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Field Dressing

Field dressing--removing the Javelina's entrails--is not difficult, but it is the most important step to good table fare.  The principle is the same as with any big game animal.  The important things are to keep the meat clean and to cool 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 applicable state game and fish department regulations. 

Some Preliminary Steps and Things to Consider

bulletNever remove or disturb the Scent Gland it will be removed with the hide during the skinning process.  Take care that your knife or hands do not contact the gland area
bulletAssemble 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
bullet"Bleeding" or cutting the Javelina's throat is not necessary.  Blood removal is accomplished through the wound channel and field dressing
bulletBefore making any cuts, be sure your knife is sharp  
bulletKeep 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 skin around the anus (and sows genitals as applicable).  Pull colon free far enough to tie off with string.  Normally, at this point you will need to clean fecal matter which was "produced" during this step.  Be sure to clean knife and area thoroughly with water to prevent contamination with meat during remainder of field dressing process.

Next slit the abdomen using your fingers to guide the knife and keep the blade away from the stomach and intestines.  Remember keep the knife at a low angle and cut only deep enough to slice through the skin. If you are planning on having a shoulder mount done, don't cut the abdomen much farther then mid belly. This will avoid excessive sewing and repairs by the taxidermist and provide plenty of hide (to be trimmed after tanning) for the shoulder mount.  There will be plenty of access to complete the field dressing.  If you do not plan to mount your javelina, 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 connective tissues.  Take along a plastic bag to put the heart and liver in if you wish to keep them.  

Roll the carcass on its side so you can remove the entrails.  Most of the entrails will pull away easily.  Carefully cut and loosen any connective tissues-Pay attention NOT to puncture the bladder.  Ensure the colon and anus which were 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 several variations of the above field dressing method.  Any "normal" deer or big game animal field dressing procedure will work on a Javelina.  If your more comfortable doing it the way "your granddad taught you to dress deer" go for it-it will work.

Cool It 

Wipe the body cavity clean and remove any remaining tissues and damaged flesh.  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.  The two most common methods are over your shoulder, similar to the fireman's carry or attaching a carrying strap from front to rear legs with enough slack to slip the 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 to camp works too.


Keep your Javelina clean and cool.  If possible, don't haul it atop your vehicle 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 will protect the meat from dirt and debris, but assumes that there will be a reasonable time between field dressing to skinning (2-3 hours).  If your situation requires that you skin in the field that's fine too.  Start with the Javelina on its back.  Make cuts  from the inside of the legs from below the knee to the belly incision.  Skin out  the hind quarters by cutting around the hock and peeling the hide back.  Remember do not cut into the scent gland, it will peel off with the hide.  Hang the Javelina from a tree branch from the hind legs (this is often the hardest part of skinning-finding a suitable tree branch in the desert!) pull the hide down, using your knife as required, to the base of the skull.  Make a circular cut around the neck to the bone at the base of the skull.  Hold the skull stationary, while turning the body.  Be prepared, after a rotation or two the body will separate from the skull.  

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

A word on Parasites 

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


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Last modified: Wednesday July 11, 2012.