Bringing home the bacon

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It was another Saturday morning at the bike shop, coffee brewing, the smell of donuts and gasoline in the air, and the phone ringing. Only this call was not from a customer but a friend. My friend Lannie explained to me that the helicopter pilot Keith had shot and killed a nice wild hog on one of his properties, and they were checking to see if I wanted it. Well not being one to turn down free food (especially if it includes a wet and muddy recovery effort) I agreed that I would recover the pig and salvage the meat.

Needless to say, the bike shop closed a bit early and I set about getting my atv’s ready. By the time I got loaded and gassed up it was already afternoon. I took one of my employee’s with me for backup just in case I got stuck in the 2+ miles of mud I would have to get through and set off.

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Allen and I arrive at the property a short while later and found a place near the hiway to park the truck. I nearly got stuck in the mud just pulling off the pavement. The weather here in central Oregon has been cold and very wet for the last month. We have had snow and frozen ground, followed by many days of rain and temps near 50. This in combination with the fact that the antelope area is known for it’s deep sticky mud, means we are in for an adventure.

We offloaded the atv’s, and gathered our things. It was spitting rain and to the south was a black wall of misery, that was surely headed strait for us so we had rain gear, necessary supplies for dressing out the swine, a tow strap to hook to the winch if one of us sank, and a six pack of Budweiser for luck.

We were using my ATV’s, two older Polaris. One a big boss 6×6 and the other a sportsman 4×4 so I was confident we would have no problems.

Finally ready we set out. When we were within sight of the area we stopped and scanned with binoculars, but no sign of more pigs. I had brought along my Sam Yang big bore air rifle just in case we got a chance at a second hog. There were cows grazing all through the area, but no wild pigs.

We proceeded into the meadow and noticed that the entire valley was running about an inch deep in water, which meant that the areas that would normally have water were a couple feet deep. We did our best to stay on the high ground as we made our way to the lower end of the meadow where we were told the pig would be and after about a mile of dodging deep spots we found it.

Now the work begins. The hog was a boar with impressive tusks for this area and a live weight approaching 300 lbs. We parked the ATV’s nearby and got to work dressing out and loading the pig on the 6X6.

The ride out went much as the ride in had. Dodging deep spots and mud holes.  The damage the hogs had been doing was obvious to see, large patches of ground overturned, bushes bent and broken from rubbing and chewing. What a mess, and some of those holes they had rooted up were more than a foot deep. That should be fun to drive through with a tractor come summer when the ground is dry and hard.

When we got back to the truck we loaded the ATV’s and tied everything down, then enjoyed a well earned beer before heading back to town.

When we finally got the pig skinned and hung up headless, it weighed in at 128 lbs. Not huge but a good pig and well worth the effort.

When I cook up some pulled pork from him, I will let you know how it was.

Until then, thanks for reading, and I hope to see you in the field one day soon.

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