Tag Archive | "black bear"

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Veterans Day Mendocino Black Bear

Posted on 18 November 2010 by Cork Graham

L-R: Ace, Billy Norbury, Jesse Hruby, Cork Graham, Chris Bartholf, Joey Coleman and Ziggy

 

Wildlife conservation has, sadly, not been immune to the “we only care if it has a cute and cuddly face” groundswell that has swamped the animal protection, and self-proclaimed environmental movements of late: everyone wants to hunt the “dastardly” wild hog that grows its population like rats. But, no one wants to take the “cute and cuddly” black bear or mountain lion in California.

In California, there’s even a moratorium on the public hunting of the mountain lion, even though the mountain lion population in California is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the Western United States. This overextended population is eating the truly endangered desert bighorn in Southern California to extinction, and along with poor burning and logging practices, i.e. very infrequently, deer populations in California are also dropping.

Because of this, I started singling out the other major California predator that we are legally allowed to hunt on a public tag draw system: even though the misguided, and often mislead, anti-hunting community repeatedly tries to prevent it. My suggestion to newbie hunters is—until California Fish and Game is finally allowed to fully implement well-researched management practices, well-used in other states on deer and mountain lion, free of political grandstanding and meddling—to give deer a break, and instead get a bear tag.

Bear’s Better Than Venison?

“But are bear edible?” is the oft-repeated response. They’re delicious and can easily be prepared using a number of beef, or pig recipes that require low and slow cooking…as most recipes designed to retain moisture, soften muscle tissue and kill diseases that used to be prevalent in even farm pigs, like brucelosis and trichinosis…think braising, stews, dried and fermented sausages, roasts cooked past pink.

Average thought is that those who hunt bear only hunt bear for the hide and trophy. For those who actually do hunt bear and use as much of an animal as possible we feel that we get more out of bear than a deer: meat, organs (bear liver makes a phenomenal paté), hide (simply tanned make great rollup pillows for the couch and luxuriously soft linings for baby cribs, as done by Native tribes and pioneers, especially with a thick under layer of fur that comes with the cold of late fall) , claws (great for Native American artwork), tallow (great for rendering to cooking lard–a process definitely not recommended for much more gamey fat from deer), and if you’re knowledgeable in Asian homeopathic medicinal practices, medicine for ailments such as a bruising and arthritis. If you’ve ever had the chance to try a berry pie or pastry made with bear lard instead of Crisco or butter, you’ll remember the nutty flavor of bear lard that makes that pastry the best you’ve ever had!

Into the Mountains

With this mother lode of useable products drawing me to the mountains of the Mendocino National Forest, I arrived the afternoon before Veterans Day and set up camp. The objective was to venture out from camp at the crack of dawn, and work deep down into the canyon formed by the Eel River. Bears, like elk and moose, love water—the more water the better. They drink it. They keep cool in it. And, they wallow in the mud pools along its shore.

At least that was the intention before I realized, that I couldn’t get the firewood soaked by the previous day’s rain burning hot, and that the Snugpak sleeping bag I was evaluating on this trip, was a comfort rating off for the freeze that hit that night—disorientated and shivering, I woke every two hours.

The next morning, I was so tired, not really wanting to go off the shelf and into the canyon after a bear that was surely going to square at 6-foot-plus and over 300lbs translating to two-day pack out of all that meat by a single hunter. Electing to first drive up to a lookout and check the activity across the river canyon with my binoculars and spotting scope, I loaded my Brittany, excited about his first hunt for bear, in my Ram and drove out of camp.

Turn of the Track

Not more than a mile up the forest road, we came upon another pickup with dog boxes behind the cab. I recognized them as the group that arrived at the campground late the night before, anticipative of the four-day weekend. Exchanging greetings, I asked them what they were up to: “We’re bear hunting.”

Mentioning I was doing the same, but spot-n-stalk instead of over hounds, the owner of the hound crew, Billy Norbury, countered, “Our hounds just got on a track…If they tree him, do you want to shoot it?”

Enthused by the offer, I pulled over and we chatted for only a few minutes before we heard the howls. “Grab your rifle!” Jesse Hruby said.

Running, while loading a magazine into my Model 700, I kept Ziggy alongside at heel as we sped for the treed bear. Up in the tree, the bear that had been safe from the hounds below suddenly became anxious.

“You better shoot him,” one of the hunters yelled as he held a hound by the collar. “He’s gonna run!”

Raising my rifle, I quickly had the crosshairs of my Nightforce NXS on the bear’s chest, just behind its shoulder—the boiler-room we like to call it. When the shot went off, the bear climbed down as if untouched.

The bear was only 20 yards away when I shot…I couldn’t have missed!

Just as the bear hit the ground running, Ziggy had already broke from my side as if he were fetching a pheasant, and was up there with the hounds, which were trying to bay the bear. An immediate round of shots, one of them another Deep Curl 180 gr. from my .300 Winchester Magnum, and it was down for good.

Calling Ziggy back to heel, I was reminded of how much the excitement of hunting with hounds can be like the excitement of combat…sometimes almost as dangerous with all those bullets flying when a bear is on the ground.     

.308 cal. Speer Deep Curl 180gr. bullets equal tight groups!

 

 Could This Be the First Bear Taken With A Speer Deep Curl?

While removing the hide from the carcass, and preparing the meat cuts, I noticed a bullet hole in the side that was nearest me during my first shot. I was still smarting from thinking that I had missed the first shot. I’m not that bad of a shot!

When I saw the perfectly mushroomed bullet, I immediately realized what had happened. In the excitement of the moment I must have shot through a branch. That the .308 cal., 180 gr. bullet was able to retain 42.4 percent (76.4 gr.), keeping a perfect shape mushroomed shape (instead of exploding), and penetrate that far was impressive.

Because I normally try to get as close as I can to whatever I’m shooting, this was the first bullet I’ve ever found in game I’ve shot. Not that I normally look for them, but most of the game I’ve shot for the table, I’ve shot at an angle that permits modern high-power bullets to pierce both lungs and break through thinner than shoulder joint bones and exit the skin on the other side. This means I don’t lose shoulder meat, which is a lot when you’re as meticulous as I am in using every part as possible of the animal that I kill.

Designed as a replacement for the long utilized Speer Hot Cor, the Speer Deep Curl is definitely a bit more. While the original Hot Cor was exactly that—a hot core—hot lead poured into copper tubing, the Deep Curl’s lead core to copper jacket bonding is based on an electrical process.

When I saw the bullet for the first time, I also noticed the much more aerodynamic quality of the bullets shape. In essence, this, and the concave bullet base, is what adds to the excellent accuracy of the bullet. In coming up with a load of 80 grains of Hodgdon H1000 to get the best vibration out of my 24-inch Remington factory issue rifle barrel, the bullet groups were going between 1MOA and 1/2MOA. For a non-Accubond or Ballistic Tip bullet shape, that’s awesome…

After a quick chat with Tim Brandt, PR Manager at Speer, as the Speer Deep Curl is so new and not in every gun shop, this might be the first black bear taken with the new bullet. From the amount of cohesion and pattern of the mushroom, I’d say this is a definite improvement on the Hot Cor and look forward to using it on feral pigs, deer, caribou and elk in the coming year!

CONTROVERSY AND THE HUNTING HOUND

Like many hunters who enjoy venturing into the woods for the solitude and intimacy with the natural world that only spot-n-stalk and still-hunting provide, chasing after a pack of Walkers or Black and Tans might seem like having to walk down a block behind a bunch of drunk hooligans.

…But, having seen bear, fox, raccoon, and mountain lion hunting hounds in action, I have to tip my hat to them and those who have such a love of their dogs, spending the money and time in the field training and keeping their hounds sharp. Keeping their dogs in tip-top shape and awareness is one of the reasons that I received such a gracious offer from these hound hunters who I’d never even been introduced to until my pulling up in my pickup: fill a bear tag and hunting’s pretty much done.

Yes, you can run hounds during many parts of the year, but hunting’s not just coursing. Hunting involves a shot being fired and a dead bear on the ground, which is the whole edifying experience for the hounds…not making the kill would be as dismal for Ziggy if I sent him out for pheasant, then getting the bird he pointed into the air and didn’t shoot, not offering him the full reward and experience circle, of a retrieve.

An added benefit of hunting over hounds is that if a hunter decides not to take the animal, the hounds can be leashed and pulled away from the base of the tree and the bear is permitted to run down and escape. Many bear are shot during deer season by deer hunters with an afterthought bear tag—often meaning a bear that is jumped. In that moment of surprise, it’s hard to tell if it’s female, which are illegal in other states, or more importantly, whether there’s an unnoticed accompanying cub or cubs.

By using hounds, the hunter has enough time to see if it’s the right bear to take, and adjust appropriately and lessen the chance of orphaned bear cubs.

Many might say, “That’s not sporting—the bears up in a tree!”

That’s correct, hunting is not sport. It’s an opportunity to get healthy, organic meat protein. It’s a much-needed tool of wildlife conservation….football, basketball and baseball are sports. As a tool of wildlife conservation, hunting with hounds is a very useful tactic: and why game wardens and biologist who deal with depredation, either by bears or mountain lions, even in states where hunting with hounds by the public is not allowed, like Oregon, use them to most efficiently control predator populations; and practice efficient wildlife management for a healthier ecocsystem.


Hank Shaw’s Bear Recipe: check out our colleague Hank Shaw’s bear pelmeni recipe here: Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.

…In the next month, I’ll be coming up with a recipe by modifying a childhood recipe from my childhood in Southeast Asia that if it works as good as my ours bourguignon recipe, modified from Julia Child’s beef bourguignon, should be just as spectacular!

COMMENTS: What do you think about bear hunting? What do you think about hunting with hounds? Got something to add? Feel free to let us know by using the form below—on this site we believe in true free speech and believe censorship is a crime…

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy the latest news at Speer Bullets on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

TOPICS: Speer PR Manager Tim Brandt talks about the history of Speer and new line of Deep Curl replacing the lauded Hot Cor bullet.

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Julia Child’s “Ours Bourguignon” (Bear Bourguignon)

Posted on 02 August 2010 by Cork Graham

In 1943, while working for the OSS in London, Julia McWilliams was introduced, by her boss “Wild Bill” Donovan, to James Corbett, a spitfire pilot in the RCAF. It would become a longtime friendship lasting until her death in 2004. When they went out to dinner, Corbett frequently regaled her with tales of his home near Calgary, and the big elk, moose and deer that were in the woods near his home. Most of all, he recommended she come out and enjoy the wilds of Canada.

Eighteen years had passed and McWilliams finally accepted Corbett’s invitation. By this time they had both married, and McWilliams was now arriving at Calgary Airport with her husband Paul Child. For dinner that night, Corbett’s wife Michelle, a French-Canadian native of Quebec prepared a spin on her family’s favorite dish, using the black bear James Corbett had taken only a few days before. It reminded Julia Child of Boeuf Bourguignon she had just perfected while finishing the compilation of her soon to be released Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

…Ah, if only it happened like this!

Quite an adventurous lady—Julia was actually hoping to jump into WWII France with OSS agents, but instead was made a top researcher directly under “The Father of Central Intelligence” General Donovan—I’m sure Child would have much enjoyed this spin on what would become her boeuf bourguignon. There was a Colonel James “Jim” Corbett, but he was more famous for wildlife conservation and hunting man-eating tigers for the Raj and the British Colonial Government in India (his first tiger had 436 confirmed kills through his belly before Corbett got him): he also was neither a pilot, nor a Canadian, and though quite a writer in his own right (check out Man-Eaters of Kumaon) I don’t think he ever met Julia, and died just six years before the release of the book that would open a whole new career to her.

These were the just mental machinations of a writer working on his first novel, delirious under the flu (though not as badly as when I’ve had malaria and the relapses…but that’s another story), and a heartily enjoyed bowl of Ours Bourguignon. I think it blows away any bourguignon made with common beef.

This dish was instigated by my running across our family’s 1970 copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, that Child co-authored with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, and my French-Basque hunting buddy Arnaud Bidondo giving me a pound of stew meat from a nice brown-phase, 6-foot black bear he got last year.

When I went through Child’s boeuf bourguignon recipe, though, I noticed she really only mentions thyme and a bay leaf as spice other than black pepper. Also, there’s only salt bacon. I wondered what would happen if you used Herbs de Provence. Standardized in the 1970s as a dried herb mixture from Provence (savory, thyme, basil, fennel) it also incorporated for American tastes, lavender. As my colleague, Hank Shaw says, brandy goes well with lavender, and after having tried it with so many other recipes, I can honestly say that just about everything goes well with lavender, especially sweet meats, of which bear can be, and especially so in California, where many bear taken by hunters without hounds are during the early part of the season, when the black bears have been fattening up on blackberries and mazanita berries.

As my friend Bidondo says, “many like to grill the bear meat, which is okay with the smaller bear, but when they are this big, much better in a stew!”

I wanted something that didn’t take as long to make as the original recipe, and would be simply amazing…So here’s my rendition of Julia Child’s Boeuf Á La Bourguignon, with ours replacing boeuf—Bon Apetit!

NOTE: Unlike venison, remember to cook all bear meat through, like pork, because of the possibility of trichinosis.

Nothing wilder than, and as robust as black bear meat!

 

Ours Bourguignon/Ours Á La Bourguignon

Ingredients :

1-2 lbs of bear stew meat

1 tbsp olive oil

1 chopped carrot

1 chopped onion

1 tbsp flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp Herbs de Provence

1 bay leaf

3 cups of red wine ( Don’t cook with wine you wouldn’t drink: I used Francis Ford Coppola’s 2005 Claret [Cabernet Sauvignon])

1 can of Campbell’s beef consommé

1 tbsp of tomato paste

¼ lb of applewood smoked sliced bacon

18-24 small white onions

1 lb of fresh mushrooms sautéed in butter

1 tbsp chopped parsley

¼ cup of butter.

Render that bacon fat

 

Steps :

  1. Take a cassoulet or clay pot ( I prefer to use a large Vietnamese/Chinese clay pot that go for only $9 in San Francisco’s Chinatown—just before using make sure you soak it in cold water for at least 45 minutes, else it’ll crack, especially if using it for the first time).
  2. Cut the bacon strips into tiny squares, and fry them in the olive oil clay pot.
  3. Render out all the bacon fat, setting aside the brown bacon bits.
  4. Brown the bear stew meat, frying only a few pieces at a time to make sure they brown instead of cook, setting browned bear meat with the brown bacon bits.
  5. With all the bear meat browned, sprinkle the flour, salt and black pepper on top and toss the meat and bacon to make sure they’re all lightly coated.
  6. Toss the chopped onions and carrots into the claypot and sweat them until the onions are almost translucent.
  7. Pour in the 3 cups of red wine and scrape off as much of the brown goodness that has stuck the bottom of the clay pot.
  8. Add the can of beef consommé and dissolve the tbsp of tomato paste in the pot; then add the browned bear meat, bacon bits, and the spices and give a good stir.
  9. Here’s where you a lot of leeway with a claypot. You can either put it in the oven at 325-degrees Fahrenheit. NOTE: DO NOT preheat an oven for a clay pot—you’ll crack the pot! Just insert the clay pot and turn the heat on the desired degree.
  10. Or, do as I did. Put it on the stove on high heat and get the bourguignon boiling, then back off to medium heat and cover to simmer for the next 3-4 hours: until the bear meat is fork-tender.
  11. In the last 45 minutes, pour in the small white onions.
  12. During the last 15 minutes add the butter-fried mushrooms, giving a slow stir.

Clay pots are a chef’s Swiss Army knife

 

Serving suggestions:

Bear Bourguignon is really that good!


Display the clay pot at the center of the table, on a wood or cloth pot holder (never a cold stone, else the immediate temperature shift will crack the clay pot). Remove the bay leaf and throw it away.

Serve over mash potatoes,  wide, flat egg noodles, or with a side of small peeled potatoes. If you do serve with noodles, use only butter on the noodles. I tried coating the egg noodles with olive oil and it really overpowered the delicious flavor of the ours bourguignon.

Sprinkle chopped parsley lightly on the side and ours bourguignon.

Note for the Conservation Minded:

With how many more black bears there are in California than legal bucks (largely due to an overpopulation of major predators like bears and mountain lions, but more because of the counterproductive moratorium on hunting the heavily overpopulated California puma), it behooves every hunter to get a black bear tag to hunt in open areas. This is  especially so with how much opportunity there is these days, with new open areas in the Southern/Santa Barbara County section of Los Padres National Forest. Guess the millionaire residents in Santa Barbara have finally gotten fed up with black bears jumping in their mansion pools and munching on their fruit trees.

And because those bears have been getting enormous on avocados, you’ll get that much more meat for the freezer! Hopefully with this recipe you’ll learn that even a big old black bear can be just as tasty and tender as a smaller one: You just have to cook it right…

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