How to Field Dress a Hog

••• Byrdyak/iStock/Getty Images

Explore America's Campgrounds

More than 4 million wild hogs roam through 35 states of the U.S., providing hunting for sportsmen who hope to literally bring home the bacon. Immediate and properly executed field dressing is crucial to avoid hog-borne disease such as brucellosis. Field dressing serves to cool the inside of the body cavity, slowing bacterial growth that causes decay and disease.

Bleed It Out

Cooking Wild magazine says you should bleed the hog immediately. To drain your hog of blood, throw a rope over a sturdy branch and attach a meat or hay hook to each end. Insert the pointed hooks just above the knee joints between the tendons. Pull the hog until it is completely off the ground and has at least a few inches of clearance. Dig a hole about 1 foot deep directly beneath the hog. Slit the hog's throat, as close to the head as you can, down to the spinal cord and allow the blood to drain out into the dirt hole. Cover the blood with dirt to prevent other animals coming in contact with potentially infected blood.

Opening the Body Cavity

Remove the vital organs as quickly as possible to eliminate heat from the body cavity that provides an ideal breeding ground for bacteria. When blood has finished dripping from the neck, lower the hog onto the ground and position it on its back with its rump lower than its shoulders. Spread the back legs make an incision from the base of the breast bone to just short of the anus. Cut a circle completely around the anus, pressing it into the body so it comes out with the intestines. Let the hog roll on its side, reach in and loosen intestines from the body cavity with your knife, taking care not to knick the intestines.

Keep It Cool

Once the stomach and intestines are free, pull them out of the body cavity. The diaphragm separates the hog's stomach cavity from its chest. Cut around it and then sever the esophagus and windpipe next to the lungs to remove the heart and lungs. Wash the body cavity with water to remove any debris from organs that your bullet may have punctured. After removing all organs, pack the chest and stomach cavity with snow or ice to cool it quickly. If temperatures are above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, keep the hog packed in ice and transport it to where you will have it processed. If below 40 degrees F, you can hang the hog propped open with a stick until you transport it for processing.

Play It Safe

Wear rubber or latex gloves, eye protection and long sleeves when handling a wild hog carcass. Bury or burn waste products from the carcass and disinfect your tools and gloves with diluted bleach. If you develop flulike symptoms within a week to several months after field-dressing your hog, you should have your doctor check for brucellosis. Symptoms include muscle aches, fever, headache, sweating, chills and fatigue. The disease is treatable by taking antibiotics for six weeks or more. Untreated, brucellosis causes permanent damage to joints, bones and the heart and can in rare cases fatal results.