This post will take me few days as lots of things were killed and many days were spent doing it. Each day I will try to add a new hunt or day of hunting from my journal that I wrote while I was at the lodge. Using spears, arrows, bullets and shot shell we took on Argentina big and small game. A trip I'll not soon forget as I had a few near death experiences and lived to tell the tale. Here it is from my journal the first day at the lodge.....
Guns, Arrows and Spears Ė Hunting Argentina - 2011
BiG Boars journal Ė Day one at hunting camp
Wow, so much to tell you about. Iím sitting here with a giant grin on my face. This place is absolutely fantastic! I could go on and on, but where to start?
Our hunt was scheduled for April 20-30 for 4 hunters. It was an SCI auction that I bought on eBay actually, where the original buyer just couldnít make it for available dates in 2011. It was such a good deal; I just had to experience South America. I searched high and low for the right hunter to make up our forth. The hunters are, Cory (my wife), Stewart (a friend of mine which I met while sheep hunting), and myself. We had a 4th lined up, but in the end he canceled, so we went just with the 3 of us.
Cory and I started the trip with 15 days roaming Argentina. When we originally thought of Argentina we thought we could cover the whole of it, or at least the major areas before the hunt began. We made it to 3 places. Our hub, and the hub of the country is Buenos Aires, or as the short of breath say, BA. We made the 4.5 hour flight to Toronto from Vancouver, and then on to Santiago Chile as a quick stop over before our final destination, BA (10.5 hours with a 1 hour stop in Chile). The flight was good; with enough sleeping agents we made short work of it. We met up with a business partner of my familyís in BA, and he was kind enough to take us out for the first night we got in. He explained it was a good city for the most part, just to be careful with your belongings. Basically, just do as you would back home.
One of the first things that grips you as you step into the streets of the city is the aroma of hardwood fires used for cooking. It reminded me of summer nights back home in the old days when people used to use briquettes to cook a good steak. That night we went out to one of the fine steak houses in BA and since then have consumed copious amounts of Argentinian beef. Wine goes with every meal, and for about half of the total price of back home. The food here has been great; mainly beef with every meal, but it is a good lean, tender, young, grass fed beef. Everything is cooked on a hardwood fire, and you really can taste the difference.
We traveled to the beach town Mar del Plata first where we had 2 cooler days and 2 hot days, around 28 at the beach. We relaxed at a nice beach front hotel for 4 days. It was built about 50 years ago, but has been redone after it was left vacant for about 20 years.
From there it was back to BA for a one night stop over on our way to Mendoza. Itís about an hour flight from Santiago Chile, right on the edge of the Andes. Mendoza is wine country, similar to California as the grapes are on the flats and foot hills, right on the edge of the mountains. We had an absolute blast in there, taking in 3 days of wine tours. Far too much red wine was enjoyed by us. It was nice with the temperature around 25 most days. Our two memories would be riding a wine barrel in the pool and Cory scraping her knee and elbow while falling off her bicycle on our second wine tour. We met many good friends at the hostel we stayed at, probably ones that we will even run into some time in our future travels.
Then it was on to BA for 3 more days where we would meet up with Stewart and enjoy some wine, steaks, and even a bizarre old Tango bar. We even hit down town where there are 7 million people. It was absolute madness, even on a Tuesday at 2 in the afternoon. Iíve never been in a place so busy.
However, the best part of the trip was still coming. The hunt! We flew from BA after a small delay to a small town of 25,000 people called Santiago del Estero. It would seem from the air to be in the middle of nowhere. We landed and we were greeted in a small terminal by Tony. He was to pick us up and drive us to the ranch. With very broken English like most locals, we jumped into his Toyota Hilux and hit the road. For three hours. Three hours of straight road. A few pigs and goats and cows were seen on the way, but mostly a lot of thorny bush. We even got to see a couple of Gauchos herding along their cows. As we turned onto the dirt road we started seeing owls, lots of owls. In 15 kms, Iíd say probably 15 owls. I came to the understanding that they were road hunting or something.
Then we saw a fox, or zorro as it is called. Why not get started early? We tried for the next one we saw, but in my first of the season excitement, I forgot to cock the 22 rifle, and he got away.
As soon as we arrived we were warmly greeted by Paco, the ranch owner and his helpers. It was an enjoyable first night seeing the lodge and the many, many trophies and pictures littering the walls, even some of the past presidents of the US. On the walls are some of many of the different animals here in Argentina. Water buffalo, cougars, marsh deer, ocelots, black buck, wild goats, pythons, fallow deer, dorset rams and lots of red stags. After a half an hour of drooling and dreaming we sat down to beers, wine and mixed drinks, with Fernet, an unusually woody tasting black liquor, mixed well with coke. As the fire burned we sat and talked and headed towards our first taste of the local cuisine. Salad, mashed potatoes and pounded and Milanese (breaded) Red Stag. It was a very delicious meal. After a few more drinks we headed to bed dreaming of what would happen on the first day of the hunt.
This morning, after a good nightís sleep, listening to the crickets and what I imagined were pigs, but later turned out to be water buffalo; we woke to a foggy morning. Fog meant a sleep in and a late breakfast waiting for it to clear. We had our coffee and breakfast which was eggs and incredibly crispy and very salty bacon. One part they definitely do right is a fresh cup of percolated coffee, absolutely smooth and a great way to start every morning.
After breakfast it was time to check our sights. On every long distance from home hunt, the first thing to do is to check your weapons and make sure they are still on target and nothing is broken in the journey or out of whack. We chose not to bring guns as they cost $150 to bring into Argentina and we could borrow Paco's for free, if we chose to hunt with rifles. The only guns that had a cost to rent were the berretta shotguns, which take an absolute pounding doing their job. Those cost $50 a day to rent, a very minimal fee, and well worth it for a quality gun. We sighted in the guns and I checked the PSE Axe 6, 70lb bow I had brought and all was good. We were then showed how to toss the boleros, which is something like three rocks each on their own 3 foot string which is tied in the middle and thrown over the head, something like a lasso. The cowboys used to use these, but now they are just a toy. We toured the outside of the lodge and got to learn how to properly thrust a spear. Why learn to thrust a spear? Keep reading and youíll find out. Basically it takes more brawn than brains. Try to slip it into the ribs with all your weight and lean into it holding the animal away from attacking you. A miss or a pull out is a big problem. It may seem brutal, but is a very very effective way of killing, probably better than an arrow, with most animals expiring in only 10 seconds or so. Depending on how good you do your job that is.
After a lunch of Stag tenderloin medallions, marinated in a red sauce over top spaghetti, we headed out to see what we could find. Our method for today was spot and stalk. The bush is thick and tangled with thorns on every tree and bush. Above you and in every tree, you see the sandy colored doves and hear the squawks of the noisy parakeets. About half an hour into the trip we saw our first animals, 1 lone broken horn ram and 2 smaller rams of some kind. As we came to a small clearing, we saw our first animal worthy of taking home, and with 1 shot from Stewarts 270 Winchester, it promptly fell over.
From there we found a 4 horn ram and I decided as it had massive top horns to give it a try. We raced with the truck 2 clicks around to the back side and would try to have the other hunters push the ram past me and my arrows. I got in place, nestled tightly in some thorn bushes and waited for the ram. At 30 yards I saw him and readied. He had stopped and I hoped he would walk into the clearing in front of me and would stop again. As most animals do, he did the opposite; he trotted quickly up and past me. I held the 395 grain arrow tipped with a carbon steel G5 fixed broad head. He didnít stop though and I held right on his front shoulder. At the last second I decided to pull the trigger. The arrow missed its mark thoroughly and with a solid hit in the back quarter, he trotted off. I stepped out of the bush and watched with a sick feeling in my stomach. What was I thinking shooting a moving target? I nocked another arrow but at about 50 yards away he tipped over! I definitely got lucky severing the femoral artery.