Posts Tagged ‘feral hogs’

Family Adventures:Dove and Pulled Pork

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

In my circle of friends and family, it is a known fact that I love to eat dove. My birthday was this week and my middle child decided to surprise me with grilled dove for lunch. He began hunting off and on during his free time. As the date drew closer for my birthday, he became more and more determined to bring home dove. So he called my brother for help.

My brother’s family readily agreed to come out to the ranch in order to help. As we made our way to the new ranch, we received a phone call that the hog trap was full. My father, his wife, and their friends had already eliminated the problem animals, but now the hogs had to be removed.

My three sons from twelve to five years of age, my husband, my brother, and my four-year old nephew began the removal process, which is dragging the bodies out of the trap. The job was made more difficult by the uneven ground where the hogs had plowed up the soil in the trap and by the size of the hogs.

Regardless of the difficulty even the youngest member of the hog removal team pulled his weight, quite literally. The smallest hog weighed as much as him. He struggled, he worked, he fell, he got up, he persevered. We were all praising him for completing the task. With a smile he looked up at me and said, “That’s my first time to pull a hog.” It puts a new spin on the term, “pulled pork.”

After our feral hog adventure, we returned to the purpose of our outing. We set our sights on the sky. We saw many dove, but they were all flying just out of range. My brother did bring down one that dared to get a little closer. I don’t blame the birds for avoiding us. We were hardly incognito.

We had the whole crew. Children outnumbered the adults and the former could not sit still or be quiet to save their lives. My seven year old son discontent with sitting in a chair began standing near the trunk of the tree. We thought this was better since he was more hidden. That is until I heard my sister-in-law say, “I think we have a monkey in the tree.” I turned around to see half of the tree swaying back and forth with my son at the root of the problem.

Well, we all learned a lesson or two. My nephew jumped in with the men and pulled his own weight. My son was able to not only bring home some dove, but he also marinated it and grilled it for lunch. Even though dove hunting is considered a social event by most, we learned the kids are still too young.

I was reminded once again the importance of family. Working as a team, we make quick work of a hard task. Including our children in work and fun allows us enjoy each other and pass down knowledge to the next generation. Cross Creek Cattle Company is a family-owned and operated ranch with roots deeply planted in Texas for seven generations now. It is fun to see adventures, stories, memories, knowledge, and skills being written on our children’s hearts as they too grow to love the land, each other, and God, who has blessed us abundantly.

Wild in the Kitchen

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

As I have shared with you on numerous occasions, we have a large feral hog population on both of our ranches in Grimes County. Many television shows capture the hunting and trapping of these pests. They are destructive animals plowing up large sections of land overnight with their strong snouts. There is always a fair amount of danger when dealing with any wild animal; hogs are no exception.

Boars are very large and protective of their herd. Their tusks can easily cut flesh, they bite, and their husky size is intimidating. Sows are even more protective if they have a litter of pigs at their side. You do not want to get between her and her children. We do not hunt for pigs in a traditional way nor do we go out with dogs and big knives as I have seen on television. Instead, my husband and sons assemble hog traps and bait them with corn.

Lately we have been blessed with full traps. Wild boar is considered a delicacy in gourmet cuisine; however, my family prefers the younger pigs and the sows. This week my husband smoked a wild pork loin, grilled wild pork chops, and smoked wild pork ribs. These were all delicious and all came from a 200 pound sow.

My eleven year old son, Jake, killed a piglet. It weighed anywhere from 10-15 pounds. He cleaned it and laid it on ice for a day. Then he washed the carcass and prepared it for cooking. He even went out to our garden and found the vegetables necessary for his invented recipe.

Jake surprised me by baking it and also making a side dish. My young man not only brought home the proverbial bacon, but he prepared it for the family as a treat to me. I don’t know many eleven year old boys who could or would do this today.

Slow-Baked Wild Hog

One small piglet
2 bell peppers, chopped in large pieces
1 lg. onion, chopped in large pieces
1 lime
Tony Chachere’s or similar Cajun seasoning

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Line a large baking dish with heavy duty foil with enough to wrap the meat up completely. Chop up the onion and bell peppers and stuff the cavity of the pig. Squeeze lime juice over the meat and sprinkle with the seasoning to your liking. Finish wrapping with the foil like it is in a pocket. Bake for 3 hours. The meat will become extremely tender and fall off the bone.

I was impressed with Jake’s initiative and ability. The dinner was extra special in that it came from the ranch and at the hands of my young son. Considering how many feral hogs we have been trapping, we will be getting wild in the kitchen for a while.

Getting Ready to Move

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

When the owners of Cross Creek Cattle Company purchased additional land in order to expand our ranch and the provide room for business expansion, we knew the property would require many hours of physical labor in order to be ready for our herd.

Our primary concern is fencing. Without proper fencing, you cannot contain your cattle nor can you keep out neighboring herds. After years of neglect, the perimeter fencing was in bad repair. Trees had fallen in some places like a game of pick up sticks. My husband and some hired men worked long, hard days removing the trees and limbs, clearing the fence lines, and repairing the fences. In many places, it was easier to completely rebuild the fence from scratch.

I am pleased to announce that the perimeter fencing is complete. Our borders are secure. Now my husband’s focus has been the cross-fencing. Pasture rotation requires good cross-fencing whether it is a sturdy 5 string barbed wire fence or a fence made with hot-wire. My husband reports that the cross-fencing is now 95% done.

Unfortunately, this new property has a infestation of feral hogs. We have them on our home ranch, but not near to the extent of the new ranch. In some places, the hogs have disked up the earth. Weeds then come up instead of grass; therefore, the wild hogs are posing a threat to our livelihood in the grass fed beef business. Cattle have to have grass in order to survive without grain.

I have written before about this problem and how my husband built a hog trap. The trap has been very effective. In the last three weeks, we have killed 37 hogs. Monday alone we trapped and killed 21 wild hogs. Not only are we feeding the local community and filling our own freezers with wild pork, but we are making a small dent in the feral hog population.

Now that the pastures are being taken care of with the removal of wild hogs and with the sturdy fencing, our next concern is water. There are many lakes and ponds on the property. One pond’s dam had broken. It has since been repaired with a bulldozer. Now all the waterways are accessible and full to the brim thanks to all the rain we have been receiving.

The next project that my husband must tackle is repairing the existing cattle pens. Once we take our herd of mama cows and the bulls to the new ranch, we will have to have a way to work and pen them up. Our plan is to use our home ranch for the sole purpose of finishing out our grass fed beef.

We are not quite ready to move our main herd just yet, but we are laying the groundwork. When we do eventually move the herd, this will not affect our customers at all. The grass fed animals will still be at the home ranch and you will still pick up your orders from the home ranch as well.

We are so excited about the expansion of our ranch and of our business. As the demand for grass fed beef increases, we are trying to keep up with the demand. We thank our customers for making this possible.

Wild Boar

Thursday, April 5th, 2012
Wild Boar and my husband, Lane.

Wild Boar and my husband, Lane.

A few weeks ago, my husband and son, Jake, set up a hog trap for wild hogs. Feral hogs have been destroying pastureland on Cross Creek Cattle Company. Since our livelihood depends on grass for our herd, we cannot sit back and watch as these wild nuisances wreak havoc.

Jake and Lane building the hog trap.

Jake and Lane building the hog trap.

The wild hog trap is a simple design meant to capture as many hogs as possible using cattle panels and t-posts. The trap is almost heart-shaped as the last two pieces of panel curve back inside creating an entrance. The hogs push their way between the two panels to get the corn inside. Once in, they cannot get out. The trap works well as we have trapped several hogs since then.

We have driven up on numerous hogs, but never seem to have a gun when we do. We have named one boar, The Bear, because he is so big that he looks like a black bear. He is the largest wild boar we have seen in these parts.

We have some men working for the ranch in fence repair. My husband sent them ahead early this morning to get started while he finished checking the cows, feeding the horses, etc. A few minutes later, Lane received a phone call from the employees informing him that a huge pig is trapped and trying its hardest to escape. They went on to say that its back is as high as the panels, which are 4′ tall. Lane let me know so that I could finish his chores as he sped away. We just knew it was “The Bear.”

Well since there are fish stories, I should not be surprised that there are hog stories, too. And in defense of the men who called, they were situated on top of the hill looking down into the trap. Maybe the pig’s back did in fact look that tall. It quickly became very obvious to Lane that the hog was certainly not “The Bear.”

My husband is not a huge man. He stands at 5’9″ and weighs 145 pounds. In comparison the hog is really a big boar. It outweighed my husband by twenty pounds. Wild hogs are mean and have sharp teeth and tusks. I am glad that the hog was trapped when my husband saw it.

So Lane ended up spending a good part of his morning cleaning a large wild boar for the sole purpose of making sausage. It just goes to show that as a Ranch Manager you never know what your day will bring. Never a dull moment at Cross Creek Cattle Company, and we are still on the hunt for “The Bear.”

Hog Wild for Pork

Thursday, May 19th, 2011
Clayton and Jake cleaning hogs.

Clayton and Jake cleaning hogs.

As I have written about several times on “Welcome to the Ranch,” feral hogs are an invasive species that have found their way at times on Cross Creek Cattle Company.  I say at times because they can do not stick to one specific area for long.  Instead they travel as necessary for their food needs. 

The one thing that wild hogs do that can be devastating to ranchers is to destroy pastures.  With their snouts, the hogs break the ground up looking for food like roots, earthworms, etc.  They also like to make wallows to lay in the coolness of the ground.  In one night, a group of wild hogs, called sounders, can “disk” up an entire pasture.  Obviously this is not good, especially when you are raising grass fed beef. 

And when you are a rancher facing an exceptional drought scenario, wild hogs are not invited guests on your ranch.  We cannot afford to lose any pastures to these feral animals.  Therefore, we have been setting our hog traps in an attempt to manage the wild hog population on our ranch. 

One recent Saturday morning, my dad called us early in the morning.  He could hear snorting and squealing in the direction of the trap.  Immediately all of my boys and husband jumped into the pick-up truck and raced to the trap.  There was a sow and five younger hogs in the trap.  Outside of the trap were a few small piglets. 

My family easily killed the wild hogs in the trap.  Meanwhile, our dog, Maggie, took off chasing one of the piglets.  She got it by the ear and my father killed it.  We cannot decide if Maggie is really brave or really stupid.  I personally lean more to the latter. 

Needless to say, we had a lot of cleaning and processing to do that day.  Luckily my boys enjoy bringing home the bacon literally.  So it was a joy for me to watch them work side-by-side with their dad.  We used the bucket on our tractor to hang several pigs at one time in order to be as efficient as possible.  It also allowed my husband to hang the hogs at a good height for him. 

We now have about a year’s supply of pork for our family.  My husband has smoked a ham as well as the whole piglet.  We deboned the majority of the pork for both link and pan sausage.  We have packaged the pork loins, some hams, and one shoulder. 

Wild pork tastes great.  It is darker and leaner than domesticated pork.  It also has a stronger flavor than traditional pork.  If you handle the meat properly, it will not taste “gamey.” 

Cleaning the animal immediately after it dies is key.  Preferably this can be done in the shade or the coolness of the morning or evening.  Icing down the meat as quickly as possible helps the meat cool down. 

Most people do not eat the boars.  They claim that the meat is too tough and/or rank tasting.  I have not tried it myself.  My husband prefers processing the young hogs that weigh around 70 pounds, but he did decide to also process the sow, which was much larger.  I read somewhere that boar meat is actually wonderful if prepared properly.  Apparently restaurants that serve wild boar will only purchase the meat of a wild hog boar over 200 pounds. 

I don’t know myself which group is correct; however, I am willing to try almost anything once.  If you have not tried feral hog, go for it at your first opportunity.  It really is tasty meat for a great price–free.  To find out more about feral hogs, visit  Texas Parks and Wildlife for information including how to build a hog trap.  Who knows, you might go hog wild for pork, too.

Caught on Camera

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

It is that time of year.  We are trying to stock our freezer with meat in addition to grass fed beef.  My son, Clayton, is deer hunting.  We have a fenced off area for the deer feeder.  It sprays a small amount of corn every morning for the deer.  Our cows cannot get to the corn.

My dad has hunted most of his adult life, but now he is more content watching the deer and other wildlife than killing them.  Instead he allows Clayton to hunt.

For Christmas last year, my family gave my dad a wildlife camera.  It is a motion-activated camera that you place outdoors in any area prone to have wildlife.  You can set it on still photography or videos.  It can take either day or night.

My husband set it up for my dad recently, but accidentally set the camera to record videos.  When he uploaded the videos from the camera’s SD card, we were surprised by the amount of feral hogs the camera caught in action.

Wild hogs are a nuisance for the most part.  In one evening they can tear up a small pasture.  They dig down into the soil with their snouts looking for worms, bugs, and tender roots.  The boars have tusks and can grow to weigh about 300 pounds in our area; although, wild boars have been known to grow to massive sizes.  They also will fight to protect their family.  Luckily for us, the hogs prefer to move about during the night.  We don’t have to worry about riding or walking up into a herd of wild swine.

Young hogs are tasty if you can get one that weighs no more or less than 75 pounds.  The meat is great to add to venison for real wild game sausage.  You can also just make pork sausage.  Wild hog tamales are delicious.  Smoking a ham is also good, but don’t expect a honey baked ham taste.  Wild hog meat is more flavorful than domestic hogs.  It is a darker meat probably from all the exercise the hogs get foraging for food.

At Cross Creek Cattle Company we have to control the population of these feral animals.  Our cattle depend on grass.  You cannot have wild hogs ruining your pastures and tearing up your grasses.  We set out hog traps that pose no threat to our cattle.

The hogs roam for miles all along the countryside.  So only occasionally do they find themselves on our ranch.  They are not a constant problem.  Thanks to our wildlife camera we know they are back.  It is time to bait the traps and hopefully put back some tasty pork for the winter.


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