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Shooting

HogsWe now come to the part of this story that may be the hardest for some of you to take. Stop now or skip on ahead. Let me say that this was a part of our lives – the natural order of things, so to speak. I claim no moral superiority. Neither do I claim any moral deficiency. I tell you simply that when we sit down to eat a pork chop, we know where it comes from. And it doesn’t originate in the meat display cases at the grocery store. After all, early in this country’s history practically everyone was intimately acquainted with the origins of their food.

ShootingWhen there was good enough light to see, a group of men and boys headed for the hog pen. We used a .22 rifle to shoot the hogs. We avoided using the .22 long rifle cartridge, if possible, because it had too much power. A .22 short or long cartridge would place the bullet in the brain without excess penetration. Sometimes, the rifle was passed to a boy who wanted to learn how to do this. But it was not done often and it was not done lightly. Even the skilled marksman felt shame if he missed the mark and caused the hog to suffer. This happened if a hog looked away at the moment you pulled the trigger, but it occurred surprisingly seldom.

Anyway, the novice was advised to stand a few feet away from the hog and to draw an imaginary line from right ear to left eye and another from left ear to right eye. You aim for the point where the two lines cross and squeeze the trigger. There were one or two among us that were skilled enough to place a bullet in the hog’s brain without having to be face on. This was handy if the hogs became skittish.

When the hog was shot, it immediately fell to the ground on its belly. Two people ran up and rolled the hog over on its back and held it steady by the front legs. With the hog in this position, it was “stuck”. A narrow-blade butcher knife 6 – 8 inches long was used to sever a major artery. This was done by sticking the knife in at the throat about 2 finger widths below the breast bone, aiming the point of the knife towards the tail, and tipping the knife up when it was fully inserted. Then you got out of the way. There was a lot of blood.

Next: Scalding