Desert Bull Scouting and Map Services
2005 Spring H.A.M Javelina Hunt
After many years of hunting Javelina during the month long January archery season, I decided to try something different.
I recently purchased a new muzzleloading rifle in anticipation of a drawing a muzzleloader only Elk tag in New Mexico. Well, as luck would have it, I did not get drawn for the tag and the new rifle started gathering dust in the gun safe. So, I decided to apply for the H.A.M Javelina tag and put the Knight Wolverine to some use.
I got the tag in my favorite unit and began the task of getting a load to group in the rifle. I tried just about every combination I could think of, Power Belts, Hornady, Barnes, Pyrodex, Triple 7, etc. I could not get anything to group worth a darn. I got frustrated and put the chore on the back burner for awhile as I was getting busy with deer and elk hunting clients and had a deer hunt of my own coming up.
In January, I again took the rifle out, this time with some new ammo, Precision Rifle’s Extreme bullets. The first 3 shots, at a range of 50 yards, were all touching! I moved the target out to 75 yards and got a very good 3/4” group. I had found the right combination for my rifle, FINALLY!
I had hoped to do some serious scouting before the hunt, because I would have only 2 days available to actually fill my tag. Some clients for Javelina hunts booked scouting with me at the last minute and I had to severely limit my own personal preparation. I didn’t worry about it too much, because I already know where several different herds live in this unit.
My good friend Dennis had spent the whole month looking for Javelina in the same unit, during the archery season and had not even seen a pig the whole time. I had also been hearing from others that it was really tough to find them this year because of the very wet winter we are having. The pigs like to stay in the cover as much as possible, but during dry years they have to hit the hillsides for shin dagger, prickly pear, etc for food. During wet years, there is enough new grass and other growth in the washes, that they do not have to come out into the open to eat. Therefore, the pigs were getting harder than usual to locate. This did not make me very confident of finding a Javelina with only 2 days to hunt.
To make matters worse, the biggest storm of the year hit the day before the opener and lasted 2-1/2 days. It was constant rain from Thursday afternoon until late Saturday evening. I had only 1 day to hunt now!
At daylight on Sunday morning, I parked the truck at the usual spot and started climbing up the mountain to my perch on the backside, away from the road. On the way up, I noticed that the wind was directly in my face, PERFECT! As soon as I crossed over the saddle and onto the east facing slope of the peak, the wind switched and was now blowing directly from my back. NOT GOOD! I climbed up a little higher, thinking that the wind might carry my scent over the valley
below , if I got near the top of the peak.
I got my tripod and binoculars set up and starting glassing the many little hills, washes, mesquite patches, and cat claw thickets that make this place a Javelina magnet. I usually like to start my morning by quickly looking over all the south facing slopes that are getting the first morning rays of sunshine. Today however, it was still very overcast and looked like it could start raining again at anytime.
Without any place to concentrate my glassing efforts on, I just panned the binoculars to the left as far I could see and started the process of methodically picking apart each feature in the landscape.
After nearly 2 hours of concentrating on every shadow, dark colored rock, and pig shaped cactus in the valley, I was ready to get up and move. I decided to give it one more pass before switching to other side of the mountain.
I was thoroughly convinced that there was a herd of Javelina within eyesight; I just needed to keep looking and stay focused.
Remembering about Dennis’ tough time locating them and their tendencies to stay down in the cover during rainy periods, I really started scouring the washes and catclaw hard.
The 3rd time I nudged my binoculars to the right, I instantly saw a pig walking slowing through the thick mesquite lining a good sized wash. Then another followed in its footsteps, a few yards behind. YES, The Minox 15’s had done it again!
I watched them for a few minutes. The lead pig stopped, turned around, and met the follower head on. They looked agitated at each other. Each one took a turn trying to bite the other one, then they started feeding, but they would stop every few seconds to snap at the side the other. Those were the only 2 pigs I saw from the peak.
It took a few minutes to get my bearings straight and pick out a few land marks to guide me once I was off the peak and down in the flats. The pigs were about 3/4 of a mile to the north from where I was at.
I figured that I should head directly to a small hill that was between me and the pigs as fast as possible, and then to a pile of red rocks that was less than 100 yards from them. From there, I should be able to relocate them and plan my next move.
I got to the rock pile and started glassing. Everything looked much different here than what it looked like from above but after a few minutes I was able to determine exactly where I had seen them last.
The vegetation was very thick and everything looked the same grey color. I could not find them. This has happened to me more than once in this area. I would locate some pigs from a distance only to have them move off before I could get close.
Luck was on my side this time however as I saw a Javelina walk up the side of a small hill 150 yards or so directly in front of me. At this point, I was not sure if the other one had already walked over the top or if it was still down in the thicket between the hillside and me. I decided to circle downwind incase the other one was still in the brush. I didn’t want to risk spooking it.
10 minutes later I was standing exactly where I had last seen the pig before he went over the top. I eased over and looked around but could not see it. There was a deep wash on this side of the hill and a large, steep and long hill on the other side of the wash.
I knew that the pigs could not have got over the big hill yet and was sure they were close by. Just then, I saw some movement at the bottom of the big hill across from me and saw two pigs feeding on grass. They were still over 100 yards away.
I started slowly working my way to the right, to keep the wind in my favor. I looked down as I was sneaking through the brush, to make sure I didn’t step on a crunchy cactus or stick. When I looked up, one of the pigs had stopped eating and was looking directly at me.
At 150 yards, in full camo, and some cover between us, I was sure he had not seen me. The wind was blowing from left to right, so he could not winded me either. He must of heard the rocks grinding under my boots. He wasn’t spooked, but he knew something was not exactly right. I stood motionless, watching him, for nearly 5 minutes.
I then noticed that there were 2 more pigs a little higher up and to the left, then 2 more. Pretty soon, I had counted 8 mature Javelina in the herd.
The majority of them fed off to the left, into the wind. The 2 at the bottom however, lagged behind. I waited for them to feed into a little ravine before starting to move again. I had not gone 10 yards before I saw a pig start trotting away, then another. I knew that something had spooked them, but was sure it was not me this time. A lion or bobcat maybe? Whatever it was, they were nervous. They all scurried over a small rise and were out of site.
I got to the bottom of the wash where the sand was soft and I was able to make up some ground on them by walking in the quiet, soft soil. I headed directly up the hill where they disappeared just a few minutes earlier.
As soon as I rounded the corner, I heard a “wuff”, then another. I saw the back of a Javelina moving along the ridge above me and saw some movement to my right also, They were only 20 yards or so from me, but in the thick catclaw. The one up above me started circling to my left, trying to get down wind. They knew I was there, but didn’t know exactly what I was.
I looked quickly back to my right, to see the snout and eyes of a pig sticking out of the brush. I looked back to my left and saw another pig, this one in a small opening, standing broadside! I slid off the safety, raised the rifle and lined up the sites all in one motion.
Boom! I saw the pig run off through the smoke from the muzzleloader. Did I miss? At less than 20 yards? No freakin’ way!
I quickly reloaded and slipped another cap on the nipple. I knew that pig ran down the hill, but I never saw it go up the other side or run down the wash. He had not run far, whether I hit him or not. I slowly walked over to where he was standing when I shot. I saw his tracks, but no blood. No freakin’ Way!
I followed the tracks about 5 yards and saw blood. Not much, but it was bright red. Another 10 yards with a little blood here and there. Then I rounded a small bush and there it was. Dead as a rock.
I hit it directly behind the front leg, right in the heart. It still managed to get 20 yards downhill! They are tough little guys.
After 20 minutes of screwing with my new “improved” camera, trying to get the self timer to work. I gave up and had to take pictures of the Javelina as it lay on the ground.
Even though the hunt only lasted a few hours, it was one of the best stalks I have ever had.
If you would like to try Javelina hunting or want to increase your odds of getting one next season, contact us to schedule a scouting trip or purchase a map.