European Driven Shooting – An experience like no other
The words, Driven Shooting, evoke a feeling in me that is hard to explain, but it is a deep and rich feeling. To understand that I can stand where Dukes, and Earls, and even Kings have stood and shoot birds in the same manner they did 100 years or more ago is very moving to me. The opportunity to participate in the past while living in the present is a rare and cherished experience.
If you like fine guns of any make and caliber, and want to be the skillful shot you have always dreamed you would be, then head to the other side of the pond for an experience that will only make you want…more! And here are four places you will find reasonably priced and accepting of and supporting of their American brothers and sisters of the gun – Wales, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. England and Scotland are also available with Best Wingshooting, but these four countries offer traditional, high quality, hunts at much more reasonable prices than some of the others.
Your ‘Driven Shooting Odyssey’ will begin when you fly to Manchester, Vienna, Budapest, or one of the other major airports servicing our hunting areas. There are usually some direct flights from here in the US. Once on the ground, you will be met by the marvelous staff of our brother agency there, usually Britannia Sporting or Shooting in Slovakia. From there you head to one of the quaint Inns or to prepared housing on the estates themselves. From the moment you arrive, you begin to steep yourself in the rich history of the shooting sports of a time gone by. Fine linens, silver, and crystal adorn your table for the evening meals. Excellent wines appear for dinner, or perhaps a ‘pint’ is more your style. There are fine liqueurs and even cigars for those who partake after dinner.
Your first bird is straight on, a cock bird 35 yards high and flying straight and true. You bring the gun up smoothly; pass from tail to beak; the gun barks; and the bird sags in the air and falls magnificently to the ground behind you. Other birds are in the air, but you take the time to savor this first shot as a wonderful beginning to a fine day of Driven Shooting.
After the third or fourth drive, you will break for “Elevenses”, either near the cars or at a prearranged pavilion for shelter from the wind or occasional rain, with something light to eat and drink as respite before the drives leading to lunch. This is gentlemanly hunting in its best form, not too hurried, but paced to be appreciated and consumed slowly, as are the pastries and the champagne of your break. From there it is on to more drives and a special lunch at a country house, or perhaps at grand tables set up near the fields. More drives, and as you rotate two spots each drive, you get to sample red hot action, the most difficult of shots, and sometimes only you get to admire your companions who seem to be where the birds are wanting to fly.
You return to the chateau, or cottage, tired, happy, filled with stories and good humor, and praise for birds and beaters, and dogs and ‘pickers up’, and keepers, and host, and the day that is Driven Shooting. Tomorrow you will do it again… perhaps for more pheasants, but perhaps for woodcock, or partridges, or even ducks – and each day, and each hunt, will be just as lovely, if not more so, than the last.