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First Game April 2002
Michael Stimens  

This is a story about my Javelina hunt. My name is Michael and I am 14 years old. In our camp we had Mike Kelly, Glenn and his son Walt, Gerhard, and my dad David. Gerhard got his pig the first day to no surprise.

Gerhard took me out to help me get my pig. We got up very early which was not normal for me and so it took my dad 5 times to get me out of bed. Gerhard and I went to the mountain where he saw his pig and sat down for about an hour. After that, I got bored on the mountain and started throwing rocks around which made Gerhard say "shut up". Then he asked if I wanted to go find a pig, which I agreed to immediately. We went over the hill.

Then I saw the pigs. My reflexes took over and my brain was not involved. I saw my first pig. I got very excited and began to shoot like a madman with no sense at all, trying to get that piggy. After my shots, I scared them over the next hill. I must have scared Gerhard too, because he then took the gun to secure it as we ran down the hill to chase the piggys. At this point, after Gerhard made me sit down and told me to make the shots count, I shot all around them and still missed. They sure had a lot of sand in their face.

Gerhard asked me how many bullets that I had left. I showed him my last one. Then he told me that we were going back to camp after this with or without a pig. Gerhard said to calm down and make it count. So I calmed down, then I shot and hit the pig’s leg and the pig began rolling down the hill.

Gerhard had not brought any firearms with him and I had no more ammo to finish it off. So we finished it off as humanely as we could.

After the pig was confirmed dead, Gerhard told me how to gut it. I had to cut the skin away and take out the guts. At this point, it pooped everywhere, which was gross. Then Gerhard made me carry the javelina back and it was heavy! He made me carry everything, including the firearm. We stopped at every shade tree.

After we brought my pig to camp, the guys at camp made fun of me shooting up all the ammo. But the only ones who got a pig this hunt were Gerhard and I, so that’s okay with me. This hunt was a lesson and fun.

Gerhard Schroeder

Our javelina hunting area is about 70 miles from I-17 and Bell. Glenn, his son Walt, and myself got there at the perfect time on opening morning, meeting up with David, his son Mike, and Mike Kelley, who all had opted to get there the night before. I grabbed gun and gear and headed towards where I had bagged my pig last year. It wasn’t quite daylight yet.

The pre-dawn investment did not pay. I heard, smelled and saw no porkers. When the other buddies had arrived, I played scout, climbing up the promising hillside, topped out, looked over, and eventually worked my way back down. Nothing! Going further east, away from camp, still on the big hill, I suddenly froze. There was a noise below me. It was about nine o’clock now.

The noise, unfortunately, came from another camp’s hunter. As it turned out, he was in almost constant contact with his buddies via radio. This bothered me a little. But then I got help.

By now on a perfect, flat rock-outcropping, overlooking plenty of prime terrain (and the other hunters), Mr. Babblemouth announced, "I can see ‘em right below me!" Sure enough, way down there, a herd of 6 to 8 piggies crossed through an opening. I did not take the time to count them, instead yanked the scope to 9X, settled into a sitting position, determined the hold to be steady enough, and fired at the last pig in the bunch when it momentarily paused. Due to the angle of the dangle, or whatever, the bullet just missed high (where I had aimed), and all of them hurried into a near ditch. "Somebody just took a shot at them," came the announcement from Babblemouth.

Now, all 6 hunters in the area drew closer, literally circled the place. Minutes ticked away. I had an inner fight going on. Should I sneak down towards the herd, or wait and try to see them again. Since the outcropping provided the best possible overall viewing, I stayed put.

Then I heard a noise to my left, a javelina. I had it in the crosshairs just as it moved behind a bush. I tracked it in my scope -- no others followed. A few steps later the pig was open again, and my shot echoed back with that promising "whopp". But there was a pig still moving. The same one? I decided not to shoot again. Instead I topped off the Mini Mauser with two fresh .223 Remington rounds, 63 grain Sierras, 20 grains of Reloader 7, and hurried to the impact zone.

There was no pig down. Then, looking in the direction of where the porker had traveled, I detected him under a bush, partially hidden, not 25 paces away. The next shot made him roll down hill, and a bullet in the neck ended my hunt. I carried my boar to the nearest gully to avoid accidentally being hit by what was sure to be a war when all those other guys would open up on the herd.

Well, they never did. The desert ghosts had earned their name again. I tagged and field dressed my javelina. Skinning and butchering later in camp revealed that the first shot had gone diagonally through the lungs, entering back and high, exiting lower forward. The second shot, at close quarters and through some twigs, only resulted in a fragment entering the shoulder. Sure looks like I have this talent to make Sierras look bad in the field. Even so, this was the first big game taken with my .223 bolt gun, the first pig taken that day in the general area.

But that is not the main item of this story.

Bagging my pig early allowed me to fully follow through on a commitment. Since David had knee problems, and doctor’s orders to take it easy, I agreed to take his boy into the field. Fourteen years old, Mike was as eager to bag a pig as they come. He carried Glenn’s Savage 99 lever gun in .243 Winchester, cut down to be a dandy youth rifle. Consequently, he did not bitch when I led the way up and down the promising slopes. What Mike would not do was be separated from me by more than 15 steps or so. We hit the terrain hard that Friday afternoon, but we could only report seeing one kit fox.

Undeterred, we were the first ones out of camp the next morning. I opted to visit my favorite hill, and spend about an hour just glassing as the sun regained altitude. That bored Mike almost out of his mind. So, finally, we moved on, to where Glenn had taken his javelina two years prior.

As soon as we topped out on the hill, I heard something. My hand went up, the sign to stop, don’t move, don’t make noise, just freeze. Mike did. There, more noise! I pointed down at a saddle covered with thick brush, maybe 120 paces away. Mike nodded. And then I lost total control over him. For he saw a peccary first, uttered the word "PIG" really loud, and fueled by pure passion sprinted past me, like that famous bull in a China shop, in hopes of getting a clear view/shot on the other side of a tree.

His plan failed miserably since there were even more bushes in the way. I followed, hissed a few choice words into his ear to the effect of NOT EVER to do that again.

We slipped to a nearby opening from which we could better see the small saddle below us. Trying to stalk closer was not an option, the slope was too steep with lots of thick vegetation. It did not take long, and two porkers came into view. "Mike, take your time, try to sit down and make a good ... "

BOOM, rukruk, BOOM! If there was any doubt left in the piggies’ minds as to whether their home turf had been invaded, Mike’s two offhand misses had sent a clear message that we were onto them. They disappeared into the thick stuff. I whispered for him to top off the magazine.

Minutes ticked away. "What do we do now?," he wanted to know, rifle still at the ready. "Nothing! Let the pigs make the next move!" Eventually, they did come back, tracking over the saddle. "Sit down! Get steady, elbows against your legs! They will come out above the tree."

When the first pig cleared, the 99 roared again. And again for pig number two. And three, and four, and five. Gun empty, pigs gone over the hill. "Load the gun back up, and let’s go after them."

We hurried down there. Too much brush to see anything. I gambled, instructed Mike to follow me down an open ridge, off from where the pigs had fled. It worked. We had made it most of the way down to the wash below when I hit the brakes, for on the steep opposite mountainside, stood one of the beasts -- still -- broadside.

It was a rifleman’s dream, there was no place for the critter to hide, and such a long way to escape over the top.

Then Mike saw it, too. I told him again to sit down. He did. "They are not going anywhere, you have plenty of ..."

BOOM, rukruk BOOM, rukruk -pause- BOOM.

Yeah, three misses. As everyone who is or ever has been married knows, words and reasoning are absolutely no match for emotions. Passion, the thrill of the hunt, had conquered every cell in Mike’s body, it seemed. Now I was basically cussing him out. "Stop! Stop! They are NOT going anywhere! Take your time! See the pig below the one you’ve just shot at? He’s broadside, not moving, and a little closer. Try that one!"

Two more misses, and the gun was empty again. The pig could not hide, while Mike was frantically fishing for more bullets. Eventually he held just one .243 shell in his fingers, pointed at me, with a very serious look on his face.

"That your last one?" "Ah huh." "Well, better make it count then, because after that we’re going back to camp, with or without a pig! Now, find a steady shooting position. Again, the pig isn’t going anywhere. Don’t shoot if he’s behind a bush, or if he’s moving. Take your time to make one last, good shot." Anxious moments passed as I had my binoculars glued to this critter. It moved, paused, moved behind a bush, re-emerged, paused, moved some more, paused. Then the bullet hit. Not fatally, but enough to eventually bring Mike’s first pig to bag.

After taking a few minutes (Mike was still shaking) to talk this encounter over, to hopefully learn from it, to plan better for future hunts, I made him do the field dressing, providing plenty of guidance but little help. He did a fine, clean job. I also made him tie up the javelina’s legs, so a stick could serve as carrying handle. And damn right, I also made him carry both the javelina and the empty rifle (taking the beast from him only when the terrain turned sharply upward). He did not complain. And proud as can be, he carried his sow into camp, his first big game animal!

With total focus on the hunt, the chase, the ‘where to go’, we had miserably failed to consider the finer things in life. Hence, no camera, no photos. Glenn had one along, but he was in hot pursuit of the other porkers we had spooked, and the meat needs to be on ice as soon as possible.

Unfortunately also, Glenn, Walt, David, and Herr Oberst (Kelley) never saw a pig that weekend. There was, however, a close encounter of the "won’t forget this" kind. Kelley was within eight steps of a mountain lion, before said kitty preferred to leave the scene. He swore that it was a female, as she had "mooned" him while turning in midair to depart in the opposite direction, and thus providing plenty of visual evidence for such determination.

Despite that competition, I plan to apply for the same hunt area next year. And I’m putting money on it that at least one other hunter will want to do the same.

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