The story begins a couple weeks back when I knew that I’d be headed to the HAHWG meeting in Yuma. The meeting was in the afternoon, and I figured I could squeeze a couple hours in the morning, to get out in the field and explore this new bit of area. I called my buddy, David Power, from Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club, and asked him what type of hunting opportunities there were for a morning around Yuma. Specifically, I asked about javelina. My usual January archery hunt had been on hiatus with the birth of our gorgeous daughter, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t itching to get after the skunk pig. David told me about the Gila River bottom, and the over the counter non permit tag that was available in Mohawk Valley. He made it clear to me that, although there are pigs there, they are difficult to hunt in the traditional sense of glassing hillsides, as the river bottom is almost impenetrable with brush. Instead, you have to glass the edges of the alfalfa and hay fields and cross your fingers that you catch a pig or two working the fields.
With expectations set very low, I left the valley early on Saturday morning and made it to my destination as the sun was just starting to lighten the morning sky. I drove several roads and glassed a dozen or so fields in search of javelina, but didn’t have much luck. The last spot I checked was also a bust, but I heard a Gambel’s quail call in the distance. As an opportunist, I shrugged into my bird vest and grabbed the scattergun, in order to scratch out a bird or two. Just at that moment, my cell phone rang and it was David.
“I’ve got a big boar working through an alfalfa field. Hurry up”
Out of the vest and back into the truck, I headed back to area he described and sure enough, one of the fields that I had glassed an hour earlier, was now home to a single javelina working through the field. Making a quick plan, I worked the edge of the field, carefully making my way through the head high brush, and quietly slid out of the foliage at about 50 yards from the big male javelina. Settling the sights behind the front shoulder, I touched the trigger and the pig piled where he stood.
As David made his way up, I truly could not believe my good fortune. A low probability morning hunt completely turned around in a matter of minutes. Without David’s help and expertise, I would have been wandering around missing wild flushing Gambel’s. As if that wasn’t enough, David even provided me with a place to skin and clean my javelina, thereby ensuring that my alfalfa fed pig would be clean and ready for a nice green chili. He’s going to get sick of me saying this, but a big thanks to David Power of the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club for his help and hospitality.
With my javelina skinned, quartered, and on ice, I cleaned up and pointed the truck towards the Yuma Proving Grounds and the Imperial Dam. The HAHWG meeting this year was held at the Hidden Shores RV Village right near the Imperial Dam outside of Yuma. I have written about the Hunting and Angling Heritage WorkGroup before on several occasions, but for those just tuning in, here’s the skinny. The HAHWG is a group of individuals and organizations who are working in conjunction with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to ultimately “preserve our hunting, angling, and wildlife-recreation heritage.” In this day in age, you do not have to look very far to see strong opposition to what we as outdoorsman love and cherish.
One important focus of the Hunting and Angling Heritage WorkGroup is to introduce new hunters and anglers to the sport through free camps put on by the various sportsman’s groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Arizona Elk Society, Youth Outdoors Unlimited and many others. I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of the NWTF junior’s camp for the past several years and it is one of my favorite “hunts” of the year.
The main reason we met in Yuma for this meeting was due to the recent success of this past dove season opener in the city. The city of Yuma collaborated with the Arizona Game and Fish Department as well as the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club to promote the spectacular dove hunting opportunity in the immediate area. The result of this unique collaboration was an economic boom in the community, as well as a positive experience for new and seasoned hunters. One of the topics that the HAHWG focused on at our meeting was how to replicate this positive experience in other Arizona communities and pass on the heritage of hunting and angling.
In truth I had never been to Yuma before, and was completely unaware of the amazing country and ample outdoor activities that are available. Between the morning javelina hunt, the like-mindedness of HAHWG members, and a tour of Yuma, I’d consider it a pretty successful trip. See you soon Yuma.