Destinations

As September approaches, in our secret heart every shotgun disciple anticipates their annual pilgrimage to a beloved place. For some of us it’s the autumnal woods of Maine for woodcock, a goose hunt on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, sporting clays at The National Shooting Complex in San Antonio or maybe throwing clays from that rusty hand-loader at a family barbeque. Personally, that special journey takes me to Griffin & Howe’s gorgeous Hudson Farm in Andover, New Jersey.

As September approaches, in our secret heart every shotgun disciple anticipates their annual pilgrimage to a beloved place. For some of us it’s the autumnal woods of Maine for woodcock, a goose hunt on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, sporting clays at The National Shooting Complex in San Antonio or maybe throwing clays from that rusty hand-loader at a family barbeque. Personally, that special journey takes me to Griffin & Howe’s gorgeous Hudson Farm in Andover, New Jersey. 

The Beretta lifestyle of advanced shotguns, stylish apparel and mouthwatering accessories will soon turn another page in leafy Dutchess County, New York as the Beretta Shooting Grounds at Dover Furnace embarks on an ambitious buildout of new lodging at one of the top clays destinations in the country.

Most all shotgunners know that proper footwork goes a long way toward successful shot making. It wasn’t light enough to shoot ducks yet, but I was wishing I had a knowing shotgun instructor behind me with some useful advice. But it was shooting assistant Lucho behind, and he didn’t speak much English, and my Spanish is somewhat of a joke. So no help from Lucho. Did I mention my feet were stuck in the mud – in Argentina?

The thrill of bird hunting in South Africa struck on our first morning out when, driving on rutted roads to the fields, we spotted zebras, wildebeest, reedbucks, eland and jackals. And as it would play out a jackal had grabbed an Egyptian goose I had downed even before our German Wiredhaired could retrieve it.

Scooby stands at the highest point of Crubenmore (a 3,000-acre beat on Drumochter estates, which is part of the Cairngorms National Park). He breathes in this mysterious landscape – with its light grey sky, patches of bare rock face and carpet of short muted heather – hoping to catch the scent of grouse.

The porch was long and spacious. There were comfortable chairs and tables along the wall, and a short drop from the porch down to the natural flora of Texas Hill country spread a few dozen yards out to a limestone bluff that overlooked the valley of Joshua Creek. I was leaned back in a chair with a cup of black coffee, watching the morning unfold. Across the valley, I could hear the calls of quail, pheasant roosters, and a couple of hen mallards gossiping, or arguing, or whatever it is they talk about.

Africa is in the blood of Joe Coogan and now that he’s left shotgun maker Benelli USA he’s returning to the place that shaped him as a man.

Mr. Coogan, one of the last witnesses to the Golden Age of African safaris, is teaming up with his old-time friend and colleague Soren Lindstrom of Soren Lindstrom’s Africa to offer wingshooting adventures in South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Namibia along with other hunting safaris. Mr. Coogan recently started Africa All Ways from his base in Merritt Island, Florida to support and represent Soren Lindstrom’s Africa here in the U.S.

Story | Photos by Henry Baskerville

Hastily grabbing his shooting gear from his suitcase, Lee, my eldest son, inquired, “Will there be many doves?”

The drive from Denver had been uneventful, which was good. I listened to a stack of CDs hoping to learn how to say ‘good morning’ in Italian and trying not to spill Diet Pepsi all over the box, while anguishing as the gas gauge plummeted down like weights at the gym. On the rural roads the weathered buildings and farm houses with sharp angled roofs reminded me of my family car trips from Long Island to Miami Beach when my age was written in single digits.

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