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.
I remember so vividly the day I went to buy my first shotgun.
My boyfriend Hank and I drove a couple miles down the main drag of our dilapidated 1960s-era suburb to our local hook-n-bullet store, an utterly charmless building with windows boarded over and painted, and not so much as a sprig of greenery anywhere in the parking lot. It was ugly even compared with already-low neighborhood standards.
It felt like we were the stars in a Quentin Tarantino movie: Well-dressed tourists moved out of our way as we strode down the sidewalk of Sutter Creek, the glittering mid-afternoon December sunshine in our face.
One more duck.
That’s what I told myself Sunday afternoon as I crept through a patch of nut grass in the marsh, bent low over the water to minimize my outline, straining to keep an eye on the birds without them seeing me.
Maybe I should’ve taken that shot.
As the morning chill dissipated, the sky brightened and even distant duck sightings grew more infrequent, it was becoming clear that Charlie and I were about to be skunked. On opening day, no less.
Skeet is not a game to me.
I don’t keep score. I ignore many of the rules and conventions. And I like to blaze through a round fast. Really fast. All I’m doing is trying to stay sharp for wingshooting. I don’t particularly want to be an expert at shooting inanimate clay disks.
Wanna know what I’m doing right now? Chances are I’m sitting at my computer going absolutely crazy because work is getting in the way of my dove hunting. Good Lord, we get only 15 days of good dove hunting here in California, and the opener this year is on the worst possible day for me. A Thursday. Not just a work day, but a really demanding, frenetic day. And I guarantee you there are mourning doves cooing on the roof over my head.
I am not a gun nut.
I don’t flip the pages of high-end gun magazines, staring at beautiful guns and sighing wistfully. I don’t need a different gun for every type of hunting I do. And about the only engraving I need on a gun is a serial number.