By Grant McGee
I hit the road last weekend. I left Clovis, passed through Portales and headed five hours south to southwest Texas.
The Lady of the House and I were road trippin’. Our destination was Balmorhea State Park so she could swim on her birthday. It’s an annual rite of passage.
Going over the park map there was a picture of one of my favorite critters of the Southwest, the javelina. The picture was there with a warning, “BEWARE OF JAVELINAS and other wildlife … many pets have been maimed or killed by javelinas.”
Javelina is the regional name for the collared peccary. People who deal with naming animals are pretty particular about the peccary. The big thing is they don’t want people calling the peccary a pig. One may call a peccary “pig-like” but one may not address the javelina as being a pig. OK, but I’ve got to tell you, I’ve heard that saying (maybe you have too) “if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, swims like a duck it must be a duck.” That’s the way I feel about the javelina; if it has a snout like a pig and acts like a pig, then it must be a pig.
Anyway, the javelina is the famed wild pig of the American Southwest. Maps show they used to range as far north as southern Roosevelt and Bailey counties, but that was apparently quite a few years ago. Now they range from southern and southwest Texas, through southern New Mexico into southern Arizona.
I didn’t see any javelina on this trip. I kind of wished I had.
With no javelinas around our area, folks will never know the excitement of having the garden ripped up by a pack of them. Or to be awakened in the middle of the night by the family dog whimpering, finding a javelina rooting through the garbage in the kitchen after climbing in through the dog door.
I was chased by a javelina a few years back when I lived near the Mexican border. It was when I jogged in the morning (you may find that hard to believe). It was January and still dark early in the morning. I left my glasses at the house because they’d been getting steamed up. I was running with my dogs. Coming back into town they started to go bonkers.
Then what I thought was a bush started to move off from the side of the road. The bush was followed by two little bushes. The big bush started after us. I quickly realized it was a mama javelina and she was apparently not amused by having a couple of dogs near her babies.
Then there was Lupita the liquor store javelina in Naco, Sonora. She came when called and liked to eat out of your hand. One time I asked the store owner if Lupita liked Fritos corn chips. I spoke my best Spanish, at least I thought I did. The store owner gave me a worried look and said, “no, no.”
My friend laughed, “You just asked her if she was going to fry Lupita.”
Anyway, I liked it down there in southwest Texas. The swimming was good, there’s a place that serves some of the best fajitas around and it’s very peaceful.
Maybe next time I’ll see a javelina or two.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org