Jack Jansma’s story on how it all started
My family emigrated to the USA from the Netherlands after WWI. My dad and uncles had been able to participate in driven shooting as was common in Europe for many years. They quickly became involved into the American wingshooting opportunities that were common here in the Midwest and very soon integrated the younger generation into participating as well. Needless to say the stories that they brought with them from Europe created a mystique and a “someday I have to go and experience this wonderful way of wingshooting” promise soon made to myself.
The late 70's gave me a opportunity to connect with a shooting group in the Netherlands (through close relatives) that had over 1000 hectares of land leased in the area reclaimed from the inland sea. These shooters had some local farmers that would function as beaters and a part time game keeper who handled the raising and releasing of the pheasants. They had about a dozen driven shooting days per year and I was graciously given an invitation to participate in one of these driven shooting days. WOW! This was like coming home and could almost have been a genetic recall. One thing lead to another and due to the retirement of one of the members I was invited to join the group. I think that two of my uncles were as excited as I was!
Now on to great double guns. These shooters fielded some very nice doubles and I was offered the use of a number of these on my shooting days and soon I had acquired a beautiful English double from one of the members of the group. And so another love affair was born. I did some traveling in Europe and the UK with this group participating in driven shoots in Scotland and in Spain. Along the way I visited the gun making community in the Basque area of Spain and became an importer of a fabulous Spanish double, the Arrieta. I also partnered with a gun dealer in the UK and began to bring some very nice English double guns into the US. Now am I not only an importer of great double guns but have been able to participate in some excellent driven shooting. WOW! Things were really moving on.
In March of 1987, I visited the European version of our Shot Show which takes place in Nurnberg Germany. Gun making and everything related to shooting from the whole world are represented there. Walking around the show I spotted a small booth from Hungary promoting shooting opportunities that were available in that Iron Curtain country. The language barrier was tough but knowing enough German to be dangerous, I was able to communicate on a very elementary level and became very interested in what they were trying to promote - finding that the prices of driven shooting in Hungary were very reasonable in comparison to England and Spain. I returned home and after about two weeks of faxing back and forth, I agreed to come over and take a look at what they had to offer. I flew to Zurich on American and then to Budapest on Aeroflot which was interesting - everyone clapped when we landed in Budapest - hmm....I thought, was this a “thank God we made it” kind of a reaction? Got a visa in the airport without much delay and my contacts were there to greet me. I traveled over much of Hungary for about 7 days staying at various shooting lodges looking at the setups for driven shooting. I was very impressed with the obvious high level of game management skills and professionalism that the shooting facilities managers demonstrated. Their history of game management was impressive and I learned that several of the universities offer degrees in that field. And then back to Budapest. It is a wondrously beautiful and romantic city. The Danube flowing through the center with the magnificent Buda hills rising from the Banks on the West side.
I fell in love with the city immediately and that feeling is still there today even after over twenty-five years of hosting our Hungarian Wingshooting Adventure. Mike McIntosh, well known writer on double guns and wingshooting, accompanied us for many years to Hungary and Scotland and has written several articles and a chapter or two about Hungary and Scotland in his book Travelers Tales. I think that Mike fell in love with Budapest and the Hungarian people as well - there is a paragraph he wrote for the web site expressing his affection for Hungary in terms that only Mike could craft. Mike for years had accompanied us to Hungary and Scotland as well. He left us a couple of years back and his ashes now repose at a crumbling gatehouse in Feddal, Scotland, the scene of one of the best beats we were privileged to shoot for many years.
Early on during my being part of the shooting group in the Netherlands, the guys asked about the shooting in Scotland. I had shot at an estate in West Lothian called Harburn. It was located Southwest of Edinburgh and the accommodations and shooting were such that I had always wanted to go back. I made a reservation for the gang and we flew into Edinburgh, were met by Humphrey Spurway, our host, and proceeded to Harburn. The hills and valleys at Harburn presented some very challenging pheasant. The trip was a great success and we took our wives to the shoot the following year. The manor house was classic and was beautifully decorated in Laura Ashley fashion. We had our own chef and staff who serve the elegant dinners and keep the manor house in excellent form. I decided to open this shoot to our American shooters and we enjoyed the it for over 20 years. We Three years ago, we moved westward to Perthshire shooting with Humprey Spurways son, Mark. We stay in an elegant small country hotel called Kinloch House which is just south of Perth. As before, this is a first class accommodation for us - catering to us in the best manner.
Prior to my foray to Europe, I had brought my friends to Mexico for dove shooting. Winchester’s former pro Fred Missildine (another great character in the shooting world) and I had partnered up for dove shooting and it was a great new experience for me. Hot barreled wingshooting !! We did this for a number of years and then I met an outstanding character from Colombia, Erland Von Schneideren, who invited me down to Colombia along with other a few other outfitters and writers. We arrived in Cali - a beautiful city nestled between the two Andes ranges. The dove shooting was outstanding and we went back there for a number of years until the drug cartel started up in Cali which made our trips less desirable for we wanted to avoid any risks whatsoever. Erland soon moved to Bolivia and started an operation there. He called me and sold me on a pigeon shooting trip to Paraguay. We started the pigeon excursions and enjoyed it thoroughly. It was more fun than shooting little doves any day! We are now shooting pigeons in Bolivia and are having a great time visiting this country where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fled to long ago.
That’s most of my Wingshooting Adventures story and I wouldn’t change a thing if I had to do it all over again. It’s been a great ride and one of the most enjoyable and best things about it, is the people who we shoot with year after year - they are the greatest!