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2BHunting

First Javelina (Warning long read)

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Year 1 :

This journey started 3 years ago with a rifle. Like my first deer hunt, I had no idea what I was doing. I went high, I went low, I went into the thick, I searched out in the open. I was striking out. The last evening that I had to hunt, and after covering all of the different terrain that this unit has to offer, I decided to go back low and into the thick stuff. I had been in this area a few days prior, so I had some familiarity with it. It was 4th and long, and this was my hail mary. Less than 100 yards from my truck, and with less than 1 hour of light remaining, I cut a set of fresh tracks out of the main wash that I was in. I decided to follow them into the stuff that makes you question your sanity, as each step rips out a new piece of flesh. Obviously, this was not the quietest route that I could have chosen, but I wanted to follow these tracks. As I painfully pushed on, I heard the unmistakable woofing sound. I couldn’t believe it, I was closing in on them. I realize at this moment, I have no path forward that doesn’t spook them into the next area code. So, I back out and make my way down the main wash. I knew that they were feeding up the side of a hill, so I backtracked a couple hundred yards (if that) in each direction, got the wind right, and set out to cut them off. This walk was far less painful, but still thick and did not offer many shooting lanes for a rifle. As I’m pondering how I’d get a shot if I did manage to get in front of them, I suddenly see one cresting the top of the hill side that I am now on the backside of. It happened so quickly, that I messed it up before it even began (after doing everything right up to this point). My kneejerk reaction was to put the rifle up immediately. I was WAY too close for that, and couldn’t see a thing but blurry bushes and cactus. This subtle movement blew my concealment, and then the herd blew loose in every direction around me. I stay focused on the first one I saw, and it had moved behind a thick patch and we engaged in a stare down. Again, not knowing what to do in this situation, and after listening to it woof/stomp for long enough, I make the snap decision to try to side step the bushes. Still too close for a rifle, my movement was caught immediately and like a cartoon character this thing took off faster than I realized they were capable of moving. I tried holding in front of it after it crossed the wash on the far side and squeezed one off. I knew immediately it was a clean miss, but did my due diligence to confirm it. When I got to where it was when I shot, it was moving so fast that it was easy track. I followed the deep impressions it left behind as far as I could, and to no avail I finished out my hunt gridding that area as the sun set on my first Javelina hunt.

Year 2:

I have one weekend to hunt, and a 10 year old in tote. I had gone out the week before opener to check cams (last year of doing this). As I am making my way through some of the areas that I had been in the year prior, I decide low and thick is where we will be (again with a rifle). Not far from my camera, I jump a herd bedded nearby. A mama and little one stay in front of me at 10 yards for quite some time. She never became threatening, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated in the moment as I was not packing, and wasn’t sure if she’d charge to protect the little one. Anyway, I took some pics, marked the area on ONX, set a cam, and back home I went. Opening morning comes, and for obvious reasons we head out on foot to where I had jumped the herd the week before. I’m a novice hunter, and now I have my boy with me. I have to at least make him believe that I know what I am doing, in hopes that one day he does know what he is doing. It takes us a little over an hour to hike in. All along, I am teaching him about the wind, the sound, the tracks, the signs and most importantly the repercussions of not paying attention to where the cholla are. He’s doing great so far, he’s being quiet, he’s listening, not complaining, I’m sure this is all because I bribed him with a $5 per shed offer to help keep him focused. As we’re getting closer to the “hot zone”, I start telling him to move slower, walk lighter, etc. because we are almost to where I want to be. He gives me the thumbs up, and we start making our way up the hill side that I am convinced will lead to Javelina land on the other side of. As we approach my mark on ONX I hear it starting. Ah…ah….ahhhh chooooo! Over and over and over again…In this moment, I don’t even turn around. I stand there and literally laugh out loud. There was no Javelina land on the other side of this ridge, but his allergy attack ensured that there wasn’t a Javelina within a mile of us in any direction now. Not long after this moment, I spot a decent 3 point shed and want him to earn his 5 bucks. So…I walk by it, come back to it, circle around it, stop short of kicking it, before I can’t take it anymore and finally ask him what the heck he’s looking at besides that nice 3 point shed on the ground in front of him. He shakes his head, laughs, and told me he didn’t actually believe me all along that there’d be sheds out here in the desert. We hunt hard the rest of the day and the following day without much to show for it but a shed, a pic of him with someone else’s recent kill (we found the hooves and gut pile), and a new marker on ONX where we found the most sign (more on this in the conclusion). All in all, we came up empty handed, didn’t see a live pig, but I shared some great memories with one of my boys.

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Year 3: The conclusion

My wife decides she wants to go see Kane Brown in Vegas for our 5th anniversary this year, and the concert falls on opening weekend, much to my displeasure. I reluctantly agree to this, and tell my father in law that I only have opening morning to hunt, and that I’d be back in a few days. I really like the area I have been hunting the past two years, but have concluded that it’s not conducive to rifle hunting. This year we put in for the HAM tag, and I decide I will try for my first big game harvest with a bow. Thankfully the HAM hunt is a longer hunt because now I’m going to miss part of it for this concert. Opening morning comes, and it’s cold and windy out. I am going in with my bow, and my game plan isn’t to glass from afar so I don’t really care if they are hunkered down. I considered it an advantage and I set off from camp on foot. Within an hour, I’m moving through a small wash wind in my face and I catch movement out ahead approximately 40 yards. Bingo, a pig is feeding behind a bush in front of me, and I have a strong wind in my face. I nock an arrow, and don’t move a muscle (experience from 2-years ago kicks in). While I am thinking of a game plan, the wind swirls, and as hard as it was blowing in my face, suddenly I’m up wind and it’s blowing twice as hard back down toward the pig. Now, I have always heard about the importance of the wind. But for the first time I experienced it firsthand. This pig did not see me, there’s no way. When that wind shifted, it got alert, and before I knew it he was on the run. Now, for the rodeo. I quickly moved up the wash fast enough to see him run up the other side. I tuck in the left side of the wash and think to myself that I’ll try and get in front of him. I can’t see him at this point, but I can hear him. He’s woofin’ and screamin’ mad. It sounds like he’s running in a circle around me. At this point, he’s been so vocal, I decide to stop where I am at, and I let out two calls. I hear him immediately begin charging towards me, and I couldn’t believe it actually worked. I draw back, and hold where I think he’s coming from up wash. I see his nose, when all of a sudden the wind hits me hard with another gust from behind, and he bolts sideways one step away from me releasing. I boogey to the other side where he ran up, and lose sight of him. I’m now standing ¾ of the way up the hillside, and it sounds like he got in behind me somehow (or there was another pig that I hadn’t seen up to this point, I’ll never truly know). I knelt down and listened for a second. It was close, so I decided to let out two calls to see if I could bring him up. Not on a rope, but he comes in and he comes in heavy and fast. It was almost comedic sitting there watching him jump around like he was being electrocuted or something. Hopping over the ledge of the wash onto the hill side, and bouncing side to side all the way up to me. It was incredible, he bounced behind every single bush, and cactus on that hillside between him and I, always blocking my shot. He comes to a stop 5-yards in front of me, directly behind a bush. I am at full-draw, and I hold, we stare, and I hold until my arms start shaking and are about to give out. It’s hard to say how much time has passed during this stare down, but long enough for me to have contemplated taking an ill-advised shot on several occasions. I held until my arms finally gave out, and he never moved a muscle until I let down. Once he caught that movement, he was out of there faster than I could stand and draw back again. I felt a weird combination of “that was awesome!”, and “my soul has been crushed by a blown opportunity, yet again”. I reflected, I hunted some more, met my father in law for lunch, told him the story about the big one that got away yet again, and hunted until dark in the cold wind. Now I had to make the long drive home to get ready for Vegas, while replaying the sequence of events over, and over again for the next three days. He hunted while I was gone, never turning up any pigs. I made it back to camp the following Thursday and rejoined him. The night prior, I knocked an old hunting hat of mine off of the shelf, which happens to be the hat I wore on the hunt with him when I shot my first deer. I said to myself that I’m going to bring it along for good luck. I make mention of this to him at camp in the morning over coffee, put on the lucky hat, we wish each other luck, and head off in our separate ways. I left the bow at home this time, and decided to bring the .357. He heads to the area that my son and I were in the year prior that I marked on ONX, and I go right back to where I blew it opening morning of this year. By 8:30am, I get a text message from him saying “Pig down. More in here, at least 6”. I am way too far away for that to matter, so I just give him the thumbs up sign, and let him know I am on to some fresh sign myself. I am happy for him, but also feel an immense amount of pressure set in now. I can’t help but think it’s never going to happen for me at this point. Knowing approximately how long it will take for him to get back to camp, I hunt the area I am in accordingly, and make my way back so I can congratulate him and take a picture if he wants one. He’s pretty much got the entire pig taken care of by time I get back. We talk briefly, and then I have him drop me off in a new spot close to where he just was and near the area my son and I found the year before. I get out, he wishes me luck yet again, and tells me to call him at lunch and he’d come pick me up. I have no intention of calling him at lunch, and tell him not to expect a call from me until nightfall unless I text him that a pig is down. Where he drops me at, the wind is wrong for where I am trying to get to. I walk out of my way so that I can get the wind in my favor, and cut across a few washes to start making my way to my marker. As I am approaching, I know the area is hot. The beds here are being used, there’s fresh scat, and my father in law just got one not far from here. So, I decided to stop moving and let out 2 calls. Within 30 seconds I see her cross the wash up ahead of me. I slowly move to the right side, and kneel down. I completely lose visibility of her when I squat, so I decide to let out two more calls since they had been responding to them up to this point. The wind is perfect, and I sit there waiting for her to come down the wash that would present me with about a 5-yard broadside shot. But she doesn’t come down the main line that I expected her to. She made a big loop and came in at me head on. It didn’t matter where she came from this time, I was cocked and ready. As soon as I saw her I put the red dot on her chest and squeezed off one fatal shot quartering towards me. It inserted her chest and was held up on the exit near her rear ribs by the hyde. I found the bullet when I was skinning her. And just like that, 3-years of ups and downs, close encounters, and everything in between finally came together. 11 minutes after he dropped me off, and with shaking hands, I texted my father in law, “pig down”, and marked my location on ONX. Later when looking at ONX, I realized I shot her within feet of where my son and I had stood and marked the year prior. When I zoom out of ONX, you can barely even differentiate the markers, it’s that close. We were back at camp with two pigs in the ice chests and drinking bloody marys by noon that day. AMAZING experience.

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There are things that happen in javelina hunts that just don't happen hunting other animals, which is why they are so fun yet confounding at the same time.    

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Great story!!!  Congrats!

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Thanks for the great read. Congrats on your first one! 

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That’s awesome your first was up close and personal! Often the reward of success after days of “almost happened” is sweeter than getting the harvest during opening hour. Thanks for sharing! 🐗

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