Photos: How to Make Primal Cuts for Wild Hog

Whether you’re butchering your first wild pig or just looking for tips to improve your technique, these photos will help you make the best cuts. Primal cuts are the largest workable cuts of an animal and wild boar, like a domesticated hog, is typically broken down into five primal cuts of meat. The images in this gallery depict the North American style of primal cuts. Here’s a step-by-step guide for DIY butchering. To read about the author's hunt for this Texas hog—her first hunt in 39 years—check out the story here.
Recommended Tools Meat saw, slicing knife with ridged blade, boning knife with rigid blade, drop point hunter, clip point hunter for any remaining skinning, or field dressing type cuts, bone dust scraper, cleaver.
Split the breastbone. Depending on the size of the animal, this can be done with a rigid blade knife, or may require a meat saw.
Flip back over. Find the center of the boar by locating the neck bone.
Create a clean, shallow cut running from the neck all the way down the back.
Continue to the tailbone. This will be your guideline for splitting the animal in half with a meat saw.
Cut down through the meat until you feel the backbone against the knife blade. It’s a good idea to make meat cuts, even shallow ones, with a knife. A saw will tear up the muscles and leave lots of fragments and meat debris.
Follow your guideline with the meat saw. Let the saw do the work for you—no need to use excessive force, or push down too hard.
It helps to have an extra pair of hands—or two—to steady the animal and lift up a bit so the meat saw blade doesn’t bind as you cut. There’s no big hurry so take your time, follow the backbone, and you’ll have a nicely halved animal when you are done.
The hog is now halved and almost ready for breaking down into the primal cuts. But first, a little clean-up.
Once halved, it’s easy to remove any remaining bloodlines, veins, or undesired organs left in the cavity from field dressing.
Organs and veins possess strong flavors that can negatively impact the taste of meat if allowed to penetrate for long, so take a little time to clean up any bits that remain, including the esophagus.
Remove the “trotters” by first cutting down to the bone with knife.
Hang the trotter over the edge of your work surface and saw through, and then snap off.
Use a butcher’s scraper to remove bone fragments and bone dust along sawed split.
A bigger animal will produce considerably more debris, which could include sharp fragments that could find their way into subprimal cuts, so be sure to investigate your saw cuts and scrape away debris.
Find the tenderloins with your fingers. They run parallel to the backbone and extend toward the tailbone.
Gently, but firmly pull away the tenderloin from the chine and ribs. It will have to be finessed since there is plenty connective tissue holding it in place.
Cut away any stubborn connective tissue with a boning knife, remove the tenderloin, and set aside.
We are now ready to make the first primal cut. You can either start at the shoulder or the back leg, whichever you prefer. When starting at the leg, decide whether you want a full ham or a short ham. A full ham gives you more meat in your ham, but also cuts into part of the back loin.
A short ham leaves the loin intact for bone-in boar chops, boneless loin chops, or baby back ribs.
After cutting the ham, move to the shoulder and count down three ribs. This is where you'll make your next cut.
Make a knife cut at the shoulder blade, cutting through the muscle.
Grab the spine for leverage and use the saw to cut all the way through the bone. Finish the cut by slicing through the meat with a knife.
Split the shoulder with the saw cutting the ribs at a 90 degree angle. Tip: Use a hand towel for gripping and to protect your hand from sharp protruding bone.
Use a rigid-blade slicing knife to make a clean cut through the meat below. This cut creates the picnic shoulder and the Boston butt. These are our second and third primal cuts of wild boar.
Boston butt (second primal cut)
Picnic shoulder (third primal cut)
Next, take the side and begin to split the belly in half by first drawing a line with a knife.
Using the edge of your work surface to help with your line, cut through the ribs with a meat saw.
This leaves the loin on the top side and the belly on the bottom. The top loin and the bottom belly create the fourth and fifth primal cuts of meat.
The five primal cuts, plus the tenderloin.
You can breakdown these main cuts into sub-primal cuts (also known as fabricated cuts) as you wish.
Sub-primal bone-in chops and loin chops ready for the grill. Don't forget your favorite loaf of bread.

Whether you’re butchering your first wild pig or just looking for tips to improve your technique, these photos will help you make the best cuts.