Arizona Fly Fishing: Gila Trout

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Arizona Gila Trout
Arizona Gila Trout

The yellow Gila trout tucked away from humanity in a tiny trickle of water greedily ate our flies and made us forget about the thorns and brush that tore at our clothing. We fell on the slippery rocks and bushwhacked through the dense undergrowth to cast our lines for this rare Southwestern trout. and it was a bit surreal to hold a fish that has been on the brink of extinction for so long. The habitat didn’t allow for much in the way of casting, but bow-and-arrow casting small streamers seemed to do the trick.

Thanks to the work of Trout Unlimited and the Arizona Game and Fish Department, there is now a wild fishable population of Gila trout back in Arizona, and efforts continue to be made to stock Gila trout back in their native drainage. Stay up to date on new fishing regulations and future habitat work.

Arizona Gila Trout Fishing
DJ and Ranger focused on the task at hand
Gila Trout
Gila Trout on a C Barclay Fiberglass rod
me and ranger
Relaxing
Gila Trout Fly Fishing
Tight Quarter
Fly Fishing for Gila Trout
Native Gila Trout
Gila Trout Arizona
Gila Trout Habitat
Gila Trout
Gila Trout
Gila Trout Fishing
Ranger dog overseeing the day’s activities
Frye Creek
A look back
Gila Trout
Gila Trout

Arizona Quail Season – Last Day Out

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Gambel's country
Gambel’s country
  1. Wake up early – check
  2. Eggs and coffee for breakfast – check
  3. Meet buddy and put a couple birds in the vest – check
  4. Clean shotgun and hang up bird vest – check
  5. Wait impatiently for the next Arizona quail season and pray for rain – check and check
Gambel's country
Gambel’s country
Searching for downed birds
Searching for downed birds
Gambel's and Wingworks
A couple of Gambel’s quail to wrap up the Arizona quail season

Rambling Review: Jim Matthews Signature Quail Calls

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Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call
Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call

Rambling Review

Why:

Since I’ve moved to Arizona, I’ve been hunting Gambel’s quail without a dog. On the rare occasion, I can meet up with a buddy who has a dog, but most of my hunts are on my own. I’ve found that Gambel’s are very huntable due to how vocal they are, between their clucks, putts, and unmistakable assembly/locator call, “Chi-ca-go-go”. For the past few years, I’ve been playing around with a couple different locator calls with limited success. I recently had the opportunity to get my hands on a couple of handmade chamber calls from Jim Matthews and believer they are some of the best sounding quail calls on the market.

First impressions:

Chamber call – Jim Matthews’ unique call design features a hollowed out chamber on the inside of the call right behind the rubber band. This creates a rich resonate tone that makes for an extremely convincing Gambel’s call.

Handmade quality – Each call is handmade by Jim Matthews from a wide variety of woods. Jim was kind enough to embed a shotgun shell on the face of each call, which give them a really unique look.

Jim Matthews Signature Quail Calls
Jim Matthews Signature Quail Calls

Field Use:

I’ve been toting the Jim Matthews Signature Calls in my vest for most of the season and have seen real success in using them. I have one made from walnut and one from mesquite. Both sound great, but I found great success with the mesquite call. I can usually find birds early in the morning without much difficulty, but as the morning wears on, it can be tough to locate birds after breaking up a covey or two.

Each Jim Matthews Signature Call is built to receive a specific size rubber band which are available in bulk from your local office store. Right out of the box, each call sounds excellent, but by applying pressure with your fingers to the call can change the tone of the call and give a change in pitch if needed. Both of my calls sounded perfect without any adjustment.

Pros:

Beautiful handmade craftsmanship

Rich resonate sound

Multiple varieties of wood to choose from

Durable construction for years of use

Cons:

Cost – the calls aren’t cheap, but are a great addition in your bird vest.

Prognosis:  I can’t say enough good things about Jim Matthews Signature Calls. Put your order in for next season. You won’t be disappointed

* 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.  Two calls were provided by Jim Matthews 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.

Javelina Hunting: Stickbow Edition

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Javelina Hunting
Stickbow Javelina

While gulping a cup of coffee, I scrawled a note to my wife and kids telling them I was planning on morning javelina hunting. Little did I know as I threw my pack and bow into the truck, that it would turn into a full day hunt. I met up with a few buddies and spent the morning glassing the sunny slopes in search of pigs. When we finally found them, they were a good mile and half hike away, but after formulating a game plan, we made our way over to them working in to about a 100 yards. From there, we silently made our final stalk into a big herd of javelina, where at 6 yards, my arrow found it’s mark. When the dust settled, my friend David and I had been able to harvest pigs.

The sun was already headed deep into the western sky by the time we shouldered our heavy packs and started to make our way back to the truck. It turned into a long day in the field, but it was a good day javelina hunting with friends that I won’t soon forget.

Javelina Country
Javelina Country
Vortex Viper 15x50
The Vortex Vipers doing some work
Arizona Javelina
Javelina for dinner
Arizona Sunset
Success Sunset

Arizona Quail Hunting: Field to Table

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Gambel's Quail
Fistful of Birds

I planned to do a little bit of scouting for the 2016 javelina season, and on a whim I decided to bring the shotgun along just in case I found a covey of Gambel’s. After hiking up the first hill, I busted the first of 6 coveys for the day. With birds plentiful and very vocal, I didn’t spend a whole bunch of time glassing for pigs, and instead spent the rest of the morning chasing Gambel’s quail. By the end of the morning, my vest was heavy with a half dozen birds, and I headed for home.

After putting gear away and cleaning the birds, I deboned the breasts and legs and got out the fixings for quail nuggets. Within minutes, my little sidekick had pulled a chair over to the kitchen counter picking at the tasty fried morsels and honey mustard. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as completing the circle and taking game from the field to table.

Arizona Desert
Desert in the Winter
Fixings for fried quail
Fixings for quail nuggets
Someone loves quail nuggets
Someone loves quail nuggets

 

Arizona Quail Hunting: A day in the field

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Arizona Slam
Arizona Quail Slam

Mearns season opened here in Arizona and I headed south with a couple of buddies on our annual pilgrimage to hike the southern hills and see how the Mearns quail faired over the winter and summer. We had an action packed day with plenty of birds on the bag and an epic tailgate lunch. By the end of the day, all three of us had completed the Arizona quail slam with Mearns, Scaled and Gambel’s quail in the game vest. Arizona quail hunting at it’s finest.

Tacos
Kyle’s famous tailgate tacos for lunch
Mexican Coke
Cane sugar goodness
Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call
Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call
Chase
Chase
Arizona Slam
Arizona Slam
Stanley Pint Glass
Mearns
Scalie
Arizona Scaled Quail
Pile of Arizona Quail
Pile of Arizona Quail

Top Ten Christmas Gifts for the Outdoorsman

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I had a conversation with a good friend the other day about gear that has stood the test of time. It prompted some further reflection and I thought it would be appropriate to put together a list of gifts for the outdoorsman.

WingWorks

1. New Upland Bird Hunting Vest – I get quite a few emails about bird hunting vests and generally it comes down to two: The WingWorks Upland Vest or the Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest. Both strap vests are made in America and bulletproof.

Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest
Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest

2. K-Pump 200 – Accept no substitute. There’s no pontoon boat pump out there better than the K-Pump 200.

K-200a
K-200

3. Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener – The Work Sharp Guided Field Sharpener is a solid sharper and I always carry it in my big game kill kit.

4. Sage and Braker Bore Snake – The Sage and Braker Bore Snake is the perfect stocking stuffer for the active hunter or shooter on your list.

Sage and Braker Bore Snake
Sage and Braker Bore Snake

5. Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call – I just got my hands on my Jim Matthews Signature Quail Calls and haven’t posted a full review yet. But let me tell you that these beauties sound so good and I’m very impressed with the quality and sound. More to come on these calls.

Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call
Jim Matthews Signature Quail Call

6.  Stanley Brand – The Stanley name long been synonymous with quality and I’ve had the opportunity to get my hands on a number of their products. My favorite as of late has been the Stanley Vacuum Pint. Stanley products always make for a good gift.

Stanley Classic Vaccum Pint Glass
Stanley Classic Vaccum Pint Glass

7. Lowa Renegade LL – Nothing is more critical than a solid set of hunting boots and the Lowa Renegade LL (leather-lined) fit the bill.

Lowa Renegade LL
Lowa Renegade LL

8. Sierra Nets – Handmade by my good friend Greg Madrigal, a Sierra Net is a work of art. If you have a fly fisherman on your Christmas list, make his year and have Greg make him a net.

Sierra Nets by Greg Madrigal
Sierra Nets by Greg Madrigal

9. Mountainsmith Day TLS – This little lumbar pack goes with me on every fishing trip into the mountains. Can’t beat the Mountainsmith Day TLS for comfort, durability, and utility while fishing.

Mountainsmith Day TLS
Mountainsmith Day TLS

10. A new bamboo rod – Treat yourself. I recently commissioned my good friend and rod builder Mike Johnson, owner of Agua Fria Alchemy to build me a new bamboo rod and it is a dream to fish with. Do yourself a favor and put a bamboo rod under the tree for yourself.

Agua Fria Alchemy Bamboo Fly Rod
Agua Fria Alchemy Bamboo Fly Rod

 

Mule Deer, Chukar, and Good Friends

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Arizona Mule Deer
Arizona Mule Deer

My good friend, Austin, spent the better part of two weeks looking for a giant mule deer in northern Arizona in one of the premier mule deer units. I headed up the last weekend with my other buddy, David, to see if we could help out. Although we never found the big one that Austin was after, we spotted this old buck that was past his prime near the end of the hunt. After some consideration, Austin opted to pull the trigger and put his tag on this old warrior. We celebrated with tenderloins and libations, and woke late the next morning to start breaking camp.

On the long way out from camp, we set up a couple of unsuccessful coyote stands but our luck picked up when we busted a covey of chukar. We gave chase, and I was lucky enough to knock down my first Arizona chukar. I felt quite fortunate to put this trophy in the game bag and couldn’t have had a happier ending to the weekend.

Arizona Mule Deer
Teamwork
Processing
Processing
Arizona Chukar
A trophy of my own – Arizona Chukar