By Larry W. Brown
After more than 5 years in the making, the Discovery Channel series 'North America' (7 Episodes, narrated by Tom Selleck), premiered Sunday May 19th, 2013. The two SNP Black Bears (Sow & Cub) are shown in Episode 1 'Born to be Wild', but they are not the Sow/Cub which are shown at the very beginning of the episode (in a den) - those 2 bears were filmed elsewhere about a month before the film crew even came to SNP. The coyote in Episode 1 is also from SNP, but wasn't in the same location as the Bears were, as the storyline leads you to believe, but instead was filmed in the adjoining woods next to Big Meadows about 3 weeks later. Footage from various times/locations were stitched together to tell a story. That's the 'magic' of film making The twin Whitetail fawns play Episode 1 were also from Big Meadows. The Wild Turkey gobbler seen in the ending segment of Episode 2 was also filmed in the Big Meadows area.

Other SNP wildlife appeared in Episode 3 'Learn Young Or Die' - in the Whitetail Doe/Fawn/Coyote segment. For those of you familiar with the Big Meadows landscape, a lot of that footage probably looks very familiar to you. That's because the majority of that footage was filmed in Big Meadows on the morning of June 14th, 2011.

Thanks to the 'magic' of film making as described above, the viewer has no idea that footage from various dates and locations are stitched together to create a storyline and sequence of events. With this particular segment, they lead you to believe all of the meadow footage is from a Grand Teton's meadow, of which some of it actually is as they switch footage back and forth - but the majority of the meadow footage is of Big Meadows.

The main goal of their second visit to SNP (May-June 2011) was to hopefully capture predation on Whitetail Fawns either by Black Bears or Coyotes. It almost happened for them twice, but the Episode 3 footage with the Coyote was the closest opportunity they would get. They did however present the storyline as it happened: the Fawn lived to see another day.

The coyote featured in Episode 3 - the wind kept him from getting the exact location of the bedded Fawn.

Award winning cinematographer, Martyn Colbeck filming the coyote and whitetail deer in Big Meadows.


In April of 2011, I was given the coolest opportunity of a lifetime. I was contacted via email in December 2010 by a young lady named Evie Wright of Wild Horizons Ltd, a UK-based documentary filmmaker. She saw my wildlife photos on Flickr and that is what initiated our correspondence - isn't the Internet such a powerful medium? At the time, Wild Horizons was contracting with Discovery Channel for an upcoming series about North America and she wanted to know if I could get them positioned into key areas for Black Bears emerging from their Winter dens.

Of course I said yes, and informed her that it was not a 100% guarantee, but rather a 50/50 chance, as the bears are hard to find in the mountains in early Spring when they first emerge from their dens - they are lethargic and food is scarce. They do not travel much and will stay in one confined area until both of these conditions change. At first Bears will 'hang out' in trees for several days until they shake off their lethargy.

So basically they contracted me to help them locate wildlife, emerging Black Bears in particular. They came to Shenandoah National Park twice during the Spring in 2011 and I was able to help them locate this Black Bear and her tiny Cub, which they managed to get some spectacular footage of. They also got some footage of newborn twin whitetail fawns, coyotes, wild turkeys and scenery from some of the parks vistas.

They sent an award winning cinematographer on both instances, Martyn Colbeck. Working mainly for the BBC's Natural History unit based in Bristol, UK, Martyn has filmed sequences for many of the best known blockbuster series produced by the BBC over the past 15 years, most recently the highly acclaimed LIFE OF MAMMALS. He won an Emmy in 2007 for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming for his work with the PLANET EARTH series.

Although my helping hand in this epic series was very tiny, it is a life moment I will never, ever forget. I was in total awe of the HD video equipment they had plus the commitment to rise early each and everyday to hike in rough terrain (while toting the equipment on their backs) and stay afield until the daylight faded .


Some video footage of the Sow and Cub that I took with a small, standard definition Sony video camera. She keeps the tiny cub beneath her most of the time but every now and then it wiggles out and offers a glimpse. The background sound that you hear is water running off the steep ridge due to some very heavy rains that fell a few days prior.

This is the promo video trailer that was given to me by the film crew. However it was created before they ever came to film at Shenandoah National Park so there is no SNP footage included in it.