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Preview: NorCal Cazadora

NorCal Cazadora

Hunting stories, gear reviews and commentary

Updated: 2017-11-26T04:07:13.998-08:00


Here's how to stay in touch


For the readers who've expressed interest in following my freelance work now that I've stopped posting to this blog, click here. If you want email notification when I post new material there, be sure to click on the "subscribe" link under "About this website" in the upper right-hand corner of the new website. Thanks for your interest!(image)

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 (image)

Duck Dynasty: The mainstreaming of duck hunting, or just another hillbilly show? Or both?


Hmmmmmmmm ... so much to say on this topic. Let's start with the word in my headline that is most likely to be interpreted as a pejorative: "hillbilly." I assure you it is not, at least not on my part. Having spent five years in the South, I cringe when I hear any region of the South and its people being mocked, and it happens with some frequency. But I used this word for a reason, which I (image)

How a dead mountain lion roars


Dan Richards One of the things they teach you in hunter education here in California is that it’s wise to avoid parading your dead animals around in ways that offend and upset non-hunters. Put the dead deer in the bed of your pickup, the instructors say; don’t strap it to the hood and drive it around town to show off. There is, however, a huge exception that is unwritten, but generally (image)

Book review: 'The Mindful Carnivore: A Vegetarian's Hunt for Sustenance'


I know a lot of what Tovar Cerulli has dubbed "adult-onset hunters." Northern California is full of people who are looking to divest themselves of everything that is wrong with the industrial food complex, and while some go vegetarian and others go local, there's a third group that's turning to hunting. That said, I don't think any of our stories holds a candle to Tovar's tale, which we've been (image)

Scenes from the Marsh: Ladies, you're gonna love this


Me, with short hair in 2010 It was the second-to-last day of duck season, and I was done. I'd been hunting all day long, I was exhausted, and my friend Alison and I had just finished the quarter-mile slog through the marsh to get back to the parking lot, working up a fresh sweat in our already-damp waders. I pulled my decoy boat up the ramp and grabbed two items that I'd take to my car (image)

Scenes from the Marsh: The Shot


If you follow this blog, or my Twitter feed or any other medium I use to communicate, you know I shot like absolute crap for most of this duck season. My confidence in shreds, there were days I left the marsh early because I just couldn't take the epic suckage, and days I stayed to the end, only to be rewarded with more bad shooting right up until sunset. But for the last two weekends of the (image)

Guns, ammo and Google - an op-ed in the Mercury News


I don't make a habit of blogging about everything I get published in newspapers and magazines, but I thought this one would be of special interest to hunters and hunting bloggers/website operators. It's an uphill battle convincing folks that there are legitimate uses for guns and ammo, but it's one very much worth fighting. If you'd like to comment, I hope you'll comment on the Merc's site. I(image)

How to choose a shotgun for hunting


Me and Sarah Connor in 2010 One of the hard things about taking up hunting with with few role models in your life is that you have to make a really important purchasing decision  - buying your gun - with almost no frame of reference. Now, I love my shotgun, a Beretta 3901 I call Sarah Connor. When I am on, I can make some pretty badass shots - one will be the subject of my next Scene from the(image)

Scenes from the Marsh: Oopsiecoot


My marsh withdrawals continue, and I keep clinging to memories, knowing the next duck season is now nine months away. And the Oopsiecoot is a good one. It's appropriate that my last Scene from the Marsh was about Charlie's awesome sniper - er - ghillie suit. We've been having a little debate in the comments on that post about the effectiveness of ghillies, and the Oopsiecoot is Exhibit No. 1 (image)

Scenes from the Marsh: Charlie's ghillie


Duck season ended here yesterday, and I find myself alternately relieved that I won't be getting up at 3 a.m. several days a week anymore, and sad that I've had to say good-bye to the marsh for the next nine months. What makes me feel better is replaying some of my favorite scenes from the marsh this season, and one of them was this: My buddy Charlie Last season, Hank wore a ghillie jacket (image)

Duck hunting: 'Cheap, fast or good - pick two'


"Cheap, fast or good - pick two." This was a pearl of wisdom one of my students shared with me last semester. He was a photographer with way more professional experience than I have, coming back to school to finish his degree, and we were discussing how to price photo shoots. I have a whole book on pricing photography that didn't say as much as that little six-word phrase. I'm truly blessed to (image)

How to act like a major ass when hunting public land


The public land where I hunt ducks is incredibly crowded, but for the most part, hunters there get along just fine. Every once in a while, though, you get a hunter who thrives on being a major jerk. And if you're lucky like I was last week, you get to watch karma slap him around a bit. I was hunting surrounded by friends last Wednesday. Hank and Charlie were in my tule patch. Our friend Don (image)

A raging case of TMI in a dark parking lot


I've had many forgettable conversations with total strangers in dark parking lots at 5 a.m., but the one I had yesterday will stick with me forever ... kinda like the smell and taste of the last food you ate before going on a rollicking vomit-fest from stomach flu. I was preparing to hunt at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge with Hank and our friend David and the guy in the truck (image)

Video: How to pluck a duck


If there's one thing that makes killing ducks look easy, it's plucking them - especially if you like to eat them skin-on, roasted whole. Getting that down off can be a real pain in the butt. But a few years back, Hank hunted with a friend at a duck club that had a totally sweet operation for processing ducks, and the key feature was the wax pot. After plucking off maybe two-thirds of the top (image)

Duck hunters: Buy this jacket!


One of my favorite "discoveries" as a new hunter was the ghillie suit - I'd had no idea that human beings would actually want to walk around looking like Swamp Thing. It just seemed so ridiculous. But Hank talked about wanting a ghillie jacket for a while, and two years ago, I bought one for him for Christmas. He didn't get a chance to wear it right away because his Achilles tendon popped and (image)

Coming up in 2012: A cool new book about hunting


At the risk of appearing cruel, I've got a great new book I want to tell you about. What's cruel about it? The book doesn't come out until June. The good news is you can pre-order it. "Call of the Mild: Learning to Hunt My Own Dinner" (Grand Central Publishing) is Lily Raff McCaulou's tale of moving from New York City to Bend, Oregon, to take a job as a newspaper reporter. There are two things (image)

On sluicing ducks


It finally happened: I came home from a hunt with seven ducks last week, and while my shooting wasn't amazing, it felt like I'd gotten through my really bad case of the yips. Now, I'd love to regale you with the details of some of my incredibly awesome shots that day - the wigeon I dropped so hard he bounced three feet off the water when he hit, the spoonie I nearly dropped into my lap - but (image)

Nothing like a little snap shooting to shake things up


...And a partridge in a pear tree! (Don't freak out about the duck count - these aren't all mine.) Yesterday was our semi-annual mixed-bag extravaganza hunt in Amador County with our friend Evan, and the beauty of this hunt - aside from the fact that almost all small game is legal to hunt at this time of year - is that it's all snap shooting. Loyal readers know that if I have more than two (image)

Salvation: How 'fighter squadrons,' the Tebow move and a perfect hen spoonie rescued my hunt


I've had the yips something fierce this duck season. I mean, so bad on most days that I feel like it's my first year of duck hunting again - I can't hit a thing. It has been utterly demoralizing. I mean, I've heard of bad days, but entire bad seasons? God, I loathe failure. There have been some pretty fierce external stressors this fall that I can't control, but I've been trying lots of other(image)

Video: How to skin a duck


Yes, I know it's a coot, not a duck. I know - blasphemy, right? I mean, I love duck skin, and my favorite way to eat duck is roasted whole with skin on. But sometimes you get a bird that you know is going to taste "off." You know your mallards and pintails are going to taste great, but spoonies, gadwalls and wigeon can be a bit funky, depending on where you live and what those birds are (image)

The difference between sufficient binoculars and good binoculars: Nikon Monarch 3 review


I was hunting pigs one day with my friend Phillip when his binoculars caught my eye. They had a built-in rangefinder and they were a top brand. "How much did they cost?" I asked. "Three thousand," he said. Gasp! I asked what made them worth that much, and that's when he enlightened me: "Affordable" binoculars are fine for limited use, but when you use them a lot - for example, if you're a (image)

Three chicks was the LEAST weird thing about this hunt


"Three girls?" That's how guide R.J. Waldron responded when Hank let him know who'd be going on our San Francisco Bay diver duck hunt last weekend: Three of the five hunters on board would be women. It was a first for R.J., and the special considerations immediately became apparent when we met at the dock in Vallejo at 5 a.m. "Where's the bathroom? Wait, it's locked!" I run with a tough (image)

Cyber Monday for hunters: A special offer for my readers and my new hunting store


Hunters deserve some Cyber Monday love too, so here's what I've got for you today: First, I'd like to invite you to shop at my new online store. In it you'll find 32 hunting-related items that I absolutely love, ranging from ammunition to duck calls to hunting clothing. Almost everything you'll see there is exactly what I own, though I've had to make substitutions for some items that I (image)

Hooked: Ten novice hunters get a taste of duck hunting


I knew it had been a great weekend when we got to the end - the part where we take group photos. Ten women had gone through Delta Waterfowl's first California Women's Duck Hunting Weekend for novice hunters: two days of waterfowl instruction, followed by a mentored hunt in one of two sweet private clubs in the legendary Butte Sink. It had been a slow hunt day. Participants had gotten(image)