How to Field Dress a Black Bear

by Zach Lazzari
Black bear hunting for salmon in the wild.

Black bear hunting for salmon in the wild.

The difficult work of a bear hunt begins after the animal is successfully shot and recovered. Field dress the bear immediately to preserve the meat and prepare for transport from the field to the freezer. Bears are bulky and have thick skin. The field dressing process is similar to that for an elk or deer, but the skin requires special attention.

1. Slowly approach the bear with your rifle loaded. Poke the eye with your rifle to ensure the bear is dead.

2. Roll the bear on its back and spread its hind legs. Use a stick to keep the legs separate or tie each leg to a tree to hold the position. Make a shallow incision on the pelvis and cut around the sexual organs without severing the organs. Cut around the anus and sexual organs until they are free from the body cavity.

3. Use twine to tie the end of the anus and the sexual organ to prevent the discharge of any fluids or feces.

4. Run the knife blade from the pelvis incision to the sternum to open the body cavity. Hold the blade upward while making this incision to prevent cutting organs. The chest area is stout and requires careful knife work to open the cavity without hitting the intestines and organs. Work the knife along the diaphragm to create space and expose the chest.

5. Roll the bear to one side. With the cavity open, reach inside the chest, towards the spine. Sever the tissue that connects the intestines to the body. The intestines will pull free from the upper section of the body cavity.

6. Carefully pull the sex organ and rectum through the pelvis to completely remove the intestines from the body cavity. Monitor the tied area to prevent spilling fluids on the meat.

7. Run the knife along the inside inside of the appendages to skin out the bear. Stop at the paws and break the wrist bones to leave the paws intact. Saw the skull free at the base of the neck and roll the hide for transport.

8. Remove the front quarters by cutting through the shoulder joints. Remove the hind quarters by cutting through the hip joint. Remove the back straps by cutting along the spine and removing the two strips of meat. Cut the meat off the neck and ribs.

9. Place all of the meat in game bags for transport from the field. Hang the meat in a cool place while you are packing it to the truck.

Items you will need

  • Knife
  • Twine
  • Game bags
  • Knife sharpener

About the Author

Zach Lazzari is a Montana based freelance outdoor writer and photographer. You can view his work at zachlazzari.com

Photo Credits

  • sorincolac/iStock/Getty Images