SCI Member Chris Chimits is very happy with a multi-species hunt in Argentina this past May with Gustavo Roncaglione of Patagonia Hunters. He hunted in the province of La Pampa where he took an excellent black buck (scores 69 6/8); an axis deer (scores 117 6/8); a European mouflon (scores 105 2/8); and a multi-horned sheep (scores 104). He bought the hunt at the SCI Convention in 2017.
He hunted two different estancias. First, he hunted La Elvira, about 100 miles from the capital of Santa Rosa. He estimates the ranch at about 50,000 acres, with wide open areas and rolling landscapes. “You have to travel a long distance before seeing any fences there,” he says. This is where he hunted blackbuck antelope. He says hunting this species was much like hunting pronghorns in the US. Like pronghorn, blackbuck have excellent eyesight, run very fast, are wary and like to stand in the open.
He says they drove to various areas where Roncaglione knew there were antelope, then they would walk out to a rise, and crawled to the top so they could glass the animals in search of a good trophy. “We passed up on many good ones, looking for an excellent blackbuck,” says Chimits. When they did spot a trophy buck, he says they sometimes had to double back or drive far around to another angle in order to cut the distance or find a possible approach. On the way back to the lodge after various attempts, he says they spotted some blackbuck in a stand of calden trees (prosopis caldenia). Using the contours of the land, he was able to stalk within 300 yards of them and take the best buck of the group. In an open area he says the closest he would have gotten was 400 yards. Also, he explains that the herds of blackbuck are large, sometimes making it a bit challenging to find a clear shot at the selected animal. “It can feel like threading a needle,” he warns. La Elvira, he says, is the place for spectacular blackbuck and lots of them. “I probably saw 1,000 of them.”
He also hunted axis deer on the same property. When comparing quality, he says the axis were of more average sizes, not as large as the blackbuck but still good quality and all in great shape. While hunting for them he ran into a group of multi-horned sheep, which he had not planned on hunting. He says the ones he saw were spectacular, and he was able to take one at 230 yards.
The second estancia Chimits hunted was La Tranquella, about a 40-minute drive from La Elvira. Here he pursued mouflon for two days in heavy rain. “The animals would seek out shelter and lay down in the thick grass, making them almost impossible to find,” he says. “We went back to the lodge both days after trying unsuccessfully to find anything.” On the last day of his five-day hunt, still under heavy rain, he says they tried again, and he was able to get an “average” ram. The terrain on La Tranquella is the same as La Elvira, flat ground but with clusters of calden trees across the landscape. He was able to use the trees for cover to stalk within 200 yards of his mouflon.
Besides the species he hunted, Chimits says he saw many fine red stags on La Elvira. He chose not to take one because he had already hunted them in New Zealand. However, he says an interested hunter will find hundreds of these deer here and should be able to connect with a good trophy. There is also water buffalo, fallow deer and wild boar.
As for accommodations, Chimits rates the lodge where he stayed as simple but comfortable and enjoyable. He describes it as a T-shaped ranch-style building of stucco with a corrugated metal roof, a wide overhang and big porches supported by thick columns of calden tree trunks. The living area is rustic, with vaulted ceilings and a fire burning in the fireplace each evening. Located up high on a hill, the lodge offers expansive views of the sweeping plains that comprise La Pampa. A problem with water pressure was fixed in a few days. Chimits describes the meals as spectacular and says they were prepared by a professional chef who took great care and pride in the cuisine he served.
Chimits gives Roncaglione high praises for “exemplary” service. “He went out of his way to ensure we had an excellent experience with him. He really paid attention to the details for us and made sure we each got the trophies we were looking for.”
Among the details Roncaglione ensured was the efficient clearing of Chimits’ firearm upon arriving in Buenos Aires. Since Argentina changed its firearm import requirements several years ago, the procedure is a complicated, time-consuming affair. But Chimits says that Roncaglione had someone meet him at the airport to assist with clearing the gun through customs. “Had he not been there, it would have taken several hours to get things sorted,” he says.
Chimits recommends this hunt for several reasons. He likens it to an African safari in that Argentina offers a wide variety of species and opportunities to hunt. Because La Pampa is comprised mostly of plains, it is not physically challenging to hunt. It is generally flat with no elevations to climb. That makes this hunt perfect for the more mature or physically-limited hunter. Argentina also offers excellent touring, and Buenos Aires is an interesting city with lots of attractions, including authentic tango shows and even tango lessons for tourists. Chimits says Roncaglione arranged for a tour guide in Buenos Aires to show him and his wife everything the city has to offer. Plus, he says US hunters can travel there without the jet lag of going to Africa.
For hunters who choose to try this opportunity, Chimits recommends taking gators to prevent stickers, thorns and seeds from the pampa grasses from getting into boots and pantlegs. He also recommends taking tight-fitting hunting gloves to protect the hands. Because the typography is mostly wide open, he says using a rangefinder with a 1,600-yard capacity is a good idea and preparation for possible long-distance shooting a must. He recommends a good scope with a ballistic turret that one can adjust quickly and accurately. Lastly, he warns hunters to be prepared for perfectly executed stalks to get blown by wary green parrots. “Like guinea fowl in Africa, these birds will alert when you are trying to stalk into something,” says Chimits. “They blew several of my stalks.”
Hunters interested in this operation can reach Roncaglione and Patagonia Hunters at +54-929-5440-4444 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See the website at www.patagoniahunters.com.--Barbara Crown