Sunday, January 27, 2008

Pig In a Poke


Well, I'm not a "blogger", but I'll do my best...Last week I went up to Flagstaff to go Javelina hunting with Chris, my cousin Heather's husband. Javelina are wild high desert pigs and they weigh about 40-70 pounds. Chris is a Flagstaff fireman and an accomplished hunter and guide and he volunteered last year to take me Javelina hunting. Little did he know, I was going to make him eat those words... We were hunting near Sedona, AZ - known for its beautiful red-rock scenery. Before we left for our first day of hunting, he told me he had been out twice already and had seen pigs both days and seeing pigs everyday was the norm. Once again, I would make him eat those words... We hunted using a "spot and stalk" method, meaning we looked through binoculars until we found the pigs and then we would stalk them until within bow range (less than 60 yards) and try to get a shot. We spent the first day "glassing" (looking through binoculars) for about 6-8 hours. The glassing consisted of sitting on a hilltop and picking out the terrain below us, one bush at a time until we were sure there weren't any pigs, then we would shift the binoculars and start on a new area. We would spend 2-3 hours on a hilltop before we move onto the next hilltop. Glassing is very tedious and difficult, but I learned that it can be rewarding when you find animals. To make it even better, the temperature was cool (in the 50-60s), but there was a strong wind which made it difficult to stay warm and concentrate. Between the two of us on the first day, we spent about 12-16 hours glassing and didn't see a single animal. Pigs 1, Us 0. Day Two: More Glassing, more animals, and less wind. We spotted several feeding and bedded deer. Chris also found a couple of coyotes bedded down near some scrub brush and I decided to try and stalk them. I grabbed my bow and suited up and spent 45 minutes moving about 50 yards and inch at a time. I knew I was close (I thought I was about 60 yards away) and so I got into position for a shot even though I couldn't see the coyotes. I kept looking but I couldn't find then and I got impatient and stood up and waited for them to get up so I could shoot. As it turns out, while I was looking farther away the entire pack of coyotes (about 5-6) stood up thirty yards away! I think we were both surprised that I had managed to sneak within 30 yards! I didn't get a coyote, but I did manage to make a good stalk. While we were driving out at dusk after another unsuccessful day we saw some pigs feeding by the road. We stalked them as quickly as we could but with the rapidly fading light only Chris got a shot and he missed by a couple of inches below the pig. Pigs 2, Us 0. Day Three: Started off with the quote "I've never gone a day without seeing a pig, let alone two! Today is the day!" Sounds good, but I had heard the same quote on the start of day two as well... The weather was colder and windier than the first two and we were miserable! Luckily after a few hours of glassing Chris spotted what looked like 5-6 pigs feeding and sheltered up under a tree to get out of the wind. The pigs were on the side of a hill a few hundred yards away. Unfortunately, the wind was blowing in an awkward direction and the hillside was covered in some really NASTY stuff called "Cat's Claw". I could go on for a day about how much this stuff sucks, but the name says it all - this bush is like being attacked by a hundred pissed-off cats on steroids. We stalked in together and made the most of the wind - although it was difficult stalking wind, it covered the sounds of our approach through the cat claw. We stalked to within 30 yards of them before we saw them milling around at the base of the tree. As we worked our way for a shot, the pigs finally figured out something was up and started to investigate. I took a shot at a pig that I saw and Chris was seconds behind and he shot at a pig under the tree. Boy, when we shot, those pigs freaked out and scattered. There must have been a dozen under the tree that bolted for cover. After a few minutes of pandemonium the place calmed down and we surveyed our work. We had both killed pigs and they died a few feet away from where they were shot. It took 2 1/2 days of hard glassing to find the pigs and we had successfully tagged-out in just over an hour after we found the pigs! Well that is it for my blog entry. Next blog entry should be after deer season!

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