Sunny’s First Weekend of Mearns

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Friday Rain

Sunny and I headed south early on Friday morning to brave the weather and try and find a few Mearns quail. We were both soaked through after the first push, but we persevered and were rewarded with a covey after lunch. By evening, we were both exhausted, soaked, hungry, and ready to rest. We made camp and crashed out shortly after dinner.

With blue bird skies on Saturday morning, we met up with a few friends and their dogs. We made a couple of runs through a few quality canyons and the dogs found plenty of Mearns quail. It filled me with pride to see Sunny work and retrieve. There’s plenty of work yet to polish us both up. We’ll be hitting the hills again soon.

Sunny’s first Mearns. She’s ecstatic. 
More rain.
Drying out at the end of the opener
Sunshine puppy
Saturday 
Mearns quail 
She knows she did all the hard work.
Kyle’s famous tailgate tacos 
Mearns feet
The perfect day to hike the hills

Arizona Coues Deer

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Coues Deer
Poor pup thinks she’s going with me…

We had known for several months that we’d drawn this tag. My good buddy Austin and I had hunted the unit during the January archery season several years back and were anxious to see what we could find hiding in the mountains on this November rifle tag. We’d spent quite a bit of time looking over maps and marking waypoints and believed we had a good plan for the weeklong season.

On the evening of the second day, we spotted a small forky working the ridge below our glassing point. It was pretty thick cover, and when I checked back on him after a while,  I saw he had a bigger buddy with him. I quickly moved into position and was nothing but jitters. Austin coached me through it, and once I got steady, I squeezed off a shot. The buck piled up and we hiked down to him.

It’s always stunning to me how fast things happen in the field. One minute you are just trying to find one through the binoculars, and the next you are staring down at mature deer. I couldn’t believe my luck and was extremely happy with my 2018 coues deer. After a couple of quick photos, we broke down the buck and hiked our way back to the truck by headlamp.

We spent the rest of the week looking for a buck for Austin, but never found the one he was looking for. What we did find was some remote country with lots of potential, and a burning desire to get back after coues deer next season.

Coues Deer
Backroads in Arizona

Coues Deer
Lots of glassing

Coues Deer
Backcountry Camp

Coues Deer
Midday naps in the shade

Coues Deer
A blind squirrel found a coues deer

coues deer
My 2018 Arizona coues deer

Coues Deer
Thinking about how hard this packout is going to be

Spartan Javelin Bipod
Spartan Javelin Bipod

Coues Deer Country
Coues Deer Country

Coues Deer Country
Coues Deer Country

Arizona Coues Deer
Still work to be done

 

Arizona Quail Hunting – Gambel’s School

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Sunny Dog
Tough to smell when you’re tongue’s hanging out

Arizona quail season has finally arrived. I’ve been anxiously awaiting the opportunity to let Sunny run around and chase Gambel’s. We were out early and scared up a couple of covey’s. Sunshine found out quick that Gambel’s quail would rather run than sit around for a point. We were lucky to followup on a covey bust, knock down a straggler and get a mouthful of a desert bird.

It was a fun time exposing the pup to the desert. She ran her heart out and has plenty to learn.

Gambel's Quail
Found one

Sunny Dog
Crashed Out

Arizona Blue Grouse in the White Mountains

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Arizona Sunrise
Arizona Sunrise (photo by Kyle Graf)

The elk bugled all night long which made sleep hard to come by. My little brown shorthair remained in a tight cozy ball next to me in the tent, snoring away while a bull worked cows in the adjacent meadow.  We all woke early, anxious for the hunt ahead, and huddled around the tailgate eating oatmeal and discussing the plan for the day.

I had been out on several Arizona blue grouse hunts over the past few years without success. With Sunny dog joining our family, I jumped at the chance to join my buddies, Kyle and Sheldon, on a trip to the White Mountains in search of this high country bird. We put Sheldon’s seasoned French Brittanys and Kyle’s GSP on the ground while Sunny tagged along. Our second push of the morning yielded a large covey of blue grouse. Although the birds flushed wild, we were able to follow up and put a bird in the bag each. I was beyond ecstatic when Sunny retrieved the bird, and felt boundless joy and pride to see some of our training pay off.

We spent the rest of the day exploring a few more spots without any luck.  But with a tired, happy pup and a bird in the cooler, it didn’t matter much to me. On the long drive back to town, I reflected on the day. It’s hard not to have a smile on your face after spending time with good friends in the mountains and following your dog through the aspens with a shotgun in your hand.

Sunshine on the stake
Sunshine on the stake

Arizona Blue Grouse
GSPs on the loose

Arizona Blue Grouse
Arizona Blue Grouse (photo by Kyle Graf)

Arizona Blue Grouse
Sunny Dog

Arizona Blue Grouse
The whole gang (photo by Sheldon Clouse)

Arizona Blue Grouse
Sheldon with a stellar tailgate lunch

Arizona Blue Grouse
Lunch break

Arizona Blue Grouse
A productive morning (photo by Sheldon Clouse)

Arizona Dove Hunting: Opening Day

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Arizona dove hunting
Breakfast of champions

Over easy eggs, floppy bacon, and a double pot of coffee is the only way to start the opening day of dove hunting season. With a big breakfast and the coffee starting to do it’s work, I met up with two buddies, and we bounced the trucks through the desert, just outside of city limits. As the sun started to peak over the distant horizon, a few doves followed the edge of the wash and provided the first few shots of the morning. We shot for an hour or so, until the sun got a bit higher in the sky and the doves stopped flying. We cleaned up, had a beer and were home before the wives knew we were gone.

For me, dove season signals the beginning of fall. Although the temperatures here in Arizona will stay over 100 through the rest of the month, dove hunting on Labor Day weekend provides the opportunity to breakout the shotgun and get some shooting in before quail season opens up in October. While I’ll have to wait a bit longer for the taste of quail, dove pot pie will be on the menu soon.

Quilomene by Q5 Outdoors
Quilomene by Q5 Outdoors

GSI Outdoors Microlit bottles
GSI Outdoors Microlite bottles

Arizona Dove hunting
I foresee a dove pot pie in my future

 

Rambling Review – Redington Vice Rod and Redington i.D Reel

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Rambling Review: The Redington Vice Rod and the Redington i.D Reel

The Redington Vice Rod and the i.D Reel Combo
The Redington Vice Rod and the i.D Reel Combo

Why:

After one of the windiest Pyramid Lake fishing trips last year, I found myself in the market for a little bit stiffer action rod for throwing a sinking line. I was fortunate to get my hands on a Redington Vice Rod paired with a Redington i.D reel and a Rio Outbound Short full sinking line a few weeks before the trip, and what a setup this turned out to be.

Redington Vice and i.D
Redington Vice and i.D

First impressions:

The Redington Vice Rod – Out of the tube, the emerald green carbon fiber blank looked really sharp paired with the black snack guides and black aluminum reel seat. The rod itself is a no frills workhorse that is completely saltwater ready.

The Redington i.D Reel – The flat black cast aluminum large arbor reel looked pretty sweet as is.  Turns out that Redington has a whole line of decals that can be added to the solid side of the reel. I saw a few KC Badger prints in the mix, but went with a low profile digital camo.

Lifetime warranties – Both the rod and the reel are covered under Redington’s lifetime warranties.

i.D Decals
i.D Decals

Field Use:

If you read the report from the trip, you’ll note that the fishing was on the slower side. All that means is that I did quite a bit of casting and stripping for 3 days. You can get to know your equipment pretty intimately in a setting like Pyramid Lake that throws wind from all directions, rain, snow, and sub-freezing temperatures. I feel like it’s the perfect place to put gear to the test.

Let’s start with the rod. To be honest, I loved the Vice rod. Very smooth while casting a heavy sinking line, with enough backbone to punch through a snow squall in your face. Prior to the trip, I had bought another rod from another manufacturer in the same weight. Long story short, I liked the Vice so much I’m selling the other rod and keeping the Vice. This rod is a solid addition to my quiver and I plan on continuing to push it’s limits for years to come.

When I first saw the i.D reel I couldn’t really see past the sticker. It seemed kind of gimmicky to me and went into the field testing with a bit of a bias. The first night I hooked into a real nice fish about 10 feet from my ladder with about 70 feet of running line in my stripping basket. The large arbor reel gobbled up the loose line and the rulon disc drag did the rest. For a $100 reel, I was impressed.

Lastly the line. I’ve had my fair share of experience with Rio line, but had never used the Outbound Short. Although I’m sure the Vice rod had something to do with it, the Rio Outbound Short was a treat to cast. It loaded the rod well, flew threw the guides, and turned over heavy jig flies with ease. It was easy to see why these lines are so well regarded.

Redington Vice Fly Rod
Redington Vice Rod

Pros:

Lifetime guarantee on Redington gear

Great price on a quality rod and reel

Personalization decals for i.D reel

Cons:

Drag not sealed on the i.D reel

The Redington Vice Rod and the Redington i.D Reel
Cutthroat and Redington

Prognosis:  If you’re looking for a nice Pyramid Lake setup with out breaking the bank, check out the Redington Vice Rod paired with a Redington i.D reel spooled with Rio Outbound Short full sinking line.

* 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.  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 Turkey Hunting: Sleeping in the Dirt

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Arizona Turkey Hunting
Arizona Merriams Turkey

We had driven a long way and were many hours from civilization. I stood surveying the campsite where we had camped in years past. And suddenly it dawned on me. I had forgotten my tent.

I could see it in my minds eye, that lonely tubular tent bag, sitting all along on my garage floor like a lost child. And while it sat there with so much wasted potential 6 hours away, I stood, in my campsite with a dumb look on my face, feeling foolish and knowing that I could be paying a serious price should the wind pick up and/or the weather turn. Pride wouldn’t let me snuggle into a one man tent with my hunting buddy. So I rolled my sleeping bag out on my inflatable pad and borrowed the Tyvek ground sheet for the one tent that was brought on the hunting trip. I tried to think positive thoughts.

After an 8 mile scouting hike, a shot of bourbon, and an ambian, I snuggled in to my sleeping bag and closed my eyes. I slept like a baby under that Tyvek sheet.

We got lucky and killed two turkeys opening day and were on our way home by 2 pm. It was a good turkey season.

Arizona Merriams Turkey
Austin tagging his bird

Arizona Turkey Hunting
Austin with a beautiful Arizona Merriams Turkey

Roost tree
Under the roost tree

Turkey Plucking
Let the plucking begin

Work Sharp Pocket Knife Sharpener
Work Sharp Pocket Knife Sharpener

Sleeping pad + sleeping bag + Tyvek = camping in comfort

Pyramid Lake: A fishing trip

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Lahontan Cutthroat
Lahontan Cutthroat

We fished Pyramid Lake hard for three days in a cruel cocktail of rain, snow, and biting cold. It wasn’t a particularly good trip as far as the fishing was concerned. In fact is was arguably one of the slowest three days of fishing I’d ever seen. But I’ll never complain about being able to fish with a good buddy and I certainly will never take a fishing trip for granted. Life is forever picking up speed, and I cherish the moments where I’m outdoors, especially when at Pyramid Lake. Until next time, I’ll keep tying flies and thinking about that big red fish swimming in the frigid waters and some day, it’ll be my turn to catch a monster.

Pyramid Lake
Rain

Lahontan Cutthroat
Tails

Bulleit
Pyramid Juice

Lahontan Cutthroat
Lahontan Cutthroat

Pyramid Lake
Snow

Pyramid Lake
More Snow

Chorizo
Breakfast of Champions

Lahontan Cutthroat
Silver

Pyramid Lake
Ladders

Pyramid Lake
Pyramid in the distance

Pyramid Lake
Lunch and a coffee refill