Heard on the Hill

Take Five: Martin Heinrich

New Mexico Democrat says "There’s no point hunting if you’re not cooking"

Sen. Martin Heinrich fly fishes in the Valles Caldera National Preserve at home in New Mexico last summer. (Courtesy Sen. Martin Heinrich)

In this week’s Take Five, New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich talks about growing up on a cattle ranch, building a water balloon cannon with his sons, and racing a solar car.  

Q : Where did your love of the outdoors originate?  

A : I really started when I was a kid. My parents had a small cattle ranch and I’d come home after school and just disappear into the outdoors for hours at a time and then typically bring reptiles and other animals home, which was not always what my mom had in mind. These days, when I get home, if I can squeeze a day in in the mountains  — either hunting or fishing or just getting outdoors and hiking — that’s what I try to do.  

Q : I hear you like to cook. What kind of dishes do you make?  

A : There’s no point hunting if you’re not cooking. I have a website that is sort of my go-to website for really great restaurant-quality dishes with wild game. It’s called ‘Hunter Angler Gardener Cook.’ On the weekends, whenever the family’s together, I try to cook a couple meals and it’s usually something from that site.  

Q : When you are home, what do you like to do with your two sons?  

A : They are 9 and 13. So last weekend, we went to Home Depot and started building a pneumatic water balloon cannon. We got a bunch of PVC (pipe) and a bicycle pump and started putting things together to see if we could build a water balloon cannon.  

UNITED STATES - APRIL 06: Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., views a picture of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico, during a news conference in the Capitol about how the a designation of an area as a national monument can help tourism, small business, and the economy, April, 06, 2016. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Heinrich looks at a poster of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument in New Mexico during a news conference in April on how designating the area as a national monument can help tourism, small business, and the economy. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Q : At the University of Missouri, where you studied mechanical engineering, you raced a solar car. What’s the story there?  

A : So, I was in college in the early 90s. This was like ’92, ’93 and renewables were just starting to take off and there were a few of these challenges. There was a race in Australia, another race that I participated in in the U.S. called ‘Sunrayce 93.’ A bunch of students from my university got together and we designed and built a carbon fiber solar car. So my job was to come up with the suspension for this car and we had a sort of a pre-qualifying round where we got to go to Indianapolis and drive on the Indianapolis 500 speedway and that was the test round. And then they actually had a race several months later from Dallas to Minneapolis.  

Q : What instruments can you play and have you taught your sons how to play them, too?  

A : I play a little guitar. I wouldn’t say I’m that proficient, but both my kids have started to pick up [instruments]. Micah, who is the 9-year-old, is starting to pick up electric guitar and goes to School of Rock. And Carter, who is 13, has just picked up the bass and he’s into Nirvana these days.

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