Brandon Sheard: Processing Hogs

Show Notes

On this episode of Huntavore, Nick sought out the expertise of Brandon Sheard; custom slaughter man and butcher, and creator of Farmstead Meatsmith.  For his trip to Oklahoma, Nick was preparing for the hopeful achievement of being able to harvest wild pork.  Brandon brings a knowledge base of being a mobile slaughterman and custom butcher for domestic pigs and heritage breeds.  He walks Nick through an effective kill shot, a field dress of pigs, and a unique way of keeping the skin on the animal to gain maximum harvest, with the added benefit of keeping the meat and fat clean.  If hogs are in your future, this is an episode you should save.  Get ready for an informative episode of Huntavore.

Brandon Sheard is owner and creator of FarmStead Meatsmith.  A podcast, youtube channel, and instructor of butchery classes at his farmstead.  What started as a job opportunity, became a passion for taking ownership of his food.  Brandon explains the differences in domestic and wild pork.  How boars will have a musk known as boar taint, and how some communities have learned to enjoy the taste.  Where an effective shot can be taken on a hog to bring it down quickly.  Lastly, how can the hair and outer skin be torched off to clean the animal to keep the skin on in hopes of keeping the fat and meat clean and get maximum use of the harvest.

Farmstead Meatsmith Website:

Show Transcript

Nick Otto: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Hunt Ofor podcast, powered by Sportsman's Empire, where we celebrate the hunting and fishing lifestyle through the utilization and consumption of our wild game. No egos fork in hand, beer in the other, no status, a piece of red meat on a hot grill, and turn it into a burn offering. Just catch it.Cut it. Cook. This is episode 1 22, Brandon Shear Processing Hogs. On this episode of Hunt Devour, Nick sought out the expertise of Brandon Sheard, custom Slaughterman Butcher and creator of Farmstead Meet Smith. For a trip, Oklahoma, Nick was preparing for the hopeful achievement of being able to [00:01:00] harvest wild pork.

Brandon brings a knowledge base of being a mobile slaughterman and custom butcher for domestic pigs and heritage breeds. He walks Nick through an effective kill shot, a field dress of pigs, and a unique way of keeping the skin on the animal to gain maximum harvest with the added benefit of keeping the meat and fat clean.

If hogs are in your future, this is an episode you should save. Get ready for an informative episode of Hunt for. Before we begin, uh, just wanna say that word of mouth advertising is still the best way, uh, to be able to share your message, uh, with, with other people, um, by having you guys share, uh, not only your reviews, uh, but your ratings, and just share it with, with someone who may be passionate about, uh, this set episode.

It's a great way for us to be able to share the message here at Havo, [00:02:00] uh, to get more people involved using and, uh, saving their wild game. So I do ask, Hey, could you share this with somebody? Could you leave a rating or review that would help out tons, uh, as we continue to push this message on through.

But anyway, uh, I've got two, uh, sponsors that I want to talk about real fast, but then we will get into our discussion with Brandon Shear this afternoon. When in the field, accuracy and precision count, that's why we switch our slug guns to rifle barrels, tune our arrows and use a fish finder on the water.

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Well, hey folks. Welcome aboard to another episode of the Hunt War. Beautiful. Day here in Michigan. I tell you what, again, the sun was out. We had temperatures in the, the high forties, almost touching 50, and that's gonna be followed up with two to three wet inches of snow tomorrow. So we are getting the hodgepodge.

We are living the true spring life here in Michigan. The ups and downs, thinking summers or thinking spring is here and then having it quickly taken [00:05:00] away and put down some snow. But that is neither here nor there. Folks, we are on board tonight with a gentleman who's gonna have a wealth of knowledge for us to glean from.

Um, as I've been alluding to in previous episodes, I get a chance to go chase some wild pork and tonight I am on deck here with branded sheath. Did I say that right? Brandon?

Brandon Sheard: There's an RN there, sheared. She,

Nick Otto: I apologize, Sheard. I'm here with Brandon Sheard and this guy, he is, uh, the name of your platform is, uh, homestead and Meet Smithing.

Am I correct?

Brandon Sheard: It's, uh, farmstead Meet Smith. It's a bit of a mouthful.

Nick Otto: Gotcha. But if you have not come across his platform, I will go ahead and make sure that I link his, um, his material on the show notes here. Brandon is a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the slaughter and [00:06:00] then butchery of animals and just the whole philosophy beyond, behind raising animals for food and what our role is as butchers and hunters in that whole, a whole realm.

Brandon is just an amazing wealth of knowledge that we can glean from. And so I thought of nobody better to have on. Um, Brandon, it just getting you on tonight was also a, a. You know, just a, as far as getting a time to get you on here, you're a busy man this time of year. Is spring a big season when it comes to processing and slaughter of animals?


Brandon Sheard: know, it's a good point. It, it, it can be because we have the modern luxury of refrigeration. So we're not dependent upon the winter, uh, for the ideal climate to put away, put up our meat. Um, so yeah, it, it can be busy. It's, for me right now, it's, this is the time where, you know, we're, we're, we're preparing the [00:07:00] garden, we're planting things.

I'm acquiring lots of livestock for the classes that we offer on our property here in Oklahoma, um, and harvesting and everything. And this is also when all the things break on a farm for some reason. I don't know how that is. So I've been fixing stuff that, that's my role for the past month and a half is fixing the broken thing.

Nick Otto: Gotcha. And yes, when it comes to being a farmer, a rancher, somebody who runs a homestead, that is, you know, you are not only the caretaker, but you are the, uh, you, you are the main mechanic, you are also the main plumber. You are also the main electrician. Every field is something that you have to take on.

And I, I like how you said that it's also the season that things break because we can almost, it's not when if things are gonna break, it's when things are gonna break. I love that bit of realism that you bring to the whole atmosphere. Yes. I [00:08:00] think people can relate with that a lot. Um, so it's so true.

Yeah. What is your, what is your experience with, with pork? With pork, both domestic and, and feral? Um, Being from Oklahoma, finding out this, that yeah, you're gonna, you're, you have seen both sides of the fence here, both figuratively and in reality when you're raising a domestic pig and then you're seeing some of these feral pigs.

What are some of the main differences that you see? We've always heard that there's the same animal, uh, both genus and species, but at the same time, they look vastly different and just behave vastly different. What's the differences that you see?

Brandon Sheard: Yes. Well, I think that the most decisive differences are the ones that affect the way they are eaten.

That's really the bait where the rubber eats meets the road with all meat harvesting, I think. And that's, that's [00:09:00] kind of the final principle that guides all the processes up to the pork chop on the dinner plate, you know, or the bacon that you're carrying. So, um, those differences are, I would say, There's a lot, but we could narrow them down to two.

And really it's fat content and, uh, the, the age of the pig. Okay, three, I'm gonna say three. And the, the sex. So in terms of, you know, the Lean Pigs, man, the, the wild pigs are gonna be lean and I know there's gonna be exceptions out there where you'll find some big honking sow in a field of corn her whole life.

And yeah, she'll have three inches of back fat maybe. Um, but in general, those wild pigs are lean, lean machines, you know, lean, fierce hunting, or I should say scavenging machines. Um, whereas a domesticated pig, if, if that pig is never hungry, he will be a fat pig. If you [00:10:00] feed him generously, he's going to give you inches of back fat and then pounds of fat on the inside where his guts are.

Called the leaf fat. He's gonna just give you lots of fat. And really, that's, that's the primary thing that the domesticated pig has historically been valued for is all that fat, the wild pig. On the other hand, being lean has historically been valued for its skunky, funky flavor for its intensity. And we don't like that so much anymore.

We've kind of, we've gotten a little, uh, trepidatious in our tastes. We like blandness, but, uh, absolutely. So the,

Nick Otto: the beans and corn, we love that. We love soybeans. Yeah,

Brandon Sheard: that's right. Yeah. And mellows everything out, you know, and even, and I think, I might have even heard you mention this as I was looking into some of your podcasts, but we use that, that term gamey as a pejorative, you know, like that's, that's not a desirable thing.

And it's like, no, no, no, [00:11:00] that's. That's actually flavor, that's what that is. We call that flavor. Um, assuming it's not a result of sloppiness and, you know, spoilage or anything. It's, it is funk and it, it is good. So the wild pigs are going to excel in that department. Um, they're gonna be leaner. And the, the variable too, and you can pick this when you're hunting, but the variable of sex is non-trivial.

So if you shoot a, a male pig, that's wild, and he's over six months old, so he's sexually immature, there is a really good chance he's gonna have bortin. And whereas in the domesticated pig stock, usually those are gonna be castrated. Mm-hmm. So they will not develop bortin, um, or they're gonna be slaughtered at six months or younger, and they'll be big by that point.

So that'll be a big pig, even if it's domesticated. And then it, it won't have bortin in that case either. So if you're out hunting and you see testicles on a [00:12:00] boar, And just know there's a chance he, he'll be tainted. Not everyone is, but a lot are. And, um, so that's, that's truly a substantial difference. Um, and then also you really don't know the age.

You know, you don't know what you're getting. Yeah. But in the end, if it's, if it's even a, a sal that's several years old that you happen to take down, um, her, she's gonna be wonderful. Like she, her meat's even gonna be tender, even if she's three, four years old. She will still be tender and delicious if she is butchered properly and cooked properly.

Um, it's tender toughness is really a result of, of bad cooking technique and not good butchery. Less so age, not so much age, so, gotcha. It's a bit of a jumble, but those are the main differences I would say. I

Nick Otto: love that, that last pi part that you said, that y it. When it comes to like you're getting toughness off of your animal, it's not due to the [00:13:00] animal being the age that it is, it's due to the care and processing care that you've done on that.

That's a great note to have that, I mean, eve shoot, even for anybody that's in the wild game field or somebody who's taking on the challenge of butchering their own animals, the tenderness. Yeah. I mean we can age may have a minute scale of it, but proper butchery will help a lot in that. That's a great note.

Um, boar taint, you did mention that a couple times. For someone who's super naive to the idea of that, is that just a. To play off of better words. Like we're talking about this funk, we're talking about this gaminess that we're already expecting off of a feral pig. This is just an extra tinge that we're gonna be getting off of a bore because he's ready to go.

Is that, is that what we're looking at?

Brandon Sheard: Yeah. Excuse me. It's really the effect of testosterone [00:14:00] primarily on his fat. So it's definitely in the fat, that's where it's concentrated and what it is. Um, I don't really know. It's the effect of testosterone, you know, somehow. And the, the reason that it matters is because it is potent, meaning you will smell it the moment you cook up any of that pig.

Your entire house will smell like, um, you know, some very interesting mold growing on some gym socks with some like, Uh, smoked pepper thrown in there, or some, you know, maybe some burnt onion. I don't know. It's really, it's funky. Um, it's skunky and it's, it's musty and it's, it's primarily an aroma, which helps to note like, it's, it's actually not an intense flavor.

That's the crazy thing. It's really a smell primarily, and it's mainly in the fat. And like all [00:15:00] things in the kitchen, you can develop the habit of eating it. And if you do that, you will actually seek it out. You'll actually like it. And that, that sounds crazy to people who have encountered bort once and been turned off of it.

But no, you can train yourself to enjoy it because it is objectively actually kind of good. And even in Europe, there's a long tradition of selecting bores and curing their back legs, distilling the funky breta by removing water through curing. And then you get some major tainted prosciutto. And that's,

Nick Otto: that's good stuff.

This is almost cheese making at this point. Like what you're talking folks, if you were questioning, if you were questioning Brandon here on his expertise, he just told you not only like what to expect from Bortin, but that it's going to be moldy Jim Sock. Like he even brought in adjectives with Love it.

So, and I love to hear that what you're saying that is like, hey, you end up with [00:16:00] a boar that's gonna ha that you know, over six months, son, six months of age. You, as soon as you open him up, as soon as you cook up a bit of it, you know for a fact that he's got bore taint. That's not the end all, be all that you're saying is that if you're hunting these pigs, if you're going to be consuming these pigs, this is just gonna be something that is now presented to you.

If you want funky flavor, if you want something that you're not gonna get at the grocery store, this is what we're talking about folks. This is going to be that flavor that if you wanted wild. This is as wild as it gets. And to treasure that, not to, not to cast it aside, not to throw it out, say that it's bad because it's just something you're going to, you can get your yourself used to.

Brandon Sheard: Yes. Yeah. Especially if you teach yourself how to cook meat. I mean that, I just, I've been in this for 13 years and I just keep coming back to if people really knew how to cook meat, which is not hard. You know, there are three ways to cook [00:17:00] all meat. That's it. There are three recipes for the whole shebang, and if you get good at that, you will love bortin.

You, you will absolutely seek it out because, because you can make the most use of it in your kitchen. You're not afraid of, uh, really intense flavors. Because the thing that happens is when you're afraid of your primary ingredient, your primary ingredient will disbe. According to Fergus Henderson, who's one of my favorite authors on this.

But if, if you're not afraid of it and you have competency with braising pan frying and roasting, bortin is delicious. Everything is on any animal.

Nick Otto: This is an amazing segue to get right into my next question. It was further down the list, but when you were specifically talking, when you know how to cook your meat, if you're not afraid of it and you're willing to, to treat it as it what it is, what temperatures am I looking for in a feral pig versus a [00:18:00] domestic?

Because just recently domestic pig was. To, I think 145 degrees. And just my assumption is that that's probably not a good idea for our feral cousins at this point. What am I looking for for temp ranges? If, if I'm gonna be getting the bulk of, uh, maintaining basically the tenderness that I want to be able to have, I want that as much tenderness as possible, but at the same time rendering it safe for me to eat, be it by pathogens, uh, bacteria or parasite.

How can I best keep myself safe with a temperature range on pork?

Brandon Sheard: Yeah, that's a good question. And you're right in, uh, in a domestic pork supply, the only reason they recommended one 60 Fahrenheit for so long was because they were feeding pigs the raw. Refuse from the slaughterhouse floors. [00:19:00] So they were eating al and it was raw and they got trico.

You know, and if you, if you pan seer your pork cutlets, you can get that as well, which is a flush eating parasite that's not so great. Uh, but that has been eliminated from the domestic pork supply for decades, a long, long time. Um, so they probably could have brought that temperature down a while ago. And I think technically it's, it's 1 37 Fahrenheit is where the Treana worm is neutralized after a certain time, cooking time has elapsed.

And I can't remember what that cooking time is, but the one 60 was always kind of a belts and braces. Like, let's just be super safe, you know? Yeah. And, and cook things a lot. Um, and, but with the wild pork supply, like you say, they're out there scavenging, eating raw meat, raw haring, raw carcasses all day.

And so, um, if they have the opportunity, so it's very likely that they can have tri kenosis. And if you eat their flesh undercooked, you can get it as well. [00:20:00] And I think that, um, there's two, uh, I don't, not workarounds, but, um, there's two ways that you could think about dealing with that. And one is to get good at braising because when you braze meat, you are cooking the internal temperature to the, of the meat, to basically two 12 because it's a low and slow cooking in liquid.

That's what braising. And we don't do that particular method anymore, it's just falling out of our culinary vocabularies people. We have crockpots. That's kind of our substitute for braising now, but I, I think it would be much better to get, get your big heavy enamel cast iron pot with a lid and put your tough old piece of pork in there with vegetables and wine and stock or water and beer, whatever, whatever, liquid, and let it simmer for a while, uh, with sufficient salt.

Always, always be sure to salt appropriately. And, um, then you have something that's, you [00:21:00] know, cooked way beyond 1 45 or one 60 and super delicious and there's no part of the entire animal that you can't braise. Every part, even the chops, you could take a loin roast and you can braise it. That would be super delicious.

Really good. The only time that. Um, we experience dryness. Okay. There's two times when we experience dryness in our cooked, in our pork cooking, and that's the first is when we're dealing with previously frozen meat. So if you are going to, uh, have the most moist, effortlessly delicious meat grill, your pork chops pan fry your pork chops while they're still fresh, before you've sent 'em to the freezer, that's like, that's almost like a cheat.

Fresh pork is so much more delicious. It's crazy. And it's also more forgiving. So you can overcook it, you can take it all the way up to one 60 to wipe out the, the treana population in the meat, and it will still be [00:22:00] juicy and moist because it was fresh. So that's a big one. Um, fresh meat is almost like a ch a cheat in that way.

And then, no, I forgot what the other one I was gonna say was, but, uh oh, maybe that was it. Yeah, just braze more. Um, and then you don't have to, you know, that's already cooking it to such a degree that you've wiped out the, the parasite population without compromising the quality of the meat. So maybe right when you get the pig, if you know you want to pan fry things and cook them hot and fast, which is really the only cooking method where you're gonna have things that might be below one 60, do that stuff while the meat's still fresh and then everything that goes in the freezer treat that as your braising meat.

Stuff that you get out later and you cook low and slow in liquid, in your heavy enamel cast iron pot. Um Gotcha, gotcha. That's how I tend to approach that.

Nick Otto: Good deal. So, alright. Gorge yourself on fresh [00:23:00] meat until you are sick and then freeze the rest and bra. Gotcha. Gotcha. That's what we'll go with. Yep.

Um, cuz yeah, we'll be pulling these pigs out. Um, I've already got the, the tenderloins of the first pig that I put down are already gonna be one of those that's gonna be a fresh cut. Um, I thought about doing a marinade overnight and then doing, just like you said, get it to a grill and just, just kiss it with flames.

Just get it to the temperature that I need to, and we're gonna just share that with the crew. I figured that's my first like offering of the pig to say, Hey, to the, to the hunters, be the spoils of let's go, let's go with the tenderloin here. Um, yeah. But yeah, that age of, age of comfortable modernity where we can have freezers.

I do, I most of my free, most of my meat immediately goes to the freezer. It's just, it works out well for me. But it's good to know that, like you said, like, hey, once you get past that fresh aspect where yes, things are now into the freezer, we can continue to [00:24:00] still have beautiful pork. And it's just gonna be one of those methods that, you know, I save braze a lot of times for winter, but that there's nothing to say that, hey, springtime, you can't put a nice, you know, piece of meat off the back hunch into that Dutch oven and just let that go for several hours.

Because man, I mean, I've, I have yet to get sick of pot roast. I'll eat it five days in a row if I can. Yes. And just to translate that to even some, some, some pork roast, that sounds like a wonderful, wonderful thing.

Brandon Sheard: Yeah, absolutely. That's why I say people just improve your pop roasting or braising game.

You know, get creative with the cooking liquid, use champagne, use dry white wine, use dry hard apple cider as your braising liquid. All those things will, they really enhance your braising.

Nick Otto: So I took this chan tangent where we, we jumped right into the, the temperature cooking cuz it was easy. Um, we're gonna take a few steps back and we're gonna get back to where, [00:25:00] um, animal is still on the hoof.

Now, at that point, um, again, we're gonna be, we're gonna be hunting these things if, if folks are unfamiliar, um, with the dispatch of a domestic pig. Um, couple different avenues in Brandon, you can definitely correct me on these. Um, there's basically, there's several methods of stunning, um, one of them do, do we use captive bolts with pork or is it just into the electro or the, uh, electrodes?

Um, or do we still use

Brandon Sheard: the captive bolt? Some people do use the captive bolt. Yep. Yep.

Nick Otto: Um, essentially it's basically. Like we said, like it's a bolt that's captive inside of a, a, a piston. You fire that into the head of the pig and it drops the pig down right then and there, and the butcher process begins.

Um, when we get into the hunting side of it, that's where things get a little bit different because we're not close, uh, or, or shoot, even taking a rim fire shot where they use a 22 or something close to that caliber, uh, to the head. When you've [00:26:00] got a domestic pig, we're now gonna be at, you know, 25, 30, 30 yards.

We're gonna be away from these pigs. We're not in a, well, I should say we're gonna be in somewhat of a relaxed setting. The pigs will be hopefully feeding at that point, not paying attention to us in the blinds. But at the same time, my shot is not going to be in, you know, but crossing the eyes, crossing the ears, and that's where I now have my sweet spot.

I'm gonna be more or less on the broad side, uh, of this animal. Um, my methodology that I've been told is vitals are more forward. And going for a neck shot is gonna be something that'll be advantageous to me to be able to drop the pig quickly, below and just back of the ear is what I've been told. Uh, as far as my, my spot of aim to be able to put this, this critter down.

Um, any, uh, anything I should be worried about that or do you think that's a good spot to be putting my bullseye? [00:27:00]

Brandon Sheard: Yeah, it's interesting you mention that. I, I mean, if you can get that shot, uh, you know, with an a, a, a nice large caliber rifle, um, I think that would be awesome because what's gonna drop that pig is you're breaking its spine.

You know, you're basically gonna cripple it. Um, even if you don't. The gray rat of the brain itself, which is gonna be actually more right behind the, uh, you know, on the o other side of the ear rather than just behind it, you know, like you're saying. Okay. Uh, that you, you're still gonna drop it cuz you will paralyze that pig if, if that round has enough oomph to take out that atlas vertebra, you know, those last vertebraes in the neck.

Um, which it should. And yeah, you'll, I I think that would be a great shot, not least of all, because you will have much less bullet trauma. You know, when you shoot a pig broadside in the, in the shoulder region, in the brisket, you're going for the heart. Um, [00:28:00] you're gonna lose a lot of shoulder meat just to the bullet ripping, tarn and bruising.

A lot of the meat, there's gonna be bone splinters and lots of bloodshot meat as you know. Mm-hmm. Um, with that broad shot side shot. And so yeah. Behind the ear that, that sounds good to me. I mean, I think that would be great. Um, there is a, a nice amount of flesh above the spine, you know, to the back of the skull.

So I think just, you know, just behind the ear, as long as you're not too high, that's just all meat there. Yeah. So you're a little lower. That's, that's where spine is. Yeah. So it might be either just behind the ear or even maybe a little lower than the ear. Just a little lower to get that, um, that, that spine hit, you know, to hit that spine or take out that spinal cord.

Nick Otto: That's that. And I, I know there's a few hunters that wrestle with us as well as, [00:29:00] as we, it, it feels diabolical, the fact that we're planning and prepping for this, this situation to where we want to drop the big as quick as possible. But I know in a lot of discussions that, and you've, you've had these online before, that this is something I think that.

As much as, as we do think of these as a sinister plot, but at the same time, the animal's wellbeing is, is being thought of here. I, I, as a hunter want to be able to put my game down as quickly as possible, one for the welfare of the animal. If I, if someone were to put me down, I would want them to put as much thought as to my demise as much as I'm thinking of these animals.

Last breath, because yeah, I want it to die quick. I don't want to have there to be this, this ethical wrestle that I have with now is the animal is running off and in under a bunch of stress. And then the second flip side of that coin is that because. I want to get, gain as much [00:30:00] quality meat out of this.

I don't want it tainted with adrenaline and stress of the animal that I want to be able to have that put down quickly so that I can get my hands on it quickly as well. Yeah. Um, you've done some lengthy discussions on that. Is that been. When, when you're preparing for any slaughter, whether it's say hunting, you get a chance to go chase venison or even a, a feral pig or even the domestic, do you find yourself having to, I don't wanna say coach yourself through the process, but to be able to take that deep breath and know that, you know, what a steady sure hand of this is what is necessary rather than a skittish soft hand when it comes to dispatch?

Brandon Sheard: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, it's a really good point. And I think it's even, um, aggravated in a hunting situation because you have prolonged, uh, waiting, you know, you have the anticipation is building and building hours, days, and [00:31:00] that puts you in a position to very easily be dominated by your emotions, which is exactly the thing you don't want.

In the moment. And so, you know, we kind of call it being cold and calculating, but no, it's, it's actually just being rational. Um, which is what the animal wants. If it could choose, that's what it wants. And in the case of, uh, domestic slaughter of any livestock, the rule is always, you know, be decisive and do not obsess over your emotional state.

You actually, it, it requires a degree of selflessness. You actually have to put your own feelings on the back burner cuz in, at least in the case of a domestic pig, you develop affection for them. They're incredibly endearing. Right? And the worst thing you could do in that moment, ironically, uh, is to be overly compassionate for them when it's time to kill them.

You need to be [00:32:00] decisive and very clearheaded and have full possession of yourself and control. So that you can drop that pig with one tiny 22 to the brain and it's just in paradise, one moment and lights out the next without, without even noticing a transition. And that's, that's always the goal that we go for.

So yeah, the, the, uh, and in the case of hunting, like it's, i, that, that's, that's even distilled to a greater degree because, because you're building that anticipation so for so long that it requires, I think, extrovert you in the moment to have that self possession and be like, all right, I, I'm not because I'm excited that I've got the sight picture and he's right there and he's finally here.

You still have the presence of mind to get your proper site picture. I'm not gonna be distracted from the goal here, which is to nail that spine and get that and you know it, it's the other benefit cuz [00:33:00] order when you have order in yourself. Where you're intellect and your reason is managing your appetites and your emotions not the other way around.

When, when the intellect is ruling, then ev then order flows in everything you do and the, you will also lose less of the harvest as a result, just like you were saying. So you'll get that good neck shot and if you get that neck shot cuz you aimed properly and you were cool and calculated and rational, then that bullet is also gonna hit the carotid and jugular arteries almost guaranteed if you get a neck shot.

So you're gonna get a bleed out too, just with one well placed round. And, and the patience to wait and subdue your passions for that perfect shot and to not take it unless you have it. I think that's, that's just great virtue development. I think every human needs to, uh, experience that kind of, uh, self, you know, controlling of self at that, at that decisive [00:34:00] moment.

Nick Otto: I always have a lot of voices in my head as I'm, as I'm sitting in the stand and I have the deer that's coming up into, into sight, and I've got several just phrases that I've got from mentors and that have come along or people that I've, I've talked to and just have like great impact on, on my hunting ability and things I've gleaned from them.

And as they're rolling through my head. I think Brandon, you just added one on there of be decisive, be all within your intellect as I'm looking at this animal to not let myself get the emotions above. I think we're just adding one more into that. As a new hunter. I'm hoping somebody from that, from from my audience who is a new hunter, can pick that up to just know, like you're gonna get excited.

But at the same time, a true hunter at this point, a true slaughterman is going to be all within themselves, all their intellect, and not with themselves. Get it. Driven by all this emotion, you will [00:35:00] make that calculated shot like you were supposed to.

Brandon Sheard: Yeah, exactly. And I would even say, you know, if po emotions that we generally regard as positive, if they are your first reaction, they cloud the intellect.

They cloud your judgment. So even compassion, it can cloud you and I, and I've seen this demonstrated, you know, over and over in people who are learning to harvest their own animals, very admirably, the they can, their emotion of compassion or or sympathy can, uh, blind them to the task at hand that needs to be done well.

And I always say, and it it applies to in hunting that um, the only thing that's harder than shooting a pig once is shooting it only twice. And if you're having to take those repeated shots, man, then, then you're guaranteed. There's lots of suffering, lots of meat loss, you know, lots of stress like you were saying in the meat.

So really, I, I tell people that the key virtue, I think in slaughtering a pig, okay, there's two. It's humility and [00:36:00] patience. And I think in hunting it's the same thing. Humility's gonna help you not take some crazy, risky shot. You're like, oh, he's moving. I'll hit him on the run. You know, right before he goes behind that tree or something, or, you know, and do crazy risky stuff.

It's like, no, be humble. Realize you're probably gonna miss. So, you know, take that into account. And, and humility is just recognizing reality for what it is that there are things can go wrong, there are variables that can go wrong. And then patience is, and it's, it's absolutely the same as a slaughterman, you know, on a domestic scene rather than hunting is, uh, wait until the shot is perfect.

And you just, you don't squeeze the trigger until it is, until you have it. And that it's, it's crazy. It takes a lot of self-control. And like you say, to this day, I still have to, by a conscious act of will I have to chill out and be willing to take 20 minutes if that's what's needed before a good shot [00:37:00] lines up.

And then I can drop that pig with one bullet.

Nick Otto: Because you can't be like, Hey, Bessie, could you, could you tilt, tilt your head just like an inch this way? Like there's no communication aspect. You yourself have to wait for it to be presented. Yeah. Yep. Um, domestic side, uh, yeah. We go with a rim fired shot to, uh, to the skull, to the parade, and then.

Because at that point you've rendered the brain dead at that point, but the heart is still pumping. Um, that's where sticking the pig comes into play. Um, I was looking at a little bit this, I actually helped a friend, uh, butcher some of his own pigs. And so we went through this whole process of being able to put the pig down, to stick the pig.

And so what I'm doing is I'm taking that right here. Well, it would be north of the sternum at that point, and you're getting the, the jugular and the other, um, vessel that you carotid the carotid, the jugular, and the [00:38:00] carotid, um, vessels there. And that's gonna spill out that blood. And as that heart continues to pump, it's gonna help bleed that pig out in a hunting scenario, broadside with venison.

I have taken all of my shots through the lungs, and by doing that, It is render, I mean, I'm hitting, sometimes I'm hitting the heart as well, and so I'm basically bleeding the animal out from the inside out. Uh, not needing to stick the venison at that point because it's already bleeding. Um, with my neck shot that I'm looking at on, on this pig.

Am I'm gonna wanna be on top of the pig quick enough that I can, uh, stick the pig again? Or is that gonna be one of these scenarios where it's like, with, with venison, if I can get that shot to fit on those two ve those two uh, vessels there, I'm gonna be sticking the pig and killing the pig at the same time.


Brandon Sheard: that's a really good question. And I, I haven't done a behind the ear neck [00:39:00] shot like you've described, so I don't have direct experience with it, but I can tell you what you can look for to know if you, if you got those carotid and jugular arteries. Um, the, I think there's two things. If you run a, if you drop that pig.

And, um, you can confirm that it is lost control of its body lost, uh, you know, mental control of its body because you have obliterated it's spinal cord. Then you can stick that pig cuz its heart is probably still beating, you know, and you might get a nice, a nice effusion of blood. And there are signs that the pig has, you know, it takes a lot of focus in the moment to pick up on these, especially if you're at a distance.

But, you know, a pig that is essentially brain dead or lost, neurological control of its body will immediately after the shot go stiff, you know, it's legs would go straight out [00:40:00] and they'll immediately start trembling. Um, and they could still be kind of balancing and standing up and tip over stiff that way.

But that would be, um, an indication that you've pretty much taken out the nervous system, which means that you, you have. Less likelihood of getting up on that pig and then him jumping up on all fours and coming after you, you know, regaining his feet, which in the case of a wild pig, is a sketchy proposition there.

It is a real, um, so yeah, so that, that would be a sign that I would look for that. Okay. We've achieved neurological, um, para paralysis basically, uh, with the bullet is that stiffened leg and the, and the trem the tremor, they'll, they'll, they'll be shaking a little bit, um, and then they'll be still, and then the death throws will begin.

And that's where they're convulsing a lot, you know, at two varying degrees, just depending on where the shot lands. They'll be varying degrees of convulsions. Um, but if they are [00:41:00] convulsing and it's random, meaning they're obviously not trying to get their feet under 'em and get up and walk around, it's just flailing all over the place.

Random. There's no balance. They can't get up. That is a very dead pig, even though it's moving. Very much. Yeah, it's super dead. So it's a little tricky. I've done it, but you can get in there and stick 'em in the middle of the convulsions, you know? Um, so that's an option. But then I say the second thing would be when you come up on that pig, you'll see if you have, if if there's a big old puddle of blood lying under that thing, then you, you got it.

You know, you, the, the carotid and jugular arteries are right up against the spine such that when I stick a pig, I am aiming with the tip of my knife to the spine so I can feel the spine with the tip of my knife. Like I want my knife to stop on the spine. That way I know, oh, I've definitely got the carotid and jugular arteries, cuz I'm all the way full depth to the spine.

So, um, [00:42:00] if you get up there and you see, you know, it would, it would look like depending on the size of the pig, but if you see anything close to a quart of blood, On the ground, you've probably got the, you know, at least two or three of the four carotid and jugular arteries.

Nick Otto: That's good to know. That's good to know.

Um, just because, I mean, there is a, there is a total use of blood at this point, whether it be blood sausage or blood cake or even shoot dehydrating it and using it as a blood meal in, um, in gardens. I just don't know, given the circumstances, that is gonna be something that I want to hold onto in this given environment, given that this is going to be my first time doing this.

I'm already balancing a lot of new things that are with this. We'll save blood for another time, something a little bit more controlled. So having as much of that out of the flesh, I think is gonna be something that's gonna be one of those goals that I want to achieve. Mm-hmm. That if we're gonna get, you know, I'm never gonna get rid [00:43:00] of.

Uh, bortin. I'm never gonna get rid of the true funk that I'm getting at, but at the same time, to get rid of some of the musk, I would say, uh, just some of the off flavors of being an irony blood in the mu muscle group, I was just gonna try and get as much of that out as possible. Yeah,

Brandon Sheard: yeah, that would be good.

Uh, if you intend to do any traditional curing with it, meaning preserving it in ambient temperatures, not just flavoring it as a cure, but preserving it, then the blood, the more blood you can get out, the better. The more blood there is in the meat, the more perishable it is if you're gonna do traditional style curing.

Nick Otto: Good deal. Good deal. Um, so yeah, now we're getting to the part where I was really kind of getting excited, um, just for the fact that the hide on a, on a pig is far different than one on veil, that just as we said here, a pig is prized. For its fat and its pig is prized [00:44:00] for both the, the leaf fat on the very inside to all the way to the back.

Fat. Like every bit of the pig is usable, including the skin that we're gonna try, that I'm gonna at least try to save. I, I love the phrase that, I think it's an old phrase that they use with pigs, that you can eat everything except the squeal. That was the only thing that you can't get off of a pig. Um, so now going with this hairy beast that is gonna be on the ground, it's got this long hair that's on it and I will, um, I'll see if I can't put a link.

I'm gonna mark myself a note. Um, Link to your discussion on torching pigs as well. Um, I thought this was a new thing just because people are getting a hold of garden, uh, torches. But this is a practice that was done all through, I think you described Eastern Europe started with, uh, a pile of chaff or straw.

They that drop the pig on top of there that's been fresh killed. It still has all its hair on it. They [00:45:00] load on a whole bunch more chaff and straw. The whole thing erupts into flames and then they dust it all off. They wash it off and they have themselves a clean white pig. I thought that was just a very interesting thing that wow, instead of, instead of scalding being the traditional way, it's, we're we're going back to just torching 'em, basically putting 'em in a pile of chaff.

But now with a propane torch, we can get this same ability with just a little bit, uh, I don't know, just a little bit of ease with it. You mentioned it that this was your second. Favorite method of skull, or at least getting the hair off a pig. Give us a quick rundown of what you're doing.

Brandon Sheard: Yeah, yeah. It's a great way to go.

I, I tend to do a scald and a scrape, which is to dip a pig in very precise temperature of water to loosen the hair follicles and the epidermis, the outer layer, and then scrape it off. Um, and I just like that method, uh, because it's, it's a little less [00:46:00] toilsome, uh, as far as my energy expenditure. But also I, I have a box truck and I bring all my gear.

I can bring all my equipment, but in a hunting situation, you know, you wanna be light and a propane torch and, you know, a five gallon, uh, or, you know, whatever, the small propane canister, if you can throw that in your pickup, uh, then you can do all of, you can beautifully de her a pig just with a good torch.

And, um, you could do it hanging. You could even do it on the ground, you know, if, if the grass is. Wet enough and we're not gonna start fires everywhere. Very good point. Yeah. The, uh, it's, it's a great way to go. Um, it cleans the pig really well. And I would even say that if you get good at it, when, when you get competent at torching pigs on the hunt, it actually is more efficient than skinning them on the hunt.

Because when you skin a pig, just like you said, they don't have a hide, they have skin. There's not a clear [00:47:00] fascia division between the skin and the meat of the pig. Like there is on deer and camel and cow and lamb and goat and horse and everything else that has a hide. Pigs get melanomas, they get skin cancer, they get sunburns and their skin is edible and there's no scene between skin and flesh.

So when you have to nice off knife off every ounce of it, and then you've got exposed fat and. Everything in the known universe sticks to us exposed fat. You, you touch it once, that's a permanent hand print of dirt, you know, on the pig flesh, permanent. So I think that really in a hunting scenario, if you get good at torching, you actually find that as more efficient because the skin is rinse.

You can clean it, you can rinse it off, you know, it's not as sticky as fat. So all that to say, the technique is very basic. And like you said, the torching, the hair removal is key to eating the entire animal. And by the entire animal, we do mean the head, the ears, the snout, the [00:48:00] feet, the tail. You'll be able to pop off the toenails if you torch properly.

And basically all that it looks like is you. You blast that thing hard, you blacken the pig, you're gonna feel like you're burning it like you've gone too far. Don't worry about it. You keep that torch on there and I literally, I'll hold it on a particular spot, you know, on the pig. I'll hold it there until I can see the hair burns away.

It goes all the way down and then the skin itself starts to blacken. And when you've gotten pretty much the blackened skin, you can move on to the next spot and you just keep going, you know, all along one pi side of the pig if it's laying down. And then the work begins where you want to scrub and rinse it off.

And so this might be something you do back at camp or if you have water, cuz what you've done, you haven't necessarily moved the hair and the pigmented layer of skin, you've just turned it to soot. And soot doesn't [00:49:00] taste so nice. So you gotta scrub it off and rinse it off and you'll be amazed that you'll, after that scrub, that rinse and scrub, you'll have taken.

A, a black pig covered in soot, and it'll be pink. You'll, it'll, it'll completely rinse off and it's beautiful and it'll be hairless. Um, and the, the key really is just don't be shy with how long and how hard you b you torch that thing, you can really go at it. And if you hold it a little longer on the trotters, on the feet, you can get a hook or jam a pocket knife in there and leverage the toenails off.

You'll be able to pop those off and then you'll have beautifully cleaned trotters and they're absolutely delicious. Um, same thing with the head. You can torch all the hair off the head, rinse, scrub off the soot, and you'll have a pristine skin on pig carcass.

Nick Otto: Excellent. This is gonna be, it's, it's gonna be, Two other gentlemen, I suspect there's going to be a case of beer because we're [00:50:00] gonna need that.

Cause we're trying something new, but we're gonna give our damnedest to, to try this out. I've convinced a guy down there, I'm like, this is, this is the end all Beall. If we're gonna get the most out of it, we we're gonna want to go with this torching method. Um, yeah. To, to back it up. So yeah, we've got our, we've got our yard torch we're gonna be using.

Um, I was thinking, so I've, I've got this little, uh, it's not a, I would con it's like a rinser. It's not a pressure washer, but it's, it basically like a turbo blast from a regular hand, uh, hand sprayer. Uh, but it's got a battery, nice attach to it just kind of improves the blast. So I was gonna tote that along as far as being able to get that soot off.

And then I think you had mentioned in your video that I'm, I'm linking as well is the, uh, a Brillo pad. If I get a couple nice grill gritty Brillo pads. We can do that. We get three guys we're scrubbing. That should help be able to take that layer off and get those, those pigs nice and clean. Um, [00:51:00] what time, what kind of time commitment Again, we're gonna, you, you're gonna add time being we're novice.

What time of ki what time type of time commitment are you, yourself giving a pig if you're going with this torch method?

Brandon Sheard: Yeah. So if, if, if all the stars align and they rarely do and everything is going well at a pig slaughter, you know, I can, I can have a pig from living to hald and chilling in my truck in about 45 minutes with the torching method.

Okay. You know, and, and that's like, you know, everything's perfect. You know, the pig isn't a 700 pound monster and I didn't have to drag it 200 yards to get it to my truck, you know, and all those things. Yeah. Um, but, so it can be very quick and I think you'll be surprised with three guys. Um, H with a group of guys.

H how mu how quickly you can do this. And that's, yeah, your sprayer sounds awesome. And you'll just be, you know, be sensitive to how effectively you can use the [00:52:00] sprayer and the scrubber to get the soot off. Cuz you'll find if you're just scrubbing the dried skin, it's not really doing much. You gotta like, wet it, scrub and then rinse it.

So that's, that's kind of the model that I use with my hose sprayer, just like you're saying. And it's a lot of scrubbing and rinsing, scrubbing and rinsing back and forth. Um, but it's, it's remarkable. And then it's just up to you, you know, how thorough it, how thorough you want to be will also determine how long it takes if you wanna get in between those toenails and on the bottom of the, the pig trotters, you know, in the ear all, all down here where it might be bloody, you know, All of that is fair game and if you have got the mind to harvest it, you definitely can.

And I would be surprised if it takes you guys longer than an hour your first time to, to get it. Perfect.

Nick Otto: Well, good, good. Um, gut in or gut out? Can we do it both ways? Is it better to have not opened it up just for ease [00:53:00] of it?

Brandon Sheard: Yeah, that's a good point. I, I think you should try it both ways and see what happens.

Cuz you've got some flexibility with a pig. It's not a room in it, right? You, it's not a deer. So, uh, or a lamb where once you shoot it, you, the clock starts because, uh, the bacteria in the gut is gonna produce gas and it's gonna continue to inflate and get bigger and bigger and bigger. A pig has just a little bit of flora in its intestine, not, it's not a ruminant, so you're not gonna have that problem.

Um, you actually have a lot of flexibility there. If you need to throw the pig guts in, in the back of a pickup and drive all the way back to somebody's house, that'll be fine. You know, worst case you, the gallbladder, the bile from the gallbladder will start to actually break down the liver a little bit and it will leach into the liver.

So you might lose like a lobe of the liver, um, even after like an hour or two of the guts being in there. So [00:54:00] pig is just way more flexible as far as when you need to get the guts out. So I would try both ways and see what you guys think. I like to do it guts in and that's just cuz I have the luxury right there to shoot deha and then eviscerate, you know, all, all right next to each other as a slaughterman.

Nick Otto: Man, I think you just, yeah, A little bomb went off in my head when you just said that a pig isn't a ruminant. And just kind of me finally realizing like, oh my goodness. You're right. Like, we're not gonna have the bloat that we are with other ruminants with like, say your cow, say your, your lamb or your, uh, your deer.

That we've, we've most commonly known that it's, that it is a ticking time clock. Get on this thing, get it gutted. We've got a little bit of flexibility. Yeah. With the pig that is, Ooh, that might be a real game changer. Um, yeah, you

Brandon Sheard: could even have a nice setup, you know, ready and waiting to take the pig back to so you can do your torching in luxury and with beers.


Nick Otto: I was gonna say, with luxury, luxury on this trip. [00:55:00] Sounds like, I mean, we're gonna be all on the back of the trucks. We are gonna be in a cabin, so that's already luxury enough. I, man, this is, sounds like a, this sounds like a four star resort that we're heading to now, if we have it pre-read to go.

Yeah. Um, back to the insides now. Um, Heart has always, heart has been one that it's an easy transfer from, uh, from meat into awful that's like the, the gateway drug, if you will, because it is so much like a, it it is, it's a piece of meat at that point, but you're getting from the inside of the animal heart is always one that I'm gonna, I'm gonna try to take from everything that I can.

Um, I dunno, both symbolically and at the same time, just knowing that it does taste delicious. That's something I, I definitely want to take. Mm-hmm. Um, but from a, from a feral, feral pig at this point decide, is there anything from the inside the awful that I'm gonna want to take advantage of? We, you just mentioned the liver a little bit, that if we're a little rough on the edges, we may get a little bit of that gallbladder into the [00:56:00] liver at that point.

We'll, we'll lose a lobe there. Is there anything really worth taking advantage of? Culinary

Brandon Sheard: wise? Yes. Yeah, I would say at least three other things. So the kidneys are delicious. Pork kidneys are wonderful. Um, they're gonna be right next to the spine, just like, uh, all a deer, same location. They'll be encased in fat, uh, and they're delicious, and you would utilize them fresh.

And same with the liver. Like the secret to Al is freshness. And hunters know this most hopefully, uh, it's, we're gonna en

Nick Otto: enlight this, you know, previous,

Brandon Sheard: oh man, that, I mean, it's like, not even the same. It's not just a difference in degree, but inkind, like frozen, previously frozen liver is a different thing than fresh liver.

Fresh liver is delicious. It's got a beautiful texture. Previously frozen liver is tinny and mushy and pasty. It's [00:57:00] gross. I don't even, I can't even do it. So it's all about freshness with ful and the kidneys are no exception. Uh, and fortunately there's enough of it. You can fry it all up pretty much the day of.

And seriously, the closer to the death you can eat that al, the better it will taste. If you can fry up bits of that liver when it's still warm with body temperature, it will taste that much better. So the kidneys, you can cut 'em in half lengthwise and you can cut out the inner white core that's kind of chewy.

Um, and you can dispose of that. And then you've got the flesh of the kidneys that remain the internal fat that is surrounding the kidneys. That is the original shortening. So God made pigs partly as step one to the recipe of apple pie because you need shortening for your pie crust, and that shortening comes from the kidney, fat of pigs, not from hydrogenated [00:58:00] vegetable oil or Crisco.

Which are bastard imitations devised by a man to destroy apple pies. So you need to harvest that leaf fat, that kidney fat. And the way you know when the pig is fresh, they call it a leaf, l e a f fat, because it'll come off in one sheet. Sometimes it's easier to let the pig chill all the way, and then you can rip it all out in one continuous sheet.

And it's basically on the inside of the bacon, on the belly, the fat that surrounds the kidney, that's the leaf fat. And you grind it or chop it up really finely, as finely as you can. Melt it on a pot on your stove with the lid off low and slow. And that's how you render it into lard. Strain out the solids, and then you've got pork leaf lard.

And just try to buy pork leaf lard. Super expensive and even if you can find it at all, it's very hard to find. It's the ultimate shortening, so definitely harvest the leaf fat around the kidneys. Definitely. If you can't harvest the call fat, c a u [00:59:00] l Deer have it, you know? Mm-hmm. Anything you hunt has it, we've got it.

It is a veil of fat that has veins in it. It's beautiful. Not blood veins, but like lace. It looks like lace. It's gorgeous. And it's a sheet and it's connected to the stomach. And when the pig is alive, it wraps all the way around the GI tract all the way around the intestines and connects back to the spleen.

And so you can kind of gently cut that off of the guts and then you will have this veil of fat very thin that you can wrap around anything that you intend to roast. So it's, I mean, you gotta harvest the CLL fat. You can wrap it around a roast, a chicken that you're gonna roast in the oven, and it will just ba.

That meat that you're roasting in the oven with that mild, delicious fat and keep it moist, you can wrap it around a lean beef roast or something. And it is only made of fat, so it actually does freeze well. You can freeze the call fat and take it out and use it later.

Nick Otto: [01:00:00] Good. That was my second question is I do have some deer call fat in my freezer and I've always wondered, I'm like, shoot, is this gonna bounce back?

And I've been hesitant to use it, but knowing that if I then let this come back to Ruben temperature, I'm gonna be able to unfold it. It won't be stuck into one mass.

Brandon Sheard: Yes. Specifically, uh, soak it in water. So get, you know, big stainless bowl out and, uh, throw the fat in there and just cold water from your kitchen sink and just soaking in that for 30 minutes or so, it, it will become pliable again.

And then you can wrap it gently around whatever you want to cook.

Nick Otto: Good. Good. I'm glad I'm taking point on. On the, the pig butchery here for our little camp of guys here, because they're gonna go home with pigs that are gonna be minus their call fat and leaf fat. But I think that's gonna be okay. I don't know if they're gonna know what to do with it.

So I'm, I'm going full on this. This is our secret, Brandon. We can't let this out. [01:01:00] We're gonna have a bunch of shit here in our house.

Brandon Sheard: Yeah. Put it to good use.

Nick Otto: All right. Hey, I got two big checkpoints that are gonna be, uh, a left on my list. And the first one we're gonna get to is bacon. This is the big hog in the room.

Um, I've heard both sides of the story and I'm kind of preparing myself for both. One, like you've mentioned, some of these sos are gonna be fat and they're gonna have a lot of LA cuz they've been living in corn, they've been feeding on, uh, feed that it's intended for cattle. They're gonna have these la beautiful layers of fat.

Off of a, a feral pig like that, I'm gonna be able to get a belly that I can make bacon from. But also knowing that they're gonna be in an environment that is gonna be tendon to be lean. They may not, they might be really lean, they might not have these fat ribbons on there. Can I still make [01:02:00] bacon off of a

Brandon Sheard: lean pig?

Yes, yes, you can technically. So it's really up to you, you know, um, lean bacon when you're curing it simply and traditionally, like, like I tend to do, which is just using salt and natural sugar, diara sugar and curing it for preservation. So literally my bacon hangs in my kitchen at room temperature, uh, indefinitely or until we eat it.

That traditional curing process removes water. That's why it works. That's how it preserves the bacon from spoilage. It removes and binds water, which means it shrinks the bacon. And the cool thing about fat pigs is that they have a lot of fat. And fat doesn't have a lot of water. So the fat or the pig, the less shrinkage you get.

Whereas with the lean pig, you know, it'll, a lean belly will shrink quite a bit to the degree that you might find. Slicing it and frying it for breakfast doesn't really make sense. You know, the [01:03:00] slices are gonna be super thin. You know, the, the, you might just have like three quarters of an inch or, or half an inch depending on the, on the size of the pig, um, in terms of how tall the, your bacon slices are.

So I would just, if you end up with a lean pig, use it differently. You know, instead of sliced and fried up for breakfast, you cut off kind of a large chunk and then you cube it up, or you, you cut it into dice and then you put it in a skillet and let it render and cook a little bit, and then you braze.

You know, um, collar greens in that with a little bit of vinegar, a little bit of stock, pinch of sugar and some salt to be absolutely delicious. So you use the bacon more as like, uh, an addition to stews or fries or like even scrambled eggs in the morning, you know? Um, so I would just use it a little differently if you get a lean one, but it's absolutely possible to cure lean bacon.

Um, you might also consider any, any piece of the pig that you cut into a regular [01:04:00] shape, even the loin where the chops come from. Like, you can bacon, that you can cure that into bacon, no problem. There's no part of the pig that you're not supposed to cure into bacon. Bacon used to pretty much be understood as synonymous with pork.

It meant pork Today, we've, we've distinguished those and bacon just means the belly meat. Wow. Um, with a tangy flavor. But that, that wasn't always the case. So there's nothing, you can't turn into a bacon on the bacon. Gotcha.

Nick Otto: Isn't, don't the French call that like a Ladon or Larone? Yes. Essentially where like where were, you were cutting it up into, into chunks.

That's a great application for that. Um, the other idea, the little brainchild that I had too, is it, I was kind of taking it from the Italian side. Now I know they do more of a, a fresh, um, style when it comes to their panchetta. There's a lot more herbs incorporated into that. But I have thought about rolling the bacon or the belly tying it off as I'm going to [01:05:00] either, as you know, I'd probably wanna do it as I'm curing it, roll it up.

I've, I've already got my, uh, salt incorporated into it. I've already gotten my sugar on onto it, and I start to roll that up and I'm gonna let that thing dry out. But to do basically a pinwheel. So if I did want to do something for, you know, the, the skillet for breakfast and I wanted to slice it up rather to slice up a pinwheel around at that point, now I have like a half inch kind of going over itself three or four times now I got something I can serve up to the kids.

Yeah. It's not in a straight, you know, pretty looking line. But you know what that's gonna be the best take is in bacon that you've ever had because we've had a hand in making it. At least that was my brainchild, I thought. Yeah. You think that would work?

Brandon Sheard: Absolutely. Yes. And it panchetta is great. Panetta ru rutolo, I, I can't remember what they call it, but they do it flat and they do it round like that, and you would just cure it flat first.

So you, you get it, you have a perfectly [01:06:00] cured belly. And then I like to do with the panchetta, whizz up a bunch of fresh black peppercorns and just do a solid layer on the exposed meat side. And then you roll that, you roll that pepper into it, you know, as you're rolling it and really tight. The key with panchetta to preventing it from spoiling is rolling it very tight so that there's not air in the roll.

And, you know, you can get your, your children in there and put their weight on it as you roll it so you can really tighten it, um, and secure it very tightly. But that's, that's a great way to go. Pan Jetta, it's traditionally not smoked, so it's, it's easy. You can make an authentic panetta and not have to have a smokehouse, and, and you've got it.

Well, good,

Nick Otto: good. Hey, if, if I'm gonna walk away with a bunch of hogs here, we might go traditional and we might go my brainchild where I'm doing the, the bacon side of it. We'll, we'll try 'em both out. Mm-hmm. Last little tidbit on there is, yeah, we're going to the extent I wanna save the skin, both because I think [01:07:00] it's gonna help in the transport of the carcass because I'm gonna be using a combination of dry ice and ice in my coolers, getting them back to Michigan, where I can then fully chill these things down where I can begin the full butcher process.

I'm, I'm just gonna try to half 'em. Uh, I've got a couple really large coolers, so I wanna see if I can't lay the whole half in the skin. I was hoping would be a protective layer. I mean, shoot, that's what skin is, but I was thinking in Florida to protect the meat itself, that being able to transport with skin is gonna be favorable to me.

But now that I got the skin here in Michigan and I'm ready to try something new, um, looking at, uh, chicharone or, uh, what am I trying to think? Pork? Uh, pork. Pork rind, uh, being able to, yeah. Pork rin. Yeah. Being able to cut this off, uh, uh, from my process. I think if I remember it, like [01:08:00] I'm, I'm gonna stew these things down for a little while.

I really make 'em pliable. Then there goes to an element where I like skin off the rest of the fat. So I'm just left with the epidermis that goes into a dehydrator. They get super dry, and then I go from dehydrator into, uh, deep fryer and that's where I get that bubbling crackling. That's where I get that beautiful shape and that awesome flavor off of chicharone and, and pork or, uh, and pork RINs.

Um, is this gonna be something I want to try out with? Yes. With feral pigs as well? Am I gonna get the bang for my buck that I'm looking for on these?

Brandon Sheard: Yes. I think with one exception, if you happen to take, uh, a relatively mature male pig, if you take a bore, their skin is thicker. It's just incredible how how much testosterone changes their physiology and their skin is so thick that the dermis itself is distinctly thicker than on a female pig.[01:09:00]

I've never been able to get that to crisp very well. That's been always a challenge. So if you get a female pig or a young male, then I think you won't, you won't have a problem. And there's, there's so many ways you could go about it. The, the recipe you just detailed is, that's the really fancy, like you're gonna get aerated.

Puffed up, you know, chicharone pork RINs and that'll be awesome. Sometimes I just simplify it and I cut the skin into strips. I simmer 'em in water for 40 minutes and then I lay 'em skin side up on a roasting pan in the oven at like 4 25 for another 35 minutes. And they're not quite as light an airy as a pork grind, but they're definitely bubbly and crisped up and absolutely delicious.

So there's a lot of ways you can go about it, you know? Gotcha.

Nick Otto: I like your, yeah, definitely. Do pork grind. 45 minutes, boom, bang. We're in, we're out and we're appealing. Yeah, we're appeasing the crowd that we've got in our kitchen. I like that route. Well,

Brandon Sheard: yeah, that goes

Nick Otto: pretty quick. [01:10:00] Awesome. This has come to the crescendo of our show.

This is where I'm gonna ask you one last question, and that is gonna be, I want your favorite dish that you're gonna break down.


Brandon Sheard: Oh man. Well, uh, on principle, on principle, I have to say, I, I do not have any dishes that are not a favorite. So they're every part of the pig. You won't put that. Also, it can be cooked perfectly. So, so I just have to say that on principle cuz it's, it's true. Like, literally I have no bummer [01:11:00] parts. You know, we're never harvesting a pig and it's like, oh man, all we got is, you know, uh, a shoulder roast left.

It's like, no, no, it's all just crazy. Good. So that being said, all you know, if you. There's a real good chance you're gonna have a beautiful pig head on your hands because if you get a nice neck shot or a nice body shot, you're gonna have a beautiful head without any bullet trauma, which is, you know, I always have at least a 22 mag hole in the skull.

Um, and this still works if you do that with a domestic pig too. So, but you can roast the head and roasting the head is one of our favorite things. It's so delicious. So definitely get that head nice and clean on the day of, you know, do your torching, do your scrubbing and rinsing so it's spotless. Um, uh, no hair left on the head, that's key.

And then you gotta get your biggest roasting pan. One with deep sides, like, you [01:12:00] know, the one for turkeys, you know, that's, that's got deep sides on it cuz there's a lot of fat in the head and in the jowl and. You're gonna cut the head off of the carcass back at the atlas vertebrae. So, which is basically exactly behind the ears.

Right behind the ears, not just like an inch behind them. That's where you're gonna cut the head off and you can do it all with a knife, a nice, clean, straight cut. And then once you cut all the flesh away and you just get down to where only the spine is holding onto the skull, you bend that head back, you hyperextend it basically, and that atlas vertebra will just pop right outta the skull.

And then you'll have the head detached and it'll be beautiful. So you take that head, you've got it all clean, you put it in your deep dished roasting pan, your deep sighted roasting pan, and you massage the oil of the olive into that head. The more you massage olive oil into it, the more crispy the s the the skin will become.[01:13:00]

Uh, it's just this equation. So literally rubbing it in, you know, actually rubbing it in a little bit. Um, and then you salt all over it and maybe some time, you know, some fresh herb, whatever catches your fancy and you lay it down in that pan on the cut side. So then the snout and the nostrils are just pointing straight towards heaven.

And you put it in a 300 degree oven, 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Give it six hours in there, five or six hours. And then the last 30 minutes, whack it up to 4 25 Fahrenheit. And that will help to crisp the skin for the final, the final crisp, and then take it out and let it rest. Don't even cut into it. Don't serve it for like 30 to 40 minutes.

Let it rest and then bring it to the table. And I always say, traditionally this was a, a big deal in England, the Boar's Head, you can actually, uh, find the Boar's Head Carol. This was a big deal [01:14:00] where, uh, it was a Christmas feast to slaughter the, the boar, the wild boar, and to serve its head. And you can have your oldest son carry in the pig head that is freshly roasted intoning, the boar's head Carol.

That's all part of the recipe. And then, uh, the, the skin will be crispy. So usually you go, I go at it with tongs and you just kind of break the skin. It'll come off in crispy chips, and then you'll have long pable meat in the jowls. Long pulled pork and, and meat all on the forehead and everywhere. Like the eyeballs are delicious.

They're just made of fat. So they're absolutely delicious. Have a little bit of salt on hand, you know, for everybody. Um, so good. You can also, you know, towards the last 45 minutes of the head roasting in the oven, you could throw in a bunch of quartered potatoes. Or any root vegetables, and they will cook in all the fat that's rendered out of the pig head in that deep sided pan.

So you can kind of turn it into like a, you know, a one pan meal for everybody. But I would say roast the [01:15:00] pig head cuz you'll, you'll have a beautiful one for sure after that hunt.

Nick Otto: Oh my goodness. I, I tell you what this is. I need to have my wits about me, I need to have my excitement in check because Brandon, you've just got me so excited for these little bits that I had just, I didn't even know that were on the list to the points of her like, hey, We're gonna take as much of this pig as possible, including the head.

So I need to have my wits about me make the shot first and be ready to then, then reap the spoils after, after the shot, then we can begin the harvest. That's a great display. I tell you that is a final favorite dish. I, yeah, like you said, I should say final dish, um, of our episode, because, uh, you just said there's no favorites.

You love 'em all, but to end on a crescendo, like a boar's head, that's awesome. Where can, where can my listeners tune into, into your stuff? Where can we find more about Brandon? Where can we for find more about, [01:16:00] uh, your classes that you're offering online and in person? Um, yeah, we can focus and. Sure,

Brandon Sheard: yeah, they could go to, uh, farmstead meet and there I post all of our classes.

We host several throughout the year on beef, pork, lamb, and poultry even. We're gonna do a goose class in November. Uh, and all of these, you know, we do get a lot of hunters actually in our courses who kind of just want to up their butchery game. Um, they are, the classes are unique in that they're 100% hands on.

So these aren't demos. I, I keep 'em small. It's eight people. And everyone is doing the harvesting and they last two or three days depending on the class. So it's very thorough and knife in hand the whole time. And my goal with these classes is always for people to go home and be able to do it in perpetuity.

So that's, uh, the goal of the class. [01:17:00] Um, and those are great. We've got lots of, we've got some June family pig classes coming up. Those are three day courses and we make sausage and blood sausage and patee all starting with two living pigs. Um, and then, uh, we've got the Meet Smith membership, which is an online resource, also hosted on farmstead meet, where we do monthly live chats.

Lot of hunters on there, you know, talking about how to process, game and preserve it and everything traditionally. And it's really geared towards, um, domestic scale provisioning, you know, of meat. Everything from how to raise pigs, uh, to how to harvest them, how to cure them, how to cook them, and. All the other livestock as well.

And there's a over 50 films that are archived in that membership that I've made for it. Um, all instructional. And then we've got a Meet Smith Harvest, which is our podcast, uh, that Oh, I love doing. It's really tricky, as, you know, to sit down and do a podcast in the middle of life and everything. Uh, but [01:18:00] Lauren and I sit down and we talk about all of this and how it works really for our family.

You know, it's, it's tricky to find meat processing information that isn't irrevocably locked in the industrial model, which ha is totally irrelevant to the home scale. Like, that's just absolutely useless to you and your kitchen. And so we're just trying to rediscover the traditions of how our forefathers would've provisioned themselves, would've fed themselves well, uh, through hunting and farming before the supermarket system and the industrialization of our food supply.

So yeah, those are, those are the primary avenues.

Nick Otto: Excellent. Excellent. I know there will be a lot of people that are looking forward to getting more and gleaning more of the information that you've been able to provide because Yeah, like as we go on, like just like you said, finding ways to get out of the industrial system to take charge of what's on our plate has been kind of taken away from us and we need, we [01:19:00] need someone to, to show us the way.

And Brandon, you've been able to provide that both tonight and through, through your network of, of films and podcasts. So why don't you hold on for just a second, Brandon. I'm gonna let our listeners on out. Folks, I hope you enjoyed this evening. I hope you've really enjoyed our deep dive into something.

To me that is unique that we're gonna be chasing after pork in the element of. Out of the pen. We're totally chasing. After feral pigs. I'm learning information on the fly, but at the same time, the same goes for every critter that I'm chasing and hoping to harvest from as I want to do it the quickest I can.

I want to do it the most ethically way I can, but at the same time, I want to be able to harvest the utmost amount that I can. And so going tonight, I hope you can glean a little bit of this information for yourself. I hope that, uh, if you get a chance to chase pigs, we're already chasing pigs. You're knowing where to put your sights just behind and maybe below that ear [01:20:00] to go for that spine.

But if you start to do the job of eviscerating that pig, make sure that the knife that you are using is very sharp.