Don’t Let the Heat Stop You from Hog Hunting

By Mike Marsh

6 secrets to protecting your pork
from hot weather!

Hunter uses the right ammo to take down a hog

Nighttime is the right time for hunting hogs. Cooler night temperatures give hunters plenty of time for transportation and cleaning chores without the worry of spoiled meat. And selecting the correct ammunition can save your bacon. Remington’s Hog Hammer Ammo is designed specifically to stop heavy hogs. (Photo: Mike Marsh)

No one will argue that aging game birds and venison can enhance taste and texture. But aging of pork may result in spoiled meat and food poisoning for those who dare to eat it. And since lots of pigs are shot in hot weather, you need to know how to protect your pig meat from the heat before you ever embark on a hog hunt. Advance preparations are critical. Here’s what you need to know for healthy, appetizing wild hog.

1. Make a late date

Time of day is an important consideration for any hot weather hunt. In my home state of North Carolina and many others, night hunting of feral swine is legal. During the night, the air temperature can be more than 20 degrees cooler than daytime temperatures and hunters do not have to worry about sunlight heating up a hog before they can recover it. Any hunters who cannot hunt at night should hunt in the evening, so they can complete cleaning and transportation chores after sunset.

Hog hunters take in a hog at night

The author took this hog during a late afternoon hunt with Johnnie Dale (right) of Buffalo Creek Guide Service. The dragging and cleaning chores took place during cooler temperatures after dark. (Photo: Mike Marsh)

2. Made in the shade

Putting a hog in the bed of a pickup truck with a black plastic liner in full sunlight guarantees a freshly killed hog will retain its body heat and could become even hotter. If you must transport a hog under direct sunlight, cover it top and bottom with damp burlap or a wet blanket. Evaporative cooling will chill it, especially with the airflow generated by a moving vehicle.

3. Elevate the lowly pig

Insert a gambrel through the hog’s hocks and lift it off the ground using a winch and frame mounted to a receiver hitch. Or, place it on receiver-hitch carrier with a metal grate floor to allow air to circulate around the body and begin the cooling process.

4. Dress for dinner

Dress the hog as soon as possible and use fresh water to clean the body cavity. Field dressing the animal at the kill site begins the cooling process immediately. If the animal cannot be field dressed at the site, take it to a dressing facility to skin and clean it without delay. Wash the hog with clean, cold water to cool the carcass and preserve the quality of the meat. Butcher the hog into the smallest pieces possible and place them on ice.

5. Chill out

As quickly as possible, field dress the hog, fill the body cavity and surround the body with ice. Ice is cheap, so take your ice into the field. Place the hog in an ice chest or fish bag. I nicknamed my large offshore fishing ice chest “Critter Coffin” for all of the game animals it has kept on ice over many years. A very large hog or several small pigs fit easily inside. Not only does it keep hogs cold, it keeps the vehicle clean. A winch and frame mounted on a receiver hitch helps lift the hog into the ice chest. A fish bag used by offshore big game tournament anglers also works well for hogs and offers greater portability. It folds or rolls up to stow easily in a small space. If you have several pigs, line a pickup bed with a tarp and fill it with ice. Once the pigs are on ice, cover them with another tarp. Do not put a warm hog into a cooler or bag without ice because the cooler is insulated and will hold the heat inside.

Blood sign left by a wounded hog

A large boar left this blood sign in a briar thicket. One downside of hunting in the evening is the potential risk of following a blood trail into thick cover in the dark. Because it was late in the day, the pork at the end of this trail was not spoiled by sunlight and heat. (Photo: Mike Marsh)

6. More than one way to skin a pig

A small shed with a window air conditioner makes a great place to skin a pig. Even a garage can work as a skinning area with the addition of a simple window unit and a sheet of plastic on the floor, allowing the hunter more time to complete the chore than out in the open where the air is hot. If you do not have an air conditioner, use an electric fan to cool an enclosed skinning space.


About Mike Marsh:

Mike Marsh outdoor writer headshotMike Marsh is a freelance outdoor writer from Wilmington, NC, who has written thousands of articles about hunting and fishing for newspapers and magazines. His columns appear weekly in his hometown newspaper, Wilmington Star News, as well as many other newspapers. To contact Mike, read his latest posts or order his hunting and fishing books, visit www.mikemarshoutdoors.com.


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