Should You Eat Bear Meat?
In the realm of wild game consumption, the topic of eating bear meat often incites passionate debates about ethics, health, and gastronomic enjoyment. While hunting for deer or elk is widely accepted (unless the animal is diseased or spoiled), bear hunting evokes mixed reactions, with less than half of all bear hunters relishing the meat as much as they do elk, deer, or moose.
This blog post aims to shed light on this undervalued resource and discuss why bear meat deserves more recognition.
Is it bad to eat carnivorous animals?
The idea of consuming carnivorous animals can be off-putting. Bears, after all, feed on meat, including carrion, which might be enough to dissuade many from enjoying bear meat.
However, it's interesting to note that fish, a staple in many diets, also consume other creatures and can even engage in cannibalism. So, while the consumption dynamics might differ, it's an interesting comparison to ponder.
Trichinosis in bear
A significant health concern when eating bear meat is the potential presence of trichinosis, a parasitic disease. It's a genuine issue since bears, like all carnivorous animals, can carry this parasite. The disease is harmless to humans but can be transferred to us through consumption of infected meat.
It's worth noting that pork, especially wild boar, is the most common transmitter of this parasite. Despite the fact that trichinosis usually goes unnoticed in humans, it's crucial to cook bear meat thoroughly to eliminate any potential risk.
Now, you may ask, why even consider eating bear meat given these concerns? The answer lies in the taste and the exhilarating experience of bear hunting. Bear meat has its unique flavor and adds variety to your wild game repertoire. Due to the need for thorough cooking, bear meat lends itself well to specific dishes. Here are my top two recommendations:
Bear Brisket: A sumptuous delicacy that can change minds. Slow-cooked bear brisket has won over many skeptics who've tried it. It's essential to ensure that the brisket reaches an internal temperature of 203 degrees for optimal tenderness and safety.
Smoked Bear Sausage: With the rest of the bear meat, creating smoked sausages is an excellent way to utilize it. Bear meat is generally fatty compared to deer or elk, which makes it ideal for sausage preparation without adding any pork. For leaner bears, mixing in some back fat can provide the perfect texture. Smoked chorizo, garlic pepperoni, Hungarian paprika sausage, and bratwurst are some of the bear sausages I enjoy.
Finally, the timing of spring bear hunting aligns perfectly with a bowhunter's year. It breaks up the long gap between fall and the following September. As meat reserves dwindle to around 50% by spring, bear hunting helps replenish the freezer, bringing it back up to about 80% capacity.
With its unique taste and versatility, bear meat is a fantastic addition to any hunter's freezer.
In conclusion, bear hunting offers more than just an exhilarating chase; it provides a delectable and diverse source of meat that's too often overlooked. So, next time you're planning your hunting season, consider going for a bear and experience the enjoyment of this wonderful wild resource.
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