With archery bear season in high gear and the firearms season upcoming, far too many hunters bag a bear but don’t properly take care of it once it’s down. The result is spoiled, wasted meat and in some cases, a ruined hide if the intent was to have a rug made of it, or a full body mount.
Bob Danenhower of Bob’s Wildlife Taxidermy in Orefield, refers to this situation as “A ton of meat in five years.” That, he opines, is the approximate amount of bear meat that he has seen wasted when hunters bring their trophy in to be mounted.
Said Danenhower, “I’ve seen about this much bear meat wasted because hunters don’t take proper care of the carcass when field dressing it.” As such, the first thing Danenhower says should be done after tagging the bear and beginning the field dressing process, is to roll the bear on its back, which helps make the initial field dressing cut straight, which is important if getting a body mount.
Said Danenhower, “The cut should be from the center of the chest bone to between the front legs and from the chest to the sphincter. And if it’s a male, keep the cut to one side of the genitals.”
Danenhower says if a hunter has the bear mounted by him and wants to skin it by himself, he’ll be glad to make the initial cuts so it’s done properly.
Danenhower goes on to say that after removing the entrails, get the body cavity open by propping a stick between the walls for air to allow circulate in it. “Cold and dry are the optimum factors to avoid spoilage. So get that cavity open so it quickly cools, dries and allows evaporation to occur. Some hunters put ice bags in the cavity but it’s not a cure-all as air still cools faster.”
He goes on to recommend that if possible, get it to a bear check station as soon as possible and while there, try to keep the bear on its back and heat to escape before and after it’s weighed by PGC personnel. Then without haste, off to a taxidermist if mounting or a rug.
If the bear can’t be taken to a check station within the 24-hour mandate, it should be taken to a butcher with a walk-in cooler and hung with the head up. If that’s not possible and if hanging in a garage, again, hang head up and keep the windows open and the door(s) to get the air moving into it. In the least, put a fan on the carcass. In warmer weather like is expected next week, try to expedite all of the above suggestions.
Danenhower said bear meat always begins to rot from the bone out. “If a hunter see’s that the meat is greenish-blue
in color and has a sour smell, it’s most likely spoiled. When bacteria sets in, bear meat can start to spoil in a half hour under the right conditions. It also attacks the integrity of the hair roots, which makes my job harder in attempting to, in the least, save the hide.”
When preparing bear meat for a meal, Danenhower recommends removing as much fat as possible as too much fat gives the meat a bad taste. And preparers shouldn’t add any grease to the pan while cooking, as it will do the same thing. Above all, it should be cooked at the right temperature as the meat can develop trichinosis like a swine.
“Bear meat is delicious if properly prepared. Some folk’s think it tastes like pork while others think it tastes like beef. It can be considered the other white meat,” Danenhower opines, a phrase used in pork commercials.
DEER SEASONS CHANGE IN WMU 4C
Sportsmen planning to hunt in Wildlife Management Unit 4C that includes portions of Columbia, Luzerne, Carbon, Lehigh, Berks, Schuylkill, Lebanon and Dauphine counties, should be aware of a change in the regular firearms seasons in these areas.
According to Cheryl Trewella, PGC Information & Education Supervisor, the season for antlered only deer season will run from Dec. 1-5, with antlered and antlerless season in effect from Dec. 6-13. This unit, said Trewella in a press bulletin, was previously managed as a two-week “concurrent” antlered and antlerless deer season.