Javelina Country – By  Dennis Sturgis, Jr.  September 2005

This west Texas hotspot made the perfect bowhunting adventure.

http://www.bowandarrowhunting.com

The van’s headlights stabbed into the darkness as we turned off the blacktop. A gravel lane led to the  west Texas ranch house that would be our home for the next few days.   Numerous cholla cacti loomed up in the headlights along the lane.  The Cholla Cacti have a stick man appearance and they seemed to be waving hello as they flashed by.

My hunting partners were Rich Niblock and Darryl Quidort from Michigan, and Dale Karch from Indiana. Earlier in the day we flew from South Bend to El Paso. After renting a van we drove on to Marfa. The drive was uneventful other than Dale getting a friendly warning on speed from a state trooper. Dale and his wife, Sandie, own 3Rivers archery. Dale sent the trooper back to his cruiser with a new catalog. In Marfa, we picked up our groceries and continued to the ranch.


I’d hunted this area before and really enjoyed it. The mountainous desert terrain made for great spot-and-stalk hunting. The land is desolate yet beautiful and full of mystery. the town of Marfa is known for it’s ghost lights. These lights first appeared reported by one of the early settlers in 1883. Apparently they existed before as they were spoken about by the local Apache. The lights can be viewed at night and have been described in several ways. Generally they are viewed at a distance, but there have been isolated reports of tiny fireballs of light just outside and inside vehicles. More than one scientific study has been conducted with different theories presented. In the end, the source of the ghost lights remains a mystery. Good friends, miles of remote country, a healthy population of  javelina and a little mystery all added up to the recipe for a bowhunting adventure.

At the ranch house we met up with the other members of our hunting party. Eric Radcliffe. also from Indiana, had driven down since he wanted to see the country. Dale’s longtime friend, Dick boss from Colorado, was the final member of our hunting party. Eric and Dick had already been into javelina. They stalked a group that afternoon and Dick shot a nice boar. After unpacking and putting away the groceries, we hit the sack for an early start in the morning.

We rose early and dressed in hunting clothes. The typical cheerful pre-hunt chatter took place as bows were strung and quivers loaded. I listened to the bragging, teasing and equipment comparisons with a smile. It felt good to be in hunting camp.

Wayne Weimers, our guide, pulled in before daylight. Over breakfast, we discussed our plans for the day…and Dick’s snoring. One of the neighboring ranchers, Dave Williams, also drove up to help get everyone into javelina on the 116,000 acres we had available to hunt. At sunrise we shot a few practice arrows and prepared to head out. Dale, Eric and I jumped in Wayne’s Suburban to check out some brushy canyons to the south. Dale had hunted this ranch for javelins the previous winter and wanted to video the action this year for an upcoming 3Rivers DVD production. Today was my day to be cameraman.

On the way to a vantage point where we planned to glass, Wayne spotted some javies in the distance. They milled around, feeding in some prickly pear. We checked the wind and planned our approach. After making a wide circle to get the wind in our favor, we split up. Eric stalked to one side of the small group while Dale and I snuck to the other side. I tried to stay practically in Dale’s hip pocket as he edged nearer to the javelina. The warm sun felt good on our shoulders as we slipped through the cactus, and in several minutes, we sandwiched our quarry. The wind held steady, and we slowly closed the gap. Javelina backs appeared occasionally above the cactus. I pushed the record button when Eric Pulled his longbow to full draw and released an arrow. A fatally-hit boar flashed between the cacti and disappeared into a thick tangle of cat claw. Eric used a pair of hand pruners to wade in and claim his trophy.

We rode back to the ranch house to care for the javelina and grab some sandwiches for lunch. In the afternoon, Rich and I went out with Wayne. Although we had several stalks, a good video shot never came together. Arriving back at camp, we learned both Dale and Darryl had collected javelina. Eric set a nice stand for feral hogs and collected a nice meat hog.

On day two of our hunt, I videoed Rich take his first-ever javelina. Later Eric punched his second javelina tag. Eric also found a an arrowhead. Dave, the rancher, said it was made by the “old ones.” He said the last time it was touched by a human was 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.

Rich and I started day three out with a double on two huge javies. We skinned them out for full-body mounts. Wayne took us to a big rock overhang with an aqua-colored pool in front of it. The rock walls were covered with pictographs made by people who had hunted here long ago. We enjoyed setting around a campfire that evening, and Wayne prepared a delicious wild-game supper.

Our hunt passed quickly: each day was full of excitement. On our final day, we had to leave at noon to catch our flight out of El Paso. I was the only hunter not to shoot my second javelina. Wayne was insistent that we get my second javy. I told him I was perfectly happy, but I wouldn’t mind taking some photos of javelina sign. He agreed, commenting that we could hunt along the way. We jumped in the Suburban and drove to a part of the ranch that had good sign to photograph.

Wayne is a retired patrolman as well as hunting guide. I enjoyed listening to his stories. Between photo sessions, Wayne spotted a javelina. “Let’s go get him,” he blurted. After giving Wayne a quick video camera lesson, we stalked into the wind after the boar. The stalk was classic. Using cactus clumps for cover, we ended up 10 yards from the javelina. Wayne was right over my shoulder: I rose up and shot and arrow right over its back. I quickly nocked another arrow. The javelina stood about 20 yards distant now. I glanced at Wayne. He said “I’m on him.”

I shot again and groaned when my arrow bounced off a rock. I nocked another arrow. The javy was out there now but in the open. “I’m on him, I’m on him,” Wayne spewed. Feeling obliged to shoot: I took my time and shot again. The arrow arched out and centered the kill area. The boar ran 15 yards and fell over. “that was a hell of a shot!” Wayne exclaimed. “Well, it was a lot harder than the first two,” I answered, shaking my head.

At noon we drove back down the gravel lane toward the highway. I glanced at the cholla cacti again. They seemed to be waving good-bye, and I hoped it wouldn’t be too long before I could return.

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