THE BEARS AND I
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. 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 in the shadows and dull lighting of
the evening. 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
pictures with you.
Sincerely, Tom Sears
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