Summer

I had these great plans for getting out and scouting for my elk hunt this fall. Not that I think the elk will be in the same place in a few months, but that I want to refresh myself with the way the land looks. I have done my share of digital scouting and that is good. But, I want to get the boots on the ground.

I had the best of intentions to get out there and scout and take my hunting partners with me so together we could look at our unit and make a plan of attack for the fall. Well, one of them left for the Pacific Northwest soon after Memorial Day and the other is having some personal issues. So plans were thwarted.

For me, summer ends in about a week as I report back to school for the start of another year teaching fourth grade. With that I will also embark on a new adventure of being a basketball coach.

However, before I have to return to my classroom I will get one more summer adventure going. I’m taking the kids fishing in California.

 

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Rock Art

Recently my wife and I were talking about activities we could do with our children to keep them active and engaged during the hot summer months in southern Arizona. Let’s be honest, when it is 110 degrees outside, indoor activities are the only solution.

We thought the idea of rock art would be fun. So we gathered up a few medium sized stones from the back yard and are in the process of painting them. Once they are all painted and ready for their public display we will go to different locations and place the rocks for others to find.

If you’re not a desert dweller, like me, then this might be a good activity for when it is cold outside? Whatever the case, take the time to teach your children the importance of being kind to others through random acts of kindness like this. Then take them out of public lands to distribute the rocks and teach them the importance of the federal public lands to their future as citizens and outdoor enthusiasts.

 

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Mesa Verde National Park

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to take my family on vacation to southwestern Colorado. We like to visit the Durango area with my in-laws. These camping trips are often miniature family reunions for my wife and her three siblings. We stay a little way out of town and it is a serene location.

This trip I ran into a friend of mine from home also camping with her family. We traveled over 450 miles and run into each other in a different state. I find that rather humorous.

This year, my wife and I decided, that we would take our children to experience more historic places so we could use that during our lesson in our respective classes. I think it is a much better way to connect to the students when I can talk about the history of our country when I have been to the sites.

Because we were going to Durango we decided to visit Mesa Verde National Park. None of us had been there previously and we had some major misconceptions, I expected it to be more along the lines of Walnut Canyon National Monument near Flagstaff, Arizona and my wife had similar thoughts. So if you go, understand that it takes the better part of an hour to reach the ruins from the main visitors center. I’m rather thankful we packed a picnic lunch for everyone.

We have three children, 10, 7 and 1, and babies are only allowed on the Cliff Palace tour in backpack carriers. So we selected this tour for our family. It is relatively short and not overly difficult, as my mother-in-law with her two bad knees was able to join us, but is not easy either and requires careful attention to foot placement at times. Our Ranger guide, David Nighteagle, was incredible. His knowledge and passion for the place entranced all of us there. However, what is by far the most memorable event from the whole experience, was his playing his flute for us in that majestic place.

We have made plans for next summer, an advantage of both of us being teachers, to return to Mesa Verde and camp at their campground and take turns taking the tours we could not do as a family because of the age restrictions at the park.

I know I was able to learn more about the history of the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the area over 800 years ago, I hope my children learned something as well, and perhaps were as inspired as their mother and I were while standing in that sacred place listening to the ranger play his flute for us.

 

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Wildlife watching from the road. 

Last night after another fun filled day in Durango we went for a drive on a couple of lightly used roads with my in-laws looking for wildlife. 

I have never seen a bear in the wild and one is known to be in the area, so we went looking. We didn’t see a bear, but what we found was fun. 
We saw a small group of wild turkeys, a group of about 8 elk and three of them were calves, Canadian geese, a skunk, and a mule deer doe. However, for me the best parts were when it was my children spotting the animals. My daughter saw a  group of turkeys, a bunch of them born this spring. And my son the deer. 
Today we embark on a journey non of us have taken. We will take the narrow gushed train to Silverton, an old mining town, a place we have only traveled by car. 

after a trip to Mesa Verde, more when I have a ton of time, we are wrapping up our trip and headed back to the desert. 

We have learned a bunch this week and have had an amazing adventure. 
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Happy Independence Day!

Today, in the United States, we celebrate our hard won independence over a tyrannical king of England. Those bravo men and women are honored through the various fireworks displays across this great nation.  We have come a long way in those 241 years. 
Thanks to the great forward thinking of President Theodore Roosevelt we have millions of acres of publicly owned land for all of us to enjoy. 

To honor those great patriots I am going to take my family to a national park today. We are visiting southwest Colorado. So when we planned this trip my wife and I decided a visit to Mesa Verde National Park was a must do for us. 
How will you honor the great patriots that hade come before us? I will show my children how the past connects to the present. I will work to #keepitpublic
What will you do?
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Thank you for reading and happy Fourth of July and God Bless America. 

Waking up

Yesterday we left the desert for the mountains. It was a much longer drive than I anticipated. We left home about 7 pacific time and arrived in camp about 10 mountin time. 
However the best part of all of that travel was waking up to the cool air. When I left at the coolest part of the day it was nearing 80. This morning it’s an amazing 52 degrees. I saw my wife wearing a sweater and I know she’s enjoying being just cool enough to justify it. 
After a week of this I might just be ready to go back to the desert. The kids woke up all excited for adventures and visiting their family. The adventures continue for this adult onset hunter. 
You can find me on Facebook, twitter, instagram, and the podcast is on podbean and iTunes. 

Additional hunting opportunities 

Didn’t get drawn this year? Still want to go hunting for big game? In Arizona, at least, the game and fish department offers a an amazing opportunity for hunters. They have a special application for the population management pool. It’s off season hunts to help manage populations when regular season hunting is not meeting goals. 
I was drawn for one of these for elk a few years ago. I was able to hunt unit 1 here which has draw odds of less than 3%. However, with this special permit I was able to hunt in February with very light pressure. This is a great way to pick up a tag if you have not been drawn. 
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Did you know?

Out here in southern Arizona it’s currently encroaching on record high temperatures daily this week. While we have escapes from the oppressive heat, wildlife does not. The Tucson chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation posted a way to help. If you visit water catchments out in the surrounding wilderness and report low or empty ones to the game and fish department they will send a truck out to fill them up. This time of year it is especially important for fawn survival they have daily access to water. 

This is a great family activity as well. Take the kids out to explore your favorite hunting area and show them how much you care about wildlife by finding a way to help them survive. This is also another way the hunting and nonhunting community can come together on common ground. Use this as a teachable moment to share with those who think hunters do not care for the animals they pursue, that we very much do. 

This is all happening on the public land so anyone can help. Call 1-866-950-AGFD (2433) to report low or no water in the catchments. Get out there and enjoy the wild and help the animals. 

Happy Father’s Day¬†

Today I want to wish all of the fathers, and mothers doing the job of both parents, happy Father’s Day. I’m fortunate enough to be able to have two great role models as fathers, my own and my father-in-law. Both are very good men and set a great example for me to follow. 
In my opinion the best way to spend Father’s Day is not doing something alone but with your children. If I had the world of opportunity open to us we would be outside. But, we’re in the middle of a record heatwave so in the air conditioning we will stay! 
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