Tips on How to Skin a Wild Hog
Whether you're new to hog hunting or an experienced hog hunter, learning how to properly skin and butcher a wild hog can determine how the end product tastes. As someone who has skinned wild hogs my entire life, I can tell you that I did not even know some of these tips and tricks to properly skinning a wild hog. A couple of these tips will remove the gamey taste from the hog meat, while others will help keep the meat clean and sanitary. Let's discuss the key tips on how to skin a wild hog.
Tips for Skinning and Butchering a Wild Hog
Here are a couple key tips to keep in mind while skinning a wild hog:
Tip 1: Remove All 4 Gland Nodules to Prevent Gamey Taste
Remove the gland nodules off the back legs, and off the flank. There is one on each back leg and one on each flank, total of 4 nodules. Most meat processors will grind these into the meat if they are not removed, and it will give the hog meat a very gamey taste. This is an important tip that many game processors and butchers will skip.
Tip 2: Keep Hair and Urine Off the Meat
A hogs urine is very stout and will ruin the flavor of the meat. If hair is not removed prior to processing, it can be ground into the meat making it even more difficult to remove.
Tip 3: Save Gutting for After Skinning
Some hunters will field dress and gut their harvest out in the field, but it's best to save gutting the hog until after you skin the hog. This is due to keeping the meat as clean as possible as well as being efficient in the skinning and butchering process.
Tip 4: Wash Down the Skinned and Gutted Hog with Freshwater
As a last ditch effort to clean and remove any remnants of hair or internals, wash down the hog with freshwater. Carefully running the water down the entire carcass and thoroughly cleaning the meat now will make a huge difference in the final processed product.
How to Skin a Wild Hog
A sharp skinning knife is key to cutting through a hogs tough skin. If you're using a poor quality knife, make sure you keep a knife sharpener handy as the tough skin from wild hogs is likely to dull your blade fast. Let's walk step by step on how to skin and butcher a wild hog.
Step 1: Hang the Hog
Use a game gambrel to hang the hog from the hind legs, with the head at the bottom. The gambrel bars will slide through the tendon on the back of the hogs leg. Be careful not to cut this tendon, or the hog will not hang properly.
Step 2: Make Cuts Down the Center
Starting at the top, slice the skin down the center of the belly and the center of the legs to prepare in removing the hide.
These cuts are key in making it easy to remove the hide, without getting hair on the meat. It is very important to keep the meat as clean as possible while skinning to reduce the amount of work and preparation when preparing to process the meat.
Step 3: Pull the Hide Off, Use Skinning Knife to Separate Skin from Meat
A sharp knife will easily cut through the white fat and tissue that connects the skin to the meat. Utilizing grapplers or gloves to hold tightly onto the hide can make it easier to skin the wild hog.
Step 4: Remove Front Legs at Joint with Saw
A saw is commonly used by butchers to cut through the joint on the front legs for removal. However, a sharp knife can also be used. You must be careful when doing this, because you have to cut through the joint and not through the bone. Only a saw is capable of cutting through bone. Bolt cutters or tree trimmers can also be used. The same goes for the neck area.
Step 5: Gut the Hog
Cut open the rib cage by slicing down the center of the ribs and the guts will naturally start to fall out. Before removing the guts, it is best to cut all the way down the chest of the hog to the throat. This will make it easier and cleaner to remove all of the guts by allowing them to drop down in the skinning bucket below.
Step 6: Wash Down and Rinse Hog
Carefully wash down the hog and rinse it with freshwater to remove any residual guts and hair that could have gotten on the meat during the skinning process. Doing a thorough job of carefully washing down the hog is very important and can determine how good the processed hog tastes later on.
Step 7: Hang the Meat
The wild hog has been skinned, gutted, and washed. If it's a cold night in the 30's or below, then raise the hog carcass up high to prevent any varmints or other animals from messing with it, and let it hang over night.
If it is warmer than this or you do not have the ability to hang it this way, then hang in a meat locker type of room or move ahead to Step 8 and quarter the hog and throw the pieces in a cooler until you are ready to vacuum seal or process the meat.
Step 8: Quarter the Hog
Whether you have already let the hog hang over night, or you plan to just quarter it and throw it in the cooler, follow these steps in order to properly quarter your hog.
Remove the Back strap
Use a sharp fillet knife to cut down the center of the back of the hog, to the left or right side of the back bone. Next, remove the back strap by slicing down the back of the rib cage and carefully removing the back strap as you slice. The back strap is arguably one of the most tender meats on a hog, second only to the tenderloins.
Remove the Tenderloins
On the inside of the hog, behind where the guts would be, there are two small pieces of meat, one on each side of the back bone. These are the tenderloins. They are the most tender pieces of meat on a hog. We typically rinse the back strap and tenderloins immediately after removing them and use our fish and game vacuum sealer to vacuum seal them immediately and freeze them. Don't skimp on the bags either, quality vacuum sealer bags are important to keeping your wild game for the long haul.
Remove the Front Shoulders
The front shoulders of the hog can be removed by using your sharp knife to cut the tissue around the shoulder. The front shoulders should be removed before the back shoulders, to allow the hog to keep hanging for ease of quartering. Once removed, throw in cooler until ready to process. When ready to process the meat, the outer white gristle-like layer will need to be carefully removed.
Remove the Rear Shoulders
The easiest method to remove the rear shoulders is to saw the joint that attaches the back shoulder to the hip, and then saw the joint where the tendon connects which allows it to hold the skinning gambrel up. Next, the shoulder can be thrown in a cooler until ready to process. Similar to the front shoulders, the rear shoulders will need to have the outer white layer of gristle removed prior to processing.
Bonus Step (Step 9): Debone the Hog
We've technically completed the process of skinning a hog, and we are now moving into the first step of processing a hog. Some hunters prefer to do this first step themselves even if they are having someone else process the meat, because they will get more bang for their buck (or hog?) that way.
First, remove the outer layer of white gristle from the shoulders. The best knife to use for this is a quality fillet knife, because it can slice thin pieces and preserve as much game meat as possible.
Once the gristle is removed, the same knife can be used to remove the meat from the bone. If you plan to make jerky, it is best to remove the meat in a way that maximizes the length of your jerky strips. If you plan to make sausage, chili, hamburger, or any other method of ground hog meat, then cutting the meat into even sized chunks will work best for the grinder.
Video on Skinning a Wild Hog
To see our tips on how to skin and butcher a wild hog be put into action, watch this YouTube video! Note: we have recently been informed that YouTube has flagged this helpful video on how to skin a wild hog for violating their policies. We are working to get the video restored, especially since it is something humans have done to survive for hundreds of years.
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Marc L Beauchamp
Excellent article – very helpful. Although I have field dressed any number of white tail bucks, wild hogs are clearly a completely different animal (pun intended). And, we’re seeing a lot more of them in the SE states. Thanks again!
Hi Brian – we don’t recommend aging wild hog meat due to the more volatile nature of the fat. The meat is more susceptible to spoiling and doesn’t age as well as other meats. Traditional pigs or even cows provide better meat for aging. If you do opt to go the route of aging wild hog meat anyway, it should be done by someone more specialized.
The hog does not need to be aged?