Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Outdoor Kids

Outdoor Kids
 Just received my copy of "Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors (Fox Chapel Publishing, September 1, 2011)" The book was sent to me through the Gear Review Opportunity at the Outdoor Blogger Network. I have already started reading this book, and hope to write the review in 2 weeks, with the open of quail season two days away,free time becomes a precious commodity.

It's Tuesday Night Again

At The Table
Well Tuesday night has come again and I headed down to Bass Pro Shops in Mesa for the monthly fly tying class. Just walking into the store feels like you are heading into the great outdoors, specially here in the desert were the temperatures bake everything. As you enter the fly shop in the back corner of the store it is separated from the main floor by a another door and a transition from concrete to wood floors. This makes for a quiet and secluded location to tie flies. The table we sit at holds six people which makes it a friendly environment helping the discussions flow freely. As always we talk more than we tie almost like a good card game, but I always seem to learn some new technique to use in my fly tying. This Tuesday was no different, it challenged my fat fingers to no end. I have tied 100's of flies that I use regularly like the Elk Hair Caddis, Pheasant Tail nymph, Hares Ear nymph, Leaches, and AZ Wanderings Mini-Hopper. Never have I thought of fishing a damsel fly let alone tying one, but we tackled that fly tonight. It was interesting to learn how it is done and then but those practices into motion. There is one thing for sure, my fly tying is getting a lot better by tying with others in a group atmosphere.

1st Damsel Fly

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids

I would like to thank Fox Chapel Publishing for a great oppurtunity to read "A book by award-winning author Eugene Buchanan" "Outdoor Parents, Outdoor Kids: A Guide to Getting Your Kids Active in the Great Outdoors (Fox Chapel Publishing, September 1, 2011)" This oppurtunity was offered by the good folks at the Outdoor Blogger Network. I will be reading this and then writting up a review for all. If you haven't been on Outdoor Blogger Network, go there to find so fantastic blogs on all of the great outdoors, (Just click link on side bar). Also check out all of the offerings from Fox Chapel Publishing at there website. I am so excited to read this book, will keep everyone posted on it's arrival.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Thunder and Lighting

We headed out to our dove field Saturday afternoon on a spur of the moment hunt. All day the sun had been beating down on the valley heating things up. Clouds on the northern horizon had started to form midafternoon into big white pillows. As we left the house I thought “are we going to get rained on before the evening ends”. As we approached the field so did the rain storm, and getting out of the car we took some heavy rain drops. As we stood watching the rain drops come to an end we wondered if any birds would fly. Shortly after the rain stopped we saw several birds pass over our favorite spot, so we loaded up and headed out.

Superstition Mts.
As I settled in to my favorite spot I thought of what a beautiful evening it would be, the cloud cover had hid the sun and the rain had dropped the temperatures into the 70’s. I had my camera back today after my wife used it all last week; I hoped to get some good pictures.

Storm Clouds Moving Out

Once the doves began moving, I had the feeling it would be a good evening. The first bird that flew from the left to the right went down with one shot.

Another one came from the same direction and I hit it on the second try.

After missing a bird behind me I had a third bird fly the same direction as the first two,
and it was brought down with a single shot.

After getting three birds in five shots I was feeling pretty good about the hunting action. My friend Josh was also getting some good opportunities at birds. On this evening he had three of his kids in tow to enjoy the evening. As we continued to shoot birds, we watched as the storm circled us off in the distance. Every now and then the thunder would slowly roll across the fields bringing the promise of more rain. As I continued to shoot a big gust of wind kicked up several birds in the distance, they started heading our way. As they approached us I hit one of them, followed that up with a miss, but doubled on the third shot. When the shooting is this good it doesn’t last long, with only 23 shots fired I had filled my daily limit.

An Evening of Fun

After cleaning up around me I headed off to see how Josh and his oldest son were fairing. They had shot several birds and were having a good time. It is always nice to see outdoor traditions passed down to the younger generation. As the sun set, the storm was getting closer. The lighting was lighting up the eastern sky as the thunder echoed across the fields. We drove home to the light show having enjoyed a special evening of dove hunting.

End of a Hunt, Start of a Lifetime

Labor Day Dove

Dove hunting in the desert is best pursued in either the early mornings or late afternoons. The birds are flying to or from their roosts in predictable patterns. In fields where there is active agriculture, or better yet a dairy, the birds will be more concentrated. The problem with hunting these areas on Labor Day is it tends to concentrate the hunters also. This year was no exception, so the early risers get the premium location. With this in mind I woke my three boys early enough that we were the first ones to the field, choosing the best spot from which to hunt.




The birds began to fly just after legal shooting light and it was game on. I got off to a quick start by connecting on three birds with my first few shells. My boys on the other hand got off to a slow start burning through the stack of shotgun shells. Doves are fast flying missiles and can be tricky to hit, but the boys where having a great time trying. My partner in crime when it comes to hunting, Josh, once again was shooting lights out. At this time in the morning I came up with the concept of how well one shoots, is to take the amount of birds taken divided by the amount of shells used. A good number would be in the 2s mediocre the 5s and poor the 10s. While I have shot in the 2s before I am more of a 4.5s kind of shot. The problem for me this year though was the cost of supporting three boys who were definitely in the 10-12 range and getting a lot of birds.

Marc AKA Tonto Rambling
While this arbitrary system of shooting skill is fun for badgering friends, (Josh claiming to shoot in the 2s opening day?), it is not what dove hunting for me is about. I enjoy getting out with family and friends and just talking. The smell of gun powder burning in the barrel.  Seeing the sunrise over the mountains. Meeting new people who enjoy the outdoors and the realization that fall is just around the corner. To everyone who hunts dove good luck. To the rest of you get out there and try this early hunting season and see just how fun it can be.

Sunday, September 4, 2011


What is worth standing on the edge of a dirt field in the afternoon when the thermometer says 112°? If it is September, and you are in Arizona, it is probably for the start of dove hunting. This year Arizona passed a new law that reopened some old dove hunting land in the state. The law passed allowed hunters to legally discharge a firearm to pursue game inside city limits, allowing a lot of desert to reopen for hunting. Thus I find myself in the afternoon after work standing in a dirt field slowly roasting.
Fortunately, a friend of mine had scouted this field and the doves where moving continuously through the field. We set up to intercept them as they moved in the afternoon from feeding fields to some water just east of the dirt lot. This year I was unable to make it out and shoot some skeet preseason, this showed right away. The first 20 doves to fly by me were given a free pass, as I was nowhere near hitting one. Finally I hit my first bird of the season, which got the ball rolling. One of the things I enjoy about dove hunting is the crazy variety of shots they provide. Most of the time I can make the right to left shot, or the straight on shot, but find left to right to be more difficult. Dove will challenge you on all angles and speeds. As the evening wore on and the suns affects diminished, my shooting improved. Day one of dove hunting was once again successful.