Javelina Hunting Doesn’t Stink

by Josh Dahlke

Content Director MORE FROM Josh

While it’s true that javelinas do stink, hunting them does not.

We had spotted several of these small desert pigs throughout my Coues deer hunt at Rancho Mababi, so I knew I’d gladly claim one of the few javelina tags that were available on the ranch if I were fortunate to end up with extra time. After connecting with my Coues on Day 4 of the six-day hunt, I immediately went into jave-mode. My new friend and hunting guide, Charles Oberly, was confident that we could find a “stink pig” if we spent enough time behind our glass.

I was intrigued by these peculiar little piggies, and I was also skeptical that they would smell as awful as those around me had claimed. When we located a small group of them rooting up an open hillside, we moved in for a shot. As we popped up over the final hill that would reveal the unsuspecting javelinas, they were nowhere to be seen. Just when I thought this Mexican adventure wouldn’t provide me with my first javelina, a lone boar appeared and he quickly fell upon the desert floor.

It’s always special walking up on an animal, but it’s especially awesome when it’s the first time you’ve ever laid your hands on one of its kind. In this case, I was blown away by the bristly hair and muscly tone of this compact critter. What a cool creature. But I’d be a liar if I said his aroma wasn’t overpowering. Javelinas definitely earned their nickname, “stink pigs,” but hunting them does not stink. The primary culprit of this stink is a scent gland on their back, which is easily removed when butchering them.

As usual, for me, a major element in the allure of shooting a javelina was the opportunity to make meat. I’m always open to a culinary challenge, and my compadres swore javelinas were all but inedible. If I took heed in such claims, I’d have stopped eating wild game of all sorts long ago. I’ve heard foul assessments of deer, antelope, feral hogs, ducks, geese—all myths that I’ve dispelled through thoughtful cooking.

Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until my next run in with javelinas before I can convert these nonbelievers. My plan was to bring home my javelina’s meat from Mexico and get busy in the kitchen, but just prior to leaving camp I was informed they’re classified as “swine,” and given USDA regulations, my pig couldn’t cross the border. When I reluctantly removed my javelina’s meat from my Pelican cooler, three local Mexican guys in camp were eager to stake their claim. I’m pretty sure they were going to fight over every pound. Something tells me they’re on to something …

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