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"Are you gonna pull those
pistols, or whistle Dixie?"

April 2004
Dan Martinez

There's a memorable scene in the Clint Eastwood movie, The Outlaw Josey Wales. Josey Wales (Eastwood) is a wanted man when he walks into a small Texas town for supplies. Josey has left a trail of dead behind him throughout the course of the movie up to this point and has developed quite a reputation. He's walking down the street with his arms full when a citizen recognizes him. "My God, it's Josey Wales," the man cries out. There are four soldiers standing nearby who immediately turn to look at Josey. Long moments pass as Josey and the soldiers look each other over. Finally, Josey utters the famous line, "Are you gonna pull those pistols, or whistle Dixie?" Naturally, after this all hell breaks loose. I was reminded of this scene after this year's javelina hunt.

My son Ben and I put in, and got drawn once again for Unit 36B down Nogales-way. We did well last year, so it was natural to go back. And just like last year, a good dose of rain was scheduled for the middle of the hunt. We found our last year's campsite again unoccupied when we arrived, so we got to work setting up residence on the afternoon of opening day. We got out for a short hunt that afternoon, but didn't see anything.

Late the next day on Saturday afternoon, we found ourselves on the hillside where last year's pigs were taken. We glassed around for the rest of the day, but nothing showed. However, knowing now that pigs had once been here, we examined the area a little closer than we were able to last year. We noted a number of caves in the rocky hillside, plus what looked like generations of pig trails forming a lattice-work pattern among the Agave schottii, better known as shindagger.

We decided that this spot was worth another look first thing in the morning, so that's exactly what we did upon awakening Sunday. Bingo. As we approached the area, there they were! From about a hundred yards away, we were treated to a nice show as we watched the herd feed on the hillside. A couple of them got into an argument over whose bush a certain shindagger was. There was much vocalizing and popping of the teeth until yet a third piggy came in, apparently to referee.

Even though we were carrying rifles, it's nice to get close-in on javelina. We started working our way down to the pigs. At about 50 yards out, I told Ben to load his chamber and I did the same.

Like last year, Ben was carrying his Contender Carbine in 6.5mm T/CU. But since last year, Ben, now 13, had put on a tremendous growth spurt. It had become time to replace his youth stock with a standard length buttstock. We also upgraded the scope on his carbine. We replaced his 60's-vintage straight-tube Weaver K3 with a current production Weaver 2.5-7x28mm variable. As for myself, on this fine morning I was carrying my Mosin Nagant scout rifle (see my Cheap Scout story).

We were descending a slope. There was a brushy draw between us and the slope the pigs were on. About 25 yards from the bottom of the draw, looking through the brush which choked the bottom, I noticed a couple of pigs traveling from right to left. I motioned Ben over to me and whispered for him to move around to a clear area to the left, informing him about the pigs in the bottom.

Where I was, I was sort of dead-ended. There was a thick screen of ocotillo in front of me. I was hoping that Ben would get a shot at the pigs in the bottom and that I would get my shot at a pig up on the slope.

Ben had traveled only about 10 yards away from me to my left, when we both heard some soft grunting nearby. Before we knew it, those pigs started coming up out of the bottom on our slope right between Ben and myself!

I was trying to give hand signals to Ben, alternately pointing to him, then holding up my index finger to signify "number one". I don't know if he understood what I was trying to tell him. I was caught in mid- gesture when the lead pig started looking right at me. I froze. Ben froze. The pigs froze. I swiveled my eyes over to Ben. Ben was looking at me. Then we looked at the pigs. The pigs were looking back and forth between me and Ben. This was the "Josey Wales moment" I alluded to in the beginning of the story. We were packing rifles, though - not pistols.

We were all just frozen there in an equilateral triangle formation, 10 yards on a side. I was hoping to see Ben shoulder his carbine and fire, but he just looked at me as if to say, "What should I do, Dad?" The heck with this! The time for any further communication had passed. I reached down and pulled the Mosin Nagant bolt off safe and threw the scout rifle up to my shoulder. Finding a clear lane to piggy #2's vitals through the ocotillo screen, I painted the animals chest with the crosshair and BOOM! Just like in the movie, now all hell breaks loose!

My pig turned and squirted back down toward the bottom, and in two steps was lost from sight. The hillside exploded with running pigs. It turned out that there were at least a dozen pigs in the herd. As usual, we had seen only about half of them before they all started running.

I told Ben to head off in the direction the pigs ran to hopefully find one stopped and shootable. I told him that I was going to root around to see if I could find my pig. I watched Ben for awhile as he headed off down canyon.

It didn't take long to find my piggy. The sow did not even make it 25 yards. It was a perfect in-and-out vital zone hit from a slight quartering-to angle. With the .30 caliber 150 grain Nosler Ballistic Tip bullet impacting at around 2600 fps, quick dispatch was assured.

The scout rifle concept is supposed to be all about facilitating quick shots at close to medium range. The rifle came up so quickly and naturally that I never even noticed it. I guess that must mean that the concept works.

Ben never did catch up to the pigs. We hunted the rest of the day, and half the next before deciding that we needed to get my pig on ice. Besides that, the heavy weather was starting up on us. We packed it up and headed out.

Well it looks like what we have found at this spot is the hunter's holy grail -- a Honey Hole. I think next year, I'll let Ben move in on them alone, and I'll hang back with a highly-scoped .243 or something and try a long sniper shot after he's stirred them up. I've done the close range thing on these pigs with a rifle - 10 yards! - sheesh!

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