hills and valleys surrounding our communities are home to a
number of animals. Within a few miles of us are whitetail deer,
mule deer, turkeys, desert bighorn sheep, mountain lions and a
number of predators such as coyotes and foxes. Among the
"big game" animals (so classified not because of their
size but because of their importance to the hunting community)
is one of my favorites, the Javelina.
correct name for Javelina is collared peccary, so named because
of the distinctive collar around the neck of the animal.
Peccaries are rumored by some to be a rodent, but it is not so.
The scientific name for them is tayassuidae, a relative to the
common pig, suidae. If you get near them, you will find that
they grunt and root like a pig. There are actually three
different types of peccaries, although the collared peccary is
the only one to inhabit the United States. The others are found
in Mexico, and Central and South America. Arizona is unique in
that it is one of only three states where the animals are found.
Besides here, they appear only in New Mexico and lower Texas.
Javelina was declared a game animal in 1929. Before that it was
looked upon as more of a pest than anything. (As it still is in
parts of Texas I have been told.) Since achieving big game
status, the herds have continued to thrive and grow in size and
number. Javelina are now found in parts of Arizona that never
before supported any.
have been an avid Javelina hunter for quite a few years, though
I have limited myself to hunting them with only a handgun. To
me, that makes it a little more even for the animals. Hunting
them with a handgun means having to stalk in close, rather than
shooting them from 200 yards across a canyon. Even though the
Javelina has poor eyesight, hunter success has averaged only
around 25%. For every 100 hunters in the field only 25 of them
bring anything home.
hunted for several years without getting anything, so I know
what it feels like to be one of the 75%. After several hunts
like that, I decided that I would either learn what I was doing
wrong or else I would quit hunting the little critters. I
studied everything I could get my hands on about the Javelina. I
spent time in the hills finding and watching them. What did they
do when they were scared? I watched and followed to find out.
What did they eat? What were their habits? As I gained answers
to these questions I also evaluated myself. What was I doing
wrong during hunting season? Did I have to change anything in
the way I hunted, or in my equipment? As I spent time learning
the answers, I grew in confidence. A few times during the off
season, I was able to sneak within feet of Javelina. I have
called them to within touching distance on several occasions.
Finally, I figured out why I had been unlucky during the
one think, I hadnít hunted where the pigs live. Thatís
sounds simplistic, but itís true. Just because the area looks
good does not mean that there are any Javelina there. You simply
have to find out where they live. Javelina are very territorial.
Once you locate a herd, spend time finding the limits of their
territory. When hunting them, you will then have a good idea of
where to look.
I had hunted much too fast. Slow down. Look at every rock and
tree and bush. They are not large animals, and are very adept at
camouflaging themselves. I remember once sitting down on a rock
overlooking a bare area that had a small stand of brush and
trees in the middle. It did not look as if you could hide a
rabbit under the bushes. I sat there for about 10 minutes when
all of a sudden a Javelina ran out from under the brush. As I
watched in amazement, out came another, then another, until nine
pigs had come out from under the bushes. On another occasion, I
was standing on a hillside, glassing an area below me. As I
looked through the binoculars, I saw a hunter walking up a
ridge. Slightly ahead of him and off to his left was a Javelina
lying on the ground. I figured he had probably shot it and was
going to retrieve it. When he was within 10 or 15 feet of it,
the Javelina jumped up, ran across in front of him and into the
brush. As it ran in front of him, he leaped backwards, pulled
out a pistol and shot into the ground. Later, talking with him,
he said that he had not seen it until it jumped up and ran. He
said that it scared him so badly that he just fired the pistol
into the ground, not even bothering to aim.
third thing I learned was to sneak in close. Even though the
peccaries do not have very good eyesight, there is nothing wrong
with their sense of smell. By using a scent disguiser such as
skunk scent, you can sometimes fool their noses. If you work
slowly and do not make a lot of noise, you can easily get within
50 feet many times. It is possible to get a lot closer than
that, but you must be careful to watch the wind and the noise
you make. More than once I have gotten within 10 to 20 feet just
by being slow and patient. Too many hunters hunt too fast,
making too much noise and then begin banging away at them at
much too distant a range. This is the reason I like to hunt with
a handgun. It forces me to work to get in closer.
learning more about Javelina, I have been able to take one every
year. I still go out during the off season to scout them, watch
them or just to take pictures of them. In fact, if you are not a
hunter, the camera can be a real challenge. Limit yourself to a
50 or 55mm lens and try to sneak in close enough to get a good
shot. You will work to do it.
hunters prefer to skin the pigs in the field and pack out the
meat with a backpack or pack frame. That is a good way to avoid
a mess at home. I have heard of some hunters who try to cut the
scent gland out of the pig after they kill it. I feel that this
is one of the reasons why many who have tried the meat do not
like it, saying that it is impossible to eat. If you get the
scent from the gland on the meat, or on your hands and then into
the meat, you will ruin it. Leave the scent gland alone. When
you skin the pig, it will come right off with the hide. The meat
is excellent if prepared the proper way.
further study of the collared peccary, write to: ARIZONA GAME
AND FISH DEPT. 222 W. GREENWAY RD, PHOENIX AZ. 85023 and order
the book, "Javelina Research and Management in
Arizona" by Gerald I. Day. Even if you are not at all
interested in hunting, you will find this a well written and
fascinating study of the peccary. Include $5.00 for the book
when you write.
hills and valleys around here include a nice variety of animals.
Take the time to get out and look for them. They can be a lot of
fun just to watch. Persistence, practice and patience will pay
this writing Rev. Jim Taylor holds the Safari Club International
world record for the largest Javelina taken with a handgun.
Note: The skull was donated to the Wildlife Museum in Tucson,
For Barbequed Javelina
to 6 pounds Javelina, pre-cooked and shredded (my
wife cooks them in a pressure cooker)