This is the video transcript. To watch the video for this episode click here.
GRANT: Clay and I recently traveled to South Texas to hunt hogs and javelinas. We’ve had some great hunts in South Texas and I always enjoy seeing that habitat.
GRANT: I was eager to get in the blind that first morning and see what would show.
GRANT: At first light we could barely see some silhouettes moving into our setup.
GRANT: These critters turned out to be deer, and a little later, we could hear hogs in the distance.
GRANT: (Whispering) It’s a dawn fest.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Four yards.
CLAY: (Whispering) Yeah. Yeah.
GRANT: (Whispering) (Inaudible) Got a white spot on the kill zone.
GRANT: Being they were just out of my range, but I was hoping they’d close the distance.
GRANT: (Whispering) Coming in.
GRANT: The hogs hadn’t been there long when the feeder went off and everything scattered, but I hoped they’d return.
GRANT: Shortly after everything scattered, we noticed javelinas popping out of the brush.
GRANT: I was confident we’d see more javelinas later, so I opted to give ‘em a pass and wait and see if the hogs would return.
GRANT: Javelinas, or collared peccaries, as they’re officially called – are native to the southwestern United States, especially, close to New Mexico border. And they extend all the way through Central America and down into the northern portion of South America. They appear very similar to hogs, domestic or feral hogs, as we see here in the United States, but they’re not that closely related. They’re not even in the same family when we look at family genus species.
GRANT: Like hogs, bears, and other predators, they’re omnivores; they will eat meat and plant material. A good indication that they eat meat is their very sharp tusk, but they’re also used as a weapon when they’re threatened by other animals, or potentially, even humans.
GRANT: It’s very rare that javelinas chase humans. Just like bears, if you separate a javelina sow from her young, or get one cornered, they may come at you. There’s some records of that. They’ll be popping their teeth and they’re extremely quick.
GRANT: If you’d like to learn more about javelinas, check out the link on the screen.
GRANT: We watched several nice bucks throughout the morning, and I was amazed to see some coyotes eating corn close to the deer. That’s a good indicator food resources were limited at that ranch – when you have coyotes and deer both eating corn within 30 yards of each other.
GRANT: Coyotes tend to be much smaller in South Texas than those here in the Midwest, and that may be why the coyotes and deer somewhat tolerated each other around the food source.
GRANT: One of the bucks we saw had an impressive rack, but just as impressive was the amount of staining on his tarsal glands and that stain extended all the way down to his hooves.
GRANT: The stain is created by bucks urinating on their tarsal glands, and immature bucks tend to lick most of that stain off. If you see an immature buck and a stained tarsal gland, it’s often straight on the bottom, and that’s where they reached around and licked off the rest of the stain.
GRANT: Many people, myself included, believe that immature bucks remove that scent so it doesn’t attract or threaten mature bucks. The buck that had the extensive staining often pushed other bucks away from the feed. Clearly, he was a dominant buck in that area.
GRANT: We did not have a permit to chase deer, but I always enjoy watching ‘em.
GRANT: That afternoon we headed back out in search of some South Texas pork.
GRANT: We sat behind a bit of brush on the edge of the road hoping that we could spot hogs one direction or the other and make a stalk.
GRANT: The ranch manager corned the road when he dropped us off and it wasn’t long before deer and turkey were feeding toward us.
GRANT: I always enjoy watching deer and turkey, but that afternoon I wish they had left a little corn to attract some hogs.
GRANT: (Whispering) I talked a lot about hunting pinch points or limited resources and in this case, it’s both. So, the ranch manager corned the road for us, trying to draw some hogs out of the brush. Deer, turkeys, cow – everything comes to a little 10’ wide two-track because carbohydrates – corn – is an extremely limited resource in this part of the world, especially this time of year.
GRANT: You can do the same thing with whitetails. Maybe it’s a single white oak tree in the Midwest or water during a drought, but finding the most limited resource is a really good strategy for hunting.
GRANT: Unfortunately, no hogs showed.
GRANT: Trickling corn on interior ranch roads is a very common practice in South Texas. It’s brush country and most of the brush in this area is covered with sharp, long thorns. In fact, many of these brush species grow so thick, the branches intertwine, making almost an impenetrable fence, and you certainly can’t see a critter very far in the brush. In addition, when a hunter needs to go into the brush to recover a critter, it’s often a very slow and painful process.
GRANT: On the flip side, many species of brush in this area are legumes – that is they fix nitrogen out of the air and place it into the soil.
GRANT: They also make a seed pod similar to a soybean or a pea – often, much larger – and deer and other critters readily consume those pods. These pods and the leaves of those brush species are a high-quality forage.
GRANT: Like most pods that are really high in protein, they’re low in carbohydrates and that’s where corn comes in. Corn, of course, is a great source of energy, or carbohydrates, and deer and other critters in this area are really attracted to the corn. You may be wondering, without a good source of carbs in the area, how do those south Texas bucks produce such great antlers. Well, the reason is simple.
GRANT: Antlers, when they’re growing or developing, are about 90% protein and about 10% trace minerals and other things. So protein is what develops antlers. Carbs can produce big bodies and energy to go through the cold winter.
GRANT: Bucks in south Texas that don’t have access to some supplemental feed can produce very large racks, but often don’t weigh any more than 120 pounds. If you’ve ever tried to diet, you know cutting carbs is one way to lose weight and the same is true for deer. Without carbs, they don’t build as much body mass.
GRANT: Deer and other creatures seek carbohydrates, and this is why corning the roads is so effective.
GRANT: It’s hard to imagine, but historically, south Texas habitat was a grassland. It was not covered with all this brush. Texas historians have published that mesquite and other brush species was limited to the edge of rivers and creeks.
GRANT: As the area was settled and wildfires were suppressed, that fire would kill those young brush species that tried to start out in the grasslands. Grazing occurred – which competed for the grass – but didn’t necessarily eat the brush, and the biggest factor – cattle drives moved through Texas from Mexico to trailheads further north. Those cattle would eat those pods in Mexico, defecate them out in Texas, and those factors all contributed to the start of brush covering the area.
GRANT: There’s now about 50 or 60 million acres of brush country in south Texas. To learn more, check out the link on the screen.
GRANT: Once again, here’s a great example of the importance of using prescribed fire in areas where wildfire maintained a specific habitat type.
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GRANT: The next morning, we went to a different portion of the ranch.
GRANT: (Quietly) Second morning, Clay and I are hunting in south Texas and it’s a beautiful morning – clear sky, northwest wind, a little bit of frost this morning – so great day here in south Texas; seeing some beautiful cardinals flitting around, eating on the corn. Of course, it’s South Texas. It’s traditional to hunt over corn.
GRANT: (Quietly) Got a buck out here now. These deer are so conditioned to corn – I’m talking, he’s 18 yards away, not paying any attention. It’s amazing. Of course, it’s after their season here, so they’re not pressured. He’s got a broken tine. He’s an interesting buck, but we’re really looking for hog or javelina. Either one would be great. We’ve got to chase that buck out of here pretty soon – leave a little bit of corn. He’s vacuuming it up before the hogs or javelinas come in.
GRANT: (Quietly) But if not, about 200 yards behind us, there’s a ranch road that the wildlife manager here has put corn along. It’s called corning in south Texas. And we’re gonna spot-and-stalk. That’s really fun. Hopefully, we’ll find some javelinas or hogs out of the brush eating on that corn and we can put a stalk on there – take some pork home to Branson.
GRANT: Not long into the hunt, we decided to slip out of the blind and go check a road that the guide had corned after he dropped us off.
GRANT: I was excited as soon as I peeked down the road and saw some hogs about 80 yards away.
GRANT: The wind wasn’t right for us to remain on that side of the road, so we waited a little bit to see if the wind would settle down, and when we crossed, those hogs were gone, but another set was on up the road.
GRANT: We hoped they would feed our way. But that wasn’t the case and we knew we’d have to cover some ground if we had any chance of getting in position for a shot.
GRANT: (Whispering) We’re not gaining ground real quick.
GRANT: Despite trying to hurry through the brush, it wasn’t fast enough and the hogs made it off to the other side before we closed the distance. We decided hunting sounded better than returning to the lodge and getting a hot breakfast, so we grabbed a few snacks, hopped in the truck, and explored a different area of the ranch.
GRANT: After riding a bit, we noticed several javelinas feeding along one of the roads.
GRANT: (Whispering) 80 yards.
CLAY: (Whispering) 80?
GRANT: (Whispering) 80 yards, maybe 100.
GRANT: (Whispering) He’s coming this way.
GRANT: Javelinas have a great sense of smell, but their eyesight is relatively poor, so as long as you can get the wind in your favor, they’re a great animal for a spot-and-stalk type hunt.
GRANT: (Whispering) You know, I love spot-and-stalk hunting. I just love it here or south Florida, wherever. Good size javelina and we saw it from – I don’t know – several hundred yards back. And first time, it was 80 yards, and we cut through the bushes, and we come back out. And next time, it was 100, literally, so we cut in, got to a little seep – not a creek – but a seep up here and I looked over and there was six or seven in there and I held up.
GRANT: (Whispering) Well, this one kept getting further and further away and those drifted off. We eased up. Saw one about 20 yards. I don’t think it saw us. It just – they were just going away, so we cut through there, cut back out, and it was 50 yards, 46-50. It’s a pretty good wind. I didn’t want to shoot that far.
GRANT: (Whispering) Got to about 30-40 yards and finally got him broadside. Took the shot. He moved – I could tell he was moving. As my arrow was flying, he moved, but in my eye, when I saw it tucked right in there and we’re gonna give him a little bit. We’re gonna watch the footage, but I believe we got javelina on the ground, south Texas style, spot-and-stalk.
GRANT: We waited about 15-20 minutes, walked back to the truck, let everyone review the video, and I knew he was quartering away, so I always aim for that off-shoulder.
GRANT: He moved a little bit, but I think we’re great. We’ve got a little bit of stomach material and a lot of blood, so I imagine I went in through the stomach, went to the liver, and caught a lung. I think we’re in good shape. We’re gonna take off on the trail.
GRANT: It ran through here and strung some blood and stuff through here I can see easily. So – but I saw him go through here, so we’re just gonna stay out of the thorns as much as we can, cut up here, and pick it up.
GRANT: Had a great spot-and-stalk on a javelina. This is the exit wound. It was quartered a little bit, so exit’s about perfect to rear. A little bit more this way and I did touch the gut – no doubt. I could see it just a little bit, but obviously, not bad. It made it – I’m gonna say, 60 yards. We’re 30 yards off the road now and it was so thick in there. I didn’t think Clay could get in there with the camera. So we drug it out here. Looking at it, good-size female.
GRANT: Pretty excited ‘cause I love these spot-and-stalk hunts in south Texas. We’re gonna drag it on out of here and show you a little trick back at the skinning shed for taking care of javelina.
GRANT: We headed back to the lodge to start processing the javelina.
GRANT: Based on my experience, I’ve learned there’s a very important step to processing a javelina and it starts before you hang ‘em up.
GRANT: So, one of the most important things about skinning a javelina is Dawn soap. You’re thinking, Dawn, Grant. He’s clean underneath the skin. What’s going on? But javelinas – I can see a few right now – have a lot of fleas on ‘em usually – especially, in south Texas. And I just take a little Dawn – or not a little. Do this here, especially, in the groin area and flip ‘em over. Then, do this.
GRANT: Get a water hose and a big brush and scrub it really good. And I don’t know what does it in Dawn, but it will get rid of the fleas. So makes me a lot happier to skin them. When you’re working on a javelina, I suggest rolling your sleeves up, even if it’s cold, so if some do jump on you, you can see it and get ‘em off before they get in places where you don’t want to talk about on camera.
GRANT: And that baby will suds up. Don’t tell your wife you’re using her Dawn on a javelina.
GRANT: You just do this – kind of like you’re washing your dogs, except your dog don’t lay there like this.
GRANT: After the javelina was sudsed up, I hooked him up to the Redneck hoist and started skinning.
GRANT: I remove meat from a javelina just like I do a hog, a deer, or an elk, and we’ve shared this technique in a previous episode. If you’d like to see how I debone a critter, check out this link.
GRANT: Travel hunts can be a lot of fun, especially when you’re seeing critters you normally don’t see where you hunt. There’s also lots of tips that can be learned from such experiences.
GRANT: I often talk about – here at The Proving Grounds – finding or creating pinch points. Maybe it’s a saddle, a low spot in a ridge, or a food plot, a bend in a creek, or something that kind of pinches deer movement in to within range of the hunter. Topography and habitat types can vary significantly from one hunting location to another.
GRANT: The ranch we hunted in South Texas was very flat, so topography was not going to be the source of pinch points. During this hunt, the ranch was using corn as a source of carbohydrates to create pinch points.
GRANT: For years, I have used Hosted Hunts to book such adventures. I like Hosted Hunts because they have a policy of always going to the ranch or outfitter and hunting with them to make sure everything’s okay before offering hunts at that location. Hosted Hunts has done a great job of not only listening to what I want to hunt, but the budget I have and finding a good match.
GRANT: Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I hope you enjoy Creation. But most importantly, I hope you make time every day to be quiet and listen to what the Creator is saying to you.
GRANT: Thanks for watching GrowingDeer.