Bear Field Care
After the black bear is down, the work begins. If
you would like to de-bone your bear meat, you
do not need to gut the bear.
Just proceed to skinning it, and then work on
boning out the meat. You may want to gut the
bear if you are taking the entire carcass to the
butcher shop, or if you want to get back to
camp, hang the meat, and deal with the carcass
in the morning. Letís look at how to field dress a
Skinning For a Bear Rug
- Make sure you have sharp knife, zap
strap, or string.
- Cut around the anus until the anal tract
is freed and use a zap strap to tie it off.
- Make an incision from the pelvis up to
the sternum, cutting through the skin
and stomach wall without puncturing the
- Reach up into the chest cavity and cut
the esophagus off as high as you can.
- Pull the windpipe, lungs, and heart out.
- Pull the intestines, anal tract, and
stomach organs out of the cavity.
- Make sure not to nick the stomach or
organs which would spoil the meat.
- Prop a stick across the open sternum
to a llow airflow and then hang it in a tree.
B e careful not to damage the hide if
y o u plan on making a bear skin rug.
Hunters who are in the field for a long time
should be able to skin their game and take care
to prevent hair slipping and deterioration of the
hide. Skinning requires some fairly
Use a small knifeóa four-inch flexible blade is
recommended. A small knife offers better
control, especially around the tricky head and
face area. The skinning has to be close to the
skull. The facial area usually has little hair and
cuts can easily show on the skin.
- Lay the bear on its back.
- Starting with the front legs, both right
and left, make a clean cut from the pads
of the paw to the point just below the
- Make a cut from the point just below the
neck from over the abdomen, right up to
the tip of the tail.
- On the hind legs, make a cut similar to
the one made on the front legs.
- Skin around the paws and saw the bone
off to leave the paws attached to the hide.
- Skin around the bear to the back of the
- Separate the ears from as close to the
skull as possible
- Continue to the eyes, cutting as much of
the eyelid off as possible.
- As you work down towards the cheeks,
separate the lip tissue from the gums
staying as close to the jawbone as
possible. Leave lots of lip tissue on the
- Cut off the nose, keeping the cartilage
attached to the hide.
- Remember to leave evidence of sex (penis
sheath, vaginal orifice) attached to the
hide if your regional hunting game laws
require you to do so.
- The next important step is to salt the hide
after fleshing it out. About 10-20 pounds
of salt is required for a black bear. Salt
has a dehydrating effect, removing all the
moisture and tightening all the hair
- Liberally apply salt inside the hide, inside
the ears, nose, on the split lips, between
the feet, and right up to the tail.
- Pack the hide carefully in a
game bag and hang it in a cool dry place
out of the sun to drain and dry.
- Quickly transport the hide from the field
to the taxidermist.
Remember, NEVER store or transport raw hides
in plastic. This will cause the hair to slip from
Measuring Your Trophy
There are several ways to measure your bear to
determine if itís a trophy, but there is only one
accepted method of measurement for the Pope
and Young and the Boone and Crockett record
Measuring a skull requires you to determine the
total width and length of a bear skull in inches
to assess trophy size. A drying period of 60 days
must commence before an official scorer can
record the score for the record books. A score of
18 inches is required to qualify for the Pope and
Young book while a score of 20 inches is needed
to crack the coveted Boone and Crockett book.
For bragging rights among hunting buddies, a
nose-to-tail length of a black bear is a common
way to specify size. This is simply the
measurement from the tip of the bearís nose to
the tip of the bearís tail. Squaring the hide is
also used to determine the symmetry of the bear
by adding the nose-to-tail length with the front
claw to opposing claw length, and then dividing
that number to arrive at the square of the bear.
Weighing a bear on commercial scales is a
common way for hunters to brag about the size
of their bruins. Some bears have tipped the
scales at up to 800 pounds!
All this information and much more is covered in the book and DVD.