Hunting may no longer be necessary for sustenance, but as an atavistic activity that keeps us connected to who we are as men capable of providing for ourselves and others, it's something we should all do at least once. And the essentially primitive nature of the thing by no means requires us to abandon our penchant for doing things in style.
The most gentlemanly way to go about it is upland hunting, the classic American sport wherein the hunter pursues upland birds like quail, pheasant, grouse, and partridge in picturesque surroundings using beautifully made shotguns. It requires skill, gets you plenty of fresh air and is uniquely suited to the use of Land Rovers and well-bred bird dogs.
The Vermont-based Orvis Company, founded in 1856, has been synonymous with upland hunting in America for over a century. They can not only outfit you with everything necessary to put birds in the bag, but they also work to conserve land and run some of the best shooting schools and grounds in the country.
Best of all, they've just come out with The Orvis Guide to Upland Hunting by Reid Bryant with photographs by Brian Grossenbacher from Universe, now available for order on Amazon. This is the essential compendium for a day in the field, which could well turn into a lifelong pastime, covering everything from selecting ammunition to field dressing game birds.
That includes the fine points of selecting and fitting a shotgun, help in finding the right field gear, tips on proper wingshooting technique from stance to gun swing, a comprehensive guide to all American game birds and dog species, ideal locations to pursue your prey and even a dose of gun safety and ethical hunting practices.
Quite simply you can't, or anyway shouldn't, do without it, even if you're just starting out by shooting clay pigeons (there's a chapter on that as well). As author Bryant notes, you may just find yourself aiming to become a "master of something rich in tradition [and] essential poetry," following a gun dog through the Octobers of your life....