Smithmas

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The Smith Family
Smithmas

My family rolled into town for the week of Christmas and it’s been a fantastic time introducing them to the newest member of the family. Good times were had by all. I’ll let the pictures do the talking. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all.

Brothers and K
Brothers and Mama K
4 Generations
4 Generations
Gingerbread houses
Gingerbread houses
Christmas Breakfast
Big Christmas Breakfast
Casting
Tighten up that loop, baby brother
Grilling
Meats
Grilling
Anticipation
White Tank Mountains
A much needed post-Christmas feast hike into the White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
Ford Canyon Trail
White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
White Tank Mountains
The abandoned dam
White Tank Mountains
Brothers
White Tank Mountains
A View from the White Tank Mountains

 

 

Rambling Review – Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

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Rambling Review – Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase
Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

Why:

I recently made the move from education to the steel business. I work as an estimator for a local steel company and couldn’t be happier with the move. I’d been looking for a briefcase/bag to carry to and from the office. It had to be able to fit a laptop, thermos of coffee, lunch, and a few files.  There are many options out there, but I settled on the Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase.

Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase
Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

First impressions:

The look – There are plenty of pretentious looking leather briefcases out there on the market, and maybe someday I’ll get there, but the Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase fits the kind of lifestyle that I live.

The layout – The Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase is extremely functional with plenty of pockets for organization. The main pocket is plenty big enough for the laptop, coffee and lunch and the plethora of other pockets leave room for the other odds and ends.

The materials – The Bootstrapper Briefcase is constructed from Duluth Trading Co.’s Fire Hose 100% cotton canvas (apparently they used to wrap heavy duty fire hose with this fabric). The bottom of the bag has full grain leather for durability and support, and much of the trim of the bag is also leather.  Hefty brass zippers offer closures on most of the pockets, another pocket has a magnetic closure,  while some of the internal pockets utilize velcro.

Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase
Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

Field Use:

I’ve been toting the Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase to and from work for several months and couldn’t be happier with it. It does what it’s supposed to do and my wife says I look more professional than carrying a grocery bag like I used to. Overall it is extremely functional and durable for my day to day work life.

Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase
Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

On the weekends though, I like to get a bit more use out of it and took it out several times loaded with shells and accessories for the gun range. Because of the it’s stout construction it held multiple boxes of shells, water, and some of the other tools needed for a day of clays.

I like everything about this bag except the velcro. The nice thing is that the velcro is on the inside and doesn’t see a ton of use, but velcro is on of those things that never seems to stand the test of time. What is exceptional though is the Duluth Trading Co.’s “No Bull” guarantee.

“If you’re not 100% satisfied with any item you purchase from Duluth Trading, return it to us at any time for an exchange or refund of its purchase price. Simple, unconditional, no nonsense, NO BULL.”

Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase
Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

Pros:

Heavy duty Canvas Cloth

Leather bottom

Layout/size

Duluth Trading Co. “No Bull” Guarantee

Cons:

Velcro (not a fan)

Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase
Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase

Prognosis:  I’m very happy with the Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase and look forward to it standing the test of time.

 

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.  Tehe DUluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Bootstrapper Briefcase was provided 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.

Arizona Quail Hunting: That much sweeter

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Winchester and Feet
Winchester and Feet

The sun has a unique way of complimenting the mountains in Arizona. Whether it’s turning them pink in the morning or purple at dusk, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen so many beautiful sunrises and sunsets. As an outdoorsman, I have the privilege of being in the field to see these picturesque sights, and on a certain level, I feel sorry for the poor saps who sleep in and spend their days indoors. They seem to miss out on all the beauty that nature has to offer.

On the same line, there’s nothing quite like the beauty of a male Gambel’s quail. From the creamy white chest to the burnt orange head, this beautiful bird stands out to the stark contrast of it’s rough environment. There is nothing quite like holding one and running your fingers over the small intricate feathers.

Although the pickings have been a bit slim this season for birds in some of my usual Gambel’s quail hunting spots, it makes every bird that much sweeter.

Male Gambel's
Male Gambel’s Quail
Quail Country
Quail Country

The Baby Post

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The first long night
The first long night

She’s here. Our baby girl, Evelyn Jo Smith arrived on Sunday, December 1st. She decided that 3:09 was as good a time as any to make her entrance, and she came screaming in to this world to greet her mama and papa.

I won’t try to describe with words the emotional high, sheer terror, and unconditional love that I feel when I look at her. Next to her mama, she’s the prettiest girl I’ve ever seen.

In our short few days together, I’ve found out we have quite a few things in common.

We both love flannel, she farts and poops more than I do and we both love her mama.

Can’t wait to take this little girl fishing.

Mama and Evie Jo
Mama and Evie Jo
Snuggling on the couch in Flannel
Snuggling on the couch in Flannel
Early Christmas Gift
Early Christmas Gift (This girl doesn’t stand a chance)

Rambling Review – Lowa Renegade LL Mid Boots

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Rambling Review – Lowa Renegade LL Boots

Lowa Renegade LL Boots
Lowa Renegade LL Boots

Why:

I’m a big fan of hiking. Whether hunting, fishing, or putting on a backpack, I like to leave the sounds of civilization, quads, and dirtbikes behind to find country that others don’t typically get to see. My feet end up taking the bulk of the abuse and therefore it becomes imperative that they get the support from a good pair of boots. I have been a hard core Merrell fan for the past couple of years, but when they did a redesign of their one boot, something changed. I had the opportunity to try out a pair of Lowa Renegade LL Mid boots, and I don’t think I need to look for new boots anymore.

Lowa Renegade LL Boots
Lowa Renegade LL Boots

First impressions:

The Fit – The Lowa Renegade LL Boots feature an over the ankle fit. With three boot lace hooks, the boots are able to be cinched to the proper tension and comfort.

Leather-lined – I don’t have a whole lot of need for Gore-tex while hiking and hunting here in Arizona, so having a pair of glove leather-lined boots that are comfortable and breathe well is critical.

Vibram® Evo rubber – I’m a big fan of Vibram soles and the Vibram Evo rubber boast superior traction and durability.

Manufacutured – Lowa Boots have been handcrafted in Europe since 1923 under the world’s most stringent manufacturing, environmental and labor regulations.

Lowa Renegade LL Boots
Lowa Renegade LL Boots

Field Use:

There is no better test for a pair of boots than a season of Arizona quail hunting. I started wearing these boots prior to the season in order to break them in and was pleasantly surprised to find that they needed little to no time to break in. I went on several short hikes as well as a couple longer scouting trips.

Since quail season arrived, I’ve spent just about every weekend chasing Gambel’s through the desert in my Lowa Renegades. Even in Temperatures as high as 95º, I have found these boots to be extremely comfortable. I typically do most of my hiking/hunting in a pair of merino socks, and when paired with the glove leather that lines the inside of the Lowa Renegade boots, my feet were comfortable and breathed exceptionally well.

Arizona Quail Country
Arizona Quail Country

One thing that I really like about the Lowa Renegade LL Mid boots is the extra support that they offer in their “over the ankle fit.” Although they are labeled as a “mid” type boot, they offer substantial more support than other mid-type hiking boots that I’ve owned. With three lace hooks, I can get the perfect tension, fit, and support that I need for the steep desert hills that I need.

The Lowa Renegade LL are soled with Vibram  which provide serious traction on the ever unstable desert floor. The boot uppers are constructed of a water-repellant waxed nubuk leather is not only flexible but strong, and offers a layer of protection while hiking.

Pros:

Little to no break-in time

Vibram Evo soles

Waxed nubuk leather uppers

Glove grade leather lining

Cons:

Price tag (but well worth it for the quality)

Prognosis:  I love these boots. Need I say more? Check out the Lowa Renegade LL Mid boots and the rest of Lowa’s boot lineup.

 

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 Lowa Renegade LL Mid Boots were provided by Lowa 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.

The Trout Underground vs. Tom Stienstra

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I don’t often take a break from my weekly drivel of trip reports and gear reviews to talk about the news, but this is just too good to pass up. Tom Chandler of the Trout Underground has long been one of my favorite reads, and I find myself stopping whatever I’m doing when a new article from him pops up in my RSS reader. Lately, Tom has been busy as he defends the every blogger’s right to freedom of speech.

The story is almost unbelievable. Here’s the short version:

Mr. Chandler and several other media outlets report the arrest of local newspaper writer for cultivating cannabis. Newspaper man sues the blogger for defamation because the blog post is sitting at number 1 on Google. Judge sees through the newspaper man’s shenanigans and upholds the First Amendment. Big newspaper man (who should have known better than to try and infringe on someone else’s right to report factual information) loses lawsuit.

Tom Chandler
Image borrowed from the Trout Underground

 

Tom Chandler shares the entertaining journey here in the three posts below.

1. How it all started: Outdoor Writer Tom Stienstra Busted for Marijuana Cultivation in Weed (Or, Ooops!)

2. The persecution of the First Amendment: The Lawsuit Post

3. Victory: Free Speech Wins – SF Chronicle Writer Tom Stienstra Loses Lawsuit against Trout Underground

 

 

 

 

Arizona Quail Hunting Report

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The Q5 Hunting Vest
The Q5 Hunting Vest

The grass cover was exceptional as it mixed in with the prickly pear cactus. Watching the covey scatter, we slowly eased across the wash and up the opposite hillside. We zig-zagged through the maze of desert plants, and were greeted with single birds holding tight in the thick grasses. It made for a good day of hunting to say the least.

I remember one bird in particular that held exceptionally close and allowed me to walk by him, even after I had given his hiding place a good kick with my foot. Convinced that the bush held no birds, I took another two steps before the same bush erupted with the sound of flushing quail. I spun on my heels and let loose too quickly with the bottom barrel and an unbalanced stance. Righting myself, I took a split second to let out half a breath before squeezing off the top barrel. As if by magic, the quail stopped mid-flight in a puff of feathers and fell to the desert floor.

Holding that gray Gambel’s in my hands, the world seemed to slow. Clairvoyantly, I stepped outside of my self and could see just how lucky I was to be in that moment, on that hillside, holding that bird, with the sun shining down on me. It’s cliche to say, but it’s easy to take for granted just how good we have it.

As if the day could get any better, we sat on the tailgate and enjoyed a few IPAs before packing it in and bouncing our way back to civilization and the women in our lives who understand our need and love of the outdoors. It doesn’t get much better than that.

AZ Windmill
Arizona Windmill
Gambel's Quail Hat
Arizona Quail Hunting Report

The Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest

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The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest

Last year I spent quite a few days in the original Q5 Bird Hunting Vest designed by Dan Priest. Dan’s extensive quail hunting knowledge and experience led him to build a high quality vest that is manufactured right here in Arizona. This season, he released a new version of the vest called the Centerfire.

Although I’ve only spent a few days in the field using the vest, I wanted to post a couple of initial thoughts on the changes to the new Q5 Centerfire Bird Hunting Vest.

  • Bigger game bag
  • Larger back zippered pockets
  • Water bottle holders
  • Water bladder holder and adjustable hose clip
  • Zippered/Velcro shell pockets
  • Detachable daypack that can be used in conjunction with the game vest that greatly increases the vests carrying capacity

The Q5 Centerfire is available in coyote brown/blaze orange or digital camo. One of the biggest selling points of any Q5 Upland Hunting Vest is this:

“When you purchase this vest, you are helping a child experience camping and the great outdoors. A percentage of the proceeds go to Arizona Outdoor Adventures, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing healthy outdoor activities for underprivileged children. Go to www.azoutdooradventures.org for further information.”

The new design is pretty awesome and has some serious hauling capacity for all day trips. If you’re in the market for a new vest, the Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest definitely deserves your consideration.

The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest with zip
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest with Detachable Day Pack
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest
The Q5 Centerfire Hunting Vest

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 Q5 Centerfire Upland Vest was provided to Arizona Wanderings 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.