In short, yes, you can eat beaver. Before you go beaver hunting, you need to consider legal and safety aspects.
You won’t find beaver meat available are most markets. Hunting your own or getting it from a hunter is an option.
If you’re going to hunt your own, make sure you’re familiar with the laws and regulations.
Historically, beaver meat has been prized as a delicious source of protein. It can be prepared in various ways and has a reputation for having excellent flavor.
What’s more, beaver tail has been historically considered a delicacy. It can serve as a valuable source of fat when compared to the leanness of most wild game meat.
Beaver Habitat And Distribution
Beavers are common throughout North America. Their range extends from Canada down through northern Mexico.
They have also been introduced in South America, parts of Europe and Russia.
Beavers are herbivores that live in the riparian zone. This is the zone where land and river or stream meet. Running water is essential to the beavers lifestyle.
Beaver help create wetlands by establishing dams in creeks and rivers.
These wetlands in turn produce environments that are used my many other creatures.
The dams that beavers build don’t just create wetland, they provide shelter and safety for the beaver.
The beaver lodge is made of logs and mud. They’re easy to identify as they emerge above the water’s surface.
The beaver lodge has a dry area that is reached by swimming under the edge of the lodge then back up.
In this inside section, the beavers can rest and raise their young.
Beavers will usually live a monogamous lifestyle. A male and female beaver may live together for 10 to 12 years and raise several broods.
They raise their young till they are about 2 years old. Then, the young beavers go off on their own to build their own lodges.
What Do Beavers Eat?
Beavers eat a vegetarian diet. They will eat inner bark and other parts of a tree. They also like buds, grasses, shoots, mushrooms and roots. Beavers can cut down trees with their teeth. Their teeth are constantly growing. So they need to use them constantly else they could become overgrown.
The cutting down of trees is not just for building lodges. Beavers will also many many parts of the trees they cut down.
Contrary to popular belief, beavers do not eat fish.
Is It Safe To Eat Beaver?
For the most part, yes, it is safe to eat beaver. However, you need to be aware of potential contaminants.
Like many aquatic creatures, beavers may be exposed to pollution cause by heavy metals.
Some beaver populations can have high levels of contaminants. As a result, you need to make sure you’re aware of the safety of the population of beavers in the area you’re targeting.
Aside from that, all you need to do is make sure you cook beaver to the proper temperature (165 F).
Safely sourced and prepared, beaver is a very nutritious and lean meat. The tail however is basically all fat. This is important because most wild game is very lean. So beavertail can be a rare source of fat in the wild.
If you find yourself with a whole beaver on hand, you’ll need to learn quite a bit about how to prepare it.
Skinning a beaver is outside the scope if this article. I may write up a separate article about the skinning process. If you’d like to see that, let me know in the comments section.
One thing I will mention here is that beavers have two glands on each side of the vent. These are called castor glands. These glands release a liquid that has a perfume like smell.
You don’t really want this liquid to get on the meat.
You also may not want to get rid of the glands as they a in demand by the cosmetics industry and you may be able to sell them. Make sure you check on the legalities of this.
As for the beaver meat, You will end up with a similar configuration to most game. You’ll have the quarters and the body cavity.
Some people don’t like the front quarter but others do. It’s a matter of preference.
With the body cavity, you’ll most likely only use the backstrap. Beaver loins can be very tender and delicious.
What Does Beaver Meat Taste Like?
Beaver meat can get tough and chewy. One way to prevent this is to soak the meat in buttermilk. This will help tenderize the meat.
But as for flavor, beaver is known for having a very pleasant taste. It is often compared to grass fed beef.
Some people claim beaver meat is lean while others say that it has a pleasant amount of fat.
This depends on some variables. If you eat a beaver that was killed in the spring, you will most likely be dealing with an animal that has burned much of its fat over the winter.
It’s much better to get a beaver in the fall. After the beaver has had all Summer to eat and pack on some weight. You’ll find that the meat will have more fat and a more pleasant flavor.
What Does Beaver Tail Taste Like?
The beaver tail is a different story. A beaver tail is basically a big slab of fat.
In our modern society where there is an abundance of fat available for consumption, a beaver tail is not that valuable.
But if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need fat, a beaver tail is a perfect source.
The good thing about beaver fat is that it does not have a strong flavor.
Is Beaver Meat Nutritious?
Beaver meat is a great source of protein. But that’s not all. Beaver meat is a great source of minerals and healthy fat. Of course this will vary with the time of year you harvest your beaver.
A one pound boneless serving of beaver will have the following nutritional profile:
- 109 grams of protein
- 22 grams of fat
- 663 calories
Beaver Meat Recipe
The key thing to remember here is that this recipe is for beaver meat. It’s not for the beaver tail. The beaver tail is all fat and needs to be handled differently.
Here are the ingredients you’ll need:
- 1 beaver hind quarters and backstrap
- 1/2 Cup of flour.
- 1/2 tablespoon of salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 tablespoon of black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika or cayenne pepper for a kick.
- 3/4 Cup of milk or egg bath.
- Pan for frying with a cover.
- Your favorite oil for cooking.
Place the pieces of beaver in the milk or egg bath and allow them to sit for about 5 minutes.
While you wait, place the flour, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and paprika in a ziplock bag. Shake the ingredients so that they mix together.
Also, put about a half inch of oil in the pan and set it on medium heat with the cover on.
Put the beaver meat in the zip lock bag and make sure it gets coated with the flour and spice mix. Shake the bag to make sure you get a good coating.
When you’re ready start cooking the beaver, make sure to be careful as it may cause some drops of oil to pop.
Cook the beaver on each side for about 5 minutes.
Keep the pan covered while the beaver cooks.
To be sure it’s properly cooked make sure that it cooks to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Once the beaver is done, you can put it on a plate with paper towels to soak up the oil residue.
You can enjoy your pan fried beaver like you would enjoy any other pan fried meat.
Serve it with french fries, mashed potatoes, rice or your favorite side dish.
How To Cook A Beaver Tail
Beaver tail is a different story. There is old knowledge that calls beaver tail an old mountain man delicacy.
In a time when acquiring fat may have been difficult, the rarity of a beaver tail would seem like a delicacy.
Nowadays, things are a bit different. Getting fat is pretty easy. So, the delicacy status if the beaver tail may be less warranted.
One popular way to cook a beaver tail is to grill it.
When you put a beaver tail on a grill, the outside skin will harden. This will make it easier to remove it once the cooking is done.
Like all other animal products, you want to make sure you cook it to a safe temperature.
Once the beaver tail is cooked, you can take the skin off and the membrane under the skin off too.
Once that’s done, you can slice the tail and give it a shot.
Beaver is definitely good to eat. It’s flavor profile frequently gets compared to grass fed beef. It makes sense since beavers feed on a vegetarian diet of wild plats that grow in their natural surroundings.
Getting beaver meat may be difficult. You need to follow regulations and licensing guidelines. Then, you need to actually find one.
Finding a beaver may actually be the hardest part. But you can be rewarded with a great wilderness experience and a great meal too.