no normal itch. It begins in early April, when the first reports of bears being sighted around the mountain parks begin to filter in. It starts innocently enough, with a soulful restlessness building deep within. My concentration levels at the computer begin to wane. I stare out the window incessantly, wondering, thinking, hoping: should I go yet? Should I start looking for bears?
I know it's too early...there's still snow everywhere, there's no greenery on the roadsides. But, like a kid staring at his Christmas stocking the day before and going to look inside 'just in case', I decide that I better go on a trip and check things out. Cause, y'know, there could be bears....
So I load up the car and embark on a multi-province trip that takes me deep into British Columbia, then north in Alberta, then back south again to my home in Canmore. I see exactly zero bears, but chalk the trip up as a success because I hear about other people seeing bears.
Finally, in early May, I can't handle it anymore and I go on another trip, this one a short day sojourn along the Icefields Parkway to look for sign. Are there any tracks anywhere? Any grizzly bear digs? Any black bear scat? Yes, yes and yes. But still no actual live, in-the-flesh bears.
So I load up the car again and embark on the exact same multi-province trip, except backwards, going north in Alberta first, THEN deep into British Columbia. And it's there, on day three, finally, that I find bears.
A yearling cinnamon-coloured black bear cubMy first big male black bear picture of 2008Same big male, with his giant belly hanging downBig and beautiful black bearEyeing the guy with the huge cameraSame big male againOne of my favourite photographs in the seriesThe last shot of the trip
All told, I saw 7 bears in one glorious evening. I've since added 3 more black bears for a running 2008 total of 10 blacks and 0 griz. But I'm hoping those numbers will change later tonight as I head out up the Icefields Parkway yet again. Wish me luck!
For more black bear photography, please visit the black bear section in my Stock Picture Library.