Sunshine Lady

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3 for the morning

Sweet Sunshine Lady found the one and only cholla bush in 4 square miles and wound up with a leg and mouth full of spines. We spent a half an hour together in the shade of a mesquite tree, pulling everyone of those barbed needles I could out of her hide and tongue. After that episode, she slowed down and we hunted a couple of large coveys together, knocking down three Gamble’s quail together.

I don’t know if everyone feels the same way about their dog, but I love my sweet idiot. We’re both have our flaws, but love hunting together.

Gamble’s Quail Country
Sunshine Lady with a point and retrieve
Scolopendra heros – Giant Desert Centipede
Lots of water

Rambling Review: Marsupial Gear

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Rambling Review 

Why: Most western hunters carry a pair of binoculars on their chest while scouting and hunting. Between harnesses and pouches, there is a plethora of options on the market right now. They all serve the same general purpose, but the well thought out design of the Marsupial Gear Binocular Pack shines in comparison.

First impressions:

Flip forward opening: Both the Marsupial Gear Binocular Pack and the Rangefinder pouch’s lids fold forward and can be secured with one hand out of the way. The lids of both the bino harness and the range finder are fastened with high quality magnetics for a solid closure.

Made in the USA: All Marsupial Gear products are handmade right here in Phoenix, Arizona.

Field Use:

I’ve been running the Marsupial Gear Binocular Pack and Rangefinder Pouch for the past year and absolutely love this combo. The first thing that stands out is the overall layout of the binocular pack. The streamlined exterior does not have any hard corners for gear to get snagged on. The front of the pouch has one zipper pocket which is perfect for a tag/license or a couple extra rifle rounds. Two stretchy side pockets sit on either side of the Binocular Pack which hold a wind indicator bottle perfectly. The interior of of the Binocular Pack is lined with a high quality fleece making for soft protection for optics and quiet access to them when needed.

The second reason that I really like these Marsupial Gear products is the front opening lid. It’s an extremely smooth one-handed movement to open and access my binoculars. A bottom magnetic closure allows the front opening lid to be secured open. In comparison, some of the other harnesses on the market fold back (and into the chin/face of the user) and can be obtrusive when trying to quickly and quietly access binoculars. Marsupial Gear has a well thought out lid design.

Lastly, the suspension system of the binocular harness might be the most important aspect to consider. I’ve worn the Marsupial Gear Binocular Pack on multiple javelina hunts, turkey hunts, an elk hunt, a coues deer hunt and multiple scouting trips, and it has proven to be an extremely comfortable harness. Personally, I like the bino pouch to ride higher on my chest and the fully adjustable harness allows the user to find the perfect position for the their personal preference.

Pros:

Sleek and well thought out design

Comfortable and adjustable harness

Made in the Phoenix, AZ

Multiple sizes and color/camo options

Cons:

I’ve got nothing bad to say about this piece of gear

Prognosis:  I’m all in on the Marsupial Gear Binocular Pack and Rangefinder Pouch. If you are looking for high quality, well designed, Arizona-made gear for your optics, check out all that Marsupial gear has to offer.

* 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.

Coues Deer

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Coues Deer

October on the border treated us pretty well. We knocked down a couple of mature coues deer for the freezer which will make for some good meals this winter. There’s never a dull moment on these backpack hunts. Between trying to find enough water to drink and watching the drug runners working the mountains, this hunt keeps you on your toes. This is my favorite form of grocery shopping.

Coues deer
Boned out meat in the shade
Exo loaded up
Talking about backstraps for dinner
Med-Rare Perfection

Rambling Review: Zenbivy Light Bed

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Zenbivy Light Bed

Rambling Review: Zenbivy Light Bed

Why: I’m always working on my sleep system for hunting, fishing, and camping trips. The truth is that the temperature ranges so drastically in Arizona that it can easily be 100 degrees in the summer on a fishing trip and single digits on a winter hunt. I’ve experimented with different bags, quilts, and pads, and all of them have an application. However, the Zenbivy Light Bed is a unique product that provides a versatile sleep system. (This review is based on the 25 degree system)

First impressions:

The system – The Zenbivy Light Bed system is a two part bag system that attaches right to your sleeping bag.

  • Zenbivy Light Sheet – A fitted sheet that attaches securely to the sleeping pad
  • Zenbivy Light Quilt – A down overquilt that attaches to the fitted sheet using a series of hooks.

Lightweight – The Zen Bivy Fitted Sheet and Quilt weigh in at 2.3 pounds.

Field Use:

To be honest, it took me an evening of messing around with the Zenbivy light bed to completely understand all of the ins and outs of this system. Bottom line, it’s extremely versatile and designed to set up the quilt into three different modes.

  • Mummy mode – The quilt is able to be cinched in mummy mode which allows the bottom to be secured all together for maximum warmth.
  • Rectangle mode – Using the hook system, the quilt is secured to the fitted sheet to give a tucked in feel like your bed at home.
  • Quilt mode – If you’re saving ounces, you can leave the fitted sheet at home and sleep directly on the pad with the quilt on top.

Between turkey season, a family camping trip, and an overnight fishing trip, I’ve spent several nights in the Zenbivy Light Bed. I personally sleep really hot. I have a 3/4 zip mummy bag I’ve used forever and I always wake up on fire in it, but never can find the sweet spot to be comfortable. From my experience with the Zenbivy Light Bed, I really liked running the rectangle mode. In the night as I develop hot zones, I was able to take a hook or two out and kick my leg out without the whole sleep system rolling with me. The 25 degree quilt worked extremely well for my summer trips.

Zenbivy Light Bed

Pros:

  • Versatile use in multiple climates
  • Fitted sheet can be used on different sleeping pads
  • No slipping off you’re sleeping pad in the night
  • Lightweight and packable

Cons:

  • Cost – any sleep system worth its salt costs money

Prognosis:  I really dig what Zenbivy has developed with their Zenbivy Light Bed system. It is a great lightweight addition to my backcountry setup.

* 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 Elk Hunting

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Sunrise in Elk Country

I followed along, watching and listening. I feel comfortable in the outdoors, but this hunt held quite a bit more weight. I’d been building points for a number of years and the moment was finally here. The first six days of the hunt had ebbed and flowed. In the previous days, we had been close on several bulls, but the weather was hot and the moon was full which allowed the elk to spend most of their night rutting and feeding, and most of the day time asleep and out of sight.

But on this evening it was different. The bluff we were on seemed to crawl with elk. We had pushed a few cow elk and could hear them rolling rocks as they skittered away, but we could hear a bull bugling and raking a tree ahead. The sun was setting and we were losing our last bit of light. We pushed forward in time to see two mature bulls clashing antlers. I moved forward while Don hung back behind a juniper and cow called. The two males stopped their ritualistic dance and turned in our direction, closing the distance.

All I could see was antlers walking by me. I forced myself to focus, and when the first bull’s head was out of sight behind a tree, I drew my bow and waited. Each step he took seemed in slow motion. I could see the mud on his face and hear his breathing as he plodded forward. As his front near leg stepped forward, my arrow found it’s mark and he crashed through the trees and tipped over a mere 60 yards away.

As any hunter knows, there is a strange marriage of excitement and sorrow, thankfulness and pride that fills the soul after a successful hunt. Excitement in the moment, sorrow for taking a life, thankfulness for the sustenance that life brings, and pride in a quick kill.

All of that gives way, when you stand over a 800 pound animal and know that the real work is just beginning. We skinned and quartered the old bull where he fell, taking each last bit of meat, knowing that it would feed my family and friends. The sun had long since taken the light from the sky and was replaced by Orion the Hunter and a waning moon.

I am beyond grateful for this elk and the long life he lived. I didn’t deserve such a fine trophy and could not of dreamed of harvesting such an animal. I am thankful for mentors and friends who showed me the way.

Following the Legend
Day #6
Ryan, 2:30 am back at the truck
Heavy old bull
Back at home
A quick anatomy lesson

Family Time

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Home sweet home

We took a little time to head up to the mountains with the kids a few weeks back. We kept it simple: tent, hotdogs, s’mores, hikes, scavenger hunts, throwing rocks in the creek. I love seeing the joy the woods and the water bring to my kids. There are times while fishing and hunting as an adult that I can lose sight of all of the small beautiful things that are easy to miss. Little ones have a way of redirecting your attention and showing you a forgotten perspective. Life is good.

Tiny
daughter
the boy hooked up on a rock
Sometimes we just get tired and need a lift back to the truck
mama of the century

It’s been a while

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This last year has been a whirlwind. We moved into a new house in June of 2018, and last summer was a total wash as far as fishing trips were concerned. It had been so long since I’ve been fishing that I had to buy new tippet and floatant, as well as tie up a few new furled leaders for the day. After a few flubbed casts, it all came rushing back.

I’ve never heard or seen the cicadas so thick in the White Mountains. For most of the day, the fish were looking up and attacking flies as soon as they hit the water. In the evening, the fish backed off from their feeding frenzy and refused any cicada/hopper pattern. I worked my way through the fly box, cycling through different flies, and trying to figure out what they were eating, when I spotted several winged ants in the slower slack water. The one small black foam ant pattern I had in my box caught a half dozen more fish, before the ravaged fly unraveled completely.

Standing in knee deep water watching the sun set and fish rise is a great way to end the day.

Turkey Double

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Arizona Merriam’s Turkey

Scouting didn’t go as planned on the day before season opened. We were unsuccessful roosting any birds in the evening and morale for opening morning was pretty low. Our only play was to head back to an area we’d driven through around noon where we had seen a few birds moving through the trees. We figured we’d work one of the two-tracks out in the morning darkness and see if we could get lucky and hear a bird on the limb. It wasn’t a great plan, but seemed to be our only option.

Luck was with us, a tom started gobbling across the canyon in the gray light. We worked one of the ridges out to get close to him, set out some decoys and did some real light calling. Ten minutes later while he was still in his tree gobbling, two other gobblers came screaming into our setup and met with a quick end. Austin and I stood there in disbelief looking down at two mature Merriam’s gobblers realizing that our 2019 Arizona turkey hunt was over just like that.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned from turkey hunting – It’s better to be lucky than good.


Arizona Merriam’s Turkey
Turkey Country
Marsupial Gear
Loaded up
Packing out
6am beers at the truck
Talking about turkeys
Turkey feet are cool
Prepped for the freezer
A Texas Rio and an Arizona Merriam’s…not a bad spring.