Inquiring Minds Want to Know: Mainers, Do You Eat Bear?
Hunting is a Maine tradition.
In my family, my grandfather's uncle was a hunter for a lumber camp. His nickname was Buckshot. Not that it's relevant, but he only had one eye. My grandfather used to say that Buckshot would pop his glass eye out and play marbles with it with the kids. Luckily, that one good eye not only kept food on the table but also brought in money for the family.
Hunters in the old days were a staple of all deep woods outdoor businesses. Trucks coming to the lumber camp with provisions from other parts of the state weren't really a thing yet in the early 1900s, so they had to hunt for their own meat in the camps. Deer moose, rabbits, partridge, turkeys, and the occasional bear.
Fast forward to now...
Bear hunting has been kind of a hot topic in Maine over the years. Baiting, no baiting... Trapping, no trapping... But people still actively do it every year. I always wondered if the motivation was for food or a bear rug/mount. For years, I wanted to try bear, but I didn't know anyone personally who actively hunted bears.
Same for this one person on Reddit, who I'm sort of guessing may be an out-of-stater. The question was simply posed: Do you guys really eat bears? Of course, there was all manner of sarcastic answers, but by and large, I found it to be a pretty informative glimpse into the topic.
Some people say it's gross, some love it.
In the comment section, people were hilarious. Even the ones who had actively eaten it many times felt it was an acquired taste. I can concur. I finally did get some bear steaks and some ground bear a few years back, and it's definitely a whole vibe. It's greasy and tough, to say the least. Other folks talked about the numerous parasites bears can often be infected with, so cooking it to death is vitally important.
But ultimately, we're Mainers. The general rule is... if you shoot it, you eat it. So while the motivation may be to get the trophy, you gotta eat what you hunt. Even if it becomes dog food, we're not apt to waste food. It's just not how we roll. Is it good? That'll be for you to decide for yourself. But if the question remains, do we eat bears? Abso-friggin-lutely we do.