The 2015 Spring Handgun Archery Muzzleloader (HAM) javelina hunt came to a close on Sunday, and for one Kingman family, the results were outstanding.
Jay Chan, his son Ryan and brother Alan all had HAM javelina tags for Unit 18B, which is located east and north of U.S. 93 in the Wikieup area.
For Jay and Alan, it was the first of two javelina tags that they have; one for the HAM hunt and another for the upcoming general rifle season that opens Friday.
For Ryan, it was his second tag. He had drawn an archery tag for the same area and had picked up a leftover HAM tag for his second.
When it comes to obtaining pig tags and then filling them, mention the Chans' names and it is almost a given that they will bring home the bacon.
Each year the Chans camp with me and a number of other pig hunters along Sycamore Ranch Road.
We've camped there for many years. It is easy to find and the road there is generally good. The camp serves as a base of operations and is where we weigh in javelina who are entered into our annual Big Pig contest.
For this year's HAM hunt we had about 10 hunters in our contest.
As a matter of record, we always try to target the boars and taking one or two out of a herd won't cause a problem.
It is well-known that javelina will live their entire lives in about a square mile area. If you do your homework, you can sometimes figure out the area where these collared peccaries roam.
Over the many years that the Chan family has hunted in this area, they've dialed in a number of herds, and on opening day they have a good idea on where to go.
But this year, the hunt was going to be just a little different.
My friend Jay, who is one of the healthiest guys I know, had a major heart attack just a few weeks before the hunt was to start.
Fortunately, through the grace of God and modern medicine, Jay survived and this veteran sportsman was determined to go on the hunt.
As a matter of fact, within a few days of this serious medical event, Jay called and wanted to go out and assist on a juniors-only javelina hunt I was assisting on. My answer was "NO way!"
Even though he was doing well when the pig hunt started and would be under the watchful eye of his son and brother, there was never any doubt that he would be in camp.
His doctor said no strenuous climbing or long walks. That meant changing the way Jay would hunt this year, but there was no question that he was going to be out there.
Ryan had assisted his nephew Christian Overhulser on a juniors-only hunt a week before the HAM hunt started and he had located two herds of pigs.
One he thought would be easily accessible to his father, so the plan was the Chan clan would be at that spot on opening day.
As it turned out, Ryan and Alan didn't even get to set up their binoculars before they heard the words that I have heard time and time again while hunting with Jay: "I've got pigs!"
Sure enough, Jay had located a herd of about 12 pigs roughly 400 yards away on a cactus-covered hillside.
A plan was made that Jay and Alan would try for the pigs while Ryan kept an eye on them from a rocky outcrop.
Jay would be using his venerable Savage Striker, a bolt-action pistol chambered in .22-250 caliber topped with a 3X9 scope.
Alan would be using a scoped .50-caliber muzzleloader.
Jay and Alan made their way up where the pigs were feeding. Jay decided to let Alan take the first shot.
At Alan's shot, which dropped a good-sized pig, Jay fired at another big boar in the herd.
The shot missed, but his second one did not.
Ryan started up the side of the hill to bring down his dad's pig. After getting pictures and the field dressing chores done, they started back down the mountain.
On the way back, Ryan spotted a single pig walking up the mountain.
He borrowed his uncle's muzzleloader and dropped the huge boar with a single shot. His pig weighed 41 pounds, 6 ounces, and is the current leader of the AWO Big Pig contest.