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Bunch of bad luck, best hunt ever! I

La Loma Lodge, 6 am on a dark morning. But there are no doves on our horizon this time. This was time for Steve, Susan and myself to start a brand new adventure: Big Game Hunting in La Pampa. So the idea was to, after four great days of dove hunting, to take the route and drive for like about 6hs to one of the nicest big game lodges in Argentina, situated in La Pampa province.

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About 5 hours after leaving La Loma lodge in Cordoba state, we stopped at a gas station for some snacks and fuel, and 1 hour later we finally left the rout. We drove a small dirt road for about 20 minutes and after our last curve to the left, we were at La Pampa Lodge main entrance. It was a nice sunny day and while we were getting closer to the lodge we could catch sight Nico getting out from the lodge so he could give us a warm welcome. 

Nicolas is the owner of La Pampa Lodge and he hunts since he was a little child. He hunted with many different rifles, but now he is a very passionate and talented bow hunter. His dad started the business more as a hobby, mostly with local friends. And a few years later Nico took it to a different level, having these days, people from all over the globe.

It is a very nice lodge, full of trophies everywhere. I could describe it to you guys, but what a better way to give you an idea of it than checking the pictures below.

Nico showed our guest their room and after they took a few minutes for relaxing themselves, we had lunch by 13:45 pm with just a cup of wine. Since the idea was to go hunting right that afternoon.

There are many areas you can go hunting at Nico’s ranch depending what you want to hunt and how big you want your trophy to be. The ranch is 5.000 acres big. The cool thing about the area we were going that afternoon is that is one of the biggest areas. Hunters don’t go that often since most of the bronze and silver trophies are not there.

You are not gonna believe the things that happened to us in these four days!!

Let me tell you our everyday schedule so I can go straight to our hunting story. Every day we woke up 6:30hs. 7 am we all met at the living room for breakfast and we usually leave the lodge by 7:30hs. You go hunting in the morning until 12 am, when you go back to the lodge, have a great lunch (is gonna be Buffalo, Stag, Blackbuck, regular meat, etc. All kind of stuff people are hunting those days plus our great Argentinian steak).  Of course, you are gonna have lunch with a cup of wine so the idea is to take a nice nap from 14h to 16hs (if you like so). You can't go hunting earlier than 17hs since is too hot and the animals will be still lying on the ground. And you will give them better chances to see you before you can see them. Finally, we will go back to the lodge at night depending on every hunt (we would have a daily appetizer with drinks followed by a very nice dinner, and of course, more drinks). 

Once Nico introduced us Horace, our guide. We followed him to his truck and we started our long-awaited hunt. While we were getting into the truck Horace told us we were going after one of the most difficult trophies in the ranch:

“They had tried to hunt this stag for the last 3 or 4 weeks. This is a very smart son of a…”. But after two days chasing him, they all gave up and changed their target.

Horace is a very calm and professional guide. A very nice person, respectful and very polite.

After 20 minutes driving, we got out from the truck and started walking towards a hill where Horace thought our fellow could be. We walked for about one hour- one hour and a half, where we stopped like about 4 times (every time Horace heard our buddy roaring) There is nothing like a big game hunt in the roaring season. 

This last roar was very loud. I was very lucky and happy to be there with Horace and Steve, listening to Mendoza* very very close to us but without the chance to see him. This hill was covered by the bunch of plants, trees, bushes and branches with big thorns. We knew he was not further than 60 yards, but again, we weren’t able to see him.

*So one of the ideas was to, as soon as Steve hunted the stag, go to Mendoza for 2 or 3 days for some winery tours and many different non-shooting activities Mendoza has to offer. And since this didn’t happen I decided to call our “red friend” “Mendoza”.

 

I was walking behind Steve when I suddenly saw Horacio made a quick move, where he opens the stick for Steve so he can set his rifle for a clean shot. But that was the problem right there, we finally were able to see Mendoza but we weren’t that lucky. We could only see his horns while he was scratching to a tree. He was very distracted so he didn’t realize we were there. Horace was a totally different guy at this point. He was to way to anxious, he was never expecting to see Mendoza this close!! But there was no shoot Steve could take there. I promise you guys there was no part of the buddy our hunter could aim.  So it was time to make a call and I think this was the first and only mistake Horacio made in his 4 guiding days. He was blinded by his anxiety. There was a call to be made right there at that right moment and, instead of wait to Mendonza to move (so we can start to follow him again); WE MOVED!! After doing no more than 7 steps to our left Mendoza saw us, or smelled us (who know) and started running north like if he was Usain Bolt. We lost him in the distance in between some bushes. It was getting dark so we decided to call the day out. Even we couldn’t take a shoot, it was a great experience for the 3 of us. We walked back to the truck like for about 40 minutes and Horace was still talking to himself lol. I do not know what he was saying… only at the end, I realized he was going something like: “It is your fault, Horace, you know this is the smarted stag on the ranch! He is 8 years old. You don’t get that old been a stupid stag. But you'll want to beat me tomorrow, no…”

We were getting close to the truck when Horace finally turned around and said:

I’m sorry guys, I'm too passionate when I'm hunting! Even more with this trophy which all the other guides tried to hunt but after the second day, they ended giving up. I let my anxious beat me and that’s not good. Mendoza won this first battle Steve, but I promise you I will put you that close again tomorrow morning.

Horace is a very positive guy. With a very positive soul. So after digesting his anger, everything was laughter and cool stories again back in the truck.


Jota

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