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Been There Javelina Hunt April 2012
Gerhard Schroeder  

It all began so very well. After success in 2011 we picked unit 20B again as first choice, the earlier HAM hunt. Ron and I got drawn, and knew where we’d begin. With the area so close to home, off Table Mesa Rd, we opted to make each a day hunt. Opening Friday found us to the east of where I had killed the year before. At very first light we split up, attacking the mountain range from slightly different sides, and to later meet up on top.

Sure enough, within a half hour I could see fairly fresh sign where the beasts had been feeding. Then moments later the first pig! However, there was something seriously unfavorable about that javelina: it was hanging off a guy’s back, already quite dead.

Then I also detected his buddies, up the next hill, looking my way. Those three seemed to be in radio communication. What to do? Did they know where the rest of the herd fled to? How many? I decided to just stay put and watch, convinced they had not seen me.

Eventually they did move downhill and more towards me. But then someone, beyond the hill these two guys were coming down from, opened fire. I did not count the shots, but it sure sounded like emptying a high-capacity magazine, fifteen minimum! Could not have been Ron with his 357 Mag, although he had roughly gone that way. I gave it another five minutes. No piglet came panicking over the hill. Seemed to me that these guys did not really know where the herd went to, anyway. Time to just have my own hunt.

Eventually I met up with Ron as planned. He had heard the war but also seen nothing. We split up again, taking different paths back towards my Toyota. For me this meant combing the very area where I had gotten lucky in 2011. Of course that never happens, taking big game in the same spot as before.

We met up for lunch again. He had seen nothing, I had spooked out a fox. Again we split. Within ninety minutes I returned to the 4Runner first, drove towards Ron’s latest position. Soon I saw two gut piles right by the dirt road, apparently the reward of all that shooting earlier. So we had been within a quarter mile of the herd that morning, but not quite in the right place at the right time.

We hunted until dark, and aside from a few jacks, quail and range cows, had seen nothing.

Saturday we repeated the game, met up at Sportsman’s Warehouse, then drove a little further into the area, to the big power lines. There we roamed up and down hills, glassing often, hunting hard. Some places showed pig sign, all of it telling the same story. They’d been here, aren’t here now. By 2:30 PM it had warmed noticeably, and our spirits had suffered. We called it a day. In fact, Ron called it a hunt. He would not return.

I was out Sunday again, this time further west of the Aqua Fria. Brand new country for me, never hunted there before. It looked promising, too. Again, older sign occasionally. Man, the terrain looked like there should be pigs everywhere. But they weren’t. I returned home empty. During the work week I wavered. Should I return, and if so, to what place?

By Saturday morning all that had been sorted out. I was hopeful in visiting what we labeled as Batman mountain, closer to Phoenix. Sure enough, tracks were more frequent, and also fresher. All I needed was a track with a pig still in it. Did not happen.

Sunday, then, was the season’s last day. Back near the power line one last time. In the morning the same ‘been there’ sign, and little of it.

After lunch I decided on a mountain Ron and I had hunted the week before. So I huffed up and along familiar draws. Around 1:30PM while resting briefly on yet another climb I noticed a wet spot in the sand a few steps ahead. Dirt was too loose so the beast peeing there left no track. Had to be a pig! I proceeded with anticipated caution. Within two minutes I spied him, a pretty big one standing broadside some twenty five yards away, playing desert ghost, not moving a bristle.

How often had he avoided danger this lazy way? This time I did not repeat the mistake from last year, pulled my Kimber slowly out its nylon holster, cocked the hammer, took slow and careful aim. Boom, the 185HP was unleashed. Fatso ran! But maybe not with full enthusiasm.

Also, no other pig exploded out of the thick brush – he was a loner. Within about a dozen steps, moving sort of in a semicircle, he slowed, and Ms. Kimber barked again. Fatso ran further, then stopped in some mangle of short trees. By now I was fairly confident I hit him good. But if he escaped out of sight which was not too far uphill … well, I’m not the greatest bloodhound.

Therefore a patch of his hide drew my third shot. That brought him down! And relaxed me greatly. I thanked the Lord. When I stepped up to my porker he was quite dead.

The typical red work was next, complicated by lack of any even half way level surface to stabilize my boar on. That did not diminish my happiness.

Then I tied up his legs and carried him in for me typical suitcase fashion. About an hour later I had the beast across two drainages and to my 4Runner. Darn – no camera.

So I decided to stop by David’s house, show off, have pictures taken. At home by about 4PM I hung the javelina in a backyard tree. He was skinned before dinner, totally in the shade. That night I processed him piece by piece – cut off a shoulder, deboned it, walked back out for another part, deboned that, until it was all done by 9PM. This way I never bloodied the ice chest. Except Mary wasn’t too keen on seeing the carcass dangling in the yard.

Just know that I still have more work to do! Because I found one of the bullets while skinning and do not like the way those 185 HPs performed. Oh, Remington would be proud. The slug is perfectly mushroomed down to the bottom of the hollow cavity and all jacketed petals peeled back with retained weight of exactly 180 grains.

Best I can tell, my first bullet went low (I aimed there, too long of its own story to explain that here), with the bullet pulverizing his front leg bone and ripping an impressive hole very low into his chest cavity. It must have come to rest in there because there was no exit hole. Bullet got lost with the guts. All that, however, did not bring him down. The second shot had first penetrated one shoulder, then a rib and the other shoulder quite high, then stopped under the hide where I found it upon skinning. That did not stop him, either, although both would have been fatal. The third hit went way high, cutting the upper part of the spine where neck joins back. That flipped him finally.

I want more penetration! An exit wound, to be exact. Exit wounds help in following blood trails. There’s something flawed with the argument that if the bullet stays in, all its energy is transferred to the animal. To me it says that too much energy was consumed to deform the bullet itself. There’s all year to decide on a better hunting projectile. Also, I’m done with at least that part of unit 20B. Despite successes the last two years I’m hoping for more game density, want to try, to learn new patches of beautiful rugged Arizona. Lots to look forward to! Life is great!

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