Our friendly neighbor to the south welcomes United States hunters with open arms and crowded skies. An estimated 300 million doves fly over Argentina each day. That doesn’t include all the pigeons.
Most U.S. bird hunters have heard about this incredible dove shooting, but fewer know you can indulge for about $3,000. That includes 4 days of shooting, room and board and round-trip airfare. The room and board are excellent, the food is abundant and meaty (roast suckling pig, Argentine beef and more) and the dove shooting is the most incredible in the world.
You can easily shoot 500 shells a day if you want, and some have fired well over 5,000. True. In short, while $3,000 might sound exorbitant for a dove hunt, the per-bird price is not. You’d chalk up a lifetime of dove trips here in the States to equal one afternoon’s shoot in Argentina.
But that’s not all. Go at the right time to the right place and you can also shoot rock doves (barn pigeons) and at least two kinds of native pigeons. A few years ago, friends and I stood in an Argentine cattle feedlot and wore ourselves out firing at marauding pigeons and doves. Such shooting is practically self-defense for farmers down there. Why else would any farmer let a bunch of strangers fire thousands of rounds while literally standing among feedlot cattle?
Argentine dove and pigeon numbers are so incredible because of agriculture. Grain fields planted beside broad expanses of acacia tree woodlands create perfect habitat. The woods provide shelter, roosts and nest sites. Corn, wheat and sorghum fields provide seeds. Warm temperatures permit the birds to raise more than one brood per year. Despite all the shooting, dove and pigeon numbers continue to increase.
By hunting in Argentina you help farmers protect their crops (a little), and you help outfitters and guides make a living, but you also help yourself by getting the best wing shooting training possible. No trap, skeet or sporting clays courses offer the volume and varied angles of dove shooting, and you get thousands of shots per day in Argentina. You can practice every angle—again and again and again—until you master it. Work on lead, swing through, range estimation and speed.
While shooting with Remington’s then-new Versamax 12 gauge auto a few years ago, I went from hitting about 30 percent on day one to 80 percent on day no. 3. After I’d figured out the leads and angles I was able to target an incoming flock and take four birds from it, time after time. Talk about a confidence builder!
Next time I’m taking a 20 gauge or 28 gauge. With light loads, recoil isn’t a problem with a 12 gauge semi-auto, but gun weight begins to wear on you. A 6-pound 20 gauge with 28-inch barrel or 5.5-pound 28 gauge would keep me in the game longer. By the way, you buy shells by the case down there at about $12 per box of 25, and gauge doesn’t matter.
Google Argentina dove hunts and you’ll find dozens of outfitters offering services. Pick one and go—and you won’t have the summer time blues.