Great Hog! Great Ham!
by Jerry Springer
The author with his Tejon Ranch hog, taken with the new Winchester Supreme 7mm WSM Fail Safe bullet.
"Let's move up to that oak tree ahead of them," Ron whispered. "They'll come right up through that little ravine to us."

Ron was right. The feeding group of hogs was a little behind schedule in getting back to their beds that morning, which turned out to be great for us.

The oak had a perfect limb on which to rest my Winchester Model 70 — except for the million ants crawling all over the tree. I quicky pulled the rifle and my arms from the limb and brushed off 20 to 30 ants.

"Ants!" I said to my guide as he saw me brushing them off. "I'll wait until I'm ready for the shot," meaning I would use the limb at the last minute.

It wasn't long before we could see the tops of the hogs moving through the tall brown southern California grass. They were feeding while moving through the oak trees, coming up to the head of the ravine which was parallel to us.

Ron leaned closer and said, "Take this next one when it clears the grass."

The black, Russian-looking hog with gray hair on its face stepped broadside into the opening 75 yards away. I placed the cross hairs between its ear and front shoulder, squeezed the trigger and the Winchester Supreme 7mm WSM 160-grain Fail Safe bullet knocked the load of ham off its feet. Dead off its feet!

One of Winchester's newest bullets had just proven it is great at putting pork chops on the table. Now the next question … Was this 150-175 pound sow and the hog I had taken the evening before, going to be good eating?

I haven't been overly excited about prior cuts of California wild hog I have served for meals at our house, and neither has my family. It has been awhile since we have had any wild pork in the freezer and I was wondering if this porker was going to be as disappointing as those in the past.

It was July and I was hunting on the Tejon Ranch just south of Bakersfield, California. Prior to starting the hunt I was told I could take the two hogs I was gunning for to my own butcher or they would take it into a butcher shop in Bakersfield, Michelle's Custom Cutting. Not wanting the hassle of trying to take care of the meat from two hogs on a Sunday evening after driving home, I quickly opted for Michelle's. Besides, this year the Tejon Ranch expects their hunters to take 800 hogs by then of the season and so I thought their high recommendation of Michelle's must come from past experience.

After I got home I gave Michelle a call. She asked me how I wanted the hogs processed. Well, that stopped me right there. I said, "I don't know. What can you do?"

That turned out to be the best question I could have asked. Michelle faxed me a list of different ways she could process the meat. The list showed she did more than just hogs — the list included domestic animals and all kinds of wild game.

After getting the fax I called her again and we began to discuss the different options. There was sausage, but not just sausage — the choices included hot or mild, bulk or link, smoked plus flavors like Country, Cajun, Italian, Garlic, German, Apple, Maple, etc. In addition, Michelle had just begun to make smoked linguica. I could also choose salami, again hot or mild, plus flavors. Other choices were summer sausage, ham or deli ham, and jerky. Finally, there was the Deep Pit roll… "You cook it in the paper wrapping at 250 degrees for 5-6 hours, depending on the weight. You'll love it," Michelle said. And, of course, there was also pork chops, roasts and other standard cuts.

Well, that did it for me! I wanted to make sure I gave my hogs the best chance to be something that we wanted to pull from the freezer for meals. I told Michelle to give me as much variety has she could, crossing my fingers that we would find something we really liked.

A week or so later I got the finished products. Now while we haven't had a chance to try every different flavor, cut or product, I can say that from what we have tried, Michelle does a fantastic job! Beyond my wildest expectations.

The sausage links were excellent, the salami was great, and the deli ham was to die for. In fact, my wife says the deli ham makes the best sandwiches she has ever eaten. For sure this hog will be the first thing gone from our freezer this year. I just can't say enough about how great a job Michelle does.

Now for my biggest problem with Michelle's Custom Cutting. If the next hog I shoot is not on property close to Bakersfield, it will kill me to have to take it anywhere other than Michelle's . She did tell me, though, that she has hunters who ship their meat to her for processing. You know, I think I might just do that, too. It was that good!

If you get a hog, deer, antelope or elk this year and want to experience a truly great dining experience from the efforts of your hunts, get you animals to Michelle's. But remember, Michelle can't perform miracles if you haven't taken proper care of your game in the field. Do your part, and then start licking your lips.

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Michelle's Custom Cutting
801- A Angus Lane
Bakersfield, CA 93308
Telephone (661) 399-5069
Cell (661) 599-2348
Fax (661) 399-5039

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