High-volume dove hunting in Argentina is about tons of burnt gun powder. Many hunters who go to Argentina can easily make 3,000 to 5,000 shots per day and more. That’s a whole lot of shooting if your goal is to make the most of the high-volume dove opportunities there. And if so, here are a few tips that may help you survive your first visit high-volume hunt in Argentina.
High-volume dove hunting in Argentina.
In terms of a shotgun, hunters who bring their own tend to favor 20 gauge over/unders. However, the shotgun of choice supplied by the lodges is a 20-gauge semi-auto, which depending on the make and fit, can deliver potentially lower recoil over a long-haul, high-volume hunt. Bear in mind, though, that if you are traveling with your own over/under, given the incredible number of birds, a 28-gauge can be just as effective with even less recoil despite the lower weight of the gun.
The single most important factor in both downing birds and managing the recoil is gun fit. High-volume dove hunting is notorious for bruising the shoulder and face. One tip to bear in mind is to bring your own slip-on recoil pad and cheek pad for the comb. The best cheek pads have a temporary adhesive that won’t damage the stock when removed. You can find some cheek pads that are made by Kick-EEZ, Beretta and Beartooth. (Think about spending time shooting clay targets before your departure as a means of fine tuning your stance and gun mount in order to maximize your time in the field.)
Blinds for Argentina dove hunts are usually made of materials from the immediate surroundings.
Any shotgun will get quite hot during a high-volume hunt. Bring a sturdy pair of shooting gloves to manage the hot barrels. Most lodges in Argentina will have a loader accompany you to accelerate your shooting. If that’s the case, it’s possible he’ll have two shotguns in rotation – one that you’re shooting and the other he’s loading, which can cut down on the heat of the gun you’re shooting. And given the number of times you’ll pull the trigger, tape your trigger finger even if you’re wearing gloves.
Top-notch ear protection is essential. Forget cheap foam ear plugs because before you know it your ears will be ringing from all the doves you’ll be shooting. At the same time, ear-muff style protection can get in the way of your gun mount. Probably the best solution is a high-quality set of ear plugs.
The amazing number of doves you’ll see in Argentina.
The sheer number of doves in the air during a high-volume shoot can be confusing. This isn’t like American dove hunting. The doves in Argentina swarm in elusive flight patterns. The best thing to do for starters is select one bird among them and go for it. The best approach is to first select a single bird, and then figure out how to position the shot for quick follow-up on a second or third bird. It shouldn’t take long to obtain this skill and before you know it you’ll be shooting like that on pure instinct.
If you’re preparing yourself at home on a clays field for gun mount and stance, the next step would be shooting simultaneous pairs as quickly as possible to help get a handle on high-volume doves. You’ll need to shoot fast and accurately. Don’t get too discouraged if you’re missing the second clays shot, because in Argentina high-volume dove hunting only means that the next shot can be a few inches away. The clays drill should serve the purpose of improving your hand-eye coordination in terms of recognizing the target and acting on the shot.
Estancia Los Laureles in Entre Ríos, Argentina.
High-volume dove hunting is often accompanied by high-volume misses, but don’t let it worry you. Missing is an essential part of the experience, and the trick is not to let it get to you. Don’t get discouraged and lose your concentration. You’ll find yourself in a tailspin of failure that leads to bruises and disappointments. Focus on the next bird instead and keep your spirits high.
Hunters are naturally competitive, and as you’ll be sharing the lodge with a few others spirits may run high. Nothing can ruin your scores more than competitiveness. As soon as you begin to wonder how the other men and women are doing, you lose focus on your own shooting and slip into a loss of confidence and focus. Make up your mind that the only person you’re competing against is yourself. Stick to the proper stance and technique, focus on the next bird, don’t keep score – and by the end of the day you may be pleasantly surprised.
You don’t go to Argentina to be easy on your trigger finger, but that doesn’t mean you should lose your head: overboard enthusiasm may have the same effect as competitiveness or worries about missing. Besides, shotgun shells, like everything else in life, come at a price, and that’s also a factor to be considered. However, a different kind of moderation is important if you want to make the most out of your trip. Argentina is one of the top winemaking areas of the world, and famous for its cuisine.
Argentina is unique among hunting destinations for the incredible number of doves available with no bag limits. This type of wingshooting isn’t suited for everyone, but if you’re inclined it’s the hunting experience of a lifetime.
Aleksei Morozov grew up dreaming of the outdoors in a polluted Soviet industrial town, and relishing every opportunity to go hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather. After a few years of teaching English and Linguistics at a university, he followed his heart and became an outdoor writer. Aleksei's stories appeared in the Russian edition of Sports Afield, the Russian Hunting Magazine (where he won the Writer of the Year award in 2014 and 2015), and other publications. Now he runs the blog and social media pages of www.bookyourhunt.com