Caribou Gear Tarp

AZ Archery Deer and Javelina

Birddog916

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Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
214
Location
Sacramento, CA
Just returned home from a great archery AZ javelina and coues deer combo hunt. I had been thinking of doing this hunt for several years and after Bigfin’s multiple Arizona episodes I decided to just go. I went solo and hunted the southeastern part of the state. I spent 6 days trying to fill both tags.

Day 1 NYE- I was about 2 hours late because the plane had to return to the airport due to smoke in the cockpit. I was near the front of the plane and could smell a slight electrical type burn. Just a whiff of smoke, like someone had a lit cigarette 20 yards upwind of you. It was scary when the pilots turned that plane around and the smoke smell hit me… We made it back to SMF and were greeted by airport fire trucks at the bottom of the runway…. Great way to start a trip eh? Anyway, another plane was available, so everyone boarded the new one. Right before we started boarding the new plane I almost said screw it and drove, but that would have taken 14 hours of driving (one way) out of my hunting time. I’m at least 15 years from retirement, but once that happens, I don’t think I’ll be flying to hunt much anymore. Yeah, I know statistically flying is much safer than driving but planes just kind of freak me out. After about a 2-hour delay, I finally picked up the rental car and was on my way to a great adventure. First stop AZ DGF for a non-prmit archery deer tag: IMG_4352.JPG

In the planning stages of the hunt, I reached out the multiple people I know from AZ including a friend who is the Director of a small regional land trust. He happened to have an old ranch house that was currently unoccupied in the heart of some great deer and javelina country, and for small donation to the trust it was all mine for the next 7 nights. The place was nestled into a mountain valley with steep sides right at about 5600 feet. A sweet spot for sure with lots of deer, Goulds wild turkey, quail, and coatimundi running around the yard. It was a fine hunt camp with luxuries like hot water, a flush toilet, and heat! Things like these are usually much to expensive for me to spring for on a solo hunt. The land trust would not allow me hunting on their lands, but the place was surrounded by national forest and a lot of state lands.

Day 2-NYD- Working a tip from a friend who just finished up a rifle hunt in the area and said he saw lots of javelina at this spot I beat feet early to javelina plan A spot. I decided to concentrate the javelina tag first knowing it would be easier than the deer tag and was surprised when the first legal game animal I glassed up was a mule deer buck. He was not very large just a 2 point, but what the hell I went after him. I did not make it very far before he was gone and soon realized quadrupeds have a great advantage of bipeds on that rocky desert terrain and well really any terrain... While this spot was not very high it was hilly and had a lot of loose stone they liked to roll underfoot. I tried to find him, but he vanished into the desert. I hiked up onto a knob and glassed for deer and javelina for a few more hours but saw noting. On to javelina plan b spot.

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AZ DGF does a great job describing units and breaks it down by species. This information combined with some intel from others I met gave some great insights to the plan b area. As soon as I arrive at plan b area BINGO! I spot javelina from the truck maybe a half mile off. The time was about 4 pm and I set out after them. The wind was perfect in my face and spot was flat-ish and very open as apposed plan A which was hilly, scrub covered, and rocky. It was an easy stalk and I covered the half mile pretty fast. The 3 javelina 1 big one and 2 smaller didn’t pay much attention to me until I got to about 60 yards. Then they started to get a little nervous. I think they could hear me crunching the grass under my boots. Anyway, I closed to 47 yards and the largest in the group started to circle around me, trying to get my wind I suspect. It got to about 40 yards and I drew back and let fly…doh! I missed. I couldn’t believe it. Right over the back. All three spooked and took off. By this time, I only had about 30 minutes of shoot time left called it a day and headed back into the hills and my ol’ ranch house. That evening I formulated a plan to return to the same area at first light and try again. Cold beers and dinner were in order and this desert was really starting to grow on me.
 

Birddog916

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Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
214
Location
Sacramento, CA
Day 3 1/2/21 I left the house an hour before light and made it to the seen of the miss in grey light. It took about 5 minutes to find the javelina again. They were in the same general area, but the opposite side of the road this morning about 500 yards from me. From that distance it looked to only be 1 or 2. It took a while to get the wind right and I made a big loop around them to get downwind. As I got closer the 2 all the sudden turned into 10. It was like they just kept appearing out of a hole in the ground that had some taller grass and brush around it. I didn’t know this, but on cold mornings javelina will lay in pile all huddled together for warmth. The morning was cold about 24 degrees at 7am. Anyway, as I got closer the javelina seemed to keep getting up and moving some came right at me at less than 20 yards, but due to brush I did not have a shot. I froze and about this same time I saw more hunters coming from the downwind side of the group. Soon there were javelina running every which direction. I never got a shot off. It was mass chaos for about 5 minutes. One guy from the party of 4 who came in from the downwind side got one in the melee that ensued. I talked to them for a few minutes, they were good dudes, local boys and they turned me on to a few other spots. I headed back to the truck and started glassing the direction I had seen the 3 from yesterday and there they were again in nearly the same spot as yesterday afternoon. GAME ON! I struggled to close the distance as the javelina kept moving back and forth as they started to sense I was coming. Closest I got was 67 yards and did not like the shot… too far. I think they were a little on edge from morning melee.

I decided to drive to some new spots and try my luck (javelina plan C). I found an area of state land with a dry creek bed running through it. The creek bed was lightly sprinkled with a few sycamore trees, some oaks, and juniper. I decided to still hunt my way into the wind following the drainage south from where I parked the truck. I only made it about 100 yards when I found a very large covey of quail. I was not quite sure what type of quail they were, having never hunted this far south before. I think they were scaled quail. The covey was about 50 birds…. Pretty big covey for someone used to our local California quail and mountain quail. Anyway, as I was trying to take a picture of this huge quail covey, I hear barking coming form the bottom of the creek and it’s getting closer… Oh $hi!... Here they come. I love dogs, but these were not your average pet dogs these were some desert hell hounds coming at me bro! They were pissed I was invading their territory. As they barreled down on me, I drew my folding knife and prepared myself for some hand-to-hand with these desert mongrels. The meanest one looked like a cross between a pitbull and an elk hound. He was one of the ugliest things I’ve seen in a while. Somehow, I made it back to the truck without being bitten and without cutting up a wild dog. I got my composure back while the dogs encircled the truck and continued to bark….Back to plan B.

I drove back to plan b and it was getting to be about noon when I decided to head a few miles north of the AM stalks and sure enough 3 more javelina. I glassed them for a long time before making a stalk plan. They seemed like they were moving pretty slowly not really covering much ground and soon one bed down. I thought great I’ll just wait for them all to bed and it will be game on. 30 minutes later the second one decided it was nap time. Another 20 minutes go by and the third one finally laid down. GAME ON! I quickly covered the 300 yards between me and the sleeping javelina. I crept into 40 yards, then 30, then 20… I was moving as slowly and as quietly as possible and at 17 yards the closest one to me stands. It was also the largest one of the three. I draw settle the pin and let her rip as the javelina is quartering away. The shot felt good and looked good, but the javelina didn’t do much. I racked another arrow and shot again hitting it with a second arrow. At the second shot the critter took off at full speed and quickly disappeared behind some brush then reappeared 200 yards away. I watched in disbelief as the pigs reappeared for a third time still running more than a half mile away into some agricultural lands. How could that animal take to hits like that and keep running? The agricultural lands were private of course and I was fearful a recovery was going to be difficult. I started to look for my arrows and found one covered with liver blood and some faint smell of guts. I had hit far back twice. I headed to the truck and drove closer to the agricultural fields, now the javelina were in the wide open and easy to see. The one I hit was not well soon bed down. I could clearly see a lot of blood and my arrow sticking out of the kill pretty good spot I thought. I was studying on X trying to figure out how to contact the landowner and recover my javelina when I looked up and saw an AZ State Game and Fish truck coming directly at me. Saved! The officer had been watching me for the last 2 hours make that stalk and the first thing he said to me was “I was pulling for you man”. Second thing he said was “may I see your tag and license”. Third thing he said was “Let’s go get your javelina”. He was a good-natured dude who also archery hunted. Long story short the officer made a phone call to the lands manager and we were in the clear to recover the animal. This was my first javelina and I had a blast chasing them. I will be back to do it again that’s for sure.
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After the recovery I picked the game warden’s brain on possible deer spots and he turned me on to a spot less than 10-minute drive from the ranch house. I made my way back to the ranch house and it getting to be late afternoon. I processed the javelina in the yard under a big oak tree. As I made my first cuts a troop of coatimundi showed up for the scraps. I skinned the animal and the coati’s were pretty excited to have a free meal. I made quick work of the javelina and wrapped it and into the freezer reserving a front leg for chile verde.

Day 4 1/3/21 (Sunday) I wasn’t allowed to hunt the land trust’s holdings surrounding the ranch house but was given permission to cross their lands to access the public lands boarding them. It was a great help and I spent Sunday morning looking for deer. I found a ton of fresh sign including some tree rubs and a scrape just like whitetails make on my Indiana Farm. I hunted util about noon realizing it was Sunday and the Packers were playing at 1:30 and thought the green and gold and chile verde sounded like a great combination. I threw together the verde and let it simmer about 3 hours and it was nearly done by halftime. Packers beat the Bears and clinched a bye; I had a pot of javelina chile verde and the beers were cold. Needless to say, I didn’t make it out to deer hunt Sunday afternoon.
 

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Birddog916

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Sacramento, CA
Day 5 1/4/21 (Monday) After taking Sunday afternoon off I hit Monday hard and found a pile of deer. I hiked up a ridgeline and glassed both opposite ridge lines I’m seeing deer moving through the juniper and scrub oaks. All coues deer. It was like they would materialize out of the desert then disappear again. I was looking at deer one minute and then I’d lose them the next. I’ve read they are hard to keep track of, but this was nutty. I think that day I probably saw close to 30 deer 4 legal bucks. Nothing huge but never made a stalk because they never really stopped wondering around or if they did, I could not see where they bed. I’m definitely a novice coues deer hunter. I did mount my binos on a tripod to help with the glassing and wow I have never glassed up that many animals before. What a world of difference that made. I had a ball just observing deer mostly does and fawns all morning and into the early afternoon. As shoot time faded, I decided to still hunt my way back to the truck about 4 miles back. I made my way very slowly trying to be as quiet as possible and bumped a pile of deer. I did get to within 30 yards of a legal buck as he was fleeing with 5-6 does away from me. Never even came close to drawing. I rapidly concluded that this desert is the quietest place on earth and these whitetails have super deer senses. The whole time I’m thinking this will be impossible to do with a bow, but I was already addicted to the chase.

Day 6 1/5/21(Tuesday) I retuned to the same spot as yesterday determined to find a bedded buck. I glass and glass turning up a few does and what I think is a spike or possibly a spork from 1200 yards though the 20 powers. They are still on the IMG_4406.JPG move going as I watched them for nearly 2 hours. As I contemplate trying to get over there, I look to the right and 200 yards up the hill is a group of does and a 3-point buck and they are on the move coming down the hill toward me. I get into position to where I think they are going to come and the swing out wide. I had an opportunity to shoot at 75 yards across to the opposite ridge, but that’s way to far for me. I watched as they made their way down the canyon. I wondered back down the hill and decided to check another spot for the afternoon. I hike in a few miles to find the total wrong wind when I get there to hunt the giant mountain face… Instead, I decided to just get to a good glassing spot and look the hill over for the last few hours of light. Sure enough more coues deer including a hot doe with a nice 4 point the largest whitetail I’d seen thus far. I watched them from 500 plus yards and then hiked back to the truck on my way deciding I’d head up there in the AM making good use of the morning thermals.


Day 7 6/6/21 (Wed) This whirlwind of trip was coming to an end as this was my last day before I had to catch a flight back home. It was go time. I left the truck well before light to the area I had spied the 4 pointer and his lover the night before and started my way up the hill. It was slightly warmer this morning and I quickly peeled a layer off. It was steep and slow going over the rocky ground. I was happy to have sturdy boots and plenty of water for this climb. It took about 2.5 hours to get near where I’d seen them the night before. It seemed much less steep from the opposite hill though the binos. It was about 9:50 am and I finally got to where I thought they were the night before and there was fresh sign everywhere and thinly spaced oaks that had littered the ground with the smallest acorns I have ever seen. They were about the size of the pinky fingernail. The trails leading into that oak patch were something you would expect to find in Iowa not Arizona. I made my way creeping as quiet as possible through the oaks expecting to see deer at any time. I made it across the bench with the oaks and then ran into another steep section. I was thinking these thermals are going to switch any minute now and I need to make it up this next 50 yards to the next oak covered bench quick. Well, I made about 10 yards from the top and I see her…then I see him. It was them the same pair the night before I’m pretty sure, but due to the steep terrain I can only see their heads and necks looking down the hill at me. I quickly nock an arrow, but it is over, and they bound off the opposite direction. I make my way up to where they were and take a seat and just take in the beautiful place and contemplate that past 12 months. I was pretty luck guy this year all things considered. While I didn’t get to shoot a coues deer or an elk this year I ended up with a California mule deer and an Indiana whitetail and a pile of ducks and a new year AZ javelina. I also found some great new hunting spots and found out I can hunt alone and really like it. Until 2020 I had never hunted the west alone.
 

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Birddog916

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Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
214
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Sacramento, CA
Day 8 6/7/21 (Thursday) I had to hit the road early (2 am) to make it to PHX for my flight home and return my rental car. As I drove in the dark, I did a lot of reflecting on what I want 2021. As the crazy covid world and protests and nonstop political divisions boil all round us I hope people can find common ground in the outdoors and put their differences aside and just go hunt or fish or hike. My time on this earth is too short to worry about things I cannot change. I can hunt more, I can take a newbie hunting, I can teach a kid to fish. I guess these are my new year’s resolutions ignore the talking heads and be a good mentor and steward of our natural resources. Anyway, that about sums up the trip. It was a fun one for sure and I’ll visit the desert again soon.
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CouesKelly

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Mar 8, 2020
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Looks like you had a blast and got to see what Southern AZ is all about. Thanks for taking us along. Congrats on your Javelina!
 

LCH

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Dec 9, 2013
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Southern Indiana
Very nice! Javelina is on my short list. I've hunted Coues a couple times with a rifle and found that to be very difficult, stalking to within bow range seems like an impossibility. But it sounds like you were close!

If I get lucky in the draws, I'll be heading back again this year.
 

Birddog916

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Joined
Jan 13, 2020
Messages
214
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Sacramento, CA
Great story, glad you had a fun trip.
Most folks don't realize how diverse Az. really is.
Come back and see us soon, and bring your shotgun next time! 💥
I think I might have to bring a shotgun next time. I found quail, ducks and squirrels on my adventure. Seems like every tank I passed by had a few ducks on it.
 

prhunter

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Aug 2, 2014
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Far West Texas
Congrats on your hunt, sounded like a good time. I'll be out there next month chasing javelina with my rifle.
 
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jnd1959

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Mar 20, 2019
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Texas
Congrats. The young'uns and I were down there with javi tags and hunted Jan 1-3. We always enjoy the area. This year we rented a house and that will be my plan going forward unless I'm packing in or going with a guide. I am exploring going with a guide next year.
 

rick19Kilo

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May 24, 2020
Messages
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Location
Bakersfield
Day 8 6/7/21 (Thursday) I had to hit the road early (2 am) to make it to PHX for my flight home and return my rental car. As I drove in the dark, I did a lot of reflecting on what I want 2021. As the crazy covid world and protests and nonstop political divisions boil all round us I hope people can find common ground in the outdoors and put their differences aside and just go hunt or fish or hike. My time on this earth is too short to worry about things I cannot change. I can hunt more, I can take a newbie hunting, I can teach a kid to fish. I guess these are my new year’s resolutions ignore the talking heads and be a good mentor and steward of our natural resources. Anyway, that about sums up the trip. It was a fun one for sure and I’ll visit the desert again soon.
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Sounds like it was a great adventure, congratulations on the Javelina!
 
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