Hunting with the .375 WCF, Part III

By Dave Thornblom


The 1983 spring javelina hunt found my hunting partner, Caroll James, and I camped in the area where KP Creek flows into the Campbell Blue River. It was March, and temperatures were down in the low 20's at night in the Blue Wilderness. The days might warm up into the low 50's. You could hunt hard all day and not break a sweat.

We did hunt hard because we only had 3 days off for this hunt as we had to be back on the job on Monday morning. The season opened on Friday morning, so we had driven to our hunt area on Thursday night and set up camp in the dark.

This country was between 4500 and 6000 feet above sea level and very rough. It seemed that there was very little flat or level ground here. Still considered ranch country by Arizona standards, the flora consisted of juniper, bee brush, small stunted oaks and scattered wait-a-minute bushes. This sort of vegetation fairly covered the low mountains and hills, interspersed with scattered open grass meadows.

The grassy hillsides that faced east caught the morning sun and were good areas to glass for javelina. At a distance of 500 to 600 yards, these little pigs looked like raisins in the morning sunshine.

Another hunting friend in Springerville gave Caroll and I that bit of information. "Glass the morning sides of the hills in the lower Blue Wilderness and look for raisins, then stalk within range," he said. "Best method I know for javelina." He was right.

I had just finished reading an article in Elmer Keith's book "Six Guns" about hunting javelina. I had a Smith and Wesson 25-5 with a six inch barrel in .45 Long Colt. The barrel and cylinder had just been custom fitted, so it seemed to be a logical choice for this hunt. At the last minute, I decided to also take along my 94 Big Bore in .375 WCF, just in case.

I had practiced quite a bit with the S&W .45 and was confident that I could deliver accurate shot placement on targets very much smaller in size than the average javelina. This was before the custom work was done.

The first morning of the hunt Caroll and I were up early. We made coffee and breakfast, cleaned up, and left camp before dawn. Caroll was to hunt north of camp and I would hunt the area south of camp. I was carrying the 25-5 revolver and Caroll toted his 3 screw Ruger, also chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge.

About 9:00 that morning I spotted two "raisins" across KP creek from camp. From my position, the javelinas were at least 1000 yards away. I made my way down the hill, passed our camp and crossed KP creek. Then I climbed up the steep hill to the small plateau where the two javelinas fed, and stalked to within 25 yards.

I was behind a small bush and my heart was pounding from the fast stalk. The javelina had no idea that I was there. I waited 'till I recovered from the stalk, slowly stood up, and brought the .45 to bear on the larger of the two javelinas. Sight alignment was perfect. The trigger pull was perfect. Let off and follow through were superb.

That was the best miss I had ever accomplished. The two javelinas were gone in a heartbeat. I was amazed that a dead javelina could travel that fast. I walked to where the pig was standing when I shot. No blood, no hair, no nothing. I followed the tracks until they played out in the rocks. Still no sign of a hit.

Back at camp for lunch, Caroll asked, "What did you shoot at?" I told him of my great stalk and shot and he got a good laugh out of it. We set up a target to check the sights on the 25-5 and found that it shot about 1 foot high and a foot and a half to the left at 30 yards. No wonder my dead javelina had run off. He wasn't dead, just scared.

That afternoon I swore off the .45 until an extended range session could be done to get it sighted in correctly. Now the .375 WCF was back in action. Neither Caroll, nor I saw any javelina that afternoon, but I felt better carrying the .375 WCF because I knew what I could do with it.

The next morning, Caroll got one of the javelina that I had seen the previous morning with his Ruger .45. He really rubbed it in saying that he always checks the zero on his firearms before each hunt. I usually do too, but in the haste to get to our hunting area on Thursday night, I just plain forgot. Lesson learned. We hunted that afternoon, but saw no pigs.

Sunday morning was cold and bright, one of those Arizona early spring days that makes you happy to be alive. Caroll was relaxing in camp, while I made a long trek to a canyon about a mile north of camp.

Arriving at the canyon rim at about 8:30 am, I saw a large javelina on the opposite side. The wind was in my favor, so I decided to cross the canyon and try to close the distance. The canyon walls were pretty steep. Going down was tough, but going up the other side was something else. Thought I'd never make it, but finally I reached the top of the canyon wall and started looking for the javelina.

After glassing for about 15 minutes, I spotted the javelina. He had moved to the west while I was crossing the canyon. Now he was about 250 yards from my position. I stalked to within 75 yards of his position and I could tell that he was starting to get nervous.

I waited until he was standing broadside to me and squeezed the trigger of the .375 WCF. Dead pig. The 220 grain Hornady jacketed flat point went through both shoulders, leaving an exit hole about the size of a fifty-cent piece.

I field dressed the pig and tied his hooves together so I could carry him back to camp. When I turned around, there stood Caroll.

"I thought you were staying in camp this morning," I said.
"I figured you might need some help, it's a long way back to camp," Caroll replied.

Bob Clayton of Alpine, Arizona did the shoulder mount of my javelina. Hard work for a small trophy, but well worth the effort. The work would have been quite a bit harder if Caroll had stayed in camp. It's always a pleasure to hunt with good friends.




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Copyright 2003 by Dave Thornblom. All rights reserved.

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