By: Glynn Harris
The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries Commission is expected to vote at their November meeting on whether our state will schedule a hunting season for black bears in 2024-25.
There are those, especially hunters and hunting camp and other property owners in parishes bordering the Mississippi River, who welcome the possibility of scheduling a hunting season for bears. They have grown tired of seeing hunting stands, feeders and camps damaged or destroyed by what they consider nuisance animals. They also point to the fact that bear numbers especially in that part of the state continue to grow.
On the flip side, there are animal rights activists and others who hate the thought of our resident bears being hunted. What the Commission decides will dictate which of the two groups gets what they prefer.
OK, let’s assume you are a proponent of bear hunting in Louisiana, your name gets drawn to enable you to hunt bears. What if you get one? What will you do with it? Process it yourself or take it to a taxidermist? I talked with a taxidermist friend about his thoughts on processing a bear.
“There’s a good bit more work involved. Most folks who bring in a bear want a half body mount, full body mount or a bearskin rug. This involves skinning out the feet, the toes and front legs. It takes more time because of the size. They make beautiful mounts; we have done several brought in from out of state”, he said.
Comments I read concerning preparing and eating bear meat differ as much as the pro-hunt/no hunt parties.
“Bear meat is nasty”, said one. “Bear meat is wonderful”, another counters. “Just treat it like pork. I have eaten every bear I’ve killed and turned it into roasts, breakfast sausage, Italian sausage and prepared on the smoker,” a fan of eating bear added.
Google has much to say about bear meat for food. “Bears are known to carry the disease trichinosis, like pork. To prevent getting it, killing the trichinosis in the meat is as simple as making sure the meat hits 160 degrees when cooking.”
Other comments I found on the Internet are interesting…“Stuff like chili, tamales, shredded bear, burgers, tacos and stew are going to make you love bear meat more and more.”
Another writes, “The best steaks come from the loin, aka, backstrap. You can cut several large roasts from the front and hind quarters and reserve the rest for stew meat and/or grind into burger.”
Here’s another thing to consider. Peterson Hunting magazine has this to add to the pro/con of eating bear meat. “It pays to consider their diet. Bears shot in the fall eat wild berries and in spring, they feed on grass; it’s like they’re grain fed. Perhaps only dumpster bears, scavenging on the soiled scraps of what we humans eat should be avoided.”
I would conclude that bears that have grown fat on corn when they rip into a corn feeder, should provide a better taste than the dumpster divers.
The jury is still out. Some folks like to eat bear meat; others wouldn’t touch it. If you are selected to hunt bear and you get one but you can’t relish the thought of eating one, here’s a comment I read from a guy who doesn’t plan to eat bear meat and who might have trouble getting along with folks.
“Give the meat to neighbors you don’t like.”
BLACK BAYOU – No report. Water is low. Contact Honey Hole Tackle Shop 323-8707 for latest information.
BUSSEY BRAKE – Some big bass to over 9 pounds have been caught on fake frogs and spinner baits around the brush. The crappie are scattered around the brush. Bream have slowed. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole at 323-8707.
OUACHITA RIVER –Crappie fishing has improved in 10-12 foot water on shiners or jigs with better fishing up the bayou. Bass are fair in the cuts on shad imitations. For latest information, contact the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE D’ARBONNE – With a little current as the result of Claiborne being lowered, fishing overall has improved. Bass have been fair to good early mornings around the grass on topwater lures with swim baits and soft plastics later around secondary points. Crappie are best along the channel edges fishing 8 feet deep in 12-14 foot water. Bream are slow but catfish continue to be caught fishing cold worms and night crawlers off the banks. For latest information, call Anderson Sport Center at 368-9669 or Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE CLAIBORNE – The lake is down some seven feet as the result of the drawdown. Bass fishing has been good early mornings on topwater and spinner baits. Later in the day jigs and spoons are working best. Stripers and hybrid stripers are still biting in fairly shallow water hitting topwater lures. Fish in the 7-8 pound range are coming in. Boats can be launched at the state park at this time. Some reports of crappie being caught as well around submerged brush on shiners and jigs. For latest information, call Kel’s Cove at 927-2264 or Terzia Tackle at 278-4498.
CANEY LAKE – Night fishing for bass has been producing fairly well on dark spinners and soft plastics. They are fair to good early mornings on topwater lures with square bill crank baits, spinners fished along the grass lines and soft plastics working best later. Some bass are schooling and hitting shad imitations. Crappie have been best around the deeper tops on shiners or jigs. Bream are slow. For information contact Caney Lake Landing at 259-6649, Hooks Marina at 249-2347, Terzia Tackle at 278-4498 or the Honey Hole Tackle Shop at 323-8707.
LAKE POVERTY POINT – Catfishing has been good. Crappie fishing has improved around the boat slips with better fishing on the south end of the lake. No report on bass. For latest reports, call Poverty Point Marina at 318/878-0101. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.
LAKE YUCATAN – No report. For information, call Surplus City Landing at 318/467-2259.