If javelinas are one of the southwestern United States' most underutilized hunting resources, they are also one of its most misunderstood, certainly in terms of the species’ culinary qualities.
“Not too many people have actually tried them,” said Troy Hardesty, a former South Texas hunting guide and javelina hunting veteran.
“The first 10 guys I talked to after killing my first javelina said ‘Oh no, they’re nasty to eat.’ But when I asked how many had actually tried one, none of them had. So I tried it and it was good.”
A favorite way for Hardesty to cook javelinas, or bristle pigs as some call them, is by barbecuing them by slow smoking over mesquite wood for an hour then cooking the meat over a hot grill until done.
He also likes bristle pigs slow-roasted in an oven while others give javelinas a thumbs up when used as the prime ingredient in traditional tamales.
In addition to slow cooking methods that don’t dry out the slightly stringy meat, Hardesty told me that the biggest key for javelinas to be solid table fare is proper field care.
That starts with a hunter not touching, cutting or putting any squeezing pressure on the javelina’s musky scent gland located on the animals’ backside.
“If you care for them properly, get the skin off pretty fast (without contacting the scent gland), and put them in a cooler quickly, I haven’t ever had a problem eating them,” said Hardesty.
Plenty of reasons for hunters to get afield this next fall and winter chasing javalinas for both sport and table fare.