American Black Bear Surprise

/, Deer Lodge County, Montana/American Black Bear Surprise

American Black Bear along the Big Hole RiverAmerican Black Bear along the Big Hole River

Last Wednesday we took a scenic drive to the Big Hole National Battlefield in Montana, this is in an area of Montana I had not been to before so as usual I was spellbound by the scenery as I looked for birds to photograph along the way. After going through the visitors center we got back on the road heading towards Deer Lodge County on a road that follows the Big Hole River. Stopping right before Deer Lodge County we had our lunch a few feet from the Big Hole River while watching swallows skimming over the water to take food back to their young at the nests under the bridge.

After we finished our picnic lunch we got back on the road that winds towards Divide where we could pick up I-15 again. As we drove along the river I asked Ron if bears came down to the river to feed, his reply was; and I am paraphrasing, “Probably Black Bears”.

In less than ten seconds I was shouting words to the effect of Bear, Bear, turn around!!! I had been looking at the shoreline where the tree line comes down to the river when I saw what appeared to be a large dark boulder move only the “boulder” had legs and the face of a Black Bear! As Ron tried to get the pickup turned around I kept my eye on the bear because it kept moving in and out of the trees and their shadows and it would be easy to lose sight of it.

We didn’t get great images of the dark cinnamon colored bear but I was extremely tickled to have spotted it and to have taken a few images of it. For a few moments the Black Bear came out and stood on a large boulder in the bright midday light, not the best lighting conditions but I was happy just the same.

To have asked that question, to have gotten Ron’s answer and then spotting a bear so quickly afterwards was simply surprising and hysterical. I’m still giggling.



  1. Eileen July 30, 2013 at 3:26 pm

    Always exciting to see bears. Wonderful shot, Mia!

  2. M. Firpi July 30, 2013 at 7:35 am

    I submitted a comment too but it must have not gone through. I like this composition with the huge rocks and a good sense of scale.

    • Mia McPherson July 30, 2013 at 10:29 am

      Maria, I have been having issues with my blog, sorry your original comment didn’t go through.

  3. LaNelle July 29, 2013 at 5:50 am

    Beautiful shot! Nature at it’s finest……

  4. Dan Huber July 29, 2013 at 5:44 am

    Wonderful when nature answers you so quickly, very nice Mia.

  5. Jane Chesebrough July 28, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    Yup. Keep your eyes on those rocks. I remember when I drove up a road and thought that the rock rock looked like a fox. Well,lo and behold…looks like a lovely spot and like how the light is touching the bear.

    • Mia McPherson July 29, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      You never know when you’ll see one of these amazing critters! Thanks Jane.

  6. Sheila July 28, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    How fun ! A very nice shot!

  7. Rohrerbot July 28, 2013 at 11:17 am

    What a great sighting!!! I love them, but they are now coming down from the mountains for those lovely berries. Birding and bears:) Very cool Mia!

  8. John Randall July 28, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Beautiful composition and lighting Mia ! I saw a light cinnamon phase black bear a couple of weeks in the early morning hrs across from our home, just walking down the road. It was awesome .

    • Mia McPherson July 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      John, that must have been awesome to see the bear walking down the road!

  9. Merrill Ann Gonzales July 28, 2013 at 10:38 am

    My neighbor told me we had a black bear hanging around here. Sounded incredible to me since we’re fast trying to become a city-like entity. Then this morning I heard on the radio that there are bobcats here… In all the years I’ve lived here I’m lucky if I can find birds… I’ve never even seen tracks of these animals. Perhaps the groundhogs here are chasing them all away? 🙂
    In any event that is a gorgeous shot. The whole scene is beautifully composed and those rocks just repeat the hulking weight of a black bear…. Just lovely. Thanks.

    • Mia McPherson July 29, 2013 at 7:44 pm

      You do have to watch out for those ferocious groundhogs Merrill!

  10. Sally Wood July 28, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Only bear I ever saw was in Montana – smelled it at the base of the mountain/bluff – and saw it halfway up. I shot up a pine tree faster than you could say ‘bear’ and clung there ruining my pants and camera. It was a young bear so I was worried about the sow being nearby. I like em, but at a great distance.

  11. Stu July 28, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Maybe you guys have the call of the wild. Just mention a bird or animal. and it turns up 😉 Great story.

    • Mia McPherson July 29, 2013 at 7:35 pm

      LOL Stu, I wish that were true.

  12. judy watson July 28, 2013 at 8:46 am

    What wonderful luck and photo!!

  13. Susan Stone July 28, 2013 at 8:37 am

    What a great surprise! I don’t know what it is about bears, but it’s always special to see them.

  14. Scott (@NESASK) July 28, 2013 at 8:09 am

    “Well, speak of the devil” … 🙂

  15. Beverly Everson July 28, 2013 at 7:55 am


  16. Bob Bushell July 28, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Pretty old bear, lol. Lovely.

Comments are closed.