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Deep in the heart of javalina country

by: Darryl Swan Marty Liesegang is the owner of Roadrunner Gas and Grocery in Scappoose, an avid outdoor enthusiast and a contributing columnist to Spotlight Outside.

Free hunt.

Who could possibly turn that down?

That's exactly what I was thinking recently when I was offered just such a thing. A friend of mine, who travels a lot, had enough points to give me a free round trip plane ticket to San Antonio, Texas, and he had arranged for us to stay at a mutual friend's house during our stay. The cost for me would be nothing more than my meals, and I can tell you the dollar menu never looked so good.

For this trip he had planned a three-day javalina /feral hog hunt on the Navy's Escondido Ranch in South Texas. Warm weather, free hunting trip...I could not say no.

I had hunted in Texas once before, years ago. Hunting in Texas is unlike anywhere else in the United States. Anything is game. Many landowners import exotics for hunting on their property, and money is often your only limiting factor.

It's extremely cheap, though, if you only hunt hogs and predators.

While on the hunt you spend the entire time sitting in a high stand located about 100 yards from a clearing that usually contains some kind of protein feeder. This seems extremely odd to western hunters, but I've come to embrace it while in Texas because everything down there stings, sticks, bites or cuts you.

Walking through the dense mesquite and salt cedar would never work.

So that is how I recently found myself seated in a high stand staring at a feeder 115 yards across from a pond. After getting set up I began to read a book I had brought along (after all, it was a free hunt and one can't expect it to actually be successful, too.)

About 45 minutes later, however, as I looked up from reading an odd, dark object was quietly moving through the brush behind the feeder. I eased my binoculars up and, to my surprise, it was a lone javalina. I quickly put down the Leupolds and quietly eased my rifle through the shooting window.

I had never seen a javalina before and found that I was really nervous while setting up to shoot. So I took a couple deep breaths to calm myself as I steadied the crosshairs behind the near shoulder, and in one good shot I had my first javalina.

I waited and watched to make sure he was down for good before climbing down and going over there. I kept my eyes glued to the ground, looking for snakes. I had only recently learned that a few large rattlers were recently killed in my general vicinity.

When I first walked up to the full-grown javalina I was amazed at how small it was. They only weigh about 60 pounds and look a lot like a small hog, but in fact they are a peccary, unrelated to pigs. This particular one was a lone boar with four big trophy-sized tusks.

He was one mean-looking little animal.

Later we took the meat in for processing. I chose to have Texas sausage with jalapenos mixed in. It should be a great treat.

Field observations

FISHING

• Spring salmon has slowed considerably with all the rain.

• Trout - the ODFW has begun stocking local ponds with trout; Vernonia Pond, March 7: 3,500 trout; March 14: 4,000 trout; Coffenbury Lake, March 7: 3,500 trout; March 14: 4,000 trout; Bethany Pond, March 14: 1,000 trout

• The Scappoose Boosters Derby is scheduled for April 16 at the Columbia County Fairgrounds. For a list of businesses carrying tickets, visit scappooseboosters.org/Derby_Tickets.html.

For additional information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

HUNTING

• Spring bear season opens April 1 locally and April 15 in Eastern Oregon

• Spring turkey season opens April 15 statewide