Chasing the Winter Blues Away
by Bryan Beckstead
In February of 2016, I had the opportunity to go on a little bit different hunt. I was invited to hunt the Javelina of Arizona. My friend Don Martin of Arizona Wildlife Outfitters, had invited some friends and I to hunt Javelina while on a Kaibab Deer Hunt. Plans were made for either the HAM Hunt which is your choice of either, Handgun- Archery or Muzzle loader (HAM), or the Rifle Hunt.
With the recent changes to Utah’s Muzzle Loader Law with respect to magnified scopes (which are now allowed as of 2016). I was really excited to try to harvest a Javelina with my muzzle loader. Arizona Law also allows magnification on muzzle loaders as well. I had purchased a 3x9 Bushnell Elite Bone Collector with the BDC Reticle, and it was sighted in and ready to go. I shoot a 50 cal Thompson Omega. My partner for this hunt was a longtime friend and Hunter Dan Driggs.
Dan and I loaded his 4Runner early Thursday morning for the drive to “Pig Heaven”. We arrived several hours later with plenty of time for a little scouting. The hunt was to take place at a fairly high elevation and the recent snowstorm had left several inches of snow up on top where we were to hunt. Friday, we were up early for the drive to the top. Dan and I were greeted by plenty of mud and snow. We hiked to our pre-determined glassing spot. After several hours of burning glass for Javelina. We found not a one. Dan and I split up and hiked a couple of different canyons with the hope of spotting some game. It was cold and really muddy. I cut several sets of coyote tracks and Dan cut what he believed was a set of mountain lion tracks. We drove a little farther up the mountain only to find more snow and mud with several deep puddles. We used 4 wheel drive most of the day.
We returned to camp in time for a sandwich and a drink, and we found out that the camp just over the hill had connected with three Javelina that morning, so our hopes for our hunt remained high. Dan and I returned to the field for the afternoon and evening hunt; we decided to hunt at a lower elevation. We glassed close to a windmill and water tank until dark. We did see several sets of tracks at that location just no pigs.
Although I’m not sure why Don Martin decided to take Dan and I out on Saturday, I am really glad he did. I mentioned before that Don owns Arizona Wildlife Outfitters. Don has hunted this area for Javelina for several years, and he is very familiar with the terrain. He is also a very experienced “glasser” and hunter. We set up for another morning of burning glass. With the size of our quarry being at 30-40 pounds as well as their habitat being very rocky, steep and thick terrain. I hadn’t seen a Javelina yet. Don told me to be patient and keep “glassing.” He said to look for moving rocks. As I was glassing with my 10x50 Leicas, the glare from the cactus as I scanned was a lot like flashes of a camera going off in my eyes. I took some adjustment on my part.
After a few hours Dan Driggs had a small group of Javies spotted. They were about 700 yards away on the side of a steep hillside. As Dan and I made our way for what we hoped was an opportunity to shoot one, Dan noted that they had gone around the hillside. As Dan and I neared the top of the hill I dropped both my pack and my jacket. It was getting warm. Dan and I made our way to the last known spot of the Javies, but they had disappeared. We were trying to be as quiet as we could as Javies have excellent hearing. After looking and looking, we were unable to locate the herd. Don radioed me and told me to blow my Coyote call. I squealed a few times on it, and we could hear the Javelina clacking their tusks and snorting just like pigs do. Because of this, we were able to locate them. The pigs had gone down to the bottom of the hillside and were starting up the other side. The pigs were feeding and moving quite slowly as we tried cutting the distance. We were at 200 plus yards as we dropped down the hill to a more comfortable range. Dan and I ended up making a bit of noise which made the pigs nervous. We finally found one good rest at about the 160 yard mark. I shot and missed and Dan although he had only one shot (he had dropped all of his powder in a puddle and got it wet), he made his shot count. We had one pig down. Meanwhile, I was quickly reloading with Dan’s help. I set up on his tree for my rest and got a second chance, and I redeemed myself with a kill.
We had one knife between the two of us, so Dan ended up field dressing both animals. We set up, took some pictures, and then returned to camp for the big “weigh in”.
We thought my pig was quite a bit larger than Dan’s, but it ended up that they were really close in weight. Dan’s javie weighed 39.74 pounds. Mine weighed 40.05 pounds.
I had a great time hunting with Don and his friends. I sure hope I get an Invite for next year. Many thanks to Don Martin of Arizona Wildlife Outfitters and my hunting partner, Dan Driggs. I want to Thank Don Martin of Arizona Wildlife Outfitters, for the Hunt I would also like to thank my Hunting Partner for the trip Dan Driggs.
I found a new way to Chase those Winter Blues Away!!