PECK CANYON by Eduardo Moreno
I woke up early one Saturday morning, excited to meet my friend who promised me the best javelina hunting spot in southern Arizona. We both drew javelina archery tags that year for hunt units 36A, 36B, and 36C. My friend was a border patrol agent that had seen several herds of javelina in the area, and said that a friend of his had taken one out of this special spot the year before. I didn't know where my friend was taking me but was very excited nonetheless.
Outside and waiting at 3am, I felt a slight January chill blow through me. The headlights coming down the street could only be two people, my friend or the newspaper delivery guy. I got lucky. it was my friend.
On our way I asked were we where going and my friend still didn't want to give me the secret javelina spot. We headed towards Nogales driving south on I-19. As we got closer to Nogales my friend started to divulge information on this secret place. We were headed into the Tumacacori Highlands - specifically near west Peck Canyon.
While driving down one of the old dirt roads, two large mule deer bucks ran across the front of the truck. We both had deer tags but we were here for javelina, and plus it was still too early to shoot.
When we arrived we joined some other friends of his that could not stop talking about the area and how good the hunting was. With the sun starting to rise I could see the place we were going to hunt, and all I could say is - wow. I had never been on this side of hunt unit 36B, but I knew that this was going to be a good day.
After we all told our hunting stories (and I can say there was a little over-exaggeration, but hey, we all were hunters so you have to add a little in every story), we grabbed all of our hunting gear and started to make our way down a large canyon to get across to the rolling hills on the other side.
One guy said that he scoped out a herd the week before, not too far from where we were standing, so off we went. Arriving in the area where he last spotted the javelina we found a large amount of tracks but no animals. Following the tracks for about a mile we ended up at one of the two water holes that we could see from our parking spot.
The water tank was heavily used by javelina and deer, and would be a great spot to put up a ground blind. Taking a GPS location, we decided to keep on following the javelina tracks leading away from the tank. We followed the tracks for several more miles until they headed off into a steep canyon that seemed impassable for a two legged animal. At this point the day was almost over. The sun was low in the sky and ready to set.
After walking all day in this beautiful place I really didn't care that I didn't see a single javelina, I was just glad that my friend introduced me to this area, although that's not what I told him. I sarcastically said that I would never come back to his secret javelina spot, because there were SO many javelina there.
Little did he know that I had the GPS location of that water hole and I would definitely be back some day - with or without him!
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SAVED BY COYOTES by Wendy Mitchell
After school was over for the semester, I headed up to unit 3B with my dad for my cow elk hunt in December of '06. The Woolhouse Habitat Area in unit 3B is non-motorized and great intact pine-forest elk habitat. The almost roadless area makes for excellent game habitat and a great hunting experience.
It was the last day of my hunt, for Christmas was approaching and we had to be home for the holidays. After days of seeing one bull and some antelope, we continued on foot some miles further north, and around 10am sighted four bull elk, running up a hill.
My heart stopped. Then started again, luckily.
After the elk had crested the hill and were out of sight, we rose from our crouching positions and began the stalk. Reaching the hill's summit revealed a herd of at least fifty elk, consisting mostly of cows. The herd was lazily grazing amongst the juniper and dry grass. Leaving my dad with most of the equipment I slowly, painfully, crept towards the herd.
During this expedition, I discovered, first hand, why the herd mentality works so well. No matter where I hid, there was always an elk in view, diligently watching, keeping track of any potential predators: including me.
I found a sheltered spot and began stealing forward on my hands and knees. A cow stared at me intently. I froze and for what seemed like hours, remaining in that awkward position, muscles beginning to tremble. The rest of the herd had begun to wander out of reach, while the cow watched.
Fortuitously, a nearby pack of coyotes began to yip and carry on, distracting her from her scrutiny and I gratefully rearranged my limbs. Her attention was diverted again when the coyotes voiced their claim to the territory a second time. I darted as quickly as I could behind a juniper a few feet away, which had been taunting me with its cover.
Behind the wonderful, concealing branches, I aimed and fired my rifle. She was down within seconds with a lung-shot.
It was late in the day, and the field dressing process took us well past dark. Our flashlights out of batteries, we began the first trek back to the car with my harvest. In the dark, the waning moon and bright December stars were blocked out by clouds.
A friend of my dad's kindly brought a sled for the remaining trips, which worked well on the fresh inch or two of snow. The few miles to and from the car were quite slow, but we joked and laughed the whole way, making a few trips. I was exhausted by the end, but I will always remember that fantastic hunt.