Dove hunting tips

Argentina, especially Cordoba, has become in the last fifteen years the first and most important dove hunting destination in South America. When you decide on experiencing Argentina dove hunting, you’ll have the opportunity to shoot thousands of doves a day guaranteed, but if this is your first time dove hunting in Argentina, my tips will be very useful to account for an even more successful hunt during your stay at La Camila Dove Hunting Lodge.

Argentina dove hunting

Following my family hunting tradition, having had the possibility of hunting in different parts of the world, and having hosted over 8,000 dove shooters for the last 20 years, I can conclude that Argentina dove hunting is something that must be experienced at least once in your lifetime. There’s no other way to explain what you feel when you see such a numberless concentration of doves in Argentina, thousands and thousands of doves flying all over your head in a continuous fashion, where you can easily shoot a case of 500 shells in just an hour!

Practice

To increase your chances of success, it’s very important to practice some shooting before coming to Argentina for a dove hunt. Although at your place, you will never be able to find the incredible dove volume we’ve got in Argentina, doing some clay shooting with similar spots to the ones for dove hunting in here will be a very useful practice. You should shoot at plates coming from in front of you because this is the easiest shot to miss and the one that requires the most practice. For a good start, try shooting first plates coming from your sides, then, right over your head, and once you’ve mastered this kind of shooting, you will be able to shoot plates coming from the front. It’s great to shoot doves in front of us and see them falling down right at the blind!

As for shots on the right/left, those are much easier because if you just try to estimate the dove flight and its speed, you will easily adjust your shooting to the right distance a little bit ahead the dove.

We’ve made over 200 blinds around the roosts placed on a straight line running side by side with the roosts, and this dove shooting is very similar to the shooting in spots for sporting clays. That is, you’ll be shooting doves getting into the roost coming in front of you and from your sides. You’ll also have the chance to experience shooting doves that leave the roost flying all over you coming from behind, and by just aiming at the dove’s belly, it will automatically fall down.

Gun and Shells

I’ve tried myself all kinds of gauges for dove shooting in Argentina. My advice is to shoot 20 gauge guns loaded with 7/8 oz.. If you are an experienced dove hunter though, 28 gauge loaded with 3/4 oz. is very good. It’s very fast and due to its high concentration, you’ll be able to hit and drop very high doves. 410 is a very popular shell in Argentina, but we’ve only got 410 shells of 2 inches loaded with 2/4 oz. and I consider this a little weak.

Some first time to Argentina dove hunters bring their 12 gauge guns, but soon realize that Argentina dove hunting involves too much action, and shoulders cannot bear so much recoil per minute.

Bringing your own shotgun to Argentina is a very easy process, but if you don’t want to carry your gun all around airports, you can rent our guns. We’ve got in our gun room over 30Berettas, Al 391, semi, 20 gauge, with different stock lengths. There are also over & under and side by side shotguns available, but I always favor semi because they offer less recoil effect and they can also hold up to four shells in the magazine. This is especially important when considering the dynamic and erratic dove flight, which makes us miss shots that we give for granted (remember that in Argentina there’s no limit as to the number of shells in the gun magazine).

In Argentina, there are only two shell brands, RD and Fiocchi. Both are of a very good quality and we normally use RD shells for US$ 12 per box of 25 units, but if you prefer, you can also shoot with Fiocchi shells at US$ 13.5 per box. My suggestion is always RD shells, loaded with 7/8 oz., Nº 7 or 8 bb, and shoot doves flying at about 15 to 35 yards away.

Preparation

When you go dove hunting near home, you need to do some previous scouting and you may have some other concerns. But, when you come Argentina dove hunting, we pay special attention to every single detail, for you to just come here and enjoy your dove shooting adventure at its best. Being a hunter myself, and having the experience of hosting over 8,000 dove hunters from all over the world through these past 20 years, listening to them and catering to all their needs and requests, has made us always strive for maximum perfection to provide you with the most awesome Argentina dove hunting ever!  

Hunting Fields and Seasons

When you are in my fields, under thousands and thousands of doves, you’ll be ready to enjoy the most incredible Argentina dove hunting ! Before setting up my hunting company in Cordoba, I was shooting doves all over other provinces in Argentina, but Cordoba has an unmatchable area for dove shooting, since it combines prosperous agricultural activity with big patches of roosts what originates an innumerable reproduction rate. Let’s imagine this figure: In one of our roosts, of  about 1,000 acres, in Arroyito, there live approximately 25 million doves on a permanent basis. They have four or five hatches a year and depending on the weather conditions, the baby doves that are born at the beginning of our spring, in September, are reproducing again by early December. This results in a huge dove population in the area!

The east of Cordoba, where I develop my whole dove hunting operation, is very flat and agriculture is its main industry. Doves do a lot of damage to the crops and they actually eat over 30% of the annual grain production. They have been declared a plague for over the last 25 years and there’s no limit as to hunting seasons or number of doves for shooting. Dove hunting then has become a necessity, and that’s why the dove shooting season is open all year round without any bag limits of any kind.

Doves stay all year long in our big roost in the east of Cordoba province, the heart of Argentina’s agriculture. They are non-migratory birds in the eastern areas and the main reason why they don’t migrate is simply because this is an agricultural area where they can find all the grain they need to feed themselves. But, in the roosts in the mountains in the north of the province, where there are no crops nearby, doves migrate in the winter months (May to August) to flatter areas in search for food forming temporary roosts. In the north, all this makes the hunting operation more difficult due to long transfers from the lodge to the dove shooting areas and back. This is the main reason why my company JJ Caceria operates in the east of Cordoba, with a number of factors such as excellent agriculture to provide grain for dove feeding, good rainfall for the doves to have enough water to drink, weather conditions that favor dove reproduction, all factors that combine in this area in order to have this top-notch Argentina dove hunting operation of the same high quality and close to the shooting fields all year long.

From September to April, dove shooting takes place all day long near the roost, from fixed blinds strategically located, or from dove water ponds or canals with blinds made of brush and branches from the area. From May to August, we change the dove shooting plan and we go to the dove feeding spots in the morning. We set blinds in sorghum, corn or soya fields and we are ready to pull the trigger a few minutes before sunrise, waiting for millions of doves in search for food. Doves fly for about 10 miles to feed themselves at the beginning of the day. We see the sun rising up in the horizon and at the same time thousands of doves getting to their feeding spots. It’s an incredible show, black clouds moving with the morning breeze. Dove shooting in the evening is very similar all year round, thousands and thousands of doves going back to the roost that keep flying till the sun slowly disappears at the end  j of the day.

Normally, on the first two Argentina dove hunting days, shooting spots are previously planned in such a way that hunters can be exposed to all different shooting areas and shooting kinds. Then, hunters decide if they prefer to shoot in a fixed spot near the roost, inside the roost, in the dove water ponds or canals, in more challenging spots, etc.. We are truly blessed with such a high dove volume to cater for every hunter’s shooting style and demands.

February is a very special month of the year, our sunflower season, when many dove hunters prefer to come for their favorite hunt in the sunflower fields.

As for decoys, we don’t need to use them for Argentina dove hunting. They are only used for pigeon shooting.

Shooting

Argentina dove hunting offers the possibility to shoot standing up or sitting. Although many hunters prefer to shoot doves sitting on a stool, I believe that our shooting will be more effective while standing up since we can swing our bodies better and more smoothly. However, I’ve seen 60% or 70% effectiveness in hunters who shoot from stools.

When choosing which dove to shoot when hunting, if this is your very first dove hunting in Argentina, it will be of very much use to follow these tips. When the flock is getting closer, lift your shotgun, choose the first dove ahead in the group or one that separates itself from the flock. This way it’s easier to aim at the dove and not lose sight of it in the group. Once you chose your dove, lift your shotgun, rest it on your shoulder and keep the swing at the same speed as the dove flight, and without stopping the swing, pull the trigger softly. If the dove doesn’t change its direction, it’s very likely that your shot was a little bit behind the bird. No worries, your next shot then will have to be a little bit ahead but if the dove still makes a slight movement up or down or simply stops its flight for a second, that’s because your shot was too much in front of the dove flight. Two very important items are not to pull the trigger hard and watch carefully the dove flight movement at your shot, so as to correct the next shot. This is also the birdboy’s job when assisting you, guiding you in your shooting if you need, since you’ll probably not take into account all these important details considering your overwhelming emotion with the first shots and the massive amount of doves all around you. The swing movement is of prime importance in dove shooting. Never stop it before pulling the trigger. This happens very often in novice shooters and you need to be especially careful when the shooting is counterswing. Another important tip when pulling the trigger is to have the barrel always ahead of the dove, and this will depend on how fast the dove is flying. Remember, pull the trigger softly if you don’t want to miss and shoot under the bird.

Clothing

For dove hunting in Argentina, you should wear comfortable tanned or dark green clothes. Don’t forget you ear plugs, shooting glasses, shoulder pad, gloves, cap, shell bag, repellent, sunblock in spring and summer, since most of the time while hunting you’ll be outside facing upwards.

Birdboy

For Argentina dove hunting, it’s essential to have a birdboy by your side all the time. He’ll be assisting you at all times, bringing you drinks and shells to your blind, counting hit doves and of course picking them up in the evening for the great dove pile picture. He plays an important role during the dove hunt, especially because he can advise you as to what dove to shoot, how to follow all safety measures and in case you miss, he can you also give you some tips. Birdboys are all extremely nice, and you’ll probably have a new hunting friend in Argentina at the end of the day. He can also load the gun for you if you want. Just think that loading your gun over 1,000 times every day may be quite painful for your thumb!

Many shooters leave Argentina as proud new members of the 1,000 Dove Hunting Club, those are the ones who hit over 1,000 doves in a day. It depends pretty much on their shooting ability, but those who normally shoot about 1,300, 1,500 shells a day, go for their so wanted trophy.

Barbecue in the field

Lunch time with beef barbecue in the field, our favorite meal for Argentineans! This is a very important event for dove hunting in Argentina especially after a non-stop action morning. A couple of hours, some nice chat and a great meal with fine Malbec wine will be enough to gather more energy to get ready for continuous shooting in the afternoon and evening. Our expert barbecue cook will give you a taste of all the most traditional beef cuts, flank, brisket, ribs, t-bone, rose meat, rib eye, steak, dove shish kebab and sausage. All this accompanied with assorted salads and our typical and most appreciated Argentine Malbec red wine.

Through the years, I’ve been with lots of Argentina dove hunting fellow friends, we’ve shared barbecue lunch in the field, all kind of hunting stories and as a hunter myself and outfitter, those are the moments I cherish the most when I see people having a great time and enjoying the outdoors and the hunting as much as I do.

Hunting friends

You should treat yourselves to the most awesome Argentina dove hunting! As I always say, this is an experience hard to explain with words, you’ve got to try it yourself at least once in your lifetime! Come and join us for the most incredible dove hunting trip and start planning your next shooting adventure that will last in your memory for ever!

Argentina is your next dove shooting experience, give it a try!! JJ

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