It is only now that I realize, I’ve worked myself into a real corner. I try to blame my wife, but with what little I know about the birds and the bees, I’m pretty sure I had a hand in it. All three of my children were born on the opening days of Arizona’s bird seasons. My son was born on the first day of September on the dove opener. My youngest was born at the beginning of October which makes it extremely tough to get out to chase Gambels at the beginning of quail season. And my oldest started it all off by entering the world at the beginning of December which means her birthday party is usually on the weekend that Mearns season starts.
All this means that my hunting season openers are postponed this year. This worked out in my favor when I finally grabbed my shotgun and vest to chase Gambel’s quail. It’s been unseasonably warm here in the desert as the normally cooler weather was late in showing up. I found a morning to break away and scratched out a trio of birds.
Life has been moving extremely fast since the birth of our third child. I haven’t had much time to devote to the outdoors but I’m loving every minute with my family. These photos have been sitting here, waiting to get posted for a while. I was able to get out for a day trip to the White Mountains and visit an old favorite piece of water with a good friend. I took my bamboo rod and a box full of hoppers and was rewarded with a few nice trout to my net. Can’t ask for much more than that.
After a couple of hours, we had a big pile of Eurasian Collared Doves sitting on the tailgate. This non-native invasive species of dove has flourished here in the desert of Arizona (and around the rest of the country for that matter), and subsequently there is an unlimited daily bag and possession limit combined with a year round season. With the shooting over and all of our shells picked up, I stood looking at the mound of birds and knew that the real work was about to begin. Plucking a tailgate full of doves is no small task. So, I took my pile of doves home and enlisted the help of my kids, who are always interested in knowing what I brought home for dinner.
With the doves plucked, cleaned and safely in the freezer, I saved a bakers dozen for a recipe that I’d been wanting to try for a while – Dove Pot Pie. I had found this recipe on the Field and Stream website and saved it for just such a time. Long story short, it was a pretty involved recipe but turned out fantastic. The whole family loved it and my wife went back for seconds.
I revel in the moments when I can include my kids in the food preparation process and show them where our food comes from. Plucking and cleaning birds is just the start. I’m already looking forward to wandering through the desert, forest, and streams with them.
I returned from South Africa two weeks ago after an unbelievable ten day hunt in the Limpopo Province. It took me well out of my comfort zone and left me with an appreciation for a new hunting experience and some unforgettable memories. I was fortunate enough to hunt at Greater Kuduland Safaris on their 145,000 acre property. I saw so many different animal species while hunting there, and the diversity and animal numbers are a testament to what a good habitat can do for native species.
An African hunting trip was never something that was on my radar. I’ve never been on a guided trip before and was a bit anxious about the entire experience. But after the first few days of hunting, I was quick to realize that I was among kindred spirits. We hunted hard everyday in beautiful country and enjoyed the ups and downs of any normal hunting trip.
While there, I was fortunate enough to harvest an impala and a warthog with my recurve, and on the second to last day was able to take an awesome wildebeest bull with a rifle. I’ve got a journal full of chicken scratch and a plethora of photos to accompany the memories in my head. With so many great memories, I plan to share these experiences in several individual posts in the future.
Rambling Review – GSI Outdoors 10″ Hard Anodized Dutch Oven
There’s nothing quite like eating food cooked over an open fire and I was looking to round out my cookware with a dutch oven. I have had great success with other GSI Outdoors products, so naturally went with the GSI Outdoors 10″ Hard Anodized Dutch Oven. It has not disappointed.
Construction –Made of high-performance, heavy gauge cast aluminum.
Lightweight – Lightweight is a relative term. The GSI Outdoors Hard Anodized Dutch oven weighs in at 3 lbs. 11 oz, roughly 66% lighter than a traditional Dutch Oven.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve had the opportunity to get GSI Outdoors Dutch Oven plenty dirty. Before I could take it into the field, I worked up one of my favorite dishes on the stove, javelina chili. When I finally did get the dutch oven out on several camping trips it made cooking over an open fire pretty simple. Overall it was a great addition to my camp cooking set up.
Classic Dutch oven design with lid lip for holding coals while cooking
Heavy gauge cast aluminum
Perfect for truck camping
Super easy to clean
Aluminum can conduct heat far more rapidly than traditional cast iron Dutch Ovens, so keep an eye while cooking and make sure to have evenly distributed heat.
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.
By many people’s standards, I am still a young man. But, north of thirty years old doesn’t feel the same as south of thirty did. I feel my mortality after a day of stalking brown trout on round creek rocks and hiking the miles out of a deep canyon. As I walked back to the truck losing myself in the sounds and smells of the forest, I became contemplative. This often happens after a day fishing alone and talking to myself on the creek. The title of a Charles Bukowski poem pops into my brain and I found myself muttering the words softly under my breath – “the days run away like wild horses over the hills…”
There is no doubt when I married my wife, I married up. On this past Mother’s Day, I asked my beautiful 18 week pregnant wife what she wanted for Mother’s Day. I expected the usual: a day to herself at the spa or a new item of clothing that she had been eyeing. Instead, she asked for a weekend of sleeping in the dirt, eating food cooked over a fire, walking in the woods, and playing in the creek.
Spring time has quickly become one of my favorite times of the year for one simple reason – turkey season. Each year, around the first of the year, I start thinking about getting into the woods, looking for turkey sign, and straining my ears for the sound of a gobble. Last year, I was fortunate enough to bag my first Merriams gobbler after multiple seasons of trying to get it done, and as I reflected on my time in the field and the gear that I carried, I started researching on how to improve my efficiency with a shotgun. It wasn’t long before I was able to get my hands on a couple of chokes from Carlson, and after some time on the range and in the field, I was a firm believer in Carlson Choke Tubes.
Options – Carlson offers choke tubes for every situation a shotgunner will need. For the purpose of this review, Carlson provided a Remington Long Beard Choke Tube with a diameter of .660 and one of their Remington Extended Choke Tubes with a diameter of .675. If you take any time to peruse the Carlson website, you’ll quickly see that they have chokes of every shape, color, and size for all the major brands of shotguns, for any type of hunting or shooting scenario.
Lifetime Warranty – All Carlson choke tubes are backed by a lifetime warranty.
Made in the USA – All Carlson choke tubes are made in the USA.
Construction – Carlson’s Choke Tubes are made from the finest corrosion-resistant 17-4 PH stainless steel available.
To be perfectly clear, I am not a shotgun expert. I own a couple of shotguns. I shoot them often. But when it comes to the nuances of patterning them, I always went out, shot a couple of shells at different yardages to figure out what my max range could be, and called it good. With the Carlson chokes in hand, I took a Saturday morning to run out in the desert and see how these chokes patterned. My good hunting partner Austin and I both shoot Remingtons which was advantageous when it came time to seeing how the different chokes performed through two different shotguns. I shoot a Remington 870 Express chambered up to a 3″ shell, and Austin shoots a Remington 1100 chambered up to a 3 1/2″ shell.
We both had always just stuck with the factory standard Remington full choke (diameter of .691) that came with the shotgun for turkey season, so I started with shooting at 40 yards with the full choke. I switched chokes out and immediately was overwhelmed by how much denser the pattern was at 40 yards. I spent the next hour shooting different shells, swapping chokes between guns, and varying my distance from the target. To be clear, I’m not going to get super technical on patterning, but there was a significant increase in pattern density. After the smoke cleared, my 870 Express really liked the Long Beard XR choke with a .660 diameter shooting 3″ Winchester Long Beard XR loads. Austin’s 1100 partnered the Carlson Extended Turkey Choke with a .675 diameter and a 3-1/2″ shell. After a morning of shotgun patterning, I had a sore shoulder and confidence in what my shotgun was capable of.
Our season unfolded with plenty of turkey hunting. Austin spent a couple days in Texas and scratched out 2 Rios. I went to Missouri with my buddy Hunter and had some success decoying in a mature 3 year old. After that, Austin and I hunted here in Arizona which resulted in a Austin shooting a beautiful Merriam’s gobbler and I followed up with a jake. Our shots during these hunts ranged from 30-55 yards. Having success with this many turkeys and giving all the credit to choke tubes is a bit much. But, I will say, I’ve never been more confident pulling the trigger during a hunt, then after I spent time patterning my gun and knowing how much better it performed with the Carlson choke versus the factory choke.
Made in the USA
Constructed of high grade stainless steel
There really is no con for getting an aftermarket choke tube. The only con I could possibly see for tightening up your choke for turkey hunting is if you hunting in a thick area and most of your shots are closer than 15 yards. At that range, a more open choke would be appropriate for the situation. I can’t stress enough. Pattern your shotgun and have confidence in what it does at different yardages.
Prognosis: I was extremely pleased with the quality and performance of the Carlson Choke Tubes and would highly recommend them to any of my hunting buddies. Check them out.
The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. These choke tubes were provided for the purpose of this review by Carlson Choke Tubes. 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.