Holly A. Heyser
Holly A. Heyser is a hunter, forager, writer, food photographer and college journalism lecturer. She writes a blog about hunting at http://norcalcazadora.blogspot.com.and shoots food photos for boyfriend Hank Shaw, who writes a blog about wild food at http://honest-food.net.
September had all the makings of an epic dove season in Northern California. The state was filthy with doves, our daily limit had been boosted from 10 to 15 and I was shooting really well, thanks to spending way too much money on skeet and sporting clays this summer.
Drinking espresso in the hunting lodge at 5 a.m., it was really easy to act nonchalant about what we were about to do. Nothing but a little weather, right? I mean, I came 2,000 miles to Markham, Texas, to hunt sandhill cranes! I wasn’t going to let a little chest cold and freezing rain get in the way of that, was I?
It’s a little bit weird going to a duck club that is 1) fabulously expensive, 2) a century old and 3) allows women to hunt there, but doesn’t allow us to spend the night. Even in my eighth season of hunting, I still feel a little intimidated when I hunt with a guy I’ve just met, worried that I’ll represent my gender poorly. But walking into a club this exclusive ratchets up my insecurity tenfold. I grew up pretty poor – went my entire senior year in high school without a flush toilet – and when I’m around wealth, I live in constant (and probably justified) fear that I’ll say or do something gauche.
- Category: Holly Heyser
- Created: 01 December 2013
As something of a militant public-land duck hunter, it is a point of pride for me that I can do well – sometimes really well – in a section of marsh so crowded with hunters that most people I know refuse to go there.
- Category: Holly Heyser
- Created: 01 November 2013
Lord, I'd like to thank you for the meal I just ate.
Thank you for blessing me with an incredibly fat little greenwing teal for my first duck of the season - it makes for a much better "grace" than the coot I accidentally got for the second bird of the season.
Thank you for inspiring my boyfriend to run off on book tour with both boning knives, forcing me to buy a really nice one that I used to debone that teal, giving me every bit of fat and skin that little guy had to offer.
Thank you for the perfect sear that I managed to achieve without filling the entire house with duck-fat smoke. The cats really appreciate it when the smoke alarm doesn't go off.
Thank you for inspiring me to pop some spinach into the fat remaining in that pan while my duck halves rested on the cutting board under a foil tent, and for reminding me to get feta cheese at the store on the way home from work - it was really, really good on the sauteed spinach. I will forgive you for not delivering ripe lemons yet - the splash of vinegar was a good enough hit of acidity to do the trick.
Thank you for a meal so perfectly delicious that the neighbors probably thought I was doing something nasty at the kitchen table, what with all the moaning and incomprehensible utterances coming out of my mouth. I was really just eating. And what more perfect sacrament could there be to mark the start of duck season?
In your name I pray for all of the people who've not yet had the good fortune of eating a greenwing teal. May you bless them with the drive, the means and the utter lack of common sense to become duck hunters. I don't need the competition, Lord, but as you well know, ducks could use the extra habitat that all those hunters would pay for. And it never hurts to have another friend putting in for reservations at the refuge.
Holly A. Heyser is the editor of California Waterfowl Magazine. A hunter, forager, writer and photographer, she lives in Sacramento, California. You can see more of her work at www.hollyheyser.com.