Wing shooting has become a term to encompass all forms of bird hunting. Traditionally ‘bird hunting’ meant good, staunch pointing dogs, bob white quail, and covey flushes. We also have ‘dove shooting’, a Southern tradition, and then there’s ‘partridge hunting’ which means ruffed grouse hunting. You also have duck hunting, goose hunting, driven pheasants, rough shooting (walk up hunting in Europe), volume shooting (usually reserved for Argentina), mixed bag hunting (where several species of birds are taken on one hunt), and many others others I haven’t listed here. One word encompasses all the various forms of hunting flying quarry: wing shooting. In the following guide I’ll offer up my suggestions for planning your own exotic wing shooting trip to Argentina.
Clients and Seasons
Okay, so I’m an outfitter, and yes, I have a business in Argentina. This article isn’t about any of that. It is about what you need to know if you want to go, and how to figure the cost of going. For fifteen of the last twenty years, I was a consumer. I did my research, booked my own flights, paid my money, and went hunting. That changed five years ago, but I believe now that, as an outfitter with a lot of real world experience, I have a moral and ethical obligation to educate and explain to potential Argentina wing shooting hunters how to put together the hunt of a lifetime and what it really costs.
Basically, there are three types of people when it comes to hunting trips to Argentina.
1. People who have never been and will go, if not this year, then next year, or the year after, but they are going.
2. People who have been, had a great experience, and will go again,
3. And, lastly, people who believe in their hearts they will never be able to go, or those who have gone and who will never go again – and the reasons for both these thought patterns are too many to list here.
If you are in group 3, skip this and read some of the really interesting stories and articles in Shotgun Life.
If you are in group 1 or 2, read on.
Seasons and Dates
Argentina is synonymous with “dove shooting”. Volume wing shooting means doves as a rule, although there are liberal limits on ducks and the two common wild pigeons, spotted wing and picazura. Dove season is open year round. Most people know that.
Argentinian climatic seasons are the opposite of ours; i.e. our fall is their spring, our summer is their winter, etc. It is cold there in July and warm there in February. These are good things!
Generally, mid March through mid August is called the High Season because it is their fall and winter, and the variety of wing shooting that you can do includes not only doves, but ducks, pigeons, and perdiz – all the bird hunting opportunities. In addition, it is summer here in the US and you can actually go somewhere where there are fall and winter temperatures to hunt while it’s hot and humid here. I like that aspect and you probably do too.
This is really good to know in planning your trip, because you can dove shoot, duck hunt, pigeon hunt and perdiz hunt in May through August, with June, July, and early August being the absolute best times for all species, except doves (read on), and is usually referred to as High Season for pricing purposes.
You can generally shoot 1,000 rounds a day, or more, at doves no matter when you go to Argentina. However, mid August to late February (called the Low Season) is the really high season for doves and High Season (see above) is, in fact, the ‘not so high’ season for doves.
What is referred to as Low Season by most outfitters is actually the very best season to be in Argentina for doves – period. It is called Low Season because you can’t duck hunt, except in the rice fields. Normally, this can be good, but you’ll have to swat mosquitoes – that isn’t what most people visualize when they think of duck hunting. You can’t perdiz hunt. You can have some limited pigeon shooting. Not so many things to hunt is what the Low Season is.
However, dove populations soar between mid August and late February, Argentina’s spring and summer. This is the true season for doves specifically. During this 6 month period, doves will nest four times and if a roost has one million birds in it at the beginning of the breeding season, there will be two to four times that many at the end of the breeding season if left unchecked. That’s a lot of birds.
‘Not so high’ season on doves is basically mid March through mid August. There will still be uncountable numbers and more shooting than you have ever done in your life time (1,000 shells a day, or more) but to truly see the spectacle that is Argentina dove shooting, their spring and summer (our fall and winter) are the best times.
To continue to part two of this guide, click here.