Spring has sprung at the 2,000-acre Pescadito Ranch in Laredo, Texas, and the pigs are on the move. This annual retreat is one that I’ve taken for many years. The owner of the ranch, Jessie Martinez, and I are good friends and for over 20 years he has allowed me to take part in what I believe is one of the most enjoyable hunts on the planet javelinas! The Pescadito Ranch hosts a large number of these ferocious, pig-like-looking animals.
Javelinas make for an awesome trophy that can enhance any hunter’s trophy room. They can weigh up to 50 pounds and are mostly solid black with long snarling K-9s or cutters that are razor sharp. Javelinas, when alerted or startled, will bristle up and will give off a pungent odor that comes from a gland that looks like a nipple, located on their lower back. They are good to eat if you know how to prepare them. Cleaning them is the hardest part; they have tons of fleas, mites, and ticks all over them and they smell bad, but they are fun to hunt!
I take my sons Dustin and Daylon hunting with me as much as I can. They have been on two bear hunts in Canada, hog hunts, deer hunts, and some small game hunts. This would be their first South Texas Javelina Hunt, and they were going to have some fun. But at the last-minute, Daylon was unable to make the trip and had to stay home! We made the 12-hour drive from Saucier, Mississippi to the outskirts of Laredo, Texas for the two-day hunt. In years past, two days is all it has taken to fill my tags for the yearly quota of two javelinas.
This year I elected not to hunt, but instead, be the cameraman for Dustin and hopefully get some great footage for my TV Show, “Vertical Crossbow Junkies” on the Pursuit Channel. I have done my TV Show for over 15 years on different national networks, Dish Network and DirectTV, and have recently changed the name from “Knockout Hunting Adventures” to “Vertical Crossbow Junkies” to showcase this amazing bow we are using on the hunt.
After making the long drive, we met up with Jessie and his son Victor, who now guides and oversees the hunting operations at the Pescadito Ranch. The ranch has a very nice lodge that sleeps six hunters comfortably. It has a complete, wellstocked kitchen. There is a huge outside BBQ Pit where hunters can cook their favorite meats after a day’s hunt while they watch the sunset over the mesquite trees blowing in the late evening wind that typically greets the nighttime.
The ranch is high fenced for trophy whitetail deer and recently added trophy exotics. The wildlife is in abundance here in this beautiful, but rugged country. Seeing indigenous animals like deer, coyotes, rabbits, birds of prey as well as bobwhite and blue quail, morning and white wing doves is also extremely common. On occasion a big rattlesnake can be seen crossing the road or coiled up in the shade rattling, warning passersby to stay away! This time of year many of the flowers are in full bloom, and the colors are amazing to view.
In South Texas, the saying is, “everything here either sticks, stings, or bites.” The cactus and mesquite trees both have very long needles: every time you rub against one you will know it for several days. They are almost impossible to get out of your skin so it’s important to wear the correct type of clothing for this type of hunting. Snake boots and chaps are the best protection if you venture off the roads and into the brush.
For the first morning’s hunt, 30-45 minutes after daybreak, we loaded our gear into the Jeep, filled the feeder with corn and began spreading it as we drove down the roads and Senderos. A Sendero is a long cleared-off lane that connects one road to another. Javelinas love corn and the sound of the Jeep’s motor and the feeder going off can bring them out of the brush from hundreds of yards away. The plan is to put the corn out in several areas and come back after breakfast to glass the roads for activity. The other way to hunt them is to sit at a stationary feeder and wait for them to show up, but we like to be on the move, with the wind blowing in our faces and seeing different things.
After returning to the lodge, we were met by another good friend, Dan DeWitt, Mr. Cuzz’s Cooter Juice himself, beard and all. Dan and I have done a good bit of hunting together and have always had a great time. He had never been javelina hunting, so I thought I would treat him to this awesome hunt. Jessie was the cohost and cameraman for “Outdoors Today,” a TV Show on the Outdoor Channel back in the early 2000s. He was not busy that day and offered to run his camera to help us get more footage.
Victor was doing the driving as we rode around checking spots where we had spread the corn. Even though this ranch is a high fence, hogs, coyotes, and other animals, including javelinas, crawl under the fences. Finding these holes can be a great place to locate the heaviest traveled areas and feeding them helps to bring them in close. There is practically an endless supply of javelinas.
There is a good bit of planning and strategy when hunting like this; it is not as easy as it might sound. Javelinas have a great nose, but a poor sense of sight. Because of this, they are very spooky to movement and shadows. Sometimes when the wind is blowing hard, they will lay up and will not come out, even when being enticed with corn. The first place we checked was a long, straight road on the north side of the ranch. We could see down it about a half-mile. The fence that ran along the side of it was inundated with javelina digs that were being heavily used. Down the road, we could see three groups of black spots that we knew were javelinas, also mixed in were a few deer. Checking the wind, we felt that our best approach would be to drive up quickly until we got close, turn off the engine and roll as close as we could without spooking them and then begin our stalk.
With the javelinas 200 yards away and the wind in our faces, Dustin and I attempted to try to get in close enough for a shot. I had the camera, and Dustin got his Mini Vertical Crossbow drawn. We began a fast walk to close the distance. I have seen javelina stop feeding and walk off the road for no reason and not return, so when you have a group feeding on the road, you must get to them quickly or you might miss your chance. We were walking as close to the bushes on the side of the road as we could to keep from being seen. Most of these roads have such thick brush on each side that you can’t walk off the road, making it very difficult to get close enough without being seen.
Closing the distance to 100 yards, it was time to go into stealth mode. This group was moving away from us feeding into the wind, it is hard to catch up to them when they are on the move. Eight javelinas were walking back and forth across the road, some looking back, sort of suspiciously, like they knew something was up. Luckily for us, we came to a cut in the bushes that ran alongside the road that allowed us to walk parallel and catch up to the group. Dustin loaded an arrow on the string and onto the arrow rest, then kneeled beside a bush just off the road and waited for the group to make its way to us.
In this group, there were 2 big mature boars, 4 sows, and 2 smaller adolescent javelinas. Dustin let the first three pass, waiting for one of the big ones to clear the brush in front of him. I was ten feet behind him with the camera rolling and my heart pounding as hard as his. I whispered to Dustin, “shoot the next one”, knowing it was one of the big ones. As Dustin eased his bow up slowly to get ready to shoot, the first three-stopped and looked in his direction. I thought it was going to end now with them running off, but the big one kept walking down the road only fifteen yards away.
I whispered “shoot!” Whack! I heard a squeal and teeth clattering as they stormed off. If you have ever hunted javelinas, you know that clicking of the teeth means they are mad! I started looking for a tree, but we were in South Texas where there are no trees, at least none to climb anyway! Lucky for us, the group ran off in a different direction with their teeth chattering and clicking! Dustin had made a great shot on a big boar javelina. Man, what a first morning and I got it all on video! I gave him a big hug and signaled for Victor, who was watching it all unfold through binoculars, to come to us. After the high fives and the “way to go’s” he helped retrieve the javelina that Dustin and I masterfully stalked and shot. In many cases, after being shot, javelinas will run a long way through the thick brush, making it impossible to find them again. We followed the blood trail with large amounts of blood on the ground, and we found it piled up within 20-yards. While Dustin and I were stalking this group, which lasted almost an hour, Victor was able to take Dan and Jessie to the east end of the road to get on one of the other big groups. So, we loaded the javelina on the Jeep and started down the road slowly until we got within 200 yards, where we stopped and started watching the action from a distance. From where we were, we could see the entire event unfolding. Looking down the road to the east, Dan was on the right side of the road, the fence was on the left, and the javelinas were feeding away from us straight for Dan and Jessie. Dan was backed up in some thick mesquite trees, and we could barely see his head. Jessie was nowhere in sight, but he was behind Dan about 10 yards with the camera rolling.
This was a big group of javelinas with more than 10 in it, but it was hard to be certain because they kept coming in and out of the brush from both sides of the road. Suddenly we saw the group scatter, heard a loud squeal, and saw the dust where the arrow hit the dirt in the middle of the group. That could mean only one thing: he hit one of them and the arrow went all the way through it. After about five minutes the guys came out onto the road and started waving for us to come up. After briefly telling us what we had seen from a distance, we went to where the javelina was standing when Dan pierced the big boar with his vertical crossbow. There we saw a lot of dark red blood sprayed in the direction the javelina had run.
Dustin and I were glad to let the others go into the sticker jungle to search for the javelina. After 30 minutes or more, we could see them dragging one out by its back legs and cursing the stickers. Wow, another great boar with big cutters! This was the first morning, and we were able to get two big male javelinas, and still have two afternoons and a morning to get our quota of two each. What a great start!
Stalking these little javelinas can be very challenging when using archery equipment, but our Mini Vertical Crossbows made it a lot easier for us to walk through the thick brush. We must consider we are hunting in the javelinas’ back yard that is so familiar to them, and the elements are in their favor. With the wind changing direction, it can instantly “blow” the deal, and it is almost impossible to get off the road to make for an easy stalk in the thick thorny brush. Everything must be just right as in all hunting situations.
We did manage to get our quota, but it was at the last minute. We got on a lot of different groups that did not work out for us, but we had a lot of fun with our attempts. We always have an A+ experience. We got a lot of exercise, enjoyed this beautiful place, ate some great food, and managed to take 4 javelinas.
For additional information about the Mini Vertical crossbow go to www.verticalcrossbow.com