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Hunting and Fishing Stories

dawn in the squirrel woods

Photo by Hank Shaw

From chasing snipe to stripers, mushrooms or ducks or deer, here are my hunting and fishing stories. I mostly hunt, fish and forage in Northern California, but I travel so much you will see stories from all over America here.

If you are looking for deeper essays and such, here is a compendium of my philosophical essays on food, nature, hunting and fishing.


Photo by Hank Shaw

The Buck Stopped Here

The story of how I shot my first deer in California in several years. It was a long time coming.
Photo by Hank Shaw

The White Coyote

Deer hunting is not always about shooting a buck, and it’s certainly not about the antlers. Sometimes it’s something more.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Pig Hunting on Karma Ranch

Spend enough time in the outdoors and you get the feeling there is more going on out there than you can reasonably explain. Is karma real? Sure seemed like it in this pig hunt.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On Eating Swans

I hunted tundra swans in Utah, and we ate our bird for Christmas dinner. When I tell people I have hunted and eaten swan I get reactions sunning the gamut from excited interest to full-on horror. Few animals carry the cultural baggage that swans do.
Photo by Lloyd Spitalnik

A Specktacular Goose Hunt!

Geese are not ducks, nor is goose hunting like duck hunting. Geese are far tougher to fool, far tougher to kill. But when it all works, there is nothing else that thrills me more.
Photo by Donna Dewhurst, courtesy of the USFWS

Bluebills and a Blown Mind

Diver ducks have a reputation as smelly, fishy tasting birds. Sometimes that’s true. But as I found out, even a clam-eating, saltwater duck can be magnificent at the table. Believe me, I am as shocked to write this as you are to hear it.
Photo by Matt Anderson

Hunting Ducks on Great Salt Lake

I tend to be a home body when it comes to hunting ducks. California’s duck hunting is just so good, I rarely see a reason to leave. But when I got an invite to hunt the Great Salt Lake I had to take it — and it did not disappoint.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Into the Squirrel Woods

Something about squirrel hunting touches me deeply. Moreso than anything else, hunting squirrels in the Eastern forests takes me back to childhood, to the woods that were my home when as a boy. I miss those days of exploration.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Ethics, Karma and Wild Hogs

For the first time in years, I’ve shot a wild hog. That I am able to say that is a sign that karma comes back to you, if you have faith and persistence.
Photo courtesy Arizona Game & Fish Dept.

Run Little Rabbit, Run

The antelope jackrabbit lives only in the Sonoran Desert, a place as harsh as it is beautiful. Hunting them last week showed me both sides of this amazing place.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Roast Hungarian Partridge

Never before have I hunted so long and so hard for so little. If there is a game bird more elusive than the Hungarian partridge in Montana, I’ve yet to meet it.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Woodcock, Rejuvenation and Light

My 2011 book tour nearly over, I was in a fine state of mind for a woodcock hunt in Michigan.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Grouse, Solitude and Solace

I hunted grouse in Minnesota last weekend, but did not shoot one. That’s OK, because what I really needed in the Northwoods was quiet – and to escape the world within the comforts of cooking.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Grilled Doves with Southwest BBQ Sauce

I spent Labor Day weekend in perhaps the best place in America to hunt doves: South Texas. I’ve never seen dove hunting like it, but I hope to see it again. Absolutely epic.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Paying Respect to the Spoonie Gods

Whether you call them spooines, spoontang or northern shovellers, these ducks are common in California – and a hunter who ignores them does so at his peril. Until recently, that would be me.
Photo by Chris Baron

Sea Ducking in San Francisco

A duck hunting trip on the San Francisco Bay was radically different from the sort of duck hunting we normally do. But it was a thrilling experience matched by the challenge of cooking sea ducks.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Hunting’s Hard Lessons

Not all hunts end in happiness and a good meal. Hunting can drain you, physically and emotionally, leaving you feeling like this is a fruitless pursuit. We don’t always win.

Photo by Hank Shaw

Hunting Sharptail Grouse

A year ago my friend Chris and I hunted ruffed grouse in Minnesota. Since then we’ve decided to chase every grouse species in North America — this year’s quarry? Sharptails in North Dakota.

Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Dove Season: The Curtain Rises

The opening of dove season every year serves as a reunion with friends — and firearms — and the dove feast afterward is as much a Labor Day tradition as grilling and football.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Hunting Deer on Catalina Island

A deer hunt on Catalina Island offers me a glimpse of a potentially bright future for the pursuit – and hits home how much you need to know if you want to be a master deer hunter.

Hunting Wild Boar – The Death of Maximus

Pig hunting is always an adventure, especially when even a small boar cops an attitude.


Photo by Hank Shaw

Tuna Schooled

A trip to San Diego to fish for tuna was not all I’d hoped it would be. There was some good, some bad, and a lot of ugly.
Photo by Hank Shaw

On Trolling

Trolling is a very special way to fish, requiring an almost zen-like state of alert relaxation. Do it enough and you’ll run through virtually every human emotion possible.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Salmon Juju

Salmon are much more than just a fish. To many Indian cultures, they are a lifegiver, a source of mystical power and force. Like most Americans, I didn’t believe such stories. But after one of the weirdest fishing trips I’ve ever been on, I’m starting to come around.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Hello Striper, My Old Friend

Fishing for striped bass means far more to me than merely chasing my dinner. Stripers have become a marker for the key moments in my life.
Photo by Sol Germanas

Chasing the Clam

I have dug clams my whole life. But nothing prepared me for the thrill of clamming for Pacific horseneck and butter clams. This wasn’t foraging, this was hunting. And I love it.
Photo by RJ Waldron

The Sturgeon and The Cat

After half a decade of sporadic search, I have finally caught myself a legal sturgeon. It is not my first. That first fish showed me why sturgeon are so sought after. This one showed me humility.
Photo by Hank Shaw

Sicilian Tuna Meatballs

Some days you remember forever. In 2011 I spent a couple days with a boatful of new friends, 40 miles offshore in search of tuna. We found them. Oh yes, people, we found them…
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Shark Fishing in San Francisco Bay

The only thing better than catching sharks? Eating them. We came home from shark fishing in San Francisco Bay with our first leopard sharks, which we soon learned are delicious: firm, juicy and white.
Photo by Holly A. Heyser

Fishing and Foraging on Bodega Bay

Resourcefulness and flexibility are vital traits if you want to be a successful forager. When fishing’s bad, switch to crabs. If crabbing’s bad, switch to clams. If all else fails, look to the plants to sustain you.

The King of Kings – Trinity River Spring Chinook Salmon

I rarely fish for salmon in rivers, but this is an exception: These spring run fish are so good they taste like they come with their own butter. And the fishing for them is as beautiful as it gets.

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