I don’t know if my leg was being pulled or not, but I’ve had it told to me by more than one proper side-by-side-toting British wingshooter, that neckties were originally created as garb for sportsmen. According to them, in those days before rubber and way before Gore-Tex, the necktie was invented for hunters and fishermen to wear in the frequently dreary climate of the British Isles to keep rain from running down their backs. The only alternative was some kind of big coat or a cloak that would interfere with free arm movement for swinging a shotgun or casting a fly.
Sounds plausible to me. And, the necktie sure caught on. To this day it’s part of proper attire for gunning driven birds in many parts of Europe. I know most American’s scoff at the idea of dressing up to go hunting. Looking back at my own photo albums, I have to admit, I don’t do it too often either, but perhaps it’s a way of showing proper respect to the critters we hunt? All I know is that I’ve sort of made it a mission to not wear neckties anymore excepting two occasions—funerals of people I love and respect, and if I ever get the chance to shoot driven birds in Europe! I will make that important exception.
Why all this palaver about hunting in a necktie? Well, it was inspired by the video that television producing friend Tom Carroll sent my way. It’s an old newsreel style movie titled “Sky Game” filmed on Avery Island off of Louisiana in 1939. The hunters in it are wearing neckties.
The film is in pretty rough shape, but it’s danged cool to watch. It was undeniably a golden age in hunting we’re not likely to see again. Of course that’s what they’ll say about this era someday …