There is nothing quite like watching dogs work the grassy hills of Southern Arizona in search of Mearns quail. So when my good buddy Pat from Border to Border Outfittersinvited me down for opening weekend to watch his team of GSPs work, how could I say no. Alex Landeen grilling venison sausages and pheasant for dinner was an added bonus.
We found birds and did a fair bit of shooting. I’ve had the pleasure to watch Pat’s dogs work Mearns several times and it never gets old. There is nothing prettier than a dog on a rock solid point with a covey of Mearns quail flushing in front of them. More importantly, I got to spend time in the field with old friends and make new ones. With life constantly picking up speed, I relish every step I get to take in chasing quail in this state.
Pat runs Border to Border Outfitters and you can hunt birds with him from Minnesota all the way to Arizona and everywhere in between. Check him out at Border to Border Outfitters.
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.