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April 2007
Gerhard Schroeder

“No way - cross hairs dancing way too much.” I lowered the scoped, heavy revolver to catch my breath and calm my pulse. It was the second Friday of my 2007 javelina hunt.

A week ago Doug Smith and I – "the Oberst" was down and out with the flu – worked this country hard, but flushed out only a handful of quail and a spike mule deer. There was javelina sign, nothing fresh, though. And with rain in the forecast we abandoned the hunt on Saturday. Little rain did come, and soon this next Friday.

Three o’clock was too early to get up. Yet, here I was, wide awake, and the first conscious thought was this: ‘Go up the large mountain.’ When I was finally on the road at a little after five, my hunt area was only ninety minutes north of town, I had time to think things over.

Yes, I would go up the large mountain. In several past javelina seasons this hunt area in particular had offered me some ‘help’. I recalled when other hunters, one dressed in a grey sweat shirt, had alerted me to the pigs’ location with their rather frequent gunfire. Another year there were these two hunters on the opposite side of the canyon who suddenly moved down swiftly with guns in hand. They had seen the herd first, somewhere down there. At the very bottom, as it turned out, but I got there first from my side and killed one before they did. And another time I overheard a walkie-talkie conversation, telling me the location of the herd, allowing me to bag my porker before the sun had come up. Yes! I would go up that mountain.

About two hours later the sun was out now and I was on top. I was alone this day, by the way, because both Doug and Oberst had to work. Despite glassing frequently, no form of big game life had appeared anywhere. The mountain continues easterly, yes, into the rising sun, and seemed to contain no javelina near its top, where the north-facing slope was both steep and brushy, and the south-facing one promised with plenty of prickly pear cacti.

Eventually I reached the area where this mountain also dropped sharply to the east. This provided plenty of new terrain below to inspect, but still nothing. Curving northerly and descending a few feet got me to a bush that provided some shade, a fine place for some sitting and glassing. I saw them almost immediately, down below.

But of course they had seen me first, that’s why they were on the move out. “They” were two mule deer does, in typical fashion stopping frequently, and looking back. Back at me, but also towards the north. My first thought was that the spike buck from a week before must be near. I could not detect him, though.

When the two deer, on their next stop, again looked north, I swung my binoculars that way further. Ah! Two, no four, no…the herd! I had found what I came here for.

They were not on the large mountain, but I could see them from here. The javelina were safe for now, a good half mile away, near the bottom of the second south-facing slope over, an open area with hardly any larger plants around.

How to proceed? After surveying their neighborhood closer the best approach seemed to be to hike straight to them. Aided by a walking stick, a six-foot section of agave shank, I descended the steep slope, and moved back up the next hill. Before carefully cresting I paused to catch my wind, to avoid loud breathing. Then I took a peek. They were all still there. In fact, I could see even more. I did not count them. Instead, which one was closest, and was it ‘adult’?

That got answered quickly, but my intended prey still was at least a hundred paces away, and no real option to sneak in any closer. Since none of them had a clue yet about my presence, some risk assessment seemed appropriate. Looping back to head them off on their slope had two distinct disadvantages. The wind, and not being able to detect them easily when on the same slope. Overlook one of them, and the whole gang would bolt to safety. No further cover was available to sneak any closer, plus the ground was loose and loud. In the end I decided to take the shot from where I was standing.

As stated above, my first attempt had to be abandoned because I was shaking too much. The load, by the way, was a typical 240 grain SWC lead bullet propelled by Accurate Arms #2 to just shy of 1100 fps, so by no means full power medicine. Accurate and comfortable to shoot, though. Then my javelina turned, taking the broadside target away. It walked a few steps before again presenting ‘broadside’. This time all looked comforting. From practicing just a week prior I knew to hold just over its back. Then a little more pressure and the Ruger responded. An instant later that oh-so-sweet sound echoed back – thud - that sound of bullet going through a bigger critter. The javelina confirmed it with a hunched back, usually a sign that the shot had come in too far back. It made two laboring steps, then paused. The others in the herd were clearly agitated now, but remained on that hill side for now. They did not know what danger had invaded their bunch, and certainly not where this danger originated.

Since my doomed pig was still standing, I did not dare close the distance, thereby possibly convincing the beast to try running for cover. A few steps off to my right I found a place to sit and shoot from across my knees. Aiming purposely for the head so no unnecessary meat would be lost, the next four shots promptly missed their mark. The doomed porker never even flinched when my bullets whistled past its head and ripped dust clouds out of the soil a few feet ahead. The rest of the gang took each shot as further encouragement to reach the top of the hill, and enter the more comforting thick brush that waited on the other side. Shot number six ended it all, coming in a little too low, taking out five ribs and exiting where neck and head meet. My javelina tumbled for a few feet, and all was quiet again. The Ruger Bloodhawk (a term of endearment from the Oberst) had come through again.

A smile infested my face. I carried my prey to a nearby juniper tree to do the red work in the shade. With legs tied together to carry my javelina ‘suitcase style’ I happily headed back to the 4Runner, fully aware that I had plenty to be thankful for.

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