How To Field Dress A Javelina

Field dressing–removing the Javelina”s entrails–is not difficult, but itis the most important step to good table fare. The principle is the same as withany big game animal. The important things are to keep the meat clean and tocool the meat quickly. You will need a sharp, sturdy hunting knife.

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Successful hunter (click on pictures to enlarge).

Where to Start

First thing you must do is tag the Javelina as required by the applicablestate game and fish department regulations.

Some Preliminary Steps and Things to Consider

Never remove or disturb the Scent Gland itwill be removed with the hide during the skinning process. Take care thatyour knife or hands do not contact the gland area Assemble a “pig gutting ditty bag” prior to going afield (carried in a fanny or daypack). It should include at a minimum, a knife, sharpening stone, string, twine, or heavy fishing line, 12oz bottle water, small cloth or bandana, small plastic bag, hunting license and tag “Bleeding” or cutting the Javelina”s throat is not necessary. Blood removal is accomplished through the wound channel andfield dressing Before making any cuts, be sure your knife is sharp Keep anti-hunters from having something to complain about- Never field dress along a roadway

The First Cut To Last

Place the Javelina on its back. Starting at the anus, cut through the skinaround the anus (and sows genitals as applicable). Pull colon free farenough to tie off with string. Normally, at this point you will need toclean fecal matter which was “produced” during this step. Besure to clean knife and area thoroughly with water to prevent contamination withmeat during remainder of field dressing process.

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Next slit the abdomen using your fingers toguide the knife and keep the blade away from the stomach and intestines. Remember keep the knife at a low angle and cut only deep enoughto slice through the skin.If you are planning on having a shoulder mountdone, don”t cut the abdomen much farther then mid belly. This will avoidexcessive sewing and repairs by the taxidermist and provide plenty of hide (tobe trimmed after tanning) for the shoulder mount. There will be plenty ofaccess to complete the field dressing. If you do not plan to mount yourjavelina, you can split the rib cage if desired.

The diaphragm separates the chest and body cavities and must be cut away. Reach inside the chest cavity and loosen the heart, liver, and lungs from connectivetissues. Take along a plastic bag to put the heart and liver in if you wish tokeep them.

Roll the carcass on its side so you can remove the entrails. Most of theentrails will pull away easily. Carefully cut and loosen any connective tissues-Payattention NOT to puncture the bladder. Ensure the colon and anus whichwere tied with string pull back through the pelvic channel at this time.

This all sounds kind of complicated and messy-remember take your time,keep your knife free of fecal matter. I have seen and performed severalvariations of the above field dressing method. Any “normal” deeror big game animal field dressing procedure will work on a Javelina. If yourmore comfortable doing it the way “your granddad taught you to dressdeer” go for it-it will work.

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Cool It

Wipe the body cavity clean and remove any remaining tissues and damagedflesh. Prop the body cavity open by inserting a stick in the rib cage.

Getting It Back to Camp

The nice thing about Javelina is they are perfect carrying size. They average 34 pounds field dressed. Thetwo most common methods are over your shoulder, similar to the fireman”s carryor attaching a carrying strap from front to rear legs with enough slack to slipthe strap over your shoulder.


Gary Hoffman and John Schwartzlow with muzzleloader Javelinas.Picture courtesy of J. Schwartzlow.

If you are hunting with a buddy, this way of getting your Javelina back tocamp works too.


Keep your Javelina clean and cool. If possible, don”t haul it atop yourvehicle or in the back of a pick-up. Keep it away from engine fumes, heat and dirt.Be certain to have your Javelina properly tagged.


I recommend skinning the carcass at your final destination. This willprotect the meat from dirt and debris, but assumes that there will be a reasonabletime between field dressing to skinning (2-3 hours). If your situation requiresthat you skin in the field that”s fine too. Start with the Javelina on itsback. Make cuts from the inside of the legs from below the knee to thebelly incision. Skin out the hind quarters by cutting around thehock and peeling the hide back. Remember do not cut into the scentgland, itwill peel off with the hide. Hang the Javelina from a tree branch from thehind legs (this is often the hardest part of skinning-finding a suitable treebranch in the desert!) pull the hide down, using your knife as required, to thebase of the skull. Make a circular cut around the neck to the bone at thebase of the skull. Hold the skull stationary, while turning thebody. Be prepared, after a rotation or two the body will separate from theskull.

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Once the skinning is finished, split the chest, remove anyremaining viscera in the upper rib cage and neck area. Remove any hair anddebris by washing with clean cool water. Cover carcass with a game bag andhang in the shade.

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A word on Parasites

Javelina have been identified as hosts for most commonparasites (just like Deer or Elk) such as roundworms, tapeworms, lice, ticks, fleas and mites. Just aswith any game animal, reasonable precautions should be taken to prevent crosscontamination to yourself.

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