Monday, December 7, 2009

Arab tailgate shots: Birth of a dream

Phillip over at the Hog Blog wrote a post about dream hunts the other day and he asked readers, "What are yours?"

"I want to hunt in Saudi Arabia," I said, and I promised I would tell the story later. So here's the story.

It all started with a guy named "Superhunter" on the Duck Hunting Chat. Read more...
It was October 2007, just weeks before the beginning of my second season as a duck hunter, and because I hadn't yet started this blog, I was putting a lot of time into the chat. One day, there was a new post on The Honey Hole - the chat's main forum.

Headline: "Any one looking for a partner for hunting trip?"

The post:

hello all
iam so mad of hunting and willing to go wherever we could find goose and duck , iam willing to share the costs
iam 25 old and i have got 13 yers experince of hunting

best regards

The post was by "superhunter," who listed his location as "Saudi Arabia."

The first response was, "Saudi Arabia?"

There was a bit of back and forth for a while - the resident bigot had to ask if Superhunter was a Muslim (not that the question itself is bigoted, but the guy is a creep who's written a lot of posts trashing women and has had most of his posts on this thread removed by moderators). Someone had to make cracks about Superhunter's grammar (more than a little ironic, given the extreme damage done to the English language on most hunting forums).

But it wasn't too long before curiosity got the best of the American hunters, and they started asking questions.

What type of game do you have? What type of hunting do you do? Do you have coots in Saudi Arabia? Let's see some picks of those Saudi ducks!

So Superhunter put up a ton of links to the Saudi equivalent of the Duck Hunting Chat. Same kind of forum software. Same emoticons. Same signature images (like the one on the left here). Same hunter zeal to share tailgate photos of the day's take. It was just all in Arabic, and there was a ton of sand in the backgrounds.

Here are some of the photos from the links Superhunter gave:

The American hunters were captivated. What are these crazy animals? (OK, we could all ID the specklebelly geese, but not a lot of the other animals. Superhunter didn't know their names in English either.) Do you eat what you kill - are Muslims allowed to eat meat? (Yes and yes, Superhunter said.) Do the women hunt in Saudi Arabia? (OK, you can totally tell that was my question. The answer was 'rarely.')

And finally the comments:

It is good to see that waterfowlers are waterfowlers, no matter where they are or what language they speak.


Superhunter, you're welcome in my blind so long as you know to keep still when birds are working... and don't hog all the shots.

actually, this goes for everyone.

For a brief moment, most of us were able to forget the War on Terror, and our nation's deep suspicion of Muslims in general, and Arabs in particular, since Sept. 11. We all just related to one another as hunters.

Superhunter and I corresponded for a while by private message. Turns out we were both teachers - he at the high school level. He was absolutely desperate to hear details of what it was like hunting here. When I told him I was preparing for the opening day of duck season, he messaged back with advice. When I told him how the hunt went and sent pictures, he wanted more - more photos, more details.

So I began telling him stories of my (mostly unsuccessful) hunts, filled with all the detail and emotion I could muster. In retrospect, I now realize he was my first audience, and his hunger for the stories is what stoked a storytelling flame that very quickly became this blog.

I was just as hungry to hear stories of his hunts, but Superhunter had a much harder time getting out, so he didn't have as many stories to tell. It didn't matter, though. We were like two little kids in our mother's shopping carts passing each other in the supermarket - riveted by the very notion that there was someone else out there just like me.

We haven't messaged each other in quite some time now, but I haven't forgotten Superhunter. And I've been smitten with the notion of hunting in Saudi Arabia. I've always been something of a xenophile, and I love immersing myself in radically foreign cultures. I mean, how's this for a hunting tent - and check out that crazy duck! (Or is it a goose?)

I know, I know - a foreigner hunting in Saudi Arabia would be challenging enough, but a foreign woman hunting there? Imagine how hard it would be for me to mount my shotgun correctly wearing a hijab!

But how cool would that be? Africa hunting? Blah blah blah. Hemingway covered that to death, and it's on the Outdoor Channel pretty much every day of the week. Canada hunting? Too similar to the U.S., and not enough really weird animals. But hunting the vast Arabian desert and roasting my kill afterward on a fire in the sand under the big night sky? Now that would be fun.

And it looks like they've got some really fat birds there.

I think I'd like it.

Note: All the photos in this post came from the Saudi hunting forum.

© Holly A. Heyser 2009


danontherock said...

One of the biggest big game hunting forums is owned by a guy from Saudi Arabia I think.

Have a look there Holly plenty of hunting throughout the world

Great post

Blessed said...

Now that is something to think about... it looks like it would be a lot of fun to check out the hunting there!

SimplyOutdoors said...

I'm definitely intrigued, but honestly have no desire to hunt there. I'll just live vicariously through you Holly, once you go, and read all about your adventures here.

Pretty interesting stuff.

Phillip said...

Great tale, Holly. I totally get the Saudi hunt thing now.

I "met" a guy on the JHO forums a while back who is from Iran. He posted up several photos of the huge hogs they kill there, and that stoked some fires in me as well, despite the obvious challenges and risks associated with an American hunter travelling to that country.

Hunters ARE hunters, wherever we live. I really like that part of your post.

sportingdays said...

Another good reminder here of the universality of hunting and fishing. Hunting not only connects us to our human past -- but to all humanity and cultures around the world, which also have hunting and fishing traditions of varying degrees.

Whenever I am in a new city or state -- or visiting another country, for that matter -- I make a game of trying to spot signs of the local hunting and fishing culture. You can always find it eventually, even if you're looking in unlikely settings such as Berkeley, California, or Florence, Italy. You can find it in inner city Chicago and Paris, France, too.

Josh said...

The nerd in me had to look up some of those birds.
First, wikipedia has a great site on Birds of Saudi Arabia:

The big grey ones are demoiselles cranes, and the cool-looking duck is a common shelduck. I don't know the antelope or the small grey birds (probably some kind of dove).

Great post!

Pedro Miguel Silveira said...

Hello Holly,

I would like to congratulate you for the excellent work you are doing in this blog.

Take care and keep up the good work!

NorCal Cazadora said...

Thank you so much, Pedro!

Matt Ames said...

Great post Holly! I remember the posts from DHC when he was there (I was nice to him, btw...) It's pretty interesting stuff over there. I wonder how hard it is to get set up as a hunter over there.

gary said...

Very Interesting - but not enough so to want to go there. I like our deserts but it looks pretty desolate there.

It is interesting though how the same adrenline affects every hunter no matter their background.

Pedro Miguel Silveira said...

You are much welcome Holly!
I was reading your post, the one were you wrote about hunting books and I would like to suggest some readings for you. I am sure you'll appreciate them.

- "Cambaco" and "Cambaco II", by José Pardal(translated to english)
- "The Hunting Apes: Meat Eating and the Origins of Human Behavior‎", by Craig B. Stanford
- "On Aggression", by Konrad Lorenz
- "Shotgunning: The Art and the Science", by Bob Brister
- "Shotguns and Shooting I", II, III, by Michael Mcintosh
- "Death in the Long Grass" and "Death in the Dark Continent", by Peter Hathaway Capstick
- "Safari Rifles / American Hunting Rifles", by Craig Boddington
- "Gunfitting: The Quest for Perfection for Shotguns and Rifles", by Michael Yardley

Look for these authors:
- Craig Boddington
- Charles Lancaster
- Cogswell and Harrison
- Charles C. Trench
- Artur Alphin
- G. P. Swan
- F. C. Selous
- J. Taylor
- E. Cummings
- Caramojo Bell
- A. G. Anderson
- Cornwallis Harris
- Michael Mcintosh and David Trevalion
- John F. Burger

Kind regards,

Pedro Miguel

NorCal Cazadora said...

Pedro, thanks again for adding to my book list! Just finished a book and I'm looking for more to add to my shelf. Looks like there are some good ones in here.