South Carolinian does BBQ the old-fashioned way; he catches it himself
Poseskie spent five months tracking down this 500-pound beast after he spotted its enormous track, about five times bigger than a normal hog, in the mud. Photo courtesy of Phillip Poseskie.
Poseskie with a couple of his Mountain Cur hunting dogs. Photo by Kyle Heck.
By Kyle Heck
Driving past Greeleyville, S.C., a town of about 400 nestled between Interstate 95 and Lake Marion, Phillip Poseskie turns onto a narrow dirt road. There's not much to see except trees, a few houses, a small gas station and more trees, but that’s how Poseskie likes it.
As he’s driving down what locals call the county line road because it straddles the border of Williamsburg and Clarendon counties, Poseskie is forced to stop his four-wheel drive truck because fallen trees are blocking his way. The winter took a toll on the state’s forests, and ice brought down thousands of trees.
So Poseskie, 35, gets out of his truck and goes the rest of the way on foot. He’s on his way to see whetherhe can reach his wild hog traps. It’s the first time he’s been out to check them since early fall. As he walks along the path, he searches the dirt and the edge of the woods for signs of hogs.
There are a few tracks here and there, but all of them are old. How does he know this?
To answer, he brings up the weather. “When’s the last time it rained?” he asks. It’s been about a week since it’s rained, yet there is evidence of raindrops insidethe tracks.
The trek ends when standing water blocks Poseskie from getting to his traps. The traps are just on the other side of the water, but Poseskie doesn't have the gear to cross today. This year has been a slow start for the hunter, who usually has caught a couple of hogs by now. But thanks to the viciousness of the past winter, he’s going home empty handed.
Poseskie loves to hunt hogs, Hog hunting is something that Poseskie loves to do, and he’s gotten a reputation around the area for it. Whenever someone has a hog problem on their property, Poseskie is likely to get called in.
He said he likes the rush of hunting a hog. He uses dogs to sniff out the animals, and when they corner it, Poseskie finishes the job, either with a knife or a gun, depending on how big the hog is.
Anything over 300 pounds is better killed with a gun, as it could harm a dog or the hunter. Hogs are known for their aggressiveness and their tusks, which can be deadly. Poseskie said most of their muscle is in their neck and head, which means that an upward thrust by a provoked hog can send a tusk straight through human flesh and bone.
The worst injury that Poseskie has seen happened to a young guy who was in the Marines. Thinking he could sneak up on the hog, the Marine crawled under shrubbery toward the wild hog. However, the hog chargedand threw his head up. Poseskie said the tusk lodged deep inside of the man’s thigh, throwingthe Marine 20 feet in the air.
It’s reasons like those that you can’t be careless when dealing with wild hogs. They are much smarter than most people think and are able to learn and adjust to circumstances.
For example, hogs normally do all of their feeding during the day. However, if a particular area is overhunted, the hogs will begin feeding during the night because they know the dangers during the day.
In addition, if a hog manages to escape a trap, you will never be able to catch it in a trap again. Unlike animals such as raccoons and opossums, hogs won’t make the same mistake twice, Poseskie said.
Poseskie is able to hunt on land owned by one of his friends, and he’s been trapping on that land for about six years.
Last year, Poseskie spent four months hunting down a 500-pound beast after spotting its enormous track in the mud. Poseskie said that it was about five times bigger than a normal track. He and his dogs eventually caught up with the hog, and Poseskie shot it.
That is an example of why Poseskie said he loves hog hunting in South Carolina. He’s hunted in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Texas, but the Palmetto State is his home, and he also pointed out that South Carolina passed a law allowing people to hunt hogs at night.
“I know the swamps here, and I know the area,” Poseskie said. “We hunted out of helicopters in Texas. It’s fun, but it just takes all the sport out of it. It’s pretty much the same wherever you go. As long as you run with a good group of guys who know what they’re doing, it’s fun.”
Over the past couple of decades, the hog population has sharply risen in South Carolina. This has caused hog hunting to become easier, and more encouraged, in the state. Because these animals can be destructive to the surrounding habitat, many people find them to be a pest.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, in the 1980s hogs were found in 26 counties in the state. By 2008, they had been documented in all 46 counties.
For as long as he can remember, Poseskie has been involved with cooking a hog. He used to come home early from kindergarten to help his granddaddy cook a hog, and he’d be the one who shoveled the coals out of the fire barrel under the pit.
According to Poseskie, roasting a pig over hot coals is the best way you could cook barbecue. It’s the old-fashioned way.
“It’s something that you just have to love to do,” Poseskie said. “Otherwise, you just get some cheap little gas cooker and call it a hog.”
Poseskie’s father continued the tradition of cooking hogs, and now Poseskie has followed suit. The family even has its own sauce recipe. Poseskie has tweaked it, but he said he tries to keep it as close to the original recipe as possible. It’s a vinegar-based sauce, but “it’s all its own,” according to Poseskie.
Poseskie said he and his family are competitive when it comes to each other’s variations of the original recipe. They take pride in making the best barbecue around.
Not to mention, being from South Carolina, you’re expected to know how to cook a good hog.
“That’s the nature of South Carolina,” Poseskie said. “If you cook a hog in South Carolina, you think your hog is the best. If you spend the time to do it right and do it over coals, you take pride in it. And of course anyone who takes pride in their work wants to be the best at it.”
Poseskie said he waits until the hog is almost done before he flips it over, breaks up the meat and puts his special sauce on it. He then lets the sauce smoke on it for about two extra hours.
All together, Poseskie said it takes at least six or seven hours to fully cook a 100-pound hog at the ideal temperature of around 250 degrees. While tagging a 500-pound beast is great for bragging rights, it’s not necessarily the best for eating. A hog around the 100-pound mark is the most ideal for eating, said Poseskie. At 100-pounds, the hog is mature, but not too old, therefore the meat is still tender. A 500-pound animal is older and the meat will be tougher.
So to have a meal ready by 1 or 2 p.m., Poseskie has to start preparing around midnight and stay up all night.
It’s a long process, but a rewarding one. Plus, you get to cook the hog the way you want it, said Poseskie, and this is why he prefers the home-cooked hog to the restaurant one.
“The trick to good barbecue is that you have to cook it with the sauce on it, and most restaurants won’t cook it with the sauce on it because it’ll be too hot, or this person won’t like it, that person won’t like it,” Poseskie said. “And the whole idea behind restaurants is that you don’t want to waste stuff.”
By the time Poseskie is done with an all-nighter of cooking a hog, he said he is usually too tired to eat anything other than a pulled pork sandwich. He lets other people worry about the sides that go with it.
“I’m just ready for a nap by the time it’s done with,” Poseskie said.