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Javelina Near Home
Mind those nylon holsters!
March 2011
Gerhard Schroeder  

Ron with his boar

For the 2011 HAM hunt we almost blew it before it began. Giving the postal service too much credit (which really means we screwed up by not dropping our envelope into a blue box on time) our application and checks were returned with a ‘too late’ stamp on it. We had no choice then but to settle for leftovers. Luckily, in 2011 there were quite a few.

More out of ‘what the heck’ I chose areas close to Phoenix. We got the closest one, unit 20B, stretching from New River all the way to Crown King. OK then, why not begin the hunt nearby. That meant turn off at Table Mesa Road. Sure, we bounced in there quite a ways, and the roads certainly don’t invite. But as the crow flies, I had never hunted pigs that close to home.

Neither can I remember ever opting for long johns on a javelina hunt. It was cold that Friday morning. So I had left my house in exactly such attire, of course with an outer layer of camo. Ron, Daniel and I arrived in suitable looking country at first light.

Off into the mountains to the west we stormed. Once arriving on top we could see the edge of Lake Pleasant, and all the fabulous and rugged beauty spreading to the horizon behind it.

The deal with peccaries is this: once you find them they are easy to stalk, easy to kill. But find them first in all of this wild desert where everything scratches or gores you! And everything could conceal a pig.

Throughout the day I covered maybe ten miles of walking, flushing quail, spotting eight deer, eight burrows, rabbits and two foxes. But nothing that matched my permit tag. Daniel and Ron had opted to drop all the way down to the Aqua Fria, follow it a ways, then circle back the long way to camp. It paid off. They kicked up one loner. Ron’s first .357 Mag slug tore through a hind leg. They reported that ‘a lot of noise’ later the boar finally came to bag. They tagged it, gutted it, then tied it to a length of dead tree and carried it out Africa style.

Not familiar with the terrain, but aware of our camp’s location (1.6 miles per GPS) they ‘opted’ for serious hardship and carried the beast over the mountain. I eventually received their call, met them half way with the 4Runner and ended their torture. They had killed the pig around 10:30AM; we were back in camp by about 3PM; they were spent. I skinned his prize.

Saturday morning we all scattered in different directions. Ron now aimed with a shotgun, hoping to luck into quail while re-scouting the area I had combed the day before. He met neither fur nor feather.

Daniel stayed low to the south of camp. I chose to climb and check the next canyon. Aside from three more deer and cattle we saw nothing.

Noteworthy was the steepness of some of those hillsides. At one point I dislodged a rather large rock. It took off downhill with ever increasing momentum, even falling out of view. What that rock did to some things in its way was rather sobering. I chose the placement of my feet and walking stick well after seeing that.

After lunch we committed to circle the mountain again that had yielded prey for Ron the day before. The sun wielded its might the first couple of hours. Then we entered the land of the gut pile. The vegetation indeed looked oh so encouraging there. But aside from some noticeably irritated cattle no other critter showed up. Quite exhausted we reached camp at 6 pm.

Over dinner, salad, deer brats and beans, we discussed options for the next morning. The winning scenario was to drive a ways back towards I-17 and try the mountains there.

Sunday morning we did exactly that. A cold wind accompanied us into new country. We were spaced about fifty to a hundred paces apart, Ron armed for quail again. There seemed to be no escaping this wind. About an hour into our exploration I made a small mistake.

Rather than keep formation I headed up a draw, really to quickly reestablish the formation after climbing higher – I had the mountain side, Daniel the middle ground, and Ron the longest distances to cover in the lower portion of the hills.

Going rather fast I forgot my own prediction when we had left the vehicles, that the pigs would probably be somewhere out of the wind, possibly in the bottom of the washes. The draw had a rather narrow and deep ditch, and now little wind. After walking uphill, quite swift, along the edge of that ditch for about a hundred steps, things suddenly happened fast.

I heard ‘something’ down there and froze. Immediately a pig appeared on my bank, about twenty steps ahead, parked broadside. Perfect! I drew the Kimber.

Instantly this small paradise evaporated. Yanking the .45 auto from its nylon doghouse made a whooshing sound that this javelina took as unquestionable motivation to hit the afterburner. Gone! Not even a chance for a what-the-heck thrown shot.

But wait: There was more noise ‘down there’. Sure enough, a second javelina emerged, this time on the opposite bank. This customer, however, behaved quite differently. Within the first fifty or so yards I remained hopeful the critter would stop. Didn’t happen. So, at around sixty, Miss Kimber spoke. All trash talk, though, three misses on an ever accelerating porker.

Yet luck stayed with me, as another beast left the depths of the ditch. This one stopped in about the same place the first one had. The open sights settled on its broadside quite rapidly, and a 185 grain JHP slammed her to the ground. She squealed her death grunt, kicked some and slid back into the ditch. Down for the count.

All that commotion convinced a fourth piggy to leave the fake safety of the deep and narrow and trade it for country beyond the high hill, also never stopping until it disappeared over the crest. Daniel saw that one escape, but was too far off to engage with his Smith.

He and Ron did follow after those two, of course. Meanwhile I retrieved my sow, tagged her, then did the red work. It was 8:15AM, and suddenly a very good day.

By a little after ten my prey was hanging from the 4Runner hatch, as has been the custom. Then I waited for the others, reflecting on the hunt, thanking our creator.

Daniel and Ron returned about ninety minutes later, without ever having seen any of the survivors. By then the cold wind had done a fine job. We had a quick lunch, during which Daniel decided that he had hunted enough. I cut my javelina into the customary pieces to fit the ice chest, and was home by 1pm.

Lessons Learned:
  • Draw from nylon slowly, or it could make too much strange noise.
  • Think ‘pig’ – where would I want to be when the wind blows cold? – and keep that thought.
  • When hunting in the low desert, bring something to remove cholla cacti – they will get you.
  • On windy days, glassing for pigs has low chances of success.
  • Don’t expect javelina to leave their hiding place all at once – expect a straggler, or three.

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