WON Landing Page March 2022

Lynx and Bear: Predators Fit for the Table

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.”

(Sue Ensminger photo)

(Sue Ensminger photo)

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.

Predators_Hunter_Returns_Amazon_photoWhen 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.”

Predators_Elaina_Spraker_photo

(Elaina Spraker photo)

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.

Predators_Bear_Dinner_Elaina_Spraker_photo

Bear dinner. (Elaina Spraker)

 

Sue’s Burgundy Bear
Recipe Type: Wild Game
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 lb. bear meat, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 4 onions, chopped
  • 6 carrots, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bottle dry sherry or dry red wine
  • 3-4 Tbsp. parsley
  • 2 tablespoons celery leaves
  • 2 or 3 bay leaves
  • 1 clove garlic
Instructions
  1. In a large skillet, melt butter and brown bear meat on both sides.
  2. Brown onions and carrots in the same fat.
  3. Then, in a baking dish, arrange meat and vegetables together.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and add equal parts dry sherry and pan drippings with water added. Top with parsley, celery leaves, bay leaves and garlic.
  5. Then bake 2–3 hours at 350 degrees.
  6. When done, use the juice to make gravy.

 

 

Elaina’s Lynx Fettuccini Alfredo
Cuisine: Italian
Ingredients
  • 12 oz. fettuccine
  • 12 Tbsp. butter, divided
  • 12 oz. Lynx backstrap, or any tender cut
  • 2 Tbsp. flour, plus more (or panko bread crumbs) to coat meat
  • 8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. of fresh minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 2 cups grated fresh Parmesan or Romano Cheese
  • 2 tsp. grated lemon zest
Instructions
  1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add a tablespoon of butter to the noodles while draining and toss.
  3. Cut lynx into small cubed pieces and season with salt, pepper and garlic.
  4. Roll seasoned meat in flour or panko bread crumbs.
  5. Heat oil and a couple tablespoons of butter in a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat for approximately 3 minutes.
  6. Add mushrooms and cook until brown.
  7. Set aside on plate.
  8. In the same large, heavy skillet add remaining butter and cook over medium heat just until the butter melts, stirring occasionally.
  9. Stir in 2 tablespoons flour until thick like a paste.
  10. Stir in 2 cups of the cream, the fresh garlic and the lemon juice.
  11. Blend together until creamy.
  12. Add nutmeg, salt and white pepper.
  13. Then add the lynx and mushrooms to the cream mixture.
  14. Add the pasta and toss.
  15. Add the Parmesan and the remaining 1/2 cup of cream to the cream sauce in the skillet.
  16. Toss the pasta mixture over low heat until the sauce thickens slightly.
  • About Christine Cunningham

    Christine Cunningham is a lifelong Alaskan, author and outdoor columnist known for her contributions to outdoor magazines and her commitment to creating opportunities for women to connect and share their stories. Her first book, “Women Hunting Alaska,” profiles some of Alaska’s most outstanding female hunters.

     

The Conversation

2 Comments
  • Robin Follette says: December 31, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    I adore bear meat. Chops pan fried with onions, green peppers and mushrooms, pan deglazed with red wine and poured over the chops and veggies – my favorite bear meal.

    I haven’t tried lynx. We can’t shoot them here in Maine, they’re protected. We can hunt bobcats. We’ve taken a few that were harassing our livestock, and we didn’t eat them. Maybe I’ll try it next time.

  • Peter Talus says: December 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    The first time I had black bear meat was when I was working as a wildland firefighter and we only had a campfire to cook with. I wrapped it up in foil with carrots, potato, onion and spices. I added just a little bit of water to help with the steaming and put it in the coal bed of the fire. WOW! it was great. My coworkers cooking it on a stick… kinda chewy.
    I can’t wait to try your recipe Sue.

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