The weather was cloudy and threatening rain as we set up
camp. The weather forecast was not encouraging saying that we could expect
periods of rain for the next few days. The HAM hunt (Handgun, Archery and
Muzzleloaders only) for Javelina in Arizona was starting the next day
and we wanted to get the camp set up before bad weather hit. We had found a campsite well
above the washes with some wind protection from the west and had proceeded to
work at getting the tents put up, a tarp raised, campfire pit dug, and all the
things you need (like firewood) for a camp that you may be in for 6 or 7 days.
Tom and I had driven out from Missouri the day before and
met up with Joe. Together the 3 of us made our way back into the
hills. I was the only one who had hunted the area or had an idea where we
were going. It is extremely rough country and the "road" into it
is more of a memory than a fact, but we made it in with no problems. We looked
for a good campsite and soon found one in the midst of the prickly pear forest.
Within short order we were unpacked, tents readied, and Joe had a fire going
with coffee boiling. As night fell it began sprinkling and we alternated
setting beneath the tarp and rushing out to the fire to warm up between light
rain showers. We finally turned in and fell asleep to the sound of rain on
The morning was cold (we were above 4000 feet elevation)
with scattered showers around us. After breakfast we loaded up and headed
out. Tom and I went down the canyon ahead of us while Joe went up the
canyon towards the east. We figured we would meet up later on as we worked
around the hills in front of us. Tom and I split up but stayed in sight of
each other and worked the canyons, moving slowly and glassing the
hillsides. An hour or so later we met on the top of a ridge with a large
hill to our front. I told Tom to take the left around the hill and I would
go to the right. This had always been a good area so I told him to take it
slow and watch closely. All this time it would rain softly for a little
while and then let up. The clouds boiled overhead and we never did see the
As I went to the right Tom worked his way to the left and
soon found himself on a very steep hillside overlooking a deep rugged
canyon. The hillsides are covered with Spanish grass, mesquite trees, and catclaw so thick
it is hard to move through. At one point he stopped thinking it looked
like good pig country and as he looked down he found he was standing in the
midst of a large area of pig dung! About that time he heard someone
whistling and finally located Joe who was across the canyon. Joe signaled
to him that there were pigs all around him and began trying to direct Tom into
them. The hillside was an angle of about 70 degrees and was hard to get
across, even where the vegetation was not thick .. which was rare. Tom
began to see movement in the catclaw and the brush around him but could not get
a clean view of the pigs even though he was within 10 feet of some of them!
About that time I came around the mountain on the right
side, across a small wash from the hillside that Tom was on. I could see
Joe signaling him and pulled my sixgun from the shoulder holster. As
Tom was moving slowly through the brush trying to get a clean shot at a pig I
came down the other side maybe 50 yards from him. At one point Joe yelled
that he saw 8 or 9 go out behind Tom and run off down the canyon. He
figured the pigs were gone but Tom could still see movement in the grass and
catclaw even though he could not see the pigs clearly.
Joe started down the mountain to make his way across to
where we were and about that time two Javelina ran out from behind Tom and
crossed the wash, coming my direction. I did not want to shoot towards Tom or Joe and let them go on by. I looked around and got Tom
located in my mind and saw that Joe was out of sight. Where he came down
the canyon was out of the line of fire and I continued moving slowly down the
side of the hill with my gun in my hand. Suddenly a pig ran out from in
front of Tom and came across the wash at me. It ran through the grass and
brush about 10 feet from me and when it ran through a small clearing I popped it
with the sixgun.
It was a "snap" shot ... just throw the gun up,
look across it and fire.
The pig was running from my left to my right across in
front of me and I shot too quickly, hitting it in the head under the right eye
instead of the body where I wanted to hit it. At the shot the little pig
flipped over squalling and splattering blood around the hillside. I
jumped over some brush trying to line the sights on the pig but it got up and began
running away from me to my right. I swung the sixgun and fired. At
the shot I saw a branch break ahead and to the left of the pig and eared the
hammer back and shot again. The pig ran about 8 or 10 more feet and lay
down behind a mesquite tree in fairly thick grass.
I moved around and behind the tree, trying to see the
pig and at that point saw Joe coming up directly in my line of fire. I
lowered the hammer on the sixgun and kept it pointed away from Joe. At
the same time I yelled at him to move to his right, that there was pig between
us. He could see it clearly and told me not to worry, that it was dead.
Joe and Tom went on up over the hill trying to see which
way the pigs went and I went to working cleaning the critter. I found
the shot in the head had gone in under the right eye and exited the lower left
jaw, the bullet cutting the tongue almost in half as it passed through.
I wasn't sure at the time where I had hit it with the other shots but could
tell a bullet had gone through the intestines and the stomach.
I got the pig cleaned and carried it up the hill to meet Tom
and Joe. We discussed which way the pigs had gone and they decided to
follow them while I packed mine back to camp. I had to climb down into
the steep rough canyon, then up the other side and make my way back to camp a
mile or so below us. The hike back was rough in the first part but
fairly easy at the last. About halfway back the rain began to get
heavier and by the time I got near camp I was getting pretty soaked. As I got back to camp and prepared to skin the beast
I heard a shot, then a series of shots. I was sure hoping they got into
I skinned the pig taking the head and hide off. I
found I had hit it twice... once through the head of course. The other
shot had taken it in the right rear hip and ranged down and forward. It
exited the left front chest, then went through the left front leg missing the
bone. That could have been the shot that I saw break the branch.
Or that one may have missed and the next one hit it. I did not feel too
badly. Two hits out of three on a small fast moving critter. The
shot into the right rear completely shattered the leg bone into a multitude of
fragments, went on through the intestines, the left lung and out. Pretty
good performance for a low-speed retro cartridge for you see, I was hunting
with the 480 Achilles! The load was a 290 gr. soft cast bullet at 870
(You can read about the cartridge here)
By noon the rain was coming down steadily and Tom and
Joe soon showed up back at camp all wet. They had gotten into the pigs
again but neither one of them connected. They had an exciting hunt
but the little critters managed to elude them.
Joe had prior commitments and had to leave for home about 11
AM. He is a good camp comrade and I would hunt with him anyplace.
By afternoon the temperature dropped and the wind picked
up and it got miserable. It was too wet to stay by the fire so we went
to bed early. It rained and blew all night long and we got up to heavy
fog and rain. Saturday we were stuck in camp with high winds, rain, and
clouds so low they were on the tent tops. Saturday night was ugly.
The wind drove the rain through any crack in my tent and the bottom of my
sleeping bag was soaked. The tent began to build up moisture and the walls
started to perspire. So much for a cheap tent in bad weather!
Sunday morning we got up and gave a prayer of thanks for surviving the
night. It was not sunny but at least the rain had stopped and it was a
We hunted hard on Sunday and just were in the wrong
places at the wrong time. It seems the pigs stayed on the opposite side
of the mountain from us. As we came around the south side a guy hunting
with a muzzle-loading rifle popped one on the north side. Such is
hunting. We put in a hard day of it and after supper sat out under clear
skies and watched the stars and enjoyed the fire until about 11 PM.
There was no wind and while it was cool, the night was wonderful.
Monday morning was clear and bright and soon the sun was
shining. We ate and then headed out again and hunted the hills thoroughly
until about noon without seeing any Javelina. We came back to a camp
that was dried out from the wonderful sunshine and listened to a weather
report that a winter storm was heading our way. Tom said that he had
enough fun and how about us packing up camp? While I was willing to hunt
with him and try and get him a pig as long as he wanted to, the idea of a
motel with hot water, a shower, and soft bed was extremely appealing. We
It was a great time. I was heartened to see a
number of Antelope Jackrabbits as well as Blacktails and Cottontails.
The coyotes sang beautifully for us every evening and morning when it was
still. The little Coues Deer popped up at unexpected times. The washes in the
canyon bottoms were running with water and everything was green. The
birds were happy. There is nothing like the high desert on a clear
morning after a good rain.
I felt bad for Tom and wished he had gotten a Javelina but
at least we had seen a lot of game. And we had survived some tough weather
conditions thanks to his camping expertise. He was a great hunting partner
and more than did his share. Without his knowledge and help a miserable
few days would have been awful. I would be proud to share a hunt with him