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2015 AZ Hunting Journal

Prayer Request

This past week has been about as crazy as it can be. Last week, from Tuesday morning through Friday morning, Flagstaff received 30 inches of snow, making us the snowiest city in the nation the first week of 2016! I ran my snowblower more times last week than the previous winter and I've run it more times this winter (Dec/Jan) than the previous TWO winters. Because of all the snow up here, snow levels dropping to 4,500 feet and the area of Syd's pheasant hunt getting hammered by rain and snow, AGFD postponed the hunt to January 30th. There was too much risk and danger for the kids in that area.

We went down to Phoenix for her two soccer games and they won the first one 2-0. Syd had a great game at goalie and made some awesome, amazing saves. Even the other team's coach complimented her. In the first half of the second game, Syd came out aggressively to clear the ball by kicking out of the cluster. After she cleared it, a girl from the other team in the cluster ran by and threw a vicious elbow to the back of Sydney's head, hitting her about two inches behind her left ear and, of course, under her concussion headgear. Because it was away from the play, none of the refs saw it. The girl should have received a red card and removed from the game. Syd pointed her out to the head ref, but she denied it all. I ended up carrying her off the field at half time and taking her to the ER. On our way, I gave the head ref, the sideline ref, and the assistant coach a piece of my mind about the dirty play and not protecting the goalie. Fortunately, the CT came back clear, but she was diagnosed with a mild concussion. Today is day three of being symptom free and, because she needs to be seven days symptom-free, she can't play in this weekend's tournament. She's bummed, but she understands the long-term implications of another head injury so soon. She doesn't know I'm writing this, but if you have a moment, please say a prayer for a speedy recovery. Watching an intentional elbow to your daughter's head and not being able to do anything is about the most helpless I've ever felt. On the drive home from the ER, I told her it was ok if she went back to being a forward or midfielder and gave up goalie. Her response: "Goalie chose me, dad. I'm NOT quitting!" Gotta love her spirit, even if it causes me an early death!

Tomorrow morning, I'm meeting a friend to head to one of my archery javelina units. He knows the unit well and has the February rifle tag. I'm hoping to get into some arrow-slinging action. I need that refocus right now. I may even head back down Sunday and take our son with me since his 2016 Resolution is to spend more time hunting with me. Stay tuned!
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Good luck on your hunt & a prayer for a quick & uneventful recovery for Syd.

Do what the Dr.s tell you to Syd. Lots of parts can be repaired or replaced these days but you brain ain't one of them. Play hard... but be careful. Keep an eye out for "snakes" even on the soccer field! The world has already got too many brainless people. Be careful not to join them.
Javelina Success!!

I'm finally getting a chance to post this up. I looked at the forecast for Friday and it called for a 90% chance of snow, but with less than an inch predicted, most of it coming in the afternoon when I'd be driving back. I was debating on cancelling the hunt because I hate driving up the mountain in snow storms. My wife and I chatted quite a bit and she convinced me to go, emphasizing that I needed this time. I needed a break from the stress and a chance to decompress after Sydney's concussion. I'm so glad I listened to my beautiful wife. I got up early Friday morning and met up with my friend. I don't know this unit very well and he does. At the first spot, I glassed up a herd of javelina over a mile away, but they were moving and too far to catch. Spot number two had no javelina, but I was able to glass up 3 mule deer does just under a mile away. I was already feeling success because I'm really not that good at glassing. I will say that switching to using a tripod with a solid binocular adapter has made a huge difference. We ended up seeing 20 deer for the day, but they were all does.

Within 10 minutes of arriving at spot number three, we had a herd of javelina moving 100-150 yards below us. We planned my stalk and it was game on. I remember saying a small prayer as I worked my way in. As I was working across the top of the canyon above the, I could see two in the opening below me. I worked my way around to come in even with and upwind of them, sticking to our plan. When I got to where they were supposed to be, they weren't there! We were able to work out some distant communication (radios weren't working well) and relocate the herd. Eight trotted past me within 20 yards, but wouldn't stop. Three ran across the canyon bottom, 30 yards away, including a huge sow with a red following close behind. I was able to get my range finder on two openings and both were 30 yards. As I was regrouping, two more ran by across the drainage from me. I picked one, waited for it to reach my window, and I was able to make a perfect 30-yard shot and fill my javelina tag at noon on the only day I had available! It turned out to be a good size, mature sow. She ran about 30 yards and I saw her fall under a big juniper tree. I saw all kinds of commotion from the rest of the herd and I started to think she was still moving. Then I heard the death throes and I was sure we'd have a successful recovery. A short track job with a little blood lead to a great recovery and several high fives. My friend ended up showing me the gutless method on this sow and what a difference that made, although the pack up out of the canyon and back to the truck was close to brutal. The skull is at the taxidermist and I'm getting ready to take the meat out to my processor!

This is my biggest javelina yet and reminded me why I love the hunt, itself! After all the madness of this week, it felt so good to fill a tag and find that kind of success again. My soul and spirit have been rejuvenated. I have refocused.

In all the celebration, my friend took a picture of me texting my wife, Sydney, and Tony (Risto), who had been texting me off and on all morning, further lifting my spirits. What a great day!

The snow storm ended up dumping way more than an inch and had I-40 west of town closed for a bit. By the time I got on the road, I-17 northbound was in good shape from the plows and the de-icing solution. Tomorrow, the kids and I are going to get up and go quail and pheasant hunting on the holiday. Syd is doing much better and is looking forward to getting back to practice Tuesday and playing in next Saturday's game. We were able to work through our soccer club and file a complaint against the girl who elbowed Syd so that there is a record of her behavior on file. That, along with watching Syd recover, has been extremely helpful in lifting our spirits. I'm hoping to get out a couple of times to chase deer before the end of the month and we have Syd'd pheasant hunt on January 30th, so we're still in it for this season and looking forward to it all. On top of that, we have to start picking our elk hunts because the regs are out and the online application system will be open soon. Bring on 2016!
Thanks for the stories. Nice job on the javelina.
Syd - prayers sent for a full recovery.
Congrats on the hunt.
Wishing Syd the best. When you're one of the best people will do all sorts of things to try and bring you down. Tell her to keep up the hard work
Youth Pheasant Success: Pic Heavy

We are wrapping up our hunting season down here in Arizona and this will be close to our last entry. Syd is out of school and I'm off next Friday (12th), so we're working out the details for either a quick trip up to Lee's Ferry for some fly fishing or a day of rabbit hunting. Syd still wants to do a final entry, but this one is worth posting up now. Of all the hunting-related posts over the years, I have been the most excited about this particular one!

This past Saturday will go down as one of my most favorite days of dad-ness ever! Sydney and I got up early to get ready for her youth pheasant hunt down at the High Desert Hunt Club. This is the youth hunt sponsored by AGFD for hunter ed students that are selected from their instructors and entered into a pool. The year Syd took the class, she was actually nominated (I wasn't her instructor), but not selected. Last March, during the live auction at our NWTF banquet up here, I bought her one of the slots that our NTWF State Chapter buys and donates to local chapters every year. We spent Friday night in a quaint little motel in Cordes Jct and arrived at the club at 0530. After the briefing and safety part, she received some excellent coaching at the trap range. She walked up there so confidently and the instructor told her she had great form. Of course, she didn't give me any credit for prior coaching! As usual, she'd hit a few and miss a few. After some great pointers, she started busting clays consistently, turning heads up and down the range! As we were getting lined up and ready to be taken to our respective hunting fields, we had a chance to crank the radio and jam out to Elton John and Kiki Dee followed by Culture Club (Karma Chameleon). Don't judge, she absolutely loves 80s music, it was her hunt, and we had folks in other vehicles laughing.

Because I'm a hunter ed instructor in good standing and am friends with one of the AGFD Hunter Ed staff, Syd was well taken care of. She was paired with a great husband-wife mentoring team. I've worked with the husband before and his wife is absolutely amazing. Syd was paired with her and they hit it off big time! Unfortunately, most of the birds that flushed, flushed towards the other shooter leaving Syd without a shot. The mentors picked up on that and switched things around. The dog went on point again and they were able to flush the rooster right up in front. Syd took a shot and hit the bird, but it kept on flying (Hunt Club rules mandate 7.5 shot). They watched it land and Syd's mentor grabbed her and they moved forward on the bird. The next thing I saw was Syd loading her gun again (only allowed one shot/time), shouldering it, and firing. The reactions were instant and I knew she had her first pheasant. She loved seeing the dog go get her bird and bring it to her. Watching from the edge of the field, I was so excited that I jumped so hard with my hands in the air, forgetting I had my binoculars around my neck and got smacked in the face (worth it). Seeing fist pumps and high fives from 100 yards away was awesome! We pulled over on the way back to the club to take another picture because she wanted her shotgun with her in a picture. As we were driving back again, another great Elton John song came on and we were jamming again. After lunch and regrouping at the hunt club, we took off for Tempe to catch up with her team (already chalked up a morning victory) for a 4:30 game. Syd slept the entire drive, waking up rejuvenated. She didn't have a ton of pressure at the net, but still kept a clean sheet when she was in there. She got some field time and had a beautiful assist on another girl's goal. The team walked away with a 2-1 victory! A little Jamba Juice supper made the drive home in the dark even better. It didn't take too long for her to crash on the drive home. During lunch today or sometime tomorrow, we get to take her pheasant to the taxidermist to get ready to take its place on the wall next to my first bird! Discussions these last two days have revolved around more bird hunting, getting a bird dog, and getting more pheasants!

Busting Clays Before the Hunt.

Eager Anticipation

Jamming Out

Pre-Hunt Interview with Her Mentor

Working the Birds (Syd on Far Right)

Dog On Point

Getting Lined up for the Flush (Syd on Far Left)


With her Mentor, Dog Handler, and Dog

Back at the Truck

A Little IW Love in the Background

Heading to Tempe for Soccer

Victory Stop at Jamba Juice
Javelina Skull Back from Taxi

I just realized that its mid-March and we still haven't wrapped up this journal. Last week, I got the call that my javelina skull was ready, so I picked it up Friday morning. My taxidermist told me that it was one of the larger ones she had this year and it was an old sow. She has a missing tooth and her cutters are very well worn. I figured this is something you guys don't get to see every day, so I thought I'd wrap up my part of the journal with a few thoughts and pics of my javelina skull. Its currently sitting on top of the bookshelf, among some elk antlers, right underneath my Iowa buck.

Shed season has started down here. I've only been out once and came up empty, but we have plans to get out more this year. We leave Saturday morning for a spring break trip to San Diego. Monday, March 14, will include a half-day of fishing on either San Diego or Mission Bay. We're excited about that one. As early as Friday, but probably next week, credit cards should start getting hit as AGFD starts the elk and pronghorn draw process. We have fingers crossed for at least one elk tag this year (hopefully Syd)! Thanks for all of the encouragement and support along the way. 2015-2016 has been one of my favorite hunting seasons for a variety of reasons. One of the top reasons is watching Sydney grow as both a hunter and person. Hopefully, I can get her motivated to close up this journal this week.
Latest Update

Hey guys, this is Sydney again.

Its been a very long time since I have updated you guys, and I apologize. Its been a hard year. Girl drama, lots of homework, and some might say father-daughter arguments. Soccer has also been a bit of a hustle. I have practice four days a week, and there has also been some team drama going on. Yes, life has been crazy. But there are some very good things to. Dad and I have figured things out, and we are starting to argue less. I got invited to the sub-regional camp for the Olympic Development Program, and I have been keeping my grades in check, witch will definitely help me through soccer and hunting. Also over the school year, a few boys have asked me out. Of course, I said no, because there is absolutely no way I am dating in middle school!
With the girl drama, my so called "friend" told me I was flirting with her "boyfriend." My first response was why do you have a boyfriend in sixth grade?:confused:Anyway, she made my middle school life pretty tough, and I would love to have some advice from you guys if you've had daughters go through a similar thing.
Credit cards will be getting hit soon, and I have applied for the same elk hunt I had three years ago, in the Peaks management unit, in unit 7 east. Fingers crossed!:D
Again, i'm sorry I haven't updated the journal lately, and I will start being better about it. Its sometimes hard when you stop something, and then you cant start it again, I hope you guys have a wonderful Easter!:):):)

For what it is worth, I just got married two weeks ago. I'm 33. I married the second woman I ever dated. The first gal I dated was when I was 27. My encouragement to you, is even at a young age, place such a high value on marriage that most boys/men don't make the cut, or are even considered. If you look at marriage as a true lifetime commitment to another person (which is becoming increasingly less common), it will help you stay focused on what is good and true.

I wanted to be married since I was in high school because I wanted a family and children of my own. I don't know why God had me wait until I was 33, but I am so glad I waited for the woman who loves the Lord more than she'll ever love me, accepts my flaws, and will be an amazing mother someday. Work on becoming a woman who is honorable and holy, and you'll find the right man someday. But don't rush it.
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