There was only one goal for me: to photograph wild bears in their natural habitat.
So, I traveled to Slovenia in mid-June 2021. Over 60 percent of the country's surface is covered with forest. This provides an ideal habitat for the approximately 700 free-ranging brown bears. Due to the sparse population, these forests are perfect for photographing Master Bruin.
I had five days to get a bear in front of the lens. Most of the time it was early afternoon when I went into the den and then the waiting began. You must be absolutely quiet. Bears do not see as well as we humans do, but they smell and hear all the better for it.
Therefore, the hide was built in such a way that the air was discharged via exhaust pipes attached to the trees at a height of about five meters. So, the animals could not smell me.
That was frustrating. Even if the population size seems stately, bears are still wild animals.
On the third day, however, I was in good spirits that it would finally succeed today. So, I went to my hiding place in the forest. On the way, I always had to be careful not to meet any bears. It is best to make yourself heard so that the animals know that a human is nearby. Bears of any size would only attack a human if they felt besieged or harassed.
I still had to be patient for two hours, but then the time had finally come: a bear was standing right in front of me. Unbelievable! The adult animal was huge, probably weighing in at about 300 kg (~ 660 lbs). Only about ten meters (~ 33 ft) separated me from this gigantic creature.
his appearance surprised me. I would have thought that the arrival of the bear would be announced by a rustling in the foliage or the cracking of the branches lying on the ground - but no! The bear was suddenly there - like a ghost.
I was overjoyed and thought there could be no better pictures. But then the last day of my trip dawned.
At another hiding place, a mother bear with two four-month-old cubs came by in the early afternoon. What a blessing that I was allowed to experience this!
The mother diligently searched for food on the forest floor. The cubs did not leave her side. After half an hour another bear appeared. He might have been about three years old. The mother did not tolerate this and gave a warning cry. Like lightning her cubs rushed up the nearest tree. After that, the mother immediately attacked the other bear. He had no chance and fled. After ten minutes, the cubs climbed down again and ran to their mother at full speed.
was born in 1988 in Nordhorn (Lower Saxony, Germany). Since 2007, he has been photographing the beauty of nature and wildlife. To pursue this passion, he travels across Europe. For several years he has been a reference photographer for the Tamron company. Andreas is also part of the SWAROVSKI OPTIK Nature Explorer Team and gets closer to wildlife with his CL Companion binoculars.
More info on his homepage: www.naturfotografie-huetten.de or on Instagram.
All images © Andreas Hütten Photography