The Five Best Lodges for Game Bird Shooters
Enjoy game bird shooting in one of these luxury lodges.
1. Ventosilla, Toledo, Spain
Spanish partridge shooting has deeply aristocratic roots, a heritage embodied by the Ventosilla estate, which lies on the banks of the river Tajo, close to Toledo. It is here in 1894 that the country’s first ever partridge drive is said to have taken place, organised by the Duke of Santoña and King Alfonso XIII. The duke’s descendants have continued this proud shooting tradition, hosting a roster of prime ministers, peers and royalty at their family estate.
For the shooting aficionado, this is an unbeatable experience, with over 50 drives across thousands of acres of countryside that ranges from undulating to precipitously steep. More than a match for the sport is the 15th century palace, originally built as a hunting pavilion for the cardinals of Toledo but considerably expanded and modernised since then. Settle into one of the 15 elegantly luxurious suites before tucking into delicious food and a suitably superior wine list. And don’t forget to make time for a stroll in the stunning gardens, laid out in the late 19th century by celebrated French landscaper Jean-Claude Nicolas Forestier.
2. Pine Hill Plantation, Georgia, USA
There’s a timeless feel to the quail hunting here. Mule-drawn wagons and horses are the preferred mode of transport, just as it was 150 years ago. It’s a peaceful, efficient way to roam the 6,000 acres of longleaf pine forests with wiregrass cover that form the perfect habitat for wild bobwhite quail. The tempo only lifts as dogs suddenly flush coveys that take to the air with explosive speed before the wood falls silent again.
The hospitality at Pine Hill reflects this civilised, old world charm. Four lodges overlook a 90-acre lake – you can also try your hand at duck or bass here, or just sit back and watch the sunset. An in-house chef takes care of the fine dining, while the team of lodge staff shows off the very best of that famous southern hospitality.
3. Moscar Lodge, Peak District, UK
Completely wild and found almost exclusively in the moorland of northern England and Scotland, the red grouse is high up the bucket-list of any keen shot. While the birds are famously fast and agile, equally memorable is that glorious sea of purple heather stretching out across steep, rocky hillsides. Take in the full experience at Moscar Lodge, which combines Victorian heritage with a more quirky, contemporary interior makeover overseen by the Duchess of Rutland.
The 7th Duke of Rutland was a pioneering figure in the original development of grouse shooting during the 19th century, a connection reinvigorated by his descendants in 2016 with the purchase of Moscar, complete with 6,000 acres of surrounding moorland. It may be just a 20 minute drive from the city of Sheffield, but the lodge feels a world away, perched high in the Peak District National Park. With 10 bedrooms, a swimming pool, sauna and tennis court, there’s entertainment for all. When the wind and rain drives everyone indoors, the fun can continue in a games room equipped with snooker table, cinema and bar.
4. Widiane Hotel, Azilal, Morocco
Fancy a more exotic sporting adventure? Escape to Morocco’s Atlas mountains for a shooting break that combines the thrill of local Barbary partridge with the stunning setting of the Widiane Hotel. Perched on the shore of Lake Bin El Ouidane in Azilal Province, the hotel forms part of a 70,000 hectare shooting estate but has plenty of entertainment options for non-shooters.
Indeed, after tackling the flighty local fauna in this steep mountain terrain, it’s well worth tagging on some extra days to soak up the dramatic scenery and make the most of the other activities on offer here. Take a boat tour across the lake, hike up into the mountains or take yourself for an indulgent session in the hammam. Whatever you choice, just make sure you work up an appetite for the gastronomic treats at the hotel’s various restaurants.
5. Guyascate Lodge, Cordoba, Argentina
People travel from all over the world to experience the legendary dove shooting of Argentina. The mild climate and fertile agricultural area around Cordoba, tucked into the foothills of the Sierras Chicas, offers particularly prime habitat for these birds, whose population is estimated at over 32 million. Indeed, local farmers regard them as a pest so welcome the sporting enthusiasts who flock to shoot doves in prolific numbers all year round.
One of the most luxurious dove shooting lodges in the region is Guyascate, set in 1,550 acres of land covered with the native Piquillin trees where the doves like to roost. Its 10 rooms each come with a private balcony or patio to make the most of the beautiful weather and expansive views. After a strenuous day in the field, Guyascate guests can take their relaxation just as seriously in the infinity pool, spa and two jacuzzis. Dinner is all about celebrating the very best of Argentine gastronomy, headlined naturally by the very finest beef and Malbec.
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