Javelina hunting is a popular sport in Arizona, attracting hunters from all over the country. These small, tough animals are notoriously difficult to hunt, requiring skill, patience, and knowledge of their habits and habitats.

To help hunters improve their chances of success, here are some tips and tricks for Arizona javelina hunting.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when hunting javelina is that they are social animals that travel in groups.

This means that if you spot one javelina, there are likely to be others nearby. Experienced hunters recommend scanning the area carefully with binoculars or a spotting scope to locate the entire group before moving.

Another key factor to consider when hunting javelina is their sense of smell. These animals have an excellent sense of smell and can detect human scent from a distance.

To avoid being detected, hunters should take care to minimize their scent by using scent-free soap and shampoo, wearing scent-free clothing, and avoiding strong-smelling foods and drinks.

Understanding Javelina Behavior

A group of javelinas foraging for food in the desert under the hot Arizona sun. They are moving together in a tight-knit pack, sniffing the ground and using their strong noses to search for food

Javelina hunting requires a good understanding of their behavior and habits. Javelinas are social animals that live in groups called “sounders.”

Understanding their social structure, habitat preferences, and feeding patterns can help hunters increase their chances of success.

Habitat Preferences

Javelinas are found in various habitats, including deserts, grasslands, and scrublands. They prefer areas with dense vegetation and water sources.

Javelinas are also known to use washes and canyons as travel corridors. In Arizona, they are commonly found in the Sonoran Desert.

Feeding Patterns

Javelinas are versatile foragers, consuming a diverse range of plant and animal matter. Among their preferred delicacies is the succulent prickly pear cactus, while also indulging in mesquite beans and an assortment of other desert flora.

They also eat insects, small mammals, and reptiles. During the dry season, they rely heavily on water sources and will travel long distances to find them.

Social Structure

Javelinas live in Sounders, which consists of 5-20 individuals. A dominant female typically leads Sounders, and males are subordinate to females.

Javelinas use scent marking to communicate with each other and to establish dominance. During the breeding season, males will compete for mating rights with females.

Overall, understanding javelina behavior is crucial for successful hunting. Knowing their habitat preferences, feeding patterns, and social structure can help hunters locate and harvest these elusive animals.

Legal Considerations

A hunter in Arizona carefully observes javelina tracks in the sandy desert terrain, with cacti and scrub brush in the background

Hunting Licenses

Before heading out for Javelina hunting in Arizona, hunters must obtain a valid hunting license. Licenses can be purchased online or at any Arizona Game and Fish Department office.

Just to let you know, hunting licenses are not transferable and must be carried by the hunter at all times while hunting.

Seasons and Regulations

Season Dates for 2024:

Archery-Only Season:  Jan. 1-25, 2024

Youth-Only Rifle Season:  Jan. 26 – Feb. 4, 2024

Handgun, Archery, Crossbow, Muzzleloader Season (H.A.M.):  Feb. 9-19, 2024

General Rifle Season:  Feb. 23-29, 2024

Arizona has specific seasons and regulations for Javelina hunting. Hunters need to be aware of these regulations to avoid any legal issues.

The hunting season for Javelina usually runs from January to March. However, it is important to check the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s website for the most up-to-date information on hunting seasons and regulations.

It is also important to note that Javelina hunting is not allowed in all areas of Arizona. Some areas, such as national parks and Native American reservations, have restrictions on hunting. Hunters should familiarize themselves with these areas and their regulations before heading out.

Leftover Permits

If you don’t get drawn for your preferred unit, check out the AZ Game and Fish Website to see if any leftover javelina permits exist.

Hunting Ethics

Hunters should always abide by ethical hunting practices. This includes respecting private property, obtaining permission from landowners before hunting on their property, and not shooting at animals from a moving vehicle. It is also important to practice safe hunting practices, such as wearing appropriate clothing and gear and carrying a first aid kit.

Hunters should also follow the “fair chase” principle, which means giving the animal a fair chance to escape. This includes not using illegal hunting methods, such as baiting or using spotlights to blind animals.

It is important to remember that ethical hunting practices not only ensure the safety of the hunter, but also protect the wildlife and their habitats.

Gear and Equipment

A hunter's backpack with water bottles, camouflage clothing, a rifle, and a map laid out on a desert floor with cactus and rocky terrain in the background

Javelina Seasons

Arizona provides multiple Javelina seasons:

  • January – Archery only season
  • February – Youth-Only firearm season, HAM Season (Handgun/Archery/Crossbow/Muzzleloader), Rifle season

Hunting Equipment

  • Rifles – Single-shot centerfire cartridges calibers .243, 25-06, .257, .260, .270
  • Handguns – centerfire cartridges: 257, 6.5, 7mm-08, .308, .30-30
  • Revolvers: .357 magnum, .44 magnum, .454 Cassul,
  • Muzzleloaders
  • Crossbows (not considered archery but can be used for the HAM season)
  • Bow

Javelina have a keen sense of smell and can easily detect human scent, so hunters should wear scent-blocking clothing and use scent-free soap and deodorant.

Camouflage clothing that blends in with the surrounding environment is also essential. Additionally, hunters should wear comfortable, durable boots that provide good traction and support.

Navigation and Communication Tools

Javelina hunting often occurs in remote areas, so hunters should bring navigation and communication tools such as satellite communicators, GPS, maps, and compasses.

We love our inReach, especially in rough areas like the Superstition Wilderness Area. It makes me feel better to have the security to communicate with my family in an emergency.

Cell phones and 2-way radios seem like a good idea, but we have found that there are many areas where the cell phones don’t work and the 2-Way radios are loud.

If you don’t want to invest in a hunter, you should make sure to familiarize yourself with the area before heading out and always let someone know where they will be hunting and when they plan to return.

Scouting and Tracking

A desert landscape with cacti and brush, a javelina trail with hoof prints, and a hunter's binoculars scanning the horizon

Signs of Presence

Javelinas are social animals that travel in groups. They leave behind several signs of their presence that hunters can look for while scouting.

Some of these signs include fresh tracks, droppings, and rooting areas. Javelinas have a strong sense of smell and often use snouts to dig up roots or tubers.

Hunters can also look for areas with disturbed soil which is a sign that javelinas have been rooting around.

Trail Cameras and Scouting Techniques

Attention, Arizona hunters! Please be aware of the new Arizona Game and Fish Commission rule R12-4-303. A. 5, effective from Jan. 1, 2022. This rule prohibits the use of trail cameras for capturing, locating, or assisting in the hunting of wildlife. Stay informed and ensure compliance with this regulation.

Another useful technique for scouting is glassing. Hunters can use binoculars or a spotting scope to scan the landscape for javelinas. It’s best to look for them during early morning or late afternoon when they are most active.

Reading Tracks and Signs

Reading tracks and signs is an essential skill for any hunter. Javelina tracks are distinctive and easy to identify. They have a heart-shaped pad with two toes that point forward and one that points backward. Hunters can use the size of the tracks to determine the size of the animal.

Javelinas also leave behind other signs that hunters can use to track them. They often rub against trees or rocks to mark their territory, leaving behind a distinctive scent. Hunters can also look for areas where the vegetation has been trampled or browse has been stripped from the plants.

By using these scouting and tracking techniques, hunters can increase their chances of success when hunting javelinas in Arizona.

Hunting Strategies

Spot and Stalk Method

The spot and stalk method is a popular strategy for javelina hunting in Arizona. It involves spotting the javelina from a distance and then stalking them on foot.

This method requires patience, skill, and the ability to move quietly. Hunters should use binoculars to scan the terrain for signs of javelina activity and look for areas with fresh tracks, droppings, and other signs of recent activity.

Once a javelina is spotted, the hunter should move slowly and quietly towards the animal, using the terrain to stay hidden. I

t’s important to stay downwind of the javelina to avoid being detected by their keen sense of smell. When within range, the hunter can take a shot, aiming for the vitals.

Blind and Stand Hunting

Blind and stand hunting is another effective strategy for javelina hunting. This method involves setting up a blind or stand in an area where javelina are known to frequent. Hunters should look for areas with fresh tracks, droppings, and other signs of recent activity.

The hunter should set up their blind or stand downwind of the area where the javelina are expected to appear. They should remain quiet and still, waiting for the javelina to come into range. This method requires patience and the ability to sit still for long periods of time.

Calling Techniques

Calling techniques can also be used to attract javelina to the hunter’s location. Hunters can use a variety of calls, including distress calls, mating calls, and feeding calls. These calls can be made using a variety of devices, including mouth calls and electronic calls.

Hunters should study the behavior and vocalizations of javelina to determine which calls are most effective in their area. They should also be aware of the regulations regarding the use of electronic calls in their hunting area.

Overall, successful javelina hunting in Arizona requires a combination of skill, patience, and knowledge of the animal’s behavior and habitat. By using these hunting strategies, hunters can increase their chances of a successful hunt.

Field Dressing and Meat Care

Field Dressing Basics

Field dressing is an essential skill for any hunter, and it is particularly important when hunting javelina in Arizona.

The first step is to field dress the animal as soon as possible after the kill. This will help to prevent the meat from spoiling and also make it easier to transport.

To field dress a javelina, start by making a small incision just below the breastbone. Then, use a sharp knife to cut through the skin and muscle, being careful not to puncture any organs.

Once you have made the initial cut, use your hands to pull the skin and muscle away from the body, exposing the internal organs.

Next, carefully remove the organs, being sure to avoid puncturing the bladder or intestines. Once the organs have been removed, rinse the cavity with cold water to remove any blood or debris. Finally, allow the animal to cool for several hours before transporting it.

Meat Preservation

Proper meat preservation is essential for ensuring that your javelina meat is safe to eat and tastes great.

One of the most critical steps in meat preservation is to cool the meat as quickly as possible after the kill. This will help to prevent the growth of bacteria and other microorganisms that can cause spoilage.

Once the meat has been cooled, it should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and stored in a cool, dry place. If you plan to freeze the meat, be sure to wrap it in freezer paper or vacuum-sealed bags to prevent freezer burn.

Transporting the Harvest

Transporting your javelina harvest can be a challenge, particularly if you are hunting in a remote area. One of the best ways to transport the meat is to use a game cart or backpack.

This will allow you to move the meat quicky over rough terrain and keep it cool in the process.

If you are transporting the meat in a vehicle, be sure to keep it cool and dry. You can use a cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs to keep the meat at a safe temperature. Additionally, be sure to keep the meat well-wrapped to prevent any leaks or spills.

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