July 2014: Duck Paradise Found

Duck Hunting Paradise Found

Where in the world does a duck hunting paradise exist? To be a duck hunting paradise it must be a special place where the ducks are numerous, where various species exist, where the ducks fly well and most of all not scared to death. For some this paradise may be Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, Kansas or the Dakotas.  Mexico, Saskatchewan or Alaska may be on the list. All great waterfowl destinations no doubt Even Scotland and other parts of Europe and Asia hold their allure. But in my humble opinion it is hard to beat Argentina for sheer number of ducks, very light pressure, variety. Liberal limits and just the experience.  Again, the ducks are not only numerous but virtually unmolested. The native Argentinians do very little duck hunting themselves. Virtually all the duck hunters are foreigners as is the same with dove and pigeon.


My wing shooting adventure into this beautiful country started in 2003. My duck hunting partner and waterfowl aficionado Jason Tucker took the plunge and ventured into this wing shooting frontier that year. Our hunt was a mixed bag affair of goose, duck, perdiz and a smidgen of dove and pigeon. To say that the trip met all our expectations was an understatement.

The trip in fact left us hungry for more, much more. Argentina has the tendency to draw the wing shooter back again and again. In fact, I know no hunters that have just hunted there once. Argentina is to the serious wing shooter what Africa is to the big game hunter. Little did know before we took that first trip that our once in a lifetime trip would turn into a lifetime of hunting and visiting this great wing shooting destination. We had to find an excuse to return. So what better reason than to start an outfitting business in Argentina. Thus J&J Outfitters was born. Our goal was to introduce as many fellow wing shooters to that we could to this beautiful land, so they too can share in this great experience. Yes we could do this and we did. Our selfish reasons were to return here year after year.

This past season after years of visiting Argentina and hunting waterfowl in this land of beef and gauchos I discovered a true duck hunting paradise within the wing shooting capital of the world, my beloved Argentina. Consistent high quality duck hunting is the most difficult game in the wing shooting game. Not just in Argentina but throughout the world. By nature waterfowl moves around a lot. Waterfowl always seeks better pastures whether it be Argentina or Arkansas. You have to find the right mix of food, water and sanctuary. This mix has to be consistent every year to have consistent results.

When my good friend and former Argentinian hunting guide Damian Garcia told me he had such a place, I was very hopeful. So I ventured down and was pleasantly surprised that the hunting was even better than he stated. Yes after years of visiting Argentina and other South American countries this was duck paradise found and by reading this story you will see why.

Our first morning we set up in a small bay on a good size pond or lagoon as they are called down there   that was probably 100 acres in size. Like all good duck hunters we arrived in the dark of course. We set up a quick makeshift blind and threw out a very modest set of decoys. Standing in the blind I could see the sun slowly rising in the horizon. I could hear some duck chatter in the distance but did not know what to expect. We did not have to wait long before we could see the silhouette of the first ducks of the day lighting into the dekes. Although still a little dark I can tell by their shape that they were Brown Pintail. The Brown Pintail is the most common duck ibn Argentina. About the size of its North American cousin the Northern Pintail with similar flying antic. We chose not to shoot at these first arrivals.  Still a little too dark for my taste.  Anyway in Argentina you don’t have to rush things, at least at this location. Many more ducks would soon join the party.

Soon a single bird came in on my side. Now with a little more light I took the shot. Bang and splash the first duck of the day fell in the water. What a duck it was. Nothing less than a beautiful white faced tree duck or also known in Argentina as the Pampas Ciriri. This bird has to be one of the most beautiful ducks on the planet with white cheeks, blackish back and a mixture of crimson, brown and yellow cream breast feathers. This bird is native to both South America and Africa. They usually don’t decoy well and normally come in at first light. A real dandy of a bird. It is always fun shooting different exotic waterfowl that are so different from our native North American birds. Like all waterfowl their colors always amaze me. During your  first Argentina duck hunting , adventure you will be in awe of the various species and their different colorations

After that first bird, Like on queue one group would come in and then another. These were unmolested birds, unlike our late season ducks that have been blasted up and down the North American flyways. Most of these birds have never seen a decoy in their life or for that matter, as we use to say in the military, never had a shot fired at them in anger. Like clockwork the parade of ducks kept coming.

Damian shared the blind with me. He was firing an automatic and I an over an under. Usually it’s the other way around with the gringo shooting the automatic and the Argentinian shooting the over and under. Damian and I would call the shots. I was on the left and he on the right. Naturally, showing proper etiquette, I would shoot the ones coming in on the left and he would pick off the ones on the right. To further make things more enjoyable we would honor each other and call the shots. I times I would yell take them Damian and he would do the same for me.

Throughout the morning a cornucopia of ducks came in that included, tree ducks, Brown Pintail, Speckled Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Argentine Red Shovelver, Silver Teal an a occasional ringed teal. But where were my favorite, the beautiful Chiloe Widgeon? We could hear them chattering in the distance but not closing the distance to our spread. Finally Damian managed to turn a distant flock. We crouched down a little and kept enticing these e wily creatures.

After a few minutes of trading widgeon language back and forth we saw the birds circle and then commit. They came lower and lower fixated on our decoys. They finally sealed the deal with their landing gear down and wings cupped. They were to our left, so that entitled me to the first shot. I stood up and dropped a beautiful Drake Chiloe just in front of the blind and practically at our feet. Now it was Damien’s turn as they quickly shifted to the right and front. Damian,s two shots were true and he was able to pile up two more of these beautiful creatures on this pass.

The early morning came and left both fast and furious. We shot many more ducks and also missed many more as duck hunters always do. It’s amazing how fast a duck of any species can fly when he puts on the afterburners. We congratulated each other on the good shots and laughed at the misses. Sometimes I did not shoot at all and just took pictures. We stopped shooting ducks when we both felt satisfied without over doing it. Yes we could have easily shot many more if we were ruthless but neither one of us are. Damian imposes a generous and yet reasonable limit per hunter and we were under by choice according to these standards. Both he and I have taken more than our fair share of Argentina ducks and we were not at as eager to rackem and stackem liker years past. I am not at war with the ducks anymore. After a couple of hours we were done. As we picked up the dekes and took down the blind and snapped the photos the incoming duck barrage, never stopped.

Throughout the rest of the morning Damian proudly showed me his duck paradise. We drove along and everywhere there was water.  There big ponds, small ponds, lagoons, creeks, and flooded agricultural fields On a few of the smaller pond the ducks were crowded beak to tail. In all I counted over 13 species. How many ducks did we see that morning, I have no clue but there were certainly thousands upon thousands. Clouds of ducks would simultaneously lift up and then set back down. I was in awe and have never seen so many ducks in one area. Not only did I see so many ducks, but so many birds that just seemed relaxed and unmolested. The birds were very tolerant of my picture taking as long as I did not get too close.

About noon we returned to our beautiful estancia. An estancia is an Argentine ranch house. This one was particularly special. Damian leases it during the season. It was spacious, comfortable and just plain beautiful inside. A picture window in the living room commanded beautiful vistas of the surrounding pasture and field. The house was perfectly set on a small rise. The entrance of the property was lined with magnificent trees. What a setting. This place would make a great getaway location even without the great hunting. The owner of this estancia raised Polo horses that grazed on the property.

I felt somewhat guilty in staying in this gorgeous house that was decked out in magnificent antiques, A woman would love this place. A spacious fireplace was the centerpiece dominated the living room and dining area. In Argentine tradition we dined on magnificent beef, past and fine Argentine wine. What a treat. And like another great Argentine tradition we each took a restful siesta after this great meal to recharge the batteries for some more afternoon fun filled activities afield.

Throughout the next four days we duck hunted the mornings and sometimes the last couple of hours of each day. Every hunt was excellent and a repeat of the first morning. To say the least it was fantastic. To  break the monotony we sometimes chose to hunt Perdiz. The Perdiz hunting rivaled the duck hunting. One day I managed take a limit within less than an hour. That does not happen every day but particular day I did not miss and the dog worked beautifully.

At this duck hunting paradise the afternoon hunting can be just as good as a morning hunt. One special afternoon we got to our afternoon spot a little late. It was a very clear day but very windy. Damian never hunted this particular spot before. We quickly set up the blind, throughout the decoys and in short order once again the ducks came. There were the usual characters: gangs of Brown Pintail, Spectled and Silver Teal and Shoveler. But what was particularly good at this special spot was the Widgeon and Cinnamon teal. Damian was not hunting this afternoon but taking pictures. In short order I shot a limit of birds. This one afternoon hunt was one of the best that I ever had in Argentina


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