Nobody likes to hear the alarm clock, not even when it means waking up for an amazing shooting day. We would always prefer to stay warm in bed for 5 more minutes, especially if we have the warm body of a beautiful woman (she might even be our wives!) sleeping next to us. This time I was supposed to wake up at 4:30 am and drive to “Los Crestones” lodge to shoot in the afternoon with Tom. Driving in the Argentinean Pampas is a complete different experience from what driving means in the U.S or the U.K. In Argentina, driving can become a long and boring experience because most of the roads are a straight line of nothing from city to city; and speed limit can sometimes be the speed limit of your car. I had three big coffee cups before I arrived at my final destination. Between Cordoba and the lodge the road is 60% freeway, and there isn’t much traffic. It was 875 km, 3 gasoline stations and 5 packs of candies.
At “Los Crestones” lodge you are able to shoot ducks in the morning and upland birds in the afternoon. I had to drive approximately seven hours to get there on time to go out in the field with the guys. Upland birds in the Buenos Aires Pampas and Uruguay is a great wingshooting sport. This bird, called Perdiz, normally stays in pairs of two and they walk or run a lot on the ground, till they get scared and fly away. The proper fields for upland hunting are those with heavy cover where birds can feed and hide themselves. We usually go out to the field with two guns, a guide and our best friend the pointer dog.
But a few minutes after I had arrived at the lodge, I had to change my boots and orange jacket into a camouflage wader and camouflage coat, and I also grabbed a semi-automatic shotgun. The decision had been made while I was having a coffee in my pickup truck on the way to Los Crestones. This would be a duck shooting afternoon. The good news were, that in our dry blind we could wear long rubber boots (no need for waders on that day)
It was a pleasure to meet Mauro at the lodge at about 2 pm. He showed me the lodge’s accommodations and then he took me to the muddy room to get ready. The fireplace was nice and warm, and I had another coffee. My friends were taking a nap when I arrived, so with Sebastian, the lodge manager, we waited for them talking about old horses. Tim was the first one to meet with us at the fire place, and even though he had been shooting the whole morning, he was ready to go out again. Two other friends were supposed to come too so we had to wait a bit more. The plan for the afternoon was 2 blinds for four people. I stayed with Tom in the same team, and Mauro was our guide. We had to drive half an hour to be in position and ready to shoot at 4:30 pm. The sun was still shining over some clouds.
Guns, ammunition, dogs, drinks, appetizers, and all our staff was already on the trucks before we were ready for our departure. When we arrived, Tom decided to use a Beretta 20 gauge over and under silver pigeon, and I chose a Benelli 12 gauge black M1.We both had our metallic green boxes with ammunition, 75 rounds each for the afternoon. One of the good things about our blind was that it was a dry blind, and we did not need to wear waders to get to it. Tom said: “you’d better load your gun quickly!”
At the time we were ready in the blind, there was no wind, and it was warm and sunny… not the best condition for ducks. No ducks the first 5 minutes. No ducks the second 5 minutes. But this game is about patience, right? Another five minutes and both of us were looking at all directions trying to see a bird coming to us; and so far the only bird flying straight to our blind was a yellow and black bird called by native people “benteveo” that was trying to stand over the natural long grass of our set up blind. Decoys were quiet on the water, only the robot was moving its wings. Again the yellow bird flew over us and I thought this little bird did not know what it was doing.
Suddenly, Mauro said: “ducks from your left”; and action started. Bum, bum, bum and another bum; and Tom told me: “we have the first two in the bucket.” We reloaded our shotguns. We waited for a few more minutes and another flock came down towards the pond trying to land on the decoys area. Another bum bums and some more birds ended in our bag. We filled our pockets with some more shells, and we were ready because action had just begun.
We shot half of our shells in an hour and we could hear silence for only a few minutes, but at that time, the sun was behind some lower clouds and the sky depicted a mixture of red, orange and pink/blue colors. We were talking about some nice double shoots we did when two unexpected ducks were over our heads at a very low range. Not believing my eyes, I shouted Tom: “ou wo wo wo”; and before he had time to pick up his gun (he was up in the blind because he was working on replacing the lenses in his glasses. By the time Tom mounted his shotgun, game was over. I had smoked the two birds just in front of us. He looked at me smiling and he said something like: “you were supposed to say ducks, or “patos”, you know, what in the hell does wowowo mean!!” and we both laughed for a while because Mauro shouted one more time: “ducks from the right!”
There is nothing nicer than arriving to the lodge after the shooting and having a good drink and an amazing appetizer. That night a great bed was waiting for me. I was so tired that I did not hear a single fly in the air.
The following morning we woke up at 5:30 am, and at 6:00 am we were ready to start our day. We drove 22 minutes and we arrived at a lagoon which was 3 times smaller than the one we had gone to the day before, but we could see some totora cover here. Our blind was in a sharp canal. In the morning, I was with Tim and we both shoot great. Birds were coming from every direction, but mostly from our right. We had a bag of 88 birds.
Till next time! Thanks Sebastian and your team for a great adventure. My destination now is Buenos Aires City. It was one hour and a half drive from the lodge, not too bad if you compare it with my first driving day.
Pablo Aguiló, May 13th 2013. Los Crestones.