Monday, November 30, 2015

Video: How to render duck fat

At long last, I've finally made the video duck hunters have been asking for: How to render duck fat!

The process is really easy, and it gives you a jar of duck flavor that will last long after you've rid the freezer of your last bird of the season.

So next time you get a delicious, fat bird, save the bits of fat you might otherwise throw in the trash, and try this.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Florida bear hunting debate - an op-ed for the Tampa Tribune

If you watch debates about hunting all over the country, which I do because the future of hunting matters to me A LOT, you'll see a pattern: bear hunting is under attack.

It's an issue because bear populations are thriving, and everywhere state game agencies try to re-open bear seasons or increase quotas, the Humane Society of the United States argues that their science is all wrong and the population increases are a figment of their imaginations.

Right. Tell that to anyone who lives in bear country.

This Saturday, Florida opens its first bear season since 1994, and the anti-hunting hysteria is thick, so I decided to wade in with a little commentary on the subject. You can read it here in the Tampa Tribune.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

What early teal season looks like: an interactive map

We don't have an early teal season in California, so I actually have no clue what it looks like.

But I do know how to find where all the action is: All you have to do is look at band recoveries, so I did just that, just for funsies, because I'm an OCD Dutch Virgo data nerd.

The map below is all the banded teal recovered by hunters in September of 2014 (data for 2015 isn't yet available). The color coding is really complex: Blue dots are blue-winged teal, green dots are green-wings and red dots are cinnamons. Click on the dot and you can see how old the bird was and where it was banded - you can even click through to its banding location.

One caveat: Sometimes the map will show birds being shot in weird locations, or in places where they shouldn't be shot, as in not in season. Keep in mind that all recovery information is reported by humans who might be confused about what they're reporting (the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory wants to know where you shot the bird, not where you live), imprecise (I've seen banded birds allegedly shot at busy urban intersections), or merely cagey ("I ain't putting no X on no stinkin' map!").

But imperfect as it is, it's still fun stuff. Enjoy!


© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Lead ammo ban: Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

When I wrote five years ago about giving up lead ammo for hunting, some of my readers called me a traitor and collaborator with the enemies of hunting.

When I woke about it again in this month's column for Shotgun Life, I waited for the onslaught and ... nothing.

Is everyone over it, or have folks been too busy hunting doves? Either way, feel free to hop on over to Shotgun Life and let me know!

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Saturday, August 1, 2015

My bird of regret - a column for Shotgun Life

You never know what's going to capture your imagination the most when you hunt strange birds in a strange place. The bird that did that for me in New Zealand earlier this summer is the subject of my latest column for Shotgun Life.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Monday, July 6, 2015

You should see what this duck hunter is doing for ducks!

"Got any stuff I can film this week?" I asked my coworker at California Waterfowl.

"Yeah, wanna go out with this wheat farmer tomorrow?" she replied.

"Sure!" I said. I actually had no idea that what this guy was doing would bring me to tears, repeatedly, as I worked on this video. If you care one shred about ducks, ducklings and giving back to nature, I hope you'll check it out. People are doing great things out there!

And if you're reading this by email and don't see a video below (Craig F.!), click on this link to check it out.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Baiting, sluicing and other no-no's ... or are they? A column for Shotgun Life.

United States: Baiting ducks, illegal. Sluicing ducks, legal (but frowned upon). And on the other side of the Equator in New Zealand? The opposite.

Hunting in another country is a great opportunity not just to hunt new animals, but to think about laws and ethics and beliefs - why they exist, what benefit they have. That, my friends, is the subject of my latest column in Shotgun Life.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Democrats and Republicans Shootin' 'Em Up Together - a video for California Waterfowl

Yep, sometimes for my job, I get to spend the afternoon at the shooting range! But don't get too jealous - when you're shooting video, you don't really have much time to play with guns.

But this was a fun little video. Sportsmen's groups do this event every year where we bring California lawmakers and their staffs out to my own favorite range, the Cordova Shooting Center, for a little trap and skeet shooting. Click play on the short video below to see why.

And check out the nice double at 0:34 - beautiful follow-through on the second shot. That's Tracey Fremd, one of our past board members who served on California Waterfowl's legislative/policy committee. She's the one who first got me hooked up with CWA as a volunteer seven years ago!

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Monday, June 1, 2015

The measure of a season - a column for Shotgun Life

I am a little obsessed with measuring my duck hunting results - keeping a body count. After eight seasons, though, perhaps it's time to outgrow that habit. But what else is an OCD girl supposed to do? Find out in my latest column for Shotgun Life.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Monday, May 25, 2015

Resurrected: My photography website

I'm very excited to unveil my new photography website - Holly Heyser Photography.

My old food photography website shut down a couple weeks ago because the hosting company, BluDomain, didn't send me a bill, ignored multiple emails I sent asking them for a bill, then shut my site down because I didn't pay the bill. Brilliant!

This happened at a pretty difficult time. Hank and I were in the middle of a protracted search for our missing cat, which thankfully ended this morning after 37 tortured days, and I was trying to finish producing an especially challenging issue of California Waterfowl Magazine (that's over now too).

As often happens, the website problem turned out to be for the best. After evaluating my options, I realized the path forward was to consolidate my food photography website, which has always functioned just as an online portfolio, with my other photography website, which has been my vehicle for selling prints of my feather photos and mushroom photos.

The "new" combined site is hosted by SmugMug, which has always had outstanding customer service for both me and for the people who purchase my photos: Prints from my site are produced by Bay Photo in Santa Cruz, and both the quality of prints and the absolutely bullet-proof packaging are outstanding. (Hat tip to my favorite waterfowl photographer, Fred Greenslade, who turned me on to SmugMug.)

As a result of this consolidation, you can now purchase my food photos, if you want to have some mouth-watering stuff hanging on your walls. Hey, ya never know.

So, please feel free to take a look around - dare I say feast your eyes on? - the new site. Its address is You can leave comments on any photos you like, and share them with any of your friends who are into food, feathers or mushrooms.

And ants. Did I mention ants?

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Friday, May 1, 2015

Holly and the Ninja - a column for Shotgun Life

No two ways about it: Staring down the wrong end of a shotgun barrel is creepy as hell. Find out why I was doing that in my latest column for Shotgun Life.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

A lesson in duck identification - a column for Shotgun Life

I've heard some people say you have no business hunting ducks if you can't accurately identify the species you're shooting at every single time.

Obviously that's ideal, but it's not very real-world. I've hunted with plenty of seasoned veterans who weren't sure exactly what species it was - was it a gadwall or a hen wigeon that just zipped through the spread in the pre-dawn light? But they knew it was a duck, and they knew it wasn't a duck they couldn't shoot, e.g. a pintail if they'd already gotten their limit.

I think that's OK. But I've learned that not being too sure has its risks, as you'll see in my latest column for Shotgun Life.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Vegetarians hunting: a column for Shotgun Life

So, these three vegetarians went hunting at a super-awesome duck club... Click here to read more in my latest column for Shotgun Life.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Sunday, February 1, 2015

The coolest jump shooting ever - a column for Shotgun Life

Ever have one of those hunts where something so awesome happens that it leaves you dazed and grinning for days? I did, and here's what went down.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015

Thursday, January 1, 2015

About women duck hunters - a column for Shotgun Life

Happy New Year, everyone!

I had a couple things happen last year during duck hunts that got me thinking about the state of women duck hunters. You can check out my Shotgun Life column about it here, and I'd be very interested to here your thoughts, either in comments on the column (it uses a Facebook interface) or back here.

I didn't address the causes of the issues I wrote about, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on that topic. Or if you think I'm completely full of B.S. on the topic, you're welcome to say that as well.

© Holly A. Heyser 2015