Thunder, Then Smoke — Javalina Hunt 2014

​Julio and I were honored to be invited by Albert and Dan McCabe to their annual javelina hunt. The huntsmen have known each other for many years, Dan and Sergio the longest at over a quarter century. Read about our first and second year.

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Dominique points his toes as he slowly steps forward into tall grass. His bow is at the ready. We crest the ridge and drop on top a sounder of javalina. They don’t yet know we are here. Dominique spots the wild pigs. Bows go first anyway, so he is moving in, peeling off his hat and equipment in slow motion as he advances. Hands shaking from adrenaline, he pulls back his bow.

I am not completely settled with hunting. On the outside, hunting appears to be a strange clash: reverence for beautiful wildlife that, in turn, results in “taking” it from nature. On the other side, a chance encounter with a half-ton majestic being in the form of an elk or a buck is a personal and life-changing moment. In a world absent of Whole Foods, it may be a life-saving moment. Just you and a demigod.

I don’t feel this way about javalina. They are just really angry, disgusting pigs that will charge you and open up your leg. Two javalina within 75 yards in front of Dominique are quarreling over something at the base of a large, round cactus. Their snorts and snarls cover his advancement. We are glassing above him, watching, while tracking another below. Dominique shoots silently. Once, twice, and a third time.

It all happens so fast. Thunder, then smoke. Pulse pumping, dilated pupils. Screeching, dry mouth. Blood gushing, testosterone. Labored breathing. Stillness. Sweat.

Unlike in the movies, running while shooting a weapon at fast-moving targets is very difficult. Chasing, as a team, really strikes a chord with me. I appreciate the unspoken strategizing, as well as the booming chaos. I like seeing a huntsman act as a spotter and steer his fellow shooter’s shoulders onto targets. It’s thrilling when everyone is running uphill in pursuit, calling out to each other. In the end, panting and laughing, it’s pretty damn fun.

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Photo courtesy of Julio César Morales

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Photo courtesy of Julio César Morales

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