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Peek-A-Boo Pigs
January 1996
Brad Birdsell

The first 3/4 of the 1996 Archery Javelina season was the warmest that I can remember. Temperatures were only dropping to the 60's and mid-afternoons were hitting the 80's. I had never hunted Javelina in warm weather, and it proved to be an entirely different game.

I have been hunting the same sounder of Javelina for about 6 years and I know their habits well. So, I bragged to my rookie brother Larry, "I'll have them located by 10:00 AM opening morning." After a day and a half glassing the areas that I normally found them in, we decided to put a little wear on our boots instead of our pants.

Mike Hodge was with us on this day. We hunted separate washes that merged at an agreed upon rendezvous point about a mile up the canyon. I was half way to the rendezvous point when two pigs came trotting past me at 40 yards.

I looped down wind and hustled to try and intercept them, but they did not show. From where I was, I could see our rendezvous point and my brother was already there. In fact, he was practically running up the small knoll we were to meet at.

I headed to the knoll to find out what was going on. Larry was still telling Mike about how he had gotten into the pigs when I got there. I didnít have to ask. He turned and started filling me in at a fevered pitch. Apparently he was practically on his hands and knees, crawling through the bottom of a wash, when he came face to face with a pig! Peek-A-Boo! The pig turned and bolted, but the rest of the sounder stayed put long enough for him to get off his first two shaky shots at a live animal. We swept the area for the two pigs that had run past me, but never saw another pig that day.

Larry did not get a pig, but now we knew where they were hiding. With that confidence, we decided to spend the entire third weekend of the season hunting. On the first day we used the same tactic, we split up and each followed a different wash through the canyon. It was my wash that paid off this time. I saw one pig meandering up a thick Palo Verde choked side wash. I swung down wind and stalked toward the grunts. I was getting close when the ridge on my downwind side exploded. Most of the sounder headed off up the ridge, but the ones in the wash lingered. I could see one of them behind a saguaro, and he could see me also. He was peeking out around the cactus every few seconds trying to figure me out. He finally bolted but stopped at 30 yards broadside. I let an arrow fly. I could see the orange & yellow of the fletches heading right into the kill zone when the pig, kill zone and all, decided to leave. The remainder of the pigs scattered, leaving me to review my mistakes. These warm weather pigs playing peek-a-boo in thick wash bottoms were going to be tough to get.

We hiked about 5 more miles that day through the adjacent canyon and came up empty -- until we started back. We were cresting a ridge between the two canyons when I got that sixth sense "something watching me" feeling. I looked to my right and two pigs were standing 40+ yards away, staring at us. Peek-A-Boo! We tried to get to cover in case there were more pigs we did not see, but it turned out to be just the two, which high-tailed it as soon as we moved.

The second morning we hunted together. We had a good feeling about a particular side wash and it paid off. Larry spotted a single pig almost as soon as we started up the drainage. I hung back just far enough so I could watch the show. He got to 20 yards and I expected him to start drawing his bow, but he kept going. 10 yards and closing, I was now wondering if he planned on walking up and sticking the arrow into the pig. Then the pig looked up from the cactus he was munching on. He put about 100 yards between us and him in 5 seconds flat. Larry explained that he had a small Palo Verde between him and the pig, and he was trying to get close enough to shoot over it.

We saw that the pig was headed up into a very thick, brushy bowl against a mountain side, so we planned another stalk. We stalked into the bowl and when I became convinced there was nothing there, I looked over at Larry. He was 40 yards away and had his bow at full draw!

Then I heard aluminum clattering on rocks and pigs started coming out of the bowl in all directions. One of them came towards me and stopped 10 yards away (behind a tree of course). When I tried to move into position for a shot, he bolted down hill. Frustrated that they were getting away again, I tried something I had never tried before. I paralleled the pig down the slope, woofing to imitate another pig. As I cleared some brush between us, there he was, broadside, looking at me (peek-a-boo). I nocked an arrow and let it fly on a 30 yard mark but it missed left. Damn! The game continued. He headed down and I paralleled, woofing as I went. I cleared another Palo Verde and, peek-a-boo, there he was, staring right at me head on. I hesitated about a head-on shot but then I let it fly, again at a 30 yard mark. This time it flew true and connected just left of that big pink bullseye.

The shot proved very effective, taking out the jugular vein and the artery inside the front leg. The big boar only went 40 yards before laying down. We gave him 20 minutes before approaching anyway. Larry got to witness and help with his first field dressing. He managed to hang on to his cookies during the process and then he went after the pigs while I packed out my third and largest archery pig.

Larry is already talking about archery deer and elk this summer. I think I have a life long hunting companion. I cannot call him a rookie anymore, he learned a lot in his first archery season, and I learned a lot in my sixth. Including how to play peek-a-boo when the pigs hide away in the thick washes on warm summer-like days.

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