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Bear Grease's Imprint on Our Culture Is Still Highly Relevant Thanks to Clay Newcomb

Salena Zito on

It was a dichotomy in the world that shaped who he is today. As he grew older, he realized that the people his father told him about were of no regard in a lot of places in society. "It was just like deep, deep inside of me that these were honorable people because my father saw them that way, and he was a good judge of character."

Newcomb joined MeatEater in 2019; a prolific publisher, writer, cinematographer and photographer, he lives here with his wife and four children, the center of his universe.

He also owns, publishes and is the editor for Bear Hunting Magazine, the nation's only all-bear-hunting publication. Outside his family, what drives him is introducing the connected world to his rooted world and showing them all that his world has to offer.

"What society values was not always what I valued, and until I worked for MeatEater, Salena, I just kind of assumed that I would live in terms of career and media as this lower-level outdoor media guy. And honestly, I was totally fine with that," he said.

When he says that all he's ever been interested in is keeping food on the table and raising his family in the way that he wants to, he means it.

"I've never wanted to have some big career or be well-known," he said. "That was never the intent. And I felt like the stories that I was telling were of little value to anybody."

 

He said he has also never been interested in elevating rural American culture to the point of saying that it is the best culture. "I think there's deep value in valuing your own culture so that you can value the culture of others," he said.

His podcast gives the uninformed a history lesson before they even listen to its first story. "Bear grease," in case you are wondering, is the rendered fat of a bear, which is turned into a liquid oil that can be used for a multitude of things. At one time, it was the fuel of the American frontier.

The black bear, the second most widely distributed big game mammal in North America, had more tallow than any other animal. Before the modern convenience of widespread fossil fuels, animal oil was an essential component of survival for frontier families.

This meant that bears were a highly coveted resource.

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