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 wasnít 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 oíclock now.
The noise, unfortunately, came from another campís 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 Ďem 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
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 doctorís 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 Glennís 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, donít move, donít 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 piggiesí minds as to whether
their home turf had been invaded, Mikeís 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 letís 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 riflemanís 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 Mikeís 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 youíve just shot at? Heís 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 weíre going back to camp, with or without a pig! Now, find a steady shooting
position. Again, the pig isnít going anywhere. Donít shoot if heís behind a bush,
or if heís 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 Mikeís 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 javelinaís 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 Ďwhere to goí, 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 "wonít 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 Iím putting money on it that at least one other hunter will want to do