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Wild Boar Hunt Answered

This past weekend, Christy and I went a on wild boar hunt near Red Bluff, CA. We used a local guide called Catch 'Em Outfitters, and had one of the best weekend-vacations in a long time. In the end, we came home with over 100 lbs of wild pig meat.

Christy had a blast gutting and field dressing all the animals -- surprising the guides -- and we've spent the past few days processing the meat ourselves making hams, chops, and sausage. There will definitely be a few new wild boar recipes, but probably no how to hunt or how to field dress a pig Instructables, unfortunately.

Since most of our friends have read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and paid special attention to his description of a boar hunt, they have already started begging for meat. So far, I've made wild boar maple sausage, which, despite my feeling that it was a little too one-note with just maple syrup, still received a review of "I was not ready for how good that was going taste."

There are more pictures of the hunt on my flickr collection of the weekend, but be aware that they show the full process of converting an animal to meat on the table.

What follows below is my Yelp review of the hunting guide, and the experience in general:

Catch 'Em Outfitters is a hunting guide service, and because of the extraordinary work of its owner, Jasen Mead, I brought home over 100 pounds of wild pig meat.

I chose Catch 'Em because of Jasen's excitement to take a novice hunter out, and his willingness to let me use his rifles. I've hunted birds before, but for my first wild boar hunt, it was important for me to go with someone who was interested in teaching. Additionally, he encouraged my wife to come along as a non-hunter, and she ended up gutting the animals.

He offered my choice of spot and stalk hunting -- where one tries to locate hogs with binoculars and local knowledge of where they might be feeding and bedding down -- or fair chase -- using well-trained dogs to find, flush out, and potentially hold down pigs. During my hunt, I had opportunities to fire at large boars using both methods.

Catch 'Em offered as many as two morning hunts and one evening hunt for me to get a pig. As a novice, it took me all three times, but Jasen and his assistant, Ron Stone (who is also a fishing guide) never lost enthusiasm, and I'm pretty sure they stayed out longer and worked harder because they were so determined for me to have a successful first hunt. However, they were very clear in their understanding of the law, and had a firm set of ethics around hunting and conservation in general, so I felt comfortable that we were always doing the right thing from a variety of different perspectives. Bear hunting is Jasen's primary guiding business, and apparently his favorite type of hunt, but you'd never know it by the way he threw himself into my pig hunt. It's clear he just loves hunting, and teaching new people.

Obviously, much of the preparation for a hunt like this falls on you: taking the hunters safety class, learning to handle firearms safely and accurately, getting all your documents in order (I bought two pig tags, and was glad I did because I used them both), and being prepared to run full-speed through ankle-deep mud in head-high tule marshes. Finding a good hunting guide is definitely chief among those set of preparations, and Catch 'Em totally delivered for me.


nice job on hunt. Those pigs are yummy!

Awesome instructable if you want to call it that.......but really Im glad you had the opportunity to do such a thing. I was born a cityboy and about 10 years ago I got the insane itch to do the same thing, To find out just what it took to put meat on my table. It triggered something insatiable inside. I now have devoted massive amounts of time to learning about agriculture and other "primitive" life skills. I think its unfortunate that many many people would literally die if walm@rt were to suddenly close. Imagine if groceries went off the shelf in 3 days and no more were coming..........the panic. Anyways, I hope that your experience is a life lesson and that you continue to dig into your "past" and all that. Great write up.


9 years ago

You saved the tusks, yes? Good "raw material" for an 'ible.

I kept the heads, but as both the 200lb adult and 30lb piglet were sows, no tusks.

whoah! that's way more than '100lbs of pig meat'. congratulations!

A fairly big chunk of those 230ibs of pig will have been bone, skin, fat, intestines etc, or even just cuts not easily obtained "in the field".

No mechanically recovered nonsense for Eric and Christy, I'll be bound!

You mean they didn't boil the bones to get the marrow out? ;-)

No. I mean they won't be shaving off the connective tissues...

Understood now seems I got my terms mixed up

We have been boiling the bones for stock, and the marrow was quite tasty. Mechanically recovered usually means after butchering they turn a high-powered water jet on the carcass and blow off any remaining meat, which is then collected and "processed". Ew. I find making stock to be far less gross.

I see, sorry for misunderstanding.

I didn't get any boars with tusks.

That's a shame. But trophies should only be an afterthought, anyway...

Wow, sounds exciting.

Personally, I'm not so keen on the idea of killing my own meat (butcher shops are there for a reason), but it would be cool to do something similar, but armed with a decent camera instead.

Butcher shops certainly make eating meat more convenient, but I wanted to have the full experience of killing an animal, gutting it, skinning it, processing it, and cooking it. I think all meat-eaters should at some point be a part of the full process, especially the killing part. Death is inseparable from eating meat, and the way we try remove it and hide it, I think, diminishes us and allows us to make compromises we otherwise wouldn't.

I know all that, intellectually, but emotionally... I cringe.

Not that we have any intention of doing this every time (we'd never get anything else done!) but I think it's necessary to be willing to do so if you're going to eat meat. Otherwise you're outsourcing the morality of your food choices.

I guess that we have different points where "willing" comes into it - I'd be willing if I couldn't pay somebody else to do it.

Right, but it's not something you'd be unable to do if stranded on a desert island. ;)

Exactly. Actually, I think I'd go for shellfish first - they don't run so fast.

You're starting to sound like my wife LOL - Her: I'll rip the flesh off the chicken leg with my teeth, but don't let me know that it was alive at one time, running around ...or worse yet, had a name :-)

I was a part of that as a young hunter, my dad made sure I could do all that myself.

Wow, over on this side of the pond, butcher shops only render and/or cut the meat, they don't actually go out and kill it. :-)

Well, a decent butcher can often tell you the name of the cow they are serving up, maybe even show you the rosettes they won at shows, and a small number of UK butchers are also licensed abattoirs.

Yes, I suppose that must be true. Here most butchers (the ones I know anyways) are not abattoirs, but simply cut up, dress, trim and properly divide what the slaughterhouse has freshly killed.

Looks like fun, I can't believe that you have to buy a pig tag. In Florida a hunting license isn't even required for hogs if you are on private land. What rifle did you use?

As a novice, I don't mind having to buy a pig tag. If the land owner gets special permits, a limited group of people can hunt on that land without tags, but everyone still needs a hunting license. In the above images, I'm holding a .300 Weatherby, and also used a .300 short mag.

The idea is that pigs are an invasive critter, and there's no need to "conserve" them. Humans introduced the critters and if for some strange reason humans managed to kill them all off in an area, the ecosystem would be better off. This is unlike say an elk tag, or migratory wildfowl, where to have a healthy herd/flock it's good to cull some of the wild population, but unrestricted hunting would lead to extinction. But this is California, and that's all that needs to be said. Heck, in Louisiana, they pay a bounty for the tail of each giant aquatic water-rat (nutrina) you manage to harvest.

The Weatherby takes a pretty pricey shell, doesn't it?

Dude, its Chernobyl, Ukraine. Who's going to stop you? Actually it probably is.

Hey I'm impressed, all the piggies I've taken were just feral hog.