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Chocolate Javelina April 1996
Gerhard Schroeder  

David Stimens, Glenn Sampson, Jay Bentley and myself went after javelina, in unit 20A again. Our favorite spot had dried up last year, and it wasn't any different in '96. Some sign of rooting, few tracks, and we never did we see a pig, or hear one run off in heavy cover, on the first two days. In no way, however, did those facts detract us from having fun, just being out there. Telling dirty jokes at night, doing a "little" practice shooting at lunch, having a camp fire, you know, be hunting. Glenn and myself saw a dominant 4 point mule deer 10 minutes into the hunt Friday morning. All of us got into deer every day. The weather was almost perfect, definitely a lot better with low temperatures and quite some cloud cover, more than any of us had anticipated.

Being in good spirit anyhow on Saturday night, it was then that I decided to break out the bar of German schokolade anyway. The treat was initially intended to be a means of celebrating the first bagged javelina in camp. German beer is just so much harder to import.

On Sunday, then, I decided to drive a few miles further to try new country. Even though I made him get up at 6 am, Jay went along. We left the vehicle and followed a wash until about 10 am. Again sign, but no animals standing in those tracks. I did find an old horseshoe, a sign of luck?

Upon looping back to the Toyota and discussing it for a while, Jay decided to circle east, while I circled west. That meant climbing the steepest, nastiest mountain I had ever been on. I still don't know why I keep doing those climbs while hunting, because all I do is sweat, struggle for enough oxygen, and mentally cuss.

Half way up I found a deflated balloon, which said on it: "It's a Boy". Did that mean anything? Anyhow, eventually I reached the center of the ridge, and found lots of pig sign. And realized that to both sides, the slopes were unbelievably steep. I walked along, upward, to reach the main mountain, behind which, and quite a bit lower, the Toyota was waiting. All the while stopping and glassing the opposite canyon slope.

Finally, pig! It was within 150 yards of me, where the two slopes come together, and there, in the open patch of grass, the pig was slowly moving towards the bottom. Then another, and another.

The initial plan was to move closer, so I inched forward. But the pigs, upon reaching the bottom, got out of sight. So, with the last pig about to reach the bottom, I planted my butt on the ground, put in earplugs, fetched the Contender out of its holster, and tried to get a steady rest, with my arms between my legs. But the angle was wrong, and I had to put the elbows on my legs.

I found the pig in the Leupold, and touched one off. The pig got showered with dust as the Ballistic Tip hit low. A panic reload, and shot number two also hit the dirt. Now the herd was in motion, back the way they had just come, except now there were about fifteen of them! Another frantic reload, another miss. And another reload. Again the 120 grain 7mm slug only hit dirt. The distances grew as the pigs motored through their turf, popping in and out of sight on the opposite slope. More dust on shot number five. Then, shot number six. I didn't really count them at the time, of course, but when I was all done, I found seven empties.

By now, the distances were getting hopeless, well past 200 yards. I had pretty much conceded to screwing up a good opportunity, when one pig moved through yet another opening, at least 300 yards off. More out of frustration, I pointed the scope at that place, and sure enough, two more pigs walked into view. I aligned the crosshairs above them and fired.

The pig on the right jerked to the downhill side. It looked like a hit, there was no dust from this bullet, and the rest of the herd, from all over on the hillside, started into a panic, high speed run, which they hadn't done on all the other shots. The hit pig tumbled, and slid, and tumbled, down the steep slope, long enough for me to put the Contender down and use the binoculars to follow its uncontrolled descent until it hit a bush, from which it did not come back out.

Now what? Was it dead, or only hurt and out of sight? Was it in some depression, continuing to crawl downhill? I kept looking through the binos until my eyes got tired, and never detected any more movement. Then I studied the area where the pig disappeared for unique features so I would find the place again. And sure enough, once I hiked over there, which took a good 15 minutes, it all looked different. I recognized the rock formation nearby, and the barrel cactus, and the dead tree, but they weren't the only ones there. I was not sure of the exact location anymore. No sign of skid marks or blood, either. Then I found the century (or yucca) plant, and it was the only one around. The pig had been hit near it, then slid down some 50 steps. Yes, it was steep here. And there was my prey, dead, on its side.

I had been standing within 18 feet of it all this time. What a relief! It was a boar. Then I remembered the chocolate, the horseshoe, the balloon. Weird.

Field dressing was routine, carrying it out was not. That took about one and a half hours, all of it up and over the mountain. Jay, in the mean time, had also found heavy pig signs, but was wishing to have followed me once he heard the shooting. However, at that time we were worlds apart. And he never connected with the other herd.

Once back in camp, we immediately skinned the critter. Then cut it into the, for us, usual 8 pieces: neck, two shoulders, two rib sections, two hams and back, and put them in the cooler. The 7TCU had put that bullet right into the middle of the javelina's back, on the right side where the ribs meet the backstrap. The Ballistic Tip then shoved forward and across its back, cutting the spine, and slightly deflecting up from there to clip the left shoulder blade on its way out. Due to the long distance the bullet's velocity must have been quite low, nothing was bloodshot, and there was a simple hole through the back, with surprisingly little meat destroyed.

Glenn and David never saw pig fur. Neither did all the other hunters that stopped by camp. But that's why they call it hunting, and not shooting. And the deer steaks, with onions and mushrooms, and the elk chili made great, tasty dinners. We'll be back! For the next time, hopefully 1997, we will try to find a road that might take us closer to the newly discovered slopes. At least we are hopeful.

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