Here some tips from Glenn Rangiuia one of the hunters who has visited us this year. Read his experience with C&C Outfitters.

Game birds of Cordoba

GLENN RANGIUIA TICKS ONE OFF HIS BUCKET LIST…

Argentina Dove Hunting“Bird hunting has been a great part of my life
for many years. My son Simon flies in from
Australia each May, meeting up with his friend
from Auckland, then we all drive up to our mate’s
farm in Northland to spend an enjoyable 4-5 days
shooting at and hitting a few birds. Lately though,
our annual get together has led to fewer and
fewer rounds being fired. So what to do?”

Over the duck season I talked to shooters who had shot doves in Cordoba, Argentina, which lead me to the internet.
Wow! Some experts estimate 50,000,000 doves in the Cordoba area. Why are they there? Perhaps the 150 million tons of grain grown annually and the no-till regime has something to do with it.

THE GAME

The main target for hunters is the Eared Dove, a small bird weighing 100-112 grams and 200-240mm in length.
We shot doves coming home to roost after a day feeding and they were so laden with grain that they burst open when they hit the ground. We opened three up and they held about 30 grams each, mostly sorghum with a few soy beans to top it off. So if my math is correct, 50,000,000 birds eating 30 grams per day equals 500,000 tons of grain a year.
The other attraction for the doves is the large feeding pads the Argentines use for raising beef cattle. We shot on one that fed some 5000 cattle and the birds kept coming all day, in the 100s of thousands. With a mild
climate and doves being able to breed up to four times per year they can reach plague proportions very quickly.
The pigeon is the more challenging bird and there are two varieties, the larger Pica Zuro and the more common Spotted Pigeon, better known in Argentina as “Pichon”. These birds are a real challenge – they fly faster and often jink and swerve in flight if they see the hunter moving. Many outfitters place a limit on these birds of 200 per day but we shot where the birds were coming in to feed on a sorghum crop and there were no limits.
So there are plenty of birds but what happens to the shot ones? They are collected and given to locals. We tried pigeon’s breast on the “Asado” which is the Argentinean equivalent to a BBQ, and they were very nice, but when we had breasts lifted off the bone, soaked in milk, and fried in a pan with garlic they were exceptional.

THE GUNS

Simon took his 12 gauge Beretta A400 Xplor with Kick Off – after three seasons he has shot maybe 1000 rounds
through it. I borrowed Editor Peter Maxwell’s Benelli Montefeltro 20 gauge. You have to pay an entry fee (RENA form) to get the guns into Argentina, at a cost of $US125.00 per gun. We had no trouble landing in Buenos Aries and clearing our guns through the Police and Customs. If you really like your gun, take it, but it is easier to hire a gun from the outfitter at US$60 per day. C&C Outfitters run Beretta 391 semi-autos, a couple of Winchester X3s and a couple of Remington 11-87s in 20 and 12 gauge. We had a transit stop in Santiago (two hours in-bound, five hours on out-bound) and had to show paper work for the guns even though they were supposed to be in transit! It was only a little hassle. The same thing happened on the return flight home.

THE AMMUNITION

You can tell you’re in a developing country by the quality of the ammunition. “Stopping Power” was one brand that
didn’t always do what it was supposed to do. Most of the outfitters shoot small 25 gram – 28 gram loads of 7 and 8s for everything, ducks included. They shoot lead shot. We experienced many misfires and Simon had at least 15 shells that had primers only, no powder, a dangerous situation. Ammunition charges
varied from US$12.50 to US$15.00 per box.

THE SHOOTING

On the first afternoon shoot we pumped through 1000 rounds each in under three hours and Simon killed 747 birds while I tallied 612. Not bad with jet lag and little sleep. We shot 20 packets of ammo across a feed lot then moved to a night roost, literally 1000s of birds and another 20 packets. The birds are small but they are very fast, we clocked them on the side of the road at 65kmph. A dove is faster than a clay target. I missed many birds
by not giving them enough lead. Range estimation was a problem. I was behind on many of my first shots and it took a little while to get a sense of the range since I had no real idea of the size of the birds and what they should look like when they were in range. Doves can take a solid hit and still keep flying – quite often I
would blow a huge amount of feathers off a bird only to see it continue on for some distance.
The next morning we were up early, 6am to have breakfast and drive about 20 minutes to a pigeon feeding ground.
Miguel had been out scouting looking for flight paths so he could position us under the birds. It worked as I had 1000s of birds come over my hide. Simon had fewer birds but he shot accurately and his tally was higher. I hit 312 in the morning compared to his 335 and in the afternoon I shot 346 to his 366.
So we were down another 1000 rounds each. The last dove shoot we had was on the previously mentioned feed pad. This was actually the first time we had shot side by side together and it was very competitive. It was mind blowing the number of birds that were coming and going on the day. We started off in the morning shooting incoming birds moving from right to left; as the afternoon sun got up we got left to right shots as some birds
departed. By the late afternoon we were getting overhead shots going both ways and in the late afternoon we were seeing thousands of birds offering going away shots. As the sound of our shots rang out we noticed the
circling eagles landing to feed on the shot doves. The local predator
bird population was making a feast of it.
While we were shooting a couple of Gauchos were working the bulls in the lot right against the hide, “No problems, keep shooting,” said Miguel! It freaked me out how happy the locals were to carry on working while we were shooting very close over them.
The Argentinian climate is similar to New Zealand’s as both countries are in Southern Hemisphere. We took the
same clothing and gear that we use here at home, and it was fine. Do not wear fleece trousers as they pick up grass seeds and it takes an age to get them out. I wore cotton trousers and Simon hunted mostly in shorts
but there are plenty of mosquitoes so take some repellent. We found Ridgeline clothing to be great – I wore their Recoil Jacket in Wapiti camo and Simon chose the Mallard jacket in Grasslands camo. Both blended in to the local foliage.

BIRDBOYS

Both our Birdboys knew their business and they applied their skills with professional pride. They spoke little English and we spoke no Spanish so our communication was limited but as we all had a passion for hunting it worked out fine. Their equipment included a folding shooting chair, chilly bin with drinks, sacks for birds and fired cases, a magnetic shell retriever, and a click counter to keep track of the birds we shot. They were
always ready with a handful of shells for reloading our guns, or pointing out incoming birds.
These guys could load the guns so fast that we could shoot almost continuously.
When we needed a drink they would produce whatever we wanted from the cooler, water, beer or a soft drink. They also set out camp beds so we could take a short nap after the huge three course BBQ lunch.

SANTA FE DUCK HUNTING

The drive to Santa Fe was the worst part of the trip; the back roads are all dirt and as rough as farm tracks here in New Zealand.
The highways are okay. Once in Santa Fe we met the outfitter Roberto and settled in to the lodge. This was one of the highlights of the trip. We were up at 4.30am and left the lodge by 5am. It was a 55km drive up a really rough
track to the hunting area and Roberto knew all the good spots. We used canoes to get over the large drain and out to our shooting stand.
The swamps are huge by our standards. We shot standing in the thigh deep water with a few decoys and some temporary cover. The outfitter will supply waders for the duck hunts. As first light appeared in the east the ducks started to fly past. Most of the ducks we shot were passing shots but there were hundreds of ducks to shoot at and they kept coming. The Birdboys called the ducks with a whistle made from the brass end of a 12 gauge cartridge. None of the ducks quacked like they do here. We shot a 101 ducks by 11am on the first morning.
Day 2 saw us shoot in another position on the swamp and we shot 139 ducks in a little over two hours. Day three we were again in a different part of the swamp and shot 102 ducks (Simon 82, Glenn 20) in about 1.5
hours. It was brilliant but there were swarms of mosquitoes and you had to use repellent to keep them off. It was worth the 14 hour drive there and back. You can hunt ducks from May until August but C&C Outfitters
can get you an extension until October.

THE COSTS AND THE OUTFITTER

We paid the outfitter US$4046.00 (each) for eight days accommodation, food and beverages, and 10 half day hunts. This did not include the ammunition, tips, licence fees, gun import fees etc. We shot doves, pigeons plus three days on ducks. Our ammunition tally was 345 packets (8625 rounds for 5366 birds) between us.
You pay a local licence fee of $US50 – 65 per day and this money goes to the landowners. You tip the bird boys US$50 per day and US$100 per shooter for the entire stay to the staff of the hunting lodge.
Our total cost including accommodation in Buenos Aries was $US6546 plus $NZ2600 airfares per shooter.
Typically C&C Outfitters will require you to book up to six months in advance, but for a May until August hunt you might have to book even earlier. They normally require 50% of the cost upfront and a party of four
shooters is the standard. We paid an extra $US300 surcharge for two shooters. Duck shooting will require a drive from the dove lodge to Santa Fe, which can be 4-8 hours depending on where you shoot.

THE LODGE

We chose C&C Outfitters, and their lodge La Rosada, it has six double rooms all with full bathrooms. We were the only shooters there at that time. The lodge is a two hour drive from Cordoba Airport. C&C Outfitters has a large presence on YouTube , with many hunting videos. Their service is top notch and the owner, Nacho, endeavours to get you the best shooting experience he can. The Birdboys, accommodation and staff were very professional and friendly. From when they picked us up at Cordoba airport until they delivered us back for our flights home they went full out to provide for us. Nacho is a 100% professional who looks after his clients.
His English is quite good and he will answer all your questions either over the phone or on Skype. The lodge is about 20 minutes from the best hunting areas in Cordoba. Was it worth it? Yes and we will be saving
hard to go again in a couple of years. If you love to hunt with a shotgun you owe it to yourself to go to South America and tick it off the bucket list.

Glenn

Please click Game birds of Cordoba