Argentina’s Entres Rios Province lies between the Uruguay and Parana rivers, its flat topography covered with interspersed wetlands, woodlands, agriculture and shortgrass habitats, making it a rich location for hunting ducks, doves, wild pigeons, perdiz and more. While watching orange-capped hunters gleaning partridge behind rock-solid pointers, Ramsey does a deep dive into Argentina hunting culture with long-time Los Ceibos associate Patricio Geijo, covering past, present and future topics. Everything is on the table: small game hunting, bird dog traditions, exotic big game introductions, Cordoba dove declines, a burgeoning anti-hunting movement, historic estancias–and even ghosts! Whether you’ve been many times, considering a trip or just mildly interested, you’ll enjoy this fun and very informative episode.
Hunting Between the Rivers, Argentina
The Sample Pack of Hunting: Dove, Perdiz, and Duck
And many hunters are coming first to Argentina for dove shooting, but then when they realize that we have many other species to shoot, they like the variety duck is very good, perdiz is very good, dove is very good, we have some pigeons too.
Ramsey Russell: Welcome back to Duck Season Somewhere, I am in Entres Rios province of Argentina up against the Uruguay border. What a great place. And you all know, I’ve been here a while and this is my third stop, my third province, one of my favorite places because it represents what I call the best of Argentina. I’m a duck hunter, you all know that boy, I like a duck hunt, but what I have here is, I have duck hunting, I have perdiz hunting, I have dove hunting and it’s very convenient. And it’s like a little sample pack you get, you know what I’m saying? It ain’t just one flavor, I get to sample the best of Argentina for reasons you all are going to learn but don’t tune out if you ain’t interested in that because I have got some pretty interesting topics, we’re going to talk about kind of some topics kind of made my head explode in the last few weeks since I’ve been here, something I think the whole world needs to hear. Today’s guest is Patricio and I say it with English, they pronounce it , Patricio at our operation, you go to check it out on getducks.com. And you know how when you meet people, business partners get together, they go to like a big steak house or seafood and heavy drinks and something elegant like it no, I met my buddy Patricio and we got kicked off to a different start. We were in Las Vegas and we went to some little shack on the Las Vegas strip called the Heart Attack Cafe. Boy, that was a heck of a night, Patricio.
Patricio : Yeah, we have. I’m laughing because I remember the story about the place, being together in Las Vegas and having fun together and then all the stories that were the outcome of that BC was a great night.
Ramsey Russell: I cannot believe I had forgotten us eating there because listen guys, you come in and like the theme is everybody’s wearing scrubs and I think they gave us scrubs to go sit down and they serve these big old greasy burgers of different sizes and then to top it off when you order fries with it, it comes with about 2.5 lbs of fried French fries. And again, that’s enough to give a man a heart attack, but they’ve got a policy there that if you don’t eat it all, you get paddled in front of God and everybody. I didn’t get paddled that night, did you?
Patricio : No, not me. But I remember perfectly well that we play a trick to Martha, one of the members of your staff and she was really worried about the paddle. So she tried to avoid that situation at any cost, but it ended up that we changed the plate of her and when the waiter came and checked the plates of all the people over there, she was the only one with some food on it. And you know what happened, she was paddled hard.
Ramsey Russell: She cheated because she ordered tiny little hamburger, they came with a bunch of fries and boy, she loosened her belt and ate them all, but then she went up to go do something and I put all my French fries in her basket and then we all pointed her plate and you think one of these little places, they’re going to give somebody just a light tap, they lifted her feet off the ground, she got mad, no wonder she didn’t take a paddle and whopped their asses with it.
Patricio : Yeah, I remember she slapped me once. And in that place the policy was that if you were a guy, just a female was in charge to paddle you and the other way around. And Martha was paddled by the big guy and she turned around and slap him in his face and it was a very hilarious situation over there.
Ramsey Russell: Let’s not talk about that in front of her because I think she may have forgotten. Every time we bring it up, she gets, a paddle for a day or two, so I’m going to not mention that, but that was a heck of an introduction to us starting to work together, go out, have a good night and watch Martha get her ass paddled by the biggest guy in the joint. Man, I’m glad to be here after 2.5 years it seems like, the world being shut down. Argentina rescinded their vaccination mandate, they don’t have a PCR test, it felt normal coming back here to Entres Rios on the eastern side just seeing you again and being at your place is absolutely beautiful. I’m having a good time and it seemed to be like we’re sitting here watching guys, we’re watching a couple of folks comb this section field for perdiz and it’s like the perdiz haven’t been hunted in two years and they are just gangbusters right now. Is everything else seem to be going good, Patricio?
Patricio : Yeah. Well, let me add that here we have an excellent perdiz hunt and it is quite unique because most of the time the agriculture spoiled the natural resource be simply because the habitat was affected for it. But here we have this kind of habitats which is perfect for perdiz and it is a great deal.
Ramsey Russell: I think that Entres Rios overall and eastern Entres Rios in particular has the best partridge habitat down here, I really do. I’ve never seen perdiz as abundant as I do here.
Patricio : Oh, yeah, I agree. Perdiz was very abundant in the past, but now because the reason that I just explained most agriculture, the pollution is stable or going down in many places. But perdiz is not the only bird that we have here, we have a many other.
Ramsey Russell: Yeah, you got a combo. I was going to ask you, that’s my next question, we call this location, Los Ceibos because it’s a lot of trees here. And besides a lot of the ornamental trees you see throughout Argentina, there’s a lot of native trees especially I noticed in the areas that we duck hunt, it’s small little ponds, small little marsh areas, small little water bodies and there’s always trees around and I love that, that’s why this place to me is Los Ceibos. But why did you choose Entres Rios, what is it about this part of Argentina that you decided to set up shop?
Patricio : Simply because after many years, being a hunter and also being involved in the hunted business, we understood that this is the place that we have to stay at because the combination of all the species that you just mentioned is simply fantastic. It is great. And many hunters are coming first to Argentina for dove shooting, but then when they realize that we have many other species to shoot, they like the variety duck is very good, perdiz is very good, dove is very good, we have some pigeons too. So that’s why we choose this place because basically this is quite unique in Argentina and because we are close to Buenos Aires too to don’t flying domestic to any other destination is a big ad.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a huge ad for reasons we’ll talk about in just a second. Entres Rios on a map north of Buenos Aires, it’s bounded on the east by the Uruguay River on the west by the Parana River, what do I say Paraguay, probably, Parana and Uruguay River. So you got this natural funnel coming through here, it’s also a lot of agriculture and at times, in parts of the province, it’s a lot of rice, it’s a natural funnel for waterfowl. But because you’ve got these uplands and this different habitat, some of the woods we hunt for the doves, it’s got the perfect habitat for all of these birds. And that really makes it to me singularly unique of all the provinces in Argentina.
Patricio : Yeah, you’re right. If you move around the province, you are going to realize that we have it whole, especially in this area. In this area, we have a combination of, as you said, bush, we have ponds, we have marshlands, we have a land fit for agriculture, we have a natural pastures, we have it all. That’s why this place is so good for hunting. And you have to add too that we don’t have any people here, the population in this area is not very high. So it constitutes a perfect habitat for the game that we like to play with.
The Origins of Avid Hunters in Argentina
We have a tradition that if you call yourself a hunter is because you hunt perdiz.
Ramsey Russell: Patricio, what are your origins? Where did you grow up? How did you grow up? Tell me where you grew up and how you grew up, I’m very curious because I know this, you’re a hunter, but tell me about growing up in Argentina where and when and how and all that good stuff.
Patricio : Well, I born in a city named La Plata, which is the capital city of the province of Buenos Aires. It’s fairly close to Buenos Aires City, the capital of our country. But still far enough to live as a sort of a countryside town. I’m talking about the old La Plata City when I grew up in the early 60s, but now it’s a big city now, it’s a 1 million people city, so most of the spirit of that town is gone. And I lived over there my whole life. So, for me to stay here is a privilege because I can leave the issues of the city behind. And when you’re a hunter, you love the wildlife, you love the environment, all the natural stuff that the country provide to you and well, that’s why I’m here now.
Ramsey Russell: How did you get into hunting? Who introduced you to hunting? And what were some of your fondest and earliest memories of hunting?
Patricio : Well, my father have, my father was always was a very avid hunter here in Argentina. We have a tradition that if you call yourself a hunter is because you hunt perdiz. Among the tradition of the Argentinian people, we don’t have very much duck hunting or we don’t have very much doves, perdiz is what we do. And that’s something that we receive as a sort of heritage of our ancestors coming from Europe and I’m talking about people from Spain and Italy. Actually, my ancestors because I’m Spanish from my father’s side and I’m Italian from my mother’s side, but it represents in some way the profile of the Argentinian hunters. The Argentinian hunters love upland game and I am not an exception. My father introduced me in hunting and I remember the old days when I used to go to the field with him, I was a kid and my mom was in the car and when my father came back to the car too, she was in charge to pluck the perdiz that we collected and my sister were over there. So imagine that picture, a man with two daughters and one son, all of them together, plucking perdiz and my father the provider with a shotgun, by the way, he was an outstanding shot, he was really good, he was fantastic. Well, and from that point until now, I’ve been actually a very passionate hunter.
Ramsey Russell: And you’re also a big game hunter that’s what it down to me like right there at the lodge we’re staying in, there’s a massive moose outers over one of the fireplaces that you shot. I know that you stag hunt, I saw stags all over the building, I’ve seen black buck. Did your dad also get you into big game hunting?
Patricio : No, that was just me in the very beginning as many of the big game hunters I started with and then since I love guns, I start to shoot rifles and different guns, connected with the game and I found some friends already in that activity, so I decided to make a try and it became in my real passion. Big game hunting is, something that I take inside me and I’m going to take until my last days.
Ramsey Russell: Wow. Would you say Red Stag is the quintessential Argentina big game experience because I got to go Red Stag hunting a few weeks ago and as a duck hunter as a shotgun or I’ve got to tell you the change of pace, stalking out through those hills, going through that beautiful grass and walking through those thickets was very exciting and I was there just at the tail end of the roar, I got to hear that and see that and it was exciting.
The Wild Game of Argentina
But there is no doubt that Argentina is number one in wing shooting, wing shooting is the best.
Patricio : Yeah, it is. But you have to imagine that, when I was much younger, I imagine all this like an adventure. It wasn’t only about hunting, it wasn’t only about killing an animal, it was about hunting in a perfect habitat without people, everything was wild, we had to get our own food from the field. We had to cook our stuff, we have to survive in the wilderness, it was something that any kid dream with it. It’s something that, made me feel connected with the Mother nature and well, red stag, of course, is probably the emblem of Argentina because it’s the main species. But back in those days, I used to go – actually there’s a deer near home and black buck, wild boar too. Argentina is very rich in regard of big game hunting species. But there is no doubt that Argentina is number one in wing shooting, wing shooting is the best.
Ramsey Russell: When were red stag imported to Argentina, red stag, black buck, buffalo, when did that take place and who started that movement?
Patricio : Well, we had different currents of game introduction. The first one was in 1909 by Pedro, a very rich guy who was a huge land owner and this guy used to spend his life between Argentina and Europe and he was a sort of playboy, always in touch with all these European noble people. I’m talking about Dukes, Counts, et cetera. And of course, he used to go hunting over there with these very important people. And one day he felt embarrassed because these guys start to asking him if they could go hunting to Argentina? This guy was a huge land owner, but basically, in those days, there was nothing really appealing to the standards of Europe in those days. So this guy since he had almost unlimited resources, decided to import, red tag and wild boar together with some birds and roe deer from Europe.
Ramsey Russell: You all have roe deer here?
Patricio : Yeah, roe deer, but didn’t make it like a puma or the fox took care of them. So, well, he introduced the first species and finally he invited his friends and one more time he was the star of the party.
Ramsey Russell: Is he the guy that also brought the bears you were talking about?
Patricio : No, the one who introduced the bears was Pedro and he was the second introduction in Patagonia country.
Ramsey Russell: Let’s talk about this because this is a good story.
Patricio : Well, this guy introduced these species red stag, followed the wild boar and brown bear in Victoria Island. Victoria Island is a big island that is in Patagonia country right in the middle of a big lake in the World Lake. And this guy did it because he thought that the big mass of water surrounding the island was enough to stop them and keep them in that island. But he rapidly understood that the game was capable to escape from there. They could swim the distance between the shore of the island to the mainland. We are talking about probably 6 miles of ice waters, but the game made it. So he said, oh, I commit a mistake here.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like creating Jurassic Park in Argentina.
Patricio : Yeah. Imagine now if you find a brown bear in the hills or in the mountains, couldn’t be too nice for the landowners or for the people over there. So he rapidly made a correction about that. And now both La Pampa, the first place where the red stag was introduced and Patagonia mountains are the two big game destinations of the country.
Ramsey Russell: And it’s turned into an incredible industry. Down here just happens stand to the hunt over the years, I’ve been blessed to shoot red stag, black buck and those big old buffalo and it added a whole depth to the overall Argentine experience.
Patricio : Oh, yeah. Well, let me complete your answer of your question because you mentioned some other species like a deer, black buck, Buffalo, well, the ones that I mentioned are Asian animals, they’re not European and mostly and black buck were introduced in Argentina as many other animals were introduced in Texas, it was for the decoration. So these animals were brought by rich people who like to spread them out in their front yards and brag about them. Well, and now they are roaming around in free range in big areas of Argentina.
Ramsey Russell: This is a bona fide statistical fact, black bucks originated on the plains of India and now the largest free range herds on earth are right here in Argentina.
Patricio : Oh, yeah, it is true.
Ramsey Russell: You see about thousands.
Patricio : Yeah, by 1000. And it’s funny because sometimes we receive hunters and they see the big herds of 1000 of them literally and then they realized that they have to fulfill the site papers as an endangered species. So they asked me, I don’t see any endangered species here, they look in very good shape to me but they are endangered in the regional country which is India.
A Start in the Hunting Business
This is the service industry and just some of the little details of the equipment, the gear, the needs of this, the blinds, the drink boxes, the wake up times, the coffee times, I mean, it’s just so many myriad details that go into.
Ramsey Russell: Isn’t that crazy? Well, I know that I know from knowing you that, your family has a successful business and that you, unlike, a lot of my outfitter associates have a PhD in economics, makes you fascinating to talk to, you’re very well educated. But how did you get into – how and when did you get into the hunting business?
Patricio : Well, I think that, I told you the story before but I would like to repeat it.
Ramsey Russell: These boys haven’t heard it.
Patricio : Yeah, that’s true. Well, I got my degree as a CPA and then I get MBA too and in the process, I was working in my office and I also had to take care of my family. Because my father built a very important industry in my hometown, which was about cast iron and steel for water pipelines and supplies. So I had to be in charge of both the office as a CPA and also the industry headquarters. But one time I was, playing golf and I decided to start a new business because I was too young to stay with what I got and I said, okay, I would like to start a company in regard of hunting as a sort of hobby, but then I rapidly understood the importance of that business. And not only the importance, if you could run it seriously, it could be a very good business too.
Ramsey Russell: Of course. And too many outfitting businesses, especially here in Argentina are not run professionally, this is not a hunting business, this is a business with hunting is a part of it, but it’s a lot to running a successful hunting business.
Patricio : Well, that’s true. In the old days, when the foreigners start to come to Argentina, any guide or any land owner in the main destinations of Argentina like La Pampa, for instance, thought that they could develop a hunting business just because they had a couple of deer or because they guided some people in the past, but it was totally wrong. You have to develop this as a serious company and buy land and be able to offer what the foreigners are looking for, meaning very good accommodations, high standard services, et cetera. So many people tried to do it, but simply they didn’t have the ability to get what the people, the hunters, the potential clients were looking for. And since we’ve been a business man during our lives, I’m talking about not only me and my father, my son, we understood the importance to, first of all, recognize the needs of the foreigners, what they really like to get here and I’m talking about very good services, very good accommodations. Of course, hunting goes always first. But most of the hunters are not coming just for hunting, they’re coming for the whole experience. That is what really matters. Yeah, you can have the best place of the world but if you don’t know how to treat the people, how to be friendly with them, how to be kind with them, how to socialize with them, well, then you have nothing.
Ramsey Russell: It’s a people business. This is the service industry and just some of the little details of the equipment, the gear, the needs of this, the blinds, the drink boxes, the wake up times, the coffee times, I mean, it’s just so many myriad details that go into. I’ve always described the hunting service industry, the clients come in and it’s like walking into a restaurant and they see this beautiful presentation and they see the food and they see the service, but it’s all the details that go all the way to the source of that food, to the kitchen, to the staff, to the timeliness, to keeping it warm, to turn it out, there’s so many myriad of process that go into a perfect meal at a restaurant and this industry is no different.
Patricio : No, it’s exactly the same. I remember once when I was talking about this business with an older outfitter, he told me, well, you can compare this with a plane, what do you need to make a plane flying? I said, well, maybe a good engine or maybe wings, he said, no, you’re wrong, everything has to be right, otherwise the plane is not going to take off and he’s totally right. As I said before, you can have a great place for hunting, but if you don’t know how to deliver the experience that we talked about before, well, then you have a problem.
Masters of Camouflage
But I would say that one of the main features of this bird is they are masters of the camouflage, the master of the concealment.
Ramsey Russell: That’s exactly right. I’m going to change gears only just a little bit. And I want to get into the nuts and bolts of a perfect Argentine sampler and I want to talk about the ducks, the perdiz and the dove. And I want to start with perdiz, because we’ve already mentioned the intrinsic cultural value of partridge hunting to Argentina. And perdiz is Spanish for partridge, the partridge we’re referring to are primarily yellow tinamou, if you want to look them up in a bird book. They’re a small game bird, they like shallow cover, they just soon run is a fly, they’d rather run than fly. You a lot of times, find them in twos and threes, ones and twos and they are absolutely positively delicious as a wild quail and that makes them the perfect game bird, in my opinion.
Patricio : Yeah, you’re right. If you go back in time, the story is about the Spaniards, the first conquistadors come in to Argentina and they didn’t know the game that we had here in, I mean, just the indigenous people was here. So they start to name the birds according to what they recognized, it was similar to what they had in Spain. So actually the perdiz is not the perdiz because they call them perdiz because they believe that it was similar actually to the red leg perdiz in Spain. But as you said, these perdiz is actually a tinamou, it’s a relative of the ostrich.
Ramsey Russell: Isn’t that crazy. It’s a tiny little ostrich and a funny look one and they’ve got really relatively small wings for their body and what I’ve noticed is, they get up and they fly but they like to fly low.
Patricio : They fly low, they fly very low and fast. But I would say that one of the main features of this bird is they are masters of the camouflage, the master of the concealment. They use any patch of grass to be hidden over there and if you don’t go there with the dog, there is no way to find them.
Ramsey Russell: I learned that on one of my first days of perdiz hunt, we were behind a setter in Uruguay and you’d walk on to point and she start wagging her tail, she’d walk on through the point and there wasn’t a perdiz there. So we’d hunt some more, about the 15th time, I’d walk in on a point with her wagging her tail, I realized she was lying to me. And about the 16th or 17th point, I walked in on, she was sitting there and she turned and faced me and pointed right between my legs and started wagging her tail and I hollered, this is the lying dog I’ve ever seen and that perdiz exploded right from between my feet, I fell so far backwards, getting out of his way, I missed him.
Patricio : Well, yeah, you hit the nail because let me tell you that I’ve seen a lot of very good shots and they are really good shooting ducks, very good shooting doves, very good shooting pigeons. But for some reason for some reason perdiz represent, a real challenge for the American hunters even that they have a lot of upland bird. But for some reason, it’s always a very difficult bird to shoot for it.
Ramsey Russell: It’s such a profound tradition down here that I will say on the record that overall large scale day to day, year to year, the best bird dogs I’ve seen are here in Argentina.
Patricio : Well, there is a very simple explanation about it and it is that the practice makes the master. We are hunting every day with those dogs here, I imagine that, since you’ve been here, we went out how many times for perdiz?
Ramsey Russell: Somebody’s going out every day.
Best Hunting Dog Breeds
And let me tell you that these dogs I’m talking about, English Pointers or Brittany or German short hair, they have the hunting spirit in their genes.
Patricio : Exactly. And let me tell you that these dogs I’m talking about, English Pointers or Brittany or German short hair, they have the hunting spirit in their genes. I mean, they take it in the blood. So the only thing that you have to do is to train them slightly, especially in obedience. And then all the skills that they bring inside them will flourish, it’s a matter to let them do it and they will learn how to hunt, how to wait for you, how to retrieve the bird, how to point, it’s a matter of practice and go out and teach them a little bit. And, well, when you realize about it, you have a great dog between your hands.
Ramsey Russell: That’s right. What are your favorite breeds?
Patricio : I like, German short hair. Well, first of all, I recognize that all of them are very good. But in my case, it is a matter of preference. I had an outstanding Irish Setter, it was fabulous but it was the only one that I know here in Argentina that it was that good. I like, very much the spirit of the English pointers, but when I was younger, everybody believed that, they were not possible to be controlled. But now with the modern technology, now the electric collars showed up and you can teach them how to stay close to you and be handy. Because the main problem is when the dog is trying to hunt by itself, meaning that, it takes the hunt as a sort of game for him for them. So when they understand that they are actually working for you, that’s when you find the turning point between any hunting dog to a serious hunting dog because then they understand that they have to serve the master and they have to do all what they know in order to find the birds and let you shoot your prey.
Ramsey Russell: You got a German short hair out here right now, what’s the red dog?
Patricio : The red dog is an Italian pointer. He’s a very interesting animal because I haven’t seen it before here and well, it turned out – it’s a puppy, he’s very young.
Ramsey Russell: But he works close like Daisy does. I mean, they stay within range they quarterback in front of you, they don’t disappear over the horizon.
Patricio : That’s true. Well, it is still in training part of his life as a hunting dog. But I believe that he has a great future because as you said, he’s obedient, he stays close to you and it has a great nose and something that I really like of these dogs is that they point the birds with the same style that you see in the English pictures of the old hunters with this kind of pointer with this, kind of tail aiming up or totally straight, very stylish. In the other hand, for instance, you have a Brittany, which I consider a very, very efficient dog. But in my personal case, I’m sorry for those who love them, but they don’t have the same stylish that you mentioned. They are very efficient and they’re very good for old people because they’re slow, they wait for you, they always try to stay as much, closer as the birds as they can. But simply in my experience, I recognize that they are great dogs, but they are not the kind of dogs that I like.
What Makes Argentina Waterfowl Hunting So Great?
I mean that is a program that anybody – one of the clients we send here, for example, was a quadriplegic legs and arms quadriplegic and he wanted to duck hunt, but he could not get in the mud, he could not do a regular duck hunt.
Ramsey Russell: I want to swap gear to ducks. We offer duck hunts throughout different parts of Argentina. I’ve got a very remote marsh and you better leave your sis and niece at home because that requires a commitment. And I mean, you’re out in the middle of nowhere just to get there and you have to walk and you have to hunt like they did back in the 1800s, we’ve got other hunts more convenient. But one thing about your hunt and I’m going to get into about your duck hunt again, the trees. Everywhere that I hunt, it’s a small type pond, it’s a chip shot that the birds are in my face, there’s trees covered around, it just adds an ambiance to it, a lot of times we’re hunting up against the Uruguay River and it’s something to it. And I observed every time I’ve been here that my 97 year old grandmother could get to one of your duck blinds, I like the fact that I’ve got such high quality hunting, so fast paced, such a species diversity that I can leave my waders at home and there’s not a blind that I’m aware of, you have that I really can’t use just hiking boots to hunt. I wear waders because I like to get in the water with my dog and stuff like that. But that is something fairly unheard of Patricio. How did you all or why did you all develop that program? I mean that is a program that anybody – one of the clients we send here, for example, was a quadriplegic legs and arms quadriplegic and he wanted to duck hunt, but he could not get in the mud, he could not do a regular duck hunt. And I said I got to hunt for you. Do you remember him?
Patricio : Yeah, perfectly well.
Ramsey Russell: And he came and he showed up and he hunted you all, any blind you’ve got is 10, 15 yards from the truck, very easy to get to, very easy walk in, very good duck hunting. And that really describes something to me that anybody can come out, but I want to talk about the ducks, talk about the species. You’ve got a lot of species here, what is it about the Uruguay River and the species you’ve got. What is it about these habitats? Because I see a lot of teal, my favorite one, the Brazilian ducks, the ring teal, the silver teal, the speckle teal, rosy bills, whistling ducks, you got some wigeons, some shoveler, some of the boys shot pintails.
Patricio : Let me stop a little bit in your thought about, this kind of ponds and this kind of blinds that we set in our area. When you run a hunting operation like this one, you have to have options for everybody. Most of the young people like the adventure to go to a pond, stay in the long grass and stay hidden between these aquatic plants, but in this case, you have to also have some kind of practical places to go with people that, probably are not in the prime of their days. But still like to practice the sports of their lives, which is hunting, but physically speaking, probably don’t have the skills to do what a young guy can do. So basically, and I think that I mentioned before that it’s a continuous learning process, you have to learn that everybody needs a chance. You put the example of this a handicap guy and if you think carefully about it, why not? Why this guy who loves hunting can –
Ramsey Russell: I believe a guy in a wheelchair can hunt every place I’ve ever hunted with you.
Patricio : Yeah, exactly. So, basically what we have is, option for everybody. And of course, that natural resources help us a lot. We have all the options and you’re right, take for granted that if you can’t walk very much, you can still go hunting to a pond, you don’t have to mess with these muddy ponds and that’s very appealing for the old people, especially because they can still practice, the hunting without the effort that it requires sometimes to get a good result. And going to the species, your second question, we have a lot of them, probably we have 13 species that make the Argentinian Slam for ducks. The thing is that we have some kind of stable population of ducks and then we have some migrating ducks coming from different areas of Argentina. And it makes our hunting season very interesting because if you come in the beginning of the season, you’re going to find some species, if you come at the end of the season, you’re going to find some others and if you come at the right moment, you are going to find a lot of species all together. So, it makes these places like a sort of paradise for hunters because –
Ramsey Russell: And there’s no continental migration like we think of in North America –
Patricio : No.
Ramsey Russell: But these birds will roost 10 hour drive a 1000 miles, they will breed up 500 to 1000 miles away and they’ll drift over here as habitat conditions prevail and they’ll ramble and move with this Uruguay River and that big reserve down below you all, they always drift over this way.
Patricio : That’s exactly right. And you have to consider that here in Argentina agriculture is one of our main assets. So basically these species migrate to certain areas and then they follow the food because you have to consider that they have all the rest of the needs that they have available. So sometimes the migration is not that easy to predict because for instance, if they stay, as you said, some hours away from here and they have a big rain and a crop of corn is flooded. Well, maybe they don’t migrate, by the time that they’re supposed to come here, they delay or the other way around maybe they run out of water and they come earlier, it’s very hard to predict. But at the end of the day, you have a lot of fun because sooner or later you’re going to shoot different species here and you’re recognizing species that you have in the northern hemisphere and it’s something that is very enjoyable for the people.
Ramsey Russell: How big of a land area approximately, describe geographically in hectares or acres or something. I mean, because you all cover a massive area, you got several lodges spread around, some of them in our part, but it’s a big geography that you are recovering.
Patricio : Yeah. Well, first of all, you have to understand that you can run any dove operation in any small area because they roost over there or you can run a perdiz operation in a certain region because you know that they have perfect environment or a great habitat. But the ducks is a different story, the ducks is totally different because you have to pay attention to many different factors. So in order to succeed, if you run a big wing shooting operation, you have to have options. As I said before, you have to have places in the south of our region, places at the north of our region, you have to have places and marshy areas, you have to have places in the dry areas. And why is that? Well, the marshy area is because if you have a drought, you need water. If you need a dry area because if you have a heavy rains, you need to have places where you can concentrate ducks.
Ramsey Russell: You got to have a contingency plan.
Patricio : Oh yeah, as I told you many times this is like a chess game. You have to calculate all the moves of these birds if you like to provide consistent quality of each hunt and in that sense, I’m going directly to the answer to your question. We manage 200 kilometers long by 60 kilometers wide, very close to the Uruguay River. And the reason why we do it is exactly to be able to provide a good hunt, no matter what it happens. You are dealing with wild animals, we are dealing with mother nature, so anything could happen. And believe me, sometimes, despite all what you can do, sometimes you don’t have the odds in your favor because for the reason that I explained that there are many different factors that you can’t control.
Ramsey Russell: Within your area critical to a lot of what you’re talking about your consistent duck hunting, besides just the contingency plans, you showed me on the drive up yesterday, you pointed over to an area and there’s a large inviolate sanctuary owned by the government, some kind of bio reserve, describe that? How big is it, what is it, and describe that to me, it’s massive?
Patricio : Yes, it’s huge because if you see a map of –
Ramsey Russell: As big as the Mississippi Delta.
Patricio : Yeah, we’re talking about millions of hectares. It is like this, you very well describe that Entres actually means between rivers has the Parana River on the west and you have the Uruguay River on the east of the province. Then the Parana River turns to south. So basically that area that connects the Parana on the west and the Uruguay on the east, becomes a huge wetland, huge. I’m talking about millions of hectares. And according to a local regulation, that area is a sort of a wild of sanctuary, especially for ducks because in their migration, ducks reached that place for the very first time and from there, then they spread out all over the province. So it is very important to keep a good control about that area and protect ducks over there because, well, that is going to be the source of our hunting fields during the season. And because that place is the place that they need to be easy, to reproduce themselves to establish after the migration.
Ramsey Russell: You see the concept of that vast sanctuary more as an asset than a liability because there’s a prevailing myth in the United States that sanctuaries hurt hunting.
Patricio : No, not in this case when I say sanctuaries because on –
Ramsey Russell: In the United States, there’s a prevailing myth among hunters that federal sanctuaries hurt their hunting. I’m of the opposite mindset, I believe that that birds need somewhere like this to reproduce and to be safe and to stay in those areas.
Don’t Shoot the Roost!
If the ducks are going to stop there in when they arrive here, well, you have to respect that area because it is the place that they need in order to – as I said, to establish themselves here in this province.
Patricio : Well, some hunters say that you cannot shoot the roost, when you shoot ducks, the roost is sacred, you cannot shoot it. Well, this is exactly the same case. If the ducks are going to stop there in when they arrive here, well, you have to respect that area because it is the place that they need in order to – as I said, to establish themselves here in this province. And in that sense, we cooperate very actively with the local wildlife department and we participate with them in some different scientific surveys. And we count birds, we take samples and we also take them to special laboratories to analyze if they are coming with some diseases after their migration. So I think that in this moment, this area that we are talking about is a perfect place to help the ducks to survive and also to control them because everybody know that if they are coming with diseases, that’s not good for the migrating ducks or the local ducks. So we are trying to anticipate potential problems and in that sense, the local wildlife department is making a great job and proudly we cooperate with them.
Ramsey Russell: Well, that’s what I was just fixing to ask you, you all do cooperate intently with the federal agency that’s in charge of this stuff, whoever that may be. How do you all –
Patricio : Actually, it’s a provincial, belongs to province.
Ramsey Russell: Okay. How do you all cooperate? Tell me what you all do as an outfitter to assist them with their waterfowl management.
Patricio : I just mentioned a few cases, but for instance, before the pandemic, we receive a group of vets coming from the University of La Plata by chance, the same town that I live and this guy tried to study the behavior of some species and they try to study the physical features of different ducks. So what we do is we put all our operation at their disposition. For instance, we cooperate, with people, with time, with vehicles, with lodging, with knowledge because some of these vets know a lot about theory, but they never had the chance to go to a field and probably they are coming now because they need to be closer to the birds. And well, as I said, we put all our equipment at their service. Sometimes the head of the wildlife department know that the new species came to this area, so he asked us to shoot a few samples in order to take them to a laboratory, as I said, to make all the test and to be totally sure that they are coming here with good health. Well, I can name a lot of different things but mainly what we do is to stay at the disposal of the authorities to help in whatever they need from us.
Ramsey Russell: Now, I bring up dove and people say, I don’t like shooting doves, that’s what some people out here say, I don’t like shooting dove and I’m going to tell you why because you ain’t never been here to shoot doves, that’s why. I can tell you this just to sit on these spots that you put us in and look up, put my hands in my pocket and just look up, I regard the spectacle that you show me every afternoon I go out to dove hunt is one of the greatest wild bird or wild game bird wonders of the entire world. That’s true. It’s utterly incredible. We were driving out the other day going hunting, we drove by a field and for a mile, just gazillions and gazillions of doves were just rolling and flying and flitting and it was breathtaking. And you told me how many dove are in, you don’t shoot the roost, but you told me how many doves are in the roost near where you shoot. What are those numbers, Patricio?
Patricio : Well, the numbers are very clear and very simple. When we talk about the huge number of doves, we think about thousands no, that’s not right, we count them here in millions. We have 10 millions doves in one roost only, it’s something amazing. Sometimes Ramsey, that I attend the US shows and the people asked me to explain about the volume of birds that they will find when they come here and you know something I can’t describe it. I mean, I always say, look, I can speak about it and I can stay maybe 30 minutes, 40 minutes, but it worth nothing. 5 minutes in the field will make you understand the kind of volume that we are talking about it’s something incredible.
Ramsey Russell: You asked me the other day, how many shells I wanted? I said 3 boxes.
Patricio : Well, basically, as I said before, what we like to provide is a great experience because that’s what we do. Some people are happy here shooting 3 boxes, okay, if they like to shoot 10 boxes, meaning 250 rounds it’s okay, like to shoot 40 boxes, 1000 rounds, perfect. 5000 rounds, yeah, it is perfectly possible. I mean, I would say that, your shoulder and your wallet is going to be the limit because you have to pay for it afterwards. But it’s almost unlimited.
Ramsey Russell: It’s been a few years since I dove hunted with you. And I said 3 boxes besides that, I’d be plenty, I had forgotten that you can sing Happy Birthday and the time it takes to shoot 3 boxers out there, so I had to go back for more. And I was taking my time letting Char pick up some doves, picking my shot, watching the birds and still I went through 3 boxes in the blink of an eye, it was very quick. But the next several guys next to me went through 20 boxes in the same amount of time. I mean, they just went after him in that afternoon, 20 boxes and they went back the next afternoon, somewhere similar nearby and said there were even more dove. And as somebody that has been to Cordoba, I’ve been coming down to Argentina for 20 years, as someone that has been to the famous Cordoba name brand Argentina dove hunt a dozen and a half times, I’ll say with conviction, I’ll never go back to that province for reasons, I’m going to ask you about in a minute, but mostly the way your hunts are organized for doves, it’s the presentation, the way the doves present themselves, coming at hunters, coming over, it’s magical, that’s all I can say, it’s absolutely perfect. No matter, if I’m in this spot or 20 spots down, it’s the perfect presentation. They’re not 80 yards high, they’re not 20 yards high, it’s a constant stream. And from the time you get 20 minutes away from where you going to the time you leave, it is a constant flux. The sky is literally alive with dove, like nothing I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world to include Cordoba. Is that by design? Are the birds presenting themselves like they are by your design?
Patricio : No, the real art I would say is to present the birds as the hunters wish. Because the birds, all fly in a probably similar way in our places, you have an advantage which is not a pure pass shooting birds are coming, they’re going, so we have many options in regard of different kind of shots that you can do. And that makes the shooting more interesting because sometimes when you have a bird flying always in the same way, let’s say right to left or left to right, it is always interesting but start to be boring because then once you catch a trick, you say, well, this is something that I can control. In our case our hands are always challenging because when you believe that you cut the trick already, well, you’re mistaken, you don’t because birds start to fly in a different way and then you have to start all over again. So that’s another big asset that we have is that –
Ramsey Russell: Doves are different than ducks. Duck have a deal with bobbing, waving and do some funny things but doves are like a spitball. I mean, they will stop in midflight, they will wave for no reason whatsoever, they’ll flinch or do something different and they’ll make an ass of you every time if you let them.
Patricio : Well, in the case of doves, you have to consider that, if they see you, they are going to try to avoid you, they understand that you represent a potential danger for them. So it makes the hunting game even more challenging because it’s not only the direction of the bird it’s also the behavior of the bird because you can easily go to a place that you can see them, coming from a long distance. But by the time that they reach your position, they’re going to change the flight pattern and they’re going to try to avoid you and you have to be fast and it makes this kind of shooting, I wouldn’t say unique but much better than many other destinations that I’ve been before.
Cordoba Dove Hunting
Ramsey Russell: Cordoba kind of holds the name brand on dove hunting. They’re like the shirt of Argentina dove hunting, it’s a brand. But I became aware of massive changes evolving over there maybe 20-30 years ago, it was like that, but it began to rapidly decline. I started hearing instead of driving 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes to a hunt guys are driving 2 hours, 3 hours, when you talk to a lot of the Outfitters, I’m friends with over there, they say that the birds have completely voided historic roost. They have changed their flights, they will change their flight in a week’s time, they don’t go to historic areas, they don’t go to historic feeding areas, they’re not found in parts of the province, they used to be and they’re moving. And you told me 3 years ago and I told you this yesterday, I saw it changing, I saw that industry evolving and you and I were meeting at convention one day and you told me that Cordoba, the province had mandated a 2 or 3 month closure during the breeding season. And as I was packing up my convention, I dumped my Cordoba brochures. I said, you know what I’m done because I can come over here to Entres Rios and shoot as many doves as I dare shoot, 20 boxes a hunt is more than enough for me and I know people can shoot more, but I dare not. And what I believe a lot that what has to do with Cordoba is as an industry they grew and they grew more businesses and they began to kind of like mass assembly line, industrialized, like an industrialized revolution and converting it from an experience like we describe to ammo sales, marginalized profits, that’s my humble opinion of what may have happened over there. But what are some other factors that led to – what is the obvious decline of Cordoba dove hunting as compared to regions like this?
Patricio : Well, first of all, Cordoba as you said, is a brand and I believe that it is still a good destination, if you consider that if you move far enough and if you go to the right place, you can have a very good shooting anyway. But I think that it is not –
Ramsey Russell: You better do your homework and pick the right folks.
Patricio : Yeah. But I truly believe that it is not the place to go now. The place to go, I’m sorry, I don’t want to be arrogant, but the place to go is here. The population of doves here is out of control and we have much competitors or colleagues in this area. So, whatever we do in regard of shooting is not going to be enough to stop the growth of this population, which as I said recently is out of control. The problem in Cordoba, is that they committed a few mistakes. First of all, too much shooting. I mean, they never believed that over shooting the birds, they will reach the situation that they have now, many companies shooting the same flyway, which was a big mistake. I agree with you that the people over there believe that it was an endless business and they didn’t take proper care of the natural resources. But on top of it, you have to consider that they have some other issues like change of the crops and then they obviously didn’t have the food that they like and maybe some roost that were burned in summer time because they had big fires, you can’t blame just the hunter for that, it was a combination of different things.
Ramsey Russell: Well, you were telling me, for example, I know a lot of the blue chip lodges in Argentina, you fly to Cordoba City and you drive north of the city an hour to an hour and a half and that’s what they call the macha roosting, you were telling me and I never read about this in a travel brochure, but you were telling me there was a massive wildfire that obliterated millions of roosting habitats.
Patricio : Yeah. Argentina went through a couple of years of very serious drought and we had fires everywhere, including Cordoba. But for instance, we have another wildlife sanctuary in province northeast of Buenos Aires that were totally burned out, it’s funny because supposed to be the second largest water reservoir in South America was totally burned, so explain me that. Obviously, the climate is changing in some way, I don’t want to start to mess with the – talking about the cycles or the global warming, but it’s obvious that something changed the conditions, so now we are dealing with this situation that changed the game totally. So, yeah, the fires – well, even in the province of La Pampa, La Pampa, which is great for red stag hunting and big game at large had big fires that, made the doves disappear. I’m not saying that the fire or the hunters killed them all, no, they simply moved to a different area where the condition, the living conditions were better than they have now over there.
Ramsey Russell: I’m in the hunting industry and as I watch from the outside looking in, I’m in this industry, as I watch from the outside looking in and I don’t want to make a big issue about this, but I just want to mention it, what I saw happening as more and more businesses entered the Cordoba market, selling dove hunts, they began to drive the price down because they were marginal properties, they were less equal property, they had less quality, less service, less this. Well, the average American doesn’t realize all they know is Cordoba. Cordoba was great, I can go anywhere but I can save 100 bucks going here, 200 bucks going there and they started driving the price down. And then somebody had a bright idea, me just thinking here, somebody had a bright idea, you know what, let’s do free Argentina duck hunts, free Argentina dove hunts, let’s donate it everywhere that they have an auction in America, we’ll get 200 maybe pick up extras and we don’t make as much money that end, but we’ll make more profit selling ammo and tips and blah, blah. And I believe that led to an overexploitation because Patricio I told you it’s going to drive up, I got a phone call from a dear friend and client and we’re not talking about throughout the entire province we’re talking about in places that are historically very good, who booked a trip, bought an auction hunt, went on a hunt at what I know to be formerly a fabulous hunting area and this guy told me they shot for 2 consecutive days their bag numbered in the dozens of birds, the dozens. I mean, look, the Mississippi limits 15 doves, I ain’t going to court but to shoot 15 doves, how’s that even possible if they didn’t overpressure that?
Patricio : Well, it is actually very hard to believe. But obviously it’s happening. Yeah, the problem in Cordoba, as I said, it’s a combination of many different factors but some areas are still in good shape and some hunters, they can go over there and honor the prestige of the place. But again, Cordoba now is not the best place to go, it’s not anymore.
Ramsey Russell: I’m on shift gear is only quick right now and this leads into it. You talked earlier, the traditional hunting culture of Argentines are perdiz, the European heritage, not many dove hunters, local, not many duck hunters, not many local duck hunters, stag hunting because they were introduced 150 years ago and I was so excited to get back to my adopted homeland of Argentina. I’ve been here for two months. I love it. I don’t speak Spanish but I love it. I love your culture, I love your food, I love your hunting, I love everything about this beautiful country. And I was shocked to learn from many conversations from people I’ve known for decades from people that are calling me knowing I’m here and we’re talking and doing some stuff, I was just shocked to learn that the future of Argentina hunting our indigenous wildlife in Argentina is imperiled. And I ask you that and you’re one of my most trusted friends and mentors down here and I said, Patricio, I’ve been down here for 8 weeks and they say to me that duck hunting could end in Argentina in the next 3 years and instead of saying, no, don’t worry about that, you say, it’s true. What in the hell is going on?
Is Duck Hunting in Argentina Ending?!
…they don’t use word hunters, they don’t use word conservationist, they always use two words: predator and poacher, that’s all that’s out in the public right there.
Patricio : Well, I’m going to be clear with this. We don’t have a very good reputation, looks like the greenies made a very good job and now the people see us as a sort of criminals. We have to make a big difference between the people from the cities to the cities in the countryside. The propaganda of the greenies actually worked and now the people are against hunting and unfortunately we don’t have the associations that you have in the States like SCI or any other that protect our right to hunt. Here in Argentina, we are just a bunch of avid hunters going out to a field and we don’t have anybody that represent that seriously. Of course, that we have some associations –
Ramsey Russell: Real hunters are politically irrelevant, under represented.
Patricio : Yeah. Well, the problem with the politics now is that, since we don’t have a very good reputation because the people start to believe that, the greenies are right and we are doing a lot of different wrong things. There is no politician capable to defend us because basically they go where the current flows. So if they say that hunting is good with a big percentage of voters say otherwise, well, even if they agree with hunting, they don’t have the balls to stand in front of those guys and say, no, hold on hunting matters, hunting is very important because in fact, makes a control about the species, it cooperates with the conservation. I mean, I’m not going to explain to you all the benefits of hunting. But honestly speaking, the common people have not enough knowledge about it. So they buy the story of the greenies, which is much nicer.
Ramsey Russell: It’s like, I’ve read a half dozen newspaper articles since I’ve been here and I can translate it, but as I read it, they don’t use word hunters, they don’t use word conservationist, they always use two words: predator and poacher, that’s all that’s out in the public right there.
Patricio : Well, because it’s a cheap way to stay with the masses, you know what I mean? It’s much simple to stay with them and support the story that you don’t supposed to kill animals, when in fact, it is not true. Nowadays, we are facing a problem which is now that the group of conservationists or greenies or whatever –
Ramsey Russell: Do not call greenies conservationist, conservation is a wise use, I’ll go toe to toe on that one.
Patricio : I know. But in this case, they are now dealing with the provincial government because they are trying to close the season here in the province of Entre Rios using some arguments that are according to my point of view, very untrue.
Ramsey Russell: Such as?
Patricio : Such as, we shouldn’t shoot migratory species because they don’t belong to us, they move around and we don’t have the right to shoot them or maybe because they believe that they are innocent animals and they don’t deserve to be killed by the hunters. But let me tell you a story, if you give me a couple of minutes, I’m going to tell you a story. Well, here in Entres, we had a population of ducks that was unbelievable. Well, it was probably one of the best in Argentina and the population was so high of different species of ducks that farmers, especially the ones that own rice plantations decided in the late 70s to make a plan to poison all the areas of the province together at the same time and terminate all the ducks. So it happened, they fixed a day to do it and maybe, I don’t know, 50, 100, 200 landowners decided to poison the rice plantations and the ponds and everything, which is very simple by the way. So in those days, we passed from having clouds and clouds of ducks probably as abundant as we have ducks now to have no ducks, they exterminate them. So basically, the population of ducks start to grow up slowly and start to get better and better and we reached the point that we are now that we have a very good population of birds but still under control because we hunt. So what this kind of people don’t understand is, if we stop hunting, of course, that the ducks are going to thrive again and they’re going to grow in population. But what they are doing is that they are dictating the sentence of death to the animals because it is very simple. The story is going to repeat again when the ducks start to be a nuisance for the farmers, they would simply kill them all as they did it in the past.
Ramsey Russell: Well, in California right now they’ve outlined mountain lion hunting and the government is going out and sniping them and killing them with no recreational value, no commodity value at a greater rate than they were being harvested by hunters, it makes no freaking sense.
Patricio : Yeah, well, there you go. So basically how you can make understand to a person that it has no knowledge about hunting, that hunting actually is about conservation that you have to kill some animals for the good of the big majority of them. That’s the hard part of this story. And the arguments that most of the people use, I mean, when I say people, I mean, hunters is like, it is legal, it is something that is okay, no, that’s not the true story behind hunting. The true story behind hunting is precisely that we are trying to preserve the species and the only way to do it is hunting precisely. The human being was the one who invaded the different habitats and invaded, let’s say the privacy of the different species and now we have to take the responsibility to protect them. And the only way to do it is through hunting, it’s as simple as that.
Ramsey Russell: My take on it since I’ve been here talking to a lot of people, I just sent this text to a buddy of mine, I said it’s a socialist, like very liberal government that wants to be Venezuela, it appears to me, there’s no hunting culture, there are really no hunters relative to the population except for the Americans. There’s no hunting economy like we have, the sporting economy, the excise taxes, the economic political relevance value and protecting duck is an easy green political win. We save the world, they can tell the unknown, the city dwellers and that’s just the best I could tell in every single outfitter down here that I know including yourself is worried and it worries me, as a conservationist, I don’t mean as a killer as a conservationist.
Patricio : Yeah, I know. I have no comments about it because everything is true, so, I can’t say anything else.
Ramsey Russell: And what will it take? What do you think? What will the fight entail a winning fight? What would be something? Because I told you all the other night you and Carlos, I said, I’ve seen it in Australia, I’ve seen it in New Zealand, I’ve seen it in the Netherlands, you cannot placate anti-hunters, you cannot say, oh, well, let’s get along, let’s find middle ground like you and I would try to do, you’ve got to kick them in the shin and fight this thing. Fight because they don’t give a shit, they’re not ever going to see my side of you, you’ve got to fight them. How do you see Argentina being able, what do you need from within your country and without your country for this fight to be viable?
Patricio : Well, it is a very difficult task and let me explain why it is so difficult is because the general opinion is already against us. So to turn it to a favor or to turn it in our favor is going to be very difficult now. Money is going to be a solution, I think that the first thing that we have to do is to work together, the wildlife departments that supposed to understand what we are talking about with hunters. We don’t supposed to be separated, we have to work together and make the regulations prevail because the regulations are not a whim of any guy over there in the wildlife department. The regulations are the outcome of many different surveys and many different statistics and many different studies that we are making, we made in the past that we are making now, it’s a total updated information, the one that we managed now is not that we are taking numbers from 10 years ago.
Ramsey Russell: Right now, the Argentine government is not truly funding true biological scientific surveys. Australia is not and because Australia is not doing really government funded surveys, you can speak on factual numbers, it is a political whim. Can Argentina do that? Would it take an outside independent resource? And if there were an independent survey in Argentina, could it be sold to the government? Would they buy it if I didn’t have to pay for it?
Patricio : First of all, if in our government, we have a true politicians interested in conservation, we have to convince them about our costs, that’s the beginning of everything. And then we have to try to add value to a hunting business. So far since the local market has been very small, politicians don’t pay much attention to hunting because they don’t represent a big money for them and you know how it works.
Ramsey Russell: Money is political relevance to a government, to a government official.
Patricio : Yeah, maybe we should appeal to some international organizations or try to get help from people all over the world interested to preserve Argentina as a sort of hunting destination for the good of the current hunters or for the ones coming in the future. I think that in this moment we shouldn’t be alone. All the people have to cooperate, especially as I said, the hunting organizations or people that are really interested to continue in the same way, which is the right way to work with this wildlife, we are not doing anything wrong, so I truly believe that we should continue in the same way, we cannot do it alone.
Ramsey Russell: It’s going to take some outside help isn’t it? Well, I hope somebody listening will form a cavalry troop and come to the rescue, I’ll do all I can to help you there, Patricio.
Patricio : Well, I really appreciate it because it is a moment that we need help, that’s for sure.
Magnificent Hunting Lodges in Argentina
…I went to La Candida Palace and I was walking across the big palatial floors and it’s like the pictures were looking at me like a Scooby Doo show.
Ramsey Russell: I’m going to change the story and there’s more and wait there’s more because I got to end on this good note, Patricio. I need a few more minutes of your time, I got to end on this good note. You all got a lot of cool lodges, first time I came and visit you years ago, it was me and you and Nicky, you had a cook come in and we stayed at one of the most magnificent lodges I have ever set foot in La Candida Palace. It’s like the Mount Vernon of Argentina, the first king, I’ll let you tell about him. And I told you, I said I ain’t going back here by myself, it scared the shit out of me, you go what? And I’m a religious guy, but I don’t believe in ghost, but until I went to La Candida Palace and I was walking across the big palatial floors and it’s like the pictures were looking at me like a Scooby Doo show.
Patricio : You were in the Haunted Mansion with Disney World.
Ramsey Russell: I was in a Haunted Mansion, up that night I heard people walking across my floor, I heard things happening, I know old houses settled, I grew up in them, this was different Patricio. Have you ever had any paranormal experiences in La Candida?
Patricio : Well, first of all, I didn’t want to mention that very much because it is not good for the business. But it is true. I know some stories and I had some personal stories too. Well, one night I was sleeping in a guest house next to the main house and I was there in a very nice room and in the middle of the night, I felt that someone sit down on my bed, I said, oh my God.
Ramsey Russell: So, what do you mean, like the weight of it? Did the mattress move?
Patricio : Oh yeah, the bed made noises according to the presence of a guy over there. So I turned on the light and nobody was there but it wasn’t a dream, it wasn’t a nightmare, it wasn’t nothing. It was a fact that someone sit down next to me, I felt everything. So yeah, it’s part of the stories that I can tell to the people about that.
Ramsey Russell: Tell me about the caretaker that time that he had his shit pack and gone. And people were into this kind of stuff, I think we can upsell Candida Palace with this stuff.
Patricio : Yeah, absolutely. For those guys, interested in these kind of stories, yeah, absolutely. Well, this guy was hired in order to take care of the garden of the place and well, he arrived to this beautiful state and next morning, this guy was with his luggage right there in the front door, waiting for someone taking him back to town. So the manager said, what’s wrong with you? I mean, you just arrived yesterday. So, what happened said, well, I was sleeping over there and I felt a strange presence in my room, so I turned the light on and I saw a guy hanging from the neck, tied to the ceiling and then the guy was watching me, so I scared out of the place. I had to run immediately and that was the end of the story. This guy was reluctant to put a foot over there again.
Ramsey Russell: It is a beautiful place. And in the last, but you’ve got a lot of lodges and I’m going to ask you this one last question and I know we got to go, because we got our hunters wrapped up. But the General’s House as I call them, Santa Dela and some of the other ones, tell that story because I think it is very historical and it makes your lodges so wonderful to stay in.
Patricio : Well, the reason why we have so many lodges is precisely because ducks, we have doves hunting fields or perdiz hunting fields, all over the area that we manage. But ducks are a different story. So basically the number of lodges that we manage it because we need to stay close to the ducks in order to avoid those long drives in the morning that, we don’t want to do, we just drive maybe 30-45 minutes maximum. And in regard of Santa Dela became our headquarters now, because we bought the property, we have a house over there that we received a few years ago, it was destroyed and we rebuild it. And now it is the fancy lodge that we offer to our clients right now. But it had a very interesting historic past because that area used to be owned by the king of Spain Fernando VII. And when Argentina got its freedom, it passed that property to General as a sort of payment for the services to the crown. And from that guy, the property passed to a very aristocratic family from Buenos Aires city named Estrada, they are very well known and this family very wealthy for sure. Decided to split up the property which was huge in the past in 4 big ranches that we call estancias because they had the 4 daughters, so the main purpose of this transaction to buy this property was to leave one estancias in full production to each one of their daughters. So the name Santa Dela comes from one of the daughters of that old former owner. And it was the second estancias that this guy made, the first one was Santa Clara, the second was Santa Dela, the third was Santa Laura and the last one is Santa Anes, all in the same area, all part of the same property. And the ranch that we own now over there has – well, as I said, we found it in very bad shape and now we found it in very good conditions, thanks that we rebuild it completely. In the past with that property had 15 rooms and 3 bathrooms only. So we had to rebuild the social areas and we had to tear down the rooms and we made the 10 rooms with private bathrooms and everything is cozy, homey.
Ramsey Russell: Masterfully restored. It reminds me of my grandmother’s old home, the spacious, the vaulted ceilings, the spacious, it’s absolutely – to me if I had to describe to a police sketch artist the perfect estancias to provide cultural contact for this combo hunt, that’s it.
Patricio : Well, thank you.
Ramsey Russell: It’s beautiful, it’s absolutely beautiful. Folks, you all been listening to my buddy Patricio , Los Ceibos. Go to getducks.com and check it out. Let me hit the highlights with you real quick, this is the only hunt I offer and I will tell you, this is the only hunt in the whole country that really – a good hunt that you can get by with three days because we are 3 hours from the Airport, land, drive 3 hours, eat a big steak, go shoot your arm off on dove, come shoot duck 3 mornings in a row hunt for perdiz and doves in the afternoon, it’s the real deal. More importantly because of their blind situations, if your grandpa or your grand mama or your wife wants to come and observe or wants to come hunt and has limitations has mobility issues, doesn’t want to pack them heavy waders down here. This is your hunt.
Patricio : Well, you can literally stop the car and walk maybe 10 steps.
Ramsey Russell: I could have shot in Crocs this morning, a little cold for that, but I didn’t. With a group size of 6-7 you can have your lodge to yourself, your own private lodge to yourself. It’s really a very definitive hunting experience. And I know a lot of you all listening are duck hunters like myself, but I’m going to tell you if you call me up, I don’t know who you are and you’re just saying, I want to go to Argentina, I’ve never been, I’m going to tell you point blank. I understand you love duck, but there are duck and there are doves and there are perdiz and for the first time, go sample it the best and then come back to chase your favorite. It’s like you open up a little box of chocolates, there’s always that one you like best, then you come back and sample it again, but they’re all good. Thank you all for listening to this episode of Duck Season Somewhere, we’ll see you next time.