If you're not glassing hill sides, the only other option is to hunt the desert flats. Cruising (walking) the desert flats is my favorite method of hunting Javelina. This method is not for every one, as more often then not, it involves several miles of walking with nothing tangible to show for your effort. However the intangibles can far exceed the discomfort experienced. I define intangibles as the myriad of "things" you encounter while slowly stalking through the desert. Man, the desert is alive! There are coyotes, mule deer, buzzards, hawks, quail, cactus, snakes, gila monsters, rabbits, even Indian artifacts, and so on.
Leave the Spotting Scope at Home
More importantly, with this method of hunting, you must derive great satisfaction from learning how to identify the various signs and tracks of animals which make the desert their home.
To successfully hunt the "flats", being able to identify and interpret Javelina sign is key (be sure to visit the Javelina Tracks, Where to look and Bedding Areas page). Fortunately for you, no book or web site is going to really teach you much beyond the basics-that's a good thing? Yes!
Flat ground still hunting takes the hunt back to its primeval beginnings-a hunter, using all his senses and experience, searching likely areas, cutting a track, trailing, spotting the quarry, stalking to close the range, moving in for the kill, and finally, harvesting the animal. Going through all those emotions and stages of a hunt can be easily contrasted by the other method of hunting Javelina-glassing. Sitting on a hillside, sipping coffee, bundled up in a nice warm coat, using a multi-coated light enhancing 20X50 spotting scope, just doesn't elicited (from me) the same level of emotion and gratification when the animal "drops".
Author's note: I want to strongly state, I do use glassing as a method of hunting, and have harvested Javelina, Deer, Bear, and Elk via glassing. I merely want to highlight and encourage the still hunting method of Javelina hunting as well-especially for those who have never tried it.
Still Hunting (walking the flats)
Massive Javelina trail to favorite feeding area ~ mesquite tree thickets. This picture was taken in late December, when Javelina normally scour the thickets for any remaining mesquite beans on the ground. (click on photo to enlarge) Photo by AP Jones.
Cutting a fresh "pig run" is a joy filled moment in flat-land Javelina hunting. Please study the above pictures for a few moments; it's a good teaching aid.
The classic 'pig run" (click on photo to enlarge). Photo by AP Jones.
Note the following in the above picture.
How to hunt the flats
If you're lucky enough to live in or near Javelina country finding and picking a good Javelina hunting spot starts in late July or early August. That's when the key ingredient makes its appearance-Rain! The late summer monsoons in Arizona and New Mexico bring with them the perfect conditions for learning and honing tracking skills. Wet dirt equals mud or at the very least very wet ground, which equals easily spotted and followed Javelina tracks. This is the time of year I head for the desert in the early morning after an evening rain storm.
My scouting technique entails desolate dirt road travel to "likely" and "not so likely" looking desert flats or foothills. My scouting technique once I find a likely spot:
When I "cut" a fresh pig run or trail while hunting, I slowly walk the trail. Following Javelina sometimes can become very difficult, especially if they spread out in feeding mode or get into hard or rocky soil. You have to be patient and take your time. It may take 1 hour to cover 100 yards, but if it's a hot trail, it will be worth it. Whoever said "practice makes perfect" was dead-right when it comes to honing tracking skills. Practice is the only way to become proficient. While following the fresh trail, I take time to scan the area 50 to 100 yards ahead of me often. With a little luck you will soon See Javelina.
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