EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW : With KERRY DART, NEW YORK FARMER AND OWNER OF WORLD'S LARGEST HOG
Stinky Journalism set off a whirlwind of debunking with its investigation of suspicious photographs and lazy reporting regarding the so-called monster pig of Alabama. Now Rhonda Roland Shearer talks with Kerry Dart, New York farmer and owner of the world’s largest pig, Big Norm. Excerpt from their conversation are below.
SHEARER: Had you heard about this case? Have people been calling you?
DART: No, nobody’s been calling me, but lots of people that know me and know that I own Big Norm said something about it.
DART: It’s so obvious that that’s a bogus picture. It doesn’t make any difference how much you feed something. The genetics have already predetermined how big something can get or some hormonal influence. But it wouldn’t make any difference how well you fed it. If it’s the genetics that allowed it to get big, it’s not going to get big.
SHEARER: I see. So what do you make of it? It’s a big pig obviously but . . .
DART: Yeah, it’s big and it’s a freak of nature like my pig is a freak of nature, but it’s another bogus thing like Hogzilla.
A red flag in how the pig was slaughtered.
SHEARER: I guess in this case they quickly shot it and then they quickly got rid of it. All they have left now is the skull and I guess they’re mounting the head somehow. I guess they kept the skin separate, but I thought when you slaughter a pig you had to hang it for a while and there’s really time, isn’t there? I don’t know with slaughtering how it goes.
DART: Well you slaughter them and then yeah, you ...
SHEARER: You cut the head off and then you hang it to drain the blood, don’t you?
DART: Yeah, normally. Of course, out in the wild it’s different, but you know when you slaughter a pig, normally the way they used to slaughter a pig, they would just cut its throat and they wouldn’t even shoot them. They would just cut its throat and then before they gutted them out or anything, they would put them in this vat and shave the hair off, and then they would hang them up, take the guts out and everything and then they would cut off the hams and the front shoulders and the bacon and put them in a brine that would cure it, and then after that was soaked in so that the meat wouldn’t spoil, they would hang it in the smoke house to give it this flavor of smoldering chunks of wood and then - you know of course, now we have freezers and stuff, but it all started out before you had the good way to keep meat.
SHEARER: And so in terms of the rush to get the thing butchered out, so they ...
DART: That has to throw up a red flag.
SHEARER: It does?
Cruelty to animals?
DART: If you were an ethical hunter at all, you only take shots that will kill the animal, and you know that’s your objective. You want it to not feel a thing and you want to get a killing shot and you don’t want it to suffer and all this.
SHEARER: Right, so the ideal is one shot but quickly get off some others where it goes down.
DART: Right. And a situation like that you know, you should have been able to get a clear shot at its head and it wouldn’t have gone anywhere. It would have been instantly killed, so they apparently were, you know, not very good shots or didn’t wait for a good shot.
SHEARER: Well they had a boy with this high-powered handgun, like a Smith & Wesson sighted pistol.
DART: It’s stupid to be using a handgun anyway. You should be using a rifle or a shotgun, you know.
SHEARER: Well this one is supposedly a bear gun with a sight, but what’s the point? I guess the pistols in my experience are, pistols are hard to shoot with.
DART: The accuracy is diminished, you know. I mean, pistols are for shooting, for target shooting and shooting people. That’s my appraisal of that.
Is this another pig photo hoax?
SHEARER: You said that it appears to you that this is - something’s wrong with the photo or that it’s likely to be a hoax or - what are you basing that on?
DART: The perspective that you get from that picture. They’re saying he’s 1,000 lbs. How big he is compared to that boy? He would be 2,500 lbs. He wouldn’t be 1,000 lbs.
SHEARER: Right, like Big Bill, that supposedly, that hog from the 1930s that was ...
DART: Twenty-five hundred pounds. Yeah, he’s the one in the Guinness World Book and that in itself is not credible to me because he was a Spotted Poland China. A Spotted Poland China is a small breed of pig. They’re not a large frame. The large frame pigs are Yorkshire, like Big Norm, or a Durac or a Hampshire ... But, this was set way back in the 1950s and, of course, there’s no way to challenge it. So it’s in there, but I find it very un-credible.
SHEARER: Basically what they claim is they on-site cut the head off and then quickly had to get it to the processing plant, and it wouldn’t fit through the door, and they kept the head, and then it was quickly turned into sausage because of the worry about spoilage. To me that all sounded too quick.
DART: Yeah, well there was more reason for getting it processed than spoilage. They didn’t want to spoil their story.
Giant porker bigger than a cow?
SHEARER: Doesn’t it have to hang for a while?
DART: You hang it in a cooler to cool the meat, and if they took it to a slaughterhouse, you know, the slaughterhouses are capable of slaughtering cattle, which are, you know ... the frame of a cow is much bigger than even a large pig, and so that takes away from the credibility too. They say they couldn’t even get it through the door or whatever, well what was it, a miniature slaughterhouse?
SHEARER: Right, exactly.
DART: That doesn’t make any sense. I mean, they’re equipped to hang large cows that are longer and their dimensions are much larger than a pig. Their weight is different because it’s more concentrated on a pig, like there isn’t any empty spots on a pig. On a cow there’s more total square inches or whatever, more volume, but there’s a lot of empty spaces in a cow.
Guessing the pig’s length
SHEARER: [They claim that the pig is 9.4-feet long,] but he did back off. When I asked him about it …he (Mike Stone) said it was just under 9 feet, so with all of that said, when you look at this pig - and I know it’s hard to see it with the distortion and everything - but what is your guesstimation of, do you think it is about an 8-foot pig in length or is it too hard to tell?
DART: From that picture you know, it looks like 10 foot.
SHEARER: Well, that’s it. From that picture technically it would be like a 15-foot pig.
DART: Yeah you know, I mean ...
SHEARER: But the second picture where his head’s bigger, at least that’s a little more realistic.
DART: Right, and I don’t, you know, I don’t know that I have that kind of ability to look at a picture.
SHEARER: Well would you have any suggestions of - but when you said that - but either way even so, you think it’s a big pig, right? It is a big pig.
DART: It’s an oversized pig, but they have definitely distorted it way beyond reality and it’s obvious that they did that because they immediately destroyed all the evidence, so like Big Norm has been seen by thousands and thousands of people, and of course most of them are not animal experts or anything, but you know, a few hundred I would say, like hog farmers and just regular farmers have seen him that have been around big pigs ... I have a picture. I have an 80-inch wingspan, tip of my fingers when I spread my arms ... I’m 6 foot and I have a picture of you know, squatting behind Norm and he’s laying down.
SHEARER: Just like this picture?
DART: Yeah, and stretching my arms out.
DART: I don’t have any problem with somebody hunting, but it sounds like they were irresponsible and it sounds like a regrettable circumstance. I mean, I’m a hunter.
SHEARER: Well I’m not saying about hunting, but there’s hunting and then there’s hunting. I mean I guess the idea ...
DART: I mean that was pretty irresponsible and very regrettable situation.
SHEARER: Because you know you, well for you ...
DART: And unavoidable.
SHEARER: I mean it was avoidable if they - is that what you mean?
DART: Right, yeah; very avoidable. Not unavoidable, avoidable. Yeah, I spoke wrong.
SHEARER: Cause the idea is that they had, what I thought was, they had the hunters, two hunters there with sights, you know, sighted rifles, but they wanted the boy to make the kill and so they were allowing this to go on so the boy could take ...
DART: So let the animal suffer so the kid can have his thrill.
SHEARER: Right, that’s essentially it cause you have two hunters there with sights and Mike Stone was being criticized because maybe it was dangerous because the hog was every once in a while charging in between the shots and they would be stalking it and this is all happening in a 2,000 acre, fenced-in area, one section of it in a ravine ... He said it wasn’t dangerous for the boy because he had the two other rifles aimed. The two hunters have their rifles aimed, ready if the boy was attacked. So that tells you that they could have taken [it] ...
DART: Well you know, I’ve shot deer and not had them die right away but it’s -
SHEARER: You want them to.
DART: Right. And I’ve done everything I can to track the thing down and put it into it as quickly as possible and I feel very bad about that you know. I’ve seen animals wounded and gone and put them out of their misery so that they wouldn’t suffer.
SHEARER: Right, cause being a hunter doesn’t mean you don’t ...
DART: You still have compassion. It’s just you’re a hunter because this isn’t a domestic animal and you can’t control it. I mean you want to - it needs - you know the animals, the wild animals and people are all part of the natural course of things. That’s the way God set things up.
SHEARER: No, I agree I mean you can’t ...
DART: But because they’re wild it’s, you try to make things as ideal as possible but there are going to be ...
SHEARER: Yeah, you’re going to make mistakes.
DART: There’s only so much control you can have and it sounds like they didn’t use all the controls that ...
SHEARER: Yeah, in other words they could have taken it, put the hog out of its misery and that would be the conventional way of hunting.
DART: Yeah, if they had two high-powered rifles there, all they had to do was touch one off and put it in his head and that would have been the end of it.
- End of Interview -