Monday, March 26, 2012

Swan song ...

... and you know it's not going to be a little ditty about swan hunting. I wish! Nope, it is what you think it is: I'm done.

I'd hoped to make it to 500 posts, but this one makes 472. I'd hoped to make it to five years, but this makes it four years, 142 days. I guess I can live without that pretty symmetry, even though my Dutch Virgo heart lusts for it. I've learned to accept such imperfections in life.

Writing this blog has affected my life profoundly, and I say that without so much as a shred of exaggeration. First and foremost, the conversations I have had with readers here have driven me to think deeply about hunting and debate it passionately. Friends and enemies of hunting alike have challenged me to be fearlessly honest about what I do and why I do it. So I lay it all out there, all the time, to the point where my mother says things to me like, "You're so naked." Yep.

This blog has also helped me connect with like-thinkers all over the English-speaking world. When I look at the circle of close friends and hunting buddies who surround me now, easily two-thirds of them initially connected with me because of this blog. There is an even wider circle of people I've emailed regularly - people I may never meet, but should I ever find myself in their neck of the woods, I know I've got a place to stay and someone to hunt with.

And on a very personal level, this blog helped revive the joy of writing, something that, for me, had been eroding steadily since I began working for newspapers in 1988. I loved all of my jobs, and I loved the beats I covered, but the mandate for "objectivity" - the requirement that I strip any personal passions from what I wrote - was a literary prophylactic - safe, but no fun.

So why stop blogging? A lot of reasons. I started to tear up as I began writing this post, wondering if I might be doing the wrong thing, but as I went over the list of reasons one more time, I knew I'd made the right choice.

The most obvious reason has been staring at me for the past two weeks, which is how long it had been since I blogged. I was on Spring Break last week and I still didn't blog, because I just didn't have anything to say. Oh, I'm sure there will be more funny tales from the marsh, and more political kerfuffles to get indignant about. And, hey, the mourning doves are back in my front yard, many of them sporting bands I'm sure I put on them last year or the year before that. Whoa. Stop the presses.

It's just gotten harder and harder to break new ground on a regular basis. Wanna be provocative? Let's see, sluicing birds? Did that one already. "Sport" is a dumb term for hunting? Did that, too. Castigating idiots on hunting TV? Done ad nauseum (though frankly, I think the producers still need to hear it on a regular basis).

Let's see, how about my philosophy of life on earth? Human civilization? Still disastrous and unsustainable. Animals? Still my kin, even the ones I eat. Would I still go feral if it were even remotely possible? Yes, but only if Hank goes feral with me. You wouldn't expect me to give up Hank's cooking, would you?

So that's the big thing.

In more practical terms, maintaining a blog takes an enormous amount of time, and quite honestly, I can't afford to pour the majority of my creative energy into a blog that pays me in one year substantially less than what I make in one week at my day job, or in two solid freelance assignments.

I would like to do more freelance writing. Hell, I'd like to write a book, though I use the term "like" loosely, because the truth is that writing a book scares the shit out of me. But as long as I keep saying everything I have to say in this blog, I will never get around to starting a book. I am, as the old saying goes, giving away the milk, both financially and creatively.

So am I done, done, like really done? I'm old enough to know better than to say "never." The door will remain open. This blog will remain right where it is, and if I conclude this was a dumb decision - what was I drinking that day??? - you know me: I'll be back with a blog post that starts with the confession: I was wrong. And if you're one of the people who subscribes to my email feed, you'll get that early-morning email telling you I've posted.

But what I really hope is that you'll find me stretching my wings elsewhere. I'll still be writing my monthly "Butt, Belly, Beak, Bang" column for Shotgun Life. And who knows - maybe there are other magazines that can make room for a hunting writer who's not afraid to use condom metaphors, or to describe a moment on a turkey hunt as being "like getting a chance to fix your wedgie when no one's looking." (I never got to say stuff like that at newspapers, either.)

Or maybe I'll just go feral.

Just in case I do check out, I need to thank some people right now. One of my first commenters - just three days after I wrote my first blog post ever - was Marian from Marian's Hunting Stories. And you know what? She still comments. God bless you, Marian.

My next commenter who left a calling card? Suburban Bushwhacker - also still super active in the hunting blogger community. Next one: Rex from the Deer Camp Blog - still alive and kicking. Not long after that,  Phillip of the Hog Blog made his first appearance. To this day, I consider Phillip a close friend and a good hunting buddy, even though he just moved a gazillion miles away to Texas.

A blogger doesn't exist if nobody reads and comments on her work, so you four were huge for me. It was because of you and your positive feedback that I realized I had something to say, and developed the courage to say it.

So, that's it. That's all I've got. I've enjoyed this like you wouldn't believe. But now it's time to move on.

© Holly A. Heyser 2012


The Suburban Bushwacker said...

I am going to miss you SFM. really, sorry we've never gotten to meet up for a hunt or that long over due dinner party. One day.

Keep Well

Deus Ex Machina said...

My your feet always find the path of joy and abundance.

Bo Curtis said...

Have so much enjoyed your writing and opinions (& responses)and further on being introduced to Boyfriend's recipes. My next trip back to visit family in California HAS to be during hunting season and I'd like to be scratching at your door saying "Take me, take me!". Until then, our duck season is underway and quail starts next week. Should you ever get down here,you both can come scratching at my place. Best of luck and thanks again.Cheers.

Blessed said...

Many successes wished to you as you move on from this space to see what else will open up for you in the future. I've enjoyed reading your blog over these past few years, and meeting you last year was a real treat!
Oh... and thanks for introducing me to Hank's cooking too! His recipes have been an inspiration in my kitchen!

Tovar@AMindfulCarnivore said...

I'll miss hearing your voice here, Holly, as will many others. But I completely understand where you're coming from in this decision.

THANK YOU again for all you've shared here and also for your help in getting my blog noticed over the past couple years, starting way back in its first weeks.

I hope we get to meet in person one of these days.

Barbara Baird said...

Aw, Holly ... I'll miss you, too. But, I am enthused to read that you might write a book and that I'll see other creative outlets coming from California and your wonderful mind.

Chad Love said...

Sorry to see you go, Holly, but as a freelancer, I understand completely where you're coming from. It doesn't make much sense to publish something on your blog if you think it has a chance to get published in a paying market.

I enjoy the personal blogging, I really do, but I have no choice but to sink the majority of my creative energies into what pays the bills. And it sounds like you're about to the same point.

I think it's a point where a lot of working journalists who blog on the side eventually find themselves, namely "what's the point of this blog? Why, ultimately, am I doing this and what benefit is it giving me other than personal satisfaction?"

I've been there with my blog, and mine's not even what I consider a real one, just a random collection of stuff I keep apart from the day job material.

I've also thought about ending the personal blog, probably moreso lately as I contemplate other projects I'd like to try, but it's kind of like an old friend now, don't know if I'd have the heart to kill it completely.

But then again, my blog never had a point or purpose in the first place. Yours obviously did, and it may be that the point has been made or the purpose fullfilled.

Anonymous said...


Sorry to hear this is the end of the ride. I'll miss your posts.

You have a unique voice in the outdoor community, writing with skill, insight and humility. Congratulations on all of the new opportunities and experiences that have opened up for you as a result of this blog. You've earned it.

I suspect our paths will cross at some point around Northern California. Until then, I wish you the best of luck with all your continuing adventures.

Neil H

Mike Dwyer said...

This is going to be sad for me. I have really enjoyed reading your blog. Hank and I have discussed him coming out to KY to squirrel hunt and I told him you are also more than welcome any time.

I've gotten burned out on blogging from time to time. It's a little easier for me to get re-focused because I write about a LOT of different things. But the nice thing is that most people use RSS readers these days so if you go silent for even a year the reader will let us know if you come back even once in a while. That takes a lot of the pressure off to post frequently to drive traffic.

Good luck Holly.

NASA Bill said...

It sounds like you really do need a break Holly. Glad to read the reference to the Mourning Dove in your yard. Hopefully you will continue with that effort and maybe this will give you a little more time for fun stuff... you sure deserve it! It's not that long till dove banding time again and then there's Sept. 1 before we know it... and Kings Canyon is opening soon too!
Thanks for all that you've done... I'm sure that we'll keep in touch and I wouldn't be too surprised if you drop us a blog note now and then... to let us know what you're doing. Bill

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I'm torn between saying "Oh no!" and "Brava!" I will miss you, in a big way. But I admire the courage to say "I'm done here" and move on to other, newer, more remunerative efforts.

Besides, I know Hank's Massachusetts ties will ensure that you will some day be in my neck of the woods and we will go hunt or fish, so I'm smugly confident that I haven't heard the last of you.

I've loved this blog, both for what you say and for what your commenters add. I know I'm not the only one who's very glad you undertook it.

dpsychs said...

I only just began reading this blog, and am at the very beginning of my hunting journey, so I'm sorry to hear that you're done. Having said that, I realize that I have about 465 posts to catch up on, so I won't begin to miss you right away. ;) And clearly you have places to move on to, so good for you. And good for us (ALL of us) that you've taken the time to create this blog, which will continue to serve as a light shining on topics that many of us need continual reflection upon.

Best of luck to you!

The Hunter's Wife said...


I've always said this is one of the better outdoor blogs. From this non-hunting female, you've actually taught me a lot about hunting through your words and most of us will follow you elsewhere if not here.

Wishing you all the best,

kmurray said...

Well Holly I will certainly miss your blog as it was one of my first I started reading when I became a blogger and after I quit, it was one of the few kept up with. But being on the other side of the blogging fence now, life will go on splendidly as it did before. In fact, if your luck is anything like mine (which I hope with all my heart it is) prepare yourself for the best hunting season of your life to come up now :-)

I would also like to thank you once again for all the help and encouragement you've given me, especially writing that story about my friend and his brother. I could not have done that without you!

Best wishes to you in all you do Holly!
Happy Hunting and if you ever end up around here, you can bet your ass it'd be my pleasure to get you lost in the woods ;-P

Take care,

Frankie L said...

Aw! This makes me sad. While you're not really going anywhere, I will miss reading your blog. Thanks Holly for being a great mentor and thanks for showing Noelia and me the ropes. I count meeting you and Hank as one of my great Bay Area transplant moments of 2011.

Phillip said...

Well that's a bummer, Holly. Can't say it's a total surprise, based on the dearth of posts of late, but that doesn't make it less of a bummer. Yours is a good and necessary voice, and I hope you'll keep it loud and proud through the other channels you're pursuing. And I'll review your book... but it better be good.

As far as giving the writing away for free... I kept thinking I wanted to ease back into freelancing, but I realize that it's just not something I want bad enough to work for. I have a job where I write extremely precise, technical crap all day, every day. The blog is like cooking... I'm OK at it, and really enjoy it, but if I had to do it in a way that satisfied mass consumption, I'm not sure I'd enjoy it nearly as much as I do now.

Your blog will be missed, but the truth is that you could come back at any time, should the urge strike, and you'll find most of us just as willing and eager to tune in again as if you never left.

By the way, I'm not completely gone from CA yet, and I have a lifetime license. I plan to get in at least a couple more hunts this year before I leave the state, and I fully intend to make the occasional hunting foray back into the Golden State.

And as far as Texas, it's a few hours away on Southwest, with one of the best taxi drivers you'll ever meet waiting to pick you up at SAT and whisk you into the Hill Country. You and Hank are ALWAYS welcome here, and Hank doesn't even have to feed us (unless he feels like it, which would, of course, be awesome).

Anonymous said...


It's somewhat sad to think that we will miss the regularity of your frequent blogs.

And I've marvelled at your blogging and what, maintaining a certain schedule, must be like?

I've really enjoyed catching a glimpse of hunting through your eyes.

It's been interesting reading the various thoughts and perspectives a new hunter has, starting as an adult, and then see them mature into a more experienced huntress. Few people have the skill and take the time to put this into words and share it as you have.

That's so much different than to grow up with this as a more commonly accepted way of life once in the same area where you live.

To me it was always "what we do" and I didn't have to face the perceived moral issues of hunting that exist in our society today.

While this is the announced "end" of your scheduled blogs, somehow I don't think we've heard the last of Norcal Cazadora.

My advice would be to step back, take a deep breath, take some time off and enjoy some quality hunting, fishing, cooking and writing, then come back whenever the urge arises.

Bill C.-Orygun

jryoung said...

Holly, I can't remember the point in which I discovered your blog, but I have thouroughly enjoyed your insight, humor, humility, and candor over the past couple of years.

I will surely miss you calling out the hipocracy of those that are against hunting and the abusrdity of the many that supposidly represent us. You tell it like it is with great honesty.

I hope to again cross paths with you and Hank soon, morel season is coming up, summer porcinis and I'm slowly trying to be able to bring a +1 or +2 to a ranch I have access to.

Thanks for the stories, the thoughts provoked, and the continued desire to hunt. Though my desire didn't really need any support I feel like Nigel now and that it "goes to 11".


Al Cambronne said...

Holly --

Sorry to hear the news. I've really enjoyed your blog over the past couple years since I discovered it.

I've noticed that you've been posting less frequently lately, and maybe it's time. Sounds it's the right choice for you. But your humor and your unique perspectives will definitely be missed.

Kevin Paulson said...


You will be missed!!! You gave a tremendous voice to your passions and you have laid it all on the line. I have appreciated reading your blog for quite some time and I know I have walked away from dozens of your posts with thoughts provoked in my head. Thank you for sharing.

If your ever in Nebraska, hit me up, we have some great hunting out here and it would be my pleasure to share a field with you and Hank.

Kevin Paulson

Kathleen Bauer said...

Bravely and well said, my dear. You gotta do what you gotta do, and I'm sure we'll be seeing your name again…you're just too dang good a writer. Even if you go feral, I would expect to see words scrawled in knife-strokes on the bark of the trees. Please keep in touch, and think again about writing that book…so many women would appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

I have wondered if this was in the works for a while. Don't ask me why I think that, because I don't really know. I'll just say it seems to be something to do with "posting energy".
I will miss you as one of my favorite blogs to read.
I hope that what you undertake after this brings you the success and satisfaction and more than a little joy.


ian said...

Thanks for all the great posts Holly. I've really enjoyed reading them. Good luck with the next chapters!

Editor said...

What???? We need you here. There are a lot of stories to tell and things to share. Who else is going to save Phillips life when he is about to be eaten by a wild hog? who is going to change Californians to understanding hunting? Who looks really, really good in camo face-paint?
I have not been checking in often like a good friend does, but I knew you were out there writing and talking about hunting and other parts of your life. If you leave I will miss you. you have made a difference in all who have read your words over the years.
Please come visit me at the Christmas Place, you will be most welcome. Rex

Marian Ann Love said...

I'm so sorry to see you're leaving your blog Holly and it brought tears to my eyes because I really care about you, your hunting skills and your blog. I have watched you grow and grow. I'm so proud of what you have accomplished and will miss you terribly and please stay in touch with me on Facebook. I'll be looking for the book you are going to write and will treasure it. The best of luck to you my dear hunting friend! With love and hugs, Marian

Rabid Outdoorsman said...

Nooooooo! Sad, Sad day in the outdoor writing blogsphere. :(

Ian Nance said...

Hate to see you go. But good luck in whatever you choose to do next!!!

Albert Quackenbush said...

Holly, it has been a pleasure reading your blog. I am sad to hear of your choice, but I have to say that I understand. Keeping fresh content coming is a challenge, but finding the time to do it is even more challenging. I know first hand.

Best wishes in your future endeavors!

The SoCal Bowhunter

Chas S. Clifton said...

Sorry to hear this, Holly. If the blog fulfilled its mission, well then that is one thing.

But blogging is also about the stuff that will never make it into freelance articles, all the weirdness.

So if you decide that you want to write that, I will be reading.

hodgeman said...

Oh Poo...

I'll sadly miss your writing tremendously but I understand where you're coming from.

Wishing you the best in future endeavors.

Jessica said...

You'll be missed! The entire outdoor Web universe is crying out with anguish. :) Seriously, I've seen posts about this retirement at least two other places.

Please post a link if you start any other blog endeavors!

Anonymous said...

I started hunting at about the same time that you did. A friend of mine gave me a few duck breasts and after the first bite I decided I needed to figure out how to get my own. However, the friend wasn’t around to teach me how, so my path to becoming a hunter was a solitary one. Reading your blog meant I had a hunting buddy even though she wasn’t physically there and I truly appreciate that. Thank you. Your blog also helped me be a more successful hunter and informed my own hunting ethics. Turns out, I live in a great place for duck hunting. We have everything from wood ducks and pintails to cans and blue bills and there aren’t many hunters. Thank you so much. I look forward to seeing your work (and hopefully buying your book) in the future.

Anonymous said...

I have really enjoyed reading your thoughts over the past few years. They have been provoking and insightful and have contributed to what I believe is a productive discourse among readers and other bloggers.

Thank you for the enormous, and sustained, time and effort that you have put into this project. You are an excellent ambassador for hunters and I hope that you are able to continue to contribute in other, less time-consuming ways.

Holly Heyser said...

Thank you, all of you, for your kind comments and wishes. It's nice to go out with that kind of support and appreciation.

Some people have emailed me asking if I'm OK, wondering if there's another reason I'm bailing on the blog, so in case anyone else is wondering, I'll say it here: Nothing's wrong. In fact, the way I felt yesterday - 100 pounds lighter - tells me I did the right thing.

In the interest of avoiding mental laziness, I contacted several editors yesterday and already have some freelance pieces in the works, and all are exactly the same kind of thing I've done here at the blog - promoting women's hunting events, tackling Big Thoughts about hunting and taking on a controversial political issue.

For people who are really interested in keeping up with my writing, I may add a feature here - probably in a sidebar - that links to other work, or tells you where you can find it in print. That may take some tweaking, but I'll come up with something.

See y'all around!

Bpaul said...

I'll miss this blog. You are an excellent voice in this field, truly.

I'll be in touch through your Beau.


Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to read this on the first day I've found your blog. I do hope you continue to keep us updated on your future adventures, yours is a voice that needs to be heard especially in California.

Holly Heyser said...

Ask and you shall receive: Click here to see where I'll keep folks up on my freelance work. (There's an old piece there now as a placeholder).

Dave said...

Thanks so much for your contributions -- I got into hunting late in life, kind of backwards, starting with shooting sports and defensive pistol shooting and kind of slipping into hunting from there.

My first hunting experiences were less than ideal, and I wasn't sure it was for me. But around the same time I subscribed to this blog, and I saw all that hunting _could be_ and _was_ for some people. And I realized that I had the opportunity to try and take my hunting in _that_ direction, instead of another.

You pointed me to some great hunting writing. You gave me the vocabulary to talk about some of the concepts I was struggling with.

You are most definitely making the right choice. I hope you find a way to get paid and still give away a little milk on the side. But if not, I'm glad you'll be letting us all know where to find your words.

Thanks again, and best of luck out there.

Holly Heyser said...

Wow, I'm flattered, and glad. I know hunting isn't for everyone, but I'm glad you gave it a chance and made it what you wanted it to be.

alan said...

May the wind stay in your face and the game be plentiful.
I enjoyed your posts and your steadfast viewpoint. The ability to express your passion for a sometimes confusing, but extremely fulfilling sport.
Fun to watch your photos grow in Hanks site as well. Keep up the good work and have fun.


Anonymous said...

I'm really going to miss knowing I can come here to find out what's up with hunting world at large from your unique and incredibly entertaining perspective Holly. I am excited though to see what happens next though and definitely on your side all the way.
Lots of love,

oldfatslow said...

Sorry to see you go.
I have consistently
enjoyed your blog.
See you in the
marsh someday.


Albert A Rasch said...

We are never gone...

Only on hiatus.

Your friend!

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