Friday, June 1, 2012

Dove Hunting Near Tucuman....

I don't have a lot of time to write in detail but plan to when the season slows a bit.  Suffice to say that I have seen more doves in one field here than I've seen my entire lifetime in Idaho.  It is simply difficult to believe the quantity of birds without actually seeing it....   More later.... with photos....

Bird hunting in Argentina is something that should be experienced by every serious hunter.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Skunk Vs Dog. Skunk 1, Dog 0

ISAIAS MICIU (Photographer)

A couple of days ago 3 Elhew Pointers arrived to grace our kennels and to help us find the illusive California Quail in our area.  We spent the last couple of days letting the dogs run and get used to their new environment.  They seem to be adjusting without a hitch.

Today we took the two sibling pointers who seem to work very well together.  The bitch (Pearl) tends to roll wide and the stud (Whip) checks in once in awhile and stays a bit closer to the gun.   Towards the end of our hunt Pearl locked up tighter than a frogs ass on a particularly thorny bush and wouldn't budge.  Her brother, Whip, backed her with razor like precision.  However, the "bird" wouldn't fly no matter how I beat that bush.  The bitch wouldn't relent and finally dived headfirst into that damn thorn bush and nearly disappeared.  After about 15 seconds she seemed to be displaying what looked like 'terrier' like movements.  It was as though she was snapping at a squirrel!

I moved in for a closer look and saw something I wish I hadn't.  It was a young skunk posed to deliver his payload!  Before I could get the bitch out of the bush the skunk had done what it was made to do.  So strong is her sense of smell and so pungent was the odor of the skunk that poor Pearl nearly fell over.  She couldn't and wouldn't move!  I quickly grabbed her by the collar to get her the hell out of there and managed to avoid "most" of the spray.

The bitch trotted off but something was definitely awry.  She began to weave and nearly fell over three  or four different times.  Fortunately, the worst of the smell dissipated enough for her to stand upright without much problem.

One mud bath, two tomato sauce baths and two white soap baths later Pearl was no worse for the wear.  In fact, she seemed to appreciate our efforts to help her.   Tomorrow, we will head out to another great estancia to find more quail.  I hope to god there are no damn skunks!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Quail Hunting Argentina

The boys and I spent the week driving the back roads and hiking the foothills of Patagonia searching for California Quail.  These birds were introduced in Chile over 100 years ago and found their way into Patagonian Argentina where the climate, topography and farming create a perfect habitat.

What we found were coveys from 6 to 125 birds in size.  In our area of the world the quail tend to stay close to water sources and a tree called "Maiten". These trees produced a little red seed that the quail can't seem to resist.  The Patagonian steppe is ideal habitat for California quail which have multiplied into the tens of thousands.  These days it's a rare occasion to drive in our area without seeing at least a covey or two near the road.

In the coming weeks our first quail guests will arrive to inaugurate our new program.  We have located several dozen coveys on 6 different private estancias covering several thousand acres.  Perhaps the most surprising yet fortunate aspect of quail hunting in our area is that almost nobody hunts them.  The typical Argentine isn't an avid hunter and their isn't one single commercial hunting program within a 6 hour drive.  In fact, I know of only one other commercial quail hunting program in the entire country.  Now THAT is exclusivity.  I suspect that others will follow our lead over the next several years.  In the mean time we plan to enjoy hunting alone without competition.

Today, our youngest English Pointers managed to sniff out several coveys and pointed very well and steady.   Our U.S. bred and trained Elhew Pointers have taken to our "Andean Quail" without missing a beat. These incredible dogs are a pleasure to watch and to hunt over.

Your comments and questions are always welcome.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

New World Record Red Stag 2011 (New Zealand)

Mark Dickson shot this Red Stag in New Zealand which is now the current world record.  The stag scored 640/3/8 SCI.  Congratulations mark!  

I can't imagine how this big boy managed to keep his chin from dragging the ground all day....

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Are There Red Stag South of San Martin?

The area of San Martin de Los Andes has become wildly famous for its fly-fishing and somewhat famous for it's Red Stag hunting.  So much so that when hunters hear of hunting these grande beasts in Argentina they invariably thing of the mountains of San Martin.  But do they exist further South?  The answer is "Yes", they do.

As far South as Trevelin Red Stag are found in good numbers as are wild boar.  The difference, I believe, is that they are more difficult to see and therefore more difficult to hunt.  The San Martin area is surrounded by high mountain desert.  Seeing the stag is not a problem.  If one travels further South he will find them amongst the forests of the Andes mountain range and Patagonian Steppe.

Make no mistake, there are plenty of stag in Central Patagonia....they are just a little more hidden.  Currently, I am living in town of Trevelin and have access to hunting areas.  Feel free to get in contact with me for information about the area....

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Why Is Cordoba "The" Place to Hunt Doves? Or...Is It?

If you have heard or read about hunting doves in Argentina you have undoubtedly come across information about Cordoba.  For the last twenty years Cordoba has become the poster-child for the entire dove hunting scene.  The result of this fame has created fierce competition for leases in the best flyways.  Rights to hunt these properties have become highly sought after.   A little more research will reveal that almost all of the lodges located in the area are offering the same hunts for the same properties.   The question is, "How many great places to shoot are there...?"

On a "normal" hunting day there are at least a dozen or more hunters trying to get the same spot that you are trying to get.  So, there is always a race to get to "the spot" at the well known lodges.   Recently, a couple of lodges took a new direction and began hunting a new area in between the more well known hunting areas.  The result has been very well received.  While others fighting for field space these lodges are enjoying no competition.....  I suspect the word will get out over the coming years and it will become as competitive as Cordoba.  But for now....this may be a good option for the hunter who wants to avoid the crowd.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hunting Argentina

Hunting and Fishing In Argentina

(This article is incomplete and should be considered a work in progress)

Imagine a world where the number of doves seems to never end, where you can hunt a dozen different species of ducks and where massive red deer stag are so plentiful it boggles the mind.  Imagine fishing Montana & Idaho 50 years ago?  Welcome to Argentina.

For decades Argentina has been known for its world-class fishing and hunting.  From sea-run brown trout in Tierra del Fuego to clouds of eared doves in Tucuman, Argentina is a sportsman's paradise.  
Lets look at what species are found in Argentina and some of the history of each species....
Trout were successfully planted in Patagonia from the United States in 1904 after several prior attempts.  Lake trout, brook trout and landlocked salmon from New York State were the first to be transplanted in Argentina.  Later rainbow and brown trout were introduced followed by Atlantic salmon and some species of Pacific salmon.  Now rainbow, brown and brook trout are found in almost every fish-able body of water in Patagonia and in great numbers.  Great fishing can be found throughout the entire country.  In the very South of Argentina known as Tierra del Fuego fishermen battle the wind swept area in hopes of landing a sea-run brown trout.  Traveling into Central Patagonia will put you into some of the best trout fishing on the planet.  Rainbows, browns, and brookies have over-run every waterway in Patagonia.  Central Patagonia is probable the least well known fishery of the Patagonian regions.  Because of this you will also find fewer anglers and bigger fish. It's not uncommon to catch several trout over 20" and up to 27" in one week. Northern Patagonia near and around San Martin de Los Andes is well known for its trout fishery and the large number of fish-able rivers.  In the Northern provinces one can find excellent fresh water dorado fishing and can be combined with some of the best bird hunting in the world.

Red Deer:
While many like to compare Argentina's Red Deer to the Elk or Wapiti found in North America scientists are certain that they are different species.  In 2001 taxonomist Ettore Randi  published a study in the journal Animal Conservation supporting the idea that European Red deer should be differentiated from the North American animals.   The study compared the DNA from 13 different species of deer and concluded that the wapiti was a distinct species from European Red deer.  Although Elk and Red Deer are very similar in looks their 'bugle' is very different.  The Red Deer "roar" sounds more like a domestic bovine while the Elk emits a shrill bugle while in the rut (mating season).  The antlers of the red deer are similar but definitely different from the North American Elk in that Red Deer antlers form a "crown" at the top while Elk antlers form in a row.  Red deer were originally introduced in central Argentina about in 1906 for sport hunting, and soon after were translocated to the Neuquén province. They are now found in the provinces of Río Negro and Chubut.  

While Red Deer populations in Africa and southern Europe are declining, in Argentina and Chile the Red Deer is seen as a competitor to native animal species like the South Andean Deer or Huemul.  The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources has determined that the introduced Red Deer are one of the world's 100 worst invaders.

Red Deer are typically scored in Argentina using Safari Club International scoring methods. The current Red Deer record is held by Paul V. Smith Jr.

Wild Boar:

Wild boar were introduced in 1906, the same year as the Red Deer and are widely seen as a pest.  As there are no natural predators in Argentina it is necessary to cull wild boar utilizing professional hunters.  Land owners are all to willing to take on foreigners who are willing to pay them to hunt their problem. Wild boar can be found throughout Argentina. 

To say the least, most of the hunting down here is welcomed by land owners and misunderstood by the average Argentinian.  All of the animals introduced into Argentina were introduced for purposes of hunting and trapping.  While many hunters come to Argentina from around the globe there isn't nearly enough hunting to keep the numbers from reaching pestilence proportions.  Generally speaking not very many Argentines hunt, own a gun or have even shot a gun.

Consequently, land owners are hiring professionals to cull herds of red deer and wild boars that are over-running their estancias.   Many Argentines I have spoken with are animal lovers and hate to see anything killed by a hunter.  The reality, however, is that hunters thin the herds while providing income to estancia owners, guides, meat processors, retailers and the overall economy.  Even after the paying hunters are long gone back to their respective countries estancia owners must still hire professional hunters to keep the numbers of animals in check.

Hunting the eared dove is what Argentina has become famous for.  The eared dove is found in the northern provinces of Argentina and are considered by farmers to be a pest.  They welcome the opportunity to be paid by foreigners for the opportunity to hunt the 'pests'.  Eared doves have no clear breeding season and seem to nest continuously laying two white eggs which hatch in two weeks.  They will breed up to 4 times per year.  The Argentines have built spectacular lodges for the purpose of attracting serious hunters.  There is an estimated 23 to 32 million doves in the fields around Córdoba and Tucuman in northern Argentina.  It is not uncommon for a single hunter to shoot more than 1000 birds in just one day.

Perdiz (Tinamou):
There are 15 species of Perdiz or Tinamou found in Argentina. Even though the Tinamou resembles and is often called a partridge, it is more closely related to other ground-dwelling birds such as the ostrich or the rhea. The most common is the Spotted Tinamou.  Often found but less common are the Martineta and Colorado.  Female perdiz become mature at only 2 months which allows the species reproduce rapidly. They can have five to six broods per year of 4-6 eggs.  Although some hunt on foot without dogs the use of well trained pointers is the preferred method of hunting these birds.  Typically, perdiz are found in pastures and grasslands which makes for fairly easy hunting conditions.  The perdiz season begins in May and runs through July.  Argentina perdiz hunts are usually combined with some other kind of hunt like doves or pigeons.

There are 7 species of pigeons in Argentina.  The most plentiful species are Picazuro, Manchada (Spotted-Wing Pigeon) and the Casera (Rock Pigeon). Like Eared Doves, Pigeons are classified as pests with no season or bag limit and are often poisoned to reduce their numbers. The majority of the pigeon shooting is done in the north central part of the country in Cordoba or Tucuman. Pigeons are typically hunted on crop lands and olive groves. Like ducks, pigeons respond well to decoys and that is how they are generally hunted.  It is not uncommon to shoot 500 rounds per day on a typical pigeon hunt.

Pigeon hunting is often a combined hunt with doves and/or perdiz.  Interestingly, pigeons and doves are not typically found in the same places.  Consequently, a combined hunt usually involves two or more shooting areas.

 Quail (Codorniz):
Perhaps the best kept hunting secret in Argentina are the California Quail which were introduced into Chile in 1870 by a farmer who tried to raise them and sell them commercially.  After his realization that there was just no demand for his birds he set his quail free.  They rapidly expanded  throughout the central Chile and into the Lake District. Over the last century and a half quail have expanded across to the east slope of the Andes into westernmost Argentina. Quail are now abundant and actually exceed numbers seen in the Western U.S.  The arid agricultural and shrub covered areas of Argentina are perfect habitat for Quail.  Patagonia is now home to huge coveys of quail and virtually no on is hunting them.  They are generally found in the western sections of the Patagonian provinces Chubut and Rio Negro.