Last week, I noted that success in the handgun-archery-muzzleloader javelina hunts in Mohave County is often dictated by the weather.
And wow, was that statement ever validated by the weather last weekend as the hunt opened.
Mother Nature stepped in and decided to put a lot of wind in the area, followed by a large dose of the cold white stuff.
In particular, a number of us were out in the field in Unit 18B, which is located east of Wikieup.
It wasn't just breezy. Nope, it was downright blowing, with winds in excess of 30 mph being the norm.
But that didn't stop local sportsman Jay Chan from glassing up a small herd of six javelina on a hillside almost a mile away soon after the sun came up.
Jay and first-time javelina hunter Don Tirpak of Buckeye made a beeline for the herd. I decided to sneak in above the herd, which were feeding in a large ravine on an east-facing slope.
I set up the video camera on a hefty tripod, hoping to catch some of the action.
The tripod and camera, however, kept wanting to tip over in the high winds. So I had to hold the camera to get some footage of the feeding pigs.
There was one extremely large boar in the group, and since we were having our annual Big Pig jackpot, I wanted to take him. He looked like he'd provide some good sausage, and he could be a money pig, too.
I decided to forgo any more videotaping and got set up with my trusty Savage Striker bolt-action pistol in .22-250 caliber.
It wasn't long before Chan and Tirpak appeared just 50 yards down the ridge from a stand of Palo Christi where the pigs had decided to go to take a midday nap.
Suddenly, the big boar became aware of the hunters' presence and out of the brush he ran. First he went up the mountain, then he turned and came toward me. At a range of 100 yards, he stopped momentarily and I fired. I hit a small catclaw branch. The pig ran below me after the shot, but suddenly turned and ran toward me as if to dare me to shoot at him again.
At 70 yards, he stopped and turned broadside as I settled in for a shot.
"I got him!" I thought - moments before a huge cloud of dust boiled up at his feet and off he scampered, never to be seen again.
But I wasn't the only one who missed.
My friend Don had two shots at a pig at seven steps with his Ruger .357 Magnum single action revolver.
Neither of his shots connected!
Later that day, with the winds blowing even harder, Chan glassed up four pigs near the top of a steep mesa. He and a friend, California resident Geno Sprofera, went after them - only to be busted by the swirling wind as they got to within 300 yards of the pigs.
That was the theme for the next three days.
Friday night the snow came, and we woke up Saturday to about two inches of the white stuff.
That day was cold, wet and still windy. No one in our camp saw anything.
Sunday dawned cold and clear. More importantly, the wind had abated.
Some of the guys in camp left for home, but Chan, Page McDonald and I headed out to look for the little gray ghosts of the desert.
As usual, Chan found pigs (three of them, to be exact), and he passed on taking a sure shot to let McDonald have a crack at them. Unfortunately, the wind, which had now came up, once more gave us away at a distance of just 64 yards, and off the three porkers went without a shot being fired.
Sunday evening, Chan and I went back out and right before dark Chan located a group of five pigs at more than 700 yards near the top of a mountain.
I videotaped the pigs heading to their bedding area with plans on being there at dawn on Monday. We went to bed that night with a clear sky full of twinkling stars.
Monday morning, we awoke to find that Mother Nature decided she wasn't done with us. All over everything was another inch of snow.
Javelinas generally do not like snow or cold weather. They have only coarse hair, and no fine underfur that keeps most animals warm.
They tend to stay in their bedding areas until it warms up.
Jay and I headed back to the area where we had last seen the five pigs.
We glassed, but we couldn't find them. But then I got lucky when I spotted three pigs on another hillside just over 1,000 yards away!
I decided that these were Jay's pigs, and left my pistol in the Arctic Cat.
All I wanted to do was videotape the action of Jay taking a porker with his Savage Striker pistol, also a .22-250 caliber.
As luck would have it, the wind was blowing in our face, and the sun was shining bright and into the eyes of the pigs. I felt we wouldn't have any trouble getting to within 100 yards.
But once again, Lady Luck was not with us and Mother Nature took control of the situation.
We were moving ever so slowly up the hillside and were 190 yards from the pigs when we felt the wind switch and start blowing right up our backs.
The big boar's head snapped up and he looked down the mountain right at us.
His nose, which is his first line of defense, started twitching as he got a snoot full of human smell, and within seconds he moved his small group into the safety of a giant boulder pile.
Jay and I were finished. We both had projects that required our attention back in Kingman.
But we are not done. The season is open until Feb. 17. We are going back!
Posted: Thursday, February 14, 2013
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Another sporty way to get them is leave your gate open at night and they'll run into your back yard to go after the dog food.
Posted: Wednesday, February 13, 2013
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Nice story, Don Martin. Too often we hear that hunting is not so much a sport as game as no real defense to the hunter's modern weapons, ATVs,GPS, and what not. This javelina hunt illustrates that nature provides more than enough natural defenses for game and that perhaps man is at a slight disadvantage in this ages-old drama. I'm not a hunter but I realize the effort and skills needed to "bring the bacon home".