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Field Notes

I really love this black bear!

We’d seen him (I think it’s a him) a few times in the Cade’s Cove area of Smoky Mountain National Park and he never disappointed us. Working with him does require a bit of a “soft touch” since he’s always a bit more nervous then most of the other bears in that area. It sure doesn’t take much to force a retreat, so a slow, easy approach usually works best.

This time we spotted him as he stood up to check his surroundings. He was about a quarter mile out and we decided to head over and see how his day was going :)

The tall weeds and blackberry bushes made our progress slow and a little painful – those thorns went right through my pants like they weren’t even there and bit at my skin with nearly every step. Next time, maybe some thicker pants!

With a nice long lens, we would wait as he worked the blackberry bushes, and every now and then he’d pop up and take a cautious look our way. However, his concern seemed much more concentrated on some invisible smell floating in on the breeze coming from our left. Although this scent was undetectable to us, it was clearly well within his olfactory range (their noses are 7X more powerful than a bloodhound’s) – and it seemed to be making him more than a little nervous. My guess is a rival, more dominant bear.

In any event, his constant popping up from his breakfast worked out really well. Unfortunately, most of the images were unusable due to vegetation that always seemed to have a way of being right across his face each time he surfaced. However, as luck would have it, I did get a couple of opportunities for a clear shot – and this is the result.