While growing up on a farm in Southern Arizona, I’d play catch, basketball or football with my 2 older brothers. During those hot summer months, after running back and forth while my oldest brother, PJ would play all-time-quarter-back, I’d get real tired. Now, PJ wouldn’t let me quit, so the post pattern he’d give me to the corner of the “end-zone” would eventually turn into a b-line to the front door. When I’d do this, he’d get upset with me and usually nail me with the ball on my way through the door. I look back on those days and I can honestly say I learned a few things- other than to duck before I hit the front porch. Number one: he wanted me to succeed. Quitting wasn’t an option and I’m grateful it wasn’t given to me; even if it was painful. Number two: I was a much better aim than he was!
Now, as he reads this, he’ll disagree. But the fact of the matter is this. He only hit me about 1/3 of the time and every time I picked something up to throw, I don’t think I ever missed. The majority of the time, I’d throw rocks. And, unfortunately, the majority of the time they hit expensive things like cars, windows, or, the always dreadful, people! Although I was a much better aim, he used much better judgment- I’ll give him that much.
PJ and I like to laugh. As I got older and during our hunting expeditions, after consecutive days of minimal sleep and delirium would set in, everything would become extremely funny- and it still does. I’m sure most of you can relate. Of all of the memories I have of hunting with him, tears rolling down our faces and all, those are the most memorable.
This particular hunt was an archery javelina/deer combo hunt in southern Arizona with PJ. Javelina tags are permit tags so they must be drawn in order to hunt; however, the archery deer tags are non-permit tags and can be used in several units and are over-the-counter. People rarely get skunked on the javelina draw, so if you apply, get ready for a tag and some fun- especially when you get to chase both critters at the same time.
Like we did on most archery hunts previously, we’d hunt for deer, and then chase the pigs if we ran into them. I’m not going to get into specifics on whether or not they’re actually pigs, but you get the idea. Well, my brother and I split up after a morning of glassing and walked through some mesquite covered draws. Not long after the split, I found myself about 60 yards from a herd of pigs milling around. Yes, even a blind squirrel finds a nut every now and then.
The lone boar was rooting up the ground as the remainder of the herd worked their way up and over the small ridge top. Something at the base of a barrel cactus had this guy more than occupied; which turned out to be the perfect situation for a clumsy, green-horn like myself to actually close the necessary distance with archery tackle.
At this time, I couldn’t afford the “dial-a-range” rangefinders so I took a wild guess (and boy was it wild) and drew my bow. As I did, the pig turned and saw me. Although not completely spooked, he wasn’t about to stick around and see what that blob of green was shaking just 40 yards away. Just as he turned to walk away, I released!
The flight of the arrow looked good but the pig was standing in some long grass. I lost sight of the arrow until I heard a “thump” and the pig started to squeal. That was my only indication of a hit but I wasn’t sure whether or not the shot was lethal.
I fell to the ground and started punching at the sky, saying “YES! I hit him!!!” In the mean time, I realized that the pig hadn’t gone too far and I needed to get another arrow in him. Yeah, it all goes down-hill from here!
To make a long story short, I sat 20 yards from this pig that was still alive and I was out of arrows! “Does anyone have an arrow?” I said to myself. Yup, I’d shot the remainder of my quiver and didn’t even come close, I was so nervous! You’re probably thinking as to why I didn’t just pick up one of my arrows and shoot again. Well, aluminum shafts don’t like to stay straight when they hit tree branches like the new carbons do.
As he did in times of past, PJ topped over the hillside to teach me, yet another valuable lesson; either bring LOTS of arrows or make the ones you’ve got count! Often times we’re in a situation where all we’d need to get the job done is an extra bullet for the rifle; maybe even a football thrown at our heads to keep us pushing through the tough times, or, in my case, just one stupid arrow! Thanks for the extra arrow, PJ. This gave me ample time to relax and make it happen!
We packaged the javelina up, threw him over a tree branch, and carried him to the truck. I don’t quite remember what the ride home was like but I’ll bet anything that to this day, almost 14 years later, PJ could tell the story just as well.
Since that day, PJ and I have been on many hunts together and have taken quite a few animals with rifle and bow, with the other right beside. There are few people I’d rather be in the woods with and even fewer who’ve taught me the “tricks-of-the-trade” like he has. I’m glad he was there for my first archery big-game kill. We’re all in need of an “arrow” now and again and I hope that when I’m given that opportunity, my quiver will be over-flowing and ready to impart.
Thanks, brother! Can’t wait for the many more to come……..