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Hunting- Vermont's big game hunting license has tags for deer and black bear. This means deer hunters can also take black bears, at least until the bear season closes on November 17th. However, hunters need to think ahead before they consider pulling the trigger. Bears are big. Their carcass needs immediate attention. And, once home, their delicious meat must be cooked carefully.

"Thinking ahead about how to properly field dress and care for the meat and pelt is an important consideration for all hunters," said Tom Decker, Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department biologist. "This is a long standing element dating back to the original "Sportsman's Code" promoted by Teddy Roosevelt."

Roosevelt, an accomplished bear hunter, gave rise to the now ubiquitous toy - the teddy bear - when he refused to kill a cub a guide had tied to a tree for him. Of course, your hunt won't come so easy. Bears are elusive, but if you are presented with an opportunity, consider the following: Unlike bucks that come with convenient handles (antlers), bears are cumbersome and generally weigh more than the average deer. This means if you are alone, far from the road, or with friends that would rather continue deer hunting, be prepared for a difficult drag.

Once you've taken the animal to the check station, get the hide off as soon as possible, regardless of the outside temperature. That thick, black hair is keeping a lot of body heat in and the meat can spoil quickly. When butchering your bear, remove as much of the back fat as possible to ensure your will have lean, great-tasting steaks and roasts.

The additional preparation even extends to the kitchen. Bear meat is similar to pork. So much so that, like pork, the meat must be cooked thoroughly to avoid trichinosis, a potentially fatal parasitic infection. Undercooked bear meat is now the leading cause of trichinosis in the United States and Canada. Even though infection rates are low in wild bear populations, don't take chances. To kill the parasite, the Center for Disease Control recommends simply cooking bear meat to an internal temperature of 160 degrees.

The good news is that most of your pork recipes are readily adaptable to bear meat, and there's no reason your bonus black bear can't be a memorable experience as long as you are prepared.

Remember, utilizing your animal to the greatest degree possible and being knowledgeable about handling and care of game meat as the mark of true sportsmen and women.

For Further Information please contact: Tom Decker at 802-751-0102 or email to [email protected]


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