Time to Dust Off Your Black Bear Recipes

The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is expected to vote at their November meeting on whether our state will schedule a hunting season for black bears in 2024-25.

            There are those, especially hunters and hunting camp and other property owners in parishes bordering the Mississippi River, who welcome the possibility of scheduling a hunting season for bears. They have grown tired of seeing hunting stands, feeders and camps damaged or destroyed by what they consider nuisance animals. They also point to the fact that bear numbers especially in that part of the state continue to grow.

            On the flip side, there are animal rights activists and others who hate the thought of our resident bears being hunted. What the Commission decides will dictate which of the two groups gets what they prefer.

            OK, let’s assume you are a proponent of bear hunting in Louisiana, your name gets drawn to enable you to hunt bears. What if you get one? What will you do with it? Process it yourself or take it to a taxidermist? I talked with a taxidermist friend about his thoughts on processing a bear.

            “There’s a good bit more work involved. Most folks who bring in a bear want a half body mount, full body mount or a bearskin rug. This involves skinning out the feet, the toes and front legs. It takes more time because of the size. They make beautiful mounts; we have done several brought in from out of state”, he said.

Comments I read concerning preparing and eating bear meat differ as much as the pro-hunt/no hunt parties.

            “Bear meat is nasty”, said one. “Bear meat is wonderful”, another counters. “Just treat it like pork. I have eaten every bear I’ve killed and turned it into roasts, breakfast sausage, Italian sausage and prepared on the smoker,” a fan of eating bear added.

            Google has much to say about bear meat for food. “Bears are known to carry the disease trichinosis, like pork. To prevent getting it, killing the trichinosis in the meat is as simple as making sure the meat hits 160 degrees when cooking.”

            Other comments I found on the Internet are interesting…“Stuff like chili, tamales, shredded bear, burgers, tacos and stew are going to make you love bear meat more and more.”

Another writes, “The best steaks come from the loin, aka, backstrap. You can cut several large roasts from the front and hind quarters and reserve the rest for stew meat and/or grind into burger.”

Here’s another thing to consider. Peterson Hunting magazine has this to add to the pro/con of eating bear meat. “It pays to consider their diet. Bears shot in the fall eat wild berries and in spring, they feed on grass; it’s like they’re grain fed. Perhaps only dumpster bears, scavenging on the soiled scraps of what we humans eat should be avoided.”

I would conclude that bears that have grown fat on corn when they rip into a corn feeder, should provide a better taste than the dumpster divers.

The jury is still out. Some folks like to eat bear meat; others wouldn’t touch it. If you are selected to hunt bear and you get one but you can’t relish the thought of eating one, here’s a comment I read from a guy who doesn’t plan to eat bear meat and who might have trouble getting along with folks.

“Give the meat to neighbors you don’t like.”

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