The late winter in Arizona has traditionally been the time to hunt javelina (pigs) in the desert and foothill regions throughout the state.
The almost monthlong archery season has come to a close, followed by the 10-day youth hunts in various units. There was a lottery drawing for these late winter permits in October, and the lucky hunters secured a tag for this unique big game animal.
The youth hunts are a perfect opportunity for a licensed 10- to 17-year-old to be introduced to big game hunting.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department offers these special hunts for deer, turkey, elk and javelina for this age group by encouraging the sport of hunting to the younger generations. All in the 10 to 14 age group are required to take and pass the firearms safety course before going into the field. The course is a great opportunity for the entire family, which can also refresh gun safety handling for everyone.
The true name for this mammal is a collared peccary and has a distinct look of a wild boar, but in a much smaller version. It has a pig-like snout, with various shades of coarse gray hair, protruding canines and small hoofed feet.
An adult animal will range from 35 to 55 pounds, but appear larger when the bristles of their back are raised when alarmed. They have a distinct musk gland, which emits a mild “skunk odor” also when alarmed or disturbed.
Emmy Whaley drew one of the youth permits for unit 22. She is an avid hunter having harvested two fine whitetail bucks and two turkeys before the age of 16. On this hunt, dad and mom accompanied Emmy as they glassed the nearby southern slopes looking for the elusive javelina.
When they spotted the pig, the stalk was on, and a well-placed shot at 100 yards downed her third animal of the Arizona Big Ten. The other nine big game animals are mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, turkey, sheep, bear, mountain lion, buffalo, and antelope. She has a goal of harvesting all 10 of the Arizona big game species and she is well on her way in the pursuit.
Emmy and her four sisters are avid hunters and have all taken big game accompanied by their dad, John and mom, Kerry. Emmy is a sophomore at Payson High School where she is an honor roll student, an FFA officer, and a basketball standout. She has been given the nickname “shooter” which certainly fits her accuracy with a rifle and on the court.
Javelina hunts can be the perfect time to enjoy comfortable desert temperatures and maybe even a campout. Hunting javelina requires good optics on a sunny southern slope, then scan prickly pear patches of neighboring ridges and canyons. “Pigs” have a tendency to feed all day and are not like other big game which feed in the reduced light of early morning and late afternoon.
The Whaleys enjoy the family time together in pursuit of big game in the Arizona outdoors, God’s creation.