Feral Pigs – coming to a county near you
I was going to write an article about raising pigs but since the population of Feral Pigs seems to be exploding, I shifted gears to this article and will talk about domesticated pigs in a future article.
(image courtesy of USDA)
The current population of Feral Swine in the US in 2017 is estimated at 6 million (source USDA). That may not seem to be a lot but they are spreading rapidly through a combination of lack of natural predators, rapid multiplication (a sow can start having litters at 6 months and have several litters a year), and since feral pigs are omnivores, they can adapt to almost any environment – they will find something to eat! Studies indicate that pigs migrate or expand about 8 miles per year.
So basically, if they are not in your area, they could be soon. Which may not good news and here’s why:
► They outcompete natural fauna for food. If you like venison, deer may move out of the area once the hogs move in.
► if you are raising food in your own garden, they are very destructive – destroying fences and rooting up crops. When they wallow, they completely destroy the root system making it difficult for the area to recover.
Good news! They are considered pests or vermin in most states and season is always open and no bag limit. And there shouldn’t be a bag limit as experts believe that you need to kill two-thirds or more of the local feral swine just to keep their numbers under control. In Texas, they like to shoot feral pigs from helicopters (even my hero Ted Nugent has a YouTube video of this) 238 hogs in one day!!!! He should run for Senate…
This might be a little beyond the regular prepper’s budget to rent a helicopter (and will there by any helicopter rentals operating after the SHTF?) but it was certainly a target rich environment. Hogs run in groups called sounders and if you don’t kill the entire group, they will continue to have litters and you will continue to have wild hogs in the area.
If you are not aware, pigs are fairly intelligent and they learn quickly so they begin avoiding traps or are quite cautious around them after they see them work. Wild hogs are omnivores and they will cannibalize each other – you can use pig carcasses as bait for other pigs.
If you think you might have any reluctance to kill something, a hog hunt with a spear is a good way to test your skills. You need to divest yourself of any question in your mind before you go in for the fatal thrust with a spear. The hog is definitely not going to cooperate with your plan to end his life. Oh, and no drinking during a hog hunt when you are using dogs and spears. That is how King Robert Baratheon (the first of his name) died and look what happened to Westeros after that!
There may be instances where you might want to use a spear or a bow to hunt boar. But in most instances, you should use a rifle if you can. They can also be aggressive and since a boar with large tusks can weigh more than a man, they are dangerous. In every instance, make sure the hog is dead. Shoot them in the head or stab them in the heart. If you don’t make sure, they will fool you and attack once you get close.
Ok, but for a prepper just trying to get by in the world after TEOTWAWKI, having a source of meat lingering in the area might not be a bad thing. Wild boar meat is leaner than domestic pigs and many people think tastier.
But remember that feral hogs can have some bacterial infections or diseases: “Various diseases of wild hogs include pseudorabies, swine brucellosis, tuberculosis, bubonic plague, tularemia, hog cholera, foot and mouth disease, and anthrax. Internal parasites include kidney worms, stomach worms, round worms and whipworms. Liver flukes and trichinosis are also found in hogs. External parasites include dog ticks, fleas and hog lice.” (source - https://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/nuisance/feral_hogs/)
So it is recommended that you wear rubber gloves when cleaning / processing / butchering the boar, bury or burn the entrails, wash your hands after handling the carcass, and cook the meat thoroughly to kill any parasites and bacteria.
The Hawaiian method (full bury of the carcass in a pit of coals) is an excellent method. This maintains a higher heat level which is needed to kill any disease. And your prepper street creds go up immensely when you BBQ up a wild hog for the neighborhood survival society block party.
The Hawaiian method also benefits the prepper by avoiding visible flames and masking the smell of cooking meat giving away your position. The smell of meat cooking can be smelled for a very long way. Which can attract people (the zombie horde and wild animals alike, especially wild dogs, coyotes, wolves and other pigs.
Dig a pit (twice as deep as your pig is laying down, twice as long as your pig and three times as wide); you may wish to line it with rocks or cinder blocks. Rounded corners promote better distribution of the steam so get a good bed of coals going. A 100 lb pig will take 6-10 hours (200 lbs would take 12-14 hours) to cook so this is a morning task for a dinner meal. Lay some rocks or bricks over the coals.
Clean and dress the pig and add any brine or marinade you wish (see our recipes sections). Stuff the carcass with banana tree leaves or cabbages or corn husks – you are looking for high moisture content to steam the meal. Pull some of your hot rocks or bricks out of the fire and stuff them in the carcass (one in the joint of each leg and a couple in the thorax). Wrap the dressed carcass in tin foil but don’t seal it up completely (you want the steam to circulate). And then wrap the whole carcass is a wire mesh (chicken wire) – if you are using galvanized wire, the tin foil will keep any metals from leeching into the meat. Make sure you have plenty of overlap to completely encase the carcass and fasten the wire together so it won’t come open when you lift the roast pig out. Place the pig belly down so the steam will rise up through the meat while it cooks. You can run a chain from front to back to assist in pulling the pig out of the fire or run a spit through the carcass. If cooked properly, the meat will be so tender that it would fall apart if not for the wire mesh and the chain (or spit).
Place a layer of banana tree leaves or cabbage or corn husks (whatever you had available) over the hot rocks in the bottom of the pit, you can add onions or other vegetables in this layer for flavor. Now lower your pig into the pit. Place the moist burlap bags over the carcass and cover it all with a canvas – add water (several gallons) to increase moisture and steam. Leaving plenty of canvas overlap on all the sides makes removing the dirt much easier. Now bury that bad boy. Any place you see steam coming out of the ground add more dirt to trap the steam in. If it is after TEOTWAWKI, you now are just sitting around doing other chores until your pig is ready. If it is practice before TEOTWAWKI, this is a good time to drink beer and tell lies (I mean war stories) to all your friends.
A sounder of feral pigs in your area can be a nuisance unless you cull their numbers. At the same time, they save you the hassle of raising your own hogs and provide you with an additional and almost perpetual source of meat throughout the year. Might not be such a bad thing if feral hogs are coming to an area near you. Roast pig is on the menu!
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