• Jim Uhing

Never Wake A Sleeping Bear!


I'm in Wekiwa Springs State Park, Florida. It's early morning before sunrise and I'm headed to my favorite spot to possibly see bears. This is where I've had the most luck seeing them first thing in the morning. It was still fairly dark and some light fog was in the area.


I came over a slight hill and saw a dark area in the road. This is always worthy of further investigation, but often turns out being a stump or a palm frond or something...especially if it's not moving. But the thing that intrigued me is that whatever this is, wasn't there the evening before.


It's too far away for me to identify, so I want to approach slowly. Often times, I'll pull up my camera which can zoom to 840mm and take a look that way. Another benefit to this is, since my camera is digital, I can turn my shutter speed way down and my camera's view finder will show me what the exposure will look like at that setting. So if I slow it down enough, it will actually make it lighter than it actually is. So this allows me to see things in nearly darkness that I could never see with my eyes...Magic! With all of this said, I still can't identify what it is. My next trick is I actually take a picture at these settings and then preview the picture and zoom into that. So now I'm zooming into a zoom...zoom zoom zoom. This is pretty much what you're seeing in the main picture above.




So I slowly and quietly move closer and take another picture and another look. I'm bouncing back and forth between a log or a small bear. But I still can't tell. I move a little closer and repeat. Man, this is really looking like a bear sleeping on the middle of the road. It COULD be a log, but if so, why would it be in the middle of the road. It wasn't there last night. So how did it get there. If it were an awake bear, it would be moving, right? This IS right about where I start seeing the bear traffic. I saw bear tracks here the evening before.

So now, I'm starting to get a little anxious and excited. What happens if I wake a sleeping bear? I continue to move closer and closer taking another photo and looking at it zoomed, as I go. Then, the truth is revealed. I was right...it was a sleeping log. DAMMIT! My best guess is it fell out of a ranger's truck.

The good thing is I didn't wake a sleeping bear, but unfortunately, it didn't turn out to be a bear at all. But!...once I got to my post, I did end up seeing five bears that morning so maybe the log was just warming me up. Thanks log!



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