Are lynx and bear predators fit for your table? This past spring, the salvage requirements for brown and grizzly bears taken near my home town changed to require that the meat from brown bears taken at black bear bait stations be salvaged. Although I had no plans to hunt brown bears over bait, the regulation change spurred conversation about whether or not brown bear was edible. When a friend offered a sample of a brown bear roast her daughter had taken at a bait station, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try it. To my surprise, the flavor was not unlike other wild game and surprisingly mild.
Although many hunters shun bear meat, those who do consume it report that the meat is usually good or very good, as long as the animal has not been feeding on fish. Regardless of what the bear has been eating, the meat must always be cooked to prevent trichinosis, a parasitic disease also found in domestic hogs that can infect humans. As I considered the upcoming predator hunting season, I checked in with other hunters in Alaska about preparing predators for the table. Here’s what they had to say.
Black and Brown Bear: The Other Red Meat
Alaska hunter Elaina Spraker has subsisted on wild game most of her life. In the face of dwindling moose populations due to predation by bears, she was delighted to discover black and brown bear as “the other red meat.”
“Hunters talk about Dall sheep as the wild game delicacy, but black bear meat is some of the best wild game I have ever eaten,” said Elaina. “The mild, sweet taste of the meat is delicious.” It was through utilizing black bear meat for the table that she became convinced of the value of bear baiting as a method of harvesting bears. “Not only can a hunter spend more time evaluating the animal, determine its gender and make a more accurate shot, but also the use of an elevated tree stand provides a safer opportunity for adolescent hunters to harvest a big game animal.”
Professional hunting guide Sue Entsminger is known for her inspired fur fashions and the contributions she has made to Alaska’s hunting community since she moved to the state in the ’70s. After taking an animal, Sue utilities every edible part, including head meat, innards and bones for soup broth. Her family eats grizzly and black bears, and Sue renders the fat for cooking.
When preparing bear, Sue uses recipes she has collected over the years, some of them found in The Hunter Returns After the Kill, published by the Cooperative Extension Service, University of Alaska, as well as Great Sausage Recipes and Meat Curing by Rytek Kutas. She recommends not storing bear in the freezer for longer than 6 months, and she pressure-cooks hers before freezing it. The only part of a bear she uses for steaks is the backstrap. The rest she makes into sausage, corned meat or roasts (see Sue’s Burgundy Bear recipe, below).
Elaina’s favorite way to prepare black bear is her black bear and bean enchiladas recipe. Both Elaina and Sue recommend cooking bear meat until it is well done, preferably when a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees. “Bear meat can’t be medium rare,” said Sue. “It’s just a cautionary measure against trichinosis.”
Lynx: The ‘Other White Meat’
Lynx are often hunted for its fur and the meat is not eaten as it is presumed not to have a value for human consumption. However, many hunters who eat lynx report that it has an excellent flavor similar to pork, and cook it like pork or chicken. Elaina has prepared lynx in a variety of ways. “Lynx not only tastes like pork, but I cook it like pork or chicken,” says Elaina. “Most chicken or pork recipes can be substituted with lynx.” She has made lynx enchiladas, lynx fettuccini, and lynx and dumplings. Just as with bear, 160 degrees is preferred with lynx. The light, mild-tasting meat is also good in stir fry and fajitas. Sue has even prepared lynx steaks, and reports that they are excellent.
Many big game animals have parasites. Hunters rarely notice them except when infection is extreme. Most are not transmissible to humans. Dogs and cats, however, are susceptible to some of these parasites. Therefore uncooked meat scraps or internal organs should not be fed to pets.
This site is protected by wp-copyrightpro.com