Argentina’s ongoing drought is the worse since 1901, and in a landscape predominated by ephemeral wetlands, that’s a really big deal. Unless you’ve got a foolproof plan. Gathered before a roaring fire in a newly renovated, 1800s-era estancia, Ramsey joins the Argentina Duck Hunt Giveaway Contest Winner, first-time and long-time guests–and the outfitter that always makes it happen–to hear their perspectives about this trip-of-a-lifetime Argentina duck hunting experience.

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Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, today I am in Argentina, and, man, we are having a great once in a lifetime, every year of a lifetime hunt down here at Las Flores. And I describe Las Flores. I mean, we got combos, we got wild hunts. We got this hunt. There’s a lot of hunts down here. But I’m telling you, for 15 years, if you want to shoot the f bomb out of ducks, no excuses, no fail, here’s the place to do it. Up first is our contest winner, Mr. Ryan Graves.

Ryan Graves: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Ryan graves. After 20 years in the business, we decided we were going to give away an all expense paid trip to Argentina and tens of thousands of applicants. And Mr. Ryan Graves won. It couldn’t be a more deserving man to win this contest. It couldn’t be a better guy to share a duck blind with. Ryan, I have enjoyed the heck out of this week with you.

Ryan Graves: Oh, absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: I learned a bunch.

Ryan Graves: Yeah, absolutely. Ramsey, I’m telling, you, know, first and foremost, I just can’t thank you and miss Anita enough. Know this, know, coming to Argentina has been something that I have dreamt about and something I knew I would do one day. And I can guarantee you I’m going to do it again.

Ramsey Russell: Did it live up to your expectations?

Ryan Graves: Oh absolutely. I don’t know what my expectations were, but it absolutely exceeded anything that I could dream about.

Ramsey Russell: What are some of the species you shot?

Ryan Graves: Well

Ramsey Russell: just about all of them.

Ryan Graves: Just about all of them. Like I say, I had made a list on my phone, but I’ve shot the speckled teal. Cinnamon teal. Cinnamon teal. That’s one of the species that I’ve dreamt my whole life of shooting. And another day I shot two handfuls of them, so. Shot cinnamon, speckled teal, silver teal, and today killed a Brazilian teal.

Ramsey Russell: And ring teal?

Ryan Graves: Yes, ring teal, yellow build pintails, white cheek pintails, rosy-billed pochards.

Ramsey Russell: What’s your favorite duck? You ain’t mentioned him yet.

Ryan Graves: I would honestly have to say, out of all the ducks, and the thing about it is, there is not an ugly duck in South America down here, there is a bird called the Chiloe wigeon, and I would say that might be my pick of the litter.

Ramsey Russell: He sounds a lot like wigeons of the world, but he’s ginormous.

Ryan Graves: He is.

Ramsey Russell: I can see the drake a mile off because they’re so much bigger than the hen.

Ryan Graves: Yeah, he is. He’s not the size of our North American, which he’s the size of a mallard drake.

Ramsey Russell: And when they bank, those white wing patches are in mistakable.

Yellow Billed Pintails: Discover the thrill of hunting these prized birds.

Your yellow billed pintails, I’d say we killed them, the greatest majority of those, but everything else we killed abundantly.

Ryan Graves: Absolutely, and I’ll tell you what, and we’ve shot a pile of them this week, and for some reason I had my mind when I come down here, that might be a real trophy of the trip, which obviously it is, but thought that it might be one of the harder ones to obtain. No, and I’m telling you, just the variety of the species. I mean, in every single day we’re killing a variety. Definitely. Your yellow billed pintails, I’d say we killed them, the greatest majority of those, but everything else we killed abundantly.

Ramsey Russell: Well, this morning you added three new species I can think of right off the bat, a full of us whistling duck. And then we got into some white faced whistling ducks. And to me those are tough species. A lot of times to shoot just because they fly high, they’re flocked up, they can look down and see a lot of time. We don’t have a lot of cover because of the drought this year, but it’s working. And then those Brazilian ducks hooked up right on the deck, and the minute I saw them, I said, pair of Brazilians –

Ryan Graves: Yeah, absolutely. I was hunting on the right side and they come across there and there was a pair coming up and Ramsey said Brazilians. And, I mean, my heart fluttered. We had shot pretty much lights out all morning, but I just knew I was going to get excited. And when they squared us up, Ramsey killed his. And I come up and drop mine, but I was scared to death I was going to miss mine.

Ramsey Russell: You know, to hunt with a guy like yourself, that so collects nostalgic American waterfowl, you know what I’m saying? Like, when I was there at your house, you were showing me a box that had been a shell box that had been owned by a market hunter. And here we are in a little simple, blind, not complicated like we necessarily have to hunt in these days back home. Just a simple, blind natural cover on the X, yada. And as Char Dawg kept bringing back those ducks and we kept putting them at our feet, I mean, we were standing literally knee deep in ducks.

Ryan Graves: We were absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: That whole blind was full of ducks.

Ryan Graves: Just absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: Just all very generous limit. That’s kind of sort of what it felt like, didn’t it?

Ryan Graves: Yeah, it did.

Ramsey Russell: Can you imagine? Did it kind of make you feel like you’re that guy that owned that gun box?

Ryan Graves: Yeah, absolutely. That was one of my draws of kind of always wanted to come down here. Was kind of just that old traditional feel of what they would, I guess, just the undeveloped land and all that. The market hunters got to hunt in, where some of our hunting is not as rural as we would like it to be down here. Lord, we’re in the middle of nowhere.

Ramsey Russell: Have you noticed, like, when we’re out by the sundowners, having a fire, drinking wine, beer, whatever, there’s no plane traffic, there’s no highway noise.

Ryan Graves: No, there’s no dogs barking. No dogs yapping, it’s just quiet and still. Get out there in the mornings, know, just waiting on the world to come alive, and you just kind of think, know, this is something special.

Ramsey Russell: I think it is. I think that Argentina is like going back to yesteryear in America. It’s just because there’s so few people that hunt the ducks here, but us American tourists. There’s not a lot of hunting pressure. There’s an abundance of habitat, and it just makes for a high quality experience. What about the food, Ryan? What would you say about some of this food you’ve been eating?

Ryan Graves: Unreal. We eat, sleep, and hunt. That’s what we do.

Ramsey Russell: That’s what we’re supposed to do on vacation.

Ryan Graves: Exactly. But it’s like eating five meals a day.

Ramsey Russell: It is.

Ryan Graves: You wake up in the morning and Diego’s staff, they’re just top notch, serve you a hot breakfast. In the morning, you come back and hunt. You got your pastries and stuff waiting for you.

Ramsey Russell: 16 square foot of appetizers waiting on you.

Ryan Graves: Yeah, at the very minimum. Then yesterday coming there and just, I’d heard you say, like, Argentine comfort food, some of the best shepherd’s pie or whatever.

Ramsey Russell: Empanadas.

Ryan Graves: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: Pizza.

Ryan Graves: Yeah. Well, we hadn’t gotten there yet. Then we go out and hunt. Have an afternoon hunt. And when you get back, the staff has got all the or d’oeuvres out and pizzas, some chicken type bites. And these little bitty cups of –

Ramsey Russell: Tarts they’re called.

Ryan Graves: Tarts or something. It’s got, like, chicken. It’s just absolutely unbelievable. And French fries, I guess they’re-

Ramsey Russell: hand cut french fries.

Ryan Graves: Hand cut french fries come out.

Ramsey Russell: And then put that garlic or something ground up on top-

Ryan Graves: like they’re drizzled and olive oil and then garlic. Just life changing food and just copious amounts of it.

Ramsey Russell: The first morning we hunt together, there were still a few misses in them Benelli’s.

Ryan Graves: Well, I’ll tell you when you come.

Ramsey Russell: We shot them out. We didn’t have many misses in there.

Ryan Graves: No, there was very few misses in there this morning. But coming down here, one thing I had to learn to do was I’m not a home shooting steel shot. And Ramsey, a few times that I missed. Ramsey’s like, man, you’re shooting like you’re at home. You need to get a foot in front of them. You’re shooting slower lead here.

Ramsey Russell: Well, to compensate for the malleability and the punch of lead using steel shot, they’ve ramped up the speed. So we’re shooting 1500ft/second mostly. You come down here, it’s 1150, 1250. It’s slower. Yeah.

Ryan Graves: And I had a modified choke in the gun. And Ramsey and Diego is like, we need an improved cylinder, that’s how close-

Ramsey Russell: Some of these tight holes-

Ryan Graves: Yeah, that’s how close we’re shooting birds.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you’re right about that. What was your favorite part of this hunt? Because it was all new. Because, I mean, it ain’t like you complaining. Just the day we spent in Buenos Aires, hanging around. Yeah, we foot trafficked and went to a nice restaurant. We really saw all kinds of stuff.

Ryan Graves: Yeah. I mean, just the entire trip honestly, as obviously the hunting is great, the camaraderie.

Ramsey Russell: How would you compare how we’ve hunted with back home, how you hunt?

Ryan Graves: A lot of it’s the same way. Like I say, we have a spot within our club that we call Mallard Pond that we walk in with two or three dozen decoys, or two dozen decoys set up a little blind, and we’re duck hunting. I mean, that’s a lot of what we’re doing here. And I’m telling you, just the staff. I’d never been on a guided duck hunt before.

Ramsey Russell: Never been on any kind of guided duck hunt? Wow.

Ryan Graves: No, sir. And to come down here and this staff, it is a well oiled machine. Everything from the cooks to the hunting guides to just the staff and just the moving parts that it takes for you booking these hunts, and Diego running the outfit. And it just boggles my mind how much goes into it. When we leave here, there’s five or six trucks going every morning. We’re not talking about driving 50 minutes on two lane paved highways the first night we was here. Shoot, it hadn’t rained in what, eight months?

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Ryan Graves: And, boy, it come up.

Ramsey Russell: Starting to catch up.

Ryan Graves: Yeah. I bet you it rained three inches the first night we were here. And that first morning hunt we had, we drove 45, 50 minutes. It was not just driving on two lane roads. I mean, it was a four wheel drive, slinging mud all the way there. But obviously the hunt. But I’ll tell you, I’m kind of an old soul. I like culture. Growing up, one of my favorite subjects were geography and history and coming to Argentina, and just it was everything I kind of imagined Argentina to be. You know the things-

Ramsey Russell: Old world.

Ryan Graves: It was just the old world. Two days ago, we pulled into a farm to hunt. We went through there, and the gauchos had their gaucho hats on. There was two gauchos out in the field, wool saddle, herding their cattle. Then there was two or three gauchos inside the-

Ramsey Russell: Catch pin.

Ryan Graves: The catch pin. And I’ll tell you, that stuff right there, that means the world to me to be able to see that stuff. I don’t know, it’s just so neat and just the architecture of the home.

Ramsey Russell: Like this old house. They came in a couple of months ago and started remodeling. Because they needed somewhere to stay. They found water. This is an old monastery built back in the mid 1800s . But isn’t it. Wonder if I could live here.

Ryan Graves: Oh, yeah, absolutely. This is one of the nicest. I mean, one of the nicest places I’ve been in. And just looking around it right now, just.

Ramsey Russell: The woodwork.

Ryan Graves: Just the woodwork. And just you go to the bathroom to flush it. You pull a chain down from the wall. Just all this stuff. It’s like some people, it might not interest, but I mean, I just. Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: You didn’t try to brush your teeth with that bidet, did you? Yeah.

Ryan Graves: I tell you what, I went in there and I thought it was a toilet, and I bent over and I pulled that thing and splashed the water all up in my face. No, just kidding. But just the bidet. But I’ll tell you another thing just so impressive is what Diego does in this outfit. He goes where the water is, and he goes where the ducks is. You know, sometimes it might have to be two or three hours away from where he hunts the year before. This house might have been inhabitable a month ago. And this joker and his crew, what they have done.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah, it’s immaculate. I told him we need to have a reality show. Like a home improvement reality show.

Ryan Graves: Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: Because all these great duck guides we’re talking about out here, they all got different personalities. They’re all good, but apparently they can do this, too. Yeah, they wear a lot of different caps.

Ryan Graves: Absolutely. And I’ll tell you, those duck guides that you spoke of, what a hard working bunch of people. Absolutely. Just the things, like, I reach in there to grab a box of shells myself, and they’d be like, no, I’ll get it. There is just not a single thing that I have seen that could be improved on. When we pulled up, the hostesses were waiting for us. Won’t know if we needed coffee, beer, water, and it’s just been that way the whole time. Nothing has been-

Ramsey Russell: What was your favorite meal? I know mine, but go ahead.

Ryan Graves: You’re going to have to remind me what that meat was.

Ramsey Russell: You must be the same as mine because they cook matambre. Yeah, matambre, which is pork flank. It’s kind of like a thin slab of bacon. But he grilled it, and I just assumed we put on. I’ve eaten in the past where you put off grill and eat it with a knife and fork. Like a steak? No, it got like a crisp bark on both sides. And then he topped it with sauteed onions and cheese and put it in the oven to melt that cheese. And it was kind of like, if you can imagine a cheese and onion pizza with a pork crust. Yeah.

Ryan Graves: Caramelized onion stew.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, I couldn’t stop.

Ryan Graves: Yeah, it was amazing. That would have probably been my favorite. But I’ll tell you, they’ve really all been my favorites. But I think the only mistake I’ve made since I’ve been here is lasagna is one of my favorite foods. And that night we come back like.

Ramsey Russell: Well, you didn’t eat but half a pizza out there.

Ryan Graves: I started to say I got a little-

Ramsey Russell: Your fourth meal of the day?

Ryan Graves: Yeah, exactly. So I got a little bit too crazy on the appetizers out there, and I ate about half of my piece of lasagna, and I couldn’t finish it. But, I mean, just absolutely unbelievable. But when I get home, I got to get back in the gym.

Ramsey Russell: What’s your favorite dessert?

Ryan Graves: I’ll tell you. There is an ice cream down here.

Ramsey Russell: Technically, their ice cream is high fat. Yeah.

Ryan Graves: And in my life, I’m not a dessert person. I’ve never eaten a piece of pie in my life. I don’t like just pastries and all that. It’s not that I don’t like them, and I’ve just never really had any desire to eat them. But I do like cheesecake. Well, they had an absolute piece of cheesecake to die for.

Ramsey Russell: What ice cream have you been? Is like dulce de leche.

Ryan Graves: Honestly, I don’t know. They’ll bring you, like, a scoop of, like, a vanilla, then a chocolate, but it’s got some caramel.

Ramsey Russell: That’s dulce de leche.

Ryan Graves: Okay. Then a chocolate pudding. You would think, man, chocolate pudding. You think just whatever that brand is at home. The Jello pudding or whatever. No

Ramsey Russell: Made from scratch.

Ryan Graves: Made from scratch. And that’s the thing, is the cook here just unbelievable?

Ramsey Russell: What do you think about their brand of cold beer?

Ryan Graves: What’s the name of that?

Ramsey Russell: Kim’s. Yeah.

Ryan Graves: Yeah, it is absolutely amazing. Or that first afternoon hunt, when we got here, they handed me one. I’m like, yeah, I’ll take not. I don’t drink a whole lot of beer much anymore, unless I’m at duck camp. And I thought, man, this is going to be one of those foreign bitter beers. Whatever. Oh, boy. Let me tell you what.

Ramsey Russell: German Pilsner.

Ryan Graves: Yeah, it’s just a white pilsner. And just absolutely unbelievable.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Ryan, I’ve enjoyed hunting. Well I really have.

Ryan Graves: And I’m telling, you know, what we.

Ramsey Russell: Did is there were seven, eight of us in camp. We just kind of mixed it. Know, and I enjoyed know you got to hunt with several people. They enjoyed hunting with you.

Ryan Graves: Oh, absolutely. Like I said, met some new friends that I plan on talking to from here on out Mr. Ricky Anderson.

Ramsey Russell: How good a shot was Ian? Mr. Ian.

Ryan Graves: Hey.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Ian lived up to his reputation.

Ryan Graves: He did. Mr. Ian lived up to his reputation, missed a couple of easy shots. But I’ll tell you what. There was one time he come in and said, kill it. Mr. Ian. He’d come up, and he killed three cinnamon teal in one shot. But what a hell of a guy. But just everybody in here. The boys from Louisiana and the boys from Texas. Justin, the camera guy.

Ramsey Russell: All the different accents, all the different origins, all the different backgrounds, all the different hunt styles. But sitting around that dinner table.

Ryan Graves: Hey. We’re all duck hunters. Absolutely. And I’ll tell you, and I was a little intimidated coming up here, thinking there might be a major hindrance in the different languages. The guides, majority of them don’t speak-

Ramsey Russell: They don’t speak fluent English, but they understand.

Ryan Graves: But they understand what you say. But the thing is, just the wonderful personalities all of them have, just always smiling, just always chipper. And Diego switches you up, and you get to know guides just about every day. And he gives them all nicknames, too, which is fun, but you can just tell they have a blast. And today, Ramsey, I went on nacho –

Ramsey Russell: Nacho, nacho man.

Ryan Graves: Nacho, nacho man.

Ramsey Russell: He’s quiet. He is always attentive, works his butt off, but he’s the quietest one. Like a cat. But he’s like a cat on a window sill. Just quiet. But he just says something or does something. Boom, the ducks come in.

Economic Impact: Recognize the contribution of duck hunters to the local economy.

And I think it just goes to add just how much us duck hunters add to the economy down here.

Ryan Graves: And the other day, Franco, we got back, and I don’t even know how he knew that I had an Instagram account, but he come up here, and he was trying to tell me something, and I didn’t understand a word he was saying. He grabbed my phone, he went to my Instagram page, and he went up there to the search thing, and he typed in his name and added himself. I thought, oh, yeah, but just looking at pictures and stuff, just a beautiful family. And I think it just goes to add just how much us duck hunters add to the economy down here.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, yeah.

Ryan Graves: But anyway, I just can’t say enough about the guides. I mean, I’ve tried to make it a point, know, compliment them to Diego and all mean, because these boys absolutely work their asses off from a lot of times, carrying a blind out there, setting decoys. They’ll carry your stools.

Ramsey Russell: They don’t want you to do anything.

Ryan Graves: They don’t want you to do anything.

Ramsey Russell: But they don’t mind Char Dawg.

Ryan Graves: Well, here’s the other thing about this old trip. And I was going to mention, this is just absolutely smitten by the old Char Dawg that I am. Really. Obviously, I watch all your stuff you put on Instagram. Char Dawg. And, I mean, like I say, I’ve been fortunate. I’ve hunted around a lot of great dogs. But I’ve never hunted around a dog like Char Dawg. For instance, I met you up at the airport in Houston. You said, well, I’m at the bar at gate five. I come walking, know, we greet each other, sat down, ordered a drink and everything. You said something about Char Dawg. Where’s Char Dawg at? You said, she’s right here. She was underneath your feet the whole time.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Ryan Graves: Just how well mannered the dog is. Then when you get out there to hunting, I mean, there’s just not a better dog in them.

Ramsey Russell: She’s a machine.

Ryan Graves: She’s a machine, and there’s no breaking. She sits up there and when you’re ready to send her, she goes. And the thing is, I don’t know what it would take her to tire her out, but I’ve sit there and watch her, I know, pick up 100 ducks. And that didn’t tire her out.

Ramsey Russell: Well, we get back to, because the routine is we get back the truck, they’re getting sorted, we open those big beers, have a beer on the way back, she’s out hunting.

Ryan Graves: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: And two or three times she’s come back with ducks. Yeah.

Ryan Graves: Well, this morning we’re sitting there, this-

Ramsey Russell: Morning, she found a coop. Yeah.

Ryan Graves: I started saying she got out and I just figured she’d ran over there to relieve herself and no, she smelled a coot and went and got a coop called a mean. She’s just unbelievable. If there’s ever a time you get tired of, know she’s always got a home in Kentucky, I can tell you that. And I’ll tell you that might be the main reason I don’t have a hunting dog is because I would want one just like that. And I don’t know that I’ve got the ability to make a dog like that, but I’ll tell you, there might be some great duck dogs in this country. And I know some guys that have claimed to have had some great duck dogs in this country. Well, they haven’t been around Char Dawg, I can tell you that.

Ramsey Russell: They just brought out lunch. We’ve eaten breakfast, we’ve shot a bunch of ducks. We’ve eaten 16 square foot of pastries. Now they’re bringing out lunch. I’m ready to go eat, believe it or not.

Ryan Graves: Absolutely.

Ramsey Russell: Ryan, congratulations and thank you. I have so enjoyed, I’m telling you.

Ryan Graves: I’m indebted to you. I can’t thank you and Miss Anita enough. And Miss Anita, too. Her and I chatted back and forth a little bit before I come down here, just how detail oriented she is of making these trips happen. And I’ll be honest with you, prior to coming down here, I don’t know that I knew what it took to get this done. Yeah, just a lot of moving pieces. And like I say, between you and Anita, I’ll tell you the funny part was, I text Anita something before I come down here. Her last text message was, once you board that plane, there’s no looking back. She says, you don’t even have to think. And I’ll tell you what, and I haven’t since I’ve been here.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Henry McNasty, at long last, I meet you down here in Las Flores. You and your brother lewis been coming for a long time.

Henry McNasty: Yes, we’ve been coming. This be our fifth year. We kind of got messed up with COVID and lost two good years. But we made it and we back again, and hope we could keep this up for a long time.

Ramsey Russell: Where are you from, Henry?

Henry McNasty: From Louisiana. Born and raised. Commercial fisherman. Love to chase feathers.

Ramsey Russell: You were telling me the other day that you all used to fish for shrimp, and now you focus more on oysters?

Henry McNasty: Yeah, we used to shrimp in the summertime. Then in the wintertime, we’d convert to oysters. In the wintertime you can’t shrimp unless you’re offshore. But anyway, we had to make a living. We fish crabs, shrimp. But mostly we’re just concentrating on oysters right now.

Ramsey Russell: You grew up a duck hunter. You’re from that part of Louisiana, around that marsh, that sunken land. You obviously grew up duck hunting, correct? Did your daddy take you?

Henry McNasty: Is that how you grew up? My dad took us the first year. You couldn’t have a gun.

Ramsey Russell: Wow.

Henry McNasty: You just watched.

Ramsey Russell: How many years have you been shooting duck? Would you get?

Henry McNasty: I mean, I most probably went my first duck hunt at six years old, if not sooner-

Ramsey Russell: That’s a long time ago now. Yeah, I ain’t calling you old. But it was, wasn’t it?

Henry McNasty: Yeah, that was very long time ago. And I tell you, they really slip by fast on you.

Ramsey Russell: They do. When you least expect it. Expect it? Henry, how would you describe Las Flores to the listener? What would you say about this hunt that keeps you and your brother coming back for extended periods?

Henry McNasty: This is a once in a lifetime dream that we’ve been able to fulfill. When you come to Argentina to hunt with Diego, it isn’t a lucky hunt. Know you have a lucky. None of this happens off of luck.

Ramsey Russell: He makes his luck.

Henry McNasty: What he promises you, he delivers. Besides being a great host, he gives you both the best worlds. He accommodates you. And plus, you shoot. If you kill you kill if you don’t you don’t. Depends what kind of lucky days you having.

Ramsey Russell: But you talk about you’ve been here for five years. You’ve seen wet years. Right now, we’re in the grips of an epic drought, and nothing changes.

Henry McNasty: Nothing changes.

Ramsey Russell: Dry years, wet years, cold years, warm years. Las Flores is just cookie cutter, over and over and over. It’s always a good experience, isn’t it?

Henry McNasty: So say it ain’t no accident.

Ramsey Russell: How many lodges have you stayed in since you’ve been with him?

Henry McNasty: This is going to be my fifth lodge.

Ramsey Russell: Fifth lodge in five trips. He goes where the water is.

Henry McNasty: Yeah. I was kind of wondering why he never had his lodge. Because most people have lodges. And talking to some of the veterans, they say, well, he ain’t dedicated. Wherever they got water, he’s going, fine. And like I said, this isn’t luck its man made-

Ramsey Russell: Right now, Henry, a lot of the, quote, dedicated lodges are bone dry. They’re taking clients 2 hours to a duck hole, or they cancel because they ain’t got no water.

Henry McNasty: Correct.

Ramsey Russell: And he, lord have mercy, the miles he put on his trucks. And I have seen him fly before to go where the ducks are. And we show up, and we’re always within 30 minutes of a duck hole.

Henry McNasty: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: What’s your favorite part about coming down here? Is it the volume? Is it the quality? Is it just being in the blind with your brother? Does it remind you of hunting back home in any part of your life?

Henry McNasty: I got to a point in my life right now. Hunting back in the states kind of changed the amount of competition I have. It just seems like the volume or the quality of the hunts just isn’t adding anymore. So, actually, like I said, I’ve been duck hunting all my life. Duck season open, work stopped. Either we was gone or coming back from a hunt.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Henry McNasty: You know, that’s what we did. Come November, you just shut everything down and you hunt it. And I got to a point where in my life, if I could come to Argentina once a year, that’s my fulfillment for my duck hunting.

Ramsey Russell: Get a year’s worth of duck hunting. You shoot as many ducks as you shoot a season back home.

Henry McNasty: Yeah, it take me four seasons to kill what I kill in four days up there.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Henry McNasty: Like I said. And we got to give thanks. It just ain’t. You just show up here and you kill ducks. I mean, the quality of people he has worked for him, from the cooks to the host and the bird boys, and you meet ten of the people. But he’s got 30 people working for him, people you never get to see.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Henry McNasty: His baiters and just the mechanics. Everything fixed-

Ramsey Russell: Everybody.

Henry McNasty: Yeah. And they just take pride. I mean, they have a lot of self pride in what they do.

Ramsey Russell: You know, one thing I like about coming here is every morning we step out at the designated time, 5:30 put on our waiters, 5:45AM. We sit out to the truck and he says, all right, you’re going to ride with Nacho, you’re going to go with Pete, you’re going to go with me. And you really go through the whole guide. I’ve hunted with every guide just about-

Henry McNasty: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: And they’re all good.

Henry McNasty: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: They all got their different personalities. Some are quiet, some are loud, some are this, some of that. But they’re all good.

Henry McNasty: They all good.

Ramsey Russell: And they’re all fun to share a blind with.

Henry McNasty: They very accommodating. You just doesn’t get better quality people. You first. If you ask them for something, they don’t walk to get it. They run to get it.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Henry McNasty: It’s just the quality.

Ramsey Russell: It’s hard to find good help. He’s found some great help on all aspects, hasn’t he?

Henry McNasty: And they got a bunch of repeats when I come back. And you get to know these people and enjoy being them. When you pull up here and you hug somebody, it kind of means something to you.

Ramsey Russell: It’s kind of like coming home to duck campus.

Henry McNasty: Yeah. You pull up here when you leave, you hug, too. It’s just a unity that you get when you come here is just unbelievable.

Ramsey Russell: Are you on a diet when you go home? Do you have to scale back on your eating when you go home? We don’t eat for five meals plus desserts here. Yeah.

Henry McNasty: When I get home, I’m going to be in big trouble with my wife, I could promise you. Matter of fact, she has a fly in Friday. I get in at 09:00 and she doesn’t made me a doctor’s appointment for 11:00 so, yeah, I’m going to get reamed out –

Ramsey Russell: Blood sugar and cholesterol is going to be high I can go ahead and tell you that. What’s your favorite dessert you had here? Because I know you sample them all.

Henry McNasty: Gosh, man, I’m going to tell you my favorite ice cream, the cheesecake macadamia, the cherry cake, the chocolate pie.

Ramsey Russell: The next one. Yeah.

Henry McNasty: How do you pick?

Ramsey Russell: Well, you know. And make it worse? They got a big glass door refrigerator right here in a dining room, and it looks like a pastry shop window with all them desserts in there.

Henry McNasty: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: I’m waiting on somebody to say, I’ll have a taste of everything.

Henry McNasty: Right. Well, I think you’re going to need more on the doctor if you do that.

Ramsey Russell: You got any Tibetau or Boudreaux jokes that you can tell online? I’ve heard one every day at dinner.

Henry McNasty: Come on, you put me in a spot now.

Ramsey Russell: Hey, Henry. I’m really glad to have met you and Lewis and shared camp with you all, finally.

Henry McNasty: We’ve been talking to you for years over the phone. We found Russell through the magazine, and when we called him, it was kind of, my brother handled all this, and he called and, Ramsey, start poking around. Well, what you want to do? You want to shoot doves? No, we want to shoot ducks. Okay, then finally, I know who you all need. I’m sending you out, Diego. If you’re a bird hunter, a duck hunter, and you want know hunt ducks, this is where you got to go. And I talked to Ramsey a long time over the phone. First time we ever actually got to meet. But he was right on. If you come to Argentina, this is where you want to come.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve looked at a lot of outfits. I represent a few combos and different outfits. But I’ll tell people bluntly, if you want to shoot the f bomb out of ducks, dry years, wet years, cold years, warm years, whatever, come here. Las Flores is the place. And I haven’t been wrong.

Henry McNasty: I haven’t been wrong. It’s a wonderful experience. I pray to God that’s some of my top prayers to allow me to come back to Argentina.

Ramsey Russell: I hope I get to come back, meet you and Lewis again.

Henry McNasty: really enjoyed the company and lots of fun.

Ramsey Russell: You said you wanted to add something to your recording. What do you want to say?

Henry McNasty: We just wanted to really thank Ms. Russell for all she does for us, through COVID, through everything, the amounts of phone calls. We’re going to be able to go. We ain’t going to be able to go. Then what we need? Well, I ain’t having no luck. She really takes the reins and guides you through whatever you need. She’s there. Anything from your flights to the arrangements, how you’re going to be picked up, the addresses. You could depend on her. And she’s another one in the background. That really makes things work for us to be able to come here. And we appreciate all you do for us.

Ramsey Russell: Henry, I tell everybody, and I’m being serious. She’s the brains of the operation. I’m just the good looks. Having met me, you can probably agree with that, can’t you?

Henry McNasty: I don’t know. You better be careful how you talking right there.

Ramsey Russell: I appreciate you, Henry.

Henry McNasty: Yeah. Thank you very much.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Scott Clower at Las Flores. Man, tell me about your trip down here.

Scott Clower: This has been just almost without words. One of the best trips. Great experience. If you’ve never experienced a great duck hunt, then you need to come outside the United States with Ramsey Russell and come to Las Flores and Argentina.

Ramsey Russell: Not your first time to Argentina.

Scott Clower: This is my second time to Argentina. I can come to Argentina and kill enough ducks in a week. Back home, I can’t kill this many in three seasons.

Ramsey Russell: What do you do back home?

Scott Clower: Well, I’m a retired football coach, athletic director. My family, we’re in a farming and a meat business, the meatbit.

Ramsey Russell: We’ve talked a lot about that at dinner.

Scott Clower: Yes, sir. We’ve done that for 54 years. My mother’s 86 years old and still goes to work every morning at 4:30 Ramsay.

Ramsey Russell: She shows up at 4:30. 4:30 every. To the butcher shop.

Scott Clower: To the butcher shop every day to make sure one of us boys are there.

Ramsey Russell: What time you show up? Make sure-

Scott Clower: I try to drag in if it’s my day, about 7:30. She’s waiting.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, gosh. The first time you all came down Argentina, we were booking that real remote Rio Salado and you all hit it just right. It was probably the wettest it’ll be in my lifetime.

Scott Clower: Yes, sir.

Ramsey Russell: That was a pretty epic hunt.

Scott Clower: It was an epic hunt. As I recall, we killed 2500 birds that week. I believe it got it on record up there.

Ramsey Russell: Crowdy.

Scott Clower: We averaged about 85 birds a piece a day.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Scott Clower: Just unbelievable. It was lots of water. We killed lots of species of birds that week and it was outstanding. It was everything it was advertised to be.

Ramsey Russell: The problem with that location, and this is almost like a world announcement, we’ve discontinued that because last year you all were scheduled to go you all had booked to come back during COVID. COVID was closed for two years. Last year you all were scheduled to go. I think you all’s bags were packed.

Scott Clower: Yes, they were.

Ramsey Russell: When I called up and said, you all ain’T coming.

Scott Clower: You called us the day before. I literally had both bags packed in my backpack, ready to go, to step out the door the next. I was in the hayfield when I got the call from my buddy that you had called and contacted, and I was disappointed.

Ramsey Russell: but it was horrifically drought.

Scott Clower: It sure was.

Strategic Planning: Evaluate the impact of environmental changes on hunting strategies.

And 2 years of COVID, 2 years of back to back drought, it’s not just the drought, its other changes associated with that. And we’ve had a lot of heart to heart decision.

Ramsey Russell: And it just kept getting worse and worse and worse. And then we said, well, we’ll get you back up there this year and it ain’t rained yet. It rained enough to get as dry as it was last year. And 2 years of COVID, 2 years of back to back drought, it’s not just the drought, its other changes associated with that. And we’ve had a lot of heart to heart decision. As much as I love that place, when it was wet, like 2019, we pulled the plug. We’ve been here at Las Flores, Scott, for 15 to 16 years now. Can you see why? If I said Las Flores was our top hunt in the world of total booking, could you get an idea why?

Scott Clower: I totally agree. After the first hunt, I would have said it was up north, where we’d been the first time, but I’ve been here, and we’ve hunted all week, and I understand this is absolutely the crown jewel.

Ramsey Russell: It’s like one of the gentlemen that was here from Louisiana was saying it ain’t just lucky. When you’re gambling the water situation, that’s just luck. That’s factors beyond my control. I can’t control those controls-

Scott Clower: Mother nature-

Ramsey Russell: But here we’re still in a horrific drought in Argentina. And this particular outfitter has been canvassing, moved into this former monastery. This must be the ninth or tenth house he’s been in in the 15 years we’ve been here. Because when the water moves, he moves, and he brings an A team with him.

Scott Clower: Absolutely A plus team.

Ramsey Russell: And you’ve gotten to hunt with each one of those principal guides. Talk about the guide staff here.

Scott Clower: The guide staff here, they’re outstanding. Every one of them, to a man, is glad to see you. They welcome you.

Ramsey Russell: They smile.

Scott Clower: They know what you need without you having to tell them. They have an expectation by their boss, and they meet their expectations of taking care of their clients just above and beyond. And all of them do a great job calling, tending to everything. It’s super. It’s top shelf.

Ramsey Russell: And the numbers, without saying the number, the numbers have been more than you could ever dream of in America since probably the 1910s? Sure.

Scott Clower: Number of birds we killed again as many I killed this week. It’ll take me four years, five years at home to kill this many birds.

Ramsey Russell: We’ve been here. We’ve got one more morning ahead of us and char has picked up as many ducks as she might pick up in an entire North American season back home. And two or three seeds at my Mississippi camp.

Scott Clower: Sure, I can believe that. And it’s just a great staff and birds work with so many species. The other morning we killed every teal except one teal in our bag. I’ve never killed so many pintails and wigeon.

Ramsey Russell: This particular outfitter owns the rosy bills more than any other outfitter I’ve ever met in Argentina. And it’s always been that way. But the rosy bills don’t. All of them live right here in the backyard. And so as the winter progresses, they begin to build. Well, that’s what come back here in July. You’ll shoot the same species we shot. But it’s going to be 70% to 80% rosy billed.

Scott Clower: Exactly. I think we’re a little early for the rosys. They’re not quite here.

Ramsey Russell: But people ask me, they say, well, I want to shoot a lot of species because obviously, if you’ve been here for the first time, you don’t want to shoot just rosy now, if you’ve been here for as many times I have, I don’t want to shoot nothing but Rosy bills. Exactly. But when you get here earlier, you get to sample those species. May is a great time to come and get the full species. But even in July, I wish you’d love it, just not as you much.

Scott Clower: And I like a Rosy because that’s some of the best table fair I’ve ever had.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about the time you ate Rosy, Bill. One time. You were talking about that the other day.

Scott Clower: The first time we were here, they cooked us a Rosy Bill. We get back from an evening hunt and the chef has some Rosys. I think the term is spatchcock, where he splits them. They’re laid out and the feet are there and most of the necks on it. He’s got them laid out with salt and pepper on an open flame and next thing you know, he’s got a beer box stuck over the top of them and them just smoldering, kind of.

Ramsey Russell: Reflect the heat back on.

Scott Clower: Hold it all down, light coal bed. And we’re all kind of speculative that some of the ducks we eat back home, it’s like eating mud. That’s a mud cat. That flies. And anyway, they put them on the table and put everybody on a plate and you cut it open and it was a medium, just a light pink. And I’m going to tell you, I’m 56 years old. It’s one of the top five meals I’ve had in my life. And I’ve had a lot of prime beef in my life. But we requested to a man, all six of us requested Rosy billed dinner for our last meal.

Ramsey Russell: Wow.

Scott Clower: The week it was that good.

Ramsey Russell: They’re really good.

Scott Clower: They are aboslutely, and they’re out here where they’re getting clean food, and it’s just a clean environment here.

Ramsey Russell: Talk about, speaking of food, talk about some of the food you’ve eaten this week. Well, a lot of people misconceive because Argentina is a beef region, but we don’t just eat grilled meats all day. Every, you know, I describe their menu. It’s like if you were to come to Mississippi, and I hope you will one day, inevitably, we’re going to go into one of my place I like to eat, and it’s going to be home cooked Fried chicken and mashed potatoes or meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Just what I call southern comfort Sir. And I think here in Argentina, they’ve got that flair. A little bit of Italian, a little bit of Spain, but it’s still comfort.

Scott Clower: It was comfort. I remember the first meal we had, that simple kind of a steak that was smothered down, fork tender. The first night we were here, for lack of a better term, the pork belly pizza that we had for lunch, seared hard, crackling side with onions.

Ramsey Russell: And I thought it was pizza. I watched him cook matambre, and then I went took a nap, did something, came back for lunch. And I’d have said that there was a crust, but it was that (portion)-

Scott Clower: It was just cooked crunchy-

Ramsey Russell: Soft, but it was like I described.

Scott Clower: And it was like butter in the middle-

Ramsey Russell: topped with onions and cheese, and it was like dead gum. If ever I had a pizza that had a pork crust instead of crust. This is it. That’s it. I think they run out for idea.

Scott Clower: It had a buttery melt in your mouth a little bit.

Ramsey Russell: Hey, we need to request that for tonight.

Diego: Yes, we.

Scott Clower: I’m behind that. Four of them. But the chef here is outstanding. And the pastry and dessert, chef Nancy, outstanding. Caramel. Just anything she’s cooked.

Ramsey Russell: Well. I’m sitting here staring at the dessert refrigerator. Know, most folks just cook a dessert and serve it. This lady has got four shelves heaping with about a dozen belt stretching desserts.

Scott Clower: At least a dozen. At least a dozen. She’s a caramel expert, I’d like to say.

Ramsey Russell: Absolutely, Dulce de leche

Scott Clower: And you eat all day between the snacks, the empanadas, the fries, the garlic fries. Homemade garlic fries. The pizzas.

Ramsey Russell: That’s another one. We put a hurt-

Scott Clower: And those pizzas that he. Handmade bread. That’s also something. I know Ramsey. I watch him. I don’t eat as much bread as I do when I come to Argentina because it’s all handmade with a perfect, know, a local butter, I suppose, from what Diego tells.

Ramsey Russell: Real butter.

Scott Clower: Real butter.

Ramsey Russell: And they know to set it out where it’s soft. And every day I watched him last night at dinner. We were sitting there talking, and I looked in the kitchen, and he was making today’s rolls so that they could rise overnight in front of the fire. And then he cooks them. And it is honest to God, Italian bread. I don’t eat bread as a habit, but life’s too short, and skip that. I eat a loaf of it every time he sets it.

Scott Clower: Well you know, I would be remiss if we didn’t mention the red stag lasagna.

Ramsey Russell: Red stag lasagna.

Scott Clower: That homemade noodles. Lasagna. Noodles-

Ramsey Russell: Homemade pasta. They got a pasta press, and he makes it, and he spreads it out and cuts it and just layers it onto that. It’s just amazing. So that’s kind of like you eat at home.

Scott Clower: Yeah, Come on, Ramsay. You just come on over and you verify that.

Ramsey Russell: What are you looking forward to tomorrow morning? What was your favorite hunt and why? That’s what I’m saying. Because that’s what you hope tomorrow morning is going to be.

Scott Clower: Well, if tomorrow morning could be like this morning, ducks decoying perfectly.

Ramsey Russell: And this morning was foggy like some other morning. Everybody said they just hammered it.

Scott Clower: Everybody to a man. Everyone said they hammered. The ducks came in at a good pace. They decoyed well, it was not too fast, it wasn’t slow. It was just kind of the perfect setup. And they just decoyed so well, I think. But when the duck saw the decoys, you were seeing them in the fog, and it was just a perfect storm, so to speak.

Optimal Hunting Pace: Appreciate the balanced rhythm of hunting sessions at the current location.

But today and this week, it’s been just, we come out with our limits. But there’s enough pause for her to go pick up bird and come back and get in position before we shoot some more.

Ramsey Russell: It’s been a perfect pace all mornings and afternoons. I’ve hunted here because I’m running char and I bring her out in the mornings, but there are times here. Last time I was here, in fact, some of these limits, 2 or 3 of us in a blind is going 30, 45 minutes, it’s as much as you can do to load your gun. And shoot because you feel like you’re being attacked, yes. And you can’t run a dog when that’s going on. But today and this week, it’s been just, we come out with our limits. But there’s enough pause for her to go pick up bird and come back and get in position before we shoot some more. And it’s not compromised. It’s not flaring ducks. It’s just a perfect interval, man.

Scott Clower: This morning, about five minutes there, we had just a 5 minute session there that it was really hard for us to keep our gun closed. And we were killing 3 ducks, 2 ducks, 3 ducks, four ducks. And we were just loading and shooting, but just stayed calm, settled, and nowhere have I seen that I’ve never witnessed that before.

Ramsey Russell: Speaking of species, one thing you see here that you rarely see anywhere in the Northern provinces we’ve hunted are Chiloé wigeons. This is their habitat. You’ve got a lot of agriculture, you’ve got a lot of shallow pond. They can get out on the bank and graze. That’s what wigeons do. And I’ve always seen tons of Chiloé wigeons while I’m here.

Scott Clower: I’m going to say this morning, our bag at Chiloé wigeons had to been 35, that was at least half –

Ramsey Russell: Decoy good. Oh, beautiful whistle beautifully.

Scott Clower: That’s right. We may have had a few more. The pintails.

Ramsey Russell: How can you beat the pintails over? They don’t look like our pintail. But like, especially in that foggy light, they’re backlit. You see the sprig, you see the long neck, you see them cupped up and it’s a freaking pintail. It just ain’t our pintail.

Scott Clower: Chiloé wigeons looks like a 737 come gliding through that this morning. Just perfect set up. Beautiful set up. If it doesn’t make the hair on the back of your neck stand up when you see that coming at you.

Ramsey Russell: You’ve been to what we formerly call Rio Salado. You’ve now been to our flagship poster boy, duck hunt, Las Flores, would you come back?

Scott Clower: Working on booking it already, Ramsey, you just don’t know that yet.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve already broke the news to my wife. What about your mama? Let her know you ain’t coming.

Scott Clower: Well, I’m just going to surprise her.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you very much, Scott. I have greatly enjoyed this week.

Scott Clower: Thank you, Ramsay.

Ramsey Russell: Mr. Mark Sappington down here at Las Flores. Finally, man, COVID kind of derailed us, didn’t it? Yeah.

Mark Sappington: We’ve had this book for a couple of years, actually, since 2020.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. And we were going to come down here, and last year was dry. I’m going to tell you that the second hardest phone call I make in my career is calling a guy knowing his bags are probably packed, saying, oh, yeah, by the way, it’s too dry to come down here.

Mark Sappington: Yeah, you did call the day before we’re supposed to fly out, but we trusted you and you said it wasn’t right. And so we waited, and I’m glad we did.

Ramsey Russell: And again, it’s a drought. And I said, mark, let’s go down to Las Flores. And you trusted me.

Mark Sappington: Yes, I did. Well, and it was a great.

Ramsey Russell: Tell me, tell me about your week down here.

Mark Sappington: Oh, it’s been outstanding. We got here. Diego has been great. The hunting trips are easy. I mean.

Ramsey Russell: Short drive.

Mark Sappington: Short drive, easy hunts. Yeah, we’re getting a little older. It’s been short walks. I don’t think I broke a sweat since I’ve been here.

Ramsey Russell: What about the guides? Because they guide here. Have you got to hunt with all of them? You think

Mark Sappington: Just about every one of them.

Ramsey Russell: And all different personalities.

Mark Sappington: Yeah, all different personalities, but all hard workers, and they don’t want you to do anything. I’m trying to help, and they’re no, let me do.

Ramsey Russell: Like, you being from Texas and me having worked down there. I mean, you pull up to a gate, I feel like as a pattern, I’m supposed to jump out and open it up. Hell, no.

Mark Sappington: They don’t want you to do it. They’ll do it. You try to, they’ll tell you, no, get back in your truck.

Ramsey Russell: How’s the lodging been?

Mark Sappington: It’s a beautiful lodge.

Ramsey Russell: 1884. This place was built, and I don’t know how long it was vacant before Diego and his staff moved in and renovated, but it’s pretty dang now. I told him he needed a reality show.

Mark Sappington: Yeah, he does. It’s beautiful. The drive in is breathtaking, with all the trees and the lodge. We’re staying in, which is right next to the main building, didn’t even have a roof on it last week.

Ramsey Russell: And that’s crazy.

Mark Sappington: They’ve reroofed it and it’s extremely comfortable.

Ramsey Russell: If I had known this place had been vacant, I wouldn’t have believed it. I’m walking in thinking, okay, I could live here.

Mark Sappington: No, it’s nice. It’s beautiful.

Ramsey Russell: What’s been your favorite hunt so far

Mark Sappington: this morning?

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Mark Sappington: The birds just worked so great, they decoyed, just came right to us. So it was outstanding.

Ramsey Russell: Who shoots better, you or Scott? Depends on who you ask. I asked him and he said, you shoot better when you all shoot at the same bird. Is there any truth to that, or is the other way around?

Mark Sappington: No, it’s the other way around. I think he shot a little better, but I caught up at the end. I got off to a slow start, but I caught up quick.

Ramsey Russell: Tell me about your meals here. We ate five meals a day. How’s the food been?

Mark Sappington: Yeah, food is excellent. Breakfast, we keep it simple and have some eggs and toast. But lunch and especially dinner, with the orders they have out.

Ramsey Russell: Oh, my God

Mark Sappington: You know, it’s hard not to get full before dinner.

Ramsey Russell: Well, chef Sebastian is a baker, and he makes amazing bread, which means he makes amazing pizza crust. And that pizza last night. Yeah, I think it was last night. I ate pizza for dinner.

Mark Sappington: Yeah, pizza is outstanding. It was really good. And not only is he a chef, he’s a mechanic.

Ramsey Russell: He is a mechanic. So if anything breaks down on the place, he can go out there and make it run again.

Mark Sappington: Yeah.

Ramsey Russell: What was your favorite dinner? Kind of hard after a week to think back that far.

Mark Sappington: So far It’s probably been the pork belly pizza.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, mine, too.

Ryan Graves: It was excellent.

Ramsey Russell: Matambre.

Mark Sappington: I’ve never eaten that, but it was excellent.

Ramsey Russell: It was good. Last night’s fillet was good. Last night’s fillet was great. We all flew in early. We had a good time. We went to a nice restaurant, ate dinner, got to know each other.

Ryan Graves: Yes, sir we did.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve talked to you on the phone for years, man. For years we’ve talked. And I love coming down here and finally getting to face to face, meet folks.

Mark Sappington: Yep.

Ramsey Russell: You all showed up to dinner and you all had walked

Mark Sappington: about a mile.

How’d that turn out? Was your appetite good, did you?

Mark Sappington: Yeah, did. But Buenos Aires is a beautiful city.

Ramsey Russell: It is.

Mark Sappington: We walked down the riverfront and that’s kind of why we didn’t take a cab, because we wanted to see the city.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Mark Sappington: And the whole walk down there was beautiful. We felt safe. Nobody messed with us. It was just a great experience.

Ramsey Russell: You’ve been here now to a couple of different lodges in Argentina. You all hit 2019 high point, probably of my lifetime has turned to how that wild marsh looks since been dry. Now we’re down here, I’ve been with this hunt for 15, 16 years. It’s my fell proof hunt. In fact, it’s the number one hunt in the world for us right here. Can you see why?

Mark Sappington: Yeah, I see why. Like I said, been to another lodge. It was a lot more work there. Yeah, the hunting there was great also. But Diego here has got a program to where he pulls up to a pond. You get out, you walk maybe twenty thirty yards, and you’re in your blind and you’re hunting, and it’s incredible.

Ramsey Russell: There’s probably some people listening, saying, well, I want to work for them. What do you think about that? Some people probably say, no, I want to drag decoys and walk 5 miles through the mud and have to earn my ducks.

Mark Sappington: No

Ramsey Russell: It’s vacation, ain’t it?

Mark Sappington: No, this is a vacation.

Ramsey Russell: Eat, sleep, hunt, repeat. Would you come back?

Mark Sappington: I am coming back.

Ramsey Russell: Did your wife know that yet?

Mark Sappington: Not yet, but she’ll find out.

Ramsey Russell: Thank you, Mark. We enjoyed it.

Mark Sappington: Okay

Ramsey Russell: Diego, have you ever thought about having a reality television show about lodge renovation? You all did a masterpiece with this place right here. What all did this involve?

Diego: I don’t know if we thought about it, but a lot of people thought about, we should do it.

Ramsey Russell: You all should do it. Tell me about this place we’re staying this year.

Diego: This place we’re staying this year. Scouting in 2015 where it was another drought. We scouted this area and we found this place. It belongs to the uncle of one of my friends. And it was left out for seven or eight years before we got here this year. It’s a beautiful house. It’s been made in 1884.

Ramsey Russell: 1884. Was it a monastery at one time?

Diego: I’m not sure about a monastery, what type, but it was made by French priests. They were here in the area. All the woods are made of adobe. You know what it is? It’s mud, basically. Mud and bricks. So it was kind of a problematic situation to paint them and rebuild them. And we did a couple of bathrooms and we rebuild. Painted the whole house. It’s kind of like an overhauling TV show, but for real.

Ramsey Russell: I asked one of your staff because all your staff showed up, whatever, 6, 7, 8 weeks before you started.

Diego: My hunting staff.

Ramsey Russell: Your hunting staff.

Diego: Yes, everybody.

Ramsey Russell: But I asked one of them, I said, golly, are you like a carpenter? He goes, no, but he learned.

Diego: I’m learning.

Ramsey Russell: That’s exactly what he said. It’s wonderful. I absolutely love it. But this has got to be. We counted the other night. This has got to be the 7th or 8th or 9th lodge I’ve stayed in since I’ve known you in the last 13, 14 years. Why do you keep moving?

Diego: Well, because that’s what you got to do. We’re not selling lodging, we’re selling duck hunts.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right. So you move because why?

Diego: We move because there are areas where we hunt were bone dry and we didn’t have two decent bait holes.

Ramsey Russell: That’s right.

Diego: Two hunting holes that we should hunt.

Geographic Variability: Acknowledge the diverse landscape of Argentina, reminiscent of the prairie pothole region.

A lot of Argentina is like the prairie pothole region back home. It has wet and dry cycles. And I just imagine the water in Argentina, it’s like a big cloud floating over, leaving a shadow.

Ramsey Russell: A lot of Argentina is like the prairie pothole region back home. It has wet and dry cycles. And I just imagine the water in Argentina, it’s like a big cloud floating over, leaving a shadow. And just year to year it changes. And that’s where the water is. And there are a lot of people just anchored to a lodge that might have to drive an hour or two or three or not have water at all. And then there’s guys like yourself that are a nomad that go to the water.

Diego: Yeah, if you want a nice hotel, there’s plenty of them in Buenos Aries, lots of them. But you don’t get to hunt much.

Ramsey Russell: Clients come here to shoot ducks.

Diego: Exactly.

Ramsey Russell: You do a lot. That’s one thing I’ve heard in twelve or thirteen years, Diego, and we’ve talked about this extensively. You’re kind of a no surrender kind of guy. I mean, we’ve had wet years, we’ve had dry years. And I hear excuses from other outfitters. But you’ve never made excuses.

Diego: Because we don’t sell excuses. Are you selling excuses? No

Ramsey Russell: There you go. No sell ducks. Talk about this bad drought-

Diego: I know you had a one time.

Ramsey Russell: I still do.

Diego: Still do. The same.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Get Go check it. How bad is the drought? This, you know, I know we were talking about drought. Talking about drought. I had to move. You had to move? You walked down here. But it wasn’t until I left Buenos Aries and we drove down here that I realized just how dry it is. How dry is it?

Diego: Well, last year our region was the best water holes in Argentina.

Ramsey Russell: I think it is this year, too.

Diego: This year because we moved, but last year we had luck to be in the right spot. Okay. This year, right now, the whole province of Buenos Aires and the whole Argentina has been through a drought. Severe.

Ramsey Russell: How severe? 20 year drought, 50 year drought.

Diego: I think the worst since 2008, maybe. Okay, I think that’s 2005 or 2008. 2005 or 2008. The only region that had rain is kind of the southern western part of the province of Buenos Aires.

Ramsey Russell: Right.

Diego: All the way to Valley Blanca. This is going to be very good for the geese to be happy, because that’s the goose area majorly. We’re just on the margins, and that’s it. It’s about maybe 600 miles by 200 miles spread where it did rain, and not much. It just rained at a certain point, enough to get the water holes full.

Ramsey Russell: I know there’s a lot of outfitters. I got a lot of phone calls. I’ll start like this. I got a lot of phone calls leading up to the season, guys that have booked here, and you’re sold out, completely sold out this year, and you’re going to have to double your lodging. You’re going to have to run two crews next year building houses. We’re going to keep growing, but you got a lot of clients that are booked to come down here this year. We’re like, hey, I’ve heard it’s a drought. It’s a bad drought. I’m hearing somebody canceled or somebody called their season or somebody. They’re hearing just how bad the drought, how a lot of these out. I said, no, Las Flores, you got water. Las Flores, you got ducks. You always do because you move. But what is going on with, what are some of these other outfitters doing?

Diego: Saving money.

Ramsey Russell: Cancel the season. Hold your money, cancel the season.

Diego: That’s right. I came from my vacation in February, and I spent a month and a half driving a gas tank a day.

Ramsey Russell: You came by our house in January, you and your wife. I got to feed you some of my barbecue.

Diego: Yes, very good.

Ramsey Russell: And I asked you, I said, well, how’s the water where you’ve been hunting? He goes, I’ve got, whatever, 33 dozen ponds. I go, great. And he goes, no, it ain’t enough. And you left and came home and drove how far? How long?

Diego: God knows.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, however long.

Diego: It took about a tank of fuel and a half a day.

Ramsey Russell: But you found a duck.

Diego: No, we found water also in several other places, but there was not enough lodging capacity for us to lodge. And we try to stay as close as possible to Buenos Aries.

Ramsey Russell: I know this. I know you’ve been called by a lot of competitive outfitters trying to sub out to you or broker out to you. How bad are some of these outfitters right now? What kind of shape are they in?

Diego: They’re closed.

Ramsey Russell: They’re closed?

Diego: Yeah. They’re just waiting for water and miracles. I’m not a farmer. I don’t plant stuff, so I can’t move.

Ramsey Russell: You got to sometimes make your own luck in this business, don’t you? And that’s what you do.

Diego: I don’t think there’s much luck

Ramsey Russell: But you got to make your luck. The harder you work, the luckier you get.

Diego: You’re right. There’s a part of it, too, that the good old Lord will help, you know, from upstairs.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Diego, I want to talk about something. Been one of the most stressful years. Come. I left here last year and look, Argentina was closed for two years. Great. Last time I saw you, it was closed for two years. During the pandemic, it opened. I could not wait to get down here. And the minute I showed up, this ugly devil called anti hunting had reared its head. And it was bad. Last year it was bad. Bad. Where did they evolve and spring up from is what I’m asking, because I’m leading up to how you and you all responded to that.

Diego: I think we have a problem. We’re working like most people do in Argentina. Some guys are just staying in front of a computer doing nothing in their 20s, thinking they never got into a marsh to watch a bird or watch an animal. But they think it’s like the fashion way to go. Let’s be protective against hunters.

Ramsey Russell: They’re so far removed from nature.

Diego: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: That they don’t have any connection to it whatsoever. And they see this beautiful little duck. Oh, that must be.

Diego: But they saw it on the tv. I have friends, very close friends that I could hunt in the ranch, and I know I will never hunt in the ranch because I know that they will sit down, take a picture, the camera, go take pictures, and they will suffer even if they allow me to hunt. And I respect those guys.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Diego: Because they get the time to go into a marsh to a tree, sit there and take pictures and watch them.

Ramsey Russell: But that’s their connection to the outdoors, whether they’re shooting or not. At least they’re outside looking at it. So many people live in Buenos Aires that have never probably seen a wild duck-

Diego: Or even tried

Ramsey Russell: A wild duck. So what was the initial argument of the anti hunters, who is not just private individuals, but there are young progressives within branches of your government, decided what? You don’t have enough ducks. So let’s ban it.

Diego: No, the problem was they said the survey was not done because of the COVID.

Ramsey Russell: Had they ever surveyed ducks?

Diego: Marginal. So we helped them. That’s what we did. We helped them. And with portions of the country that are related to universities and most of the people that were in our trucks were anti hunters.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Diego: You know what I mean? They’re biologists in their twenties, didn’t like us hunting, but they were there to count the ducks with us and they came out with over almost 15 million ducks just in the province of Buenos Aries on the lower end.

Ramsey Russell: Wow, 15 million ducks. Tell me how you all did those surveys because here’s what I’m saying, Diego. I’m trying to, for the listeners to understand back in America and Canada, there’s planes flying, there’s state and federal agencies, there’s private biologists, there’s universities all working together to fly. Look at water conditions, look at duck numbers, look at species numbers. We estimate harvest. We do all this kind of stuff. But you come down here and I understood it in the past that maybe some nephew of a government bureaucrat will, was paid to drive a car down the highway and look at ducks, say whether it’s ducks or not ducks. And all of a sudden you all had to step up and do a real survey.

Diego: We did it without the planes.

Ramsey Russell: But who did it? Who paid for the real survey last year to come up with those 15 million ducks?

Diego: The first survey was a chamber of outfitters.

Ramsey Russell: Okay, some of the outfitters. Did all the outfitters participate?

Diego: No, but we had a good participation in the promised Buenos Aires. Way better than Santa Fe or in trios.

Ramsey Russell: I heard Santa Fe did not even count.

Diego: Santa Fe didn’t want to do that. They said no, they have to do it and they’re going to open. We’re trying to give a step up on evolution. I like to go and count, right? I mean, we all do.

Diego: Sure takes a hell of a lot of money to be ten days with hotels, restaurants, not on your house, diesel. Talk to old farmers. Some areas you don’t know.

Ramsey Russell: So you took your truck and went at two trucks and it was you and binoculars and spot and scope and somebody. And you brought the newspaper scopes, but they put a government employee in your truck.

Diego: They were INTA, which is the farmers associations. They were from several universities from the state and they all got in our trucks. And when they marked not even know if there’s water or not, okay, they marked different water holes. They could see on the map, on the satellite map.

Ramsey Russell: Actually.

Diego: They give you six to ten a day that you should go there and tell no water. And how many ducks you could see from just turning around and watching the ducks from the distance.

Ramsey Russell: Did you all count just ducks or try to break out by species?

Diego: We counted ducks and specifically seeing which one was their species with the spotting scopes, I was also surprised. Back close to tresserogers. September. This was first days of September. I found three flocks, over a thousand geese, Magellans, and ashy heads, which is really late.

Ramsey Russell: What did they say about that?

Diego: I don’t know. I don’t think they said a word. I mean, it was in our group. We have a group of information. It was informed. But that was a lot of geese for that time frame.

Ramsey Russell: The point I’m trying to make, and this is very important to me, is that down here, the antihunters said, no, no, we don’t have enough ducks. We hadn’t counted them. Whatever, whatever. We’re not going to have a duck season. But the outfitters dug into their pockets and said, we’ll count the ducks.

Diego: You know what’s going to happen eventually, Ramsey? If they don’t get little control on ducks, they’re going to start eating soybeans, they’re going to start eating the rice fields. They’re going to start destroying stuff all over Argentina. And let me tell you what-

Ramsey Russell: What’s happened in the past. When their mask cropped

Diego: 30 years ago. They will poison the water.

Ramsey Russell: Right.

Diego:The water holes with their roots-

Ramsey Russell: Which kills the ducks. The shore birds, they will kill.

Diego: They will kill overnight, more ducks than all the outfitters of the province of Buenos Aries will do in whole season, with no money for tourism, for no money for nobody, and no extinction in between. Rosy-billed, speckled teal shovelers, ibis, hawks. Ibis, hawks, eagles, fish, spoonies, mud hands-

Ramsey Russell: Spoonies. You had to throw that in there.

Diego: Oh, yeah, whatever. That’s a bird. That’s why. But anyhow, this happened years ago. And to tell you the truth, what would you do if you’re sitting in your house and you invested all your money in 200 acres of soya beams and you know you’re going to lose $80,000 or more because of the ducks?

Ramsey Russell: I would do what I had to do.

Diego: No, first thing you’re going to do, you’re going to call hunters, so you come over and try to get them out of your field. No, we can’t hunt them. Well, next step is going to be worse than that. Hopefully, we’re not going to get there.

Ramsey Russell: And with a government employee in your truck, you went out, you all counted the ponds they asked you to count. What did you all do with the Data? Who counted those numbers? Who calculated them all?

Diego: We gave that data to people that were worked for fishing game in Argentina back in the days. They’re private biologists now, doing the numbers as they used to do it when they were in service.

Ramsey Russell: Okay. And they estimated that just in the Buenos Aires province.

Diego: The lowest end, none of the species were endangered, first of all. And we were 14.8 million, if I recall, right?

Ramsey Russell: Yeah. Just the province of Buenos Aires, 14.8 million ducks just in one province of Argentina. Folks, compare that to the North American population of ducks. We’re crowding 40%, 50% of the entire North American population of ducks. I believe it was 37 million last year. I believe that’s about an estimate number. I may be off a little bit, but I ain’t far off.

Diego: I think it’s around 40 million.

Ramsey Russell: And that’s one province. You’ve got a half dozen provinces to have a lot of ducks.

Diego: No, we have.

Ramsey Russell: How many?

Diego: Half a dozen more. I mean, we got (enterios), Santa Fe, Corientes, Chaco, Santio, el Estero, Tucumon, Buenos Aires, La Pampa. That’s seven.

Ramsey Russell: That has ducks.

Diego: That has a lot of ducks.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah.

Diego: All the other provinces got ducks.

Ramsey Russell: Right. And down here you have very few hunters. We’ve had this conversation before, so I’m asking you, how many argentine, obviously, you shoot ducks, Diego. (Appropriate) proportion, how many of your countrymen really shoot ducks like me? And you shoot ducks?

Diego: Well, at Las Flores –

Ramsey Russell: 1%?-

Diego: there’s a culture of hunting ducks. Hunting, okay, that involves maybe in my hometown, maybe twelve guys. Twelve guys out of 28,000 people.

Ramsey Russell: fourteen and a half million ducks, and twelve guys are hunting them.

Diego: And an Argentina is going to go to hunt ducks. They’re only going to shoot rosy billed. And if there’s many of them, just males.

Ramsey Russell: Really?

Diego: Yes.

Ramsey Russell: Did you grow up duck hunting?

Diego: Oh, yeah, since I was ten.

Ramsey Russell: Did your dad duck hunt?

Diego: No, my dad was a produce hunter,

Ramsey Russell: bird dog.

Diego: But I was kind of crazy since I was born.

Ramsey Russell: We had a great time. You’re about three or four weeks into your season. It’s been an amazing time. All the clients are happy. Diego. I tell everybody you want to shoot the f bomb out of ducks. This is the place, isn’t it? No excuses.

Diego: Try not to.

Ramsey Russell: Right here. Thank you very much for a great week. And what did you say this morning in the blind? You said, we’re leaving. Here comes first week of June. You’re really starting to get busy, aren’t you?

Diego: We left the first couple of weeks of May-

Ramsey Russell: For getting settled in.

Diego: A couple of special clients, too.

Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you know most of them.

Diego: I left those two weeks kind of for them. Five of them. First week was busy. Then we leave these guys, and then we kind of get ready. Yeah, we know what the trucks are going to break, and we’re trying to fix them right now. So we’re getting ready. And June, July is going to be really busy. Really busy.

Ramsey Russell: If we keep coming next year, you’re going to keep Sebastian one of the best cooks I’ve ever had in Argentina. Oh.

Diego: He’s been my friend for almost 30 years.

Ramsey Russell: He’s also a mechanic.

Diego: He’s one of the best mechanics for motorcycles you will ever find. Specifically for antique mechanics.

Ramsey Russell: He’s an amazing cook. The bread, I don’t know how many loaves a day he’s cooking, but they’re disappearing.

Diego: I don’t know. But you said you haven’t eaten bread for a couple of years. You’ve been cleaning those baskets.

Ramsey Russell: I’ve been cleaning those baskets, baby. Hey. Thank you very much, Diego. Folks, you want to shoot the f bomb out of ducks, give me a shout. Let’s come down here to lust Flores. Promise you’re going to have a great time. No excuse duck hunting. Wet, dry, hot, cold –

Diego: moon.

Ramsey Russell: This is the place to come shoot ducks.

Diego: Don’t forget the moon.

Ramsey Russell: You bring up a good point, Diego, because let’s talk about the moon before I wrap up. I tell people I want a dark moon when I come here, but I have been here and shot them with moonlight. I’ve shot them all 30 days. But regardless of the moon phase

Diego: The rosy bills. When you got rosy bills, they don’t affect them at all.

Ramsey Russell: No.

Diego: Okay. Not at all. The smaller ducks, pintails, wigeons, they might change a little bit on habits at night, but it only makes it a little slow in the morning. Not too bad, like now, we had a little rain and got a little small, slower, but not too bad.

Ramsey Russell: No excuse duck hunting, folks, down here at Las Flores. Thank you all for listening this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.

[End of Audio]

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