SAFARI CIGAR: Cigar Etiquette

Published on December 26, 2013

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Whether it’s watching our favorite football team, settling our gastronomic juices after a hearty meal, or just being with friends, firing up a favored cigar has never been more appropriate once the sun starts setting sooner and the air turns crisp. In fact, a big-ringed stogy works wonders for warming the hands while sitting around a campfire after a hunt, or for enjoying alongside a snifter of single malt at the lodge once the rifles and shotguns have been put away.

All of which brings up the subject of cigar etiquette. For example, if your hunting partner hands you a cigar, do you offer him one in return? Well, yes, if you happen to have an extra on you. That is why I favor a “three fingered” leather cigar case to slip into my hunting coat pocket, not only to protect the cigars, but to have an extra stogy to give to a hunting partner or the guide. Plus, having more than one cigar insures I’ll have a choice, such as Dominican or Nicaraguan, sun-grown or maduro. If it’s an extended hunt, I’ll often bring a box of cigars to share with the camp.

Whether to leave the band on or off is a question I’m often asked. In Europe they tend to take the band off, but to me that’s tantamount to covering the brand name of your rifle. Just as we’re proud of the guns we shoot, we should be proud of what we smoke. Show it off; leave the band on. Less chance of tearing the wrapper that way besides.

Then there is the matter of how to clip and light a cigar. Sure, you can bite off the cap with your teeth a la Clint Eastwood. But you risk tearing the wrapper. In the field, I’ll admit to occasionally using my knife to trim the cap. Another method, emulating the old Cuban cigar rollers, is to use your thumbnail to etch a circular cut in the cap, then plucking it out. But the best way to cut the cap is with a cigar cutter.

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