Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Argentina, best dove hunting in the world.

There are a lot of reasons I have returned to Argentina so many times to hunt doves, ducks geese, and perdiz (short list):

Very favorable exchange rate, 3:1 or better, which is important these days.
They like Americans, or are really good at hiding what everyone else says aloud.
Stable political environment.
Buenos Aires is a lot of fun, great food, nice hotels, restaurants, lots of history.
It is safe: I take my family, the shopping is great.

Mostly it is because you can shoot vast numbers of doves, until the ground looks like it has snowed feathers and little grey birds. A day without blood is like a day without sunshine.

Argentina is a grand frontier that is now what the American west was. It is a wild, free place that is Valhalla for hunters. Limitless game. Few limits. Fewer rules, No other Hunters. I have never encountered another hunting party other than at the airport. This is different if you go with other outfitters, it is unique to Daniel's outfit. Cordoba is a circle jerk. If you have never been party to a circle jerk, trust me, you are not missing much.

Stunning, and I mean stunning good food. I am not a skinny granola eating hippie. I know good food. All the cooks we have had are trained in classic French and Italian techniques. The beef is some of the best in the world. Want good food, ask a fat man. Did I mention the food? It is good.

In Buenos Aires there are a lot of great restaurants, a lot of Spanish and Italian influence, cafes that remind you of Madrid. If you don't like a really good steak, it is the wrong place for you. I like La Chacra. It is traditional and has a wood fired grill. You do not notice the smoke until you leave, but do not plan on going anywhere until you change or be happy smelling like a nice steak. It is mostly locals, but they have an English menu if you need it. Save a little room for dessert.

I attribute my great experience there to my guide, Daniel Zanuso that owns Safaris Rancho Salvaje. Daniel is a hell of a good guy, and he minds the details. He runs all of dove hunting, duck hunting as well as big game. His second in command, Luis, handles the goose hunting. Daniel caters to American, Italians, French, and all sort of other like minded murderer types. He and his staff are attentive, and determined to make the trip relaxing and enjoyable. The link above is to Daniel's site, which gives a different perspective on all the different types of hunting than Roger's site. It is easier to contact Roger, as Daniel travels a lot.

There is a variety of experience to be had with different outfitters. Some are more in the $1000 a day range. We spend around $550 a day plus shells. The shells are $12 a box. This is not a high profit margin item in Argetina, as all the components are imported. In Mexico, they make lots of money on the shells, and the bird boys are bad about stealing them. I have never had that problem here. I say the average dove hunting trip to Argentina will cost:

$1250 airfare
$2200 guide fees
$400 licneses & gun import duty(or rental)
$300 tips
$1500 shells ($2500 for me, but I am not average on this)
$500 for walking around money, gifts.

So about $6150 for 4 days. It can be done for less, by about $1000 if you hunt in the off season, March and April.

Yes, it is a lot of money. Consider that going dove hunting in Texas costs $250 a day by the time you buy gas, eat out, pay for hotel in south Texas, pay the day hunt fee. Then you might shoot your 12 birds twice a day, and hope the game warden does not check the cooler for having more than 2 times the limit. These birds cost $10.50 each.

This last trip I shot a total of 2937 birds in 3.5 days. Even considering we charter a Turboprop to avoid the van ride ($2500 but if you have 10 guys, it is worth it) my birds only cost $2.38 each. It is like they are free!

Argentina Dove & Pidgeon Hunt

Pidgeon Hunt in Argentina

Argentina Duck Hunt

The Estancia we stayed in on this Duck hunting trip belonged to the Prince of Austria. Most of the accomodations are very nice. They don't know we is from the country.

For those who were not raised in East Texas, you can skip this paragraph. Daniel is also a first class spotlighter. I mean he runs a light like a machine. If you want to go run around all night with him and shoot rabbits and fox and bonus critters, he will take you. Some areas allow rabbit hunting at night, others do not. But should you be so lucky there is a giant rabbit there. No kidding, 2 feet tall, 25 lbs. It looks like a horse. You could saddle the damn thing and ride it. I mean I prefer to shoot them, but whatever you are into.

That is a big rabbit. They call it a Mara, and they tell me it is not a rabbit. It hops, eats grass, poops little rabbit turds, and tastes good fried. It's a rabbit. Sure it has short ears, but I don't eat the ears. They also have smaller ones with long ears they call Livre, that they say is a rabbit. It tastes just like the first one. It is a Rabbit, I tell ya.

These are the Livre. They are less than half the size of the other one, but it is still at least as big as Bugs Bunny, only not so lucky. There are also a few Perdiz, and a couple Parrots in this photo. It was an interesting morning.

1 comment:

Pat said...

Viva La Chacra. Great food and excellent service. Prices are a bit higher than in past years but they are always friendly and have great service.

When you go hunting in Argentina and visit Buenos Aires, you must go there and few other places.