Dove shooting in Argentina: There is little doubt that dove shooting in Argentina should be on a sportsman’s “10 things to do before you die” list.
Imagine being able to shoot as few or as many cartridges as you like in a day, enjoying the most varied shots available anywhere in the world.
If this is what your shooting dreams are made of, then dove shooting in Argentina may well be your nirvana.
You can shoot high birds in the hills or lower birds in the fields, depending on the time of year.
There is no closed season but if you are looking only to shoot high birds on flight lines in the hills then early and late in the year is when you should travel.
Don’t forget your recoil pad when dove shooting in Argentina.
It is also a little warmer then if you want to shoot in shirtsleeves and shorts.
During the rest of the year the birds tend to be in the fields in large quantities and provide some very good and varied shots.
It can, however, be cold in the mornings and evenings.
In some areas like Cordoba there are literally millions of these eared doves (zenaida auriculata) and they are agricultural pests.
They flight in the morning from their roosts to the feeding areas and then from the fields back to the roosts in afternoon.
The shoot day
A typical day’s shooting begins with a hearty breakfast.
Depending on the time of the year this may be before dawn. Guns then head out to the pre-scouted flight lines.
Depending on where your lodge is and the time of the year this may require a 300-yard stroll from the lodge, or a transfer of an hour in a 4×4.
On arrival at the shooting posts you will be introduced to your bird boy, who will stay with you for the day.
Ammunition, a seat and a cool box are provided.
The bird boy will count the number of doves that you shoot as well as the number of cartridges that you fire. He will also provide you with more ammunition and drinks as required.
There are millions of eared doves (zenaida auriculata) in Cordoba and they are agricultural pests.
The birds will start flying pretty much as soon as you are in your post and will flight all morning and then will start to dwindle in numbers, conveniently, around lunch time.
Lunch is something to look forward to, as breakfast will seem like a long time ago. If warm enough, it will be al fresco (or in colder weather in a purpose-built lunching lodge).
The guides will have set up a table with chairs either under a gazebo or in the shade of trees.
A short distance away the asado (barbecue) will be on the go, cooking Argentine beef and chorizo.
Lunch is normally a feast of wonderful steaks, ribs, sausage and superbly marinated and succulent fresh dove breasts, all served with salads and potatoes.
There is always some Argentine Malbec to savour as well.
After lunch there may be time to enjoy a siesta in a hammock before the afternoon flight begins.
The shooting in the afternoon can go on in the summer until 7pm or 8pm, but in the winter months it finishes about 6pm or earlier if preferred.
There is plenty of time to have a shower or bath and relax before a drink and a dinner.
The likelihood is that you will not want a late night but the great thing is that you get to do it all again the following day.
Where to go
There are a number of lodges in the Cordoba region that offer dove shooting in Argentina.
As with hotels they charge different rates and generally you get what you pay for.
The cheaper lodges will not have the best shooting areas, accommodation etc., the more expensive ones will have and will provide the little extras like massages after shooting, better quality wines and drinks and single occupancy rather than shared occupancy accommodation.
There are now some exceptional lodges with superb shooting.
Argentine shoot lodges provide wonderful places to relax after a hard day’s dove shooting.
On the whole, shooting in Argentina is not expensive when you consider what you are getting, but your cartridges are generally not included in the daily rate so it can add to the cost, as you will probably fire quite a lot of them.
Lodges tend to charge by the night and include full board accommodation, return transfers to and from Cordoba airport and the shooting. Licences are not included.
All of the lodges will have a choice of guns for guests to hire.
These will most likely be 20 bore over-under or semi-automatic shotguns; some lodges will have 28 bores as well.
It is a good idea to hire guns at the lodges; it saves a lot of hassle and time at the airports.
If you do want to take your own gun then you will need to apply for a licence on arrival in the airport and there is a small charge for this.
You can get to Cordoba in two ways: One is to fly from the UK to Buenos Aires and then fly internally to Cordoba.
A lot of people opt to stay a night or two in Buenos Aires either on arrival or departure.
It is a lovely, generally safe and city with hotels to suit all budgets and excellent shopping.
The other is to fly from the UK to Madrid and then take a direct flight from Madrid to Cordoba (this is not a daily flight) by-passing Buenos Aires.
What to take with you and how to book
Only take shooting kit that you are comfortable in – there is no need for tweeds.
Take layers which you can shed or put on to suit the temperature changes.
Good quality shooting glasses, gloves, ear defenders, comfortable ankle boots and a good long peaked hat/cap are a good idea.
Fleeces, cotton trousers or even American style bush pants are ideal for this type of shooting.
Be sure to take a recoil pad for your shoulder!
The lodges tend to be quite relaxed by way of dress codes in the evenings and there is nearly always a daily laundry service (which may be charged for as an extra).
There is no such thing as a good shooting shop in Argentina, so take all of the shooting necessities with you.
There are sporting agents who sell excellent shooting in Argentina.
Lunch is a carnivorous Malbec lovers delight.
With most shooting abroad, the lodges/outfitters that the agent represents pay the agent commission rather than the agent charging a fee to the client.
This way the client gets the agent’s service and experience, as well as the trip organised for free, without paying any more than if they book directly with the lodge.
Be sure the agent is ATOL protected and ensure that you have third party insurance cover which covers shooting abroad and suitable travel insurance.
Argentina is a diverse country with glaciers in the south, fabulous vineyards in the west, deserts in the north and rainforests in the north east.
If you are going to be travelling that far it is always worthwhile staying a little longer to explore this wonderful country.
For more information on dove shooting in dove shooting in Argentina email Adam Bromfield at firstname.lastname@example.org