Destinations

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.

Castelnuovo

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.

Upland wingshooters know the drill by heart as the calendar counts down to opening day: examine the hunting grounds, shoot sporting clays and tend to the dogs and shotguns.

Griffin & Howe’s 8th Annual Showcase & Sporting Clays Invitational held September 13-15 at the spectacular Hudson Farm in Andover, New Jersey will once again host a silent auction to benefit the Wounded Warriors in Action.

The late Robert Churchill’s book “Game Shooting” is legendary for introducing wingshooters to “instinctive shooting,” which forgoes any notions of measured forward allowance as you swing the shotgun to down your quarry.

Does gun fit really matter? Well, I drove 1,320 miles to find the answer.

I wouldn’t make the grueling round-trip drive from Maryland to Georgia just for anyone who claimed to be a gunfitter. This guy was the real deal — by all accounts the best: Chris Batha.

At an elevation approaching 3,000 feet, the high-desert terrain cut a razor-sharp horizon across Highland Hills Ranch. A chukar flushes, you wheel around, experience the rush of a game bird escaping against the silk-blue sky and when the stock of the 20 gauge touches your cheek a single detonation punctuates an indelible instant high on the threshold of eternity.

While the Cordoba region of Argentina has long been recognized as the high-volume dove-shooting hotspot, Cordoba isn’t the only area of South America that is plagued with a massive dove population. In the late 1990s Uruguay became a much sought after dove-gunning goal for many. After the turn of this century Bolivia became yet another dove shooting paradise – though most of the USA’s shotgunners have not heard much about the Bolivian shooting yet.

You recognize the spectacular beauty of Honey Lake Planation upon opening the door into the Pansy Poe Cottage and after those tentative steps into the softly lit passageway that whispers Southern secrets from the Gilded Age you happen to look toward the glow at the far end of the white bead-board living room, through the picture windows, surprised to see the pristine surface of Honey Lake shimmer in the Florida daylight.

On a brilliant autumn afternoon, a helicopter packed with oil men from Texas and Mexico touched down on a grassy field at Joshua Creek Ranch. With rotors revolving overhead, they filed out toward an idling SUV and three minutes later the contingent occupied a table on the limestone patio in the shade of a magnificent 400-year-old oak tree, the rush of the Guadalupe River rising from below, enjoying a hearty lunch and talking business.

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