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The Fall Black Bear Eludes Me No Longer!

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  • The Fall Black Bear Eludes Me No Longer!

    I have been trying to get a nice berry fed, fall black bear since I moved up here. It has not been easy! They are usually up in mountain goat country in the steep nasty stuff. Every time it seems I've been foiled by the wind. On the steep mountain faces with huge valleys below, the wind is never consistent and what it's doing on the valley floor is not what its doing on the mountain.

    So today I set out for possibly my last go for the year. Glassing along the highway yielded no bears. So I hit a trailhead that I've seen a good number of bears in the past and started the climb. The trailhead switchbacks its way up steeply before it levels out at an alpine hanging valley. It climbs 1000 ft in 1.25 miles before leveling out.

    Hiking in another 2.75 miles, I quickly spotted a bear above me. The wind was good and I had a decent route. There's lots of alders and brush between us and the bear looks preoccupied with the berries covering the ground. So it looks like a good stalk opportunity. I have a 0.5 mile climb which ascends another 1000 ft.

    The climb is going good and the wind starts swirling. I'm thinking the result will be me getting to the top and the bear will be long gone. But I have to see how it plays out, I've gotta get lucky one of these times right?

    I reach the alder line and start looking... nothing. I take a few steps and look, a few more and look. There it is!

    Holy cow! I got above tree line on one of these bears and it's within range!!! I drop to the ground and slip off the pack and range the bear. 278 yards. With the incline I call it an even 250. I lay down on the pack and wait for it to move into the open again. Broadside to me I fire... hit hard, the bear takes off and I hit it again. The bear begins cartwheeling down the mountain. I felt elated to finally get one of these bears.

    I climbed over to it and it was smaller than I thought but still a good bear. The hair was luxurious and probably 4 inches long and growing out to the ends of it's claws. Jet black!

    She's probably a 5 foot sow, I didn't measure. I quartered, skinned and loaded up. The way down was going to be tough, going up is one thing, down is another. Slick rotten wet vegetation combined with alders and devils club!

    I got to the bottom and made my way to some gear I stashed, stuff I didn't need to take up there with me. I laid on the ground for a while and drank some water. Well, I better get too it. I started putting stuff in the bag and looked up and there were three guys coming down the trail in camo with big packs. This couldn't be....

    A friend of mine said he was going up in there on Thursday but was going all the way across to the other end, where there's another trailhead. I figured he was a long ways away, that or out and headed home. But, could this be them???

    They got closer and I could see that it was him. They had taken one bear and took it out a couple days earlier. Boy it was good to see these guys! They quickly offered to take some of my load and we headed for the trucks 3 miles away.

    I'm looking forward to trying some of the meat, as I've been wanting to see what a fall berry fed bear will be like. Can anyone tell me, I want to make some bacon burger. Would you cut all the bear fat off before grinding. The fat is pure white and doesn't smell strong. I trimmed a ton off of it already and there's still some between the layers of muscle. Would you leave this for flavor or get rid of it?

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    One more pic. The regular photo uploader isn't working, had to do these small attachments.


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    • #3
      Congrats man..that is awesome taking one right before hibernation. Hair should be perfect.
      President of Alaska Waterfowl Assoc.
      http://akwaterfowl.com
      https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alask...78020265619952
      AlaskaWaterfowlAssociation@gmail.com
      Gen.1:26
      And God said, let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

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      • #4
        Congratulations Mossy!

        Well done. Berry-fed blackie is very nice.
        Allow me to recommend Yankee style pot roast (slow cooked in broth with onions, carrots, celery and potatoes)
        If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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        • #5
          Congrats on your berry bear!

          If the fat doesn't have a strong smell, like you say, it should be fine for grinding. The ton of fat you've already removed, when rendered, makes the best flakiest pie crust ever...it's also great for deep frying.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Duckhunter01 View Post
            Congrats man..that is awesome taking one right before hibernation. Hair should be perfect.
            Ya the hair is grown out to the ends of the claws! It looked like a good bigger bear before I made my stalk and watched it through the spotter. Looked like it's belly was hanging low and a decent sized head. The thing was just a giant puff ball! I took all the meat which really didn't amount to much. When I was done I stood back and thought, that can't be all? Couldn't believe the layers of fat on it!

            Originally posted by Erik in AK View Post
            Congratulations Mossy!

            Well done. Berry-fed blackie is very nice.
            Allow me to recommend Yankee style pot roast (slow cooked in broth with onions, carrots, celery and potatoes)
            I had that in mind with a couple of big roasts off the hind quarters.

            Originally posted by Tearbear View Post
            Congrats on your berry bear!

            If the fat doesn't have a strong smell, like you say, it should be fine for grinding. The ton of fat you've already removed, when rendered, makes the best flakiest pie crust ever...it's also great for deep frying.
            As I was peeling off pounds and pounds of really good looking fat, I couldn't help but think about rendering it. But, I had so far to go with an already heavy pack and I didn't know anything about using fat in any way. I think in the future, I may read up on that. The fat looked so good!

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            • #7
              When we took one two years ago, we trimmed off the fat before making bacon burger. When I have it to do over again, I'm going to save the bear fat and render it for cooking and baking. I hear that rendered bear fat is the absolute best for things like cookies and such - way better than butter as I hear it, so that's my plan. I also want to try grinding some into my burger, but can't speak to that yet.

              Congratulations! I've been looking forward to seeing you connect! Glad to hear that there's still some out there, as I still hope to make one last try. I wasn't sure what the snow situation was down there.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Brian M View Post
                When we took one two years ago, we trimmed off the fat before making bacon burger. When I have it to do over again, I'm going to save the bear fat and render it for cooking and baking. I hear that rendered bear fat is the absolute best for things like cookies and such - way better than butter as I hear it, so that's my plan. I also want to try grinding some into my burger, but can't speak to that yet.

                Congratulations! I've been looking forward to seeing you connect! Glad to hear that there's still some out there, as I still hope to make one last try. I wasn't sure what the snow situation was down there.

                Thanks Brian! Ya it was my last day to get out for the year, most likely. I was wondering how the snow would make the bears react. There wasn't much driving down through Turnagain, but there was some down to the road at Summit Lake. Still though, the bears should be out rooting around for berries I'd think.

                There was less snow once I hit Tern Lake and less out towards Cooper Landing. I think days like today would be killer.

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                • #9
                  Congratulations, Nice looking bear.
                  ALASKA is a "HARD COUNTRY for OLDMEN". (But if you live it wide'ass open, balls'to the wall, the pedal floored, full throttle, it is a delightful place, to finally just sit-back and savor those memories while sipping Tequila).

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                  • #10
                    Sweet! I love the smell of the meat on fall berry bears. One of these years I will bag one too. It seems so hard to decide what game to chase this time of year.

                    I am with Brian on using the fat for lard...definitely want to try that in the future.

                    Congrats!
                    Juli
                    Taxidermy IS art!
                    www.alaskawildliferugs.com
                    Your mount is more than a trophy, it's a memory. Relive The Memory!

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                    • #11
                      Nice looking bear!

                      I think you find the meat is very good. I didn't save the fat off of one fall bear I shot - but I think I will next time. I usually grind it into sausages and hold back a couple roasts.

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                      • #12
                        Awesome job!! For future reference look for a small head and the belly dragging don't mean much, short legged bears look big that way too.... You'll want a small head on a long neck....long legs and long torso. Those are bigger bears. But black bears are notorious for ground shrinkage. No worries!! Awesome to be in the mtns skinning your bear!!
                        Www.blackriverhunting.com
                        Master guide 212

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                        • #13
                          Nice! Yup, bear lard is the best pastry shortening in the world!
                          ...he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. ~Thomas Jefferson
                          I would rather have a mind opened by wonder than one closed by belief. ~Gerry Spence
                          The last thing Alaska needs is another bigot. ~member Catch It

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                          • #14
                            Rendered bear fat is to die for. Makes the best pie crust in the world. The not so good (dirty and what not) fat is great for boot grease.

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                            • #15
                              Nice, glad to see some still out!

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