Friday, July 22, 2011

Rabbit hunting: Hits and misses

Last week I embarrassed myself with some ridiculously bad shooting.

Normally, I love failure, because it's much more interesting to write about than success. But these misses were so pathetic that I couldn't bring myself to write about them until now, when I have a couple hits to assuage my self-pity.

Here's what happened: I finally hauled my butt out to my favorite cottontail rabbit spot last week for my first hunt since (my unsuccessful) turkey season. I'd shot some skeet the day before and done fairly poorly, so I thought I'd gotten my bad shooting out of the way.

Right as I approached the rabbitiest part of my path - lined by huge thickets of wild rose and poison oak on both sides - I heard something crashing in the brush behind me. Deer? No, dog, and he'd brought his human with him.

I turned back around to pretend they weren't there, and then the man yelled to me - yes, yelled: "Are you hunting?"

No, dude, I wear blaze orange and carry a shotgun everywhere I go.

To answer him, I held up my shotgun. He got the hint and took his dog the other direction.

Surprisingly, it was just a minute or two afterward that I spotted what I thought was a rabbit ahead of me on the path, maybe 40 yards away. The light was still dim and it was holding still, so I wasn't sure.

I could've just shot it, but I didn't want to announce my presence along the river with a shotgun blast if it wasn't really a rabbit. So, I tried a trick I learned from my duck-hunting buddy Charlie: I side-stepped toward it, rather than walk facing forward.

I took four steps, and got close enough to determine it was a rabbit without actually spooking him. I raised my shotgun, and remembered how I'd been so sloppy the day before, not bringing the stock all the way to my face. I put my cheek down on the stock firmly, looked down the barrel, and shot as the rabbit finally decided it was time to jump into his patch of wild rose.

Awesome! I stopped to pick up my spent shell, then walked over to claim my rabbit.

Only he was not dead at the edge of the roses. He was gone.


I was glad the dog-man had walked the other way so he couldn't see my shame.

I got one other shot that morning: I'd crept up a little hill, careful to bend lower as I neared the crest, and I spied a rabbit sitting outside of his patch of wild grape on the other side of the hill. Raised gun, settled cheek down, stared down the barrel, shot and missed. Again.


See why I couldn't write about it? Thank God a bear walked into a restaurant where Hank and I were hanging around the next day, or I'd've had nothing to write about.

I knew what I'd done wrong: I was staring at the end of the barrel to check my positioning, rather than looking at the target and forgetting everything else.

This week I decided I'd give it another go, so I set my alarm for 4 a.m. Thursday and headed out to the river. Target, target, target, I reminded myself as I crossed the levee.

I crept along quietly for a while. Nothing spooked near the wild grapes where I'd had my last miss. At the first patch of wild roses, I did hear a hop and catch sight of a white tail, but it was deep in the thicket, and the rabbit quickly became invisible.

Then came the part of the path with thickets on either side. This was the toughest part of this hunt: If you don't happen to be looking on the correct side of the path when a rabbit eventually breaks, you won't have the microsecond you need to shoot.

I scanned the edge of the thickets, looking for rabbit ears. When they hold still, it's so hard to see them, but they will hold and hold and hold, then suddenly break, and all you see is a flash of white tail disappearing into the brambles.

Suddenly, I caught movement on my right - it was a rabbit, bolting, 10 yards from me. If he'd been two feet from his thicket, he would've been fine, but he got caught four feet outside of it, which made for a long journey to safety.

I raised my gun, and it didn't make it all the way to my face. No time to reposition, no time no time no time. Just shoot, Holly!

Bang! The rabbit dropped, mid flight.

It was the fastest I'd ever shot at a bolting rabbit, and I'd done it right. Finally.

When I picked him up, I saw shot holes in his ears and his hind feet. Didn't see blood - he died so fast his heart hadn't had time to pump anymore - but I was pretty sure I'd center-patterned him. At 10 yards. Yep, gonna be some holes in this meat.

Silently, I thanked the rabbit and nature - the rabbit for his involuntary sacrifice, and nature for letting me win one this time.

Then I asked for one more. Not to be greedy. It's just that our cottontails are pretty small, and one more would make the 90-minute trip more worthwhile - I would have plenty of meat to work with. I was trying to devise a rabbit taco recipe so I can eat something besides roast duck, brown rice and peanut butter when Hank ditches me this fall for his book tour.

I walked the rest of my path without seeing anything, then headed back to complete the circuit. I had high hopes for the first place I'd seen a rabbit that morning: It was just over a little hill, and there was a good chance I could creep up the hill and spot that rabbit before he spotted me.

I took the hill quietly, careful to avoid snapping twigs because there was no wind to sweep away my noise. As I neared the crest, I bent lower and lower, then lifted my head just enough to survey the thicket.

There! On my left. The rabbit was sitting up, cleaning his ears. Distracted. He was in shade. The sun was on my right, so he'd be blinded if he looked my direction.

I raised my gun, pointed it at him, wobbled a bit. Don't aim, Holly, just SHOOT.


The rabbit bolted, but not well - I knew I'd hit him.

I marked the spot, then walked the long way around the thicket. As I neared the spot, he bolted again, deep into the thicket. I walked in as far as I could before rose thorns started tearing at me, then looked down. I could see him under a web of thorns. His head was starting to sag, like he was falling asleep. Fatal wound. He was dying.

I waited a moment, then pushed away the branches in front of me. Oooh, don't touch that one - poison oak! I found an opening in the thorns, reached down, grabbed him by the ears, pulled him out. Still alive, but just barely. I held him by his hind feet, pinned down his head, yanked hard to break his neck. Done.

"I'm sorry, sweetie," I said, stroking his now-still back. I hoped that the shock of his wound had made his last moments nothing but a confusing blur. I will not pretend that animals don't feel pain to make myself feel better about killing them, but I do believe that a fatal injury is so traumatic that there's no time to feel pain. I hope to be so lucky when my time comes.

So there it was: I'd asked for a second rabbit, and I'd gotten one. I felt lucky. I put him in my vest with the other rabbit and slid another shell in the magazine. I would not be going out of my way to find more rabbits, but if one presented himself, I would be happy to take advantage of the opportunity.

Of course, that didn't happen, but that was fine.

When I got back to my car, I cased my shotgun, removed my vest, put the rabbits in an ice chest to keep them cool for the 45-minute drive home, popped White Zombie into the CD player and hit the road.

I am so lucky to live this life. I know misses are part of it - as inevitable as death and taxes. That just makes the hits so much sweeter. And should the day come that I'm no longer grateful for them, that'll be time for me to bow out.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

Monday, July 18, 2011

So, a bear walked into a restaurant...

It was late Friday night, maybe around midnight. Hank and I were hanging out after hours at a restaurant in Truckee called Stella. We were drinking wine with Chef Jacob Burton and talking about the menu for Saturday's dinner - one of Hank's "Hunt, Gather, Cook" book events.

Then Chef looked up and said, "There's a bear in the kitchen."

He said it so calmly that it didn't register right away. I looked as a matter of courtesy, and

HO. LEE. SHIT! There's a bear in the kitchen!!!

He was about 10 yards from our table, and he looked big. His shoulders were several inches higher than the counter tops, and his head was huge. Just in case you're easily duped, I'll confess now that the photo above is a fake, but the proportions are just about right.

So what does one do in a situation like this?

I addressed him like I talk to my cats when they jump on the kitchen table. "Hey, get outta here!" I growled.

"No!" Chef said. "Let me get a picture!"

Clearly, he was insane, though I must admit I was kicking myself for leaving my camera in the hotel room.

The bear took a swipe at something we couldn't see, then thought better of his decision and backed out.

Chef and I, having no sense whatsoever, walked back toward the door. He was shooting video on his phone, but didn't get the bear in it. I caught just a glimpse through the back door of the bear slipping around a corner in the parking lot. The video ends with the camera pointing to the floor and Chef saying, "Oh no, my starter!"

The bear had taken one whiff of Chef's bucket of sourdough starter and decided it smelled yummy - no need for baking.

Coincidentally, Chef had been telling us how many times his starter had died when he had first joined the restaurant. And there it was, a goopy mess all over the floor.

"Uh, does this happen often?" I asked Chef.

"Nope, first time," he said.

I still can't figure out how the hell he managed to sound so calm.

It was a hell of a way to start the weekend. We told the story over and over for the next 24 hours, and while the denizens of Truckee are totally accustomed to the antics of black bears looking for easy food, our story never failed to elicit surprise.

And there was a happy ending: Mr. Bear didn't get all the starter, so Chef's sourdough - revered by patrons, we'd learn the next day - was safe.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

REI and Whole Foods: Fertile recruiting ground for new hunters, and what to do about it

For a long time, I've been talking about the undocumented - yet obviously growing - interest that foodies are taking in hunting. For the sake of categorization, let's call this the Whole Foods crowd.

But last weekend when I was at the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference at Snowbird in Utah, one of the participants - Mark Taylor from the Roanoke Times - talked about another fertile ground for recruiting hunters: the REI crowd.

Why didn't I think of that? Both the Whole Foods crowd and the REI crowd are already deeply immersed in one facet of hunting: food for the first group, outdoors for the second.

The reason I didn't think of it is that I'm as quick to stereotype as anyone - and in this case, not without good reason.

I've been shopping at REI since I started hunting and found myself in need of a good pair of hiking boots. Last year, I got a lot of Smartwool base layers there, which made for my most comfortable duck hunting season ever. And the year before, I got a replacement mouthpiece for my Camelbak (a water-carrying backpack) after a mouse savaged mine while I was on a hunting trip.

I was surprised to find that the replacements at REI didn't come in black. The store employee told me that blue was the standard color - he didn't even know they came in black. I told him mine was a camo Camelbak that I'd gotten from Cabela's. He informed me that REI had made a deliberate decision NOT to carry items in camouflage.

Hmmmm. Perhaps I was being sensitive, but I perceived that as a slight - REI was targeting a demographic that didn't want to be associated with hunting. It bothered me, but not enough to stop shopping there: At REI, I can try on women's base layers; if I buy from Cabela's, I have to order them online and hope they fit correctly.

Nonetheless, I harbored a negative association with REI shoppers ever since then. When I'm at a wildlife refuge for duck hunting and I see people decked out in REI gear driving up in Volvos, I know (or assume, anyway) that they're in for a hurtin' surprise when they pull up to the check station and see all the camo-clad guys lining up for a chance to kill the birds that these people just want to observe.

But there are plenty of "stereotypical" REI people who hunt. Mark Taylor is one of them: When Hank and I met him, we immediately pegged him as a super-fit outdoorsman - the kind of guy who could do a triathlon at a moment's notice.

And perhaps the most prominent one now is Steven Rinella, who made his TV debut last year on the Travel Channel's Wild Within, a show about hunting. I think I watched every episode of that show and didn't see him in camo even once. He looked like an REI model.

(Incidentally, Hank told Rinella he should come duck hunting with us sometime; I told Hank that we'd have to break Rinella and force him to wear camo if he took Hank up on it.)

So, back to that Venn diagram of intersecting communities at the top of this post: What do the Whole Foods and REI crowds have in common? I'm going to take a guess (because I don't have actual data) that these stores cater to an urban clientele because frankly, most ordinary rural folks don't make enough money to shop regularly at either store. (Whole Foods is also known as "Whole Paycheck.")

Why does this matter?

Because the leading cause of the declining number of hunters is widely believed to be not PETA's absurd publicity stunts, but urbanization.

I know from experience that it's harder to hunt when you are an urbanite. You can't walk outside with a gun and get dinner (unless you're a cannibal). Hell, half the time you have to drive quite a ways just to do target practice, and when you get there, you've got to fork over ducats to do it - you can't just throw clays with a hand thrower in your back yard.

If you'd like a little more scholarly take on the effects of urbanization, check out the 2008 report Responsive Management did for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, The Future of Hunting and the Shooting Sports, and head to page 199.

That report also notes that it'd be a good idea to "consider packaging and advertising hunting and shooting opportunities as part of a comprehensive, overall outdoor experience" to the outdoorsy (read: REI) crowd. But it doesn't address the potential shared interests of the foodies.

I think that's a huge oversight, because we have excellent examples of hunters who are deeply immersed in the food world. Obviously, one of them is my boyfriend Hank, who runs the blog Hunter Angler Gardener Cook and just released the book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast.

I've been spending a lot of time with him on his book tour this summer, and while he is definitely the star of the Hank and Holly Show these days, I have found no shortage of foodies who have wanted to engage in deep conversations with me about why I love hunting so much. Foodies want the best quality food - the most flavor and the least cruelty - and they know hunting is an excellent way to get it.

There's also Jackson Landers, who focuses on helping people learn to hunt for their food. He's got a book coming out in September, The Beginners Guide to Hunting Deer for Food. (Jack, not coincidentally, was on the same panel as Hank at the outdoor writers' conference where Mark Taylor brought up the REI crowd.)

And let's not forget the Bull Moose Hunting Society which caters to an urban adult audience that is interested in hunting for its food. Bull Moose started in San Francisco (and good Lord, you should've seen the insane comment thread - now gone - on the SF Chronicle's website when it published a story about Bull Moose).

So what's my point here? There are two:

One: Urbanization may have sapped hunters' numbers, but we have a tremendous opportunity here to draw urban people back in to hunting. Many of them have the money; all we have to do is invite them in and show them the way.

Two: While hunting organizations and state fish and game agencies have been absolutely wonderful about recruiting women and children into hunting with special training and hunting opportunities, we are overlooking a critical need for such programs for adult men.

Hank brought this up at the outdoor writers' conference, and long before then, our friend Darren - an adult who took up hunting a couple years ago - bemoaned the lack of supports for people like him.

I know why women need special programs: We can be easily intimidated in the presence of men because we assume - not always correctly - that they know more about guns and other weapons than we do.

The reality is that men who didn't grow up around guns or hunting may feel the same awkwardness, and just as importantly, they, too, lack natural mentors.

The Responsive Management report, while it isn't addressing this issue from the same direction I am, does offer one particularly relevant piece of advice for catering to this crowd: "Ensure that programs are non-partisan, which makes them more inclusive. ... Avoid political or value-laden commentary within programs. Programs with partisan content risk alienating potential participants."

Yes, folks, "urban" often equals "liberal," and there is no greater turn-off than implying people need to change their political beliefs to join our club. While I have seen a marked shift against gun control among liberals who've started hunting, that usually comes after they fall in love with hunting and buy a gun.

So that's my food for thought for the day. Whether you're a hunting writer, a fish and game agency or a wildlife organization employee or volunteer, or just someone who's willing to be a mentor, consider reaching out to the Whole Foods and REI crowds. Trust me, they're interested - all they need is a guide.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Cabela's bride, revisited: We have a winner!

OK, OK, I know I should've done this post on Tuesday. But quite honestly, I've been putting off making the hard decision: Who had the best story to explain why I saw a woman in a wedding dress last week at Cabela's in Verdi, Nevada?

I narrowed it down to four finalists. The first two are excellent one-liners:

Brandon Darnell: When her caterer canceled at the last minute, one bride decided she'd do whatever it took to ensure her guests had good meat for the reception.

Shotgun Kat: They were at Cabela's because there's no Bass Pro in town.

One was a brilliant piece of product placement by Shewee woman:

She was obviously on her way to the wedding but her nerves got the best of her and she realized that she was not going to make it without taking a wee. Being a outdoors woman she was prepared and had her Shewee with her, but knew that she would draw attention and possibly cause an accident if she stood up in her white dress and relieved herself along the road. She also knew that Cabelas was close so she darted in there to use the restroom. While in there though she couldn't help but to be drawn to the used gun racks where she drooled over the old smooth bores. Fondling them she questioned why in the world she was getting married and would he ever understand her love of firearms.

The minutes passed and her brother who was driving her, realizing her passion, decided it was time to go into the store and retrieve her before she was late for her own wedding. And, he knew just where to find her.

And the fourth was an incredibly macabre story written by Ingrid in screenplay format:

A BRIDE in silk organza Oscar de la Renta wedding gown lies on her side in the dusty scrub. Next to her, the GROOM, in full-dress tails lies face down, jacket torn and blood splattered across his back. The Bride rouses from her stupor, spits dirt from her lips -- still stained crimson from her wedding makeup. In her hand: Sig Sauer P228.

A huge hairy hand yanks her by the arm and drags her like a carcass across the sage brush. Her dress gets pummeled in the dirt.

You're in a crapload of trouble, Missy.

Bride can't articulate. Her limbs are lead, her mouth doesn't work. It's obvious she's been drugged. Hairy Hands drags her to his F150. A BRUISER of a guy leaps out of the passenger door. Together, they lift her into the back of the F150, wipe down her dress, and cover her with a tarp.


The F150 careens into the lot and parks in a remote spot. Harry Hands runs into Cabela's, while Bruiser cracks a PBR in the cab.


Bruiser is sound asleep in the hot cab with the last of his beer trickling out of the PBR can. The Bride, now clear of the tarp, feeling just remnants of her Roofie, clamors over the back of the F150, stumbling into the parking lot.


Bride, in a daze, tries to get help. She grabs onto a Ghillie Suit display, taking it down with her woozy weight. She's still coming off the drugs, doesn't realize her dress is tainted just slightly with dirt and blood. Hairy Hands forks over some cash at the nearby counter and sees Bride wandering into the optics section. Holy crap. He drops the cash, no change, grabs his bag and runs over to her. A manager and a few customers approach her, ready to help.

Melinda, sweetheart, holy hell, what happened to you? Honey, we've got to get you to a hospital.

(to an employee)
Frank, call an ambulance!

I'm not ... Melinda. Ambulance, yes please.

Listen, my truck is right out there. I can beat the EMTs to Verdi General.

No, I . . .

(sotto, for her ears only)
Listen, bee-atch, you've got the marks of your bad deed all over you. I don't think you want any extra attention right now.

He shuffles her to the door.

I loved all four of these stories, but I can't afford four prizes, so the winner is.....


I cannot resist a story so dark that it seems to be a cinematic marriage of Quentin Tarantino and the Coen brothers. And then there's my perverse joy in awarding Ingrid her prize: An autographed copy of Hank's new book, "Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast."

(For those who don't know, Ingrid is a somewhat masochistic vegan who patiently engages in dialogue with me and all the other hunters who hang out here.)

OK, I'm really not being a sadist. I like Ingrid, and think highly of her for putting up with my rhetoric. And besides, there are some vegan recipes in the book, and others where I'm guessing Ingrid might be able to sub in a vegan ingredient for the butter or cheese.

So Ingrid, if you email me your address, I'll get this in the mail to you.

But, wait, I'm not done. I loved the other contributions so much that I'm going to hold a People's Choice runoff vote. You can vote using the poll feature at the very bottom of this page - scroll all the way down - and you have until 5 p.m. Pacific time Sunday to vote.

Enjoy the race!

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

Monday, July 11, 2011

And now, something for MEN: Reel Recovery

It's amazing how quickly my hackles go up whenever I hear about anything outdoors-oriented that's just for men. I immediately wonder: Haven't we gotten past that?

It took about 90 seconds Saturday morning for me to go from that thought to remorse to tears as I watched a video about Reel Recovery during lunch at the Outdoor Writers Association of America conference at the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort in Utah.

Reel Recovery is a program for men in treatment for, or recovery from, cancer. It offers retreats for small groups of men, combining fly fishing lessons and what the organization calls "courageous conversations" about cancer and life.

Why do men need something like this? It's pretty simple: Our culture demands of men a huge amount of stoicism in the face of adversity. It takes a really safe environment to relieve men of their sense of duty to suck it up.

I felt terrible about my first reaction. Reel Recovery isn't an archaic no-women-allowed club; it meets a real need. As do all the women-only shooting and hunting events I support. Damn, I hate it when I'm a hypocrite.

But I stand corrected on this one, and I'd like to encourage readers to help spread the word about this program. Know anyone who'd be a great candidate for one of these retreats? Click here for a list of upcoming events. Wanna volunteer? Click here. Can't volunteer, but you'd like to contribute? Click here to make a donation.

I've reached that age where I've known plenty of people - men and women - who've fought cancer, and anything that helps those folks is all right in my book.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

Serendipity, Cabela's and the mystery of the woman in the wedding dress

Hank and I were on the road in Nevada yesterday when his phone rang. It was a reporter who wanted to interview him about lamb.

Hank was more than happy to talk, but to avoid the pesky distraction of driving, he decided to pull off the freeway. And where did he pull off? Boomtown Road, in Verdi.

The Cabela's exit!

Hank sat for a bit in a Chevron parking lot with the truck idling. I fidgeted for a few seconds, then determined that the interview would not be brief, so I would have to take action. I grabbed my purse, got Hank's attention, pointed at Cabela's and bailed before he could object.


I wasn't planning to go "shopping"; I knew what I wanted, and I was going to be in and out in a heartbeat. I've been using a binocular harness for my camera on road trips with Hank, and I'd accidentally left it at home, so this was my opportunity to rectify that problem.

Once in the store, I asked directions and made a bee line to the optics department, and that's when I saw the weirdest damn thing I've ever seen in a hook-and-bullet store: a woman in a wedding dress, walking quickly toward the exit with a guy who was not in a tuxedo.

What the hell was that all about?

Option 1: Shotgun wedding. Boy meets girl. Boy knocks up girl. Girl's father insists they marry, so the couple heads to Reno. Girl dresses up, because her wedding is a moment she's always dreamed about. Boy doesn't dress up. Girl sees a lifetime of disappointment unfurling before her very eyes.

"The hell with it," she tells him. "The least you can do is buy me a shotgun so I can enjoy dove season before the baby is born."

Her new husband doesn't know a dove from a marmot, but realizing the need for peace in the marriage, he acquiesces.

And why not? In Nevada, you can get married without a waiting period, and you can buy guns without a waiting period - all in the same day!

Option 2: Speak now or forever hold your peace. Bride and groom are at the altar of the cheesy Reno wedding chapel. Just a few of their friends are in attendance. The rent-a-preacher reaches that fateful point in the ceremony: "If anyone objects to this marriage, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."

The bride's childhood buddy stands. This was the kid she used to ride bikes with, shoot cap guns with, build forts with. Once they were old enough, their parents sent them out into the woods with a single-shot .410 to hunt squirrels. He was the perfect pal. And he objected to this marriage.

The bride looks at her groom - handsome, smart and successful. A software engineer who had already bought a nice house in Silicon Valley. A busy man who was already married to his job, so he didn't spend much time in that house.

Then she looks at her childhood buddy - flannel shirt half un-tucked, hair disheveled, two days' growth covering his face. He lived in a trailer in Truckee, across the state line. He worked only enough to pay his meager rent and buy milk, beer and ammunition.

She admired that.

The bride apologized to the groom and ran out of the chapel with her buddy. Outside, they locked in a long embrace, kissed passionately and stared into each other's eyes.

"Let's celebrate by going to Cabela's," he told her.

She smiled. "Let's go!"

Option 3: ... No, why don't you guys write this one? Give it your best shot, leave it in a comment below, and the most ridiculous, outrageous or hilarious story posted by 11:59 p.m. Pacific time Monday (July 11) wins an autographed copy of Hank's book, Hunt, Gather, Cook: Finding the Forgotten Feast.

My only direction is to keep it relatively short and PG. And do me a favor: If I don't know you personally, either leave your email address in the comment, or email me here with the email address where I can contact you if you're the winner.

Have fun!

© Holly A. Heyser 2011

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My hunting: Jilted for a summer fling with photography

This has been an odd summer: I haven't gone hunting even once since turkey season, despite the perpetual open season on pigs, pigeons and jack rabbits.

Instead, I'm traveling around with Hank on his "Hunt, Gather, Cook" book tour.

It's a pretty unusual tour: Rather than sitting around doing a lot of old-fashioned readings at book stores, Hank has organized a series of dinners at restaurants all over the country - meals prepared by like-minded chefs, with wild-food menus inspired by Hank's book. The latest was with Chef (and duck-hunting buddy) Sheamus Feeley - shown here with Hank - at Farmstead in Napa.

We would, of course, be happy to go hunting as part of this tour, but it's summer, so most of the side activities have involved foraging. The hunting will start this fall. When I'm teaching, and not able to join Hank - wah!

But I've taken advantage of our unusual summer by using it as an opportunity to work on my photography, and in the process, document all of Hank's book tour adventures. It's been a great stretch for my brain, forcing me to grapple with the challenges of action photography and difficult lighting, breaking out of my easy and highly controlled routine of photographing plates of food for Hank's blog.

To check out the food and people at the restaurant events, click here. There's a separate photo set for each restaurant, and there's an option for viewing each set as a slideshow, which is how I prefer to view the photos. (There are controls for the slideshow in the upper right-hand corner - if the photos look blurry, just uncheck the "embiggen" option.)

Then there's the nature photography. Hank and I went out foraging Friday with Dan Klein and Mirra Fine of Perennial Plate, and I went a little wild with the macro lens:

My favorite photos are the ones of the ants, particularly the one that got all weird and arty for reasons I can't quite comprehend. You can click on the images below to see them full-sized.

Of course, I'm still hoping to go hunting this summer. I haven't gotten a pig in several years now, and it's about time.

But in all honesty, I'm enjoying the change of pace. Sometimes it's good just to roll with what life hands you.

© Holly A. Heyser 2011