The Arizona Weirdness

As a resident of Arizona, born and bred, I thought I knew everything there was to know about this dry desert state. It was no news to me that we were the 6th largest state in the US, that we are the leader in copper production in the nation, and that we became the 48th state to join the nation. Some things I didn't know was that the official necktie of Arizona, and yes that is a real thing. is the bolo tie, which is also a real thing, and that it is unlawful to refuse a person a drink of water. Also interesting is that Arizona has more parks and monuments than any other state, more mountains than Switzerland, and more golf courses than Scotland. (How do we fit it all in?)

So I decided I definitely didn't know enough about the state I call home. So I looked up some facts and here is what I found...

In Arizona it is unlawful for a donkey to sleep in the bathtub. This one speaks for itself I think.



Does the name Cecil B. DeMille mean anything to you? Me neither. But this is the man responsible for the cinematic center of the world, Hollywood. Well if not for a stormy night, DeMille would have shot the film that started Hollywood in none other than Flagstaff, Arizona which would have made it the movie capital of the world. Mind officially blown.


It probably seems at this point that I can't top the "almost Hollywood" story, but did you know that the hunting of camels is prohibited in Arizona. I laughed out loud and thought to myself, "where did this crazy idea come from"!  Well ladies and gentlemen here is a little history I learned; apparently during the mid 1800's the US military thought it a good idea to use camels as transportation in the "great desert" of the southwestern United States. So with a crew of camel handlers, the most famous being Hi Jolly who has a small pyramid monument with a metal camel atop in Quartzsite, the military procured camels for use in transport operations. Although it didn't last long it still made a page in Arizona history, mainly due to sightings in the wild, because the release of some of these militant camels into the desert. Pretty crazy huh? Last reported sighting was about 70 years ago so chances of seeing one now are slim, but then again you never know...


A few other fun facts about Arizona are: the first barrel of tequila to roll off the production line was in Nogales, Arizona on June 6, 1936. Your welcome world.

Arizona also has one of the best preserved meteor crater crash sites in the world located at Meteor Crater outside of Winslow.

The O.K. Corral Shootout, the most famous of the western shootouts, happened in Tombstone, Arizona. It also only lasted for 30 seconds.

This one I thought was really cool, the original London Bridge was shipped stone by stone to Lake Havasu City where it was reassembled and still stands today.


And here were a few facts that made me proud...

The Arizona Cardinals are the oldest continuous franchise in the National Football League.

Rumored to be located in the Superstition Mountains is the nation's most famous lost gold mine, the Lost  Dutchman Gold Mine.

We have 60% of all types of wildlife species found in North America... that's a lot.

The world's oldest rodeo exists in Prescott, Arizona. The world's oldest continuous rodeo is in Payson, Arizona.

And last but surely not least, here are a few oddities from home.

Didn't know that petrified wood was the state's official fossil? Now you do and your welcome!

And here is the last of the oddities I'm gonna show you, but perhaps one of the most beautiful... the Tovrea Castle.

Thanks for stopping by! Pendragon!


RedHead under Review: Bayou Boots

So our feet are pretty important. Lieutenant Dan even emphasized taking care of your feet in Forest Gump. Depending on the kind of activity you are participating in can really affect your choice for footwear that day. And as much as I love my cowboy boots, I know that they are not always the most appropriate choice. Like when I went on a little horseback hunt a few months back. I opted to hoof it behind the horses as if I needed to get myself and bow into position, it would be much easier than having to hop off a horse. In fact, what I could have used for that hunt would have been a pair of: RedHead Bone Dry 16” Waterproof Bayou Zip Snake Boots!

Now I know what you are thinking… waterproof for the Arizona desert? Yes! Because the area we were going through followed a stream bed that held water in several areas that we crossed over. The term Bone Dry is appropriate because these boots will keep your feet dry! These boots are even gusseted to keep water and debris out of them.

Usually larger boots can be a pain to put on and pull off, but this pair has a nice zipper to help with that. There is also a nice VELCRO closure that keeps the zipper from jingling and making any noise.

Now in some parts of the country, boots do not need to be snake-proof. Out here and elsewhere, they absolutely need to be. These boots have full grain leather and a rugged nylon upper. Just remember two things about rattlesnakes, you’ll usually hear them if you don’t see them at first and just avoid them as much as possible.

Now this is a review of these boots so here are three recent comments made by people who purchased these boots:

"I bought these early fall and at a great sale price as they fluctuate back and fourth from on sale to not on sale. The boot does feel good for a large snake boot. I have used them over half a dozen times from fall to winter in East Texas. I walk about 6 miles every time I use them and there have been no problems thus far. No break in period either. I had no blisters on feet. I have walked through puddles and some shallow ditches of about 5"-6" with no water intrusion also and I have sprayed them with nothing just bought and went to hunting. I would recommend a pair of tall socks to go with them to prevent the boot rubbing up high."

"I hunt in the desert close to the border of Mexico and Texas. Lot of rattlesnakes, thorns, cacti. This boots are just what is needed in that rough land. And they're extremely comfortable, almost like tennis shoes. Highly recommended."

"Where to start? I hunt in rugged terrain in West Texas. I have experienced temperatures from 19 degrees to well over 100. These boots have done well in it all. Cactus, rocks, mesquite thorns, cedar... you name it, these boots have been through it. I have worn these boots at various times for 12-15 hours and no blisters. Granted after that long, it's going to feel good to take any shoes off... but these are so comfortable and durable that they can take the abuse without your feet paying the price. I like these so much that I just bought a pair in all camo for my hunting buddy that I share the lease with as a birthday present. I got tired of him making me go first everytime we were exploring the property in case there were rattlesnakes. I have not had the honor of putting them through a true snake test, but feel it's only a matter of time before that happens. I am going into my third season with these boots and they still look almost brand new with very little wear on the soles. They are the only thing I wear at the ranch no matter what time of year we are there. Will definitely be purchasing again if I ever wear out the ones I have now."

So something tells me that you would be making a safe and smart choice when purchasing a pair of these.

Scarce as a hen’s teeth! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Reviews:

Toxik XT Bow Package

Arrow Tips

Blackout Ground Blind

8 Tray Dehydrator


Check it out List: Kayaking

There are so many outdoor passions that one can get into. Apparently a calling to the sea runs in my family’s blood. I personally sometimes feel a strong urge to be out on the water and always joked that I could always get a job as a crab-fisherman in Alaska. Well while the little missus would probably frown on me going and doing something that dangerous (I think? We didn’t sign a pre-nup…) there is something that could fill my urge, kayaking!

Kayaking is extremely fun. It’s a great way to get outdoors and is a killer upper-body workout. What is also awesome about kayaking is that her brother loves kayaking… and wouldn’t ya know it… so does she! So that got me thinking about snagging a kayak or two. But then I started thinking about all the other things I would need to snag with it, which of course brings us to this month’s Check it out List!



Paddle (1 per person)

Flotation Device (1 per person)


Dry Bag

Small Emergency Kit (knife, compass, whistle, signaling mirror)

Sun protection

Small Personal Aid Kit


So honestly you do not need much to get started, but definitely should not scrimp! Let’s face it about the first three things: you cannot enjoy kayaking without one, you can’t really get anywhere without a paddle and no matter what you should never be out on the water without a proper flotation device! I get it, you’re Michael Phelps unknown twin, I don’t care! Wear a life jacket!

Rope is necessary for tying up and not letting your kayak float away. That dry bag can hold all the following items and a change of clothes. Let’s face it, you might get wet out on the water or it might suddenly start raining or get cold. Just be prepared.

Water reflects so take extra precaution to protect yourself from the sun. Also you might be far away from help so always carry an aid kit with you. And yes, despite being surrounded by water while kayaking you may actually forget about bringing any to drink. That paddling can make quite the sweat and you’ll want that water after a while.

So just follow the simple stuff and enjoy yourself, without worries. Oh and if you never have gone kayaking, there are usually places to rent one or people to borrow from!

Kayakin’ Koala Bears! Giddy-Up!!



Gun Cleaning

Game Care

First Aid

Day Pack

Trip Prep

Range Time

Fishing Pack


Nom, Nom IFC: Shore Lunch


So here is the deal. I love fish. My wife does not. (Yes the magical day happened!) While she is willing to try it she usually prefers something from land for grub. Now I have told her that we Americans do not get enough seafood in our diet. If you Google it, it will let you know that as a country we are not consuming enough seafood. But we are doing a good job at avoiding mercury! So when it comes to me cooking at home I usually cook two different proteins when I am feeling fishy.

Now that half of everything of mine is hers, it also includes lunches. Which is why I was so happy to notice that Islamorada Fish Company has something called Shore Lunch!

It’s got something for me and something for the little lady. Snow Crab, mine. Sausage, hers. Shrimp, yes please. Potatoes and Corn, she needs more vegetables in her diet! This is a perfect meal for the two of us to split. And if we time it just right, we can finish lunch on the weekend by 2:00PM and make it over to the store to watch the Fish Feeding! (I think I even heard that BATMAN did the fish feeding in January!)

Well until next time. Cookin' Up Cane Toads! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Nibbles:

Grouper Sandwich


Clam strips




Wahoo Wrap


Arizona Animals: Javelina

I know what you’re thinking… looks like a pig… smells like a pig… it isn’t a pig. The javelina, or collared peccary is in fact a rodent! I’m starting off this month’s Arizona Animal with that fact to help set everything straight. Did you know that there is even a children’s book out about the matter?

Second children’s book reference:

Loved this book growing up. I think I had three copies. All of which had my name written in them with crayon. And I think the last book I got I was in seventh grade… Any-who…

Javelinas are originally from Latin and South America. They have slowly migrated upwards and ended up in our great state. We know this because there has been no javelina bones found in archeological studies done. Also in writings done by early settlers, there were few and infrequent references to the animals. (This is much different from nowadays where there is the continual bantering about those pesky peccary getting in the petunias again!)

They are by no means a large animal as adults usually weigh anywhere from over thirty to sixty pounds. They get the name “javelina” because of their sharp tusks. (Javelina is Spanish for the word javelin.) These sharp tusks are not just for scaring, they are quite fierce. There have been a number of reports of mother peccary attacking people and dogs that get close to their young.

Despite their smaller size they are considered big game in North America. Javelina do breed year round and can have up to two litters of babies a year. This actually means that they are the North American big game animal with the largest reproduction potential.

These animals live an average life span of seven to eight years. Coyotes, mountain lion and bobcats are the natural predators of javelina. As far as table fare, javelina are not usually in anyone’s top five favorite game meats… or top thirty probably.

Peccary are pack animals, and can usually be found roaming in groups of less than a dozen animals. Some groups do get quite large and have even been documented at being almost 50 animals! Javelina live in a variety of habitats. They actually have adapted quite well to living in developed areas. Small bands of javelina can be seen crossing streets in certain parts of the state. This is where a lot of the human-peccary encounters happen.

So speaking of human-peccary encounters, every time I think about these animals I have to tell this story. One of my best friends grew up in an area where javelina are quite common. He always wanted a pet peccary and sought about trying to catch one. So sure enough he and a friend got up on the roof of his house and used potatoes to bait javelina close. Then using string and a garbage can from above, tried to catch one. So literally imagine like a Looney Tunes set up. He said that the peccary would come in and eat the potatoes but whenever the shadow of the trash can covered them, they would step away. Smart little critters. Needless to say he never got his pet peccary.

Javelina eat a variety of foods. They eat just about every and any plant in the desert, but have a love for prickly pear cactus. Since water is limited in the desert, javelina and other animals get a lot of their water from the plants that they eat. When it is prickly pear fruit season, javelina seem to know exactly when the fruit will be perfect. And sure enough overnight all the fruit has just magically disappeared.

So speaking of prickly pear fruit magically disappearing, gotta go on another anecdote. Same buddy, as mentioned above, has a dad that has a killer prickly pear margarita recipe. The key is of course the prickly pear fruit. So sure enough once it was in season I looked over a particular prickly pear patch out front of the property I am at. Every day they would get riper and riper and riper. And then as I pulled in I knew that they would be perfect to pick in the morning. I went to bed with sweet dreams of the fruit. Sure enough, wake up like its Christmas morning… throw on my boots and cowboy hat… run out to the prickly pear patch… HABNAMNIT! The javelina had struck in the night! You know you’re from Arizona when you’re standing in boots and a cowboy hat yelling about javelina at 5:30 in the morning.

Javelinas have grown in popularity for hunting since World War II. It is quite common to have one’s first big game hunt in Arizona be for javelina. It is a great way to learn many of the basics of hunting in the desert. There is now even a kind of hunting called HAM hunt for these animals. (Handgun-Archery-Muzzleloader) Archery for peccary has grown in popularity and we have two associates at our store that have both harvested one of these animals with an arrow right in between their eyes.

So next time you see a pack of peccary run by remember, they are not going “Wee-wee-wee” all the way home. They are not pigs, but a large rodent that has made their homes out here quite well.

Headed for the yucca country where the lizards are out all winter! Giddy-Up!!

Other Arizona Animals:

Mule Deer


Pronghorn Antelope



Bighorn Sheep


A Fine Nine: Beretta 92

So over the past while a lot more people have showed interest in becoming gun owners. One of my good friends has been thinking about it more and more and is even looking at something in a 9mm. It appears that more and more people care about having an external safety than I had imagined, so that helped me choose this month’s Fine Nine: The Beretta 92.

Now when I was looking at getting a gun, this was a serious contender. When these were introduced, military and law enforcement adopted them. The United States switched from the 1911 .45ACP platform to these. Ever seen Die Hard? OFCOURSE YOU HAVE! John McClane carried a Beretta.

Beretta has built quite the name for themselves in the gun industry. And rightly so since they were found in 1526! This Italian gun manufacturer has a strong following from the precision and quality work that they put into their firearms. The Beretta name contains many other names within itself. Also in the Beretta family tree are such brands as: Tikka, SAKO, Stoeger, Uberti, Franchi and Benelli.

Now since its introduction the Beretta 92 has gone through changes and name modifications. People know this platform by different names (our military version is commonly known as the M9) but I am talking about the platform of the 92.

This firearm holds very nicely in ones hands. This is good because couples can easily transition between each other when firing the gun. It points extremely well. (This refers to the relation of ease of sight alignment and placement of a shot.) This is something a buddy and myself really enjoy about the firearm. Since the magazine is double stacked it can hold a high capacity of rounds.

Now there are some people that will tell you that the Italian made models are much nicer than the others, and there are some people that it doesn’t matter because a firearm is only a tool. I could see points for both sides of the argument, just know that the Italian made model will come with a higher price.

This is a good choice for a first time gun owner who is looking for something for both target shooting and home defense. Its full size makes any recoil barely noticeable. We all know that if someone is scared by the recoil of a gun that they may never want to shoot again, which is bad for everyone. Also this firearm has an external safety that is well noticeable. While it is not smart to completely rely on a mechanical safety (as anything can fail) it does help ease the mind.

The latest model of this firearm that has made a big splash is the Beretta 92A1. This model took the best aspects of the 92 model and the 92FS model and put them together. It comes with three 17 round magazines (9mm), removable front sight (making work being done much easier), rounded trigger guard, single-piece captive recoil spring assembly, internal recoil buffer and the one thing that has been missing for a while: accessory rail system!

My best friend out in Denver bought this gun not too long ago and absolutely loves it. He has let me know several times that if I were to get it my little lady would love it because his little lady loves it.

Now I would not call this boasting, but Beretta has some pretty good statistics on their side on their site:

• The average reliability of all M9 pistols tested at Beretta U.S.A. is 17,500 rounds without a stoppage. 
• During one test of twelve pistols fired at Beretta U.S.A. before Army supervision, Beretta-made M9 pistols shot 168,000 rounds without a single malfunction. 
• The Beretta 9mm pistol was the most reliable of all pistols tested in the 1984 competition which resulted in the award of the M9 contract to Beretta. 
• Two-thirds of all M9 pistols endurance tested at Beretta U.S.A. fired 5,000 rounds without a single mal function or, at most, with only one malfunction. 
• The average durability of Beretta M9 slides is over 35,000 rounds, the point at which U.S. Army testing ceases. 
• The average durability of M9 frames is over 30,000 rounds. The average durability of M9 locking blocks is 22,000 rounds.

So now you have heard a little bit more about this fine handgun from both me and the maker! In the wise words of John McClane: “Yippee-ki-yay!” Giddy Up!!

Previous Nines:


Glock 19



Big Game Basics: Walrus

In our hunt for things hunted we have learned a lot so far. This in fact will be the eight Big Game Basic blog. I have learned a lot from writing these and I am sure y’all have learned a lot from reading. But this month’s animal may be a surprise for many not too familiar with the big game species of North America. March’s big game animal is the walrus!

Now just as a quick course, hunters who hunt various animals can complete what are called “Slams”. If you were to have harvested one of each three different elk found in North America, that would be a slam. Same for deer, sheep and so on. When you get out of species specifics you can complete Grand Slams, Super Slams and more! This month’s animal is considered part of the “auxiliary category” which is why many may not know about it. But we’ll fix that!

Walrus are the only aquatic animal considered as big game in North America. There are two different species of the walrus, the Pacific and the Atlantic. Walrus are well known for their massive size and large tusks. While their massive size can make one think of them as slow and lazy, this is incorrect. These animals are powerfully strong and impressive. I personally would not want to be on a walrus’ badside.

A mature male Pacific walrus can weigh a ton to a ton and a half. This is considerably larger than the Atlantic walrus as a mature male will usually weigh less than a ton to a ton. With both species, the females are significantly smaller. Walrus tend to spend much of their time on land very close to the water. They are naturally preyed upon by polar bear and native people have been hunting them for centuries. Keeping close to water lets them slip away and escape.

These animals live in the Arctic areas of North America. They live in extremely harsh terrain. This has made hunting walrus difficult as one must travel through ice-choked freezing waters in an area that is notorious for heavy storms and fog. Hunting is even more difficult as it is illegal to hunt Pacific walrus, and has been since 1979. Anyone registering their Pacific walrus for a “Slam” status, would had to have to harvested it over thirty years ago. The Atlantic walrus can still be hunted, but it is extremely rare. A certain amount of animals are allotted for native people to harvest, and sometimes these tags are sold to hunters. Either way, having a walrus in your collection is quite the feat.

Walrus can live for a few decades in the wild. Besides polar bears, they are naturally eaten by killer whales. The tusks the walrus have are not just for show. They can put up a fight and have even been known to mortally wound polar bears. When not near a beach, walrus tend to stick around swimming holes. This lets them escape from possible danger. Walrus are actually able to use the tusks to hold their head above water out of these holes to keep breathing. Walrus eat a wide variety of foods, but are well known for their love of clams. This was immortalized in the poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll. Walrus have played a part in folk culture and popular culture. These animals are now trained to perform during shows at certain amusement places.

From hunted to humorous we have learned just a little bit more of these massive aquatic masters. Until next time!

As lively as a lobo with a knot in its tail! Giddy-Up!!

Big Game Blogs of Before

Mountain Goat

White Tail Deer





Dall Sheep


Game Changers: Safari Club International

So back in January there was some big controversy on the news… as usual… and it involved hunting. An organization was putting up hunts for black rhinoceros for fundraising efforts. The black rhinoceros is a critically endangered animal and there are extensive efforts being taken to keep this species from going extinct. So of course a group of people auctioning off the chance to hunt one, would cause some disturbance.

But once one lets the emotion settle and understand the information, things can be discussed in a clear way. The animal being auctioned off was an older male that was past breeding age and was more destructive than constructive in the population. The country in charge of these animals allots a certain amount of hunts a year for black rhinos. The simple fact is that they could go through this organization to auction the hunts to immensely increase the amount of money paid for these hunts. This money would then be put back into the conservation efforts of black rhinos. The auction fetched $350,000 that will help these animals. The organization hosting the auction was the Safari Club International, and they are this month’s Game Changer.

SCI was formed in 1973. They are headquartered in Arizona and have roughly 50,000 members. These members make up a couple hundred different local chapters internationally. SCI is dedicated to protecting the freedom to hunt and wildlife conservation. The club has a code of ethics that its members stick to religiously. As a whole they are against poaching and other forms of unfair hunting practices.

They have a foundation attached to them that funds and manages worldwide programs dedicated to wildlife conservation, humanitarian services and outdoor education. Along with this sister foundation they run a number of programs to help their cause. There is the:

Sportsmen Against Hunger: They provide meat to food banks from harvested animals. In 2006 it was estimated that roughly a quarter of a million pounds of meat were donated. It has been in operation since 1989.

The Sensory Safari Program: They help those visually impaired individuals the chance to feel what an animal would look like. Using skulls, horns, pelts and other parts of the animal they can connect people with wildlife. They work hand in hand with the National Federation of the Blind to continually provide these services.

Safari Care Program: When hunters visit certain areas to harvest an animal they bring packages with them. These packages are filled with school, medical and relief related items for areas that need this kind of help.

Safari Wish Program: Imagine the Make a Wish Foundation but for children interested in hunting. This is exactly what this program does. (This has proved popular and has stemmed similar programs. Here in Arizona we have the Outdoor Experience 4 All. Our store is always happy to help this group when we can.)

Disabled Hunter Program: Unfortunately people can be taken away from their favorite passions because of becoming disabled. This program works to get disabled hunters out in the fields once again.

Obviously they are just a bunch of heartless hunters…

SCI holds an Annual Hunters Convention. SCI (like Pope and Young or Boone and Crockett) have their own system for scoring animals. At these conventions, awards are given out for many different things. As was the case with the black rhino auction, a lot of money is usually gathered for conservation efforts at these conventions.

Now an issue that goes hand in hand with discussing SCI would be those of private hunting ranches. Most notably in Texas, ranchers have begun raising exotic animals in fenced areas to be hunted. Hunters will pay a good price for certain animals, and some species that are hunted here are almost extinct in their native home. Three such specific species would be the addax, dama gazelle and scimitar-horned oryx. The Humane Society of United States tried to put an end to hunting of these captive-bred animals. The case is still pending but the United States Fish and Wildlife Service stated how captive breeding “has enhanced the propagation or survival of the scimitar-horned oryx, addax, and dama gazelle worldwide by rescuing these species from near extinctions and providing the founder stock necessary for reintroduction. Sport hunting of surplus, captive-bred animals generates revenue that supports these captive-breeding operations and may relieve hunting pressure on wild populations.”

So maybe what we need to do in the case of the black rhino is bring them to Texas! I believe that ranchers who can provide the necessary requirements to raise these animals in a private ranch should be allowed to. There should be constant supervision when concerning these animals of course, but think about it. After long enough time has passed and healthy populations are formed in private ranches, hunts could be offered. These hunts could then provide the funding necessary to keep the ranches active and for other conservation efforts. Mandate that certain numbers of these animals should be released back in Africa to areas that can properly protect these animals. Because as we all know, you don’t mess with Texas but just think about what would happen if you were to mess with a Texan’s rhino!

So thank you, Safari Club International for your constant efforts at protecting a passion and way of life that has been around since we humans have been and for understanding the delicate balance between man and the land. As Aldo Leopold said “Conservation is state of harmony between man and land.”

Times were harder than a banker’s heart! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Game Changers:

Ansel Adams

Teddy Roosevelt

Fred Bear

Boone and Crockett Club


Henry David Thoreau

Pope and Young Club


Fishy Facts: Crappie


Ha-ha, classic. Never has there been a fish whose name can bring one to a giggle as quickly as the crappie. So in the light of having a good time and maybe even getting a chuckle in, I have chosen the crappie as the Fishy Fact fish of the month!

Crappies are a North American freshwater fish that are a part of the sunfish family. There are two different species of crappie, the black and the white. These two fish are extremely popular game-fish. They put up a good fight and taste great as well.

These fish are known by a number of names including: strawberry bass, calico bass, Oswego bass, speckled bass, speckled perch and paper mouths. They get the last name for how delicate their lips our. Many times, these can be ripped when hooked or being handled so be careful when handling for catch and release.

These fish tend to be more actively eating during dawn and dusk. Usually during the day they tend to stick to some kind of cover. Crappies eat a variety of food that includes smaller fish, insects, crustaceans and more. For this reason, anglers can use a variety of methods to catch them. Both artificial and live baits can be used effectively, so typically anglers bring a variety of baits. Because crappies are active during the winter they can also be caught during ice-fishing seasons.

There are two very popular ways to fish when targeting crappie. The first is called spider rigging. This is where anglers have several rods with varieties of baits hanging off the sides of the boats. All the poles look like legs so hence the term spider rigging. The baits are usually different colors, at different depths and such as one can never be sure what will get crappie to bite. Crappie tend to travel in schools, so when you catch one there are probably several more in the area. It is common at times to have several poles hooked up at the same time when spider rigging.

The second way is to fish at night under lights. There are specialty floating lights that one can toss onto the water. The light illuminates the water below which attracts the smallest members of the food chain. That attracts slightly larger members and so on until the crappie show up. There are sinking lights as well which can be set at specific depths when needed.

Both the white and black crappie looks extremely similar. The easiest way to tell the difference is from the patterning of the marks on their sides. The white crappies markings tend to look like vertical bars rather than scattered spots like on a black crappie. White crappie can also handle murky waters better than black crappie.

So here’s the tip of our rod to the characteristic crappie. You also make us smile while either catching you or just saying your name. Thanks for the laughs and providing us with the excuse to say “crappie day of fishing” and not be smacked in public.

As genial to a bartender is to a sheriff! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass





Rustic-Esque Recipes: Catfish

There is something to be said about simple Southern cooking… the word would be delicious. Some many times will you go to some new fangled restaurant and they have to have some specialty flair to every dish. Mac and Cheese with eight different cheese from Europe or a half of chicken that has more seasonings on it than a kitchen has in it! Enough! Sometimes the simpler things are all that we really want. In that respect, Rocky has decided to share his favorite and easiest way to make the bottom-dwelling delight: Catfish!

Oh and of course Rocky prefers peaNUT oil for when he is frying!


·         4-6 catfish fillets, about 1-2 pounds

·         1 cup milk or buttermilk

·         Salt

·         3/4 cup fine cornmeal

·         1/2 cup flour

·         1 teaspoon garlic powder

·         1 teaspoon black pepper

·         1 teaspoon paprika

·         1/2 teaspoon cayenne

Using whatever preferred oil, fill up a heavy friyng pan with ½” of oil. Turn the heat to Med-High. You will want the oil to be at about 350°F when cooking the catfish.

Soak catfish in milk/buttermilk while oil is heating.

Mix cornmeal, flour and spices together.

Once oil is ready, cover catfish with the breading mix. Make sure to get rid of any excess breading.

Lay one side down for 2-4 minutes (depending on thickness) so it is golden brown. Then flip it and cook the other side in the same manner.

Serve with some tartar sauce and your choice of sides. (Coleslaw never hurt anyone… just saying.) Keep reading for a couple extra tips from Rocky!

I’d shore like to grease my chin with a two pound steak! Giddy-Up!!

Two Tricks:

One- Use the Better Breader to help get those catfish just right!

Two- Place catfish in oven after frying to help crisp the fish up. (200°F)

Other Recipes:









Check it Out List: Fishing Pack

Fishing is what originally got me into the outdoors. And ever since not catching anything on my first trip I have been hooked ever since. Over the years I have tried countless different techniques, baits and tackle. Things worked and a lot more didn’t. For me it seems to always be that the simpler the setup, the better the experience.

Now as any fisherman knows, there are so many different kinds of fishing. Usually a gear list is either to general or not specific enough for a trip. Just think about the difference in gear you would need to take with you when going from say… slamming some sunfish to hooking up with a monster peacock bass! So for this month’s Check it out List I will be covering something that I think every fisherman could benefit from. A checklist for a fishing pack. This will not be specific for any particular fish species or style of fishing, but something that every fisherman should take with them.

Fishing Pack


Needle Nose Pliers/ Forceps



Hand Towels

Trash Bag


Bug Repellent

Resalable Plastic Bags


Note Pad and Writing Utensil

Lets break this down shall we. Like I discussed with the Range Time bag last month, picking out a proper pack is essential. A lot of people will over-pack and I am one of them. I prefer a backpack style pack as it frees my hands up for carrying other things. Now a backpack does sound like overkill for the minimal items that I listed above, but it leaves me room for all the tackle and such I would need to take to actually fish with. So my suggestion is getting a small-medium zippered pack that can be tossed inside a bigger pack with ease.

The needle-nose pliers are nice for de-hooking fish, crimping barbs and just overall fixing of small things that happen on fishing trips. I like forceps though for their precision of hook removal. Scissors are great for cutting through line. Many would substitute nail-clippers to save space and weight, but I like scissors. (My mother did not like though that I felt my fishing pack deserved the best scissors in the house.) Scissors can also be used to cut through other bigger items when necessary.

Knife. I don’t really know a single list in life that one could not use a good knife in. There is no specific knife I suggest, just make sure it is one that you like and can work with. You’ll need for all the millions of uses knives get put through… and of course gutting your catch!

We all have been with people that don’t like getting “icky from fishing” and I can’t blame em. As much as I respect Powerbait Trout Bait it does tend to ruin any sandwich I eat if I have some left on my hands. So bring a towel. Seriously.

Every pack used for outdoor activities should have a few trash bags. You know it, I know it, the animals know it and the Forest Service knows it… people are slobs. Somebody has to help out when it comes to the litter issues so many places suffer.

Sunscreen and bug repellent are good to carry, for obvious reasons. I suggest putting these in the resalable plastic bags to keep them from spilling/leaking on other items. Also have a few more plastic bags because you never know what you might need to bag up.

By ruler I mean a retractable kind. Get one of those little three-foot ones that take up no space. Use it to measure your fish. The note pad and writing utensil will let you keep track of your successes, failures and just thoughts while out fishing. Humans as a species are slowly losing the ability to hand-write (I’m pretty sure it started with doctors…) so why not get back to basics when reconnecting with the wilderness.

Well there you have it. Another checklist to check off.

Could track bees in a blizzard! Giddy-Up!!



Gun Cleaning

Game Care

First Aid

Day Pack

Trip Prep

Range Time


RedHead under Review: 8-Tray Dehydrator

OK. Full disclosure. I love meat. Seriously. You know what I like to put on my burger? More burger.

One of my absolute favorite ways to enjoy a meat treat is via dried snacks. Jerky or snack-sticks are always welcome at any time of the day in my world. In fact so much that I have wanted to start making my own. Not too long ago there was an episode of Duck Dynasty involving making jerky…

I learned two things from this episode. One, certain products should not be used to clean dehydrators. Two, I gotta get my hands on some biltong!

So let’s lay this out and get to business for this month’s RedHead under Review blog and talk about the RedHead 8 Tray Dehydrator! Now as the name suggests… it is made by RedHead and it has eight trays. Now those eight trays give you 1200 square inches of drying area. Imagine all the deliciousness that you can bring into your world with that!

The 620-watt heating element makes for a quick and even drying of whatever you may have chosen to be your next snack! It can be set between 95°-155°F and for up to 40 hours! It comes with two mesh sheets to help you get started, and more can be purchased separately.

Now many will tell you that the key to a good jerky is a good cure or seasoning. Luckily we carry multitudes of different flavors for one to experiment with. After all, experimenting with different cures and seasonings while dehydrating foods is half the fun! Personally I could get down on some Garlic and Cracked Pepper Cure!

Lower than a Toad in a Post Hole! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Reviews:

Toxik XT Bow Package

Arrow Tips

Blackout Ground Blind


A Fine Nine: Smith & Wesson M&P 9mm

Let’s squeeze the trigger and jump right into the next Fine Nine blog! This month I have chosen an American company to cover and the fine 9mm pistol they are producing. Smith & Wesson is a renowned gun manufacturer. Ever since Dirty Harry uttered the famous phrase about his revolver, they have become a part of popular culture. Smith & Wesson was just even voted to be amongst the most patriotic companies in the U.S. and was the only firearms company in that list as well.

The specific handgun I will be covering is the M&P 9mm (Full-size). They do offer this handgun in different calibers and different sizes, but I will just be focusing on this one. The M&P stands for Military and Police, recognizing the companies long history with those groups. This series was introduced in 2005 and has been extremely popular ever since.

It is a polymer-framed pistol and considered very similar to Glocks. Many will state that Smith and Wesson had the chance to look at what Glock had done over the years and make improvements for their platform. They would be correct and ever since they launched the M&P, Smith and Wesson have been slowly converting Glock owners over.

There are several notable differences between the two firearms so we will compare this month’s Fine Nine to last month’s (the Glock 19). One of the biggest differences is the grip. Where the Glock 19 has a boxier grip, the M&P9 has a much more ergonomic grip. It also comes with three different sized back-straps that can be changed out depending on one’s preference.

The M&P9 is larger than the Glock 19. The M&P9 is 7.63 inches long, with a 4.25 inch barrel, 5.5 inches tall, 1.2 inches thick and weighs 24 ounces without the magazine in. The magazine holds 17 rounds of 9mm and can have another round in the chamber at the same time.

Just like the Glock 19, there is no external safety on the standard M&P9. Some models are offered with an external thumb safety if that is something desired. Like discussed last month there is good and bad things about having no external safety on a handgun. The main safety of the M&P9 is the trigger safety.

The M&P9 also comes standard with a Picatinny rail and loaded chamber indicator. Also the M&P9 is ambidextrous and can have the parts that need to  be changed for a left-handed shooter done so quite easily.

Like most polymer-framed handguns, the M&P9 breaks down to several main pieces which makes it very easy to take care of and clean. Consumers and the market definitely took the M&P series quick and so there is a massive amount of information, opinions and products available for the firearms.

So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and hold a Smith and Wesson M&P 9, and if you don’t like how it fits in your hand just remember… you have two more back-straps to try out!

A Slow Draw is a Quick Way to Join the Angels! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fine Nines

Glock 19



Get Some Education In Your Hunter!

Hunter’s Education is a very important aspect to the sport. If you are reading this, chances are you have already taken a class, plan on taking a class or want to know what it's all about. Here is the inside scoop on how we get educated for hunting from Arizona Game and Fish.

he book

As stated on the front of the education book, “a guide to safe, ethical, and responsible hunting”, this is the best way to sum the class up. Depending on where you take your class will determine who teaches your class. If you choose to take the class online, you can complete it at your own pace and can join the field class when you have an available time and date.

During the course, you will attend a field day. Once again, depending on where you are taking your class will determine where the field day is as well. Being out here at Bass Pro for my class, we went to the Usery Mountain Shooting Range at the Rio Salado Sportsman’s Club in East Mesa. 

range sign


range 1

Arriving there at 8am, the weather was beautiful and everyone was getting pumped to shoot some 22’s! Long before we got to that point, we spent time going over the actual componenets of a firearm and what they (and the actual ammo) are capable of doing. 

andy 1




shooting 1

 One example was using a hollow point on a regular old bar of soap.

hollow point

No need to say more. But if you are unaware of what the purpose of a “hollow point” bullet is, let me explain. The idea is for the bullet to “mushroom” or explode into pieces after impact. This is an important aspect to the course because it is necessary to demonstrate the affects and powerful abilities of a firearm. 


 And now….your very own KATIEKINS at the helm of the rifle. And yes, I'm aware a helm is not a part of a rifle, but I thought I'd spice it up a bit.

me prone

Here is Bill giving me some pointers on my trigger pulling problems. I have a fast trigger pull and when using a 22, that doesn't make my shot very accurate. Bill helped me slow the pull down and it allowed me to focus on the target rather than making a quick shot. Much appreciation for that advice!

me and bill prone


me and bill sitting

Aside from the hadling and shooting of the rifles, we were given mock scenerios of “shoot or don’t shoot” on the property. Displays of deer, turkey and javalena were strategically placed and we needed to explain whether to shoot or don’t shoot. Along with this practice, we were given a mock blood trail to track a deer in the event it didn’t fall where it was shot. This was extremely helpful practice to get you in the mindset of proper customs when in the field.  

       the gang

Above (left to right) is Trudy Willison, me, Bill Willison and Jennifer Wirtz. 

And last but not least, Mr. Andy Megaw. 

me and andy

I would like to personally thank everyone for their expertise, time and dedication they have given to teach this class and many others. I will be attending my New Instructor Training class and I look forward to working with these folks and helping teach our future Hunter's Education classes. If you would like more information on this class or others, feel free to contact Game and Fish at or email your very own KatieKins at You can also get more information regarding all other classes and events on our website.

Come meet great people and have a blast!

See you in a future class!!




Nom, Nom IFC: Woo-Hoo for Wahoo!

The IFC has another delicious dish for you and something tells me that you will want to say “Woo-Hoo!” for it. It is the amazingly edible Smoked Wahoo Wrap!

Now the restaurant offers their Smoked Wahoo Dip as an appetizer, but they knew it was so good that they needed to wrap it up and make it a handheld hunger-killer! This thing is loaded up with the delicious dip and vegetables. So it is a healthy option when dining at our fine next door neighbor. I am sure most of you made some resolution at the beginning of this year to eat healthier or such, and this is a delicious way to do so!

Now for those of you who do not know what a wahoo is, let me clue you in! Wahoo are a long and silvery fish that resembles the barracuda. These fish are considered a prized sportfish as they can attain speeds of up to 50 miles per hour! They will also violently shake their head and sometimes will leap out of the water to get free, when hooked. If that is not a fighting fish, then I do not know what is! But I also that it is a fine-tasting fish that it sure to delight anyone who tries a bite.

So next time you stop by our store finish up the adventure with a trip to our sister restaurant. Scientific evidence may prove that the best way to wrap things up at Bass Pro Shops is with a wrap… wahoo wrap!

As Lazy as a Chilled Rattler! Giddy-Up!!

Previous Nibbles:

Grouper Sandwich


Clam strips





Simple Steps with Wes: Clouds

So when Wes sent me this latest Simple Step… I was a little curious. What is a big strong EOD kind of guy like Wes doing looking at clouds? Unless he was figuring out how to rig some kind of freezing-agent explosive to make clouds explode and rain down upon my beloved desert! Which of course, should have been but was not the case. No he brought up several very important things for people to consider so here is the next “step” in your arsenal:

To help predict what to expect in daily weather by knowing how to read the sky is an art that has been all but lost in today’s people.  With weather apps and news coverage the need as been relieved but when you’re out in the back country it can be a survival skill that is second to none and may save your life.  Here are some key steps to help you be at your best when things are at their worst.

First, can you see the sun or moon through the cloud cover? If you can, then these are high altitude clouds and have little to no threat to your day.  If the clouds are thick, then there is a chance of poor weather a day or two in the future. To determine when the storm will arrive, observe whether or not the clouds appear to be moving. If they appear stationary, it is a slow moving front and probably won't arrive for over a day. If they appear to be moving, then the change in weather will be there faster.

If you can’t see through the clouds, then note the shape and color of the clouds. Clouds tend to act as they look.  If they are large and covering most of the sky you should prepare for rain within 1/2 a day.

Clouds that are low, fluffy, and white like cotton balls in the sky, are usually a sign of fair weather. However, keep an eye on these for any vertical growth of the cloud upwards into the sky (turning into anvil shapes). These clouds can unexpectedly change from fair weather indicators into violent thunderstorms.

This information can help answer the question of if you should stay or go from your position if trying to self rescue. Exposure is one of the top killers in the wild and hypothermia can set in quick so watch for the clues that Mother Nature is giving you. 

Thanks, Wes! Until next time you can always keep in line at Wes’ page!


Previous Simple Steps:



Halloween Edition

Survival Kit

Daylight Estimation

Determining Direction

Eye Protection

Nature Calling

12 Steps


Arizona Animals: Bighorn Sheep

Now we just covered the Dall sheep in this month’s Big Game blog and I said we should keep it in the family and so we shall! Arizona actually has two different species of the bighorn sheep: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep and Desert Bighorn Sheep. These two species of the animal is another way my beloved state has so many different big game animals, just like with there being three different species of turkey. But let’s not just gobble-gobble, lets rear up and butt heads with these awesome animals.

Between the two species there was an estimated 2 million of these animals in North America at one point. These numbers have been severely reduced since their peak. There is an estimated 20,000 Desert and 45,000 Rocky Mountain sheep still alive. Put together, there are roughly only 6,000 of these animals in Arizona. That is why there is a one-per-lifetime limit on hunting each of the two species in our state.

With both species there are some things that can be noted. They both tend to live near desert mountain ledges or on grassy basins. Both the males (rams) and females (ewes) grow horns. There is an easily discernible difference between the two horns, as the males are clearly larger. Rams will proudly display and use these horns when protecting their area or fighting for the attention of females.

Desert bighorn sheep rams average about 180 pounds, while the females average around 110 pounds. Out of the two species, the Rocky Mountain is much larger. These rams can get up to 340 pounds! There is a good difference of weights between the rams and ewes with Rocky Mountain just like Desert sheep.

Bighorn sheep live for an average of 11 years. Some however have been recorded at ages over 17 years old. The sheep breed from September to November. The young (lambs) will usually appear over 6 months later, during March-April time. It only takes a few moments after birth for the young to start moving. This is very important as they are most vulnerable when younger. Coyotes, bobcats, golden eagles and mountain lions have been known to prey upon these animals. The sheep will seek refuge along cliff edges and steep sides which do help deter certain predators.

Both species of sheep are social animals. They will stay in groups throughout most of their lives. The mature rams will stay in one group. Rams reach maturity around 2-3 years of age. The ewes, young rams and lambs will stay together in what is known as a “nursery group”. There is a distinctive social hierarchy in ram groups. The males with the largest horns hold the highest ranks in the groups. (One can see this rather quite well at the revamped Bighorn Sheep Exhibit at the Phoenix Zoo.)

The bighorn sheep were completely protected from hunting in Arizona starting in 1893. It was not until 1953 that limited hunting was allowed. Slowly but surely the number of hunts allowed has been increased, and then started including Rocky Mountain sheep as well. Because one is only allowed one animal per lifetime of the two species, this is considered a harder hunt tag to be drawn for. For this reason many hunters will acquire “Bonus Points” over a number of years to build up a better chance to be drawn.

These animals can be seen at several popular outdoor recreation sites throughout the state, but they will more likely be heard first before you see one as they blend extremely well into their surroundings. Most commonly I have heard reports of sightings at the lakes of the Salt River chain. But more often than not, these animals were only spotted after one heard rocks falling or the loud crashes as two rams butt heads.

Like Tryin’ to Find Hair on a Frog! Giddy-Up!!

Other Arizona Animals:

Mule Deer


Pronghorn Antelope




Fishy Facts: Dorado/Dolphin/Dolphinfish/Mahi Mahi

Let’s get salty again with our Fishy Facts! And let me point out how salty I already have been considering the title of this blog. Now for those of you who know their fish, you know that those four names above (dorado, dolphin, dolphinfish and mahi mahi) are commonly used for the same fish. I am sure there are even a few more names on top of those! So to decide which name to use going forward I wrote all four names down on a piece of paper and am going to toss a pair of binoculars up in the air, and whichever one it lands on I will use… drum roll please…

(And yes this is common practice in our office at Bass Pro Shops-Mesa AZ when it comes to deciding things… such as where to go for lunch.)

It was Taco Tuesday as well! STRONG!

Any-who back to the dolphinfish… They typically live closer to the surface in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters internationally. In Hawaii they are called mahi mahi, which translates into very strong. This is a perfect name for the fish as they are very strong and sought after as a sport fish as such.

The typically live to four years, but can make it up to five. They average between 15-29 pounds. Females usually average smaller than the males and can also be told apart due to the structure of their foreheads. The male’s forehead will actually protrude whereas the females are rounded. Their dorsal fins run just about the entire extent of the fish’s body. They are also well noted for their spectacular colors which include vibrant golds, blues and greens. Stripes will also appear on the fish under stress, most commonly when chasing prey or when caught. They change colors all over when caught, and eventually turn to a muted-yellow and grey when deceased.

Dolphinfish are some of the fastest growing fish out there. They eat just about anything they can and veracious carnivores. They will reach sexual maturity in usually less than half a year! Females can spawn up to three times a year as well.

Now I have stated that they are strong fighters, and this is because of the speeds they can put off. Dolphinfish have been recorded swimming at speeds of over 55 miles per hour! This combined with their strength and beauty puts them square in the crosshairs of many fishermen worldwide.  (Does the crosshairs reference work with fishing?) They also have a very strong population which means they are not endangered of being overfished. Their delicious taste and healthy nutrition makes them a staple for many restaurants. In fact I am pretty sure dolphinfish was the first seafood I ever ate!

I will personally be looking forward to marking all four of the dolphinfish’s names off of my list once I catch one!

As Honest As a Looking Glass! Giddy-Up!!

Former Fishy Facts

Northern Pike

Rainbow Trout

Largemouth Bass

Peacock Bass




Valentine's Day: A Redneck Guide to Love

February 14th.... Valentine's Day....


If your like me your wondering... what am I gonna do!? Well here is a few helpful hints from some people who know something about love. That's right.... Bass Pro!

Every year over 180 million Valentine's Day cards are sent out, over 196 million roses are produced and an average of $13 billion is spent. So when you ask yourself, "What should I get for (significant other)?", your answer might want to be better than the other 180 million people who said "I'll give them a card!". 

But what do you do then? How do you make yourself stand out as a figure of the utmost passion and affection?

Maybe these ideas will help you.....

For those of you who have been together for a long time.... recreate your first date. How better to tell that someone special you love them than recreating the first time you went out together. Did you take her to a restaurant? Did you go watch a movie? Rent the movie you watched and cook (or for those of you like me) or order the meal you had.

Do something bad... nothing unlawful mind you, but something a little on the dark side like taking a dip late at night, or going to the old hang out spot and have a glass of wine. Make it fun by lighting candles or playing music, anything that reminds her of the good times you have had together.

Make her dreams come true. I know, I know.... I'm making it sounds easy aren't I? But maybe it's not as hard as you thought. Has she always wanted to go to Paris, France? Set up your living room with a certain je ne sais quoi, like a little "cafe" where you serve her favorite coffee and pastry, and hang up a picture of the Eiffel Tower. (I wouldn't wear a beret though, that's more for her.) And who knows maybe the date will end with a little French kiss?

Last idea I'm giving out is this one. Come on down and see us here at the Bass Pro shop, we're selling heart-shaped fudge, and our restaurant the Islamorada is a great place for a very special Valentine's Day dinner. So come see us the masters of land, sea and romance and let's make this Valentine's Day stand out among the pack!

Thanks for stopping by! Pendragon





The Sunglass Station

It’s widely known that here in Arizona the sun shines a bit brighter than in other places. So sunglasses are not only extremely convenient but can sometimes be necessary. And it’s just another one of those things we here at Bass Pro try to be there for you on. And we do a pretty darn stylish job of too!

These are a few of examples of the Costa brand sunglasses we carry. Costa was started in 1983 and has been making quality sunglasses for those with extreme outdoor adventure needs, as well as casual wear. They have a patented lens design that creates crystal clear vision for every situation.

These are a few from our friends at Maui Jim! Maui Jim is a company based in… you guessed it, Hawaii. They saw a need to protect your eyes without losing all the breathtaking color and life of the island. Perfect for everyday wear, they have a patented polarized lens technology that allows for maximum protection from harmful UVs.

Oakley sunglasses are always a good choice, for the hardcore athlete and the casual wearer alike. Founded in ‘75 they have been producing quality sunglasses that stand up to and laugh at intense use. If you haven’t heard the name then you are very, very new to the game.

Wiley-X started out making sunglasses for the military and in 1987 they made their product available to civilians. Great for outdoor enthusiasts and sports extremists alike, some models have been tested to withstand a 12-gauge shotgun blast from 10 yards away. Not bad Wiley… Not bad.

Ray-Ban… as if you didn’t already know. Started in 1937 specifically for army pilots at the time, the Aviator has been a classic and standard for all sunglass companies ever since. Also known for the Wayfarer, Ray-Ban is still at the top of their game.

XPS is a brand for the cost-conscientious consumer such as myself. They have a great selection of style and models, all of which are polarized and made to withstand everyday use.

Thank you for stopping by! Pendragon!