Spring Elk Season

If September seems too distant to quench your elk fever, then go now. In late March and April the season is open, the rut is roaring and so are the bulls—in Argentina.

Argentina’s red stags aren’t exactly elk, but they are near cousins—Eurasia’s version of our wapiti. American elk, according to the fossil record, actually came across from Asia on that famous Bering land bridge, changing their tune and getting larger as they progressed eastward.

While our elk bugle or whistle that familiar, high-pitched squeal, red stags merely roar or moan. It sounds like the initial growl of our elk. Roaring stags attract and hold more cows if they roar more often and loudly than their competitors, and down south they start in mid-March. This does not mean they are rutting in spring. March south of the equator is the seasonal equivalent of mid-September in North America.

This is great news for United States elk hunters who can’t get enough of the bugle season—or perhaps hunt it at all. Most U.S. bugle-season hunts are limited to archery only, but in Argentina you can hunt roaring stags with rifles.

Go South, Man!
Some friends and I did this recently, finding ourselves still-hunting and stalking literally dozens of roaring red stags while trying to remain undetected by all the cows (called “hinds”), plus assorted fallow deer and Russian boars.

Red stag in Argentina look and act a lot like an elk, though their body size is about 50 percent smaller than North America’s Rocky Mountain wapiti.

Argentina wasn’t blessed with any of these big game animals, but Europeans introduced them long ago, and they now run feral in many places, including the foothills of the Andes and the vast acacia woodlands and grasslands of interior provinces, such as La Pampa where we hunted.

The hardest part of hunting Argentine stags is getting there, and that’s not all that difficult. Get to Miami or Dallas and book an overnight flight. In about 8 hours you’ll land in Buenos Aires, transfer to an in-country flight and land deep in the interior where your guide/outfitter will pick you up. You can literally leave home today and be hunting in Argentina tomorrow.

What You Need To Go
You don’t need any special gear except for a passport. Your deer or elk hunting tools will work fine. I shot a Styer Scout rifle in .308 Win. using Hornady Full Boar ammo with 165-grain GMX bullet. A Zeiss Conquest HD scope directed my aim. Two neck shots resulted in two stags dead in their tracks.

Argentine rancher, veterinarian and guide Jeronimo Kenny led me to this red stag bull just as it trotted from the woods in the background. A 165-grain Hornady GMX Full Boar load in .308 Win. fired from a Styer Scout rifle ended the hunt.

We found weather surprisingly mild—bordering on hot—on a ranch an hour south of Santa Rosa. This didn’t dampen the roaring of the stags. They started about 5pm and roared all night until about 9:30am. Stalking them was surprisingly difficult, given the waist-high bunchgrasses and head-high tree limbs. Most shots came between 70-150 yards through gaps in the foliage.

While it’s possible to gain hunting permission from ranchers, it’s much easier to book an outfitted hunt. Let the locals handle all the logistics while you concentrate on the hunting.

We went with TS Buenos Aires Outfitters. Wild boars and fallow deer offered additional hunting, as did thousands of doves and pigeons around sorghum fields. Rural people were friendly, helpful and proud to show off their country and abundant wild game.

Hunting in foreign countries can seem intimidating at first, but Argentina is modern, safe and welcoming. Your outfitter will take great care of you, and within a day or two you’ll feel like you’re on familiar turf—except you’ll be “elk” hunting while your friends back home will be happy just to see green grass again.