We couldn’t think of a better way to thank a handful of our customers, close friends and the incredible people we have partnered with than by inviting them to attend our inaugural Ledbury Quail Hunt. Dating back for centuries, the hunt of bobwhite quail is a rich tradition and there is no better way to spend a fall day in Virginia. While on the hunt, we handed out shirts to a few of our friends and photographed the lookbook for our second collection of November Shirt Run Shirting.
Scheduling a quail hunt on the same day as the Richmond Marathon made it unbelievably difficult to make it out of the city. A drive that would normally take 15 minutes took an hour, and there was at least one report from a member of our hunting party of receiving a few suspicious looks as he trekked his way through the crowd of race spectators toting a shotgun while walking to his car. Despite the difficulty in making it out of the city, it was an excellent day for a hunt with blue skies and abnormally warm temperatures for the season.
The Orapax Hunting Preserve, located on 700 acres of land in Goochland County, Virginia served as the location for the hunt. In addition to quail, the preserve also specializes in Chukar and driven pheasant shoots as well. With expert hunting guides, incredibly well-trained dogs, and an acre of open field, you would be hard-pressed to find a better hunting reserve in the Commonwealth. Once locating a covey of quail, the disciplined hunting dogs would instinctively stand at point to notify hunters of their findings.
Being out on the sprawling property of the preserve was an experience of itself. At the end of the day, we all managed to take home a few birds, but the highlight of the day was an afternoon surrounded by friends and the people who help make Ledbury possible.
After the hunt, we caught up with a true craftsman and close friend, Marcus Wiley of Wiley Belts, who we partnered with for the first release of the Ledbury Commonwealth Collection, The Free Union Belt.
How did the friendship begin between Wiley Belts and Ledbury?
Paul Trible (Ledbury co-founder) was searching for Virginian-made goods to partner with for the Ledbury Commonwealth Collection and selected Wiley Brothers Belts as the first collaboration of the collection. We worked together on the special edition Free Union belt that featured the Quick Release buckle. The Quick Release is so unique and there’s nothing else like it. It is modeled after a nineteenth century design used by England’s National Fire Service and still used by the U.S. Navy to bind fire hoses on aircraft carriers.
How has everything been going since we’ve last caught up with you on our blog nearly a year ago?
Things have been going fairly well and I’m looking to expand both wholesale and direct sale components of my business. The belts have been received well wherever they go and I continue to receive great testimonials from customers and stores that carry the belts. I would imagine that within the next two years, I wouldn’t be using any resources that aren’t produced domestically. That is my goal, and also to expand more into the strap goods market with a collection of children’s belts, dog collars, and bracelets.
Your belts represent a true dedication to craftsmanship, could you explain your belt making process?
The hides of English bridle leather arrive at my workspace in partial form – meaning they are 2-2.5 feet wide and 5 feet long and I take it from there. I strip and cut each to size and then etch, dye, burnish, and stitch them all by hand. It’s a very labor-intensive process, but being hands-on is a good thing because all hides react differently when production is done by hand.
The buckles of your belts are quite unique, where does the design inspiration come from?
I like simple, elegant, and functional buckles. The belts are timeless and this is really the driving force behind any buckle that we design. I don’t want it to be a fleeting fashion because designs come and go but quality speaks for itself. It would be wasteful to come up with new designs every year and toss out the old ones because so much effort goes into making them. When we finish the labor-intensive process that goes into making our belts, we hope that we hit the mark in that we are coming up with something that will remain for years; not in one year and out the next. We source the highest quality metal and the belts are built to last from both a physical standpoint, and also designed to survive the test of time as far as fashion.
In addition to your impressive belt making, are you able to find the time to hunt?
I used to hunt more regularly than I do now. Shooting is something that you have to remain current with because it is a gun and it can be dangerous. When you don’t pick a gun up for a long time, you have to be very careful and I sort of got away from it just because I haven’t had the time. The Quail Hunt was a great, safe environment, and a good opportunity to come out with a good bunch of people.
After a full afternoon of hunting, the sun began to set and we reconvened at the hunting clubhouse to enjoy a dinner catered by Comfort, a Richmond staple for Southern-inspired dishes made from scratch. Although we just held our hunt, we are already looking forward to the time when we can invite all of our friends out next year for another afternoon of hunting and camaraderie.
The second collection of November Shirt Run Shirting is available now through December 3.