The sunlight filters through the east facing windows and warms the tile in the kitchen. The baby swayed rhythmically in her swing next to me as I spend the morning attempting to refill a few different boxes. She’d gurgle, and occasionally squawk, when I would show her a finished fly, which of course I took as her approval of my technique. I certainly didn’t maintain my usual speed at churning out flies, but having a cute partner at the table was worth the decrease in output.
Terry and Wendy Gunn are household names here in Arizona. The Gunns own and operate Lees Ferry Anglers Fly Shop and Guide Service in Marble Canyon, Arizona. In conjunction with their extensive personal knowledge, Terry and Wendy have worked diligently with local experts and guides from around the country, to put together an amazing lineup of rivers to fish called 50 Best Tailwater to Fly Fish.
This 250 page anthology is broken down into four categories – East, West, South, and the Rockies. Each section highlights multiple tailwaters in that region and details the nitty gritty on each river. Important information such as access, hatches, regulations, gear/tackle, fly shops, guide services, and even where to wet your whistle are organized for quick reference. Each page is complimented with quality, high resolution photos and maps to be sure to whet your appetite for slipping into a pair of waders and getting to the water.
I’ve really enjoyed thumbing through the pages of the 50 Best Tailwater to Fly Fish,and I was pleasantly surprised to see that I had fished several of these well known waters. Rest assured though, I marked several pages for reference, and it is my intention to try and steer a family vacation to a couple of new areas in order to try my luck on one of these beautiful tailwaters.
This Arizona quail season ended way too fast. Truth be told, with my wife being pregnant for the bulk of the season, I did more quail hunting than fishing this fall because hunting quail keeps me closer to town. I explored a bunch of new area though, hunted with some different buddies, and even though the numbers weren’t spectacular, I had a great season overall.
I hunted the last Saturday of the season in a relatively new area, and after loading up and and cinching the vest buckle tight, the desert erupted with the sounds of three distinct coyote packs. I don’t know if the desert dogs had anything to do with it, but it took me a while to find birds. When the covey scattered, I was able to knock down one male and put him in the bag.
In wanderings around looking for quail, I was able to kick up a half dozen cottontails and connected on two of them. I had stopped shooting rabbits in the past, because I wan’t too fond of the meat. That was the case until this season when I came across an amazing recipe. My friend Rohan writes a blog called Whole Larder Love and has written a book by the same name. Rohan Anderson is an artist when it comes to cooking and lives his dream of gardening, hunting, and living off the land. I tried his “Finger Lickin’ Rabbit” recipe and loved it. My wife, who is not the biggest fan of wild game, especially small furry creatures, loved it too.
At the end of the day, it’s always tough to see the season fade away. You’re left alone with a few pictures and the fleeting memories of wild birds flushing, and the promise of a new season only 8 months away. Until next time.
Pretty much every outdoor clothing company these days is making an insulation layer out of Primaloft. My wife and I each bought ourselves one of the REI Revelcloud Jackets as Christmas presents in 2012 and have put them through the ringer. Ultimately, a lightweight insulation layer can be the difference between staying warm in the field, and being miserably cold and heading home.
*REI has since redesigned their Revelcloud line so it looks a bit different, but appears to have roughly the same specs and features.
Material – The REI Revelcloud Jacket is manufactured from Pertex Quantum which is a recycled ripstop polyester. This material is fairly water- and wind-resistant.
Insulation – The insulation for this jacket incorporates a synthetic material called Primaloft. Primaloft is a synthetic that is similar to down. The positive side about Primaloft is that it still provides some warmth when wet, unlike down which loses all warmth when wet. The downside is that it does not pack down as tightly, nor as lightweight as down.
Packability – Although not as tight-packing as down, the Revelcloud does pack pretty small. It comes with a small stuff sack that is roughly 9 inches long with a 3.5 inch diameter. Pretty nice when you think about it.
I have literally beat the crap out of this jacket this past year and a half. I have hunted, fished, and backpacked with it all over the southwest and it still looks pretty good. Here is what I really like about the jacket:
Number one is that I can wear it as an insulation piece under a shell or as a stand alone jacket. The Revelcloud is form fitting and lays very flat under an outer jacket. I would often use this jacket as a layer underneath a heavier coat while glassing hillsides during hunting season or underneath my waders and softshell while fishing. I provides a great amount of warmth without a ton of bulk. There were also times though where I’d arrive early to fish a canyon and it was still pretty cold (30s or 40s), but I knew that it would warm up considerably once the sun was high in the sky. The REI Revelcloud is sturdy enough to be worn with care as an external jacket in the morning and then stowed in the stuff sack once the day warms.
The second thing that I really like about the REI Revelcloud jacket is that the Primaloft still provides warmth even when damp or wet. I have a very distinct memory of stumbling hard on the stream and dipping the entire right arm of my jacket in the cold creek water. Once I rung out the water and gave it a couple of shakes, I didn’t have any other choice than to put the jacket back on. Although it wasn’t perfect, the jacket did continue to hold some warmth even though it was soaking wet. My limited experience with down has shown me that it does not react in the same way as Primaloft.
Finally, the REI Revelclouds ability to pack down into a very small stuff sack makes it ideal for an outdoorsman who is trying to save on space and ounces. At roughly 12.5 ounces, it is a really nice insurance policy to have just in case the weather turns cold and windy. From October til April, this jacket stays in my fishing and hunting pack for those moments when I need the extra warmth.
One thing does stand out as problematic when talking about all lightweight Primaloft or down jackets, and the Revelcloud is no exception – Durability. Although I do often wear it as an outer layer, I wear it carefully. This is not the jacket to bushwack through raspberry bushes or thick pokey tree limbs. I do try to be gentle with it, as the material can be torn rather easily. I have two small holes in the jacket that I keep an eye on, although they do not compromise its performance.
Water- and wind-resistant
Bunches down into its own stuff sack
Great non-bulky insulation layer
Made from recycled material
Easily machine washed
True to size
Made in China
Not ideal as an outer layer as the material can be easily torn
Prognosis: The REI Revelcloud Jacketsquickly became and remains one of my favorite pieces of gear during the cold months of the year. It is worth its weight in gold as an insulation layer when it comes to staying warm in the elements.
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.
The rest of the neighborhood was still asleep when I backed the truck out of the driveway and eased onto the I10. I was headed south with my buddies, Kyle and Landon to see if we could put a few Mearns quail in our game bags. We would be working behind the hard hunting pup, Chase, in some of the prettiest countryside in the state.
As we arrived at our destination, we saw that the harsh Sonoran desert had given way to the oaks and grasses of southern Arizona, and we shrugged into our vests, loaded our guns, and set out. We made two big pushes in the morning and hunted hard, but came up empty. Tired and a bit wore out, we settled in the shade, made lunch, and talked about a new game plan.
Recharged from lunch, we set out into a new canyon, faithfully following the relentless Chase. As we worked up the canyon, talking about fly fishing and the trips that we had planned in the coming year, we were interrupted by a covey of Mearns quail bursting from the brush next to us. It caught all of us, including Chase, completely off guard, but Landon was able to get his gun up and knock down a bird. Marking where they landed we set out, prepared for the covey rise and were rewarded for our efforts. The canyon proved to be the mother-load when we found 3 distinct coveys, which made for some very fine shooting. Spirits were high as we made our way back to the truck with birds in our game bags, and we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We decided to check out another spot, but on our way, I pulled truck over abruptly to watch a covey of quail sail off into the tall grass. I got a good look at one of them and knew that they were scaled quail. Ecstatic at the thought, we quickly geared up and followed the birds through the thick brush. Landon, again with some fine shooting, brought down two birds. We moved further into the field and at that moment, a quail flushed in front of me and I knocked it to the ground with a blast from the bottom barrel. As I walked up to pick up the bird, I was surprised to see that it was not a scaled quail but a Gambel’s. My brief disappointment was immediately trumped by a rush of excitement. I yelled to the others about my discovery and instantly our passive “have a good time” mindset rose to high-strung determination to get the Arizona quail slam – Mearns, Scaled, and Gambel’s all in a day.
It didn’t take Landon long, as Chase quickly went on point, and Landon knocked down a Gambel’s. Congratulations were flying all around as we admired his three beautiful birds beside each other. It was a pretty cool experience to see the three unique male birds all in a row.
Back at it, Kyle and I hunted hard right till the end, making pushes through brush and grass trying to find the elusive scaled quail. But when it was all over, we never ended up finding that original covey of scalies. As the light faded from the sky, we cleaned our hard-earned prizes and talked about the great points by Chase and the shots we wish we should have connected on. In the end, as we drove down the headlight lit dirt road, I knew that I would be back. It was a fantastic day in the field, but it made me want the Arizona quail slam even more.
One of my good fishing buddies, Jason Jones, runs AZ by the Fly which is a local fly fishing site with some great local information. Mr. Jones has recently expanded his enterprise and started offering a smoking deal on a heft batch of fly tying dubbing. There are 46 colors in the pack, and each bag holds at least 2 grams while most run between 2.3-2.7 grams each to be safe. They come packaged in 3″ x 5″ bags individually labeled.
The story begins a couple weeks back when I knew that I’d be headed to the HAHWG meeting in Yuma. The meeting was in the afternoon, and I figured I could squeeze a couple hours in the morning, to get out in the field and explore this new bit of area. I called my buddy, David Power, from Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club, and asked him what type of hunting opportunities there were for a morning around Yuma. Specifically, I asked about javelina. My usual January archery hunt had been on hiatus with the birth of our gorgeous daughter, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t itching to get after the skunk pig. David told me about the Gila River bottom, and the over the counter non permit tag that was available in Mohawk Valley. He made it clear to me that, although there are pigs there, they are difficult to hunt in the traditional sense of glassing hillsides, as the river bottom is almost impenetrable with brush. Instead, you have to glass the edges of the alfalfa and hay fields and cross your fingers that you catch a pig or two working the fields.
With expectations set very low, I left the valley early on Saturday morning and made it to my destination as the sun was just starting to lighten the morning sky. I drove several roads and glassed a dozen or so fields in search of javelina, but didn’t have much luck. The last spot I checked was also a bust, but I heard a Gambel’s quail call in the distance. As an opportunist, I shrugged into my bird vest and grabbed the scattergun, in order to scratch out a bird or two. Just at that moment, my cell phone rang and it was David.
“I’ve got a big boar working through an alfalfa field. Hurry up”
Out of the vest and back into the truck, I headed back to area he described and sure enough, one of the fields that I had glassed an hour earlier, was now home to a single javelina working through the field. Making a quick plan, I worked the edge of the field, carefully making my way through the head high brush, and quietly slid out of the foliage at about 50 yards from the big male javelina. Settling the sights behind the front shoulder, I touched the trigger and the pig piled where he stood.
As David made his way up, I truly could not believe my good fortune. A low probability morning hunt completely turned around in a matter of minutes. Without David’s help and expertise, I would have been wandering around missing wild flushing Gambel’s. As if that wasn’t enough, David even provided me with a place to skin and clean my javelina, thereby ensuring that my alfalfa fed pig would be clean and ready for a nice green chili. He’s going to get sick of me saying this, but a big thanks to David Power of the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club for his help and hospitality.
With my javelina skinned, quartered, and on ice, I cleaned up and pointed the truck towards the Yuma Proving Grounds and the Imperial Dam. The HAHWG meeting this year was held at the Hidden Shores RV Village right near the Imperial Dam outside of Yuma. I have written about the Hunting and Angling Heritage WorkGroup before on several occasions, but for those just tuning in, here’s the skinny. The HAHWG is a group of individuals and organizations who are working in conjunction with the Arizona Game and Fish Department to ultimately “preserve our hunting, angling, and wildlife-recreation heritage.” In this day in age, you do not have to look very far to see strong opposition to what we as outdoorsman love and cherish.
One important focus of the Hunting and Angling Heritage WorkGroup is to introduce new hunters and anglers to the sport through free camps put on by the various sportsman’s groups such as the National Wild Turkey Federation, Arizona Elk Society, Youth Outdoors Unlimited and many others. I’ve had the pleasure to be a part of the NWTF junior’s camp for the past several years and it is one of my favorite “hunts” of the year.
The main reason we met in Yuma for this meeting was due to the recent success of this past dove season openerin the city. The city of Yuma collaborated with the Arizona Game and Fish Department as well as the Yuma Valley Rod and Gun Club to promote the spectacular dove hunting opportunity in the immediate area. The result of this unique collaboration was an economic boom in the community, as well as a positive experience for new and seasoned hunters. One of the topics that the HAHWG focused on at our meeting was how to replicate this positive experience in other Arizona communities and pass on the heritage of hunting and angling.
In truth I had never been to Yuma before, and was completely unaware of the amazing country and ample outdoor activities that are available. Between the morning javelina hunt, the like-mindedness of HAHWG members, and a tour of Yuma, I’d consider it a pretty successful trip. See you soon Yuma.
Rambling Review - Otterbox iPhone Armor Series Case
I’ll be the first to admit it. My iPhone takes some serious abuse. I drop it, dunk it, and generally abuse it. When I first bought the phone, I paid some pretty good money for the original Lifeproof case, which did alright for a while, but eventually started to fail. I could never hear really well through the case, the keys were not sensitive enough, and eventually the corners started to peel up and therefore it was not waterproof anymore. I had kind of given up on waterproof and shockproof cases until I came across the new Otterbox Armor Series Case. This thing looks like a tank, and many of the things that I hadn’t liked about the Lifeproof case had been addressed.
The size – At 5.14 in x 2.94 in x 0.82, there’s no way around it. The Otterbox iPhone Armor Series Case is bulky, but that bulk buys you some serious protection.
Idiot Proof – This thing was made for me: waterproof, drop proof, dust proof and crush proof.
Latches – One thing that was immediately noticeable was the big corrosion resistant latches on the case. The previous case that I owned was a snap shut case, and it always left me wondering if the case was fully sealed. The latches on the Otterbox Armor Series guarantees a watertight seal every time.
The Otterbox iPhone Armor Series Case is the perfect case for the outdoorsman. You can easily tuck it in your wader or jacket pocket for a quick photo on the creek and not ever worry about the phone getting wet. All the features on the phone work really well with the case on, except one button. The button that turns the ringer on/turns the phone to vibrate is very stiff and takes some work to move.
I was pleasantly surprised by how responsive the screen was on the Otterbox Armor Series case. On the old Lifeproof case, the screen was a bit temperamental and did not always recognize key strokes. The Otterbox is substantially better with little to no difference from using the phone without the thin screen of the Otterbox.
Another thing that I did not like about the old Lifeproof case was how difficult it was to have a conversation through the case. It would often times be very hard to hear the person on the other end, and I would have complaints about how hard it was to hear me. The Otterbox Armor Series Case is a step up for sure with better clarity on both ends, but in my opinion, you sacrifice some of the sound quality when using a “waterproof” case like the Otterbox.
The Otterbox iPhone Armor Series Case is a beast. Now, I say that in a good way and a bad way. Good, because it can take some serious abuse and keep your phone safe from whatever you throw at it. Bad, because it’s bulky. The case is a bit much, if you’re used to carrying your phone in your back pocket like me. If you’re carrying a briefcase, backpack, or purse, size doesn’t matter too much.
Over the course of a couple of months, my Otterbox Armor Case has seen its share of abuse. It has been dropped countless times, splashed several times, and had one good dunk. Throughout that whole time, my phone was safe and secure inside the case.
Drop-proof (from 10 ft)
Crushproof (2 tons of pressure)
Waterproof (6.6 feet of water submersion for up to 30 minutes)
Touch sensitivity for the screen
Size (This thing is huge)
Sound quality for phone calls (although much better than it’s predecessor)
Stiff ringer on/vibrate button
Prognosis: This is not my idea of an everyday case, but there is nothing else I would trust my phone to on a day of fishing or hunting. In my opinion, the extra bulk is a small price to pay for the protection that the Otterbox Armor Series Case provides.
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 Ottorbox iPhone Armor Series Case was provided 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.