Shot placement determines where to begin
The shot placement is a very important factor when shooting a warthog as it will be a determining factor on where to begin processing the animal and what steps should be taken moving forward.
Shot placement can be divided into two sections.
- Gut and/or vital organs such as the heart and lungs.
- Head and neck area.
One would ideally shoot a warthog in the head to avoid the meat spoiling. There is a higher risk of having the meat spoilt if it has been shot in the guts and organs. Intestinal juices are highly acidic, carry bacteria such as E. coli and apart from the obvious foul smell and taste, those fluids will negatively affect the quality of the meat quickly and must be removed immediately. Internal bleeding especially within the chest cavity and torso of the animal plays another role in meat spoiling.
Rifle calibers of .270 and higher will most likely shoot through a warthog, creating an entry and exit wound. If that bullet hits any vital or non-vital organs it will cause internal bleeding. This bleeding will allow the blood to either build within the animal or leak through under the skin and onto the surrounding muscle tissue. Tissue damage, blood staining, and shock from the impact of the bullet contribute to meat degradation of the animal and those parts of the animal will have to be discarded.
This is why the steps taken to field dress your warthog correctly are determined by shot placement.
Equipment and tools need to process a warthog
You must have the correct tools in order to save you valuable time and effort during the meat processing stage. Below is a list of the most basic items you will need to process the warthog correctly.
- Bucket and two hand towels
- At least five gallons of clean drinkable water
- Two pairs of latex gloves
- Sharp knife with a minimum blade length of four inches
- Refuse bags or heavy-duty meat bags
- Suitable length of rope, pullies and a gambrel (if available)
- A knife sharpening tool or stone
- Eight-inch bone saw
Dressing out the warthog
Remember that you should not first skin a warthog that has been shot through the internal organs. The first thing you must do is remove the organs and associated fluids as soon as possible without having them come in contact with the meat. By not removing the skin, you are effectively providing a protective layer over the meat. If any fluids or blood spill from the cavity they will not touch the meat and can easily be washed from the warthog’s skin.
- With the warthog lying flat on its side, cut a straight line from between the hind legs towards the beginning of the sternum of the animal. Do not make the cut too deep, it is only necessary to cut through the skin and epidermis layer.
- Roll the warthog onto its belly to drain all fluids and then lay it back down onto its side. This will make it easier to see what organs are damaged and where you need to cut them to remove them.
- Be sure to move the warthog to a clean area, away from the fluids once they have been fully drained.
- You can then extract all the organs from the animal, including the heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys, placing them to one side or in a clean meat bag should you wish to process and consume those organs later.
The importance of removing the internal organs before hanging the warthog
The chest cavity of an animal that has been shot through either the gut or vital organs, will fill with blood and other fluids. Hanging the animal by the hind legs first will cause these fluids to seep into the head and neck muscle tissue which make up almost twenty-five percent of the carcass, potentially ruining the meat.
- A warthog that has been shot in the neck or head, can be hung first and then have the internal organs removed.
- Once that it is complete hang the warthog by cutting a hole in the hock of its back legs. Insert the gamble hooks into those holes and hoist the warthog up to a comfortable height, generally, the belly of the animal should be at eye level.
- The head of the warthog can be removed by cutting at the top of the neck, just behind the skull. Removing the head will allow any blood to drain out.
- Before removing the skin can take place, it is important to first wash your knife clean and sharpen it. A fresh pair of latex gloves is also recommended.
- While removing the skin, the knife should be regularly cleaned in a bucket of fresh water to prevent any cross-contamination. Remove the skin, beginning at the back legs and working downwards towards the neck by peeling it away from the carcass, while cutting the thin membrane which attaches the skin to the muscle.
- From the point at which the head was removed, make a cut along the underside of the warthog’s neck to the base of the neck, where the chest begins. Remove the esophagus and clean the area thoroughly of any blood and bile.
How to cool and store the warthog carcass
Once the skin has been removed, use the bone saw to cut through the pelvic bone and sternum of the warthog. This will open the carcass and allow for cold air to adequately cool down the meat inside. By not doing this, you will effectively insulate the meat which will remain at body temperature even inside the cold room and increase the chances of it rotting.
Damaged areas of the warthog from the bullet impact can be cut away from the carcass.
With the head and entrails removed and the warthog now completely skinned out, it should be thoroughly washed down with clean water. Be sure to remove any foreign material from the carcass such as dirt, grass, hair, and feces.
The carcass can now be stored inside the cold room and left to cool or quartered up by removing the front and back legs and cutting out the back straps. The ideal temperature within the cold room should be between 28°F and 32°F. Bacteria development and spoiling of the meat will begin at temperatures greater than 40°F.
Meat should not be stored on top of other meat that is not packaged or allowed to sit in water or blood.