HUNTING JOURNAL: Dove Hunting at Estancia Los Chanares, Argentina, October 2005 (Unpublished)

HUNTING JOURNAL Dove Hunting at Estancia Los Chanares, Argentina, October 2005 Written by Bennett Fontenot – Lafayette, LA

The following is a day by day record of the dove hunt Mike Simm and I made with an excellent outfitter just north of the city of Cordoba, Argentina. While this was the most phenomenal dove hunt we have ever been on, it is important to note that this hunt almost did not take place. A few weeks before our hunting trip was supposed to occur, hurricane Rita hit the town of Delcambre (Mike’s office is there). The news said the town was completely under water. I called Mike to find out how bad his office was damaged. As we spoke he was on his way, boat in tow, to Delcambre to see if he still had an office. As we concluded our conversation we both agreed that there was no chance, in light of what happened, that we would be able to make the hunt. Two hours later my cell phone rang. It was Mike. He said “There’s no water in my office, I will be fine… DON’T CANCEL THE HUNT! The rest is history.

October 14- Afternoon hunt- 4:10 to 6:50—- 60 boxes of shells shot by me. Drive to field was 3 minutes.could have actually walked to the field. Under trees, 70 degrees, sun and wind to our back. Could have shot ’till 8 PM easily. Enough shooting for 1st day. Dinner: Free range sirloin strip, new potatoes (similar to La Fonda’s), Opus One wine, coconut cake and ice cream with ice cream spritzer drink. It was cool that night so we finished the evening with a fine Port wine next to a warm fire in the study.

October 15- Wake-up call 8 AM.

Breakfast: Wonderful Brazilian coffee, orange juice, homemade muffins, waffles, eggs, bacon, ham, cereal, toast, grilled cheese, sweet milk caramel spread, and other selections to numerous to mention.

Morning hunt- 8:45 to noon—- 75 boxes of shells. Becoming apparent that this gigantic roost has phenomenal amounts of doves all around it. 7000 acres of property. Never putting any shooting pressure on doves..the place is too big! They can handle 15-20 hunters at one time easily. Their max for lodging is 17 persons in exclusive accommodations. Today, if Mike and I would shoot all day with no breaks, we could easily have shot 10 cases of shells each (just today). The drive to the field was a little over 3 minutes. Instead of devoting 1.5 to 3 hours per day driving to the fields, we can now use this extra time to enjoy wine with lunch and have plenty of time for a midday nap without sacrificing hunting time.

Lunch: A Bar-b-que… Dove Kabobs (melt in your mouth), Free range beef Tenderloin (medium rare), huge beef and pork ribs, ¼ chicken, Flan and sweet milk caramel. “Los Haroldos” wine.a blend of Cabernet and Malbec.

Afternoon hunt- 3:45 to 6 PM 50 boxes. 68 degrees, high winds. We quit at 6 PM deciding to save our energy for the roost tomorrow morning. 5 minute drive to and from field. Arrived at lodge physically spent.then we had massages which were great. Felt like a new person after the masseuse left. Fatigue completely resolved!

Dinner: Dove etouffee, spinach ravioli, Tira Misu, “Alamos” wine, a Malbec.

October 16- Morning hunt 60 boxes. 65 to 70 degrees, dead calm, crystal clear skies, perfect conditions. 15 minutes to another property. This day will go down in infamy—call it “Mike’s Mecca Day” or ” It wasn’t pretty on the hill”. non-stop flocks of 200 to 400 doves for 4 hours! Must have seen 2 million birds by morning’s end. Most phenomenal display of doves we have ever seen in 25 years. Mike loaded his own guns and shot 70 boxes. If his bird boy would have loaded his guns for him he would have easily shot over 100 boxes of shells that morning. I shot 60 boxes because I didn’t join Mike’s location until 2 hours into the morning hunt (when he called me on his field radio to come and experience this indescribable sight).

Afternoon hunt- Perfect conditions, 70 degrees, clear skies. 15 minutes to edge of Secondary roost. ZILLIONS OF BIRDS EVERYWHERE! Shot from 3:40 to 5:30 PM when Mike and I “ran out of gas”. Shut down the shooting at 40 boxes. Too tired to lift gun. Looking back on the experience of this wonderful day we couldn’t have been more pleased with everything! Mike and I returned to lodge for a 7 PM massage. Made fresh people out of us.

Dinner: Dove nuggets in white sauce with chimi churri salsa, huge pork chops with apples and onions, grey sauced sweet potatoes, fresh tomatoes with Balsamic vinegar, pear, cinnamon, graham cracker crust pie with almonds & ice cream dessert.

October 17- Morning hunt- 60 degrees early-75 degrees by 10 AM. No wind, clear sky, classic, easy shooting. We shot at least 75 to 85 % average on doves coming straight on us-no flaring-( I know we should be ashamed of ourselves continuing to shoot these easy shots.but we still did it!). Nice, relaxing, at your own pace shooting. It’s becoming apparent to me that our hunting guides (Alex and Martin) here at Los Chanares have deliberately exposed us to a wide variety of types of shooting with their many varied hunting locations. It looks as if we have had a big improvement on the Argentina dove hunt experience by the No.1 desired improvement of having the drives to and from the fields never to be longer than 15 minutes… with the average time running at about 6 minutes.and then as an unanticipated bonus of having all the birds you can shoot on every hunt. We have had that all too familiar feeling of near total exhaustion from 16 hour hunting days. This place has allowed us to savor the hunt with fine wines and food and relaxing down time of our own choosing. Truly a quantum leap compared to all of our previous hunting trips. It’s now 1:10 PM, we have finished lunch. Mike has checked his e-rnails, we are taking a nap in our air conditioned room, not in the hot, insect infested fields.

Lunch: Dove tacos (soft), fresh tomatoes, mashed garlic potatoes, 2 veal cutlets with chimmi churri sauce, apple pie and ice cream. Afternoon hunt – Clear sky, 7 minutes to field, 75 degrees. Ended up meeting Mike at Cul-de-Sac shaped area. We sat under the trees and shot birds coming from all directions from 3:45 to 6:15 PM 45 boxes shot. Stopped shooting early… had enough for today. We were high on a hill shooting about 1/2 mile from the large roost. We could see about 3 miles in all directions and there were thousands of doves in any direction you would look. This place (7000 acres) can handle 100 hunters every day and not make a dent in the dove pop. No one can come into this locked gate property and they really know how to manage the bird population.

Dinner: Carpazis (like Proschiutto Italian ham) salad, Dove spaghetti, sweet cream caramel mousse.

October 18 (my birthday) Morning hunt- 75 degrees, clear, slight breeze, 34 boxes. Still more birds as far as the eye can see.

Lunch: Filet Mignon with mushroom sauce, avocado salad, cream potatoes, hot brownie pie with ice cream.

Mike and I together shot a total of 785 boxes of shells ( 39 cases). Our total of doves killed…. 11,640. Heading home this afternoon. Looking forward to coming back next year.hopefully with more friends that really appreciate this fine style of dove hunting.

Dove Hunting at Estancia Los Chanares, Argentina, October 2005
Written by Bennett Fontenot – Lafayette, LA