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.
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.
In Part I, we met Charlie Mincey, former Georgia moonshine runner who would be our host for evaluating the new Ruger Red Label on sporting clays courses that we visited in a restored 1939 Ford Sedan moonshine car. In Part II, we shot sporting clays with the Ruger Red Label at the Foxhall Resort and Sporting Club as well as Barnsley Gardens — delving deeper into Charlie’s incredible story. Now in our final installment, we stress test the Ruger Red Label at the ravine-intense Etowah Valley Sporting Clays followed by a visit to Dawsonville, which is the heartbeat of the state’s moonshine culture.
In Part I, we met Charlie Mincey, former Georgia moonshine runner who would be our host for evaluating the new Ruger Red Label on sporting clays courses that we visited in a restored 1939 Ford Sedan moonshine car.
Inside a canvas and leather gun slip, the new 12-gauge Ruger Red Label looked at home beside me leaning across the spacious back seat of the 1939 Ford Sedan moonshine runner.
Beneath a Texas mesquite tree, I sat on the camo bucket seat with a 20-gauge Zoli Expedition EL resting across my lap, watching skyward for doves.
On an Indian summer afternoon, the mule-drawn wagon swayed in a slow lullaby here in the cradle of the South as we followed guides on horseback in pursuit of the next quail covey to hunt.
I was stunned. Pleasantly stunned. Roberto Ferrata uncased his new titanium Fabbri 12 gauge shotgun and handed it to me. “I want you to use my gun today.” I received the magnificent firearm and held it as gently as if it were a newborn baby. Bringing it to my shoulder, I noted with conflicting emotions and thoughts that it fitted perfectly.