Javelina hunter takes it to the wire
KINGMAN - Many local sportsmen and women in Mohave County hunt with cameras as well as firearms or bows and arrows, taking photos of animals, sunrises, sunsets and other items of interest.
Kingman resident Peggy Ballard and her husband, Dave, do both.
They go afield sometimes with just a still camera or video camera, and then at times they go hunting with a firearm or bow and arrow. But no matter what the circumstances, they always carry a camera.
This year, they decided to give javelina hunting a try with their bows and arrows during the January season.
"We didn't see any pigs during that hunt," Peggy said.
The couple likes to go after predators and just a week later, while in the field on a predator hunt, they did see a herd of javelina. All they could do was take pictures as the herd scampered away.
Dave went to the local office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department and found the last leftover javelina tag in a unit they like. Instead of getting the tag for himself, he had the tag issued to his wife.
That hunt didn't start until the third week of February.
In the weeks prior to Peggy's general hunt, the Ballards were in the field using an electronic caller to try to lure gray foxes - while also looking for javelina.
"We saw fox and we took some pictures of them, and we saw some pig sign, but once again, we didn't see any pigs!" she said.
Finally, the general season opened and the couple took to the field again. Peggy had a Remington AR-15 rifle in .223 caliber and they planned to use their electronic call to try to bring in some javelina.
This is a tried and true technique. Many times javelina, when they hear a distress call, will respond very aggressively to the sound.
As it turned out, the hunt for the most part didn't go very well. Then Lady Luck smiled and quickly the hunt became an exciting adventure.
It was the last day of the season, and Peggy had experienced a tough day at her job. She is a schoolteacher at a local elementary school.
"I didn't get off work until 4 p.m., so we had just a couple of hours left," she said. "We went to an area where we had seen pigs in the past and turned on the call. Almost immediately, a gray fox came in."
They took pictures of the curious fox. As the sun started to set, Peggy said to her husband, "Well that's it. We might as well go."
But before they could leave, Dave spotted the backs of a group of javelina close by, moving through the brush.
"I couldn't believe it!" Peggy said.
A pig herd had moved in and were now very, very close.
"I picked out the front pig and fired," Peggy said. "The pigs scattered and started woofing and huffing as they looked around."
Peggy and Dave even had time to take some photos of the pigs that stopped nearby. But they just sat and waited for the herd to leave.
They found that her pig, a big boar, hadn't gone far after the shot.
Peggy said she will have a rug made from her first javelina, and they are utilizing the meat to feed their family.
Peggy said she is looking forward to their next family hunting adventure.
"Being in the outdoors, photographing wildlife and hunting, has become a real passion of mine," she said.