Striper Fishing in Arizona
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When my good friend Ken suggested a striper fishing excursion in Arizona’s Lake Pleasant, I was all over it. Years ago, I fished a lot more than I hunted, and I had made a commitment to fish more this year. Ken and I had already had one successful outing this year, and I was ready for more. Fishing for stripers at night sounded awesome!

Striped bass are considered an invasive species in Arizona. They are non-native and very prolific. That being said striper fishing in Arizona is growing in popularity. Ken arranged the trip through Derrick Franks of Striper Snatcher Guide Service. Derrick has a great reputation and as it turns out has been running a great deal on fishing trips. Less than a hundred bucks for at least 4 hours of fishing? And all you need to bring is a cooler full of ice and a fishing license. Derrick provides the rest. Bait, tackle, you name it…

Unfortunately, scheduling during the summer monsoon season in Arizona can be a challenge. We were “stormed out” on two different occasions before we finally made it onto the water. There were seven of us and without too much fuss we were soon underway with Derrick’s partner Anthony Dovidio. Soon we were at the first spot. Anthony got lights in the water, got us all baited up, and pretty soon the stripers started hitting! It seemed like everyone was getting in on the action for awhile.

Night fishing for stripers

First big fish of the night

Soon we moved to another spot, and then another. It seemed like there were two types of fishing that night – fast and furious action with smaller fish being caught, and slower fishing but catching big ones. What a great night! Anthony was a great host, untangling lines during our amateur moments, boating our fish and keeping the hooks baited with anchovies. We had a great bunch of guys on the boat; everyone was a friend of someone. The weather was awesome.

Marshall’s nice striper

Towards the end of the night we met up with Derrick who had a couple of clients on his boat. We’re definitely going out again soon. I can’t say enough about Derrick, Anthony and Striper Snatcher Guide Service. These guys run a great operation. They know the lake. They know where the fish are, and how to catch them. They’re good guys and know their way around their boats. Add to all that, the price is right. I can’t imagine a guided trip anywhere where you catch more fish, and have that amount of fun, for that price. Very cool adventure for all of us. We boated around 23 that night with 3 that were superb stripers. The meat was 1st class. No bones when filleted correctly, and the meat is very mild. I baked some with lemon and dill; some of it I fried in butter after being dredged in flour and corn meal (the old-fashioned way!)

The night’s catch

Rapala Classic Birch Knife – A Review
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First I need to thank Bob Ringer of Spong PR and of course the folks at Rapala for sending one of their knives for me to review.

From their June Press Release:

Last year, Rapala, the most trusted name in fishing since 1936, brought its legendary blades from the fish camp to the field with the introduction of the new Classic Birch Collection Hunting Knives. Now, the knives are making their way to sporting goods retailers nationwide.

Made by Marttinni, the legendary Finnish blade manufacturers responsible for Rapala’s iconic Fish ‘n Fillet knife, the Classic Birch Collection offers six razor-sharp, durable knives for any hunter’s needs, including the following models:

- Drop Point Knife (3.75” blade)
- Clip Point Knife (4.5” blade)
- Bird Knife (3.75” blade)
- Gut Hook Knife (4.5” blade)
- Skinner Knife (4.5” blade)
- Caping Knife (3.5” blade)

I was sent a sample of the Caping Knife. Here are the specs:

Scalpel like in appearance and function, the Caping knife is the perfect choice for working with birds and small game. An excellent tool for removing hide from face of trophy animals.

• Compact and maneuverable, ideal for tight detail work
• Slight drop point with a surgical edge
• Razor-sharp blade of German 420 Stainless Steel
• Classic Rapala birch handle
• Through tang construction
• Genuine leather sheath with belt loop
• Molded one-piece scabbard for safe storage

First off, the folks at Rapala were kind enough to answer some questions for me about their new line of knives, back in July. You can read the interview here: Rapala Talks About Their Classic Birch Knives.

The first thing I noticed about this knife was the sharpness. Out of the box, this was easily the sharpest knife I have ever owned. Seriously, it rivals the knives that utilize the snap on scalpel blades. It is scary sharp. It is well-built. The blade tang runs all the way through the handle giving it great strength. I leaned on the blade trying to flex it or break it to no avail. Not that looks matter much in the field but the knife is a handsome implement. I love the classic birch handle which also helps make it a nice-looking knife.

The blade is well-shaped for caping and the right size as well. With the design of the point and the overall shape of the blade it’s great for finer work and getting into small places. The grip is fat enough to make it easy to hold, especially when wet or bloody and the contour is perfect along with the thumb relief contour on the back of the blade.

One thing I didn’t test is how well the edge holds on the knife under regular field use. I hope to put it through its paces in late October on my Arizona mule deer hunt. I’ll be sure to post a follow-up. What is striking to me with this knife is the balance between craftsmanship and pragmatism. On one hand, this knife is a true work of art; on the other, I have no doubt that it will stand up to heavy use. It will definitely be in my pack this fall.

These knives retail for about 28 bucks. An absolute steal and worth every penny. If you’re looking for a new knife, check out the Classic Birch line from Rapala.

Product Review – Vapium Summit Plus Vaporizer
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Thanks to Ethan Anderson of Evan Nison Consulting for sending me one of these to review!

IMPORTANT! This is a bit of new territory for me, so I feel the need to state unequivocally the following: I do not, under any circumstances condone illegal activity. This isn’t a “wink,wink,nod nod” statement. I am serious. Whether it is illegal drug use, poaching, or parking in the fire lane, I don’t condone it. Period.

That being said, I fully recognize that in many states marijuana for medical use is in fact, legal. I particularly follow its use in treating PTSD for Veterans, a topic near and dear to my heart. My wife is a medical marijuana card holder. She is a quadriplegic and an amputee as well. She served as my guest reviewer. ~DesertRat

What caught my interest for this product was the product description from Ethan: “Just getting in touch because I thought you might be interested in trying out this durable, water-resistant vaporizer called the Summit Plus.
It’s perfect for people who spend a lot of time outside. This slick and compact vaporizer can handle extreme temperatures, is splash-proof and dust protected, and quickly and easily loads and heats dry leafy materials.”

From the Vapium Website:

SUMMIT VAPORIZER BY VAPIUM

Summit Plus™ by VAPIUM® is a rugged portable vaporizer that is as powerful as it is easy to use. With innovative technology, high-quality construction and intuitive functionality crafted specifically for on-the-go use, Summit refines industry standards of both utility and style. It promises to perform wherever the trail may lead, and beyond.

RUGGED

Ergonomic – textured easy-grip design
Tethered, magnetic lid – no missing parts!
Easy maintenance – magnetic snap-together assembly
Durable, high-strength exterior

RELIABLE

Low draw resistance
Stainless steel vapor pathway
Tested in snow and extreme cold
Lithium-ion battery – up to 1 hour of continuous use at 410°F/210°C
Automatic shut off

REFINED

Use while charging – micro USB rechargeable
Stir Tool built in, simply remove to stir, mix and pack
Smartphone Control allows for pairing with your device for precise temperature and session time control (Available Summer 2016)
Continuous air path is constructed from laser welded stainless steel
Haptic feedback vibration indicates device readiness
8 temperature settings from 330°F to 440°F (160°C to 230°C)
LED battery indicator – displayed using 4 LEDs when Go Button is pressed

So my wife was very impressed with the design and the features. The design is simple, yet sturdy. It is well thought-out. The range of heat settings is very handy. It’s nice to have an 8-step, defined range of heating. The magnetic lid works really well and it is integrated with the controls. The pick is a nice feature. The Stand By and Heat functions work really well. Overall, it is well-designed, sturdily made and comes with some great features.

The one drawback in my wife’s testing was the draw. In spite of the great range of heat settings, she couldn’t seem to hit the sweet spot. She’d move up through the settings and they would be too cool and then “bam” in the next setting the draw was too hot. She indicated it was almost uncomfortable. To be fair, maybe it was the product, or maybe she needs to keep experimenting with heat, product, volume in the chamber and “tamping”. If she can find the right combo, she’ll be a fan.

My impression is that this is a great Unit, and fairly priced at about 150 bucks. It comes with the following:

Dry Bag
Cleaning Kit with Cleaning Brush, Elongated Cleaning Brushes, Cleaning Wipes, and Extra Screens
Built-in Pick/Pack Tool
Securing Ring
2 Mouth Guards
3 Replacement Screens
User Manual

Again, please check out the website for yourself. I think if you can get the hot draw problem solved, you’ll be really happy. The manual is detailed. The controls are extensive, easy to use and practical. Heck, you can pair it with your Smart Phone. The operation is easy, and the size of the Unit is just right.

An Interview With Krimson
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This interview was originally posted over on our parent site OutdoorHub.com ~DesertRat

I was at a Mule Deer Foundation fundraising banquet in May when I met Krimson and her family. Krimson is an amazing young lady who is not only an amazing huntress, but a talented musician and songwriter. From her website, here is her story:

Her story was captivating, so I reached out to her and asked if I could do an interview. I think the outdoor world needs to learn about her! Thanks for Krimson for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer some questions!

You’ve been hunting and fishing for a long time! Does your whole family participate? How about your friends, especially growing up?

I grew up hunting primarily with my Dad and brothers. My brothers are 9 years older than I am, so they were always there to help my Dad and I pack out of the field when I was young. When I shot my mountain goat at age 10 it was a 5 day drop camp, when we finally reached the goats we were so far back just my Dad and I wouldn’t have made it out alive.

My parents started our family lodge when I was a year old, however, my family has been hunting for generations. Kodiak holds an annual contest each year for the biggest Sitka Blacktail; which my grandmother won in 1961, and I proceeded to win 3 different years. So as you can see, hunting has always been a huge part of my life as well as tradition. You can read find more of these stories on my website at http://krimsonlive.com/hunting/.

Hunters are constantly targeted in social media these days; especially lady hunters. How do you deal with the negativity and nasty comments? Does it ever get to you?

Personally, anti-hunters have never really bothered me simply because I understand that hunting is something, they simply don’t understand like I do. I am an outdoors woman because that’s how I was raised, many people that don’t agree with what I do have never done it. What does bother me however, is to see how some people respond to the way that I choose to live my life. It bothers me to see that society can attack someone so strongly for just something that they believe in. I’m sure I can find many things on the internet that I don’t agree with, but if that’s how someone chooses to spend their life, for reasons that they were raised by, who am I to disagree with them?


You’re combining your love of the outdoors with a blossoming music career. Tell us about that.

I have always had a great passion for music & the outdoors. Writing, singing & listening to music has been my way of expressing myself and the great outdoors has just been where I can experience that within myself. Its that special time for me to make connection and memories with people that I love.

What is the biggest challenge so far, in becoming a successful musician?

The biggest challenge in my career has be being a jack of all trades and a master of none. Not being able or willing to live solely in Los Angeles to pursue a music career has definitely held me back from that portion of my career. I grew up in the small town of Kodiak, moving to LA would be giving up the amazing lifestyle that I have been privileged with. I spend each year managing our lodge and taking care of clients, while building my business selling crab and traveling to Los Angeles to write & record. I don’t think I’m ready to give any of those up quite yet.

As a young musician, how do you define success? What is that spot in your career where you can say “I did it”?

I don’t think there is a single definition for success. I believe that it doesn’t matter what you do in life, as long as you enjoy what you’re doing, you give it your all and enjoy life, who’s to say you’re not successful?
However, to answer to your question, I will call myself successful when I can reflect on my life and know that I enjoyed my youth while it lasted, that I built a thriving career doing something that I had passion for, that I helped everyone I could along the way and to raise loving children to achieve the same by making this world a little better place at a time.

What is the biggest challenge faced by the hunting community? What can we do about it?

I suppose our biggest challenge is and will be protecting our rights to hunt & bare arms. Personally, I haven’t experienced any complications with this issue yet, but I am afraid that if we don’t gain better control of our guns that our rights will diminish over time. I am optimistic that I can give anti-hunters reasons to believe that hunters & gun owners are truly not the reason for today’s violence and that hunters are passionate people. I don’t enjoy hunting as a sport to kill; hunting is a cycle of life, harvest & tradition. I’ve been hunting all my life, and most would tell you that I am one of the most caring, nurturing people you will ever meet. As far as gun control goes, we must fight to keep our guns in hand to protect our families & the things we have worked for.

What is your favorite thing to hunt?

I don’t think I have a favorite animal to hunt, every species I have sought for has a different style and I enjoy them all. However, the moose trip that I took with my boyfriend and my Dad was probably my favorite hunting trip overall.

What’s the big hunt or fishing trip on your bucket list? Your dream trip?

My big dream hunt would be taking my Dad on a Big Horn Sheep hunt. He lives to see our excitement in things that he enjoys and I hope that I can return that favor one day by taking him on the hunt that he has always wanted.

What can my readers do to help you?

Your readers can help by believing in me, trusting that I can make this world a better place a little at a time and telling me what I can do to help others.

They can follow me on Facebook & Instagram and share my story with others. Further assistance could be done by donating to my campaign so that I can continue to make music and and fight for our rights to hunt & bear arms.

More information can be found at my website KrimsonLive.com

Thank you for your time, Krimson

What an amazing young lady – I look forward to following her career (and hunting adventures) as she continues on her journey. Hopefully we can chick in from time to tome…

LifeStraw Go Bottle – A Review
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A huge shout out to Jason Silva from CGPR for contacting me and suggesting a review on the new Lifestraw Go water bottle.

So, believe it or not, this was one of the scariest reviews I have ever done. Yes, seriously. My dilemma? I wanted to do a thorough review and really test the unit, but I didn’t want to get sick or die if it didn’t work.

From the Press Release:

LifeStraw®, a global leader in developing innovative filtration and purification products for safe drinking water, is introducing a new LifeStraw Go water bottle on June 1. It utilizes a two-stage filtration process which removes bacteria and protozoa to make microbiologically contaminated water safe to drink, while also reducing organic chemicals, chlorine and bad taste. The new LifeStraw Go bottle comes in five colors to appeal to a variety of user preferences. It’s available at retail locations throughout North America, including REI, and online at www.lifestraw.com. The suggested retail price is $49.95.

LifeStraw Go uses a two-stage filtration process. Stage one is a hollow fiber membrane that removes 99.9999 percent of bacteria (E. coli and salmonella), 99.9 percent of protozoa (Giardia, Cryptosporidium, etc.), and reduces turbidity by filtering particulate matter larger than 0.2 microns. Stage two is an activated carbon capsule that reduces chlorine, organic chemical matter (like herbicides and pesticides), and bad taste. The hollow fiber membrane will filter up to 264 gallons throughout its life, while the carbon capsule will filter 26 gallons. Replacements for both will be available in July.

I really struggled with what would constitute an effective test. I thought about just going out into my yard and getting some dirt and mixing it with water. The thought of pesticide and dog pee wasn’t very appealing however…

Then, my opportunity presented itself! Some fellow members of the local Chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation and I were heading up to a ranch in central Arizona one Saturday, in order to discuss some upcoming habitat projects. Maybe I would find a suitable pond or stock tank to get my test water. The first tank we hit had cows standing (i.e. peeing and pooping) in it, and it was the color of a vanilla latte. Honestly, I didn’t have the gumption to try that water. Then we came to a big holding tank with algae and stuff floating on top. Perfect!

I filled up my bottle after prepping it for first use, as per the enclosed instructions. I screwed on the top, took a deep breath and took a sip. Then I took another sip. I was astounded. I fully expected the water to be safe, but I also expected it would taste funky. Honestly, it tasted great. It tasted like bottled water. Only one of my friends was brave enough to try and he agreed – just like bottled water. Amazing. Two days later and I have suffered no apparent ill effects from drinking that water. I’m convinced.

This bottle costs around 50 bucks and it could literally save your life. If you don’t have a filtration system in your pack, I would recommend it. It is better in some ways than a straw-type device because you can bring some with you. The filtering system is a 2-stage process. Stage 1 is a hollow fiber membrane that removes 99.9999% of bacteria (like E. coli). It removes 99.9% of protozoa (like Giardia)

Stage 2 has an active carbon capsule which reduces chlorine. It also reduces bad odor and taste, and reduces organic chemical matter. The filter is good for about 264 gallons of use. You can learn more about the LifeStraw Go here: LifeStraw Go 2 stage filtration

I would absolutely recommend this product!