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A Wingshooters Bucket List....

In my early years of bird hunting I started a bucket list by pouring over the magazines by my father’s Lazy Boy. I would memorize item numbers in Lyon Country Supply, and dream of the day I had my own real bird dog. Dreams of skidding points, and huge Canadian geese in the decoys, banded green heads and woodcock over a Llewellyn or any other bird hunt I could read about and absorb.

In those early years my bucket list was simple and far to narrow. It mostly consisted of things I saw my father and uncles do. Goose hunts, shoot quail, own a fine bird dog − simple things for a simple time of life.

As I’ve gotten older and more experienced I have developed a more challenging bucket list − a list that is both doable yet challenging. A bucket list that any international wingshooter can be proud of. You might say, “Well if he’s writing a column about international wingshooting, shouldn’t he have done these already?” To that I say, “You’re probably right.” There is a lot for me still to do and I look forward to sharing my adventures as I complete this list. This is an evolving list, and has many goals, but let’s just go with the top ten on my bucket list of bird hunts.

Number 1 – The King Eider

Found in northern Coastal Arctic areas, the King Eider is one tough duck. It’s hunted in the depths of winter in some of the coldest areas of North America. To hunt Kings makes a late December hunt in Arkansas look like a spring picnic. Eider are hunted from small islands in the middle of the ocean. Sometimes many many miles from shore, small rocky islands that destroy equipment as the wind blows saltwater into everything. Many consider a King Eider hunt the most extreme duck hunt in the world, and I’d have to agree with them. When one combines the difficulty of the hunt, travel and weather with the beauty of a King Eider Drake this stands easily at the top of my bucket list.

Number 2 – Driven Red-Legged Partridge in Spain

There’s something about the pomp and circumstance that surrounds a well-run driven shoot. The tweeds, centuries of heritage and traditions come together to form an amazing experience. Driven shoots are not cheap, and the accommodations normally reflect that. The shoot I would go on is run out of a castle near the historic town of Toledo. With game parades and breathtaking food and wines always available. This is a trip for both the volume shooter as well as the more refined, dinner dress and tweeds. A far cry from blaze orange and blocking off a corn field in South Dakota.

Ventosilla Castle Spain

Ventosilla Castle in Spain is a top destination for driven Red-Legged Partridge.

Number 3 – Chesapeake Bay Waterfowl

Here is where history calls to me from the stories read as a boy of punt guns and birds to black out the sky. While Chesapeake Bay may not be what it once was, sitting in a modern lay out boat with modern decoys in the middle of this historic bay is very high on my list! And the whole time I’m there, I’ll think of the market hunters, the thousands of men who came before, and the millions upon millions of ducks that have passed through the nation’s largest estuary for a millennia.

Goose decoy spread Eastern Shore

A goose decoy spread on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

Number 4 – South African Birds

It’s no surprise that the bird hunting opportunities in Africa are as varied as the big game. The main reason I have put South Africa so high on this list is because of three birds. First the mighty Spur Wing Goose, the supposed largest goose in the world. It’s a quiet species and you have to be on the “X” if you’re wanting a good shoot. Secondly, the Egyptian Goose, found in good numbers and is a great looking bird. Having grown up hunting Swan Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Sumner, Missouri I have had a lifelong love of big geese. Lastly, the South African bird I’m looking most forward to shooting is the Grey-Winged Partridge, a bird that coveys and holds well to dogs. A couple days of following a brace of English Pointers in the highlands of South Africa is a dream come true.

South Africa Egyptian Geese

Egyptian Geese taken on a wingshooting expedition to South Africa.

Number 5 – Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Woodcock and Grouse.

History here is also important, but in all honesty it’s the bird numbers and the ecosystem they live in. Having grown up reading of setters and pointers holding a woodcock in deep cover, with the streams and trout, in all of North America few places capture my imagination like the Upper Peninsula − not to mention how truly remote you can get there.

Number 6 – North American Sandhill Cranes

While I have hunted them several times, I have never shot at one. From Canada to Kansas I have tried and tried to score on a Sandhill Crane, with no success. This year though is the year! I’ll be hunting the panhandle of Texas several times this year with TxFowl and am looking forward to seeing how it’s done! Considering he scouts with a plane I’m sure we should get on the birds. The main reason for my crane obsession? I have to know if they are really the Filet Mignon of the Sky.

Texas Cranes

Cranes harvested in a Texas hunt.

Number 7 – Eurasian Western Capercaillie

Found throughout Eurasia, the Capercaillie is the world’s largest grouse. It’s hunted in several different ways, from dogs to calling. A very large black bird with tons of personality, found in the deep forest of Eastern Europe, the habitat in which you find these birds seems straight out of a fairy tale. The idea of hunting the storied forests of Eastern Europe and Western Asia is something that has always been on my radar. One of my favorite recurring dreams is a big black bird flushing through a dark primeval forest.

Number 8 – Oscillated Turkey, Yucatan Peninsula

Nothing like the turkeys we know up north, this is a subspecies that few turkey hunters ever even consider. The keystone of National Wild Turkey Foundation’s World Slam, the Oscillated Turkey is a beautiful bird that rivals a peacock in colors and beauty. They are either called, or hunted over bait, deep in the jungles of the Yucatan. Not only is this a trophy bird, but the area in which it is hunted is rich in culture, and heritage.

Number 9 – Geese in Scotland

Who doesn’t want to go to Scotland? The distilleries alone could hold my attention, but really it’s the way in which Scots hunt. With a certain flair and tradition, both things I’ve grown to appreciate. The specific trip I’d like to take is to the Orkney Islands just off the Scottish coast, for Pinkfoot and Greylag geese. This is a less tourist-traveled area of Scotland and a place I think would feel like any rural area of North America. The hunting is done over decoys and seems to me to be very similar to the spreads and layout blinds we use here in the states.

Number 10 – Driven Birds in the U.K.

Talk about some options! Shooting driven birds in England is something that I’ve always wanted to do. The heritage of U.K. shooting is the main attraction, the traditions that go with the shoot, and the game parades. The formality of it all, combined with respect for the game and land is something that I feel I must learn. If I could have my choice, I would spend several months under the tutelage of one of several well-known gamekeepers. I know how we do it, how do they?

UK Driven

A driven hunt in the U.K.

Wrap-Up

It’s my hope that you’ve enjoyed this short list, and maybe it will help fuel a fire in you as well. I know I’ve spent more time day dreaming while writing this than I should. Also, I hope you enjoy following along as I try to achieve these goals. At 37 years of age, I have time and am looking forward to a future filled with feathers and the smell of spent shells.

If one of these trips piques your interest and you’re looking for someone to go with, please give me a call.

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Meet Eric Harrison, the 2017 Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Guide of the Year

I’m extremely proud of my good buddy, Eric Harrison of Joshua Creek Ranch, who received the 2017 Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Guide of the Year. Eric and I have been friends for many years, and I know him as a great guide and father. Many of Shotgun Life’s readers have hunted with a guide like Eric or Eric himself at some point. I thought it would be helpful to sit down with him for a quick Q&A to discover what it takes to be a winning wingshooting guide and how you can benefit from hunting with someone like him.

We'll start with a quick bio of Eric and then jump into our conversation. He grew up in Kentucky along the Ohio River, where Eric shared a passion for hunting with his father, who took him hunting as a young boy. He graduated from Southeastern Illinois College in 2002 with a degree in Game Preserve Management then moved to Texas to pursue a career as a hunting guide. In 2007 Eric started working at Joshua Creek Ranch. He’s a Texan at heart and embodies the spirit of "Texas Hospitality."

Eric

Award-winning wingshooting guide Eric Harrison of Joshua Creek Ranch.

Who is Eric Harrison?

I’m a lucky individual who chose a job he loves, and therefore doesn't have to work a day of his life. Growing up in the outdoors and then able to make a living from it is a dream come true.  I’m a proud father, loving husband and God-fearing Republican.

How long have you been a guide? How’d did you get into guiding?

My father started taking me hunting with him when I was four years old and it’s been game-on ever since. Once I started attending middle school Dad told me to make a choice between sports and hunting due to not enough time for both. I didn't choose sports thank God − a penguin could probably out-dribble me down a basketball court. I started hunting for a paycheck a little over a decade ago and have loved every minute of it. My favorite part to being a guide is all the hunters I get to meet and share my dogs with.

Why do you think you won this year’s Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Guide of the Year?

I feel I won for many reasons. First, it’s easy to put on a great show when working at the world’s best hunting lodge, Joshua Creek Ranch. Second, I have the confidence to say my hunting-dog team on their worst day could out-hunt the average dog on their best day. And last would be my love for the sport. I not only have a loving family that raised me, that family has grown into a ranch, my dogs, my hunters and it’s become a great strength.

Who are people that have helped you get to where you are now? Who does Eric look up to in wingshooting or life?

My mom and dad get the credit for putting me on the path, and getting me birdie at a young age.  My uncle Mike inspired me to train dogs. And without Bruce Herring, my professor at Southeastern Illinois, I wouldn't be where I am today. He helped me get my degree in a very unique program that touches on all aspects within the hunting industry. Last, but not least, my hat goes off to Joe and Ann Kercheville, who own Joshua Creek Ranch. The Kercheville family took me under their wing 11 years ago, and like a started dog they finished me. Thank you Joe, I appreciate all that you have taught me.

You’re one of wingshooting’s best ambassadors. How many new shooters do you think you guide in a year?

EricFlush

Pheasants taken at Joshua Creek Ranch under the guidance of Eric Harrison.

New hunters and old hunters are all the same, just a soul trying to reconnect with Mother Nature.  At Joshua Creek we open our doors to any person wanting to share the experiences here. I hunt in the double digits every year with first-time hunters. In some respects a new hunter hasn't acquired any bad habits and is easy to train more than a mature hunter. New or old my only concern is that the hunter has a safe and enjoyable hunt.

Do you have any advice for new wingshooters? Advice for people wanting to expose others to the sport?

From one avid wingshooter to another it should be a goal to hunt more and more each year and to experience different ways to hunt. Shooting pheasants behind pointers is great but adding three cockers to the mix is better. Harvesting 15 doves is fun but shooting 1,500 dove in Argentina is mind blowing. Never stop moving forward in your hunting experience. If a hunter shoots birds five times in a year, that hunter should make it a goal to shoot birds six times the following. I've been hunting my entire life and it took me 33 years to find out that my favorite bird to shoot is a driven pheasant in England, but my new goal is to shoot grouse in Scotland. 

What in your view can we, as sportsmen and women, do to better promote the outdoors to non-hunters?

The best way to promote hunting is exposing it to our youth. My dad spent every weekend teaching me the outdoors and a lot of kids don't have that. If hunters could stop a kid from playing on the computer and take the kid outside for an adventure it would change that kid’s life for the good. I challenge all hunters with the 5-to-1 deal.  For every five hunts you go on you take a youth hunter on the sixth.

What’s your favorite breed of bird dog and why?

My favorite breed of bird dog is the kind that hunts, but I love English dog lines. Setters and cockers have a great temperament, eager to please, always ready to hunt as well as great family companions. Sonto was the name of my first Joshua Creek bird dog and my best dog now is a long-haired black and white setter named Sonto. He can work a field like a conductor leading an orchestra.

If you could hunt with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?

If I could hunt with anyone in the history of hunting it would be good old Teddy Roosevelt in Africa. That man knew how to hunt. Second would be my great grandpa, Pascal. He lived in the Tennessee mountains and made his money by guiding bird hunts, taking folks fly fishing and moonshining. 

Eric and Dogs

Eric Harrison and his dogs ready for a wingshooting hunt at Joshua Creek Ranch.

When you meet a group for the first time, what are some telltale signs you might look for? Is there a “Don’t be that person”?

Here are three tips for wingshooters. First, don't show up to a quail hunt with a 12 gauge, that’s way too much gun for such a small bird. With experience you'll find shot placement outweighs firepower. Two, don't wear new boots; they will only cause blisters. And three, don't wear camo. Dogs hold birds on point so no need to hide from the bird. Wingshooting is a gentleman’s sport, so pick up an Orvis catalog and look the part. The same goes for the guide you’re hunting with. If your guide shows up with new boots, new hunting vest and a cheesy grin then march back into the pro-shop and ask for an experienced guide.

Where else have you hunted besides Joshua Creek Ranch?

I have been on hunts from Alaska down to the Mexican border. Shooting dove in Argentina was a blast but that didn't touch shooting pheasant in England. I’m 33 and very excited about what’s next; teaching my son is going to be special.

Tells us about your worst hunt?

Good hunts come and go but my worst hunts always originate from a lack of communication.  Either between my dogs or my hunters, and it can spiral out of hand. My dogs are well-trained, but with the number of hunts I run it’s inevitable that they’ll have a bad day. Communication with my hunting clients is important. For example you don’t want them walking past birds. It’s a delicate balance between doing what the hunter wants and guiding a good hunt.

Eric and Gucci

Eric Harrison with his dog Gucci.

Tell us about your best/favorite hunt?

On the other hand my favorite hunt happens all the time and is easy to duplicate. Get a group of shooters with positive attitudes who can shoot, and have them follow me around a pasture as I work my dogs. Then when the dogs start going on points left and right we flank them. The best feeling in the world is when all of the hunters are focused on the sound of a cocker running into the tall grass flushing a covey.

 If you were to hunt one bird and one bird only for the rest of your life which would it be?

Quail behind setters.

We’ve talked many times about your theory of the “team” aspect of upland hunting, I find your explanation very insightful. Can you explain Eric Harrison’s team approach to guiding a bird hunt?

The guide is the leader. Dogs and hunters should always follow instructions of the guide. My number-one goal on a hunt is to keep my dogs and hunters safe. I don’t wake up in the morning with the expectation for a mediocre hunt, and it irritates me to not come in with the most birds.

Dogs are a tool, a key component to finding the birds. It takes the right tool for the job and many hunts differ, so be sure to know your dog and to have the right tool for the job. Without a good dog the hunt has already failed. 

The hunter is the talent and should have many different skills in order to be good. It must be understood that their position is to follow the guide, but recognize when it’s their time to lead. They should study their skills and understand the mechanics of shotgun shooting and shot placement – to foresee shot obstacles and work as a team so when a bird rises someone in the party will have a shot presentation. Knowing how a bird dog should properly work so one can read a dog’s body like a book when he says, get ready I’m birdie. And remember that they are the reason the team came to play.

There is a growing trend in the hunting industry to market the fitness aspects of hunting, with many guides and T.V. hosts claiming to be athletes. Do you consider yourself a hunting athlete?

As a kid I would tell my city-slicker friends that hunting was a sport and they teased asking me where are my trophies. Hunting is a sport with trophies and has athletes like any other sport. I hunt because I’m driven to it. I train with my team every season and we give it our all. But hunting is way more than a sport to me. It’s a family tradition I want to pass down to my son. It started as a tool of survival and has evolved into my family and life. I love the ranch I work for and I love my family and consider it all my hunting team and as part of my life. 

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

My goals for the coming years are to keep training and perfecting my skills. I want to be healthy and happy with a strong family. It turns out that I’m a very competitive person and I don't like to be last. Joshua Creek Ranch has been a great family to me and I will always be there for them. I did go to school to become a hunting ranch manager and feel I’m following the path and right leaders to be a great one.

What’s it like to guide at Joshua Creek Ranch?

It’s just as much fun to guide at Joshua Creek as it is to hunt. The property is 1,200 acres of perfect bird-hunting habitat with miles of moving water and high hills. It’s fun to have such an incredible office. We have divided the ranch into 12 different hunting pastures and each guide is assigned a different pasture each hunt, leaving excitement for what’s to come. The hunts are always changing, birds are always moving, and I always have hunters. What more could a guide ask for?

What’s a hunt like at Joshua Creek Ranch?

Hunting at Joshua Creek Ranch is a bird hunter’s dream come true. Great dogs, great guides, lodging and meals, with a lot of hard work and dedication that keeps our hunters coming back.  Average hunts are three hours long. Hunters go through three boxes of shells, so that’s 75 presented shots at different flying birds that were worked and pointed. Sounds like a pointing dogs dream come true too. 

 

I highly recommend hunting with Eric. He’s seen more birds shot in his young life than most of us ever will. If you’re interested in hunting at Joshua Creek Ranch, feel free to give me a call or send an email and I’d be happy to set it up for you. They offer everything from driven pheasants to unbelievable walk up hunts.

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The Best Way to Find and Hunt North American Wild Quail

Wild quail hunting can be found from Mexico to the uplands of California to the northern Midwest across the country to the so-called Golden Triangle of Georgia. North America itself is home to several quail species that live in assorted habitats and regions. Given the incredible variety of quail hunting opportunities there are many ways a hunter can get on birds – making these challenging birds available for an array of budgets and skill levels.

Make no mistake, wild quail can be hard to come by: changing agricultural practices, loss of habitat, increase in predation or just poor management. In the Golden Triangle of Georgia, millions of dollars are spent on private, invitation-only quail plantations. Although this doesn’t help the average Joe, it does insure the future of the wild quail population. On the flip side of the coin, at public spaces the competition can be fierce for the limited acreage and number of hunters. However, a wealth of local and national information about those kinds of hunts is available through conservation organizations such as Quail Forever (it’s also a great way to meet likeminded hunters who can keep you in the loop on nearby hunting conditions).

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Armed with quail-hunting intelligence and abundant public land, in areas of Missouri, Kansas, or California I say load the dogs, pack up your gear and head on out. Scheduling a public-land hunting trip during the week is a smart move (if possible) to avoid the weekend rush. Just be ready for mad rush of hunters if you’re part of the opening day crowd.

What if you don’t have dogs or live near a decent area for quail hunts? An outfitter is your best solution. Many reputable and qualified wild-quail outfitters can be found in Texas and elsewhere throughout the west. These outfitters hunt vast tracts of private and leased land, which allows for their clients to often find birds. I strongly recommend avoiding “wild quail” outfitters who say they have 500 acres, because there is no way a viable commercial operation can have sustainable hunting of wild quail on such a small acreage (unless they take two groups per year, in that case are they really an outfitter?) As with all outfitters, check references and ask questions. The right questions will tell you plenty about the outfitter. Make sure they hunt enough land to be chasing new birds at the end of the season. An outfitter who has been in business for more than five years is doing something right.

Valley Quail 006

If you want to travel, a reputable outfitter increases your odds of success while at the same time helps ensure that your money is well-spent on results, lodging and meals. Wild quail hunts can range from roughly $1,500 to as much as $10,000 for two-to-three days of hunting, depending on the location and accommodations.

There are some beautiful lodges that have wild quail, and generally they occupy the high end of the price spectrum. Hunting out of a lodge is an excellent way to go if you’re entertaining customers or if enjoy a more refined experience. Many outfitters can accommodate guests in ranch houses or cabins close to the hunting. Several guides I know work out of hotels in the various areas they hunt, which could help significantly reduce the cost of your wild quail hunt. Of course, accommodations rarely have anything to do with the shooting. A five-star lodge may have the same quality of hunting as a guide who works out of a Motel 6.

IMG 5095

Meanwhile, Mexico has plenty of fair prices and great lodging for wild quail hunts. The only difference between Mexico and a hunt in the U.S. is that many Mexican quail hunts are without dogs, and instead you walk up on the birds. Mexico is the place for sheer numbers if you’d like to get into 30-to-40 coveys in a day. One of my favorite trips is to hunt the little black throated quail in the Yucatan over good dogs. There are a lot of birds down there and few hunters regardless of the area of Mexico you choose. If considering a Mexico quail hunt I highly recommend using an agent to ensure a reputable outfitter who can give you a successful hunting experience.

honey lake 1

Based on my own years of experience as an outfitter, here are some things you should avoid when looking for a wild quail destination:

  • Small acreages just can’t handle hunting wild quail on a commercial basis. They’ll shoot out 500 acres in the first couple groups.
  • Any place that lets you shoot more than the state limit is either a preserve or running an illegal operation. I know of some “put and take” places that advertise wild quail, but in actuality they are early release birds or put out that day by one of the employees.
  • Avoid long drives to the actual hunting field. An hour or so to and from is not uncommon, and not a big deal. It’s when you’re put up in a hotel and the shooting is two or more hours away, this can get to be too much. If the drives are long, an honest outfitter will tell you that. Make sure you ask up front.
  • Mixed groups can be a warning sign. Most good guides and outfitters do not mix groups. Quail hunts are personal and an operation that is piling people in will eventually miss something, or drop the ball in some way. It’s not always the case, but definitely something to consider.
  • New operations are always a gamble. Some of the new guides we’ve found over the years have turned into well-respected and nationally known outfitters. Many others have faded away never to be heard from again. While not a hard and fast rule, it’s one to think about.
  • No internet presence is a red flag. If an outfitter has zero presence on the internet in 2017 he’s either old school (and possibly one of the greats) or is hiding something (like numerous complaints). Most of the legends in the quail world have at least a Facebook page or a mention somewhere.

Quail season will be here before we know it, so if you have any questions feel free to give me a call at (800) 292-2213 or shoot me an email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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Respect for the Humble Pigeon...

The aerial acrobatics that a pigeon can perform are awe-inspiring in the world of wingshooting. The pigeon can only be rivaled in speed by a teal or a dove. A pigeon can turn on a dime. It can barrel roll or loop to loop with the best jet pilots. So it’s no wonder that when I ask well-traveled wingshooters “What’s your favorite bird to hunt?” more often than not they answer “pigeon.”

Why? It’s not as obvious as you might think. Aside from the sporting flight of a pigeon and the pure speed that leaves the shooter forever behind, it’s the pigeon’s readiness to decoy that most of my clients seem to enjoy most. A group of 5-15 pigeon turning into the decoys may be the most challenging decoyed bird on the planet. The only birds that I can think of that decoys as readily and still challenges the shooter are the various species of teal. Where the pigeon surpasses the teal is on a dramatic change of direction with deceptive movements and feints that can cause you to move out of position…and miss.

Uruguay pigeons in flight

Some of the action from pigeon hunting in Uruguay.

Another great reason to entertain a pigeon shoot is the incredible volume of birds. The estimates here are in boxes of shells actually possible since we all know no two pigeon shooters are created equal. The Picazuro Pigeon of South America is the king of pigeon enthusiasts. Paraguay was once the THE place to hunt pigeons, and still has birds, it’s just not safe enough. In Argentina depending on the province, you’ll be able to shoot 20 boxes a day. In Salta Province, on Argentina’s northern border, the pigeons are more plentiful with 30-plus boxes per day. Uruguay is still a viable option with 10 boxes or on a good day. The reigning champ of pigeon destinations would have to be Bolivia. Depending on the time of year, shooting your way through 40 boxes of shells in a day ranks as one of the best wingshooting experiences on the planet.  

Picazuros aren’t like the pigeons we see in North America; they’re bigger, wilder and migrate readily. The Picazuro flies in the ever changing “balled up” flock natural to most pigeons, but it’s the numbers that set the Bolivian, Paraguayan, and Northern Argentine Picazuro apart from just about any other species that decoys. Flocks of 100 - 200 landing in and strafing the decoys happens so fast it’s hard to pick out one bird to focus on. As soon as you’ve settled from your last opportunity another group ranging from 5 -100 is presented in the decoys. Truly non-stop action that is hard to find anywhere.

Uruguay Pigeons 1

Here’s an example of pigeons that can be taken in Uruguay.

One of the best things about pigeons? It’s that you can shoot them all over the world. We’ve all seen the flocks around our local grain elevators, the feed lot, or circling the barn. We see them on the walk into the downtown office, and there are lots of them! There are several outfitters and companies in the U.S. who are starting to cater to the pigeon hunter. In Idaho is perhaps the best instance and in my opinion a North American trend setter with guided tours offered by Soar No More in Kuna has been offering pigeon decoys and high volume hunts since 2009. While we’re not affiliated with Soar No More I admire that they will be responsible for bringing true decoyed pigeons to the masses in the U.S. Credit where it’s due.

Decoyed pigeons Uruguay

Pigeon decoys at work in Uruguay.

The same principles you use to be a consistent duck hunter will serve the pigeon hunter well. Knowing where the birds have been working, setting up on the “X”, movement in the decoys, concealment, are all solid practices on any decoyed pigeon hunt. A hunter can shoot year-round, and even bait pigeons when the other seasons are out. Giving the wingshooter practice on live birds in the off seasons will help to up your percentages during your fall duck hunts. Those early teal are in trouble if you’ve spent the summer gunning pigeons.

In the U.S. our pigeons are great, they decoy readily and give the shooter a distinct challenge. However, it’s the high-volume shooting of South America that we simply can’t compete with. A place in the U.S. that shoots 1,000 pigeons a gun won’t be shot again for another year or in some cases many more. But you can do that in South America day after day after day (not that you will).

Punta Del Estes shooting destination

Punta del Este is a beautiful luxury resort in Uruguay that offers great pigeon hunts.

Pigeons are the perfect opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and pass time while you wait for the waterfowl to show up. They are also the ideal trip for anyone wanting to shoot in South America. Whether you’re a duck hunter, a dove hunter, or just shoot on occasion; the humble pigeon will challenge your skills and make you an overall better wingshooter. This is why I love hunting pigeons, they force you to improve, and squab makes for a fine meal.

Until next month; if you’re going to miss…..miss in front.

Paul Anderson is Vice President of Detail Company Adventures at http://detailcompany.com.  Based in Houston, Texas, Detail Company Adventures has been offering high-quality wingshooting, fishing and big game hunts in South America, Europe and America for more than 25 years. If you have any questions or need some advice feel free to contact Paul at to=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (800)292-2213. 

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Why Even the Seasoned Traveler Should Use a Qualified Booking Agent

In the world of international hunting there are several ways to book your “hunt of a lifetime.” It could be at conventions such as Safari Club International, or a local show, the Internet, word of mouth or through a booking agent. The easiest, and honestly, most reliable way to book a hunt will be through a booking agent. Here’s why:

Deciding where to go can be a headache, figuring out flights, transfers in arrival cities, hotels, licenses, included and excluded, among other considerations. Most people who can afford to hunt internationally don’t have the time to do all the research, due diligence that it takes to find your perfect destination. This is where an agent/consultant can save you massive amounts of time and frustration.

Chacu 1

A good agent will ask questions to understand the desires of the customer then using his or her connections and expertise to pair you with the right outfitter for your expectations. There are so many considerations, not to mention the fierce competition with more wingshooting lodges in Cordoba Argentina than the rest of the country. How do you choose? Price? Ease of transportation?

An agent is not married to one lodge or destination. Detail Company Adventures, for example, can work with 15 to 20 outfitters in Argentina alone. While there are some great operations in the world others are not so great. An agent has been there and already knows the product and can protect their customers through an intimate knowledge of the operation. If you ask 30 outfitters about their business, 28 will tell you flat out that they’re the best. How can you tell who is and who isn’t? An independent agent is beholding to no one but their customers.

Getting to the destination can sometimes be a feat in its self, which is why we always suggest purchasing flights and travel through an agent. Upon arrival in, say, Buenos Aires, we have in-country representatives who will shuttle you through the city, take you shopping, to dinner, or sightseeing. We have worked with these people for years and know they provide excellent service. Having years of experience and references trumps “Trip Advisor” reviews any day. Another thing to think about is transfers, and traveling as a hunter. Not all services found on the internet are hunter/gun friendly. We’ve saved you the leg work of finding a decent city tour or other side trip.

Chacu 2 Guys

The airlines (cue horror music) are not hunter friendly. Period. We deal with the various airlines every day, and here is where a good booking agent can really help their clients out. While most of our trips go through without a hitch, there is always a chance of something happening. A good agent is on-call most hours to help fix a delayed flight, missed connection or lost bag. For example, Detail Company Adventures has several ways of helping out our customers either through our travel agent or connections we have at the various airlines. Several times every month we get a late-night call from a client whose flight is delayed or they missed a connection. More often than not we can get plan “B” going and get our customers out of the jam. Travelocity does not do this.

Chacu doves

From the hunting licenses to flights to passports, there is a ton of information that needs to be compiled and processed to the lodge, airlines, or transfer/tour operators. This takes time and knowledge of what each step of the journey might need. If a group of eight shooters wants to go to Cordoba, Argentina the amount of information gathered and sent to the outfitter can add up to hours of work. This is yet another way an independent agent can help make the trip easier and more enjoyable, by compiling the information from the group and handling the details.

Find an agent who can recommend numerous lodges and sort out the best hunting trip. Talk to several agents and pick one you like and trust, then put them to work. A great agent’s number- one concern is his or her clients. I’ve learned from some of the best out there and can tell you that the agents who take every trip personally are always going to be the ones with longevity. If they’ve made it longer than five years in this business they normally have it figured out. (Detail Company Adventures has been in business nearly 30 years.)

A good booking agent can be your best asset for managing the risks involved in an international hunt. So the next time you’re thinking about an international adventure. Be sure to give me or any agent a call.

Paul Anderson is Vice President of Detail Company Adventures at http://detailcompany.com.  Based in Houston, Texas, Detail Company Adventures has been offering high-quality wingshooting, fishing and big game hunts in South America, Europe and America for more than 25 years. If you have any questions or need some advice feel free to contact Paul at to=This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (800)292-2213. 

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