The vast and varied farming heartland of central Argentina known as the ‘Sierra Chicas’ is also home to probably the best and most prolific dove shooting in the world. It is generally assumed that upwards of 40,000,000 dove inhabit a region enjoying ideal conditions - plentiful food and thick vegetation. This high concentration has made the north of Cordoba Province a paradise for the dove shooter in search of intense action and high volume shooting. In recent years, average per person shell consumption has been in the order of 1,000 rounds per day, which gives an idea of the sheer scale of birds. Both dove as well as pigeon are considered by local farmers to be a pest – in fact so widespread that there is neither a bag limit nor a specific season and may be shot throughout the year.
Dove shooting itself takes place in the early morning and late afternoon, interspersed by a traditional hearty barbecue lunch - or ‘asado’, in turn followed by an equally traditional siesta. Out in the field, each shot is allocated an assistant, or bird boy, whose job it is to set up a suitable shooting position, supply shells and cold drinks. In addition to the bird boys, there will be english-speaking guides on hand throughout the shoot to attend to any other queries. Whilst visitors may bring their own guns into Argentina, all lodges that we work with offer a range of guns for hire, including Benelli semiautomatic, Beretta and Browning, both over and under.
Generally found in Buenos Aires province, duck shooting is primarily an autumn / winter activity, when temperatures can drop to between 35 and 50°F by July. The daily programme is similar to that in the dove fields. Species include, yellow-billed pintail, fulvous whistling duck, silver teal, southern widgeon and cinnamon teal. Unlike dove, there are bag limits which vary from lodge to lodge - however, invariably the goal is the same which is to strike a balance between action and conservation.
Sometimes described as one vast ‘estancia’ sandwiched between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is quite simply a shooting paradise – duck, dove, pigeon with probably the highlight, ‘perdiz’ (partridge). Shooting takes place in rich agricultural country on the gently rolling plains around Paysandu. A few days here can easily be combined with fishing, riding – or relaxing by the breathtaking beaches at Rocha or Punta del Este.
Most visitors from the UK travel from London via Buenos Aires with at least one night spent in the capital, both to recover from the long flight and see the sights of an enthralling city, before travelling up to Cordoba. For visitors travelling on to San Juan Lodge in Uruguay, there are regular onward connections from Buenos Aires for the short flight to Montevideo. Due to the flight schedule up to Cordoba, either from Buenos Aires or Santiago, it is quite feasible to shoot on the afternoon of arrival – and equally to shoot the departure day before leaving for home. For non-shooting guests, there is plenty to do – ranging from a visit to the historic city of Cordoba, a tour of the Jesuit estancias, riding or golf – all of which are within an easy drive.
Argentina boasts unquestionably some of the finest fishing in the southern hemisphere and is now established as a very attractive destination for fly fishermen from Europe and beyond. The seasons are of course reversed from our own, hence prime months to visit extend from November to March. The fishing and even topography are at least in parts familiar, yet diverse.
Starting in the far south, the sea trout capital of the world, the Rio Grande on Tierra del Fuego, and which flows from east to west from the Andes to the Atlantic in a sparcely populated wilderness and vast sheep ‘estancias’. The area is characterised by consistent weather conditions, a reliable quality of fishing and a strict catch and release policy. Fish up to 20 pounds are regularly caught.
Further north, running along the spine of the Andes mountains in north-west Patagonia near the idyllic towns of Esquel, San Carlos de Bariloche, San Martin and Junin de los Andes flow the rivers Futuleufu, Chimehuin, Alumine, Collon Cura, among many others and are home to rainbow, brown and brook trout. Amenities for non-fishing companions are diverse, all against a backdrop of breathtaking scenery, from hiking and riding or watching the flight of condors. The Patagonian trout season usually runs from mid-November until the second or third week of April.
The Ibera marshlands are the habitat of the most varied wildlife in Argentina, including alligators (jacare), capybaras and with particular emphasis on the birdlife, of which there are over 300 species. It is also home to Dorado, a fighting, freshwater cousin of the salmon and well known for putting up a real struggle as it leaps out of the water. Much further north, is the Bermejo river that runs down from the Andes mountains along the border with Bolivia and yields even bigger dorado that may weigh up to 40 pounds.