The Year of the Bear

Getting the perfect photo proves a challenge
By Joe Brandmeier
Published: March 26, 2010
For some reason, 2009 became "the year of the bear" for me. It started in early spring, several months before another wildlife photographer would turn a bear named Lily famous with the first video footage of a bear giving birth.

I had heard of a bear den on a farm in northern Minnesota and was intrigued by the thought of getting a picture of this black bear popping his (or her?) head out of the den for the first time after a long winter’s nap.

So I set up my tripod and camera, put my HD video camera in my pocket (just in case) and sat outside the den, just feet away. Many people strongly advise against this type of bear surveillance, but for some reason, I felt I was safe. After hours of standing there and no sign of anything, I left for the day.

The next day, I was back. I was told the bear was in there, so I felt confident I’d see it. But after hours of more standing still, I lost patience.

“I don’t know how those ‘Planet Earth’ guys do it!” I thought as I slowly moved towards the front door of this den, camera in hand, heart pounding. I stuck my head in and literally came face-to-face with the bear! It was definitely in there! As he stared back at me, I froze and then slowly backed away.
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