Swellboy on… dove shooting

Our man’s dazzling new outfit seems more alarming than charming to the birds of Argentina

Image: Brijesh Patel

I have just returned from the Argentine, where I had been testing out my dove-shooting suit.

As you may recall, the investigation of this hitherto unexplored subcategory of sporting apparel consumed much of February and I was in near hourly communication with Mariano Rubinacci to finesse the minutest details. As the epicentre of the sport is in the Argentine province of Córdoba (where it seems these birds, capable of reproducing once every 13 weeks, would consume the region’s entire agricultural output if not kept in check), the moment the suit was complete I boarded a flight to Buenos Aires, crossed the city to the domestic airport, boarded another flight and then took a bumpy 90-minute bus ride into the country. It may be a long way to travel to try out a suit, but let it not be said that I shirk my duties in sartorial research.

Argentina is a smashing country and the whole dove shooting thing, at least as organised by Ezequiel Hayes at his family’s lodge at Guayascate, is a resort-quality experience. It may have taken 27 hours door to door, but the door at which I arrived was far smarter than the one of the ancestral terraced hovel, and there was a woman waiting to greet me with a pile of cooling towels to wash the grime of the journey from my face and the memory of it from my mind. Although shooting is the focus here, the level of service, size of the rooms, boutique nature of the place (there are fewer than a dozen rooms), infinity pool, spa and excellent food meant that I could have quite happily spent the days poolside pondering life’s eternal questions, such as whether I fancied a massage before or after lunch.

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However, mindful of my sartorial and sporting responsibilities, I selected a couple of Beretta Silver Pigeons and headed out to the fields and hills. Given the Edwardian inspiration of the suit, I might have preferred to shoot with one of Beretta’s Classics, which feature the rounded Prince of Wales stock rather than the full pistol grip, but to be honest I don’t think anyone noticed, or if they did they were far too polite to bring it up.

If you like shooting, you will love the variety of targets presented here, but I noticed that the avian population was giving me a bit of a wide berth. It transpires that these South American birds are neither blind nor stupid, and at the end of the morning the “bird boy” who was loading for me suggested that the pale linen trousers (it was too warm to make more than ceremonial use of the jacket, and besides, out in the campo there were no coat hangers) might be alerting the fast-moving birds to avoid flying too close to me – not that it would make much difference to my abysmal shooting. Nevertheless, he amply demonstrated his point by dashing off and returning with a bit of camouflaged sheeting, from behind which I shot. 

I have hitherto resisted the American “camo” look, but it seems that there is only one thing for it: I am going to have to ask Mariano Rubinacci to look out for some camouflage fabrics to make the Dove Suit v 2.0.

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