Well, I didn’t have very high hopes for this season, hunting in a unit that I did not really know too well. Blowing my one opportunity at a pig early in the season was probably not a good place to start either. I hunted one more time this past Saturday in the hope of finding a herd, but the rolling hills and canyons provided the shelter that these javlelina were looking for. Looking at the calendar and weighing the pros and cons of trying to squeeze one more day in makes me think that Saturday was probably the last day in the field for me.
I could be cliche and say that any day in the field is a good day, but there is that nagging thought in the back of my mind telling me I should have been done a week and half ago, if I had been a little bit smarter on my stalk. No matter, I have a couple of hours free this afternoon. I just might dust off the fly rod and chase some carp.
Just some photos from a recent buffalo scouting trip. Cold nighttime temps make it difficult to leave the fire or even want to get out of the tent in the morning, but it sure does make you feel alive. We are blessed with some beautiful country here in Arizona.
The morning sun was just starting to lighten the sky as I tiptoed to the top of the bluff where I was going to set up and glass the surrounding hills. I moved from rock to rock and quietly stood at the very top and was about to put down my bow and pack when I heard movement. As I peaked over the edge of the ledge I was sitting on, I could see a small herd of javelina feeding through the brush. Grunting and browsing through the brush, I slipped down behind them and followed them as the moved through the brush with the wind in their face.
For the next hour and a half, I stalked the herd as they moved over the next couple of hills. I passed up several marginal shots in the 20-25 yard range while I waited for something a little bit closer. Something closer never came. Cactus and palo verde trees kept this little herd safe and before I knew it, one of them circled around and winded me. After the sound of pounding hooves subsided, I was left alone with the sound of the wind rustling through the dry desert.
The beauty of shooting a stickbow is that the hunt becomes very intimate and personal, with the hunter being forced to close the distance between himself and his quarry. No looking through a scope over hundreds of yards across a canyon. No sites to rely on. No triggers. Nothing mechanical. Being in that close on a herd of wild animals is truly a thing of beauty and even though I did not loose and arrow, I feel grateful to be a part of the desert and have a front row seat to viewing God’s creation.
A shotgun is one of the most useful tools that an outdoorsman can possess and can be used in a variety of situations. With hundreds of options to choose from a very limited budget to work, I was looking for a shotgun that would be versatile enough to work for turkey, waterfowl, upland birds, and home defense. With everything added up, I felt the best option for myself would be the Remington 870 Pump-action shotgun.
The Feel - The Remington 870 Express has a sturdy feel in the hand and fits snuggly against the shoulder and cheek. The solid steel receiver fitted with the laminate wood stock has a comfortable weight wether cradled in the crook of the arm, slung over the shoulder, or held in the ready position.
The Look - The Remington 870 Express comes with a matte-finish and a dark stained laminate wood stock and fore-end. With a vent-rib barrel and a Truglo front bead site, the 870 has a no-frills rugged look to it, that I personally appreciate.
Chokes - When I purchased my 870, it came with three different chokes, a modified, improved, and full choke. Depending on the season and my quarry, I can change up my choke in a matter of a minute or two to meet the needs of the field.
The Sonoran Desert of Arizona is no picnic. I have carried this Remington for the past couple of years on many different quail and dove hunts. The stock and barrel each carry a few deep scratches that are almost unavoidable in the rock and cactus strewn sandbox that I hunt in. My Remington 870 has been a reliable tool that has downed countless birds and is extremely comfortable to shoot with the R3 recoil pad. Bottom line, the Remington 870 is a workhorse that can stand up to the abuse that a firearm will take when used in a desert environment.
I have over 1,000 shells through this gun and in that time I have had maybe 4 jams. It seems to be a common theme for some Remington 870s to jam when using cheaper ammo or when “short stroking” the action, caused when the forend the gun is not pulled all the way back before being ratcheted forward. I have never had a problem with unjamming the gun and it has happened so infrequently that I almost forgot to include it in this review.
The Remington 870 Express is chambered to a 3″ shell and I have had fun patterning it for turkey. Since moving to Arizona, I have been successful taking a Merriams with a bow but am looking forward to this next spring gobbler season, where I can put my 870 to the test. I have no doubt that if I can get a gobbler within range, the 870 will do everything that I ask of it.
Although primarily a hunting tool, my Remington 870 nightlines as a home defense weapon. God forbid I ever encounter a situation where I have to use it as such, there is a strong argument that a shotgun loaded with buckshot is the weapon of choice in the middle of the night when someone is attempting to break into the house. Nothing is more likely to make an intruder rethink their life choices like the sound of a pump-action scattergun chambering a shell in the pitch dark. Needless to say, the Remington 870 is the first thing that I would reach for when something goes bump in the night.
Occasional jams when ejecting a shell
Cosmetics (Although a nice looking shotgun, their are prettier guns on the market)
Prognosis: The Remington 870 is an American classic that has been around for over 20 years. It is a versatile, reliable, and affordable tool that meets the needs of the everyday hunter.
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.
Although I did not get drawn for my go-to unit, I bought an over-the-counter javelina tag in a unit closer to town. While quail hunting there over the past couple of years, I have kicked up a couple of herds of pigs and figured I could get lucky. I put some miles under my feet and looked at a bunch of country but could not find the pigs that I know are there somewhere. I made it back to the truck around noon and decided to check out another area a little farther out of the way. Bumping along I heard the unmistakable hissing of escaping air which also deflated my spirit. After getting the spare squared away, I figured without cell service, continuing on would not be in my best interest. So I headed back to town to get my blown tire replaced with hopes of getting back into the field a little later this week. Hopefully, I can get these pigs figured out and get lucky enough to get an arrow off before I head back to school next week.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Low soft sounds
Inhalation protects against freezing
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.
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.