Arizona Wanderings: A Year in Review…

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I usually stay away from the introspective look at my blog and stay pretty focused on the hunting and fishing here in Arizona, but it is the season to take a peak at what has been accomplished in 2011.

Arizona Wanderings Shop

1. The Arizona Wanderings Shop – With the help of my brother, I was able to launch The Arizona Wanderings Shop and it has been amazing to watch support grow for my hand tied flies, AZW shirts, and my quail hunting e-book. A big thank you to everyone who has purchased gear from the shop and for all of the great reviews and kind words.

Quail Hunting

2. The Quail Hunting Forum – With a passion for hunting quail, I spent a good amount of time perusing the already established upland forums on the internet and found that most bird hunting sites put most of their focus on pheasants and chukar and generally leave the scraps to the quail hunting guys. In order to change that, I again teamed up with my brother to start the Quail Hunting Forum and give these birds the respect they are due. The response in this first season has been great and the discussions have ranged from firearms to dogs to weekly reports throughout the season. I am really excited to see this resource grow and connect quail hunters across the country.

HGQ

3. Hunting Gambel’s Quail: A Beginner’s Guide to Hunting Southwestern Birds – In the off season, I wrote a 29 page ebook on the basics of hunting Gambel’s quail. In this book I cover all the essential information that a brand new hunter will need to know before heading into the field to chase these beautiful birds. The ebook has had a great reception with a couple of quality reviews written about it, and for its sale price of 5.99, it’s a steal.

4. The Backcountry Journal – The concept behind The Backcountry Journal is to showcase the written work of new and seasoned outdoor writers. Aside from the established periodicals, there did not seem to be too much in the way of an artistic literary outlet for authors who were just trying to get their foot in the door.

The Backcountry Journal
The Backcountry Journal

I will say a general thank you to the many people who have supported Arizona Wanderings through word and in deed, but there are four people who have been instrumental in supporting my humble efforts here at Arizona Wanderings.

Mr. and Mrs. Arizona Wanderings
Mr. and Mrs. Arizona Wanderings

The first person I would like to thank is my my brother Joel, from JSumner Designs, who patiently and graciously takes my frantic phone calls and emails and can fix just about any mess I get myself into on the web. He is responsible for the building of the different sites, forums, and storefronts and it never ceases to amaze me to watch his talent grow. The second person is Eric Davis of Hooked Up Films. Eric came down Thanksgiving of 2010 and really encouraged me to start doing something with Arizona Wanderings, and he has been a good friend and mentor ever since. Third, my good friend and fishing partner, Jason Jones has a real talent for design and has helped me out with logos for the different projects I have been working on. Finally, the most important person in my corner is my beautiful wife, who seeks to understand my love for the outdoors. Michelle is always my number one fan and at the same time has a compassionate way of letting me know when I’m straying off course.

Many thanks to all my readers and followers and may 2012 find you breathing the fresh air of the outdoors.

Rambling Review – Pocket Calls

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Rambling Review – Pocket Calls

Pocket Call Game Calls
Pocket Call Game Calls

Why:

On my Pennsylvania whitetail hunt in November, I was lucky enough to be sitting in the tree stand right in the middle of the rut. It is important for the bow hunter to have those few items to help get the edge on those older wily bucks that are slipping through the woods. A grunt tube is one of those essentials that can bring a buck in to shooting range. Pocket Call Game Calls has a unique line-up of deer, predator, bear, pig/javelina and squirrel calls to choose from. This review is specifically for the DG-1 and DG-1A deer grunt calls.

Pocket Calls
Pocket Calls (DG-1 Bottom DG-1A Top)

First impressions:

The Size – The DG-1 grunt call is only 3 inches long and can fit nicely in any pocket you have. The DG-1A is essentially the same call except with a long tube which makes it hand free and really convenient. the tube folds or wraps around the call which again makes this device really handy to store.

The Sound – Although both calls have a deep rich sound to them, I am a little partial to the DG-1A. The long tube allows the caller to pull air through the call and create those bold sounds of rutting whitetail bucks.

The Science - The Pocket Calls are different than most grunt tubes because instead of blowing air through the call, the DG-1 and DG-1A calls both are designed to draw air through the call. By drawing air through the call, it reduces the amount of moisture left in the call and helps to protect it from freezing in really cold weather.

Pocket Call Deer Grunts
Pocket Call Deer Grunts

Field Use:

I carried both calls in my pack, but spent the majority of my time using the DG-1A. The number one reason that I preferred this call over the DG-1 was because it was truly hands free. Trying to stay warm and still, I would clip the Pocket Call to my coat pocket and run the mouthpiece up under my neck gaiter. By moving my head slightly I could pull air through the call and make the desired sounds I was looking for.

Although I did not have a shot at a big buck and ultimately came home emptied handed, I was successful with getting a few younger deer into my stands which in and of itself I saw as a victory. After grunting a couple of times in the course of the morning, one young three point, came in a string to my stand trying to check things out. After not finding the buck that he heard, he hung around for a little and browsed the undergrowth before leaving.

I have always been a skeptic of calls, scents, and gimmicks said to pull deer into a hunting stand, and feel that time in the field and patience are the hunters best friend. Having said that, having a quality call, like one of the Pocket Calls, ready to go, can be crucial in convincing a buck to come in and investigate.

Hands Free
Hands Free

Pros:

Small size

Hands-free

Low soft sounds

Inhalation protects against freezing

Cons:

Non-adjustable sounds

Prognosis: The DG-1A will always have a place in my pack during deer season. You never know when a soft grunt will bring that big buck a little bit further into range.

 

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. The Pocket Call Game Calls were provided by Pocket Calls for the purpose of this review. 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.

RedRam Winner

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RedRam
RedRam

From the random number generator, #29 is the winner. Congrats to Darren Johnson, author of Taking a Walk on the Wild Side. Thanks for all the support and happy holidays to all.

Rambling Review – Natural Gear Windproof Fleece

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Rambling Review – Natural Gear Windproof Fleece

Natural Gear Fleece
Natural Gear Fleece

Why:

Staying warm and quiet while hunting in the cold is extremely important. Certain synthetic fabrics and denim today often do not do the trick when the temperatures start to drop. Remaining comfortable and warm on the stand is key for those long days waiting for deer to move through the woods. On my recent deer hunting trip, I was fortunate to have a set of Natural Gear Windproof Fleece pants and top to help keep me warm while I sat patiently waiting for the big buck to show up.

Natural Gear
Natural Gear - 400 gram micro-fleece

First impressions:

Micro-Fleece is Quiet – Treestand hunting is a whole lot of patience. When that deer finally does show up, it is imperative that your limited movements are quiet. Fleece, unlike many other material on the market, is extremely quiet and Natural Gear’s 400 gram micro-fleece is pretty much silent.

The fit – The Natural Gear Fleece products run a bit on the big size. Even though I usually would wear a large, I ended up needing a medium in the pants and the jacket and found myself comfortable and able to layer.

Field Use:

Natural Gear Fleece
Natural Gear Fleece

Four days in Pennsylvania’s cold November woods provided the perfect opportunity to test Natural Gear’s Fleece. Walking to a from the stand lead me through briars, brush, and all other types of foliage that can become noisy and bothersome to the hunter trying to remain quiet. The micro-fleece is soft and quiet and in all types of situations. One concern I did have was durability. For still hunting, the Natural Gear Fleece is perfect because it is so warm and quiet, but if the hunter was on the move or in a harsher, briar/cactus-filled environment, I do not know if fleece would be the best option.

The real prize was the warmth of the pants and jacket. On the coldest days with the wind howling, I bundled up nicely with a couple of layers underneath, and the Natural Gear Fleece did a pretty decent job of blocking the wind and keeping me warm. Amidst a short rain shower and a light flurry, I stayed warm and more importantly dry.

Natural Gear Jacket
Natural Gear Jacket

Another thing I really like about Natural Gear is their camouflage patterns. The basic job of hunting clothing is to break up the human outline and I think that Natural Gear has done a great job developing their different patterns to do just that. The camo patterns they use are not “stick and leaf” patterns but based off of natural colors and are suited to blending in to many different landscapes. I hunted mostly hardwoods in Northern PA and the Natural Gear pattern looked like it had been made for the trees I was sitting in.

(Middle) Layered up in a pair of Natural Gear Fleece Pants and Beanie (Jacket underneath)

Pros:

Quiet

Warm

Wind/water resistant

Affordable

Cons:

Durability

Not true to size

Prognosis: Having basically lived in a treestand for four days, I was extremely pleased with the performance of the Natural Gear Fleece in the cold woods of Pennsylvania.

 

Disclaimer:

The reviews at Arizona Wanderings are my honest opinion. The Natural Gear Fleece products were provided by Natural Gear for the purpose of this review. 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.

Wall of Fame: Arizona Coues Deer

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Marks Domsher - Coues Deer
Marks Domsher - Coues Deer

My friend, Mark Domsher, had a great Arizona Coues Deer hunt and sent me some photos to salivate over. We had talked about this great tag that he had pulled a couple of times and I was glad to hear he sealed the deal on such a great looking buck. Congrats Mark, and I look forward to hearing the nitty gritty of the hunt soon.

Christmas Giveaway: RedRam Merino Thermals

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RedRam
RedRam

After my recent review of RedRam’s Merino Thermals, the kind folks over at RedRam contacted me about hosting a RedRam top/bottom layer giveaway for the readers of Arizona Wanderings. The giveaway is pretty simple and there are multiple opportunities to enter.

Please add a separate comment for each of the following:

1. Leave a comment on this post explaining your current setup for base layers

2. Like Arizona Wanderings on Facebook, then come back here and leave a comment stating that you did. If you already like Arizona Wanderings, feel free to leave a comment.

3. Like The Backcountry Journal on Facebook, then come back here and leave a comment stating that you did. If you already like The Backcountry Journal, feel free to leave a comment.

4. Follow The Backcountry Journal on Twitter, then come back and leave a comment here.

5. Share this on your Facebook, then come back and add another comment.

If you did everything right, you should have 5 chances at the RedRam thermals.  This giveaway will close on Monday 12/26/11 and a winner will be chosen through a randomly generated number and announced next Tuesday 12/27/11. The winner will be contacted by email. A big thanks to RedRam and as always, thanks to the readers of Arizona Wanderings for your support.

RedRam Thermals
RedRam Thermals

Disclaimer: My review of the RedRam thermals was my honest opinion. Arizona Wanderings is honored to host this giveaway, while RedRam will handle shipping after the winner is announced.