Arizona Dove Season Opener

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Arizona Dove Season
Arizona Dove Season

Today was the Arizona Dove Season Opener and I wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to swing my shotgun at some quick flying birds. I met up with a buddy before daylight and we headed into the desert towards a marginal dove spot that I know about. It’s not the greatest spot to hunt doves, but I know if you stand in one spot long enough, even a blind squirrel will find a nut.

After the first hour and a half of daylight we were looking at a small pile of five birds and feeling a bit sorry for ourselves, so we hopped in the truck and moved a 1/4 mile. We stopped to empty our bladders and 4 doves flew overhead. Perfect. Downing the last of the coffee, we spent the next couple hours making our pile of doves grow until we had a respectable number for lunch.

We tried something a bit different and plucked all of our birds. Plucking takes a bit more care and time than just breasting out a bird, and it gave DJ the time to really dive in and tell me about his recent Alaska float trip. After the first couple of doves, the process starts going pretty quick and in no time at all we were looking at 20 or so perfectly plucked doves. After cleaning up and saying our goodbyes, I rolled on home and pulled up a Hank Shaw recipe that I’ve been wanting to try. Cajun Grilled Dove. An Arizona dove season opener doesn’t get much better than that.

Doves
Doves
Arizona Dove Season
DJ hard at work
Arizona Dove Season
Pile of Doves
Plucking Doves
Plucking
Feathers
Plucking Champs
Plucked Doves
Ready
Ingrediants
Ingredients
Success
Perfection

Gearing up for Arizona Dove Season

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Clay Pigeons
Breaking clays

With the Arizona Dove Season right around the corner, I was lucky to get out a couple of times to break some clays and try and knock some rust off of my swing. My first opportunity was with a couple buddies after work, and by the time we had run through a couple boxes of shells, we were all doing pretty well.

I almost fell out of my seat when a couple days later, my wife asked if I could show her how to shoot the shotgun and teach her how to shoot clays. How could I say no to that? Grandma came and babysat while Mom and Dad stole away for a couple hours. After going over the basics, my wife was knocking clay birds out of the air with some surprising accuracy. She’s a natural.

A couple things to note:

1. Arizona Dove Season opens September 1, 2014. Know the Regs – 2014 Dove Regulations

2. Pick up your shells. Wether you’re hunting or target shooting in the desert, pick up your shells. It saddens me to say it, but someday the litter, shells, targets, broken glass and trash left by target shooters is going ruin it for everyone. We live in a beautiful state with very lenient rules for target shooters. Don’t ruin it by being lazy. Clean up after yourself.

3. I’ve always been a big fan of Hank Shaw. Check out his dove recipes. Some of them look amazing.

 

Clay Pigeons
He’s getting away
Clay Pigeons
The art of throwing clays

 

Shotgun shells
Paraphernalia
Shotguns
Shotguns

 

Clays
Clays
Glock
Glock
Target Practice
My lady making busting clays look good
handgun
I pity the fool who breaks into my house
Shells launching
I love ejectors

Rambling Review – Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

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Rambling Review – Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line getting ready to get lined

Why: With the recent purchase of the pontoon boat and the subsequent exploration of Arizona’s stillwaters, I found myself in need of picking up some intermediate fly line, in order to work the high country lakes in search of some trout. After a little bit of looking, I was able to get my hands on some of the Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

First impressions:

The facts: The Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line is a weight forward line with a 30′ head, complete with a welded loop on the head of the fly line for quick changing leaders. The core of the line is solid monofilament, which is then covered with a supple, crystal clear intermediate coating.

Sink Rate: The Cortland’s Clear Camo Fly Line is designed as the name implies to be an “intermediate” sinking line. The line is built to sink at a rate of 1.25″ to 1.75″. 

The color: Having mainly fished floating line, the coloring of the clear camo fly line is pretty striking. The fly line is actually clear but is dyed in Cortland, New York to give it the “camo” coloring. In the water, the camo line virtually disappears as it sink to the desired depth.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

 

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
It always helps to have a buddy or two around to help spool line

Field Use:

This is the first summer with my new pontoon boat and I’ve been spending a good amount of time exploring the lakes here in Arizona. Most days when I get to the lake, I’ll rig up two rods. I always rig one with floating line for dry flies and one with the Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line. I’ve taken to using a short Uni-thread furled leader without any floatant. The leader tends to absorb water and sinks fairly evenly with the intermediate line.

The Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line really excels in the 1′ to 10′ range in the water column. The beauty of the intermediate line is being able to know and control where my flies are in the water column. By simply counting down as the line sinks, I can determine how deep my flies are fishing. From this point, it’s pretty simple to start at one depth and work your way deeper or shallower until you start running into fish.

I have been fishing the Cortland Clear Camo line since early spring and it truly is becoming one of my favorite fly lines. Once thing in particular that I like about using an intermediate line for stripping small streamers and leeches on a lake is that there is never a big belly or hinge in the line like you would get with a floating line. An intermediate line allows you to be in constant contact with your flies as the line sinks at a consistent rate, which I feel has helped my success rate on the water. This Cortland Intermediate line is really ideal on windy days too. Since the whole line sinks, the choppy water does not push the line around on the surface of the water, like it would with a floating line.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line

In recent years, I’ve become a bit religious about cleaning fly lines. Fly line is expensive and I want to make sure it lasts as long as possible. After most trips, I like to clean soak my line in mild soapy warm water and pull it through a clean cloth. I’ve heard of guys who fish Cortland intermediate line pretty hard and have had the same line for years. So far I’ve been impressed with how the line has performed, and I intend on getting years of quality use out of it.

Some things to keep in mind with all intermediate lines is that once your rod is strung up with intermediate line, it’s a bit tough to just switch over to dry fly fishing. It is a pretty good idea to bring along another rod rigged with floating line in case fish start rising. Another thing that is a fairly common complaint about intermediate line is that they retain a ton of memory. I was surprised and pleased by the minimal memory coils in my Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line.

I paired the Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line with a couple different rods and found that my TFO BVK 5 weight was the winner. The BVK has a fairly fast action and the Cortland Clear Camo loaded it quite nicely. With the little bit of extra weight in the intermediate line, I felt the line cast comfortably in the 30-50 foot range, but was perfectly adept at pushing the line farther if need be. Bottom line, it’s a fun line to cast.

Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line
Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line combined with a hand spun furled leader

Pros:

Excellent for still water fishing

Camo coloring

Cost (as far as intermediate lines go, the Cortland 444 is pretty reasonable)

Durability (so far has been great)

Smooth through the cast

Made in the USA

Cons:

The Cortland Clear Camo does have a bit of memory like all intermdiate lines do, but nothing that a bit of stretching didn’t fix.

 

Prognosis:  I love this line for stillwater fishing. If you see me on a mountain lake here in AZ, you can bet I’ll have one rod rigged up with Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly 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.  The Cortland 444 Intermediate Clear Camo Fly Line was provided by Cortland 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.

Floating the Colorado

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The Colorado River
The Mighty Colorado

You can really blame it on Alex Landeen. In truth, the reason I bought my pontoon boat was for the sole purpose of floating the Colorado River. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve enjoyed exploring the lakes here in Arizona, but a few months back when he started telling us about his 15 mile float down the Colorado River from Glen Canyon Dam to Lees Ferry, I was already counting pennies and looking at pontoon boats.

Fast forward to last Friday, Jason and I skirted our work activities and drove up to meet Alex, Marvin, and Scott. We milled around looking at the river, wading up to our knees to cool off, and waited for the backhaul boat that would take us, our gear, and our pontoon boats upriver to the dam. When we were finally loaded and the boat left the no-wake zone, our driver eased the throttle forward, and we left what little civilization there is at Lees Ferry behind us. The boats dropped us off at an upper beach were we assembled our boats, stowed gear,and rigged our fly rods for the short jaunt down to the Ropes camping area. We were in to fish right away. Smiles all around.

We camped at Ropes that evening, and after dinner from a bag, we swapped stories about fishing trips before turning in for the night. I’ve been on several multi-day float trips before, but this was the first one in my own personal watercraft. So the thought of my helpless little pontoon anchored on the mighty Colorado had me waking up at all hours of the night, wondering if that little red pontoon was still there. I resisted the urge to done my headlamp and go look, and when the sun finally started to brighten the sky the next morning, I found that little red pontoon waiting for me like a puppy ready to play.

Gobbling down a quick breakfast, we eased the boats into the strong current of the Colorado river and started plying the edges of the river for feisty rainbow trout. It was pretty much non-stop all day long. Fish were looking up, and we pulled many fish on hopper and cicada patterns. Everyone had a sink tip rigged with streamers, and when things slowed on occasion with top water, you could always clean up with simi-seals and wooly buggers.

The three days and two nights that we spent on the river were amazing, and although the fishing was great, I came home babbling to my wife more about the experience of the river and the fun times with good friends rather than the actual fishing itself. So although I blame Landeen for my pontoon boat purchase, I ultimately owe him for opening my eyes to the Colorado River. Without a doubt I’ll be going back.

Lees Ferry Backhaul
The Backhaul
Colorado River Backhaul
Colorado River Backhaul
Lees Ferry Fishing
Assembling
Cicadas
First cast, first fish
Mountainhouse
Decisions, Decisions
AZ by the Fly
Jason on the Colorado
Floating the Colorado River
Floating
Lees Ferry Cicadas
Fish were looking up
Colorado River Fishing
Scott working the walls
Fish in net
Colorado River Rainbow
Camp life
Camp life
6 Mile
Camp
Fly Rods
The Line up
Dave Scadden Pontoon boat
I love this pontoon.
Cicada Fish
Cookie cutter rainbows
Promont outdoors
Some options

 

Alex Landeen
The man, the myth, the legend
Lees Ferry Fishing
Marvin hooked up above 4 mile
Lees Ferry Fishing
4 Mile
Lees Ferry
The takeout at Lees Ferry
Fly fishing gear
Home again with a pile of gear to clean and sort through

 

What makes a river so restful to people is that it doesn’t have any doubt. It is sure to get where it is going, and it doesn’t want to go anywhere else. – Hal Boyle

Our trip through the lens of Alex Landeen. 

 

Rambling Review – GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press

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Rambling Review – GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press

GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press
GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press

Why:

Going right along with my GSI Outdoor JavaMill review, I had the opportunity to check out the GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press. These two products are a match made in heaven. If you’re looking for a easy, no-hassle cup of coffee in the woods or on the water, then you’ve got to check out the GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press.

GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press
GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press

First impressions:

The set up - I was actually expecting the Java Press to be a bit more complicated, but the whole thing is pretty simple. There are three main pieces: the cup, the lid, and the “plunger.”

Dimmensions - All said and done, the GSI Outdoors Java Press will hold about 15 fluid ounces. It stands 7.8″ tall and weighs 10.4 ounces when empty.

The finish - The GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press is built with a non slip base and comes with an insulating sleeve. The top also has a hinged cap which allows the top to be sealed.

GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press Mug
GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press Plunger

Field Use:

The GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press is pretty slick and very simple to use. Here’s how it works:

GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press Mug
1. Take out plunger and add course ground coffee
GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press
2. Add boiling water
GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press
3. Wait a little while and then depress the clear cylinder

It works like a charm, but here are some of the highlights that I really found useful:

1. The Commuter Java Press is extremely easy to cleanup. I have a JetBoil french press, and although it makes great coffee, it’s a huge pain to setup, clean, and break down.

2. The cup and plunger are BPA free and shatter resistant. Combine that with a nice foam insulation sleeve and you’re looking at a drop proof mug.

3. It makes a darn good cup of coffee.

Pros:

Simple to use

Easy cleanup 

BPA free shatter resistant

Cons:

At 15 fluid ounces of coffee, I’m going to need several cups to get me started

GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press
Darn good cup of coffee

Prognosis:  I’m a coffee lover and always interested in a quick, quaility cup of coffee when I’m in the woods or on the water. The GSI Outdoors Commuter Java Press is the perfect way to start a morning in the great outdoors.

 

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.

HAHWG – Summer 2014

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HAHWG
The Hunting and Angling Heritage Work Group

If you’ve followed along with my posts on Arizona Wanderings, you will probably remember several posts about The Hunting and Angling Heritage Work Group, which we lovingly refer to as HAHWG (pronounced Hog). The HAHWG is a growing group of organizations and partners whose mission is to facilitate the Department’s efforts to pass on the hunting tradition to its constituents, and to keep hunting and fishing relevant into the next century. The foundation of this group’s effort is the North American Model of wildlife conservation.

One thing that I would like to highlight that has come out of this group is a fantastic calendar that shows all of the different camps put on by the different partners. Everything from small and big game hunting to fishing to a vast array of outdoor skills. Although many of the camps are specifically designed and held for the youth, there are still many camps that are specifically for adults. I have added another page tab here on Arizona Wanderings specifically dedicated to the Outdoor Skills Calendar. I try to get to several camps a year to help mentor, wash dishes, or volenteer in what ever way they need. It’s a great way to pass on the hunting and angling heritage that our nation was built on. Check out the Outdoor Skills Calendar Page.

HAHWG paper
The Hunting and Angling Heritage Work Group
HAHWG Participants
The Hunting and Angling Heritage Work Group
The Yurt
Home sweet home
Getting ready for bed
Getting ready for bed
Fire
Twins Basil

Grandma’s

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The Lake
The Lake

Over the 4th we headed back east to see family. I spent a good portion of my childhood at my grandma’s cottage, and was excited to take my little girl back to experience the beauty of northeastern Pennsylvania. Of course I was able to squeeze a bit of fishing in too.

Learning about fly line
Learning about fly line
Stalking bluegill
Stalking bluegill
bluegill
Bluegill
my girl
My lady making fly fishing look good
Pete and I
Working the canoe with my cousin Pete
Roll Cast
Cousin Dan learning the roll cast
glass is not dead
Glass is not dead
Belle of the Ball
This one stole the show
The bridge
The bridge
lagoon
The lagoon
fly rods
Bluegill slayers
burgers
Lake food
Passed out
Tuckered out

 

 

 

Rambling Review – Woolx Lightweight Merino Wool

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Rambling Review – Woolx Lightweight Merino Wool

WoolX
WoolX Merino

Why:

I really like Merino wool. To be completely honest, I have a bunch of different garments from a variety of different manufacturers and I can definitely see the differences in workmanship and quality of merino in these products. I recently had the opportunity to check out a few pieces of clothing from the WoolX lightweight merino line, and have been thoroughly  impressed with their products.

Choosing flies (Woolx)

First impressions:

The wool – All Woolx garments are made with superfine wool which contains 19.5 microns. With such a fine wool, the shirt and boxers were extremely comfortable with literally no itch.

The Fit – The Woolx lightweight merino wool runs true to size. I picked up the Woolx lightweight short-sleeve shirt and a pair of their lightweight boxers too. Both garments are sewn with freedom of movement with underarm sleeve gussets in the shirt and a gusseted crotch in the boxers. Merino wool has the tendency to shrink a bit if you toss it in the dryer after a wash, but the Woolx held it’s form with very minimal shrinking after making a run through  the dryer.

The guarantee – WoolX has a 100% satisfaction guarantee. If you’re not satisfied then send it back for a full refund or replacement. Pretty hard to argue with that.

WoolX Merino Wool
WoolX Merino Wool

Field Use:

I wore the Woolx shirt as a base layer and in the Arizona heat it excelled as a breathable layer. Merino is one of those wonderful natural materials that manages body temperature extraordinarily well. When the heat is on and you’re working up a sweat, it breathes well, wicking moisture away from the body and cooling you down. When the temperature drops, the wool works as an insulation layer. Most of merino that I own is long-sleeve and works well in hunting situations and cold temps. I really liked the Woolx short sleeve for fishing here in the Arizona summer. Truly a great layer to have to keep you cool in the hot sun.

WoolX Merino Wool
Perfect for layering up and controlling body temps.

Without getting into all of the nitty gritty on the boxers, let’s just say they performed better than I could have imagined. Long hot hikes into some backcountry creeks as well as a cold snap on my turkey hunt really showed the versatility of the garment.  Merino wool is so amazing in the fact that it is anti-microbial, and the natural wax found in wool actually fights bacteria and odor. As a hunter (and sensible human being) clothing that fights odor is a big plus.

One thing I wish Woolx would do is to offer their garments in a few more colors. I’d love to add a few of their heavier weight merino wool shirts and hoodies to my hunting gear, and would like to see some greens, tans, and browns.

Pros:

Extremely comfortable

No itch

Moisture wicking

Merino wool regulates body temperature

Minimal shrink

Cons:

Color selection

WoolX Merino Wool
WoolX Merino Wool is perfect for hanging around camp getting your butt kicked at cards.

 

Prognosis:  Woolx lightweight merino wool is a great option if you are looking to add a merino baselayer to your wardrobe.

 

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.