How to Hunt Javelina

Illustration by Kevin Hand

When Theodore Roosevelt visited Texas in 1892, he insisted on booking a six-day javelina hunt. He shot two but later opined that the best way to dispatch the animal would be by spear. Teddy was on to something. “Because of their poor eyesight, it’s easy to close in on javelinas,” says David Synatzske, the manager of the Chaparral Wildlife Management Area, near Cotulla. Found primarily in South Texas, the Trans-Pecos, and the Edwards Plateau, javelinas travel in packs and thrive in environments with heavy white brush or prickly pear, their favorite snack. Adult males can weigh 55 pounds and have two-inch-long canines. (When threatened, they clack their teeth, which sharpens their tusks and alerts the herd.) To compensate for their bad vision, they have a heightened sense of smell, so stay downwind when hunting. Unlike those white-tailed deer that trophy hunters are so fond of, javelinas know how to fight back.

Baiting

While purists prefer unaided stalking, baiting a sendero—a South Texas term for roads and open paths—with shelled corn will attract a pack. Also scatter bait near watering holes, advises Jerry Gonzalez, the owner of the Laredo-based outfitter Pedernal Bowhunts.

Weapon

Old-school hunters generally opt for the traditional bow, says Gonzalez, but beginners do well with a compound bow, a modern contraption that aids in accuracy and speed. Use arrows with one-inch broadheads, which are tips specifically designed for hunting big game.

The Hunt

Javelinas can be hunted year-round in fifty counties, but remember that game animals can be harvested only during the day. After prearranging for a lease or coordinating with an outfitter, corn the ground early and wait nearby, concealed in the brush if possible. When the herd approaches, single out a javelina, draw your bow, and aim directly behind the shoulder. After the pack disperses, inspect for a clean kill and field-dress the animal. Skin and break down the javelina when you have access to clean water.

The Trophy

Javelina meat makes a good meal and tastes best slow-cooked, smoked, or jerkied. Or intimidate potential sons-in-law with a fearsome shoulder mount or a bleached skull.

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