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Hogs Gone Wild

You’d think after a long self-assignment and you find yourself still caked with pig slop in your ear, it’d be a shitty day. And you’d be right, it was a shitty day, a wonderfully shitty day.

If you’re going to get filthy, do so in Wisconsin, home of Hog Wrassling, part of the annual Wild West Days in Viroqua.

(BTW, I swear to Baby Jesus, I’m smelling bacon while typing this entry, which is better than the stench I smelled on Saturday.)

There’s something I’m diggin’ about Wisconsin. And it’s not just the insanely addictive fried cheese curds. People there are funny and quirky, two of my favorite traits.

Last year, Bittle and I roadtripped from Chicago to Hayward, ‘sconi for the Lumberjack Champs. This year, we drove to Wisconsin’s Amish country to go back in time in a big way.

Viroqua goes all-out for its Wild West celebration. Felt like I was on the set of Deadwood, a much more hygienic version anyway.

They had shootouts, hangings and a town drunk. A stagecoach shuttled people from 2010 to 1870. Dare I say it was wild?

I actually had to pace myself a little that day. Bittle and I were there for the hogs and I didn’t want to lose steam – or CF card space – with that wonderful western distraction.

Access for the event was great. Too good in fact. Unless you happened to have a change of clean clothes for the drive back.

It was interesting editing through my 70.1 GB of RAW images. Overall, I had no sense of what I got. The action was faster than you’d imagine and I simply hammer-locked on anything that looked interesting. The Decisive Motor Drive ™ in action (**)!

I was happy to discover that most of my images were tack sharp. Felt smart that I spent a recent day with good buddy Dan Root, calibrating all our gear in his backyard. WWDRD?

There were so many layers and moments everywhere, I was afraid to turn away. Of all of the weird sports I shoot, this one might have been the most efficient. Each team of three got 30 seconds to wrassle a hog and drop him in the barrel. Kept the action fast and furious, unlike with a rodeo which can seem to ramble on forever.

Melissa pointed out to me last night that most of my images are of the ladies’ competition. Not a conscious decision in the edit, but they definitely seemed to make for more interesting, fun photos. I think guys are used to getting dirty, so they all looked at home. Plus, they didn’t wear hot pink.

Fact: You can get pretty dirty in 30 seconds. Thankfully, they had pools and showers for folks (and photographers) to clean up. Too bad there weren’t any mirrors. Maybe I would have noticed that pig slop in my ear sooner.

Thanks to The Bittle for joining me on our 2nd Annual Wisconsin Road Trip, Cheese Curd Taste Test and Celebrity Mini Golf Tournament.

Someone, yes one of you, sent me this photo tip in an email a year or two ago. Who was it? I owe you your just reward.

(**) For outtakes of pigs in slop, click here.

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