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"The Texas Two-Step" Javelina & Blackbuck-Article

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Here is the link to my article in "AR Guns & Hunting" about hunting javelinas and blackbucks with an AR-15:

 

http://www.arshunt.com/spring2010/spring2010#&pageSet=98&page=0

 

There is a video on the second page. Just click on the photo.

 

ARGunsHunting-Blackbuck.jpg

The Texas Two-Step

by Bob Connell

 

 

Blackbuck

 

I have been guiding free-range blackbuck antelope hunts for the past nine years. It had also been nine years since I took my last blackbuck buck, so I figured I was due! I promptly booked a hunt with myself, totally aware that I would be dealing with a problem client!

The ranch I hunt is a working sheep and cattle ranch with low fences. The size of the blackbuck herd changes all the time as animals come and go on the ranch. The hunts are usually one day and start at sunup and go until sundown. I meet the hunter before first light in Camp Wood, Texas where we discuss the hunt, the weapon they will be using, shot placement, and how we are going to conduct the hunt. After going over our strategy for the hunt we hop in the truck and head to the ranch. The most effective way to hunt blackbucks is to do a spot and stalk hunt. You drive down the senderos on the ranch until you spot a good buck off in the distance. Many times you just get a flash of black or white. Then you need to quietly get out of the truck and start to move downwind of the buck being careful that he (or a doe in his harem) doesn’t spot you. You need to try and stalk as close as you can without being “busted”. The distance you can comfortably and accurately shoot from will determine how close you need to get before attempting a shot. Once you are within your comfort zone for distance, you should settle in and take your shot as soon as possible without rushing it. As I said before, they don’t stand still for very long.

 

For blackbucks, I use my AR-15 chambered in .223 Remington shooting Sierra 65 grain soft-point boat tail bullets. Blackbucks are not large animals. They are smaller than our North American pronghorn antelope. A large male will stand about 30 inches at the shoulder and weigh up to 80-90 pounds with does weighing from 55-60 pounds. Most of the hunters who miss their first shot shoot high due to misjudging the animal’s size. You need to practice shooting with your rifle from the various field positions: prone, sitting, kneeling, and off-hand. Blackbucks don’t stand still for very long and they have excellent eyesight, similar to a pair of eight power binoculars! Free-ranging blackbucks are very alert and are one of the fastest land animals in the world, reaching speeds of up to 65 m.p.h. Once they “bust” you they will take off in a flash of black and white. You need to be ready to shoot quickly without rushing your shot. You should also practice taking shots at 200 yards, and I don’t mean from the bench. The blackbucks my hunters have taken have all been shot at 100-300 yards with only one shot being less than 150 yards. They are much harder to get close to than most blackbucks behind game fences. That is why they are such a special trophy.

I arrived at the bump gate right at first light, pulled up next to the corral, grabbed my binoculars, and got my AR-15 and shooting sticks ready. It was 42 degrees and clear. In other words, perfect weather for hunting blackbuck.

I headed down the main two-track and spotted a group of blackbucks. There were three bucks and eight does. One of the bucks looked to be a shooter. I eased out of the truck and started my stalk. I got to within 200 yards and glassed them again. One buck was a “sunset shooter” so I decided to pass for now and see if I could get on a bigger buck.

I worked my way around to the south end of the ranch along the old railroad bed. I spotted another group of blackbucks containing one nice buck and his harem of six does. I slipped the truck off the two-track into the bush and eased out to begin my stalk. I was able to keep some cover between me and the blackbucks. I got to within 100 yards, which is rare. I got on my knees and crawled slowly around the bush. The buck was facing away from me. I was able to kneel on one knee and get the AR up on the shooting sticks. It seemed like hours before he showed any sign of moving. After what was probably only two minutes he started to quarter away from me. He never stopped and was just about to enter some heavy brush so I decided to take the shot. He pronged straight up in the air about five feet, ran ten yards, and piled up.

It felt great to "be the hunter" for a change!!

 

Stalking free-ranging blackbuck antelope in central Texas can be one of the most exciting and challenging hunts you can do in Texas today. Their long spiral horns and unique black and white coloration make them one of the most beautiful and prized of all the antelope anywhere in the world. Since their introduction in Kerr County in 1932, the Indian blackbuck antelope has thrived in the Edwards Plateau region of Texas. It is estimated that our herd is now over 20,000 animals. While there are many blackbucks hunted on game ranches behind high-fences, there is also a large free-ranging population as well. These free-ranging blackbucks are one of the most difficult animals you can hunt in Texas. They are very wary and as I said earlier, rarely let you stalk closer than 150 yards. Shots from 200-300 yards are typical.

 

If you ever get a chance to hunt these all seeing, free-ranging blackbucks in Texas, you owe it to yourself to do it. They are an alert and difficult animal to hunt. I guarantee you; it is a hunt you will remember fondly for the rest of your life. And, they taste great too!

 

Good Hunting!

 

 

 

Javelina

 

Hunting during the summer in west Texas, where the temperatures exceed 100 degrees daily, is considered by many to be the definition of insanity. They are probably correct. But with deer season still two months away, a few of us that hunt regularly together decided to meet up at a ranch owned by a friend of ours near Ft. Stockton, Texas. We decided we would do a summer javelina hunt using our various AR’s.

 

We converged on the ranch Friday afternoon, got settled in the bunkhouse, set up the “shade canopies” and chairs, and started reaching for cold bottles of water. We discussed out hunt strategy with Trent, the ranch owner. We would be stalking the senderos and two-tracks, setting up on hillsides overlooking the draws, and hunting from blinds. Our battery consisted of an assortment of AR-15’s chambered in .223 and 6.5 Grendel.

 

The AR-15 is an excellent platform for hunting javelinas. I personally prefer the .223 using 65 grain soft points. Javelinas are not much larger than a coyote. They will generally weigh from 30-60 pounds, so the 65 grain bullets do a fine job of getting them on the ground.

 

Javelinas, or Collared Peccaries, are found throughout the southwestern United States and down into Central and northern South America. Although they resemble pigs, they are not a part of the pig family. They are distantly related to both pigs and hippopotamuses, but are classified in their own Family: Tayassuidae. They have poor eyesight, but excellent smell and hearing. This makes them good candidates for spot and stalk hunting.

 

They are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Javelinas travel in herds ranging from 6 up to as many as 100. They will usually come out their bedding areas right after sunrise and just before sundown and feed along the ranch roads and two-tracks. As long as you approach them from downwind, it is fairly easy to stalk close enough to the herd to get a good shot. Here in Texas we can take two javelina per year. With the AR-15 you have a good chance of getting both of them on the same hunt. With the quick follow-up allowed by the AR you can frequently get two at the same time. If the rest of the herd scatters too quickly after the first shot for you to get two on the ground, don’t worry. They will usually come back out within twenty minutes after things settle back down. Just settle in to some cover and be patient.

 

Our group got four javelinas. Three were taken with .223’s and one was taken with a 6.5 Grendel. I didn’t even see a javelina over the weekend, so I called a buddy who runs the Uvalde Blue Mountain Ranch outside Knippa, Texas and made arrangements to head over to the ranch he manages to finish getting my javelina.

 

I arrived at the ranch just outside Knippa, Texas about an hour before sunrise. Clay, my friend and the ranch manager, and I grabbed a cup of coffee and got caught up a bit. He told me that he was going to let two of his guides go with me. They had both been seeing javelinas on different parts of the ranch in the past week. I headed out with Joshua and Joseph just before first light. We drove down a two-track about a mile and a half from the lodge to where they had been spotting javelinas. We parked the truck and headed up the road on foot. As we rounded the bend we could smell a javelina. They don’t call them “skunk hogs” and “stink pigs” for nothing. We spotted a lone boar off to the side of the road. I used the brush for cover and started a stalk on him. I was able to work up to an opening where I could get a clear shot at him. I put the cross-hairs on him, squeezed the trigger on the AR, and down he went, bang, flop! The 65 gr. bullet worked perfectly.

 

We hiked back, brought the truck down, and loaded him up. The three of us headed to another part of the ranch where the javelinas had been active lately. As we were driving down the two-track we spotted another lone javelina boar. We pulled over and slipped quietly out of the truck to try and start a stalk on him. The wind was in our favor. I was able to stalk up on him unnoticed and position myself for another good shot. The 65 gr. pill hammered him! He ran no more than ten yards before piling up. After we loaded the second javelina into the truck we headed back to the skinning shed to dress them out and skin them.

 

The first javelina weighed in at 45 pounds and the second one at 37 pounds. I was excited about getting my first javelinas with my AR-15. I am also very pleased with the performance of the 65 gr. soft-point bullet on the javelinas. I loaded a box of fifty of them up for hunting just as soon as I got back home.

 

The load that worked for me in my .223 AR-15 for the javelina was:

 

65 gr. Sierra #1395 SBT Game King Bullet

25.5 grs.-Ramshot TAC

Remington 7 ½ Small Rifle Bench Rest Primers

Winchester Brass

 

If you have never hunted javelina, I would definitely put them on your “list”!!

 

Good Hunting!!

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