Luciano Bosis of Brescia, Italy is among the most exclusive shotgun craftsmen in Europe, with his bespoke masterpieces often commanding prices in the vicinity of $100,000. Mr. Bosis specializes in over/unders and hammer guns that have been sold from a store in front of his house since the late 1970s. The Bosis Country is the lone side by side in his portfolio.
Fellow Italian Stefano Pedretti is the son of famed engraver Giancarlo Pedretti — the virtuoso in the art of bulino engraving that creates shockingly realistic images by cutting hundreds of thousands of tiny lines and dots in the metal. The Pedrettis’ studio is located in Brescia as well.
The “Tall Timbers Bobwhite Gun No. 1” was presented to the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy at less than the cost of production. The generous discount underscored the commitment by Mr. Bosis and Mr. Pedretti to advance game bird conservation in America. Mr. Pedretti is an avid quail hunter with a history of pursuing bobwhites throughout the South.
On our side of the Atlantic, the “Tall Timbers Bobwhite Gun No. 1” came to life through the efforts of a team dedicated to the perpetuation of bobwhite quail habitat and game-gun excellence.
Dr. Bill Palmer, president and CEO of Tall Timbers Research, Inc., enlisted the assistance of friend, author and fine-gun authority Vic Venters to supervise the project. Mr. Venters recruited Dr. Elena Micheli-Lamboy, the primary translator to the Italian gun trade and co-author of four books with Steve Lamboy on Italian master engravers, including “Giancarlo and Stefano Pedretti: Master Engravers.”
Kevin Kelly, owner of Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear and Apparel in Thomasville, Georgia and Tallahassee, Florida, consulted with Mr. Venters. Mr. Kelly shared his invaluable experience with the plantation community. Mr. Venters explained that both men thought small but high-quality game scenes surrounded by lush English scroll would have the broadest appeal. They agreed that a conservative engraving style would help sell the “Tall Timbers Bobwhite Gun No. 1” at the highest possible price.
Mr. Venters elaborated that the original germ of the idea for the shotgun as envisioned by himself and Dr. Palmer articulated several criteria. The shotgun would have to be beautiful and reliable, exclusive but not exorbitantly priced, and delivered within one year. Once the parameters were established, Mr. Venters contacted Dr. Micheli-Lamboy and Mr. Lamboy for recommendations on gunmakers. The Bosis-Pedretti duo was chosen and work subsequently ensued on the “Tall Timbers Bobwhite Gun No. 1.”
The 20-gauge over/under Bosis Wild was selected as the basis of the new shotgun. Weighing about 7 pounds, the Wild uses an Anson & Deeley style action coupled with a Boss style locking bolt. The single trigger has leaf springs. The Wild is prized for its balance and reliability. In March 2013, Mr. Venters visited Italy to check on the progress of the shotgun and finalize engraving design. He credited Dr. Micheli-Lamboy for facilitating communications between himself and Mr. Bosis and Mr. Pedretti — emphasizing that the project would not have succeeded without her professional translation skills.
By September, the “Tall Timbers Bobwhite Gun No. 1” was sold through an auction at the Glen Arven Country Club in Thomasville, Georgia. The winning proxy bid also took the bundled hunting package made possible by Aerostar Outdoors (importer of B&P Shotgun shells) and International Case Co. (importer of Negrini gun cases).
The proceeds of the sale ensured the ongoing developments produced by the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy in Tallahassee.
The Tall Timbers Research Station was founded in 1958 by Henry L. Beadel, owner of Tall Timbers Plantation, at the behest of his friend naturalist and ornithologist Herbert Stoddard. Its mission was to study the effects of fire on plant and animal communities in the southern pine ecosystem. As it turned out, Mr. Stoddard’s proposals would constitute the mainstay of native quail management practices in the Southeast for much of the twentieth century.
The organization’s thrust is research into the ecology and management of fire-dependent ecosystems, and wildlife, including bobwhite quail, in the Southeastern Coastal Plain, for public and private lands. Through long-term and short-term studies, the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy promotes the understanding of ecosystems for optimal habitat management. One in-depth survey called the Albany Quail Project has been testing management ideas on plantations in Albany, Georgia for 20 years.
Under Dr. Palmer’s auspices, however, recommended management practices have been advanced and modified in recent decades, and today the private quail plantations in the region enjoy wild bobwhite populations that exceed those of the best years in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By contrast, the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy reports that wild bobwhite quail populations have dropped more than 95 percent over the last half century in the Southeast.
With some 3,500 acres of bobwhite quail habitat under supervision, the cost of operations funds both heavily manipulated systems and natural systems. The Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy has the benefit of conducting research on formerly cultivated tracts known as “old field” lands, as well as places like the Wade Tract of virgin acreage never plowed or logged. These areas provide a benchmark for restoration studies.
Their scholarship is critical in thwarting declining bobwhite quail populations. For instance, in the 1960s, Georgia and Florida harvested approximately about 7 million wild bobwhites compared with fewer than 100,000 are today.
Scientists at Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy often hold adjunct or faculty academic appointments. In turn, they are engaged in collaborate efforts with universities such as Florida A&M University, Auburn University, Mississippi State University and Oklahoma State University.
“The habitat around Tallahassee, Thomasville and Albany are the last bastions of healthy wild bobwhite populations in the Southeast,” Mr. Palmer said, “and we’ve proved we can bring bobwhites back from the brink. Our goal at Tall Timbers is to spread our research knowledge to landowners throughout the Southeast and to provide a model for agencies to implement effective management strategies on public lands. There’s a huge opportunity to help wild quail recover.”
This winter, Mr. Pedretti will join Mr. Venters and the staff of Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy for a reception and showing of the “Tall Timbers Bobwhite Gun No. 1” at Kevin’s in Thomasville, with the specific date forthcoming.
Irwin Greenstein is the Publisher of Shotgun Life. You can reach him at email@example.com.
The web site for the Tall Timbers Research Station & Land Conservancy
The web site for Luciano Bosis Gunmaker
Giancarlo & Stefano Pedretti Incisori web site
Dr. Elena Micheli-Lamboy’s web site
Vic Venter’s web site
Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear and Apparel web site
The web site for Negrini shotgun cases
The web site for Aerostar Outdoors/B&P Shotgun Shell