HISTORY OF DOVE SHOOTING For many years my wife Yvonne and I have been travelling to Argentina to shoot doves. Yes we’ve flyfished a bit and travelled around a bit but truthfully it is the dove shooting that brings us back each year. My early trips were booked through the London office of Frontiers International Travel but after I started writing about dove shooting for The Shooting Gazette, it occurred to me that I had to broaden my horizons and visit other outfitters.
Carlos Sanchez is a brilliant shot and although we can’t see the dove falling, his Labrador Tito is not rushing out to bring his master’s slippers.
o Yvonne and I jungle-busted ourselves around Argentina visiting the good the bad and the ugly to see what dove shooting was available. In recent times, on just one of our trips each year we invite a group of friends to join us. This tortuous job of organising just one trip a year was succinctly likened by my chum Peter Johnson in San Francisco as ‘herding cats’, but still I do it! By the bye, don’t ever begrudge the small income derived by sporting travel companies because I can tell you, they earn every penny, promise! Anyway in my quest each year to put together an interesting group I receive all sorts of replies, but always they fit into three groupings. The best group and unfortunately the smallest group say ‘yes’ and send a cheque by return. Joy! The biggest group by far say “I can’t make it this year but book me in for next year” By the way, if everyone who said that to me actually came the following year, I could likely fill the business and first class sections of a 747, but of course they don’t!. But the most puzzling group tell me that they had either shot doves in Argentina back in the ‘seventies’ and it’s not something they would want to do again or that they had friends that had shot doves then and didn’t think it was that good. Whatever, this is very interesting but stupid! If they had said that they had shot doves in South America during the ‘seventies’ or more specifically Columbia, fine, but Argentina hadn’t yet been born as a dove shooting destination so it’s most unlikely that they would have even heard of Argentine doves let alone shot them! So read on and find out how and when Argentine dove shooting did actually begin.
The early days After guiding a client on a duck shooting trip in 1985 close to Brazil, in the far north-east of Argentina, David Denies (Pica Zuro & La Dormida) with his wife, decided to take an extended sporting trip throughout Argentina armed with just a rod and gun to see what they could find. There wasn’t a planned route or schedule because they wanted to be flexible. In those days, like in the UK mid way through the last century, it was possible to knock on a landowner’s door and fish and shoot almost anywhere with just a polite request. David’s duck shooting client, who was also with his wife, managed to muscle in on the trip by
THE DOVE & DOVE PROVINCES
There are almost twenty species of dove that inhabit South America but it is the eared or golden dove as it is sometimes called that is our principal quarry. It can be found as far north as the West Indies and throughout South America and it is an incredibly serious pest for the farmers; in just a few days it can reduce the total yield of a crop ready for harvesting by 60%.
n the Province of Córdoba the doves primarily nest in the scrubby Chañares and Piquillin trees (I understand that they are different trees but they both look pretty similar to me) that grows in vast high ground forests. Unlike the National Bird of Argentina, the Hornero that builds superbly structured mud houses on anything from gate posts to ledges and parapets on buildings or the Monk Parakeet with their hanging multi-storey apartment blocks attached to power pylons and telegraph poles, the Eared Dove is no structural engineer. They build a very scruffy flimsy nest made from just a few twigs that looks less than half finished; nothing is used to line the interior and you could almost expect an egg to fall through it, but it’s obviously adequate for the dove. Interestingly, doves nesting for the first time have the flimsiest nests and generally produce just one egg, whereas a more mature bird lays two or sometimes even three eggs in a much bulkier and more stable nest. Perhaps the reason that they are more substantial is because each time they nest they probably add extra twigs to their own previously built nest but I’m just guessing. The Chañares and Piquillin trees are short and squat with tangled branches covered with very long sharply pointed spines producing protection for the nesting birds from foxes and other ground predators as well as air born ones like hawks and eagles. Oliver Hayes, brother of Alex and Zeke Hayes who own H & H Outfitters took me into the interior (I still bear the puncture marks from the spines) of their 7,000 acre block in the famous north Córdoba Churqui roost that other outfitters share with their own parcels of land and leases. There I saw trees that were no more that ten feet high supporting nine active nests. Most of these nests either had one to three eggs or a similar number of young in them, and as the dove can nest four times a season that could mean that a mature breeding pair could produce ten or even more offspring a year. Of course all that assumes conditions are ideal, fortunately for us shooters they are but for the farmers they are not! For doves to breed successfully they need three things, food, water and somewhere safe to nest, although in the east of Córdoba, Sergio Abrile from Four Seasons took me to a roost that was so overcrowded that doves were nesting on the ground so how safe that is I’m not sure. But whatever, the Córdoba Province has all the breeding
HAYES & HAYES OUTFITTERS (Alex & Zeke Hayes)
Dove shooters can be exclusively booked by H&H into the super luxurious El ColibrĂ.
The Lodge This is a wonderful example of a beautifully renovated and updated classic period estancia lodge that reminds me of the old estate properties that I have stayed at in India. The public rooms are large and very comfortable, and the atmosphere very relaxing. Strangely as Yvonne and I sipped our predinner champagne in the lounge, in my mindâ€™s eye I visualised a period house party with the Belgium detective Hercule Poirot in attendance, which may somewhat account for my feeling of being underdressed in my blue jeans and t-shirt at the large dinner table, although during my stay, Oliver was equally casually dressed. Nothing could be more different for my second visit; this time
Yvonne and I joined a highly entertaining bunch of shooters from Northern Ireland that we think must have been sponsored by Beefeeter Gin â€“ well it seemed that way to us, otherwise their gin account would have been higher than their cartridge bill, and this lot were very serious cartridge abusers. Yvonne and I had never ever seen cool boxes filled only with gin, tonic and lemons but then we have never visited another blind to find disco music coming out of a radio before. This was a very unusual shooting party! Anyway back to La Loma lodge; there are six bedrooms all with private bathrooms. Four bedrooms had very comfortable twin beds and two had double beds. Each bedroom was large and
airy with a ceiling fan and air conditioning; if I had to be critical, I would have to say that the bedrooms lacked a little personality but that is maybe unfair. Because all the bedrooms had tons of draw and hanging space and there was plenty of floor space loved by us dove shooters to spread out. We also had a desk / dressing table for my computer and Yvonne’s make-up and a substantial mantle piece over the fire place for all the camera rubbish I carry in my pockets. On our first visit our bathroom was opposite the bedroom so although not exactly en-suite, it was extremely functional, and
the bath itself was big enough to test a four man inflatable dingy, and I’m sure that the fire brigade would have been happy with the shower. On our second visit our bedroom was fully en-suite with the bathroom so the layout of the bedrooms must vary somewhat. Most of the bedrooms open onto a large covered walkway / veranda overlooking the mature well watered and maintained gardens and under the veranda in front of the dinning room there was a comfortable seating area for post-shooting drinks and canapés. It can be fun shooting next to a friend.
MILES & MILES OUTFITTERS (Nico & Dickie Miles)
rothers Nico and Dickie Miles have been in dove shooting from the beginning so they know what their clients want. In fact Nico is Vice-President of the Association of Dove Shooting Outfitters so he’s really in the thick of it! Depending on the size of your group, they have two excellent lodges to choose between. Both are very comfortable, but if you are a smaller group or perhaps you want to shoot a mixed bag of perdiz (when in season) and doves, then maybe Estancia del Pilar might be for you because you could walk up perdiz over pointers in your pyjamas before breakfast. Of course if you are travelling on your own, you can choose either lodge. The brothers’ previous lodge before La Catalina, called La Faustina had a wonderful large and inviting sitting room, bar and dining room that had tons of style and atmosphere but the bedrooms were probably too rustic for female companions so it tended to mostly attract guys. However La Catalina changes all that so now they have two really inviting lodges for their clients that will please the female guests, shooters or non-shooters as much as it will the men. Before I get into the nitty-gritty of La Catalina, Nico gave me a little piece of advice that all you camo wearers (including me sometimes) could follow. ‘The best camo for dove shooting is neither Mossy Oak nor Realtree but the shadow from either a tree or bush’ – interesting yes? So line your shadow up with a tree and give it a go, I tried it and amazingly it works! Nico Miles wearing his signature wide brimmed hat.
The centrally situated main public room at La Catalina is comfortable, warm and inviting.
Estancia La Catalina The Lodge
The vast and I really do mean vast single story building has the look of a traditional Argentine estancia working ranch house but Nico and Dickie have designed it from the foundations up to offer the travelling sportsman everything he could ever want in luxury accommodation on a dove shooting trip. The lodge is built on high ground in three major sections extending over approximately 120 meters. The central section houses the public rooms, gun room, kitchen and offices and either side are the two bedroom blocks so this must have been a major undertaking for Nico and Dickie. Interestingly almost all the fixtures and fittings, both inside and out have been found from other colonial style villas including the wonderful ‘thigh’ tiles on the roof; so called because they are mounded before being fired around the craftsman’s thigh, hence the name. All the good things have been included from La Faustina; the public rooms of La Catalina are spacious and inviting with lots of style, warmth and atmosphere. The main public room, approximately 70 by 30 feet has sofas and armchairs surrounding an open log fire at one end and a bar and dining
THE ENTERTAINMENT & OTHER ACTIVITIES There is always a cabaret night during your stay, usually the last night and massages are always available to be booked to relax tired muscles at very competitive prices and internet access is available in the main lodge. One of the ten identical air-conditioned and spacious bedrooms at La Catalina. table at the other. However the really important improvement over La Faustina is in the bedrooms. There are ten very large 350 square feet en-suite bedrooms, all equipped with a kingsized bed, a wardrobe or a place to hang clothes, a sideboard and a table, plus two suitcase stands. Promise these are large bedrooms by any standard so there is plenty of space to spread out equipment et cetera on the floor. And amazingly all ten bedrooms are designed for single or couple occupancy so you don’t ever have to be kept awake by a snoring male companion who has had too much to drink. For some reason they have not equipped the windows with mosquito mesh but as there is an individually controlled air-conditioning unit in each bedroom, opening windows is probably less important. The bathroom is split into two, the shower, bidet and lavatory in one area and a mirror, hand basin and electric points in the other. Each bathroom has two monogrammed towelling robes and plenty of large fluffy towels. Nico and Dickie have dramatically raised the profile of their outfitting company with the opening of La Catalina. They now attract a high profile group of big-hitting shooters used to shooting in Europe and the days of multiples in a room are long gone. When we arrived this year we joined a great group from the Lone Star state that included King Ranch and Texan royalty Stephan J. ‘Tio’ Kleberg and his lovely wife Janelle and
I can’t get no satisfaction is performed to the approval of Tio and Janelle Kleberg.
ENTRE RIOS PROVINCE Los Ombues is approximately four and a half hours drive north of Buenos Aires, but you have to add another hour if you want to be driven to Los Laureles. The drive to Los Ombues seems to pass in a flash and logistically being met by one of their vehicles at your Buenos Aires hotel takes all the stress out of travelling with guns. The rolling hills of northern Entre Rios are reminiscent of my own home in England.
ou don’t have to involve your ground agents to get you to the domestic airport and you don’t need to spend money on internal flights or pay overweight charges. Importantly however, when you add up all the tooing and frowing involved with a flight anywhere, a drive in a comfortable minibus (van) for four hours or so probably involves less time than a flight, and that isn’t allowing for flight delays or cancellations. The Autopista is the main arterial motorway travelling north that leads to Brazil and Paraguay. It begins almost in the centre of Buenos Aires so you are very quickly into your journey to Entre Rios. After you have crossed over the two massive bridges that span two enormous rivers all the industry is left far behind you and you pass through a vast popular junglely camping area that, by the way, looks extremely mosquito infested. You then cannot fail to realise that you have hit cattle country, because estancia (ranch) after estancia with tell-tale ramps to load cattle onto trucks are on either side of the road for miles and groups of gauchos ride the wide grass verges either side of you. The road is now bullet straight disappearing into the distance in a shimmering heat haze that seems liquid in appearance. The Monk Parakeet communal nests on telegraph poles and electricity pylons give way to mud constructed nests of the national bird of Argentina, the Hornero which is the clue that you are half way to Los Ombues. On one of our trips to Los Ombues, after Gualeguay City and before we reach the town of Victoria, we passed under a 14 mile wide dove flyway that must have contained millions of doves which I guess confirmed that we were heading in the right direction. The countryside becomes pancake flat and the cattle estancia give way to fincas (farms). After Victoria the landscape changes again and you are confronted with rolling green hills that remind me of home. As I mentioned, the journey can take four to four and a half hours, but we returned once in a normal car in a little over three hours. One thing that can slow you down are the regular Police roadblocks looking for illegals coming from Brazil and Paraguay, however they usually recognise the lodge vehicles and flag you through. There is an Airport at Paraná, the closest large town, but flights are so infrequent that it is not worth considering. However you can charter a plane from Buenos Aires to fly to Parana for about $2,500.00, and it will carry four people, but if you travel as heavily as we do you could well find you are too overloaded to fly. I recently had a Cessna 402 chartered
to fly us from Córdoba to Santa Rosa in the Province of La Pampa. In theory we were five and it was a seven-seater plane so all should have been okay. Ultimately Yvonne and me jumped ship and took a scheduled flight back to Buenos Aires; with the entire trip luggage that included ten guns there was no way all five of us was going to get on that little plane and take-off. Frankly, it is not until the pilot is able to assess and weigh all the luggage and hand luggage that he will be able to know if he can fly you to your destination, which can be a real ball-breaker if you are on a tight schedule. So I think plane charters are a real problem, and anyway, unless you fly from small airport like San Fernando, you still have to go though the whole rigmarole of security at the airport. On the trip to Santa Rosa, if we had been smart, instead of chartering a plane, we should have booked an air-conditioned luxury bus. Once again, the travel time would not and taken us much longer than by plane and we would have all reached our lodge in La Pampa instead of Yvonne and me ending up back at our regular Buenos Aires hotel. Los Laureles however is just an hour and a half drive from Santa Fe Airport so a quick hop on a regular scheduled flight from Buenos Aires that takes well under an hour is probably your best bet, although my last flight from Santa Fe was cancelled and we ended up in a small regional airport with very limited facilities for more than five hours so on reflection, if given the choice I would probably go by road and skip all the hassle and security at airports. I guess if you are a fly fisherman as well as a shooter and you want the opportunity to catch Golden Dorado (a bit of a silly name really because dorado actually means gold in Spanish but at least it distinguishes it from the saltwater dorado) as well as shoot doves, then both Los Ombues or Los Laureles in Entre Rios could be the perfect location for you because as well as offering excellent dove shooting both can offer Dorado fishing on the mighty Paraná River that borders their properties and if you want to really go for it and try to break an IGFA world record, Marcelo Peréz has his spectacular La Zona fishery just a short drive from both lodges. Although there are probably fewer doves in the Province of Entre Rios compared with Córdoba province, Córdoba has to cope with probably one hundred or more outfitters compared with the seriously undershot Entre Rios. In all my visits to Entre Rios I have never ever heard shooting from another group whereas you will always hear other groups shooting in Córdoba and I have to say, I always had enough birds to shoot.
ESTANCIA LOS LAURELES (Aldo Machín)
Salentein is a massive Dutch owned company that has vast farming operations and world renowned wineries, but it’s their tourist operation in Argentina that is of interest to us. They have four luxury lodges offering a variety of activities; however the fishing and duck shooting and especially the dove and shooting available at Los Laureles attracted me to travel an hour and a half further north from Los Ombues.
This is another modern purpose built single storey shooting lodge that oozes comfort and luxury. It has a beautifully designed gun and boot changing room only matched by Los Ombues, so you can leave both behind to be cleaned for the following day. The gunroom and the lodge manager’s office are separated from the main building by a covered drive through parking area. In the main lodge there is a small but attractive bar, which is one of the few shooting places in Argentina where you will be able to get a consistently really good chilled glass of white wine (their own of course). There is a small television lounge area with satellite television where my wife is usually found often watching football (soccer) matches from Europe. The year before last I had to physically drag her from watching her team, Arsenal, in order to eat dinner so on reflection maybe satellite television is not always a blessing! There is an attractive large dining room that could seat twice the number of possible The sunken sitting room.
The pool and pool bar. lodge guests that I find very comfortable. The main focus of the public rooms is the wonderful sunken seating area with an enormous open log fire place surrounded by comfortable green leather armchairs and sofas where post shooting and pre dinner drinks are taken. Although outside they have a large veranda around the whole rear of the building with comfortable seating that could also double for post shooting drinks and canapés. This is an extremely spacious property for just six bedrooms but even when you are just a few people, because it is so well designed, somehow you do not feel that it needs more people to give the place atmosphere which can be the case in some of the old large estancia lodges. The gardens are expansive and manicured with beautiful mature trees and shrubs. The pool and pool bar and barbecue area are probably the nicest we have visited, and the whole package, even though I know I have said this before, could easily make you feel you are in a five star resort hotel. All six identical twin bedded rooms are large and airy with ceiling fans and air conditioning. Windows open inwards, like most lodges in order not to get in the way of the mosquito mesh so during the warmer months they are left open after room cleaning which means that there is always a fresh feel when you enter your bedroom. There is ample hanging and draw space in the dressing area that leads through to the luxury bathroom with a Jacuzzi bath and an additional shower. Beyond the bath there is a separate bidet and lavatory for privacy and because we were a couple, it seems that the staff
always assume that you want to share a bed so our very large twin beds were joined to make a large super king sized bed. This certainly suites us but if you prefer to sleep in single beds I imagine you should warn them in advance.
The Shooting I have only stayed at Los Laureles twice so there are plenty of shooting areas I haven’t seen or visited. To date we have shot at four different locations all on the home farm which by the way has its own large roost. On each occasion the shooting was is a new area and offered a different challenge each time, from classic doves flying from a crop in waves of small covey like groups in an English Southern Counties looking environment, to high flying doves in ones and twos in Hampshire downland like locations. The bird-boys have always been excellent at Los Laureles and brush blinds that they build are extremely effective in hiding the shooter. In fact on reflection the blinds are almost too good sometimes because they fool the doves completely. Once again I am perfectly prepared to accept that there are fewer birds in You won’t find a better changing room the Entre Rios region to at the new Wembley Stadium. the Córdoba region, but I shot as many shells as I wanted and still I could have easily emptied 30 boxes a session if I had been so inclined. Probably my best ever stand at Los Laureles was on our first visit some years ago. I was with Omar, their fishing guide, who was acting as my bird-boy for the trip, now unfortunately no longer with the company. We were positioned on a corner of a wood where
The estate Landrover ready for the shooters booting up in the gun room. on-the-wind left to right high flying doves consistently rocketed past me in singles and doubles at ranges between 70 and 100 feet and curling right to left crossers passed between them as if at a major freeway intersection producing fantastic shooting. There was also a constant presence of into-the-wind doves that you could perhaps describe as an old clapped-out Ford 100 pick-ups if you got frustrated by the Ferraris and Porsches that were with the wind at the intersection, but if I had shot at any of the inter wind doves my wife would all the ammunition she needed to perpetuate the myth that I only shoot easy birds, so I stuck to the Ferraris and Porsches! Last year Salentein invited both of us and Paul Roberts to spend a few days at the Los Laureles and we managed to encourage Aldo, the lodge manager to join us for a box or two in the field. It’s always tough to get these guys to ever shoot with us because they always have more important things to occupy their time back at the lodge so it was great to get Aldo shooting. We were shooting in a great spot I remember from our previous visit, Yvonne about a hundred yard away, somewhere behind me, and Paul was in the middle of a field adjacent to a small spinney approximately 100 yards from my position at the edge of a wood. I’m sure Yvonne was spooking every bird that passed my stand because I wasn’t shooting that well and the last time I was on the same spot, I shot extremely well! So it had to be Yvonne’s fault didn’t it? Mind you after
Yvonne shooting from behind a brush blind. the London Lord Mayor’s Show, you usually get what the horses leave behind so maybe I was just shooting like sh-one-t and didn’t know it! Although Paul had a great time getting close to his fasted ever on the clicker hundred dove shot time. Of course he didn’t have Yvonne spooking all his birds! Los Laureles have a full range of cartridges, usually Fiocchi but also RD’s are also sometimes available, in all the different gauges. For us using our Rizzini ‘twenty-eights’, Fiocchi 28 bore shells are on the menu here, however they once had a stock of the old RD 17 ½ gram 2 ½” shells that are not favourites of mine because I have always felt that they had the hitting power of a wet sponge! But maybe that is me being dramatic and almost certainly they have long since been shot or got rid of! Of course the newish 2 ½” 28 bore Fiocchi 17
gram shell is a super cartridge and should in no way be tarred with the same brush as the 17 ½ g RD shell, plus the new 20 g Fiocchi and the relatively new 21gram RD are also super shells and almost a match for the best American and Italian shells. Probably the 17g Fiocchi is a little faster than the new 20g load but as I have had a real problem working this shell out, maybe I completely wrong. Like Los Chañares all the shooting was on the property so the travel time was never more than a few minutes. Also like Los Ombues, ducks are the prime quarry and so the dove shooting is also competitively priced and like Los Ombues they also have their own ground staff in Buenos Aires. Los Laureles is an all year round dove shooting operation.
The Food & Beverages The food is very European in style and extremely good and plentiful, probably reflecting the taste of the Dutch owner, but also reflecting the origin of the excellent chef that originally came to Argentina from Germany. Because you are shooting on the property, lunches are served back at the lodge which is something I certainly prefer. I can’t remember having a barbeque but I’m sure they do have them in the summer, it’s just I probably haven’t been there at that time. The wines at Los Laureles are always their own wines from the Salentein Bodegas and are really excellent and are always relished by my wife and me. In fact these days we regularly buy Salentein wines from our local supermarkets in the UK so you can see we are fans. A trip, by the way to Mendoza could be an interesting side trip when you are in Argentina. You have travelled a long way to shoot doves so visiting the wine region and the Salentein Winery is up there with the other alternatives of Iguaçu and Patagonia etcetera. I’m sure if you have shot at Los Laureles, the Buenos Aires office would be happy to arrange a visit to the Salentein wine bodegas. You could either base yourself at the Hyatt in Mendoza (let Salentein book it because they got us a spectacular room rate) and rent an English speaking driver / wine guide to drive you around for around US$100 a day or you can even hire a car and spend a night at the Salentein lodge that is close by the winery. Before I move away from one of my favourite subjects, if you speak to Aldo the lodge manager, and you really wanted a treat, I’m sure you could upgrade the wine served at dinner to wines from their very special Primus range of wines although don’t expect them to be cheap. Recently I picked up three bottles of the Primus Malbec 2003 from the Disco Supermarket in Córdoba in order to treat my chums at a dove shooting lodge and they set me back over US$50 a bottle but they were magic! The Salentein Bodega with the Andes in the background - just like the Perito Moreno Glacier – the main bodega building has eight times more below the surface than above!
Shooting doves can be exhausting so taking a few shots from a swivel seat isnâ€™t a crime.
THE ENTERTAINMMENT & OTHER ACTIVITIES
Riding can be arranged for non-shooters, and during the season just minutes away from the lodge, fly-fishing for (Golden) Dorado is available on the Paranรก River. It is up to you what you do but we only fished in the immediate area because we restricted our fishing to in between the morning and afternoon shooting sessions. Although you could allocate a full morning or afternoon if you so desired.
Fly-fishing for Dorado is more fun than an afternoon siesta.
The Travel Company for Los Laureles Los Laureles do not have regular agents in the UK but John John Reynal, who by the way speaks perfect English and is used to dealing directly with European shooters, will be able to handle everything perfectly. He has his own ground agents in Buenos Aires who will clear your guns and transport you to and from hotels and airports before arranging your flight to Santa Fe (the nearest operational airport to the lodge) and driving you the hour and a half to the lodge. The author in action.
General Overview The overall package at Los Laureles is fantastic. The shooting is excellent. The accommodation and food and staff are faultless, and the fact that is just a 35 min flight from Buenos Aires to nearby Santa Fe Airport makes it a viable alternative to Córdoba. Like Los Ombues the scenery here looks more like my own Hampshire / Wiltshire landscapes whereas, I guess you could say that Córdoba will make you feel more like you are shooting in Argentina, although that doesn’t worry me!
Hornero nest on a five-bar gate.
The Travel Companies Exciting Outdoors,
Telephone: +54 (11) 4131-1200 Web: www.excitingoutdoors.com Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Contact: Aldo MachĂn / Dolores Ares
Aldo Machin (on the left) with Paul Roberts and Yvonne on the veranda.
THE OUTFITTER & LODGE IN SAN LUIS Feather Hunting Argentina (J.P. Navarro & MarĂa Alberdi)
Feather Hunting is owned by champion Box Pigeon shooter Juan Pedro Navarro (JP) (he came third in a recent world championship) and his business partner Maria M. de Alberdi. JP is still working on his English but it’s still ten times better than my Spanish however his wife Juliana speaks very good English and his partner Maria speaks flawless English. My first impression of JP and Maria was that they know that they have a good product but they also know that they are fighting the long established big-boys in other provinces so they have to work even harder to build a good client base. They have already achieved their first goal because repeat business is a high percentage of their turnover and with increasing numbers of new clients discovering Feather Hunting, the future looks rosy especially with Frontiers booking clients in from the States and the UK.
The lodge is high up into the foothills of the Sierras de los Comechingones range, above but on the outskirts of the town of Merlo so shopping trips are very close by for nonshooting partners. Yvonne and Maria in the spilt level sitting and dining room.
Standard bedroom at Tata Inti.
The Lodge The Feather Hunting operation is run from the Tata Inti Lodge, well it’s not actually a lodge, in reality it’s a resort hotel rented by Feather Hunting. The newly renovated property was built as a tourist development approximately fifteen years ago but that is not a bad thing because it has all the little additions that you would expect in a hotel like hairdryers and shower gels and shampoos et cetera. We were given a very comfortable two bedroom, two storey cottage that had a sitting room and kitchen downstairs. The well equipped kitchen included a coffee machine to help kick-start us on dark winter mornings and a large refrigerator stocked with soft drinks and beers. We were in the furthest cottage in the complex that was approximately fifty yards away from the main lodge. Upstairs in our cottage the two bedrooms were very comfortable. For information, these are not shared unless it’s one family or you yourself request sharing a cottage. There is also a small landing to dump luggage, and a bathroom with a monster size Jacuzzi and shower. Both bedrooms featured a large comfortable double bed with a dressing table and ward-
robe. Perhaps if you had both bedrooms occupied, shooters could be short of floor or surface space to but as that was not the case, I used the second bedroom to spread out so it was perfect. There were four other semi-detached cottages similar to ours and a block containing six mini-apartments, all were en suite with everything that was included in our cottages but with the addition of balconies overlooking the lovely mature gardens. The other cottages and apartments only had one bedroom but these were considerably larger rooms than our individual bedroom and some bedrooms even had two king-sized beds so were very spacious and every unit had either Jacuzzis or water jet bath. In a nutshell, they could accommodate 11 shooters in separate units and if you used the second bedrooms 14 could be comfortably accommodated in single occupancy rooms so itâ€™s a very comfortable operation. Tata Inti has the prettiest gardens I have seen at a shooting lodge. The grounds are full of unusual birds that all seem plump or even overweight and none that I recognised from other areas in Argentina. There were flocks of blue / black chubby gregarious birds that look somewhat like our Blackbird and a fat woodpecker like bird with colours similar to a Blue Tit called a Vente Veo so lots to see for the naturalist / shooter!
The Entertainment & Other Activities During the warmer months post-shoot canapĂŠs are taken around a campfire in the pool area where one of Feather Huntingâ€™s field staff entertains everyone by singing and playing a guitar and during the colder months clients are not forgotten because they are entertained inside so leaving them on their final night with a memorable experience to take home. Massages are available by masseuses from a health spa in Merlo, and horses can be arranged for non-shooters to ride in the hills. Also a big plus for the non-shooters is the fact that you are just a short walk into the pretty resort town of Merlo.
JP Navarro shooting with a Benelli.