The Desert Ghost
Javelina, also known as the collard peccary, are known as the desert ghost of the southwest for their ability to stay still in brush, camouflaged and unseen to hunters on the chase. Despite this characteristic, due to their social characteristic among others, where there is one there is usually another or more, javelina make great game to beginning and intermediate hunters.Their distribution ranges from South America to south, west, and far west Texas and through New Mexico and into Arizona.
Characteristics of Javelina
There are three species of javelina, however, the most common found in the southwest United States is the collard peccary. In North America javelina can be found in the Chihuahuan and Sonoran Deserts. Javelina travel in herds of 7 to 15 but can be seen in smaller groups where population numbers are much smaller as is the case in far west Texas. Their home range can be up to 4 sq. miles or 800 acres. According to National Geographic,they usually average between 35 and 70 pounds as adults, males being on the larger end of the spectrum, but can reach weights that surpass the average. Adult javelina average between 40 and 60 inches in length and 20 to 24 inches in height.
These animals have poor eyesight but great hearing and a keen sense of smell. Many also refer to javelina as the "skunk pig" because of the strong odor emitted from scent glands below the eyes and back.The "skunk pig" will use the scent glands to mark territory and other members of the herd. When threatened javelina will often rub their tusk together and create a chattering noise as a warning. The collard peccary are primarily most active late evening, at night, and early morning. They are omnivores but feed mostly on plant life such as roots, seeds, cacti, and fruits. Javelina are sometimes thought of as having a relation to pigs and even rats; however, the truth is javelina are in a family of their own,Tayassuidea.
Hunting the collard peccary via spot and stalk can be an adrenaline filled adventure. Their poor eye sight gives even the novice hunter an opportunity to close the distance within fifteenth to five yards even closer at times. This is great game for the bow or crossbow hunter; especially, those who take the traditional route to bow hunting.
However, their poor eye sight does not insinuate you can walk right up to them. Javelina do have a keen nose and great auditory sense so it is always best to play it down wind, keep as quiet as possible, and stick close to the surrounding vegetation. Some places to look for javelina include: areas with heavy and dense vegetation and terrain that can provide cover, washes, senderos (especially when baited with corn), on the eastern slopes of hills and mountains during cold mornings, and water holes such as small tanks. reservoirs, or areas where rain collects.
Sign to look for: hoof prints (nearly identical to deer except on a smaller scale and not quite as far apart), multiple tracks as javelina will usually travel in pairs at a minimum, smell (javelina have a distinct musk smell), rooted prickly pear cactus and other vegetation, prickly pear cactus and other cactus that has been feed on, and dark green droppings containing mesquite beans and other seeds. One last note to take into consideration is the javelina's ability to almost disappear into the desert from which they appeared. Their fur provides great camouflage which gives them the ability to hide efficiently in the desert's cover. Oftentimes, after a herd has scattered, one or several javelina will remain in the area hidden so keep an eye out and good luck!
The Novice Hunter
Typically, the novice hunter will find quick success when hunting javelina. This is not to say people harvest javelina on every hunt. Hunting is hunting and some days you harvest game and other days you come home empty handed. However, javelina, may at times seem not as skittish as other game. This is especially true when using a baiting method. Also, when using a baiting method, because peccaries usually travel in large herds, more opportunities are present for the beginning hunter to make a harvest.
Because, hunters can stalk javelina within amazingly close range, beginning and even intermediate hunters can benefit from better opportunities to make the best shot placement. Whereas, other game might require a potentially long shooting range for either rifle, bow, or crossbow, javelina typical provide shorter shooting ranges. Many novice and intermediate hunters often lack the shooting experience to make sound shot placement on game at long distance; hence, javelina, when hunted correctly, allow beginning and intermediate hunters to make good shot placement within their abilities.
Recipe for Javelina
Many people dislike the taste of javelina. However, when properly cleaned, quartered, and prepared, javelina makes a good meal. Here are some tips to a better tasting javelina:
- When field dressing be sure to immediately remove the musk gland on the javelina's back. Do not squeeze or direct touch the gland.
- Do not allow the fur side of the skin to come in contact with any meat.
- Change rubber gloves after skinning and preparing to quarter the meat. Do not touch the meat with the same gloves you touched the skin with.
- Do not use the same knife used for skinning to quarter the meat.
- Place the meat in ice and allow it to bleed for a minimum of 3 days. Periodically drain the blood and add ice as needed.
- Prepare meat with your favorite game recipe or wrap and put it in the freezer.
Following these tips can make all the difference when it comes to taste. Below is a great recipe not just for javelina but any big game animal.
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Put both shoulders in a large disposable roasting pan.
- Pour the beef broth over the shoulders and into the roasting pan.
- Add the sliced or quartered sweet onion, the chopped garlic clove, and the dried cayenne peppers to the pan.
- Next, top the shoulders with rosemary and the crushed thyme and then the sea salt.
- Now, put in the oven, uncovered, for 30 minutes.
- Pull out of the oven and cover with foil. Return to oven and roast at 400 degrees for 3 hours or until the meat comes off effortlessly when a fork is inserted in the thickest part.
- Now, remove from oven and uncover and add the orzo.
- Bring the oven temperature down to 200 degrees, cover the pan with foil, and return to the oven for 2 hours so the orzo can absorb all the broth and juices.
- Remove from the oven, uncover, and enjoy!!!
Roasted Javelina Shoulder with Orzo
- 2 front shoulders or rear leg/rump, whole
- 1 sweet onion, sliced or quartered
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- sea salt
- thyme, crushed
- a few dried cayenne peppers, whole
- 32 oz. beef broth
- 4/5ths of a 26.6oz. container Orzo