With a New Shell Shortage in Argentina, Timing Your Trip is More Important Than Ever
I had a very interesting conversation with someone I trust to tell me the truth about Argentina. What he told me has also been verified by another outfitter in another area of Argentina. Although outfitters have changed locations to find the doves that are not nearly as concentrated in the Cordoba area as they once were, moving has not solved all of the problems that exist with dove shooting there. I will explain why I emphasize “dove shooting” in a moment.
There is a SIGNIFICANT SHELL SHORTAGE in Argentina at the present time. Many outfitters cannot get shells as the government, who makes the shells in-country, are simply not manufacturing shells in any number near the quantity they once were. What shells they do make and are bought by outfitters are costing the outfitters as much as $16 to $17 per box, or $320 to $340 a case. And shooters will pay more than that per box, usually at least $5 a box more. I remember when we could shoot three cases or more a day if one wanted to, so that puts a day’s shell bill at $1,000, times three days, or more than the cost of the airfare, IF you could, and you can’t, get shells in that quantity.
If you are planning on going to Argentina this year for volume shooting, I suggest you rethink your plan for 2024 and wait to see what the shell situation is when the outdoor shows in January and February come around.
The reason I highlighted “dove shooting” is that there are still good hunts in Argentina for pigeons and ducks, neither of which require large volumes of shells. An average-to-good shot should get a limit of 150 to 200 pigeons, still a big number, with less than 500 shells, making the hunt a lot more affordable and just as much, if not more, fun.
Then, of course, duck hunters should still have an opportunity, as limits of 25-30 ducks per hunter, with perdiz hunting in the afternoon, or a smaller volume dove shoot on an evening roost, still puts the total number of shells consumed in a day either less or much less than 500. (And, yes, outfitters will be watching shell consumption carefully.) Again, an affordable and great hunt with certainly better numbers than anything we can do in the U.S. or Canada.
It’s important, therefore, to figure out the best time of year to dove hunt in Argentina given the shotgun sell shortage.
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.
High Season – Argentina 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. Those 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 hunt includes not only doves, but ducks, pigeons, and perdiz – all the bird hunting opportunities. In addition, it is summer here in the U.S. and you can actually go somewhere where the Fall and Winter temperatures exist, and hunt when it is 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 and duck hunt and 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.
Low Season –You can generally shoot 1,000 rounds a day, or more, or you could once upon a time, at doves no matter when you go to Argentina, BUT mid-August to late February (called Low Season by the Argentines) is the really 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, which can be good, but you have to swat mosquitoes, and it 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 equals the nomenclature Low Season.
However, dove populations soar between mid-August and late February, Argentina’s Spring and Summer. That’s the High Season for doves. During this six-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.
Make sure you ask your outfitter about where he is hunting and how far it is from the lodge you will be staying. Things are complicated right now on several levels, so get as much information as you can before you commit to the hunt.
If you’re on a budget, get an estimate on shotgun shell costs and try to factor that into the best time of year to hunt in Argentina.
Like all hunting, and really the world in general, Argentina is changing and has changed. We will see how 2024 looks.
John Wiles is the owner of BestWingshooting.com, a national and international wingshooting booking agency. With over 50 years experience in the field for all wingshooting opportunities in 30 states, 13 countries and four continents, John has visited and hunted at many great shooting venues. This experience has led to his developing quality, high end, All Inclusive, wingshooting trips around the world with the American customer in mind. He has recently expanded his business base to include high end leather, and leather and canvas, products for the discriminating hunter with Bogart and Wiles Afield, http://bogartandwilesafield.com/, a joint venture for John and his wife, Laurie.