Holly A. Heyser

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.

The Importance of Failure

A friend of mine recently shared an interesting article provocatively titled, “The Learning Myth: Why I Never Tell My Son He’s Smart.”

Momentum

I’m afraid to add up how much money I’ve been spending at the shooting range these days.

Oooooh, I can feel it already: You read that headline and you wanted to punch me.

The Almost Perfect Turkey Hunt

One by one, the turkeys flew toward me from their roost tree, a dusky old bull pine across the draw. They weren’t headed right at me, but close enough that I just might get a shot this morning.

Hunting Zeppelins

Ducks are fast. On the rare occasions that they’re slow, I can’t hit them to save my life. How do you lead a bird on a crossing shot when he’s at one-quarter speed?

Extreme Bird Hunting – RAWR!

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?

Athena, Warrior Duck Huntress

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.

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.

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.

Amen.
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.

Here are two things you don’t often see in the same sentence outside of Argentina: “dove hunting” and “adventure.”