The 'Beast' is back
By Luke Clayton
Apr 5, 2016
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Regular readers might remember a column I did a few years ago when I wrote about cooking a total of 6 deer on my friend Joe Dunn's “Beast.” The Beast is actually a huge smoker that has a firebox the size of a big fireplace and a cooking chamber that is large enough to hold six deer. I know; I remember all too well skinning and quartering 6 big doe that were donated to Joe’s cooking ministry a few years ago.

The venison was donated by a ranch in East Texas and I kept the meat slow-smoking for about 20 hours, and then chopped and seasoned it. I remember the chopped BBQ filled a total of ten of the huge throw-away aluminum pans and made some homeless folks mighty happy at Pastor Karen Dudley’s International Street Church located in east Dallas.

Joe and his wife Donna have been a great friends for a number of years and the husband/wife team have devoted countless hours putting their BBQ skills to work feeding people that might not otherwise be able to set down to a big BBQ dinner. Joe is a Chaplin for Victim Relief Ministries and frequently spends time riding with police officers, ministering to the victims of crimes. Often Joe or one of his fellow chaplains is the first ones on the scene to give comfort to people that have experienced traumatic events in their lives.

Joe Dunn, a chaplain for Victim Relief Ministries, at work on his "Beast," preparing some tasty BBQ for folks that might otherwise not be eating at all. photo by Luke Clayton

A couple weeks ago, Joe asked me if I had any hogs coming into my feeders on the land I hunt close to my home. I placed a couple of trail cameras near feeders and monitored them for a few days. Within a week, a pattern developed. Several good eating hogs that appeared to weigh around 100 pounds were showing up about an hour after dark each evening. Pork for Joe! If there is anything my buddy enjoys more that cooking wild game on his Beast, it's hunting. We settled into my comfortable Snap Lock Blind that I set up on my “secret” hog hunting hotspot back in the woods a couple years ago. Just after sunset, the procession of raccoons began to show up to nibble corn. And then, about 9:00 p.m., Joe indicated to me that he heard hogs coming through the woods on his side of the blind.

Soon, one of the porkers stepped on a stick and I, too, heard them coming. When night hunting, I use a Nite Site unit that mounts on top of the scope. The little screen allows one to see into the darkness via infra red technology and… the scopes crosshairs. In essence, the hunters can look into the night without disturbing the game.  This was Joe’s first time to use Nite Site and he was very impressed. With rifle in the blind's window, he began scanning the pitch dark woods in front of the blind which, through the Nite Site, were as bright as day. As luck would have it, the hogs were coming from the northwest and we had a pretty stiff southeast wind. You can get away with a few things when hunting hogs but you cannot fool their noses.

When the hogs were about 40 yards out, we heard them making a quick departure back in the direction from which they came. No hog for Joe’s upcoming cooking engagement. It was time to initiate Plan B!

A call to another great friend that owns some excellent hog hunting land provided hope for Joe’s upcoming BBQ! 

“I’ve got some eater-size porkers that are coming to my feeder on a regular basis," my friend told me. "Chances are very good of getting one during daylight hours; they are hitting the corn throughout the day. The place is back in the woods, away from human traffic and they pretty much come and go as they wish, undisturbed."

Joe and I were settled into my buddy’s comfortable blind early in the morning, watching the corn feeder. This was Joe’s first time to hunt with a big-bore air rifle. He was packing a Professional Big Bore 45 caliber of mine, loaded with 350 grain bullets from Hunters Supply. Charged to 3,000 psi, this little carbine is a hog killer, I’ve taken six or eight porkers with it.  Things were to be much different on this Plan B hunt! After a fifteen minute set, a couple of “eater” hogs weighing about 100 pounds each trotted up to the corn feeder and one turned broadside, giving Joe a clear shot at it’s vitals. The big 350 grain bullet anchored the porker in its tracks and Joe instantly became a believer in the power of a well-designed big-bore air rifle shooting a bullet much bigger than those used in standard center-fire rifles.

I probably wouldn’t want to skin and quarter hogs for a living but I actually enjoy turning several each year into meat that can be put to use in tasty pork dinners. Joe and I did a good job quartering his porker and packing the meat in ice. I believe keeping wild pork or venison in an ice cooler covered in ice a couple of days actually improves the flavor of the meat.

Stoked with several big chunks of dried pecan wood, Joe’s Beast was put to work. The entire hog was to be turned into chopped BBQ and the hams, shoulders, ribs and back straps were given a good rub of spices and allowed to smoke for 3 hours uncovered. Then, Joe gave the meat a coating of BBQ sauce and wrapped each piece in heavy duty aluminum foil. The real work was then complete; once every three hours or so, Joe would feed fuel to the Beast in the form of big chunks of pecan wood.

After spending about 20 hours at low heat in the Beast, the pork was fall-off-the-bone tender. I was on hand to help Joe chop all the meat, which filled several big aluminum pans. The flavor was as good as any BBQ I’ve eaten and that includes meat cooked at my favorite BBQ restaurants. As Joe says, the blend of shoulder, ribs, hams and back straps make for some great tasting BBQ.

This meat will be enjoyed by folks that might otherwise not have much to eat; it’s a good bet nothing that comes remotely close to the flavor of Joe’s BBQ.  I love it when a plan comes together!

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