Friday, September 30, 2016

Video: CWA-BOW Women's Pheasant Hunt Weekend

California Waterfowl's Women's Pheasant Hunt Weekend is very dear to me: Before I started working for CWA, I was volunteering for CWA, and this was my favorite event.

Located at Birds Landing between the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento, the event gives women the chance to get licensed, learn to shoot and try hunting for just $250. Because gear is provided, this basically means if they decide they hate hunting, they're out just two days and $250 because they didn't have to invest in a gun or hunting gear.

Of course, that's superfluous because the women always want to keep hunting. Check out the video from this year's event and you'll see why. And if you'd like to learn more about CWA's women's events, click here.

© Holly A. Heyser 2016

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Video: Argentina dove hunting time-lapse

Virtually every wingshooter has heard of the mythic dove hunting down in Argentina: wave after never-ending wave of doves. Like every hunter, I've had high expectations dashed, so I've always wondered if it could really be that good down there.

Last week I found out: Yes, it can. It really is that good.

I spent the week with outfitter Maers & Goldman in Córdoba, Argentina, on a mission to photograph every angle of their operation, and of course to slip in a little hunting as well. The visuals were stunning, but I felt like still photos alone didn't do the hunting justice. Even when I caught a flock of 50 doves in the frame, that didn't convey the relentless intensity of the flight. What to do?

Answer: time-lapse.

Last Friday we arranged for the two best shooters in our group, Lex and Ken, to hunt together (hunters usually hunt alone there, though in a big, social line along the edge of a farm field, as we do here). I put my camera on a tripod behind them and set it to take one photo every second for 15 minutes - 900 frames.

The hunt turned out to be pretty average for the week - the big day had been Thursday. So what does average look like? The video is below - 1:12 of time-lapse. Be sure to watch to the end to see the numbers!

© Holly A. Heyser 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

New video - 'California Waterfowl: What We Do'

I am one of those incredibly lucky people who does work she loves (writing, photography, video, design) for an organization she loves (California Waterfowl). While my job can be stressful and tiring, I never lose sight of the fact that I absolutely love it.

The latest video I've done for CWA should help you understand why (unless you hate hunting, in which case you'll be horrified). If you want more than just the broad outlines, you can download our annual report online - it provides a lot of details and numbers.

This video is a compilation of photos and video from a variety of our events and activities. Major contributors were CWA employees Jake Gonsalves, who took fantastic photos at CWA summer camps this year, and Andrew Creasey, who started at the end of June and started banging out videos for us. I also used a lot of video from Mark Grupe Outdoors - Grupe did the school field day footage and the family hunt footage.

Enjoy the video! I've watched it a thousand times - that's part of the deal with video editing - but it still makes me smile every time.

© Holly A. Heyser 2016

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Our third cookbook: Buck, Buck, Moose

Twenty years ago when I decided to start cooking in earnest, I fell in love with cookbooks. Those that taught techniques, I studied rigorously; those that offered mouthwatering recipes, I devoured with my eyes. One in particular - The Essential Asian Cookbook (Murdoch Books, 1997) - sparked a bizarre collecting habit: chopsticks, ramekins and Asian dishware.

As a politics reporter, I dreamed that someday I'd be able to ditch nasty world of politics and write about food for newspapers (a coveted position, by the way - everyone wanted to be a food writer). But never in a million years would I have envisioned that I'd become a food photographer, and that many of the items I'd been collecting for fun would appear in cookbooks enjoyed by tens of thousands of readers.

This week marks the release of the third cookbook featuring my photography: Buck, Buck, Moose: Recipes and Techniques for Cooking Deer, Elk, Moose, Antelope and Other Antlered Things, written by my partner Hank Shaw. And I'm pleased to say it is BOTH types of cookbook that I fell in love with 20 years ago: It contains detailed and accessible instructions on technique - both butchering and cooking - and what I hope you'll find to be beautiful photography showcasing mouth-watering dishes.

There's something extra special about this book. The first, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast, was published by Rodale in 2011. The second, Duck, Duck, Goose: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Waterfowl, Both Wild and Domesticated, was published by Ten Speed Press in 2013. This one, we are self-publishing - made possible by an immensely successful Kickstarter campaign.

If you are a deer hunter, or you know someone who is, I hope you'll check it out. As someone who ate everything I photographed, I can tell you you'll be glad you did. Cheers!

© Holly A. Heyser 2016

Monday, June 27, 2016

How to choose a shotgun for hunting

Oh, the things I wish I'd known when I bought my first shotgun.

The only real piece of advice I got was to buy a 20 gauge because I'm a chick, which really did me a disservice. I'm sorry, there's absolutely nothing about being a woman that makes a 20 gauge a better choice. I ended up upgrading to a 12 gauge within a few years, which made me much happier. It's a duck hunter thing.

After meeting a lot of hunters who used a variety of shotguns, I came to realize that the type of shotgun that's best for you really is first and foremost a function of your personality, so I created a personality test to help prospective gun owners see what might be best for them. I blogged about it back in 2012, and I recently updated that blog post to hand out at a California Waterfowl workshop for new hunters.

Click here to view a printable PDF. Feel free to share it with friends, but if you'd like to reprint it in a for-profit publication, please get in touch with me.

© Holly A. Heyser 2016

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Video: How much to lead a moving target

I work with a lot of new shooters and hunters, and one of the hardest things to explain is how much you need to lead a moving target with your shotgun. It seems everyone perceives it differently.

A while back I told my pal Phil Bourjaily I wanted to use a shotgun-mounted POV camera to examine lead, and he said that was the wrong choice of camera. "What you need," he said, "is a ShotKam."

He was right. Using a wifi connection to your tablet or smartphone, you can align the ShotKam's reticle, then get footage where a red dot (or some other marker) shows your exact point of aim. What an awesome invention! Bonus points: Playback is at 1/4 speed, so you can see clay breaking in glorious detail.

I'll do a thorough review of the ShotKam down the road, but for now I wanted to share a video that illustrates lead at all the stations of skeet. And if you can't wait for the review, run over to the ShotKam website and learn more about it there. Tell 'em I sent you!

© Holly A. Heyser 2016

Saturday, January 23, 2016

On teaching women to shoot shotguns

The headline says it best: "Most New Female Shooters Learn From Men. Here’s What Both Need To Know."

My pal Phil Bourjaily - one of Field & Stream's two Gun Nuts - worked with me on this story. It's one of my favorite subjects!

Read the full story here.

© Holly A. Heyser 2016