Javelina: Tailor Made for the Western Bowhunter

DSC00084-01 (1)Let’s face it.  Bowhunting can be and is an extremely difficult endeavor.  It doesn’t matter if you are an expert or a beginner, life with the bow constantly challenges us.  My biggest hurdle when I started out, and now for that matter, is getting close enough for a shot.  This is why we hunt with a bow though, is it not?  We love the intimate connection that is shared between predator and prey.  Being close enough to hear every step that the animal takes is all too alluring.  In order to get good at something though, we need to have ample opportunity to practice it.  There are many days when I don’t even find a buck to stalk though.  How can you practice something as much as you can, if you don’t have the opportunity to do so?

2 years ago I went on my first archery javelina hunt and let me tell you, my life as a bowhunter changed from there.  A year into seriously bowhunting, I hadn’t released an arrow at anything but the target in my backyard.  I was and am still learning about the art of spot and stalk, because it is in fact an art.  Some people are naturals and some have 2 left feet.  Beating out the wits of a weary mule deer can be a hair pulling experience that leaves you hungry for more every time.  With javelina though, that is the case to a MUCH LESS degree.  For that reason, I think they are absolutely tailor made for the western bowhunter and more specifically, for the new archer.

What is a Javelina?

Most people around where I live call javelina pigs, skunk pigs, or stink pigs.  The reason being is because when threatened, they emit an odor from a scent gland on their backs and it smells exactly like a skunk.  Truth be told though, they are not pigs at all.  They are actually from the peccary family, so technically they are a rodent.  These little guys stand only about 2 feet tall and weigh in the range of 35-55 pounds.  Javelina usually are found in large groups of 10 or more and they are very protective of their herd.  This isn’t any cause for alarm, because they can’t see worth a darn.  I have had javelina run past me at mere feet away and not even look at me.  Yes, FEET AWAY!  For that reason alone, they are an excellent adversary for the beginning bowhunter.

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I laugh at how I used to stalk these animals.  I would treat them almost like mule deer.  Take my boots off, drop my pack, and try to be as quiet as a mouse.  If you wish to still do that, then by all means, go ahead.  I will tell you though, it isn’t necessary.  Because, of their poor vision, getting into bow range of them isn’t too tasking.  As long as you have the wind in your favor and are moderately quiet, you should be able to sneak right into the herd.

The best way, in my opinion, to effectively hunt these animals is by glassing and spot and stalk.  They can usually be found on sunny hillsides in the morning as they warm themselves up and feed.  See, javelina don’t have an undercoat, so they hate the cold and the wind.  If it is a windy day, you are going to want to be glassing canyon bottoms(washes) or the leeward sides of the hills(non windy side).  They can be tough to spot, due to their small stature, but once you spot them, you can usually rest assured that they aren’t going to go too far.  From there, just get the wind in your favor and head over there.

Another way to hunt javies is to call.  Yes, they can be called in and it is a gas!  There are calls specifically made for them, but I would expect any distress call would work.  Remember when I said they are very protective of their herd?  Well, that includes their young.  If you can mimic a shrieking little red(baby javelina) a lot of times those javelina will come running!  There are some pretty awesome videos online of this.  Another type of call that works is making a “WHOOF” sound with your own voice.  They make this sound when threatened as well.  Should you spook the herd in some way, you can bring them right back to you by making this noise.  I have done this multiple times and can attest that it works like a charm.

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So, there you have it.  Archery hunting javelina is a great way to introduce a new archer into the world of bowhunting and have fun doing it.  Tags are relatively easy to acquire, so there is no excuse to not be hunting them every year. Also, because of their predictable nature, you really don’t have to worry about these guys moving out of an area once you spot them.  This gives you all the time you need to plan a stalk.   Their bad eyesight gives the inexperienced bowhunter plenty of leeway to make a successful stalk, learn while doing so, and have a blast.  On top of being a fun animal to hunt, they can make some great table fare, if they are prepared correctly, despite what others might tell you.  One of my favorite times of the year here in AZ is the month of January.  The weather is beautiful and you can hunt javelina AND deer with your bow at the same time in a lot of units!  Give it a look!  Let me know about your javelina stories below in the comments!

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