“Breaking the Ice” Part 2 2015
After a week at work, I was more than ready to get back out there and try again with these javelina. In that week, I got a brand new QAD drop away rest put on my bow and spent a good amount of time at the range making sure everything was “dialed in” for my hunt. This time I would be joined by my younger brother Jake. Jake loves hunting just as much as I do and I cherish the time that we get to spend together out in the mountains. Ol’ Dad got us hooked on the outdoors at a very young age. Even though he had a deer tag in his pocket, he was mainly just coming along to hangout and help his big brother get a javelina. Gotta love that.
3:30 a.m. was here before we knew it and we were off to get some breakfast and make the trek down south to get into the pig country we would be hunting. On our way down we reminisced about past hunts and future hunts to come. Sometimes, it seems like hunting is all that we talk about together. In no way do I find that a bad thing though. When you love something, you love it. End of story.
Our arrival was a tad bit late to where we would be hunting, but our spirits were high. On our way into the glassing spot we were greeted by 4 mule deer does 65 yards away. Too bad there wasn’t a buck with them! We watched these deer for a bit to let them pass through the area. They were what stood between us and where we were going.
The snow that covered the hillsides the last time I was here was no more. With the temperature increase I wondered how this would impact the animal movement. We glassed for about an hour and a half when we decided to move down the ridge for a different view. As we passed through a nearby saddle I caught the scent of the critter that we were after. There were javelina in the area. Taking note of the wind, we determined that the smell was coming from down a draw below the saddle. This draw was all too familiar to me. For this is the draw where I missed the 45 yard shot the last time I was here.
The plan was to stay up high above the draw and work our way into the wind parallel to it. We went maybe 60 yards and I spotted a lone javelina about a mile away down the draw. From what most have told me about these guys, finding them is the hardest part of this hunt. I was elated to know that we had javelina in the glass not 2 hours into the hunt. Here we go again.
We beat feet as quickly as we could to close the distance, not knowing where they might go in the meantime. I wasn’t too worried. It seems that once you locate them, they will not travel too far from that area. Still being a newbie bowhunter though, I couldn’t help but hope they didn’t go anywhere. It’s funny what adrenaline can do to a person. You think of some of the ridiculous things that you have done when your adrenaline was pumping, look back at it and say, “What in the world was I thinking?!”
Before we knew it, we were just 100 yards from where we last saw the pigs. “There they are!”, I said. It was such a relief to see them again. We dropped our packs and the stalk was on. I stayed out in front with my brother in tow. To my knowledge, all that I had to do was reach the top of the hill that they were on and they would be right below me. This was true, kind of. After getting to the top of the hill we realized that they had actually moved to the bottom of the wash and were starting to bed down. Personally, I find it quite funny watching a javelina bed down. They literally only drop about 6 inches and they are bedded. Jake stayed up on top of the hill while I made my way down toward the herd. Something caught me out of the corner of my eye though. Directly across the canyon, there were more javelina. After some thinking, I decided to change my plan and go after these guys instead of the ones at the bottom of the wash. I did this for fear that I would get winded by them while pursuing the herd at the bottom. I am glad that I did.
Slowly, I crept down the hill. This was a pretty steep hill. In fact I thought for sure that because of all of the noise from slipping, these pigs were gonna bust me. About 3/4 of the way down the hill, the javelina I had focused in on stood up. Right now, I am about 80 yards away. I froze behind a bush and just waited. For reasons I can’t be sure of, this animal started walking right toward me! It moved down the hill it was on, crossed the wash and started coming up the hill that I was on. My rangefinder read 25 yards on a bush where I thought the javi might walk out of. I came to full draw following the animal through the maze of sticks as it moved my way. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the javelina came out into the opening and stood broadside. My pin settled in on the vitals and I slowly squeezed the trigger. Before I knew it, I saw my arrow deflect off of some rocks right in back of where the animal stood. The lone javelina exploded with a burst of energy and sprinted away from me back up the draw. Right before I saw my arrow deflect off of the rocks, I heard a strange sound. It sounded like the javelina made a loud exhale right when I shot. I wondered if that meant I hit it in the lungs. On the other hand though, I saw my arrow deflect off of those rocks. Personally, I didn’t know what to think. Did I miss again? It all happened so fast. I tried to replay it over and over again in my head to gain any bit of intel that I might have overlooked. In almost every bowhunting story I have ever read, people always mentioned that all too familiar sound of when their arrow hits an animal. THWACK!! I didn’t hear this, which worried me. Someone else did though.
Jake came barreling down the hill and told me that I hammered it! He said that through his binos he saw a big red spot right on the vitals and he indeed heard the THWACK of my arrow hitting the animal! So, we decided to look for my arrow, but turned up empty handed. We returned to where the animal took off after the shot to follow the tracks. Hopefully, we would find blood.
Up until this point, all I know is missing animals with my bow. It seemed far fetched for some reason that I would actually be able to harvest an animal with archery tackle. That was until I saw a funny looking rock down the trail we were on. It indeed had blood on it. Bright red blood with bubbles. I was speechless. We decided to head up to our packs and have some lunch to give the animal some time. After all, we wanted to make sure it was a done deal.
Lunch really didn’t have any taste on this day. My stomach twisted and turned still in disbelief of what had just happened. Maybe, I was officially going to be able to call myself a bowhunter? A couple of phone calls later, with our packs on our backs, the decent began down into the wash to track my kill. We had good blood down the whole trail! Suddenly, Jake found my arrow covered in blood about 40 yards in back of where I shot the beast. That was a good feeling. As we worked our way through the labyrinth of catclaw and mesquite, it became incredibly apparent to me how easily one might be able to lose a downed animal even with a good blood trail down here. After losing the blood and finding it again a handful of times, I looked up through the brush in front of me and saw what looked like a barrel cactus that had been knocked over. This barrel cactus had a bunch of red on it? It was no barrel cactus. I had just found my first archery kill! Walking up to my javelina told me that I indeed got a lung shot. There were still bubbles coming up from the wound that was left from my arrow. It was a complete pass through on a nice mature sow.
We took our photos and gave each other hugs filled with joy and accomplishment. This truly was a magical moment for us. It was the first time that either of us had taken an animal with a bow. It was also Jake’s first time packing an animal out and while it wasn’t a big buck, it was still a memory that will live on in us forever. No matter how many deer, elk, mountain lions, bears, or any other big game animals we harvest, we will always remember “Breaking the Ice” on that first archery javelina.