How to Field Dress Bear

by Joe Steel
Adult male black bears average 300 pounds, while females weigh half as much.

Adult male black bears average 300 pounds, while females weigh half as much.

As with any game, proper care after the kill is important. Field dress the bear you've taken as soon as possible to help cool the meat and remove the internal parts of the animal to prevent any possible contamination. While field-dressing a bear is similar to field-dressing a deer, the internal organs of the bear are smaller and comprise a smaller proportion of the animal than a deer.

1. Turn the animal on its back. Insert your knife and make a circular cut around the anal opening to free that and the intestine.

2. Insert the knife just below the breastplate with the blade pointed toward the abdomen. Slice the belly from the breastplate to the genital area, cutting through fatty tissue and muscle that lays over the peritoneum -- the smooth, white sack that holds the intestines. Don't cut into the stomach or intestines.

3. Roll the animal over on its side. Reach into the body cavity and pull out the stomach, intestines and anus of the bear.

4. Remove the lungs and heart by cutting the chest diaphragm close to the ribs. Cut out the windpipe and esophagus. Pull them out; the liver and entrails should come out with them.

5. Turn the bear on its stomach. This permits the blood to drain out. It helps the draining if the head end of the bear is slanted upward.

Items you will need

  • Sharp, short-bladed knife

Tips

  • Be sure to tag your bag before field-dressing the carcass and follow all other regulations of your jurisdiction.
  • Once you've reached home or camp, you can hang the bear by its front legs to help cool the carcass. Don't hang the bear by the hind legs, since blood will drain into the chest cavity, possibly spoiling the meat.
  • Skin and butcher the animal as soon as you can.

Warning

  • Bear livers should not be eaten, as they contain such a high concentration of B vitamins that they can be toxic.

About the Author

Joe Steel is a Northwest-based editor, writer and novelist, former news editor of an outdoor weekly. He also was an editor at a Seattle-based political weekly and editor of a monthly business magazine. He has been published in the "Seattle Times," the "Washington Post" and the "Foreign Service Journal," among other publications.

Photo Credits

  • Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images