Arizona Fly Fishing: Memories of Summer

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Arizona White Mountains
Arizona High Country

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.

Brown trout on bamboo
Agua Fria Alchemy and J.W. Young Pridex
Agua Fria Alchemy and J.W. Young Pridex
Brown Trout
Magic

Dove Pot Pie

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Dove Pot Pie
A tailgate of Eurasian Collared Doves

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.

Dove Pot Pie
Plucking
Dove Pot Pie
Organic
Dove Pot Pie
For the stock pot
Dove Pot Pie
The filling
Dove Pot Pie
Egg on top
Dove Pot Pie
Golden brown
Dove Pot Pie
Dove Pot Pie
Dove Pot Pie
Even Willy Dog got a taste

A trip to South Africa

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Greater Kuduland Safaris
South Africa

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.

Impala
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Sitting in the blind for hours on end
Greater Kuduland Safaris
A beat up old warthog
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Sunrise
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Sunset
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Life at a waterhole
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Waiting
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Skulls
Greater Kuduland Safaris
.375 H&H
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Blue Wildebeest
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Following my PH through the bush
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Dinner
Greater Kuduland Safaris
Sunset

Rambling Review – GSI Outdoors Dutch Oven

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GSI Outdoors Dutch Oven
Garlic Bacon and Taters

Rambling Review – GSI Outdoors 10″ Hard Anodized Dutch Oven

Why:

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.

First impressions:

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.

GSI Outdoors Dutch Oven
Cinnamon Rolls

Field Use:

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.

GSI Outdoors Dutch Oven
Javelina Chili

Pros:

Classic Dutch oven design with lid lip for holding coals while cooking

Heavy gauge cast aluminum

Perfect for truck camping

Super easy to clean

Cons:

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.

Prognosis:  I’m still a Dutch oven novice, but my experience so far with the GSI Outdoors 10″ Hard Anodized Dutch Oven has been fantastic. Can’t wait to get back in the woods and try out another recipe.

* 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 Fly Fishing: Welcome to Summer

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The big dog from the day

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…”

Trees
Arizona Brown Trout
Spotty
Caddis
Caddis
Orange
Orange
Arizona Brown Trout
Cream
Pupa
Pupa
Baetis
Baetis
Bear poop
Bears
Foam
Foam

Mother’s Day Camping Trip

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Tent Setup
Tent Setup

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.

How could I say no?

REI Co-op Base Camp 6 Tent
Mission Accomplished
Wildlings
Wildlings
Camp life
Camp life
Stringing up the fly rod
Stringing up the fly rod
Choosing a fly
Choosing a fly
Fly fishing knots
Working on knots
Mama and her boy
Mama and her boy
Daddy and his girl
Daddy and his girl
Going Fishing
Going fishing
Throwing Rocks
Throwing rocks
Looking for fish
Looking for fish
Time to throw more rocks
Time to throw more rocks
Talking about fishing
Talking about fishing
Willy Dog in the wild
Willy Dog in the wild
Cicadas
Cicadas
More camp life
More camp life
Cooking buddy
Cooking buddy
More camp life
More camp life
Mama and her boy
Mama and her boy
Smores
Pay attention kids. This is how to properly toast a mallow
Smores
Smores
Sticky ball
Sticky ball
A light show before bed
A light show before bed
Breakfast
Breakfast

 

Rambling Review – Carlson Choke Tubes

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Rambling Review – Carlson Choke Tubes

 Carlson Long Beard choke
I harvested this Missouri Eastern with the help of the Carlson Long Beard choke

Why:

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.

Carlson Turkey Choke Tubes
Carlson Turkey Choke Tubes

First impressions:

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.

Field Use:

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.

Carlson Turkey Choke Tubes
Austin and his Texas Rio shot with his Remington 1100 and Carlson Turkey Choke combo
Carlson Chokes
My Missouri Tom taken with the deadly combo of a Carlson Long Beard Choke and a 3″ Winchester Long Beard XR shell
Carlson Extended Turkey Choke
Austin with a fine example of an Arizona Merriam’s gobbler harvested with the help of a Carlson Extended Turkey Choke
Carlson Long Beard Choke Tube
The Carlson Long Beard Choke Tube on the end of my Remington 870 with my Arizona Merriam’s Jake

Pros:

Made in the USA

Lifetime Warranty

Constructed of high grade stainless steel

Cons:

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. 

Carlson Extended Turkey Choke Tubes
Carlson Extended Turkey Choke Tubes

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.

* Disclaimer:

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.

Arizona Turkey Hunting: Daily Double

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Camp
Camp

The afternoon before turkey season opened, we got the truck stuck in a snowdrift that covered the road on the way to our camp spot. It took us several hours of digging and hauling logs and rocks in order to finally free the truck. By the time we finally pitched our tents and built a fire, the sun was going down and the temps were dipping towards freezing, so we opted to fill our bellies with red meat, potatoes, and a nip of bourbon.

The next day unfolded about as perfectly as any day of turkey hunting can. I screwed up our first setup on a tom gobbling his head off, but our second setup worked out pretty well. Austin shot a real nice mature bird that came into our mid morning setup. After cleaning his gobbler up and getting ready for the packout, we decided to make another set up on our way out. After a hen came clucking in, a young jake wandered in from the opposite direction. I couldn’t resist and knocked him down for a nice double bird day.

It’s not often that things work out like this on this hunt. I felt blessed to have a successful hunt and still have the weekend to spend with my family. After cleaning and stowing gear, it seems like a long time until the fall hunting seasons kick back on.

Coues deer steaks
Coues deer steaks compliments of Austin
Dutch oven
Dutch oven taters and bacon
Merriams Turkey
Austin with a mature Merriams tom
Merriams Jake
Afternoon jake
Jake Beard
Size doesn’t matter, right
Merriams plummage
Merriams plummage