Sep 10 2018
by Clay Newcomb
In this episode of “From The Global Headquarters” Bear Hunting Magazine publisher, Clay Newcomb, shows how he renders bear fat into oil using a Fry Daddy. Just for kicks, Clay uses a bear baculum to stir the fat (baculum = penis bone). He and a friend just got back from All Terrain Bear Hunts in Manitoba and harvested the fat off a large bear. There are many practical uses for bear fat including cooking and lubrication, but also some folklorie-ish type uses including a baldness remedy and a using a clear jar of fat in a window to forecast the weather. This video shows all the steps for rendering bear fat. Here is the link to the video: https://youtu.be/o6zGHjbifd4
Historically, rendered bear fat was a valuable commodity because it didn’t go rancid as quickly as pork fat, and was even used a medium of currency in many parts of the American frontier. The rendered fat of a bear symbolizes much more than just “fat.” It symbolizes the biological success of a species that was designed to live, adapt, and thrive in the rugged wilderness that we all appreciate so deeply. The fat of a bear symbolizes success. The feat of harvesting a bear once meant that your family would be well-stocked throughout the winter. It meant that the challenges of living in the Northern hemisphere would be less severe. A bear is a master at gathering calories and storing them. In the same token, those calories can be transferred to the hunter through this ancient ritual we call “hunting”. There was a time when the people in North America were trying to put ON calories, not take them OFF. Bear meat is rich source of organic, healthy caloric content.
The rendered fat of a bear, known as “bear grease”, was once an extremely valuable commodity financially and practically. In the 1800’s, and before, in most of North America there were no regulations on hunting and market hunters harvested bruins in excess. One of the main objectives of these entrepreneurs was to make ‘bear grease’. Bear hunting in many regions of the country was a lucrative business, especially where the bear commodities could be exported effectively to urban markets. One small town in Independence County, Arkansas, named Oil Trough, got its name because of the volume of rendered bear fat it produced. Records show that in the mid 1800’s bear grease could be sold for $1 per gallon and it was measured in “ells”. An ell was a unit of measurement used to contain, transport and measure the oil and it was made from the tanned neck of a deer/ The rendered bear fat or bear grease had many valuable uses back then and still does today.
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