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Processing Wild Hogs....

Discussion in 'Meat Selection and Processing' started by hognclaw, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. So I thought I would ask if anyone here is processing their own meat, specifically pigs and hogs, but would also like to hear from folks that process any 4 legged creature ine might smoke or eat:).

    I currently hunt and slaughter my own pork from the many many hogs on my property. I was curious about a couple of different things related to processing hogs in the field. Again this can really apply to any animal one might shoot, not just hogs.

    So do you folks typically pull the guts out on the ground or after you hang em? I usually hang a hog from something in the field by thei:36:r hind legs(hams) and go about processing them down from there. I shot a lil guy this week and pulled the guts while he was on the ground, which seemed to be much easier than the way I usually do this. Anyone have any experience with this and whats your preferred way?

    Has anyone used the tool called butt out? I saw this the other day in Cabalas and claims to be able to pull the butt out without causing amy damage or contaminating the meat. Has anyone used this or something similar?

    When I process my hogs and break em down for freezing, I usually do the 2 back legs (hams) the 2 front legs (butts) and then pull the back straps and tenderloins. How do you guys n gals typically process their meat?

    For the lil guys I'll just field dress them and skin them then smoke them whole. I have always smoked the with their legs splayed out and just leave em like that. Has anyone ever smoker these guys whole? If so do you break the rib cage and hip so they lay pretty flat or just lay em and leave em? Was thinking it might cook more evenly if they lay pretty flat....Any Thoughts on this??

    For those that shoot and process their how hogs, what is your size preference on a good pig for smoking and eating?
    I almost always choose a younger hog as they seem to taste better and have more tender meat. Typically I try and go with a medium sized pig - say something less than 100 lbs. My neighbor just smoked a whole pig that I shot the other fay. He put it in yesterday at 6:30 AM and pulled it off at 8:00 PM. The largest of the two pigs weighed roughly 40 lbs or so And the other weighed around 20. The meat was very mild tasting and not gamey at all. They both were very tender and the meat just slid right of the bones...yummy! :drool

    Let me know how you process your meat. I figured this would be a good way for us to share some tips and thoughts to make processing your wild game easier and more efficient.

    I have included a few pics to show how I have smoker these whole hogs as well as a few others.

  2. One extra note. The last pic was a boar I shot. I reckon he was lass than a year or just over a year old. The meat was a little tuff...well not really tuff, but it wasn't as tender as the meat from the smaller ones I've processed and smoked. I think the reason for this was due to the fact it was a boar and because of it's size. Anyone have any experience or thoughts on this? Also, Whats the best size or weight of hog to process for smoking? And, :36:Has anyone noticed a difference in the gender as far as tenderness and flavor goes??
  3. I've always field dressed on the ground.  Once you cut them open and saw up the rib cage, it always seemed pretty easy to cut the esophagus and diaphragm, then just pull by the esophagus all the way down.  If they aren't too shot up, they will normally pull out in one piece.  I've done dozens of deer this way, and a few antelope and hogs.  I like to put them head up on an incline if possible too, helps when pulling and draining the blood.

    I've tried the butt out and didn't care for it.  Sagen makes a saw that I am really happy with.  They pretty much take a piece of bandsaw blade, cut it a few inches long, then mold a plastic handle and stopper at the end.  It cuts bone like a breeze and with the stopper, doesn't cut up the guts.  It works really well splitting between the rear legs and up the chest cavity.
  4. daveomak

    daveomak Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One thing about wild pigs.... It is highly recommended you freeze the meat for at least 30 days at temps below zero degrees F... that is supposed to kill all the parasites that may be active in the meat, and makes it safe for human consumption....
    Also, during rigor, it is recommended to not process meats... wait until rigor has fully subsided....

  5. I haven't done wild, but have gone to a farmer and shot & dressed small hogs (120 lb or so) for BBQ's. (way cheaper than going to a butcher shop)  I always cleaned them on the ground, cutting open the belly, but NOT the rib cage.  I've done this because I spit them and use an above-ground pit with (slightly offset) heat to cook them and I like to keep the rib cage whole.

    I have just cut out the anus with a knife, never used the butt out tool.

    I also run boiling water over the outside to soften the pelt and then shave them and scrap the skin (I like crackl'n so I don't skin them).

    I've rinsed them out, then put them in a large cooler with ice (carcass is still warm).  I rinse and swap out the ice 2-3 times till they stop draining over the next 24-48 hours.  Then onto the spit and cooking.

    I always cook them whole - part of the show as people come up to look at it as it is cooking.  Having said that, the middle cooks much faster than the butt and shoulders that way - so I am usually alternating shoulder lower than butt, then swapping - to get those thicker parts to cook without turning the middle too dry and crispy. (see my photo for an idea of how I do them).  I have been thinking about doing one splayed - I have heard from others that it is easier to get it all cooked the same that way - but then I have to make a big grate - a different setup than the above-ground box oven and spit I use.

    I like to keep to pigs under 120 lbs when dressed - they seem more tender and easier to handle.  Heaver than that get harder to handle, require a stronger spit, etc.  I can feed 80+ people with a 120 lb dressed weight pig (usually a feast with other meats, lots of sides, etc. - the pig is not the only dish).

    Here is a photo of the oven & how I set up the pig (this one was about 75 lbs and was store bought before I hooked up with a pig farmer and started saving lots of money!).

    Oven closed up - pig cooking

    6 hrs later
    stovebolt likes this.
  7. Chuck - I'll put a post together and then post the link to it - probably take a day or two.  - Dave
  8. I could only wish, but then.....  we had wild hogs running around here. Nothing like that to be found in this here part of the woods.

    The Elephant in the Ontario map
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  9. Jake, Good stuff! Ill field dress my next hog on an incline before I brimg it in amd see how that works. Gonna have to be sure to bring my tools with me though. My place is pretty close to my blinds and feeders so it's been easier to just haul em to the house amd process them.

    Toucson, thanks for the info in your cooker. Pretty neat stuff. I noticed the pic syas Mckinney, TX on the scouts sign. You still in TX? I live just north of there. You ever want some wild hog and still in the area, let me know. Got lots of em around my place!

    Dave, I've seen another post where you quoted the freezing requirment of 30 days at or below 0 degrees. I was under the impression that wasn't necessary if you cook the meat to 170 degrees. Whats your experience with this? Does cookimg to a certain temp negate freezing to 0 degrees for 30 days?

    I was also curious if anyone "ages" thier meat, more specifically thier pork. Would be interested in hearing about any type of wild meat as it relates to aging. I assume this is what Tucson is doimg when he puts the meat in ice for 24 to 48 hrs until the blood stops. Dave mentioned not processing during Rigor, which I assume has to do with meat quality/aging process. I may need to post a new thread on this issue!!
    I processed a wild boar the other day and then smoked it. The meat was excellent and it got me thinking, what , if anything, did I do different. This particular hog was field dressed, but not skinned amd then the chest cavity was packed with bags of ice amd then put into a cooler with ice on top. I usually gut, skin amd cut into desired qtrs or pieces. I dont usually pack with ice so this is the only thing I can think of that might have contributed to the more tender hog.
    For those that age thier hog or wild game, how do you age your meat and what are the different factors involved like time aged, temp aged at, time from kill to time to processing, leave skin/hidde or remove then age. Do you use ice or fridge and while or quartered? Would love to hear how others are or aren't aging thier meat!

    Thanks for everones input!!
  10. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    We avoid dragging a gutted animal through the dirt, leaves, grass or whatever and get to the skinning rack where we have water and electric. We also have lights and power winches it makes things a lot easier. Here I do mostly deer but once in awhile we get a pig from hunting elsewhere in the county and again we'll bring them back here to process. I have cooked whole hogs but don't like to so don't do it often yes it looks cool but as we all know the parts don't all cook to the same temps or times. So I'll butcher it down to pieces and cook them that way or grind most of it into sausage.

    My brother in law and his brothers are in central FL and have lots of hogs and they pretty much do the same as me except they have a walk in cooler to age their game.

    I mainly hunt our property anymore and if I kill a decent deer will walk back and get the tractor with loader and go get the deer rather than struggle trying to load it into the ranger or truck by myself so I don't even lift the animal saving my sore back.

    We have tried the butt out tool and haven't found them to work like advertised can't even tell you where mine went.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  11. bertman

    bertman Meat Mopper SMF Premier Member

    What bjake2001 said. It's almost like he wrote my post before I could get to it. I use a saw, too, that Cabela's sells, but it's a cable saw that has handles (rods) at either end. I've never butchered a hog, but dozens of deer. I also prefer a slight incline.

    As far as aging, if you can keep it somewhere that the temperature is regulated, I like my venison aged. I believe it makes a difference. From what I have read, you want to avoid changes in temperature.
  12. venture

    venture Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Don't know what your ambient temps are there this time of year?

    I think hogs were butchered before Cabela's came into the picture?

    Grandpa the hog grower always hung them.

    Other Grandpa  dressed smaller game animals in the field better than anyone I ever saw.

    If you got too many of those little'uns?

    Could you send them my way?

    Good luck and good smoking.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  13. Heres a pic of 2 lil ones I bagged last week. I tried laying the smaller one on our cutting table and then dressed em out.i though
    This was much easier than hanging them like I have the others

    Here in the Dallas area the ambient temps are never consistant. Was below freezing the last few days and will be mid 79's for a few
    Days then get down to freezing again. If I were to leave em out hanging I ciuld inly leave them for a few
    Days at most. Think I'll start aging them un a cooler with ice for 5 to 6 days before I butcher them down to qtrs, loins and straps. Ill let yku guys know if I notice any differences. Maybe I'll try to make a homeade / redneck Yeti cooler
    For this.

    I'll have to look into some of these hand saws you guys were talking about, especially since I just brike my bone saw!
  14. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Since I'm at the skinning rack I just plug in a sawzall
  15. [​IMG]   or get a cordless one.  They work out great.  From my experience,  the normal time using a powered reciprocating saw would not even come close to running a cordless saws battery down, so it should be great when your away from power.   just my 2p worth
  16. Hey yall, I just got my first hog and i'm about to process it. I have a meat grinder but I have a few questions on the different ways to process it.

    I am trying to make pan sausage so is the fat that came with the wild hog just as good as buying pig fat or will it taste better to buy and mix pig fat?

    Also I wash all my game 4-5 days in a cooler on ice. Is that a issue with pork? 
  17. red dog

    red dog Smoking Fanatic

    But also be aware that there are strains of Trichinella that are cold resistant. Not sure this is true for hogs but it is for bear and lion. Best bet is fully cooking wild hog, and not a bad idea to wear gloves also when dressing wild hogs or bear.