Chasing antelope for two days

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I’ve been planning a Blackbuck Antelope hunting in Argentina for a couple of months with J, the person who is in charge of everything related to media and pictures. We decided to visit San Luis Lodge, so we talked to Fernando Delpino to set up and organize all the details for this hunt.

By late September mid October, we started our hunting trip on a Wednesday after a quick lunch at 2 pm, estimating that we would arrive at 8 pm to the lodge. The distance is 400 miles and J and I drove all of it in a smooth Toyota Hilux.

Speaking of, the Toyota Hilux (also stylized as HiLux and historically as Hi-Lux) is a series of utility vehicles produced and marketed by the Japanese manufacturer Toyota. Most countries used the Hilux name for the entire life of the series but in North America, the Hilux name was retired in 1976 in favor of Truck, Pickup Truck, or Compact Truck. In North America the popular option package, the SR5 (Sport Rally 5-Speed), was colloquially used as a model name for the truck, even though the option package was also used on other Toyota models like the Corolla. In 1984, the Toyota Trekker, the camper version of the Hilux, was renamed as the4Runner in Australia and North America, and as the Hilux Surf in Japan. In 1995, Toyota introduced a new pickup model, theTacoma in North America, discontinuing the Hilux/Pickup there. The 4Runner is now a full SUV, and the more recent models do not resemble the Tacoma.

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We made the drive with only one stop to get some snacks and soda to make the driving more comfortable. After 6 hours of driving, we met Fernando at Buena Esperanza, a small town located 30 miles away from the ranch in San Luis province.

San Luis Lodge is a private place of about 40.000 acres and has two different areas for hunting; one it’s the fenced area, has 10.000 acres, and the pre range more than 20.000 acres.

For this hunt, and since we had short time, we decided to hunt in the fenced area at San Luis Lodge. We arrived late in the evening and after having a beer, Rosa, the chef, was waiting for us with great meat and potatoes and salad, so we shared together with Fernando and J a nice meal with an amazing Malbec from the Luigi Bosca winery.

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The program for the next morning was to wake up really early like at 6 am, leave the lodge at 7 am, and decide about the area where we were going to hunt because it would be depending on the wind of that morning, so we had 3 different options.

We made an interesting approach to a knoll in which we were 250 yards away from some male and female animals. At that moment, the day was very windy, so we thought it would not be a good idea to shoot from that far away so we had to go to the next knoll and try to shoot from there.We started moving with our bodies on the ground and our rifle tied on our backs, trying not to make any noise. We had the wind against us, something that, even though it sounds crazy, it’s on our side.

We were doing the last approach, heading to the next knoll and, for some reason, color or sound, one of the female put her head up and automatically everyone did and looked to our direction. That was five minitues of no moving, waiting and praying for them not to leave.

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It was nice to feel the wind and feel the animals knowing about us as well. After all this holding on, one of the female started moving, and then another one, and another one and so 3 minutes later they were all moving slowly. Without talking to Fernando or J, I think we all knew that approach was done and maybe for that morning, that would be enough, so we would have to think about going back to the lodge for lunch.

The lodge has been remodeled and looks amazing and new. The beds are the best king size that you can find at any lodge. The remodeling is easy to appreciate in the pictures; this English-styled house, with brand new furniture has been done in 2014 and 2015.

We had a great night but the next morning, when we heard the alarm clock, it seemed like bed time never happened since we were really tired.The morning started really windy which is not very common, and the sky was kind of cloudy. Five minutes after breakfast we were driving to the field. The distance to get to the field (in minutes) was not more than 20 or even 15 minutes.

The scene in this area of San Luis is very special. It is in the border line in between where the agriculture and the forest changes, so we saw some areas with corn and some other with just forest or natural grass. So we crossed a couple of crop fields, we drove inside the forest and the farming land and then we arrived to this big fenced gate which showed us that we were getting into the fenced area.

IMG_GR_testimonials1457562668We started walking at 7.30 am, following Fernando. It was not a very cold of a morning; it was a little chilly, not too bad. We walked for like two hours until we finally found a couple of Antelopes. At first we saw a couple of females. The area in which we were walking was mostly open with some bushed areas separated one another and the land was with hills, so we were going up and down in between the forest and bushes areas using this places in order to hide from the animals.

In some parts of the field there was something like sandy areas and water holes that we have visited when we were chasing animals because we saw some foot prints so we knew that animals were close.

At 10 am, we saw some Blackbucks in a “meseta”, an open area. This animals love to be in those types of areas. It was not easy for us to get closer to them because there were no much cover for us to hide behind, but we were able to walk a hundred meters and then we had to go on our knees and start moving with our bodies to the ground, trying to get closer to the next knoll where we would shoot from 200 yards away.

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Now, let me tell you about this particular animal. Blackbucks were introduced to Argentina and the USA. These populations numbered about 43,600 individuals at the turn of the century. Blackbucks generally live on open plains and open woodlands in herds of five to 50 animals with one dominant male. They are very fast. Speeds of more than 80 km/h (50 mph) have been recorded. They are primarily grazers and avoid forested areas. They require water every day and may move long distances in search of water and forage in summer. Usually, they feed during the day. Their diet consists mostly of grasses. The Indian Blackbuck is considered to be the second fastest in the world next to the Cheetah. The blackbuck is also found in Western Nepal where there are 176 animals in 1991. There were more than 20,000 on record in Texas ranches, in 1988. On the Pampas on northwestern and central Argentina, more than 10,000 animals were available in the 80’s.

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Blackbuck is a a medium size antelope, which is sexually dimorphic. The males at birth are brown without horns. However, with secretion of sexual hormone, males develop a pair of corkscrew horns and their body color changes to elegant black. The normal lifespan of a Blackbuck is about 12 to 15 years. The average weight of an adult male is 75-110 pounds with horns averaging a length of 14-18 inches. The blackbuck also has unique white rings around its eyes.Antelopes are animals brought from India perfectly adapted to the large areas of our country. They move in herds and their main defense is their eyesight and also, their escape velocity. Males develop antlers spiral that can reach 60 centimeters. Their weight can reach 50 kilograms and are black on its back and white on his abdomen. Females are born brown and in maturity are light brown. It is a hunt that requires a delicate approach and a shot from at least 150 meters away.

After all the chasing, it was an incredible experience that I would like to have again soon.

Pablo Aguilo.

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A Big Game adventure with two amazing friends

IMG_GR_testimonials1457527325This story started in between Connecticut and New York. We were in a hunting club with my dear friend Bob Serrano talking about his next trip to Argentina. Bob has come to Argentina more than probably 8 or 10 times in the last 15 years but I met him 9 years ago. We normally hunt doves with him; we have been hunting mostly in the northern area of Córdoba, in the flat lands of northern La Dormida.

Bob is a really good hunter and he enjoys a lot shooting the challenging birds, so the last time, when we were in Connecticut at this hunting camp, what we were doing was a competition of rifle shooting, pistol shooting, and some other things like canoeing, but I had to excuse myself because I knew I was going to end up inside the river.

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So, when we were at that camp, we talked about doing some Big Hunt in Argentina. Bob is one of the most experienced persons I have ever met when it comes toshooting with bow and arrow. He has been in Africa several times, I don’t know exactly the number (I am not a numbers person) but I remember I saw his videos, and one time I saw a very special one hunting an elephant with a bow and arrow, which really surprised and impacted me as it is a great story.

When I stayed at his house, he managed to make room for me on his men room with most of his mounted animals and I must admit it was very impressive too see all those animals, and being part of all that history surrounded by a piece of each one of his hunting.

So I talked to Bob and told him about the different options we have at Pointer for Big Hunting in Patagonia, San Luis, La Pampa and Córdoba. We went through different possibilities and so he decided he wanted to do Water Buffalo hunting as a challenge shooting it with bow and arrow.

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We also decided to do it in a very challenging place like Rincon Lodge; the challenge was that, at this particular Lodge, there are no brushy areas needed for that kind of hunting so we knew we would just have some huge rocks to hide behind them.

After all that conversation, we started chatting by email, with all the information coming and going, until we could finally set up dates  and, at the end, we decided we would do some combination of Dove Hunting and Big Game Hunting.

The good thing about hunting in Rincon Lodge is that it is only three hours away from our dove hunting lodges, one of the main reasons that made us choose this place, and also because of the challenge of being horse riding in the high mountains of Córdoba, looking for the best buffalo.

Ever since that day, we agreed I would join him and one of our main guides, Juan Aguiló, would do that too, in order to take some pictures.

After six months of planning, we met at the airport in Córdoba. We drove him and three more people for dove hunt at La Loma Lodge. Bob came with Eddie, Richard and another Bob: Bob Young. We had a great time hunting together a lot of birds in the hills of Córdoba, smoking a lot of shells until four days after we were ready to go hunting to Rincon.

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In the mid time, before he come hunting with us, we found out Bob Young wanted to get his very first Red Stag. He is on his mid fifties and he had never hunted abroad America and he wanted to do his first with us here in Argentina, so we were very pleased to take the two Bobs for Big Game hunting at Rincon.

We arrived in the late evening, ready to have some appetizers, drinks, and to stay at the fire place at the lodge, expecting to have a really nice and relaxing evening.

The next day, I remember waking up in a beautiful sunny morning that had almost no wind at all and was a bit cold. It was amazing to walk outside, get close to the horses and feel their breath and their worm bodies even though the weather was mostly cold. I cannot express how nice was that feeling, knowing that I was about to go horse ridingwith my dear friend Bob Serrano and our guest Bob Young in such a paradise as Rincon is.

It was a good day. At the beginning we approached to some animals but the buffalos were not in range for the bow and arrow hunting. At the same time, we were looking for animals for Bob Young. He wanted a good Red Stag and asked if he could do it with bow and arrow but if not, he would be very happy to do it with his rifle.

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After all morning long, and also afternoon long of horse riding and stalking for red stag, we finally saw a great trophy on the second day, so we left our horses and started walking probably for no more than 200 m. in one hour. It was really important to be patience and to have a good vision of the Stag, just to make the best shot.

IMG_GR_testimonials1457528628The adrenaline of that moment was amazing; I was holding the camera and Bob lay down over this rock and he put his rifle over the top of one of his backpack and our guide Santiago was telling him to hold on. Everything was so smooth and quiet, he was whispering every single word, until bob said “I think I got it, I really do” so Santiago said “yes, you got it, shoot!” and as soon as Santiago said that, we heard right away the strong sound of his rifle, and the Red Stag made a little jump almost behind a rock and he would have disappeared in less than a minute so Santiago hurried up and reloaded Bob’s rifle for a second shot and in less than ten seconds they were ready to pull the trigger again so we heard another loud noise which was this second shot going straight to the point and we saw the animal falling down. The excitement Bob had at that time was just unbelievable. 

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The feeling after that awesome shot, the feeling of looking at Bob’s eyes, looking at his excitement, was totally amazing. Santiago, Bob and I, the three of us hugged, jumped in the air and were really happy. We knew that we would have to walk to the animal, take some pictures, make some videos and wait for the guides to come and take the animal back.

For that day, it was it. It was a great day with a story to remember forever and I am looking forward to do it again.

IMG_GR_testimonials1457530589Regarding Bob Serrano, that day he was with Juan and his guide. At the evening he got his dreamed Water Buffalo, which was not a surprise for me because, as I mentioned before, he is one of the best hunters I have ever met. He was very happy since he finally got another desired trophy that I assume is hanging on his walls, in the same room I spent my first night when I visited him a couple of years ago.

I am looking forward for my next meeting with the two Bobs in Connecticut, for some more beers, camaraderie and great fun.

Pablo Aguilo.
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Mixed bag and Red Stag hunt

We had met Don Chapman at the SCI show in Las Vegas, and it was great; in a couple of minutes he said he would like to do a combination of mixed bag hunting and Red Stag. He was alone in Vegas but he promise to come with his wife Judy, and both of them join us 90 days later!

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In the same trip, another couple that we had met at SCI in Las Vegas, Bernie and Diane Rabbito, had book exactly the same dates, so both couples met in Cordoba City to go to Rincon Lodge for 4 days big game hunting.

The Rincon Lodge is situated in the valley of Calamuchita, 88 miles far from Córdoba International Airport. It is a 3hour drive from the airport. The last 20 minutes is upwards in the mountains and 4×4 wheels vehicles are needed.

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There are direct daily flights from many U.S. cities to Santiago de Chile airport in Chile or Ezeiza Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with connecting flights to Cordoba city. You will also find flight connections to Cordoba through Panama with COPA Airlines or through Lima with LAN; but their schedules are not quite comfortable. The connecting flight through Santiago or Buenos Aires will allow you to be shooting at midday on your arrival day. This option offers the best logistics for your trip.

Argentina is known for its remoteness and abundance of red stag, blackbuck and water buffalo. Other species: Water Buffalo, Fallow Deer, Axis Deer, Blackbuck Antelope, Multi-horn sheep, Scottish Blackface sheep, Mouflon sheep, wild Pampa Mouflon, Texas Dall Ram, Wild boar.

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Red stag hunt takes place during the peak roar. Accommodations are an amazing traditional Argentine Estancia with private rooms and bath.

With this group we had made a mistake on logistics, because we found out with this first experience that the drive from Rincon lodge to San Javier is a little too long. It is ok for us, because we are used, but we find out that for our guest it will be better to get a small private plane or take a day and connect with commercial flights.

Besides, that issue, we found out, that the combination was amazing, and both, Rabbito and Chapman had hunted their Red Stag and also had a great duck hunt in San Javier. We had hunted ducks, doves and perdiz, and we had a wonderful time!

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Federico was the head guide with this group and have done an excellent job, al critiques were wonderful, and we have been able to make our friends had a great time. Judy forgot his mobile phone at Rincon Lodge, and thanks to Wes Wallace and his group, we were able to send it back to her with this other group that have been in La Loma Lodge hunting big volume doves.

Bernie and Diane did great for their ages, they have stalked as good as we do and they have had a great attitude all the time. Don, Bernie, Judy and Diane, thanks a lot for your last visit.

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We think you should be the next one.

Pablo Aguilo

Pointer Wingshooting

 

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