Argentina Mixed-Bag Hunting
As we get ready for the curtain to open on the 2019 bird season here in Wyoming, I’m feeling pretty lucky to have just returned from a bird hunting trip in Argentina where a couple of friends and I checked out the mixed bag opportunities at three different operations in the north part of the country. Talk about a way to warm-up for the upcoming grouse season! Although we did not target the kind of high-volume shooting that has made Argentina the go-to destination for dove hunters, we certainly got in more than enough shooting to get ready for bird season opener here at home. Over the course of six days of hunting, we shot numerous species of ducks, as well as perdiz (partridge), pigeons, and doves. I think it’s safe to say that although we were pretty conservative in our shooting, each of us expended more shells than we will in the entire upcoming season here at home, no matter how many days we get out!
Limits are liberal in Argentina, and in fact there are none for doves and pigeons. The doves are truly considered a pest more akin to locusts than a game bird and although dove shooting is big business in the agricultural north of the country, the farmers consider it is as much pest control as anything. Ditto for the pigeons. It’s important to note that just because the bag limits are high, nobody says you have to fill yours. Our group typically quit short of our limits for ducks and perdiz on each hunt and were happy to do so. Particularly with the ducks, just being out on the marsh and seeing the number of birds in the air is thrill enough.
Let’s talk about the food a bit. I said the food was good at each place but that is a bit of an understatement. Of course, there was beef on the menu at each venue (after all, this is Argentina!). But we were also served the game we collected at each as well. Not all of it mind you! But a sampling of all the different birds prepared in a variety of styles. And for those of you wondering, whatever the hunters don’t consume is distributed to the guides, staff, and local community so it does not go to waste.
Beyond the well-grilled steaks that we ate along the way, a couple of my favorite meals included chimichurri-marinated, grilled duck breasts and an over-the-top braised beef cheek risotto dish. The duck was marinated overnight in house-made chimichurri and then flash grilled on a screaming hot indoor parilla (grill). The result was very tasty and super tender medallions that needed nothing but a side salad to make a great meal. The beef cheek dish – which I have to add was prepared in a very cramped kitchen aboard the boat we stayed on – was one of the richest, beefiest cuts of meat I’ve ever tasted. Slow braised in a rich stock and served over a risotto that was itself infused with beef flavor; this dish was a real standout. Chef Lucas outdid himself on this one!
The experience has me already starting the planning for a 2020 trip. It will be cast and blast trip that will include fishing dorado in addition to ducks, perdiz, and doves. I’m thinking May/June time frame.