Just the Bear Facts

Trout Whisperer

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  • Prostaff Member Trout Whisperer

After shooting a mid sized black bear, I promptly dressed it and stashed it in a buddies vegetable cooler. He has this nice little family farm with nuisance black bears. After contacting a local conservation officer, and getting the bear license, he validated my tag. It was a quick hunt. The first afternoon they were strolling about his sweet corn.

I came back the next day and chunked the bear into roasts and meat to grind for sausage and bear burger.

Bear meat can be delicious, especially if the bear is on the younger, tender side. Bear meat if chilled quickly, can make for some good cooking. Old bear, or poorly handled meat, is a horse of a different color. The best recipe I ever heard for cooking old boar bear steaks or roasts was this. Go to someone else's home, slow roast the bear in their oven. Then throw the house away.

If you have a Minnesota black bear on the ground you have your hands full. One big thing first off - butchering a bear is not for the faint of heart. After you get the animal eviscerated, and the carpet removed it may remind you of a human cadaver. If it makes you queasy, bear can be processed at a significant number of butcher shops.

Bear have two kinds of fat. If you’re used to seeing deer or beef tallow you have one covered. The other is more akin to a jelly. This is on a fresh killed black bear. The quicker you can get that fat away from the meat the better. Even with people helping you process a bear, it's like trying to cut up flummoxed rubber.

If your mind is trying to wrap itself around the concept of gelatinous, hard to grasp with your hand, you’re getting close on the second type of fat. If you hang and cool the bear overnight this is a mute point. It firms up nicely but then your back to cookin' some strong meat at somebody else's den. Bear meat in my opinion has no tolerance for aging with fat or the bear hide attached. According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, aging increases tenderness. It has been shown that during the aging process certain changes take place in portions of the structure of collagen and muscle fibers. Currently, it is thought that enzymatic-caused changes in the structure of muscle fibers are largely responsible for the increase in tenderness. It is known that tenderness decreases immediately after slaughter while rigor mortis takes place (taking 6 to 12 hours to complete); then tenderness increases gradually. Tenderness continues to increase up to 11 days, after which there is no increase in tenderness.

A bear on the half shell is formidable. Two thirds of the animal is in the front shoulders. The hinds the remaining third. It's not a balanced bulky. Shooting your bear in the fall and that animal is putting on as much fat as bearly possible. That fat is to protect and nourish the hibernating bear. For preparing bear meat to eat, that fat is your taste buds enemy.

Some people are out hunting for a bear skin rug, or the, “yup, I shot a bear” boosting. The shoulder mount goes on the wall, with no real consideration for the amount of meat one bear can provide.

The second bear I ever shot, I had a significant portion of the meat ground into bear breakfast sausage. I might add that it was not cut 80% pork and 20 % bear meat. I ordered the meat ground 80% bear and 20% pork with a seasoning, I enjoyed, based on personal taste for matching up with my eggs.

Then I made a mistake. I offered some to friends. One little kid in the neighborhood ate some and scored a goal in fall hockey practice. He said the spirit of the bear was with him. That kid became a rodent in my freezer after he scored a hat trick one game. That family said it was the best breakfast sausage they ever had. Its makes a fantastic bear burger as well. Steaks and roasts, I have never found an indoor recipe I can tolerate. The charcoal grill has not done any flavorful favors to a bear steak for me either. Having a good smoke shop nearby and you may well have the best ham you ever tried.

I have never made bear lard. I have helped with hog lard once. If you ever have pie crust from bear lard or fried trout in fresh lard you are one step away from a heart attack but it tastes so good you will just go happy. Again, a couple I know render the bear lard as often as possible. Its snowy white and wonderful.

Minnesota has the no quota zone and the permit draw areas. Do your homework and you could be in for some excellent table fare. You better have a big table.

Posted by Trout Whisperer under Hunting Stories on February 9, 09 09:08 AM | Permalink

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