Like wild turkey, spring black bear is one of the few wild game seasons available to you during the spring. While it’s not as popular as other game animals, bear has been a source of protein for native tribes, frontiersmen, and settlers for hundreds of years.
Many of today’s hunters still carry on this tradition by heading into the woods with the hopes of adding some bear meat to their freezers. In fact, around 50,000 North American black bears are harvested every year. And with total populations in North American ranging from 600,000 – 800,000, black bear numbers continue to remain strong.
If you haven’t tried bear meat, yet, it’s somewhat sweet, with a fat content similar to Pork. Spring bear, however, can be milder due to their fat loss during hibernation and a steadier diet of berries. As far as nutrition is concerned, 100 grams of bear meat contains about 161 calories, 8.3 grams of fat, and 20.1 grams of protein.
But let’s be honest, some people get squeamish about eating bear meat. One fear is contracting Trichinosis, which is caused by a roundworm that bears tend to ingest from what they eat. Of course, if the meat is handled and cooked properly there is actually no risk of getting Trichinosis.
To ensure your meat is safe to eat, it’s important to cook it to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit for at least three minutes before eating. Luckily, bear is a very forgiving meat to cook, so even if it’s well done, it will still be juicy due to its fat content.
With a quick Google search, you’ll realize there are many ways to prepare bear meat, including roasts, chili, meatloaf, jerky, sausages, steaks, and more. So, if you are lucky enough to find some in your freezer, there will be no shortage of meals to cook up.
Lucky for you, we found the perfect recipe to get you started. It’s a true game changer for those who’ve always been skeptical of how to prepare bear meat. This isn’t a simple pot roast or stew, either. Instead, we took a classic Shepherd’s Pie recipe and gave it a little twist by adding bear meat instead of lamb. So thaw out the bear burger you’ve got in your freezer and get ready to serve up some Leupold Hunter’s Pie.