The Desert Pig
Listening to the weather report the night before opening day, I knew it would be one of the coldest days seen in southern Arizona in more than 80 years. When I got up at 5 a.m. the porch thermometer read 16 degrees.My son and I readied the truck and gear for the day’s hunt. I knew going into this hunt I had only 2 weekends to get it done. This was Arizona’s HAM hunt: handgun, archery and muzzleloader. Yes, I could opt out and hunt with a smokepole, but hunting with archery gear has and always will be my first love. Sitting on the ridge waiting for the sun to rise, I witnessed one of the most spectacular sunrises I had seen in years. As I glassed for the small gray and black animal commonly called “pigs,” I realized that we were the only living creatures stupid enough to be out in this ridiculously cold weather. Hoping the warmth of the sun would bring the pigs out of their beds, my son and I froze, waiting. After about an hour of constant glassing, I decided we needed to move to another vantage point and continue our pursuit of the little “pig” called javelina. It wasn’t until after noon that they decided to join the party. After a brief stalk I was in position to get the shot I was looking for, except for that one branch about 10 yards in front of me. As I moved to my left to clear the obstacle, I stepped on three little branches that were all but invisible. All I could do was watch as the herd of pigs grew in size from the eight I could see to about 14 that ran over the ridge and out of sight. The rest of the day was used in trying to relocate the herd without success. After arriving home around 9:30 p.m., I heard that my brother, Rick, had been successful in the area he hunted. THE DESERT PIG The second and third days of the hunt were spent battling the weather, and watching the Border Patrol do battle with the illegal immigrants that frequent the area. During the past 10 years, hunting in southern Arizona has become increasingly more dangerous as the illegals and the drug traffickers become more prevalent and bolder. I’ve found numerous illegals and several bundles of marijuana during the past 2 years scouting and hunting southern Arizona. The second Saturday was found to be a more pleasant day with a low of 38 degrees. I was back in the same area from the previous weekend and eager for some payback. I had a 5 mph wind from the east, and once again they were not wanting to play early in the day. After glassing for 2 hours without seeing any javelina, I decided to slowly work the ridge they were on last time. So as not to overlook the possibility that they were bedded in any cut, I slowly worked a zigzag pattern from cut to cut, walking into the wind, being sure to glass every bush and tree they could be bedded under. After about an hour I spotted two javelinas walking opposite me on the far ridge and I quickly back-tracked 100 yards to get ahead of them. As I eased closer to the edge of the ravine for a 20-yard shot, I spotted them as they came around a small bend in the ravine. They were only 30 yards away. I eased to my left to clear a small mesquite tree. As I drew back, the javelina bedded right on the trail. I ranged it at 23 yards and was going to shoot when I asked myself, where’s the other one? It was answered when I pulled up my bino and saw the other pig bedded right on the other side of my target. I couldn’t risk hitting both. It was a waiting game. As the time passed and I grew more impatient, I heard two juveniles “arguing” over something trivial to my left. What I saw would surprise anyone, as the herd grew from two to 12. I suddenly had pigs at 10, 15 and 23 yards away. All were bedded in piles with no shot opportunity anywhere. Again I waited. After standing there for more than an hour, my knees and back started to feel the strain they were under, so I knelt down to take off my pack and rest my knees. Minutes later there was a rifle shot from about 1,000 yards away. That got the biggest pig to stand up and move around. I drew back and rose up to take the shot at 15 yards. The arrow flew true and accurate; the javelina ran about 25 yards and fell over. The other pigs didn’t know what had just taken place and stayed there. I had pigs all around me for more than 30 minutes, even while I set up to take pictures. Javelina hunting Arizona style is rough and tough, but if you just hang in there you will persevere.