Labor Day at the National Bison Range 2012

Labor Day evening, my sister and I took a break from our labors for an evening drive through the National Bison Range.  A week prior I had enjoyed good luck, seeing 4 black bears on Sunday afternoon, over the course of two trips around the Range.  I hoped for a repeat of that luck.

As we neared Pauline Creek, where the bears had been in the hawthorn bushes eating berries the week before, I turned off the radio and sharpened my ears to listen for bears in the bushes.  Then…a noise — a noise from the bushes!  Our eyes saw nothing.  We waited.  There!  The noise in the bushes again.  Still couldn’t see anything.  Again, the noise.  Look!  The bush is moving!  There!  UP in that bush!

A hawthorn hidden bear!

Now and then he was more visible through a gap.

But, we were still hearing more…
There!  In that bush!

A third was heard but not seen.  We watched the pair and listened to the trio.  We were close enough that we could hear the bears breathing, chewing, slurping…
We laughed when someone farted and the other asked “Was that you, or a bear?”  You know you’re pretty darn close when that question is, um, necessary.

Eventually we decided to move on, and made it a whole 20 yards or so before we saw another black bear.

brown-colored black bear

And another…

standing black bear

And another and another!

a black bear sow ushers her cub away from a black bear gather at a watering hole

Yep!  7 black bears within about 100-150 yards of one another.

One attraction was, of course, the hawthorn berries.  The other attraction was a watering hole.

a brown colored black bear

A black bear taking a dip and a drink in a watering hole

Have you ever seen purple poop?  Seriously…  this is berry laden bear scat.

berry laden bear scat

The last treat of the night was a Charlie Russel painted sunset.

sunset and clouds over the National Bison Range

More photos here:

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