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Pair O’ Pig Hunts
May 2006
Mark Snyder

Our “Band of Brothers”
When I reached my college years I developed a friendship with a group of guys with which I did a lot of partying, girl chasing, playing softball, story swapping, and just plain hanging out with each other and having fun. After I graduated college I lost touch with most except a few.

It’s funny how those relationships you are in at that time of your life seem very important, but yet it is easy to lose the closeness over the passing of time. I was never in the armed services but I can relate to the “Band of Brothers” one makes with a group of guys that one associated with at that time in our lives. Anyway, you’re probably saying, “Where’s he going with this?” and so I’ll tell you.

After college I took a job with a company called Sperry (now Honeywell) and moved to Phoenix. One of my buddies, Rick, moved to Phoenix about a year after I did. Rick and I have hunted together for almost two decades in Arizona and have had a lot of good times. Some of you may have read my stories and Rick is usually mentioned in them.

Rick has always been the glue for our “Band of Brothers.” He kept in touch with some of the guys throughout the years, of which those kept in touch with others. Well a couple years back some of us got together and did a pheasant and deer hunt in our home state of South Dakota that kind of started the ball rolling. Ever since we have been trying to put together some sort of reunion hunt each year, which at least gets some of us together.

This year would be our second outing of HAM season javelina hunting in Arizona and a gathering of our little “Band of Brothers”. The guys like it because it gets some of them out of the cold climates in the middle of winter and we can all get together and enjoy each others’ company. It is almost like we are young men again, swapping stories, playing cards, throwing horseshoes, ATV riding … oh, and of course hunting.

Everyone arrived in Phoenix two days before the hunt so that gave us time to set up camp for the group the day before the hunt. Not an easy task when your talking about 10-12 guys. Dion, from Minneapolis, actually arrived earlier in the week to help the local guys out with groceries and other camping logistics. The menu this year included George’s famous spaghetti, a couple of deep fat fried turkeys with all the fixins, caribou stew, with deer sausage and javelina chorizo for breakfast. Make’s me hungry just thinking about it.

Opening day arrived and we all piled out of camp ready to go hunting little piggies. We broke up into groups the size of two or three to spread out and find the herd we normally hunt. Big Mike R. and I went to an area where I had seen them the weekend before with my daughter on the youth hunt. She was unsuccessful but we still had a lot of fun. At about 8:00 AM, Mike and I located the piggies or should I say they located us. There was no wind and the desert was very noisy. Needless to say we spooked them and they trotted off about 100 yards or so. I kept an eye on them and told Mike to make a stalk and I would go around and try and get ahead of them. They crossed a wash and Mike went after them. I circled around but stayed on our side of the wash. Finally I climbed up on a huge boulder to try and get a vantage point to spot them.

Eventually I heard some shots and Mike had gotten into them. I didn’t see anything scurry my way so I assumed they went the other direction. I held tight for about 45 minutes, watching and listening for pigs.

Eventually I spotted Mike and he came back to where I was sitting. He said he hit one and found a blood trail but that it went into some very thick brush on a steep side hill and he lost track of it. I told him to rest a bit and we’ll both go looking for it.

Mike hadn’t been there 10 minutes when I heard some rustling in the brush across the wash from us. Out popped a piggy, I swung around the Lone Eagle with my arms resting on my knees. I guessed the distance at about 75 yards, took aim, and shot. Down he went. He got up and staggered a couple of yards then I lost sight of him in the brush.

I got down off the boulder, crossed the wash and went looking for him. I found him dead about 10 yds from where I shot him. I called out to Mike to have him come over and help me with the red work.

When we were finished we went to try and find the pig Mike hit. He took me to the spot where he first found blood and we trailed it from there. We came to a spot with a large loss of blood. I told Mike the animal has to be near, and probably dead, as that was a lot of blood loss.

We went about 15 yards further and kicked the pig out of bed in the thick brush Mike had talked about. I saw the red spot on its side. Mike had gut shot it. After a couple hundred yards of chasing it, and a few shots, we lost it again.

By this time Rick, Dion, and Gene had caught up with us and helped us track it. Dion found it in some thick brush and Mike finished it off. We packed both pigs back to camp and enjoyed lunch and played some horseshoes in the afternoon.

The next day we only saw a couple of pigs from another herd that we hunt, but no one got shots. I went with Jason on the third day and eventually we got right in the middle of a herd. It was very thick, so we waited for a pig to come in the open. One eventually did and Jason got a couple of shots at it. The herd scattered and Gene, Mike S. (We had three Mike’s in camp), Dion, and Jason all got shots with no one connecting. It was a flurry of activity and a lot of fun. Eventually the guys scattered, each chasing pigs. No one got a pig that day but there were stories galore to share by all.

It was another fun hunt with a couple successful hunters and everyone at least getting shots. We’re all looking forward to the next reunion hunt of our little “Band of Brothers.”

Father-Daughter Time
The week before the “Band of Brothers” hunt was the youth javelina season. My daughter, Audrey, and I were all set to chase the piggies. She got a couple of shots last year but without success. We were hoping this year would be better. Opening day arrived and we left camp at first light to try and find the desert ghosts. We hunted all morning with no success. To make matters worse, the temperatures were climbing so they would be in the brush and thus harder to find.

We had lunch in the field and I decided to wait them out. Audrey wasn’t happy with staying out as she wanted to go back to camp with the other kids. Camp was a couple of miles away and I didn’t want to hike back out here for the afternoon hunt, as we had covered a fair amount of ground already. So I convinced her to stay, and have patience, they’ll eventual show themselves I told her.

It seems like there is a fine line in teaching a child to hunt and yet not over-doing it to where they don’t want to go. I was hoping I wasn’t heading toward the latter.

During the afternoon we moved from spot to spot and did a lot of glassing with no success. Toward evening I eventually spotted one. I think someone above was watching out for me, as Audrey forgot all about her dad keeping her out all day in the field.

We were positioned on the side of a hill with a vantage point for glassing, but the pigs were on the other side of a large wash which we would need to cross to get in front of them. We crossed the wash and climbed up the other side where we were hoping they would be. Bummer… no piggies

We were now down low and thus didn’t have any height advantage for spotting the buggers. Eventually Audrey spotted one, then another; however she couldn’t get a clear shot. They crossed the wash and went up on the side hill where we were originally. Damned if they didn’t go to about 10 yards from the very place we were sitting when we first spotted them.

They were once again in the thick stuff so I told Audrey that she was going to have to take a long shot. We got her set up and watched for one to come out of the cover.

Eventually one came out and she took a shot. Missed … shot went low. This stirred up the piggies and another came out. Again she shot but I didn’t see the dust. It sounded like a possible hit but we weren’t sure. Audrey thought she got him, I wasn’t so sure.

So we went looking for blood. We didn’t find blood so I told her, we’ll just hang out here awhile, as I’ve seen too many times where the pigs get split up and eventually one or two come back.

Sure enough after about 15 minutes, here come four of them. They were below us walking. The sun was already setting so I told Audrey you’re only going to get one more chance today. She steadied herself on a rock and took a shot … miss. They ran into the brush. We would have to wait till the next day.

Well the next day came and the day after that with no success, we saw pigs but just couldn’t get into position on them. Audrey was disappointed but we still had fun and hopefully another learning experience for my daughter to pass along to her children.

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