This was the best trip yet to Argentina, everything went as smooth as silk. As soon as we stepped off the plane, Eduardo was there inside the airport and walked us through immigration/customs/gun check-in and got us on the plane to Cordoba, an hour later we were in Cordoba and on the way to the lodge for a quick lunch and an afternoon of shooting.
Jim in action:
Each year there are more and more doves in the Cordoba region, they are a plague. The mountain roosts are protected and more an more of the lowlands are being converted from pasture to agriculture. They breed yearround and despite hunters shooting literally tens of thousands per day, populations continue to increase.
The first afternoon we shot in the hills as birds were returning to the roosts, a great way to get practice on all angles of shots as doves approached from all directions. The next day was spent in the fields, the flocks of doves were continuous.
Congrats to young Eli Yarbrough who joined the 1000 dove club. In total, the four of us shot over 3000 doves in a day and a half, I didn't contribute that much, just shooting a couple hundred, enough to get my game on and ready for the ducks.
After a full day of dove hunting and fantastic dinner, we got up early the next morning and took a "sleeper van", with full reclining seats. We arrive at the duck lodge for a huge Argentinian steak lunch and an afternoon of duck hunting. We hunted two hunters/blind and each blind was allowed 50 ducks/hunt. One afternoon we did not shoot our limit......but we made up for it later.
Most of the ducks that we shot are Rosey-bills, followed by any of 4 different species of teal, also three different species of tree-ducks, which are my favorite.
Above one of the many teal, below a drake Rosey-bill, which may come in as singles/pairs or large flocks. They decoy a lot like a diver, if you give them one pass, they fully commit on the second.
Above is one of the tree ducks or as they call them, a widgeon. They decoy much like a pintail, high circles, but when they commit, it's straight down, twisting and turning to dump wind off their wings and drop faster. Wait till they are right on top of you, choose your shots well and you should have an easy triple or more....no plugs are necessary in Argentina, best I could do was 4 out of 5 shots.
Jiim "Never Enough" finally got enough!!
Each hunter has a "bird boy" assigned to them, but there is nothing boyish about them. I've never seen someone work so hard, through sometimes knee-deep mud and water, carrying all the decoys, stools, guns and shells. If things are slow, they often take off through the marsh, walking a mile or more in order to stir up the ducks and improve the hunt.
On the way out of the marsh, add to their load as much as 100 pounds of ducks. You have to demand to assist them.
Brazilian Teal wing? A beautiful bird, one of the larger teal.
A South American shoveler
Marcelo and Rubin made every effort to pick up every bird that was downed, cripples were chased down and we lost a surprisenly few birds. Rubin took most of the teal for the freezers of his friends and family, most other ducks were distributed to the very appreciative families on the way to and from the fields. At the lodge, ducks were served as appetizers before almost every meal and duck a la orange for dinner one night, otherwise it was steaks, including the famous 2 pound t-bone.
These shots were taken on the last afternoon on a Rosey-bill roost. We had already shot about 30 teal and Jim was mildly satisfied, then they started coming. I have never shot a box of shells so fast in my life. Within minutes we had "our limit" and watched in amazement as hundreds of ducks landed in and around the decoys as Marcelo and Rubin were picking up. As Jim said, "You could've hit 'em with a tennis racket."