Tonight’s episode of MeatEater chronicles my hunt for a javelina in the Big Bend Region of West Texas. Beyond the fact that you’re going to see one of the weirdest meals you’ve ever laid eyes on, you’re going to see an animal that’s a blast to chase with a bow. If you’re careful, you can get on a herd of javelina and follow them for an hour or so across a mile of terrain. If you blow a stalk, you can most likely find them again and take another approach; there aren’t many animals that are that forgiving. Hunting javelina lets you get lost in the excitement of the chase and stalk without the stress of knowing that you’re about to blow your last big chance.
As for eating javelina, it’s not always as fun as hunting them; their flesh can be pungent and strong. One taste lets you know why these animals are commonly called “musk pigs,” or “skunk pigs”. They have a potent scent gland with an outlet centered on the upper side of their rump — the equivalent location on a dog being the place where you scratch it when it comes up to stand against your leg. It’s a weird place for a black rubbery nipple that exudes a substance that you can smell from fifty yards out.
Thankfully, they’re not the size of a buffalo; I’d hate to tell my wife that we have 600 pounds of the meat to get through. Instead, the animals average only around 45 to 85 pounds live weight, and they yield a lower ratio of boneless meat than deer, so a dead javelina presents a hunter with an interesting and limited treat rather than a burdensome and year-long supply of heavy eating.
The way to handle is to get creative– use marinades, make pulled barbeque for sandwiches, apply generous doses of seasoning, or, like you’ll see on tonight’s episode of MeatEater, do something with the meat that’s so interesting, you won’t really care what it tastes like– instead, you’ll just be blown away by the strange possibilities and weird sights that come with being an American hunter. Enjoy the show. –Steven Rinella