Argentina July 2004

Tuesday, June 24, 2008
South American Trip
July 2004

Sunday, July 4, 2004
Dale, Scott, and Carol Erickson pick up. Got to shop at 11:00am. Got to airport and checked in. Scott had to return home to get keys to lock gun case. Dale gets stopped in security for a pocket knife.
American Airlines flight was short to Dallas, TX. Then on to BA flight at 7:00pm. Flight went well, 767 only ¼ full but to excited to sleep much. We saw rivers, fires, ocean and an electrical storm all on the airplane ride to Buenes Aires.

Monday, July 5, 2004
Arrive Buenes Aires 6:00am local time. Baggage, Customs, Sonia Greeter all go fine. Then ride with Raul for 6 hours in a van to La Paz to duck hunt at Estarcia. We saw much countryside, homes, agricultural machinery, small towns, cowboys, rough vehicles, beautiful scenery, some deer and turkeys.
Estarcia has 2 bedrooms, a fireplace in the living room, a dining room and a kitchen. Two women cook here and keep the place clean. We met Jorje and Alec, the Four Seasons representative.
We have lunch and look around. The satellite phone works well here.
We set out about 4:30pm to shoot ducks. Drove in a Land Rover Defender 110 to a boat with a driver named Cecil, then we proceeded up along the Perana River to the hunting blinds. The Perena River is said to contain over 30 species of fish, along with Anacondas, Caimen Pirahnas, and Capybarn. Scott, Dale and I all split up to hunt separately in different blinds.
I set up with Miguel, the bird boy, inside the blind. The blind is small made with Cedar boughs and 15 decoys set up around it. My Spanish is ok talking to Raul and Miguel.
Ducks begin to fly in from all directions. I shoot many times, about 16, and continually miss until I catch on to lead a lot, and calm down.
I get six of five types of duck, by sundown, using 29 shots. ( Not so good, but lots of action.)
We all return to the Casa in the dark. We called home on Satellite phone, enjoy wonderful conversation and food with Alec and Jorje.
The night sky is filled with stars. We see S. Cross, Orion, the planet Venus, as well as the Milky Way. It is truly beautiful.
We go to sleep 10:00pm local time. We plan on being up around 5:00am for breakfast and more duck hunting. For right now sleep is needed badly.

Tuesday, July 6, 2004
Up very early at 4:15am. Slept well. Quiche, bacon, eggs, and cereal for breakfast. After breakfast, we all rested for about an hour before heading out for the morning hunt.
We drive for 25 minutes and take a 30 minute boat ride up the river. I set up again with Miguel. Dale and Scott go together to get set up. We all hunt separately, far away from each other.
I start shooting early on. I can not tell what type is what so, Miguel says when to shoot. Lots of ducks coming in from all directions. Not very big groups or constant streams of them , but lots of small groups. I get 23 ducks in 2 hours, but I shot 70 shells. We stop hunting, collect our gear and head to the boat for rest and lunch. Miguel and I arrive at the boat first, so we go get Dale and Scott, along with bird decoys.
We lay out the ducks and take pictures and video. All together we got a total of 67 ducks this morning. They are beautiful animals. 6 different kinds. Picasso: Black with an Orange bill. Brazillian Teal: spotted belly, blue/green wings,small head, blue/black bill. Schoveller, and 3 other kinds whose names I can not recall.
We have a wonderful lunch on the shore of the river. We ate grilled duck, ribs, potato salad, coleslaw, etc.
Dales stays on the shore to take a 2 hour nap, while Scott and I go exploring. Scott carries a shotgun and I a camera. I spot a very large snake sunning itself on the opposite river bank. It moves away when I yell to Scott to look. We decide to look for more on our side. We carefully make our way along, and shortly Scott spots 2 very large Anacondas sunning themselves on the grass near the riverbank. We approach cautiously and circle trying to find the best camera angle and sun position for photos. We decide to stand a top a tipped over tree. I get a few pictures, before one snake suddenly launches itself at us. We are a bit scared, but it goes back in it’s hole under the very tree we are standing on.
We, being a bit wary, go back to the camp and ask the guys if they want to see the snake. They are excited and run out to the spot we told them about. They prod the snake and try to remove it from its hole, but even though it is a very aggressive kind of snake, it will not come out. Some guys have gone further along the river and find another Anaconda. We rush over, and I get a few quick pictures before they hit it over the head with a stick to stun it so they can pick it up. I take more pictures. It is 6-8 feet long. Meanwhile, I spot another, larger snake in the river near the shore. The guys try to go get that one too.
Scott holds the Anaconda and we pose for a few pictures before letting it go. It swims away very rapidly. Now the guys are on a mission to find a really big Anaconda. This is very tough for me to do, but I try to be brave about the situation. Perhaps it will help me get over my fear. So we all walk around and search for 1 ½ hours but don’t see any others. We find several snake skins from poisonous snakes as well as Anacondas but no other snakes.

Next we all go back to the camp, separate and go to new blinds. I hear Scott and Dale shooting a lot. In 2 hours ( 3-5:30pm) I get a mere 12 out of my limit of 35. I shot 50 shells. Again, there are lots of small groups flying overhead. I get one triple as the ducks flare to land, some good shots and lots of misses. We break down the blind and head for the boat, to pick up Dale and Scott. Scott was a dead on shot getting 35 more ducks this evening. We end up with our limit of 105 ducks. We are all elated.
We boat back to the truck, then drive to Estancia for dinner and conversation. On the way we see a beautiful sunset. We also see a cattle ferry barge and a water pumping station. Alec shows us a 10 foot Anaconda skin and tells us they caught another one that size that later attacked them.

We eat duck, potatoes, chicken and pasta. It is wonderful. We saw 5 Anacondas today including the one Scott held!! Another excellent day in La Paz, Argentina needs to end but I look forward to tomorrow at 5:00am.

Wednesday July 7, 2004

New words learned today: “Ormega� means Fire Ants
“Pendiz� means Partridge

Up at 5:30am. We had a great breakfast of bacon, eggs, yogurt, cereal, and toast.
We head out to a different spot on the river to hunt for ducks, enjoying a beautiful sunrise on the way.
Scott let me shoot his Beretta auto, to try different chokes. I was better at close range with Improved cylinder, but there wasn’t much range. Still, in 3 hours, I collected 26 more ducks and lost 4 to sinking, diving. A great shoot for 75 shells. We hiked back to boat. Scott had gotten 40 and Dales took 30. I got 2 new types, a different pattern Shoveller, and a beautiful rust red duck called a Colorado. So many species ( 8 shot so far) and flying overhead in groups continuously for 2 hours. The last hour was slower but still many chances, just not as constant.
We went back to Estancia at about 10:00am for a lunch of tenderloin and duck meat pies. After lunch we took a rest until 2:30pm. I actually took an hour or so nap.
At 2:30pm we drove ½ hour in the Land Rover (Defender 110 diesel) to hunt for partridge like birds. It is a nice day, more clouds, some wind, cooler than before, about 65 degrees F instead of 70 degrees F. We hunted these birds for 3 hours in a sheep/cow pasture filled with low sparse brush and cactus/nettle trees. There were 3 dogs and their handler George. Also Julio came with to carry supplies and help.
Almost immediately, Dale got off a shot, then a bit later Scott got a nice shot on a bird. They are a slow directional flyer and stayed pretty tight for the dogs, who pointed well.
About 2/3 of palm size total, and they went right down when hit at all. The dogs are excellent retrievers, and didn’t lose a single bird.
I got 3 birds in a row, then a large European Hare. Scott and I combined on a bird, He got one, then I got 2 more. It was a lot of fun and we shot well.
We saw more beautiful bird varieties and some amazing ant colonies. The ants have actually established highways leading to a nexus colony the size of a Volkswagon!! The ants carry food and building materials, and are a model of efficiency. There are millions of fire ants, Ormega, in Spanish. We got a few photos.

We headed back for another excellent dinner of duck, beef and chocolate mousse. We all went to rest after this most excellent day. We are all looking forward to shooting many more ducks tomorrow.

Thursday, July 8, 2004

Up at 5:45 am. We had a breakfast of bacon, eggs, cereal, yogurt and orange juice. We went to yet another new location to shoot ducks. I had a nice blind this time and didn’t stand in the water. It is a bit colder this morning, but still warm and sunny with clear skies.I could hear the river rushing by. Antonio and his dog, Jackie, set up decoys in a long shallow pool and ducks start coming in. Scott let me shoot his Beretta again and although my prowess with it is not good, I got 25 ducks for 75 shots. Scott got 12 ducks for 35 shots, and Dale 8 for 25 shots. A bit slower, but I saw lots of beautiful birds; Herons, small black & white birds, large black birds wirh long curved beaks, small water birds, Falcons, and many others as well. At about 10:00am we returned for lunch and a rest, then we plan to return to the river again for one last duck session this trip. After which we will head off to Cordoba tomorrow. I talked with Alec about hunting Red Deer, Buffalo, Capybara, and Black Buck. It sounds ok so far but I will get more information.

For our last night of hunting Padre Benson from Buenos Aires went along. A fine, worldly fellow. Irish accent, lived 8 years in Long Island, NY, and 5 years in Rome. He also loves fishing. Casear has a 13 year old son. He is a fishing guide and boat driver. In addition to that he worked on Estareia in France for 5 months as a deer hunting guide. George has 6 daughters, he is the LaPaz tourism minister and is our Land Rover driver for this hunting trip. Alec has a 6 year old son, he is divorced and was born, and worked in Buenos Aires as a travel agent. He also worked in Los Angeles for 5 years. He runs a hunting and fly fishing camp in Patagonia currently.

It is a wonderful evening with a beautiful sunset but, very slow on bird and duck traffic. I got 11 ducks in 28 shots, Scott and Dale both got 12 ducks a piece for about 30 shots each.

End statistics for the three of us (duck hunting); Me: 19 boxes of shells, 107 ducks, 405 Perdiz and 1 Hare. Scott: 13 boxes of shells,104 ducks, and 215 Perdiz. Dale: 17 boxes of shells and 80 ducks.

We returned for a dinner of roasted Perdiz, marinated Hare and deep fried Pear Flom. Excellent cooking. Great conversation followed dinner. I tipped Antonio, Caeser, and the house staff. Everyone here is exceptionally nice. We have had excellent service, appetizers, laundry rooms. The drives and boat rides have been great as well. We will settle up tomorrow before leaving. All around, we had an excellent duck trip. Tomorrow we will get up at 6:00am, pack and then drive 350 miles to Cordova for Dove (Paloma) hunting.

Friday, July 9, 2004

Today is the Argentinian Independence Day. We woke up at 6:30am. It is very cold this morning. We have bacon and eggs for breakfast. I paid for 19 boxes of shells and tipped Alec well.We then drive to Cordova. The terrain changes, and there are better crop lands, ranches, and horses here. It is warmer here at higher elevations and the trees and vegetation are much bigger. We were stopped by police for a vehicle inspection as we drove under the Perana River in a huge tunnel. They look over the gun papers and there are no problems. It has been an uneventful 6 hours. We pull into a Shell service staion and meet our hunt leader and 4 Seasons representative: Sergio, his son Benjamin and Juan. They have a fantastic red Land Rover Defender 110. It is very cool and loaded with equipment and gadgets including: GPS, tilt indicator, snorkel, equipment rack, radios plus much more!

It is only a 20 minute drive to the hunting area. Scott begins Spanish lessons with 7 year old Ben , who has had 2 years of English. When we arrive at the hunting ranch we enjoy a delicious lunch of salad, sausage and steaks. Them we are immediately rushed to start shooting. I lace my boots, put on ear muffs and glasses, walk 50 yards and begin to shoot. The air is thick with millions of Doves circling around like mosquitos. It is Unbelieveable!!!

I have a bird boy to load my guns and count my birds. I shoot steadily for 3 hours. (2:30-5:30pm) I shoot high, low, up, down, stationary, and all positions. I shoot as fast as the guns can be loaded and do rapid hand offs. There is a tremendous wind blowing in my face and it makes shooting a challenge, but I keep piling up yellow 20GA husks at a rapid pace and exchanging my Benelli Auto for an identical thunder stick with 5 fresh shells. 1250 shells are piled at my feet and I am covered with feathers and sprayed blood. I have no more shoulder pain as I gaze around the field. There are dove (Palmero) corpses strewn all over, everywhere! I hit them al over the field and ended up bagging about 365 Doves in 3 hours. I used 3.5 shells per kill, which is not so great but amazing! No lapse in shooting at all. I don’t even know what to think. It is amazing and awful all at the same time. The birds in the field are being eaten by large raptors circling overhead. There are about 40 of them looking for dinner. It is sick but the birds are everywhere, almost blotting out the sky sometimes. I leave my station and wander over to where Dale is watching Scott shoot. Scott is awesome, shooting 650 shells and killing about 370 doves. More massive carnage. At 5:40pm we are finished for the day. I can only imagine what all the birds do to agriculture here, they must absolutely devastate it. It is unbelievable to say the least. I take a couple of pictures. We have had almost enough already! Dale only shot 2 boxes of shells, but had a blast watching Scott knock down bird after bird.

We load up and drive 40 miles to and area of pretty nice villasand estancias. Scott continues his lessons with young Ben. Wearrive at our accommodations and are amazed yet again! The place is like a palace in a movie. It is huge and beautiful! The owner is Juan Carlos. His family has massive holdings in Argentina, about 100,000 acres! The families estate is over 300 years old! Their family hates Perons, being as they took ½ of the Family land away in the 1940s and 1950s. They had political battles for decades!! Juan studied architeture at UCLA and is an American citizen. His home and décor reflect the New Mexico/Sante Fe style. He also has many familial tokens for Rosa Nicosia the matriarch of the family. It will be exciting to see in daylight and learn more of the families history.
Saturday, July 10, 2004

I slept wonderfully last night. I was up at 6:30am. We ate a breakfast of Eggs and Bacon. After breakfast we drove 40 miles back to the same farm from yesterday, to shoot more. I set up and shoot for 4 hours. We have a lunch of steak, porkchops, and salad. It was great food! After lunch we shoot all afternoon until 4:00pm.

I shot 53 boxes (1325 shells) and get 710 doves. Scott shot 55 boxes and got 1002 doves. Dale just rested and watched. We are incredulous, sickemed and exhausted for the ride back to the estracia. We have large burlap sacks filled with shellcases and doves. It took all of us 1 hour to pick up all the shell casings and doves after we were done shooting for the day. We met with Juan Carlo Jr. who raises and keeps 60 Peruvian horses for show. Dale was very interested in that! This was an extraordinary day!!

I take a 1 hour nap before dinner. Dinner is one of the best steak dinners I have ever had! Marinated beef, peppers, onions, and jalapenos. It was excellent!! Dale, Scott and I discuss sites to vcisit in Buenos Aires: Restaurants, Polo shop, Black Sea entertainment and Club, the cemetery with Evits’s grave, etc.We go to bed around 10:00pm.

We are looking for another good shooting day tomorrow, but the excitement has given way to a desire to shoot carefully and efficiently. I am not suffering any effects from the recoil of 2500+ shots fired with no padding.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

We got up at 6:30am. Enjoyed a breakfast of eggs and bacon. We drive up to the hunt in the same location again as the previous 2 days, but find it to be very windy and very few birds. So we move to hunt in another field of unpicked corn, but still the doves are sporadic at best. We move back yet again to the first location, the doves are back as before. The weather is cold with a skim of ice on the open water and frost on the ground. I shoot 250 shells and get maybe 80 doves. Scott shoots 300 shells and gets about 200 doves. Dale has trouble connecting and shoots about 8 boxes of shells and gets maybe 10 doves.

We have a nice lunch of sausage, tomatos, steak, onions, etc with the farmer and his wife.
The farmers milk 20 cows by hand twice a day! A refridgerated truck picks up the milk everyday. The people make pork sausage, grow vegetables and fruit, raise chickens, pigs and other livestock, and they never have to leave the small ground they rent and work.

Scott and I decide to call it a trip and stop shooting. We pile up shells and birds and get the camera out for photos. Then we are off to Rosa Nicosia Estancia. We wander around the grounds andbuildings for a couple of hours. There are 2 pools, with patios and verandas, a chapel and lots of remodeling going on all over the grounds. It is a lot of work but going to beautiful when completed. There is lots of beautiful old hardwood furniture all over the property.
Tomorrow we plan on going into the foothills of the mountains and touring Cordoba. We then will leave at 4:30pm on an airplane bound for Buenos Aires. We have dinner with Juan Carlos and discuss a variety of things; Evita, politics in Argentina, land deals,Bea Anthony relationship, and his cousin who will be the next Argentianian president!!

Monday, July 12, 2004

Up at 7:15am, in time for a breakfast of bacon and eggs. We say goodbye to Juan Carlos Aguallerio and his son Jobe. Jobe dresses up and rides one of his Peruvian horses for us. Scott rides as well. Juan shows us some beautiful Aztec art: A birthing stone 3000 years old, and several masks and blankets that are very valuable and old archeological pieces.

We drive to Cordoba for 2 hours. A fine city, beautiful mountains, a dirty river, lots of people and congestion, etc. We then do up into the mountains to about 10,500 feet in elevation. Very nice but arid and dirty. We have lunch in an Italian restaurant: the pizza is not too good.

After lunch we make our way to Cordoba airport. We get our tickets and wait for 45 minutes. We say our goodbyes to Sergio, and Santiiego before in Cordoba. We take a short flight on a 737 to Buenos Aires. It only takes about an hour. The country looks dirty even from the air. We are met at the nice, modern airport by Sonia and drive to a nice hotel.

Buenos Aires has terrible traffic and drivers, congestion, as well as beautiful statues, buildings and parks. We go to a polo shop where Dale and Scott purchase several horse related items: saddle, boots, etc. Next we visit a leather goods store for a couple of leather coats. We have dinner at a very nice restaurant, very fancy!! We all have steak. It is a great meal. We meet some hunters from Virginia, a father and son, who have had good lick hunting ducks and geese 6 hours west of Buenos Aires. After dinner we make our way back to the hotel. The room is great. I finally get a chance to clean up and it feels really good to be heading home soon. Tomorrow’s wake up call is set for 8:00am. We have a tour scheduled at 10:30am, Sonia comes to get us at 3:30pm and our flight leaves at 9:00pm.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Wake up call come at 8:00am, clean up and head for breakfast. At 10:30 we are met by Lucas and Mariana. We tour the city for 4 hours. We toured Evita’s tomb, a mational cathedral, monuments, embassiesand parks. We enjoy a quick lunch, then Scott and I walked around for 2 hours, and see shops and the Alvear Presidential Hotel. It was really something, way too fancy for my tastes. After the tour we meet up with Sonia. We got Scotts hat and jacket for Dale. We then are off to the airport. When we get to the airport there is lots of waiting, paperwork and fees, more waiting, finally we board the plane for home at 9:00pm. It is going to be a long tiring flight on a very crowded plane. We expect to be in Dallas at 6:00am central time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

It is a long plane ride in tight quarters. We arrive at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport at 6:20am. Just a little behind schedule. Lots of lines, customs, papers, boot cleaning, gun papers, duck papers, etc. Then we head home on another flight and arrive at Minneapolis/ St. Paul Airport at 11:15 am