Okay, so of all the reasons to splurge on a great holiday, maybe the possibility of killing animals in beautiful surroundings isn’t as universally appealing as it once was. Still, a good portion of the world’s well-traveled set gets a thrill-or maybe a sense of connection with nature-from it, and are more than willing to add a rifle to their checked luggage. Many are also willing to rough it, but there’s always been a place in this aristocratic pastime for fine food and 400 thread count sheets. Even if the agenda doesn’t include a hunt, you should set your sights on these top-notch hunting lodges.
Puti River Lodge,
Ernest Hemingway wannabes may boast about the wilds of East Africa, but South Africa’s Eastern Cape is home to some of the continent’s most exclusive hunting grounds. Located along the scenic Garden Route, Puti River Lodge is a swish base (four-poster beds, stone fireplaces) for bagging kudu, Cape buffalo and other exotic game in the Ezulu Reserve.
271 Huka Falls Road, Taupo, New Zealand
Established almost a century ago as a fishing camp on the emerald Waikato River, this luxurious 25-room retreat has attracted the likes of Rupert Murdoch, Kate Winslet and the Queen of England -albeit not necessarily for turkey hunting. That’s an option, though, as are excursions targeting deer, wild boar, and goat (guns and ammo provided). Helicopter transfers are available from Auckland and Wellington, and in this adventure-oriented region of the North Island, there’s also para-sailing, kayaking, whitewater rafting and bungee jumping nearby.
Phone: + 6473785791
Tarr Farm, Exmoor National Park (five miles from Dulverton), UK
Bring your tweeds and 12-gauge to this nine room inn on the edge of Exmoor National Park for a spot of classic British wingshooting. Set on 40 wooded acres along the River Barle, the hotel is a quick ride to the North Devon countryside, which is teeming with partridge and pheasant, not to mention the more elusive woodcock and snipe. Even if all you’re looking for is an atmospheric place to sip tea, you’re likely to be in the company of serious hunters here-the dog-friendly rooms even come with gun safes.
Phone: +44 (0)1643851507
Pursue Nordic moose by day, then retreat to a roaring fireplace at this stylish, recently renovated lodge after dark. (Who said hunting was a warm weather pastime?) With a sauna, large -scale views of Lake Ânn, and a clientele consisting mainly of rosy-cheeked Swedes, this winter haven is one of Scandinavia’s best-kept secrets.
Resort at Paws Up, Greenough, Montana
A perennial favourite among US travel mags, this upscale lodge is better known for its posh rooms and superb trout fishing than its hunting (although, hunting expeditions can be arranged through their sister company, Paws Up Outfitters). That said, the hotel does lead half day bird-hunting excursions, and nothing beats a day under the famous Montana skies. (There’s also a 12-station clay pigeon course.) Of the property’s handful of lodging options, deluxe camping at Tent City is the hands-down favourite.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #21 April 2010