Rambling Review: Turtleskin Snake Gaiters

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Turtleskin Snake Gaiters
Turtleskin Snake Gaiters

Why:

Hunting, hiking and fishing in Arizona often puts me in close proximity to rattlesnakes. I’ve run across several while fishing, and I always bump into one or two in the early portion of the Arizona quail season. The statistics tell me that as long as I’m not drinking and trying to poke it with a stick, I should be alright. But when hunting in some remote areas by myself, I believe in a more proactive defense strategy. I had the opportunity to check out the Turtleskin Snake Gaiters this quail season, and although I couldn’t find a rattlesnake to bite me in the leg, I was pretty impressed with how these gaiters performed.

Turtleskin Snake Gaiter
Turtleskin Snake Gaiters

First impressions:

Patented Material – Turtleskin Snake Armor is a super-tight weave of high-strength ballistic fibers and polyester. This patented fabric has been tested and have proven to successfully repeal a diamondback rattler bite.

Lightweight – At 6 ounces each, the Turtleskin Snake Gaiters are some of the most lightweight snake gaiters on the market.

Made in the USA – The Turtleskin Snake Gaiters are made in the USA.

Turtleskin Snake Gaiter
Turtleskin Snake Gaiters

Field Use:

After running the Turtleskin Snake Gaiters in the field this season, I was really impressed with their quality and durability. Although no snakes tried to bite through them, there were plenty of stickers, thorns and cholla that grabbed, scratched, and poked at the gaiters. After multiple trips in the field, these things still look like new and really help to protect the bottom portion of my pants.

The early portion of the Gambel’s quail season is miserably hot, and the only thing that helps is to get out early and drink lots of water. It was surprising how well the Turtleskin Snake Gaiters breathed. There was a very noticeable difference between the Turtleskin gaiters and other non breathable gaiters such as oil finished cloth and heavier briar proof material.

The one thing about these gaiters that I noticed after the first day was the noise. The “swish-swish” with each step is not really an issue during quail season. I’m constantly crashing through the brush, chasing and flushing birds and being quiet is not super important. It would be a tough decision to bring these on an early season spot and stalk hunt with the amount of noise they make.

Turtleskin Snake Gaiters
Turtleskin Snake Gaiters

Pros:

Lightweight

Made in the USA

Breathable

Durable construction

Cons:

A bit noisy

Prognosis:  If you spend anytime hunting or hiking in snake country, it’s worth your time to check out the Turtleskin Snake Gaiters.

 

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Turtleskin provided the Snake Gaiters for the purpose of this review. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

Arizona Quail Hunting: A Wrong Turn

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Gambel's quail
A pair of Gambel’s from the morning

It took about 20 minutes before I realized that I had turned off on the wrong two track. Instead of improving, the trail dumped into a wash and became impassable for the truck. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, I put the truck in park, grabbed my coffee, and opened the door for a quick listen. I was greeted by the sound of a Gambel’s quail covey getting out of their roost tree about a hundred yards away. It was an easy decision to shoulder my vest and grab my shotgun and look at some new country

I scratched out two birds out of the covey and found myself a new hillside to hunt in the future. Sometimes taking the wrong turn takes you to the right place.

Arizona Quail Country
Arizona Quail Country
quail-poppers-and-deer-steaks
Coues Deer steaks paired with jalepeno quail poppers

 

Rambling Review: Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest

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Rambling Review – Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest

Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest
Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest

Why:

There are several good options for quality strap vests on the market. I’ve written about several of them on this blog already. For the early Arizona bird hunting season, I’ve had the opportunity to wear the Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest and I’ve been really impressed with what this light weight strap vest has to offer.

Quilomene San Carlos
Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest

First impressions:

Q5 Outdoors Products – Dan and Joanne Priest started Q5 Outdoor Products several years back and introduced the original Q5 Upland Strap Vest and the Q5 Centerfire Vest. Recently, the Priests brought the Quilomene line up of vests into the Q5 Outdoor Products fold, and now offer these highly renowned, field tested vests for sale. One of the coolest parts about all of the Q5 and Quilomene Vests is that a portion of each sale gets donated to Arizona Outdoor Adventures, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing healthy outdoor activities for underprivileged children.

Customizable and Adjustable – The Quilomene San Carlos Vest comes in two styles. One is a “Y” back and the other is an “H” back design. Both styles offer quite a bit of adjustments. When purchasing your vest, you are also able to choose a size based on your waist measurements. This ensures that the vest fits properly and carries any weight comfortably.

“Y” back and “H” back

Storage – There is a total of seven pockets on the San Carlos vest, which makes it easy to carry all the essentials in the field. Lash straps are located on the back of the pack for stashing a jacket once the day gets warm. The bird pouch is spacious and capable of carrying a limit of quail easily. Although there are no water bottle pockets, there is a large hydration pocket on the interior of the bird pouch, and handy hose clips located on the shoulder straps.

Made in the USA – All of the Q5 Outdoor Products are made in the USA.

Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest
Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest

Field Use:

I’ve enjoyed using the Quilomene San Carlos bird vest so far this season. From the early dove season, to grouse hunting at 8,500′ in the mountains, and back to the valley for the quail opener, the San Carlos really shines in the field.

The first things that really stood out to me while chasing birds was how lightweight and slim fitting this vest is. It is a very simple design and even when loaded, it does not have a lot of bulk. This is beneficial whether you are hanging in field waiting for the next flight of doves, or slipping through the dark timber looking for grouse.

Another thing I really was impressed with was how comfortable the vest is, and how well it carried a load. With early season quail especially, I loaded up on lots of water, shells, and other odds and ends, and the vest was pretty heavy. Even with the vest fully loaded, the waist belt carried the weight really well. Although there are vests on the market with more pockets and carrying capacity, the Quilomene San Carlos handled the everything I threw at it.

Although I was extremely happy with the how much the vest was laid out and how much it could carry, I could see how a hunter with a dog might want a little bit more carrying capacity for extra water or designated water bottle holders. Quilomene has quite a few different accessories that allow these vests to be totally modular and customizable for each individual customer. Check out their accessories page for water bottle holsters and more.

Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest
Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest

Pros:

Made in the USA

Quality material and durable construction

Lightweight 

Water bladder pocket and hose hooks

Portion of each sale goes to non-profit

Cons:

Lack of water bottle holders

Prognosis:  The Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest is an excellent lightweight strap vest option and worth looking at if you are in the market for a new vest. 

* Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is not sponsored by or associated with any of the stated companies and is accepting no compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this review.  The Quilomene San Carlos Bird Vest was provided by Q5 for the purpose of this review. My independent status may change in the future but, as of the date of publication, no relationship other than described above has been pursued or established.

 

Arizona Coues Deer Hunting

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Coues country
Coues country

I’ve been living in Arizona long enough, and it was time to hunt coues deer. I was able to pick up a tag for one of the southern units and with a little help from my buddy Ed at Gameplanner Maps and countless hours of the Jay Scott Podcast, I had a pretty good idea of where I needed to go and what I needed to do. Although I’ve spent a little time behind binoculars, I still never feel real confident about finding animals in the field, especially coues deer who are touted as some of the toughest creatures to find.

I snuck out of work on Thursday and was setting up camp mid afternoon. This allowed me a little bit of time to get out and glass the evening in hopes of turning up a buck before opening day. With no luck, I  turned in for the night. The next morning found me on a high hill glassing some ridgelines, but I only saw one deer at first light and never saw it again.

Around mid day, I decided to switch up positions and get to another vantage point with better afternoon sun and shadows, but found another set of hunters there. Dismayed, I decided to work some lower country and work my way back into some different country. Within an hour I had picked up two does, and I watched them as they fed into some thicker brush. Confident they didn’t have a buck with them I repositioned myself to look at another hillside and I immediately found two small bucks feeding down the hill toward a canyon. I watched them for a few moments and knew that if I didn’t act, they would get into the bottom of the drainage and I would lose them. Grabbing my rifle and binos, I snuck down the hill into a managable 200 yard range, found the deer again in my binoculars and made a quick shot that dropped one of the small bucks where he stood.

I gathered my pack and tripod and hiked over to where the deer lay. I sat there looking at the deer incredulous at how fast everything had unfolded and said a quick prayer of thanks before beginning the work. With a heavy pack, I walked the mile back to my truck with a huge smile on my face. My good friend Kyle was there to great me, as he had come down to help me out the next day. With the hunt complete, we enjoyed venison backstraps cooked over an open fire and talked about the upcoming Mearns quail season. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding hunt and am grateful for venison in the freezer.

Coues Country
Coues Country
Gameplanner Maps
Gameplanner Maps
Coues Country
Coues Country
First coues buck
First coues buck
Coues deer
Coues deer
Packed out
Packed out
Driving out
Driving out
processing
Processing

 

Walking in the White Mountains

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The White Mountains
The White Mountains

We took Jefferson’s advice.

“A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise and independence to the mind. Games played with the ball, and others of that nature, are too violent for the body and stamp no character on the mind. Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks. Never think of taking a book with you. The object of walking is to relax the mind. You should therefore not permit yourself even to think while you walk. But divert your attention by the objects surrounding you. Walking is the best possible exercise. Habituate yourself to walk very far.” —Thomas Jefferson, letter to Peter Carr, 1785

Non-Motorized Recreation
Non-Motorized Recreation
Following the dog
Following the dog and looking for grouse
wilderness
Wilderness
Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.
Let your gun therefore be your constant companion of your walks.

 

Arizona Quail Hunting: Where our food comes from

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Gambel's Quail
Double Top Knot

After a scorcher of an Arizona quail hunting opener, I sat in the shade of the backyard enjoying the cool breeze. My little girl stood at my shoulder, listening and watching as I told her about my morning and showed her the pictures from my time in the field. She held the male Gambel’s in her small hands, examining his feathers, commenting about how soft it was, and asking about his topknot. I took my time and chose my words carefully as I explained why I went hunting and ultimately where our meat comes from.

Post skinning and cleaning, we breasted out several birds and prepared the fixings for quail nuggets. Dunk in eggs, roll in breading, and straight into the cast iron skillet. A few moments later, we were dipping fresh quail nuggets into honey mustard sauce. It was a fine way to start the weekend and the Arizona quail hunting season.

Arizona Sonoran Desert
Arizona Sonoran Desert
Gambel's Quail
Gambel’s Quail
Arizona Sunrise
Arizona Sunrise
Cleaning quail
Cleaning birds and learning where our food comes from
Quail Nuggets
Making Quail Nuggets
Quail Nuggets
Quail Nuggets

 

Fly Tying: Frye Creek Special

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Frye Creek Special
Frye Creek Special

I spend a fair amount of my fishing time flicking flies on small creeks. Arizona has a good number of these small waters to choose from and the fish are usually quite opportunistic and willing to take a well presented fly. The Frye Creek Special is a super simple pattern that I always turn to if I need trick that picky fish holding in one of those deeper plunge pools. Plus, I’m always looking for a use for my Mearns quail feathers.

The Frye Creek Special is available for purchase in the Arizona Wanderings Shop.

Arizona Wanderings Shop
  • Hook/Bead: #8 streamer hook with a 2.8mm bead
  • Thread: 6/0 Uni
  • Tail: Marabou
  • Body: Arizona Simi Seal
  • Collar: Male Mearns Quail feather
Frye Creek Special
Hook, bead, thread
Frye Creek Special
Tie in the tail
Frye Creek Special
Arizona Simi Seal
Frye Creek Special
Pick out material
Frye Creek Special
Mearns Quail Hackle
Frye Creek Special
Mearns Quail Collar
Frye Creek Special
Pink/Red
Frye Creek Special
Black/Green
Frye Creek Special
Brown/Gold
Frye Creek Special
The Frye Creek Special doing work
Frye Creek Special
Gila Trout falls to the Frye Creek Special

The Frye Creek Special is available for purchase in the Arizona Wanderings Shop.

Arizona Wanderings Shop

 

Arizona Dove Season – The Opener

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Sunrise
Sunrise

I had a good morning in the field with a good friend. Shot a few birds, ate some good grub, drank a few beers, and enjoyed the great outdoors. I am beyond thankful that fall is here.

Tailgate Breakfast
Tailgate Breakfast
Dan's first dove
Dan’s first dove
Plucking
Plucking
Breaking Clays
Breaking Clays