We have all had that “best day” of fishing, hunting, or shooting…etc. that is burned in our memory and we can recall almost every single detail of the trip down to the second. Best day experiences can be as diverse as your outdoor portfolio and as expansive as your umbrella of friends and family that you share these times with. I have been blessed to be able to spend my entire youth in the out of doors, and have been able utilize that knowledge and time into careers that keep me enjoying the hunting/fishing and Outdoor sports. I have also learned that there are SO MANY things that I haven’t experienced or gained an understanding of. To me, that is by far one of the beauties of this great sport we all choose to participate in. There is always something else to do, or learn, or see.
Over the years, my list of “best times” has evolved from the “Got One’s” and “Limited Out’s” to more of a focus on “Firsts” and “Shared experiences”.
Recently, I found myself before an opportunity to partake in a high-volume dove shoot. (Notice that I said “shoot” instead of hunt). I have been hunting doves in season here in western Nebraska ever since I was able to convince my granddad to hand me a shot shell. Let’s just say that I have been on a few good hunts over the last 30’ish years. Like most of you, I have read about the great destinations in Argentina, Uruguay, even Mexico. I recall myself thinking “Why would I go there when I have birds here?”, “It can’t possibly be worth it.”, or even later in my Merchandising life thinking “Some marketing department is paying for them to be there and write this stuff.” Either way, I was never able to fully understand the value of these locations and what that experience would bring.
Lesson learned. There is absolutely a reason those articles were written and it wasn’t because some gun or ammo company paid somebody to write them. “Wow!” is all that I could say when I was dropped off along the edge of a grain field to stand near a tree row to use as a natural blind. Moto, my field technician for the week stepped me through a quick list of rules and a couple of flight direction pointers for this spot and with that, we were shooting. Not more than a minute and a half after exiting the pickup we had birds falling from the sky. As I cycled my lodge-issued Benelli 20 gauges round after round, I started to feel like I was in one of those old western movies. You know the ones where the gunfighters never seem to run out of bullets. I would shoot and Moto would reload. One shotgun would fire until empty and Moto would hand me the other, full of shells and ready to roll. I felt like I was shooting pretty conservatively this afternoon and I defused 7 boxes of shells in what turned out to be a couple of hours. I don’t think I had ever shot that many shells in one stand before. With a grin from ear to ear and thought to myself…this is the best day.
Hunt day 2 & 3– These hunts started with a great breakfast at the lodge then a quick 30 minute ride to the bird field. Depending on the time of year, the doves here are either “all over” or “feeding near roosts” which require a bit of driving. It’s worth the drive time.
The set was similar to the afternoon before and the process work pretty much the same, except there were MANY more birds in this area. I used the experience from the day before and had my leads and timing down much better. The birds fell with much more efficiency than they did during the first shoot. After 3-4 hours of starting at birds on the end of my barrels, we decided to call it a morning. Moto said “Do you feel good after shooting a case of shells?” I smiled and said “This is my best day!”
After the morning shoot each day, we returned to the lodge to enjoy a great lunch and a siesta.
Afternoon shoots generally started taking shape at around 3 in the afternoon and typically lasted until about 6:30 or 7, with flights and bird numbers that were comparable between mornings and afternoons. I couldn’t help but keep thinking, “And this is the end of the season???” It was truly a sight to behold.
On the last day, we followed the standard process of breakfast, then out to the fields. We shot until about 9:30 or 10 this morning then returned to the lodge. We had an early lunch and had plenty of time to get cleaned up and gather our gear before the lodge had us on our way back to Santa Cruz Bolivia. They took the liberty of arranging for us to stay in very comfortable hotels in the city that night, as we had an early departure for the states the next morning.
If you are looking for a new location to hone your shooting skill or get in some serious pre-season training, you really should consider a trip to South America. Most areas have an incredible population of dove all year long. Some areas, like Argentina and Uruguay have a component of ducks and perdiz during the right times of year.
We have great partners in all of these areas you help you have your next best day!