WOW! When trying to write up a blog for our recent black bear expedition, I was fumbling around with words to describe how I felt about this exploratory trip and WOW, was the first, and really the only word that came to mind. We went to the Outer Banks of North Carolina to photograph black bears, and by we, I mean the SDM crew; Maritza, Sophia, David and I.
Black bears are one of North Americas most iconic animals and one of it’s most exciting predators. As everyone knows, I am extremely passionate about predators, ocean predators own my soul, but land predators are just as sexy. So when we decided to start offering trips out to see some of the woodlands bad boys and girls, I did my home work. Yellow Stone and California are amazing and reliable places, and with so many other iconic animals, it was tempting. But I wanted to find a place with more than just a brief sighting of bears, and with less crowds. After some research I located my dream spot… the Outer Banks, of North Carolina.
Not only does North Carolina boast one of densest populations of black bears, it also is where you can find the biggest black bears in North America. And by big I am talking, 600 to 1,000 lb. kind of big. I had to visit. So a plan was made, but when to go? Our bear guide Tom Harrison, told me that the very best time was in August- September time frame, but our summer schedule was way too crazy this season to go during that time. We asked about May, and he said it was a solid month as well, it wasn’t thick with bears, like later in the season, but it was still a great time to go. We didn’t have anything scheduled, so we set up the trip and off we went.
This was also the first time we had the entire SDM crew together for an adventure, which hasn’t happened in, EVER. So we took advantage of this window to head out to NC and explore what it had to offer. The priceless thing for me was not just experiencing the bears and this magical place, but also the reactions of my crew. This was their first time around bears and watching their reactions and excitement was something I will never forget.
I could go on and on with a detailed report of everything we experienced but that would turn into a book. So I decided to cut together a video of moments from the trip to try and share the emotion of what we were feeling out there. It is difficult to do, but will do my best to see if it can be captured…
Of course the main focus on all our trips is to capture video and stills of these animals, so here are a few of our stills of this expedition. We were also lucky enough to capture a few images of a bobcat that we encountered, which is extremely rare to see in this area. We spoke to one lady who has spent the last 42 years documenting the local wildlife here off the Outer Banks and in all those years, she has only seen 2 bobcats. So we definitely felt blessed to have seen one.
We were hoping to capture images of a red wolf, which is also extremely rare, but there are only 40 wolves left in the area, so the chances of seeing one was extremely low. We did find some fresh tracks, so we knew they were in the area. However, we do have plans to return to the outer banks next September, so we are hoping for another shot at encountering one then for sure.