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How To Make Bear Taste Better

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May 16, 2011

How To Make Bear Taste Better

By David Draper

Like a few other game animals—antelope chief among them—bear garners one of two opinions when it comes to the question of whether it’s edible or not. Those who say it’s not, many of whom haven’t actually eaten bear but aren’t shy about passing along second-hand information, provide a host of reasons of why bear meat is bad. Many will tell you it’s greasy. Or gamey. Or that it has trichinosis and will kill you. Some will even cite apocryphal stories about Indians not eating bear because they look human.

Not only is bear edible, I’d argue it’s delicious done right. Yes, bear meat can have trichinosis, but so can pork and that’s doesn’t stop people from eating pork chops. I’ve personally never had greasy bear meat and, in fact, would compare bear to very lean pork.

Because bears are omnivores, it is true their meat can vary wildly in taste depending both on diet and time of year, but I don’t know that I’d ever call it gamey. The best bear meat is almost sweet, though I’ve also eaten bear that is rich in flavor. Like anything, preparation is the key. Bear meat is a great candidate for braising. It makes delicious carnitas and is a good substitute for venison in chili or stew. I’ve been told bear hams are wonderful, but haven’t had the chance to try them yet. They make good sausage, fresh or cured. In short, bear meat is like any other wild game: Take time in both the care and cooking and you’ll be rewarded.

I’m off to Alaska this week for a week of bear hunting. If I’m lucky, I’ll be bringing back a few boxes of bear meat (along with some halibut) and would love some suggestions from Wild Chef readers who have a favorite bear recipe.

Comments (23)

Top Rated
All Comments
from TJ wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Only way I've eaten it is sausage, but it was good

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle VanBritson wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Personally, I don't understand the definition of gamey. The way I take it is that's just how it tastes, I like the flavor of wild game and the "gamey" taste it carries. People saying they don't like gamieness in their deer is like saying I want my chicken to taste like beef...it just doesn't work. I've never had bear and am only 17...but I've killed my first buck and a big doe(my first deer period)this year. I just finished my first true year hunting and love that wild gamey taste, it just confuses me as to what people mean when they say the hate the gamey taste in deer and antelope. Its just how the meat tastes, if you don't like it...don't kill them, more for us who do. If they are implying something else by saying "gamey" someone please clear this up for me, o

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle VanBritson wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Nice bear by the way, good luck in Alaska

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from ingebrigtsen wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

ive eaten whale, dolphin, cormorant, seal and iguana amongst others.. its all about how its prepared and cared for.. but sadly today most people dont know the tricks in preparing game meat anymore.. luckily my mom learned the tricks from my grandma and i learned it from her.. some flavours u wanna mask, others enhance, for lean meat u want more fat in there etc.. gamy is good ;)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ingebrigtsen wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

ive eaten whale, dolphin, cormorant, seal and iguana amongst others.. its all about how its prepared and cared for.. but sadly today most people dont know the tricks in preparing game meat anymore.. luckily my mom learned the tricks from my grandma and i learned it from her.. some flavours u wanna mask, others enhance, for lean meat u want more fat in there etc.. gamy is good ;)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from johntalbott wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

People who hunt bear and say its too gamey to eat, simply shouldn't hunt them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I've been part of a couple successful bear hunts and enjoyed them very much. That said, i no longer hunt bear because I do not favor the meat and don't want to kill an animal i would eat only begrudgingly. I have had it a couple different ways varying from "not awful" to "decent except for the texture", etc.
I have heard of others having great meals of different bear done different ways, and i'm sure it's possible, but i don't want to be stuck with a couple hundred pounds of bear-meat i'm not sure i'll like. I do strongly believe they need to be managed by hunters, and may someday partake again myself.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

John, I agree. Don't kill the bear if you're too prissy to eat it. Man up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I don't think it's possible to get one legally, but I bet a bear fed on berries, trout, and pronghorn babies would be great.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Mostly people don't hunt them around here as they like the grassy taste of elk.

I like all kinds of game and not just covered up with lots of chille but allowing the full flavors of the particular animal to come to the fore.

I've been thinking about bear, I keep crossing the tracks of one where I stalk deer and this year it didn't have cubs. More bear tags here than they have takers. A lot of cultures like eating bear. I'd like to give it a try.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from MaxPower wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Bear hams are wonderful, I had them frequently when living in northern Ontario. Roast them like any old beef roast and make gravy from the drippings. The leftover meat is great on sandwiches.

Let us know where you're going and who you hunt with David, I'm in the market for a good Black Bear/fishing trip in AK or BC.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DCluver wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

plains Native Americans quit eating bear because bald white men ate it, and they thought that is why they had no hair, so they refused to eat it to keep their full heads of hair. =]

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Is that what's happening to me?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I didn't care much for bear when I tried it. I'd be willing to try it again, but that would be the last time if I didn't like it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Moose1980 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Don't forget, most bear hunting is done in the warmer months. Maine's bear season starts the end of August. Get it, gut it, skin it...got to cool them down. The bear meat I've had was delicious.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom donohue wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

my first bear was an 18.5 year old sow taken on the first day of deer season in wash state. it has to be one of the best experiences of my life. i was very surprised at how clean the animal was, no strange odors at all. the hide is magnificent. field processing was a joy and the big surprise was the massive amounts of white, not greasy, fat packed on between hide and muscle. the tenderloins were fabulous and i regret to this day not taking more steaks and burger from her. as she was just coming off the huckleberries her flesh had taken on that sweet heavy flavor of the berries. Lord please bless me with another huckleberry fed bear.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle VanBritson wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

A giant honey bear ham sounds amazing, especially from a bear that eats berries quite frequently

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I only had bear once. It was taken by a cousin who is a trained butcher. Did not care for it at all. The off taste might come from garbage dumps instead of a diet of picnic baskets. As far as Bear meat being dangerous. That might have originated from Polar Bears who have a toxic level of vitamin A in their Liver. As do most Arctic Animals Seal, Walrus, Grizzly and Huskies. This is due to the Algae rich environment. So if you bag a Polar stay away from the Liver.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I had some summer sausage made from bear some years back. I expected it to be greasy and strong but was pleasantly surprised, it was better than any venison sausage to date. I get the opportunity, I want to either make some myself or have some made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Luckyhunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I haven't ever had Bear, but let me speak to my experience with antelope. one word: Jerky. This last fall, I shot a massive antelope buck that was obviously rather old, and had lived his life off of sage brush. I butchered myself and turned it all into jerky which was a hit at thanksgiving.

other benefits of jerky is even if you end up with 100 pounds of bear jerky, just freeze it. I've never had jerky turn bad from freezer burn, and it is also a rather healthy snack.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

black bear is edible. if you are hunting grizzlies, you are rug hunting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from mexhunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

It is obious to me that bears have alot of fats since that is what keeps them alive. I have never eaten bear and im sure i will the first chance I get. I hope I can taste it to see if i like it before i hunt one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from crackjaw wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

i'm glad there's pictures of these people... least then i'm not the only one let alone karma who decided that it's not their problem to life interruptus something 'lesser' than them.

eh, how would you feel? oh you don't have enough brainpower to compensate that. that bear just wanted to fornicate or eat man, give it up already.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from TJ wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Only way I've eaten it is sausage, but it was good

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ingebrigtsen wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

ive eaten whale, dolphin, cormorant, seal and iguana amongst others.. its all about how its prepared and cared for.. but sadly today most people dont know the tricks in preparing game meat anymore.. luckily my mom learned the tricks from my grandma and i learned it from her.. some flavours u wanna mask, others enhance, for lean meat u want more fat in there etc.. gamy is good ;)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from ingebrigtsen wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

ive eaten whale, dolphin, cormorant, seal and iguana amongst others.. its all about how its prepared and cared for.. but sadly today most people dont know the tricks in preparing game meat anymore.. luckily my mom learned the tricks from my grandma and i learned it from her.. some flavours u wanna mask, others enhance, for lean meat u want more fat in there etc.. gamy is good ;)

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from johntalbott wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

People who hunt bear and say its too gamey to eat, simply shouldn't hunt them.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from rock rat wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Mostly people don't hunt them around here as they like the grassy taste of elk.

I like all kinds of game and not just covered up with lots of chille but allowing the full flavors of the particular animal to come to the fore.

I've been thinking about bear, I keep crossing the tracks of one where I stalk deer and this year it didn't have cubs. More bear tags here than they have takers. A lot of cultures like eating bear. I'd like to give it a try.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Is that what's happening to me?

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Moose1980 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Don't forget, most bear hunting is done in the warmer months. Maine's bear season starts the end of August. Get it, gut it, skin it...got to cool them down. The bear meat I've had was delicious.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Carl Huber wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I only had bear once. It was taken by a cousin who is a trained butcher. Did not care for it at all. The off taste might come from garbage dumps instead of a diet of picnic baskets. As far as Bear meat being dangerous. That might have originated from Polar Bears who have a toxic level of vitamin A in their Liver. As do most Arctic Animals Seal, Walrus, Grizzly and Huskies. This is due to the Algae rich environment. So if you bag a Polar stay away from the Liver.

+2 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle VanBritson wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Personally, I don't understand the definition of gamey. The way I take it is that's just how it tastes, I like the flavor of wild game and the "gamey" taste it carries. People saying they don't like gamieness in their deer is like saying I want my chicken to taste like beef...it just doesn't work. I've never had bear and am only 17...but I've killed my first buck and a big doe(my first deer period)this year. I just finished my first true year hunting and love that wild gamey taste, it just confuses me as to what people mean when they say the hate the gamey taste in deer and antelope. Its just how the meat tastes, if you don't like it...don't kill them, more for us who do. If they are implying something else by saying "gamey" someone please clear this up for me, o

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle VanBritson wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Nice bear by the way, good luck in Alaska

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from steve182 wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I've been part of a couple successful bear hunts and enjoyed them very much. That said, i no longer hunt bear because I do not favor the meat and don't want to kill an animal i would eat only begrudgingly. I have had it a couple different ways varying from "not awful" to "decent except for the texture", etc.
I have heard of others having great meals of different bear done different ways, and i'm sure it's possible, but i don't want to be stuck with a couple hundred pounds of bear-meat i'm not sure i'll like. I do strongly believe they need to be managed by hunters, and may someday partake again myself.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from MaxPower wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

Bear hams are wonderful, I had them frequently when living in northern Ontario. Roast them like any old beef roast and make gravy from the drippings. The leftover meat is great on sandwiches.

Let us know where you're going and who you hunt with David, I'm in the market for a good Black Bear/fishing trip in AK or BC.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from DCluver wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

plains Native Americans quit eating bear because bald white men ate it, and they thought that is why they had no hair, so they refused to eat it to keep their full heads of hair. =]

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from tom donohue wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

my first bear was an 18.5 year old sow taken on the first day of deer season in wash state. it has to be one of the best experiences of my life. i was very surprised at how clean the animal was, no strange odors at all. the hide is magnificent. field processing was a joy and the big surprise was the massive amounts of white, not greasy, fat packed on between hide and muscle. the tenderloins were fabulous and i regret to this day not taking more steaks and burger from her. as she was just coming off the huckleberries her flesh had taken on that sweet heavy flavor of the berries. Lord please bless me with another huckleberry fed bear.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from Kyle VanBritson wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

A giant honey bear ham sounds amazing, especially from a bear that eats berries quite frequently

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from mexhunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

It is obious to me that bears have alot of fats since that is what keeps them alive. I have never eaten bear and im sure i will the first chance I get. I hope I can taste it to see if i like it before i hunt one.

+1 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

John, I agree. Don't kill the bear if you're too prissy to eat it. Man up.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from shane wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I don't think it's possible to get one legally, but I bet a bear fed on berries, trout, and pronghorn babies would be great.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from badsmerf wrote 2 years 48 weeks ago

I didn't care much for bear when I tried it. I'd be willing to try it again, but that would be the last time if I didn't like it.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from 007 wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I had some summer sausage made from bear some years back. I expected it to be greasy and strong but was pleasantly surprised, it was better than any venison sausage to date. I get the opportunity, I want to either make some myself or have some made.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Luckyhunter wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

I haven't ever had Bear, but let me speak to my experience with antelope. one word: Jerky. This last fall, I shot a massive antelope buck that was obviously rather old, and had lived his life off of sage brush. I butchered myself and turned it all into jerky which was a hit at thanksgiving.

other benefits of jerky is even if you end up with 100 pounds of bear jerky, just freeze it. I've never had jerky turn bad from freezer burn, and it is also a rather healthy snack.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from jamesti wrote 2 years 47 weeks ago

black bear is edible. if you are hunting grizzlies, you are rug hunting.

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from crackjaw wrote 1 year 26 weeks ago

i'm glad there's pictures of these people... least then i'm not the only one let alone karma who decided that it's not their problem to life interruptus something 'lesser' than them.

eh, how would you feel? oh you don't have enough brainpower to compensate that. that bear just wanted to fornicate or eat man, give it up already.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

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