View Full Version : Bear processing
August 24, 2009, 10:26 AM
'm gearing up for the season which is less than 2 months from now and it looks like bear are going to be an option and a probable occurrance anywhere I go for deer. I'm a meat hunter first and foremost so if I get one I want to be able to eat it and I want it to be good or I'm out of luck on getting the Mrs. to eat it. My sources tell me that it spoils fast if not handled swiftly and properly, gutted and skinned and iced as soon as possible. Getting the fat off is crucial because that's what sours. OK, so that's the rules. Now to figure out how to go about following them.
First of all, how fast are we talking? Minutes, half hour, an hour, two? In warmer weather I know that the skin will come off fast and so that's not too bad a problem. But how do you ice down a 200+ lb animal with any acceptable speed if hunting alone? And what do you fit it into? Do I ice down the fur too, in a garbage bag separately? I'm guessing it's going to be substantially lighter after gutting and skinning, but it's still not a mouse. How much ice will do the job? And how tough are bear to gut compared to deer? Are the organs bigger, smaller, or about the same?
These seem to me to be better to know ahead of time, as there's more than enough variables to juggle as it is just finding the quarry, hauling my gear, and so on.
August 24, 2009, 10:44 AM
the only bear meat i have ever had was bear jerky and it was delicious. i'm not sure about processing time for bear but the faster you process any animal the better it will be.
August 24, 2009, 11:14 AM
On the skin - if you want to do a rug or something, call whoever is going to process it for you.
What we normally do for deer and elk is lay it out on the ground, hair down, and salt the heck out of it. Then fold it carefully so that the inside with the salt is only touching inside skin, then we roll it up and secure it with a bungee cord. You do not want to get it wet!
As too the rest of it, I am not sure there is a magic time limit. Just do it as fast as possible.
If you really want to go for it, bone the meat out. That helps the cooling and will make it a one trip pack out (heavy, but should be doable).
August 24, 2009, 11:34 AM
Do not put the hide in a plastic bag if you want to keep the hair on it.
That'll make the hair slip pretty quick, especially in warm weather.
Salt it as described above, or call your taxidermist for instructions (some don't want to work with a salted hide, although most will).
How long the meat will last is dependant on a lot of factors. How big the bear is, how fat it is, how hot the weather is, how fast you find/dress/skin it, and so forth. Seriously, there are no definite answers. You should get it cleaned up, out of the woods, and cleaned up as quick as you can.
And that's about all you can do. I've yet to lose an animal here in Arizona, and it's plenty hot in the Sept/October seasons. I don't stress about it at all, but I don't take a lot of leisure time, either.
You gotta git'er done!
August 25, 2009, 08:17 AM
All I say is;
God Bless Bear Hunters!
August 25, 2009, 08:48 AM
My bear weighed 244# live,208# gutted,168# skinned with head and feet removed.I got 67# of meat out of the bear including 35# of burger which was some of the best burger I've ever eaten.
A bear doesn't have alot of gut compared to a deer,but has a very large skeletal system and alot of fat (in the fall) so the meat yield for the size of your animal is not what you'd expect.I killed my bear in the snow and it was gutted immediately,put in my truckbed full of snow and we filled the chest cavity with ice,it froze overnight and I had it skinned and hung in a cooler the next morning.The meat was way better than I ever expected it to be.
August 25, 2009, 08:55 AM
A bear doesn't have alot of gut compared to a deer
And I always described them as a stomach with 4 legs:rolleyes:.
August 25, 2009, 10:47 AM
And I always described them as a stomach with 4 legs.
A mouth with 4 legs would be closer, but you aren't far off.
August 25, 2009, 11:37 AM
Wow, I guess the low yield on the meat is good news in so much as I won't have to get a bigger freezer just for that.
August 25, 2009, 12:12 PM
If you are thinking about having a bear rug made, check with the guy who will be doing the work for you. If you are doing the work yourself, I would go with the Non-iodized salt on the hide. But do some reading and see what the process involves and learn how to skin it out.
If you decide to tan, hair-on, the process is much different than just a hide. Tanning the hide is not hard and the supplies are mostly available from on-line taxidermy supply stores.
August 25, 2009, 01:57 PM
In an ideal world you want to have the meat go to less than 45 degrees Fahrenheit in 4 hours or less.
That's what I have to do with meat in a commercial kitchen.
You probably have a bit more lee way.
The main thing to remember about bear is to cook it for a long time and to at least 155 degrees internal temperature for large cuts. I know a hunter that got trichinosis from bear meat.
August 25, 2009, 03:09 PM
Yes you treat bear meat like pork.I know in my area if a processor cuts U.S.D.A. inspected meat they are not allowed to cut up bears or pigs.Check before you go to make sure who can cut your meat.I would recommend someone who will vacuum pack the meat that way you don't have to hurry up and eat all of it.I had bear meat for over a year and was able to share it with alot of people.If I had guests who were willing to try it I would get a package out and everyone who tried it liked it.I changed alot of peoples minds about bear meat,I especially like to show non-hunters why I kill animals (for food) It gives them a new appreciation for hunting when you share delicious wild game with them.
August 25, 2009, 04:43 PM
Yellowfin, I hunt in the central Adirondacks mainly for whitetail and last year took my first black bear while sitting at my favorite spot, it was random chance. I always get the bear tag and go out for the early bear season in Sept. but at least where I am they are few and far between, and difficult to hunt solo or as a pair. Theres no baiting, so its not like Maine where you just sit on a pile of grease waiting for bear that feed on it for months prior. I think its good you have a tag, as the chance is always there, and the meat is well worth it. And its good that you are figuring out what you're going to do with a bear before you take one. Mine was a surprise, and I was alone so it was interesting. What you need to figure out is how you will move that massive lifeless body after its taken. Mine was over 200 lbs. and I don't think three of me could have carried it the needed distance. You can't drag 'em like deer, it will ruin any rug/mount you want. I immediately dressed and skinned on the spot, quartered and began the taking it out piece by piece. It was very long distance, and fortunaltely down hill and cold as well as early in the AM. The Hide was salted and folded and set gently in my truck. Straight to my taxidermist, no delay as I was so excited I could barely function, had to clam down just to operate my vehicle! I had many things that worked out in my favor, and this could have been a wasteful decision. I now keep several large coolers at the cabin, as well as all my processing equipment. I purchased some quality light's if the next time the labor continues into the evening. I also now mentally prepare myself for the situation, as it quickly becomes a ton of work. I remember after grilling that first steak and taking a bite just laughing histerically, I never would have imagined how delicious bear is. Needless to say I now am dedicating a week every year strictly for bear...and bringing friends...
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