I’m going on my first-ever javelina hunt this week, thanks to the generosity of my good friend Jim Abbott and his son-in-law James Drew. I guided these men (and James’ son Ethan) on a turkey hunt last spring, and setting me up on a javelina hunt in Arizona was their form of payback. It’s not just the nicest guiding tip I’ve ever received (actually, all I did was get these guys on some great turkey ground and stick around to call a bit); it’s an opportunity I’m really looking forward to on several levels.

Whenever I hunt something besides whitetails, I get the chance to pick up a new skill set, or hone one I don’t use much while sitting in a treestand in the Midwest. Elk, for example, help me really understand of how animals use wind and terrain in the mountains. Turkeys help me calibrate that little GPS in my brain that helps pinpoint where I need to be to call a critter close. Muleys and pronghorns have sharpened my spot-and-stalk skills, and made me appreciate a creature that can disappear where there seems to be no cover at all.

I’m not sure what javelina have in store for me, but I’m excited to learn. Jim has had success with spot-and-stalk, as well as calling. I’ve enjoyed success with both of those techniques on other animals, but as a javelina rookie, I recognize that there’ll be a learning curve. Every animal has nuanced behaviors that take time to decipher, and figuring those out in a four-day hunt is going to be a challenge—and a fun one.

I’m wide open to advice, and eager to get after it. Particularly because, according to my last weather check, the temperature in Phoenix was about 70 degrees warmer than home in Minnesota. That’s the kind of classroom environment I can handle.