The new focus on non-shooters, and a good-bye to Galen
By Ralph P. Stuart
As I was editing this issue, I realized that it had an unintended theme: Sporting lodges—they’re not just for sportsmen anymore. I had finished working on Bruce Buck’s feature about Barnsley Gardens Resort and Vic Venters’ article on Primland and was writing my story on Fox Harb’r when it occurred to me that something sounded familiar. It was that all three destinations offer activities for non-shooting guests.
Granted, these particular operations are “resorts” rather than “lodges,” but check the offerings at many hunting destinations these days and you’ll find a litany of options for non-shooters. It only makes sense. Hunting is a seasonal business, and lodge owners have recognized that if they want to keep the lights on year-round, they need to offer more than just shooting. And what better way to fill beds (and earn extra money) than to encourage Guns to bring guests?
Of course the breadth of activities varies with the destination. I’ve seen offerings like spa treatments, bike riding, wine tasting and even cooking lessons with a lodge’s resident chef. Depending on the area, there may be sightseeing, winery tours, shopping, or cultural experiences such as museums, art galleries or shows. I recently visited Estancia Tipiliuke, in Patagonia, which in addition to offering excellent quail and big-game hunting has world-class fly-fishing, bird watching, horseback riding, skiing and more.
Some non-shooters get caught up and opt to try shotgunning. This is ideal, as I can think of no better introduction than from a knowledgeable instructor with a well-fitted gun. My wife, Barbara, had never tried wingshooting before our trip to Fox Harb’r, but after a lesson with the resident pro she was breaking clays and has expressed interest in trying again.
What’s also nice about taking guests (other than that they usually cost a lot less) is that they get to share the adventure. Instead of having to live vicariously through the retelling, they are part of the memory and likely have made the experience richer.
And if that non-shooter happens to be your better half, don’t forget one major benefit: brownie points. As one hunter recently told me, “‘Us’ trips don’t count against my allotment of hunting time.”
Think about that when you’re booking your trips this year.
On a sad note, I regret to inform you of the passing of Galen Winter, the author of our back-page column The Major for so many years. It was in last July/August’s issue that I announced Galen’s retirement, and in early May he died at his home following a brave battle with cancer. An obituary by Doug Tate appears on page 18, but I thought I would let Galen sum up his life in words he wrote to me when signing off from his column:
“I’ve had a very good ride. I’ve seen the Southern Cross, white Beluga whales in Hudson Bay and pink freshwater dolphins in Brazil’s Rio Negro. I’ve chased trout all over Wisconsin, the U.P., Montana, Utah and Wyoming. I’ve caught grayling in Nunavik, Arctic char on Victoria Island, lake trout all over Canada, tarpon in Honduras, brown trout in Argentina. I’ve ocean fished out of Havana, Ecuador and Costa Rica; river fished on the Horsefly in British Columbia and Gods River in Manitoba; lake fished near Mazatlan and Lake Athabasca; and caught peacock bass and piranha in the Amazon Basin. I’ve hunted perdiz in Uruguay, deer in Honduras, geese on Hudson Bay, and ducks and doves in Nicaragua . . . .
“Yes, I’ve had a good ride. I intend to continue it.”
Perhaps somewhere Galen and Major Peabody are planning their next adventure.