Sunday, May 31, 2015

Bear Grease and Prairie Grass

I had lots of questions about our bear hunt.  Yes, we ate bear meat.  No, it isn't horrible.  I tentatively cooked up some of the back straps when we got home.  Despite what most people stated, it tasted great.  I'm sure part of that is because I was careful butchering and made sure there was no fat. The meat was marinated overnight, then seared in a frying pan, and slow cooked to perfection.  Bear meat must be completely cooked, so no medium rare.  I can't wait to finish butchering the rest of the quarters.  I am anxious to make summer sausage using casings for the first time.   

Next, I followed our guides advice and rendered the fat to make a type of bear lard.

I took cleaned chunks of bear fat.  I put them in a pot with 1/4 cup of water and put it on medium for several hours.  It slowly became a beautiful amber liquid.  I strained it through cheesecloth and after it had cooled poured it into jars.

After it had cooled more, I put it in the refrigerator and it is now a solid white.  Our guide said it makes the best pie crust.  I will let you know how that goes next week.   I have also learned it is good for waterproofing leather, great for hand lotion, and can be used to make candles.  I will also try a few of those projects later.

  Bear grease wasn't all I was busy with last week. My husband and I recently acquired some land on the Belle Fourche River.  We couldn't wait to see the opportunities provided on the prairie property.   
We were greeted by a newly born lamb in the pasture next to us.  It didn't take mom long to get him cleaned up and moving.  The river wasn't so welcoming.  All of the rains have the Belle at full capacity.  She was roaring.  We did manage to catch one channel catfish.  
Of course, the first thing I had to do was plant things.  It is hard for a girl who spent most of her childhood planting trees to live in the forest.  Here I was right at home.  The first trees in were some little cedars for a windbreak.  Next was an orchard of apricot, current, aronia, black walnut, and elderberry.   Can you tell I love berries?  Part of the draw of the property was the wild buffalo berries, chokecherries, and I also found a huge gooseberry bush.   In the photo below the chokecherry is on the left and the buffalo berry on the right.  Also if you look closely at the picture on the right, you can see hoards of ticks crawling onto my sweatshirt, while it hangs on the steel post:)

 Everything is green and lush.  There are several stately cottonwoods.  I'm afraid there are also a plethora of ticks.  Despite all caution we were inundated with them.  Luckily all were found before they got anchored.  I guess with everything good comes something bad.  
 Well, it was a busy week.  I am excited about our new property and projects.  It is always good to have something to keep a person busy.  Is anyone else having a problem with ticks?  This is the worst they have ever been, both in the hills and on the prairie.


  1. I've never had bear before or anything cooked with bear grease. I'm from Missouri, around St Louis, and they have evidence of black bear getting closer, one of the state parks had to shut down the bird feeders at the visitor's center because the bear were coming up to them. We do have a lot of hogs that have gone feral in the state. I hear they are a real challenge to hunt.

  2. I was one that asked about eating the bear. thanks for the update. Very interesting. As to ticks! Not sure I could stand to be there. I usually put on the repellant before I venture out on my land to garden and rarely see them. I have been very fortunate not to have gotten any on me.

  3. I had to get a new med for my dogs to keep the ticks off. I have been taking some mean pills for a rash I got after being bit. They are unreal this year, my 1st was in Jan.

  4. What beautiful land. I would give anything for the elderberry. I remember reading in my herb book that every thing on the elderberry is good for health.
    Oh ticks, some years around here it is like that. I have only seen it that bad in the mountains. I remember we were out hiking and My husband and son were going to go on to the top of the hill to see how much further it was to the top. I stayed with our smaller children and as I looked up the hill with the sunlight streaming down, of every blade of grass, every inch of ground, every tree trunk was filled with ticks waving their little arms looking for a host.
    I am curious about the pie crust with bear grease and I love the rendered fat. It is just lovely. I am sure it is and will be very good for you.
    Have a good week.

  5. My dad shot a bear one time...and I remember the meat was a bit interesting. Not awful, but definitely not my favorite. I'm glad you found a good recipe! Have fun exploring your new property. Do you know what you will do with it yet? (my skin is tingling, just with the thought of all those ticks!!)

  6. So interesting to hear that you butchered and ate the bear meat. I've been curious to know how bear meat tastes. Well done on the fat rendering. Please remember to let us know how it works in baking.

  7. There's nothing like a lard pie crust, in my humble opinion. You'll have to let us know what you think of bear lard crusts.

    Awesome property! You've got a good thing going on with all that tree planting.

  8. I love the Belle Fourche River, but I never would have dreamed it had catfish in it. But we've been in Missouri for thirty years now, so I guess I'm out of the loop.

    A couple years ago, I spotted a black bear cub two different times just off the road a couple miles from our house. Then last year we found two different piles of bear scat on our property. Exciting, but a little scary at the same time.

    The ticks are terrible on our property this year. We have four game cameras set up which we download weekly, and I can't believe the gobs of ticks on the back of the deer's ears and necks. I don't know how they stand it. If you ever figure out a healthy and natural repellent, please share.

  9. I had bear meat once. My brother isn't a hunter, but he had to shoot one at his work site (when he was tree planting) and we didn't want it to go to waste. Your photos are gorgeous.


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