Argentina Bird Bonanza

argentinabirdbonanzashotshellsThe swish of feathers brushing up against pale green leaves sets the pace for your rapidly beating heart and twitching trigger finger as you stand center stage in the breezy fields of an afternoon dove roost. Anticipating the first dove to emerge from the adjacent brush at any second, you suddenly, without hesitation, mount your gun and “bang! bang!” a dove drops to the ground. The bird boys are calling in true Spanish fashion, “muerte, muerte!” and, as they hand you more shells to load into your freshly fired gun, your eyes and head can’t stop spinning as you gaze upon hundreds of doves flying in the blue sky above you.

That scenario is the rush many hunters experience and hope for when they take a trip to Argentina. And that is the trip that my parents and I experienced two summers ago when we went hunting with Miguel Medus of Argentina Wild Wing Shooting in the Entre Ríos province of Argentina. It took three long years to convince my dad and mom to finally plan the trip to Argentina. I was so excited when the plans were finalized at the 2010 SCI Convention. The experience, as many fellow hunters had warned us, was like no other. Before the trip, we talked with friends who had previously been to Argentina. They reported to us numerous times that the volume of duck and dove you see is incomparable to any in the United States. Being avid sporting clay shooters, my dad and I were eager to experience Argentina for ourselves. Although neither of us had ever been dove or duck hunting before, we were both looking forward to the challenges the hunts might offer.

When we arrived to the Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires at around 7:00 en la mañana(in the morning), quickly shook off our sleepy, jet-lagged spirits, and began our journey to the estancia approximately three hours from the busy airport and city. We reached the estancia and lodge in time for lunch and an optional siesta. We opted out of the siesta because my dad and I were definitely very anxious to experience bird hunting in renowned Argentina and, like my dad always says, “I can sleep when I’m dead!” With that mind set, we laced up our mud boots, put on our wind stopper jackets, and headed out for an afternoon filled with “throwing lead!”

argentinabirdbonanzamanydovePrior to the trip, I was honored that Beretta sponsored me through sporting clays shooting. When I mentioned that I would be heading down to Argentina, Beretta graciously gave me a new Beretta Xplor semi-auto shotgun to test. During the six days of shooting, the Xplor never experienced one jammed shell. How impressive! I was pleased with its mechanical function and consistent performance. I was grateful when Beretta offered me the gun, and I was elated to find out that the Xplor featured Beretta’s new “Kick-Off” hydraulic recoil reduction system. That system relieved me of all my “shooter’s shoulder” worries. As soon as I felt the recoil (or rather, the lack of recoil) from the Xplor, I knew my concern of developing a sore shoulder, which could potentially ruin the experience, was shot down. The new Kick-Off system reduces, if not eliminates, all recoil. Even when my dad and Miguelito, the outfitter’s son and friend of mine, tried the gun, they instantly remarked how the gun was really easy and smooth to shoot.

Another reason I was able to have such a successful hunt in Argentina was that I was shooting with my brand new Muller chokes. They allow the Xplor to hit ducks and doves “that much harder,” which really came in handy when my dad and I competed to see who could hit the most birds. To make a long story short, I beat him by a landslide and would like to thank the Beretta Xplor and the Muller chokes for my success. The first afternoon my dad and I shot more than 300 doves and went through numerous boxes of Fiocchi ammo. By 6 p.m., we had reached the close of a seemingly endless afternoon roost. When we put down our Berettas with their smoking barrels, we weren’t surprised to look down to find ourselves in a sea of red from the empty shells that had been ejected from our automatic shotguns. When my first dove experience ended, we loaded the Land Rover Discovery and headed back to the estancia for dinner cooked by Miguel’s chef, Roberto, and a much needed good night’s sleep.

argentinabirdbonanzagauchoboatThe next day, we had an early wake up call of 5 a.m. for our first morning of duck hunting. Duck hunting was truly an interesting experience — one that my dad and I never had before. We arrived at the marsh before sunrise and were loaded into a boat along with our guns, ammo and bird boys. Swiftly, so as not to waste time, we were pulled to the higher ground in the middle of the marsh. Yes, you read that right, I said pulled to the blind by a true Argentine gaucho and his strong white horse. Miguelito wasn’t joking when he said that we would be taking a “one horse-powered” boat.

On this first brisk morning of duck hunting, my dad and I learned that ducks are very picky birds and you have to be patient. Our bird boys, Carlos and Ramon, knew every duck species and began to call them in before my dad and I could tell if they were ducks or bugs flying toward us. I guess when you have years of experience as they have; differentiating the many duck species becomes easier. This first morning, we shot many ducks, which included six different species, and were happy to know we still had two more mornings of duck hunting to come.

Duck hunting ended mid morning, leaving plenty of time for a quick stop at a local leather craft shop in the nearby town of Gualeguay before returning to the field for an afternoon barbeque, Argentine style, and dove hunting. The barbeque was already cooking when we argentinabirdbonanzagrillingarrived. With a nicely set table and reclining chairs for a siesta, we felt more like we were at home than in the field. The meats were delectably prepared over a small fire by Miguel’s right hand man, Roberto. A genuine Argentina BBQ is not the typical hotdogs and baked beans we Americans are familiar with, but instead consists of cuts of their famous beef that we don’t normally eat here in the U.S. Roberto was also responsible for introducing my father to “mate,” Argentina’s famous tea. Every afternoon in the roost we sipped on the strong tea for an afternoon energy boost.

The next days were filled with as much excitement and uniqueness as the first. In total, my dad and I shot more than 200 ducks and around 2,000 doves. We couldn’t possibly eat that many birds, so we were happy to find out that many of the recovered birds from our hunts were taken to local needy families.

argentinabirdbonanzakimanddadThe six days we spent hunting in the Argentine countryside were at Miguel’s estancia. The lodge with its authentic ranch house architecture and design was beautiful and cozy. The house staff (Chef Roberto and housekeeper Rebecca) were very accommodating and friendly. Before dinner, we enjoyed snacking on appetizers and sharing stories with our outfitter and his son. Each night we looked forward to seeing what tasty dish Roberto had prepared. We were never disappointed. Everything was delicious. By the end of the seven days of shooting, it was time to say adios to the friendly staff at the estancia. Our trip to Argentina was everything I had hoped it would be.—Kimberly Weikel

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