Are you looking for a post deer season hunting opportunity? Perhaps to hunt a critter you have never hunted before? You have decided your bank account will not support a trip to Africa, Alaska or some other far-off location, but you are itching to get back into the hunting field.
Why not make a try for Javelina?
You may say, I can hunt feral pigs any ole time. But Javelina are, in fact, not pigs.
While Javelina, also known as collared peccaries (because of their white collar around the neck) resemble pigs, they are not pigs. Instead, they are part of the Tayassuidae family, while true pigs belong to the Suidae family.
There are other unique characteristics between the two. Peccaries have small ears and their tails are almost undetectable from a distance.
Pigs have ears that are more upright and longer, hairy tails. Peccaries have three toes (one dew claw) on the hind foot while pigs have four (two dew claws). Canine teeth (tusks of two or three inches in length) in peccaries are straight, and pigs have curved tusks more like the African wart hogs.
Another big difference is that peccaries generally give birth to twins, who are up and mobile with the herd shortly after birth while pigs give birth to large litters of helpless young.
Javelina stand 20 to 24 inches at the shoulder and generally weigh between 35 to 60 pounds.
Although javelina have very poor eyesight, that doesn’t mean they will be easy to walk up on when hunting. Javelina are good at making out movement, not to mention they have fair hearing and a great sense of smell.
If you are interested in hunting this unique desert dweller, where do you start? Javelina are found across the southwestern US and into Mexico. In the US, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas are the key states.
Seasons can vary between states, but early fall through late winter are the main season periods. In New Mexico you can purchase an over-the-counter license for javelina that runs from mid-January through March in certain hunt units.
So where to hunt? Javelina prefer mesquite habitats with an abundance of prickly pear cactus but can also be found in semi-desert canyons and cliffs.
Water availability is essential along with areas that have ample cactus, especially the aforementioned prickly pear (a primary food source). Generally speaking, the southern portion of the southwestern states mentioned is your best starting point.
One of the most effective ways to hunt the collared peccary is to gain some elevation on a desert hilltop or canyon and start glassing. Look for sign of rooting and tracks that appear to be that of a tiny deer especially around water.
You may find them in a group of a dozen or more, or a single animal. As a point of interest, I have called them in using a predator call.
As to calibers for hunting, Javelina are not hard to put down. I have hunted them with a lever action chambered in 30-30 Winchester and know many folks whom have taken Javelina with a handgun.
In New Mexico a .22 rimfire is legal to take Javelina and are often taken with bow and arrow.
But make sure of good shot placement, these little desert dwellers will not hesitate to sink their tusks into you if you get too close having wounded one.
Javelina can range from excellent to just ok as table fare. They possess a very pungent scent gland on the top of their rump just under the skin.
Take care when field dressing and skinning to minimize any excessive contact of this gland directly to the carcass itself. They are great on a barbeque pit or when made into sausage.
The Javelina is truly a southwestern desert animal, and as such often lives in some of the roughest and most beautiful habitat our country has to offer. If you’re looking for a new and different hunting experience, give the Javelina a try this next season. I doubt you will be disappointed.
Next, read up on a recent oryx hunting trip.