One look at this ugly creature and you mighty say, “No way I’m eating that nasty thing!” I used to be that way too, but the more I’ve hunted feral hogs in the last few years, the more wild pork I’ve begrudgingly eaten.
The key to safe and tasty hog meat begins just after the kill shot. The best (some would say only) hogs to process for the table are small to small/medium animals. “A piglet about the size of a football is my favorite,” says my buddy Sarge, a Texas wildlife biologist and hog hunter. “I’ll process and eat hogs that are 3 times the size of a football, but that’s about my limit. The little ones are most tasty and tender.”
As a rule, any hog that weighs more than 70 pounds is not fit for eating.
Feral pigs are tough animals, notorious for taking lead bullets and running wildly off after the shot. The hogs you drop on the spot with ethical head/neck or shoulder shots make the best eating when you process them safely:
- Wear disposable rubber gloves and process a hog you plan to eat as quickly as possible after the shot; quickly hang hog or place meat pieces in a cooler box, or put on ice and chill.
- After cutting up hog meat, wash your hands thoroughly with hot, soapy water.
- Clean and disinfect counter surfaces and knives where you processed hog.
- Keep raw wild pork away from other foods and drinks.
- Cook pork to an internal temperature of at least 160 F. Test all pork parts with a food thermometer to make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked.
NOTE: Health officials say there are more than 24 diseases that people could get from wild hogs, mostly if you were to eat undercooked meat. Use that food thermometer!
Hands down the best hog meat I’ve ever tasted was smoked by my friend Mr. Bennie down at the Gopher Plantation in southern Georgia (best place I’ve ever hunter hogs, the thermal hunting there is especially awesome).
MR. BENNIE’S SIMPLE WILD HOG RIBS
- Cut rib sections from a medium-size hog, 40-60 pounds.
- Bennie’s secret dry rub contains brown sugar and peppers; use your favorite rib rub.
- Slow cook ribs on a smoker at 210-220 degrees for 3-4 hours, until done and tender and juicy. You will never be able to differentiate the taste from domestic pork ribs.