Originally published Tuesday, February 13, 2018 at 05:58a.m.

Last weekend in Unit 18B, 15-year-old Ellie Bruno, who is a sophomore and honors student at Lee Williams High School, went on her second javelina hunt with her step-father Kenny Bellm. Ellie’s mother Nicole is fully supportive of her daughter’s desire to participate in hunting activities.

Bruno enjoys hunting and has been successful on several deer hunts and a previous javelina hunt while hunting with her step-dad. Matter-of-fact, just last year I penned an article on her bagging her first javelina in Unit 18B with the assistance of friends Clayton Holloway and Kenny.

This year the young lady again drew a youth javelina tag and a plan was made for her and Kenny to go hunting.

Like a lot of javelina hunters, the first weekend in the field did not produce any sightings of these desert dwellers. But they did see a couple of mule deer and a large bobcat. Undaunted by the lack of success, the pair went back out into the field on the second weekend of the hunt to an area where they had seen pigs before.

The first day back in the field didn’t produce any shooting opportunities. But an out-of-state quail hunter who was in the area told them he had seen a large group of pigs in a nearby canyon. Ellie hiked out onto a hillside and glassed up a pair of the porkers far away in the bottom of the canyon, but it was too late and too far for her to pursue them.

The next morning, before daylight the duo was back in the same area and patiently waited for light to start glassing. Every hunter knows the value of glassing, especially for javelina. Initially they only spotted some mule deer, but perseverance would pay off.

Kenny found the pigs first in his Swarovski 15x56 binos, but he wanted Ellie to see them through her Nikon 10x42 binoculars, so he directed her to the spot where the pigs were. Ellie was excited to see the group of pigs feeding, and she immediately made plans to go after them. Kenny would be the “eye-in-the-sky” while the young hunter made her stalk.

Keeping the wind in her favor the young hunter got to within easy shooting distance (30 yards) and got set up for a shot. However the steep angle and her being in the prone shooting position prevented her from seeing the feeding peccaries.

Suddenly the pigs started to move off over the top of the hill. The wind had given her position away. All of the pigs except one, a sow which appeared to have something wrong with a back leg, were quickly leaving the area. A javelina that can’t keep up with the herd is an easy target for predators, and usually doesn’t survive long in the desert. It would be a good pig for the young hunter to try and harvest.

The sow that was lagging behind the others gave Ellie the time to get set up.

Her target was about 60 yards away when she fired a shot from her Savage rifle in 243 caliber that was equipped with a bi-pod. The sow dropped immediately and the hunt was over. Ellie, being the sportsman that she is, pulled the pig back to the truck which was 320 yards away.

Aft the traditional “Grip N Grin” photos, Ellie insisted on field dressing her trophy herself.

Kenny said he was extremely proud of Ellie.

“She did it all on her own,” he said. “She made the stalk, and made a perfect shot. Then she brought it back down the mountain by herself and field dressed it.”

Besides providing some food for the Bellm family this hunting experience made some memories and strengthened the bonds between this father-daughter that will never be forgotten.