ARGENTINA: Argentine Red Stag With MG Hunting

Red Leg

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One of the great by-products of hunting internationally, are the friendships one builds within the international hunting community. Some seventeen years ago, I took my son and brother-in-law to Argentina to hunt doves in Cordoba. My choice in outfitter was MG Hunting founded by Marcel Gil. A gifted wing and competitive shooter, smart businessman, and remarkable musician, Marcel built MG Hunting into an Argentine-wide success story offering some of the finest wing and big game hunting found in the hemisphere. The company is now very ably run by his three sons - Manuel, Pedro, and "Austin." On that first trip, our little group was taken under the wing of Fernando, or as he is better known, "Rocket." A respected hunter and guide, Rocket had joined Marcel's company not long before our arrival. As sometimes happens, we quickly hit it off, and have remained in contact since.

A subsequent trip to hunt ducks, doves, and perdiz in Buenos Aires Provence had been equally spectacular. On that trip, I had the opportunity to get to know Pedro well, and we often sat up evenings talking birds, waterfowl, and big game. Before departing, I worked dates with Manuel for a return trip with my son for red stag in the La Pampas.


That hunt, like so many others, was postponed by the pandemic. However, late March finally found us crammed into a packed and masked American Airways flight to Buenos Aires. Thanks to MG, we had a seamless transfer to the domestic airport downtown (think Dulles to Washington National), and were soon on our way to Santa Rosa. Disembarking at a tiny airport with a single flight in and out each day argues well for the likely remoteness of the hunt. We were not to be disappointed.

Manuel and Rocket were waiting for our group which included five other hunters from all over the US. We spent some time getting to know one another on the drive to the ranch. The hunting area is enormous and easily accommodated seven hunters. Two, a husband and wife, were hunting together.

The lodge is very comfortable, and was built as a hunting camp. Therefore, all sleeping areas are large with private showers and facilities. All the unaccompanied hunters had a private room - as did my son to his great relief (it is rumored that I snore). The common area is very comfortable, and a wall of free range stags acts as a real motivator for the next day's hunt. Meals were superb, always featuring an Argentine twist. Manuel manned the outdoor grill doing wonderful things with beef and pork. A grand Malbec was always standing by ready to be uncorked.

arg15.jpg

arg11.jpg


One of the joys of hunting South America is the absence of jet lag. Yes, we were tired from a restless overnight flight from Miami, but we at least started the next morning with our internal clocks more or less properly regulated. One hunter and guide set off on foot from the lodge, the rest of us piled into vehicles to head off to separate areas of the vast property. Pedro would guide my son, and Rocket and I were paired for the week. As we loaded into the trucks, the pre-dawn air was filled with the mournful roars of rutting stags.

La Pampas is cattle country. Vast rolling pastures were punctuated by motes and bands of scrub brush and trees. Upon exiting the truck, Rocket moved crosswind toward one of those areas of brush from which a particularly deep roar occasionally sounded. Over the next three hours, we maneuvered from one bit of cover to the next as we were treated to the sight of dozens of red deer and eight or nine different bulls. Two were very old five x five stags that were shooters on any other day. But, we exercised first morning discipline and passed on each of them - a decision that seemed ever less wise as the week progressed.

arg18.jpg


My previous red stag hunting had taken place in Germany and Austria. In most of those densely forested areas, the bulls would tend to be quite territorial, defending a rutting area as much as their harem. In La Pampas, it was quite different. Except for brief mid-day bedding, the herds were constantly on the move. Often approaches turned into kilometers long pursuits as we tried to close into at least judging range if not good shooting range. Finally, mid-Wednesday morning, everything seem to come together.

We had trailed a bull and its herd of females for a couple of miles. Early on we had seen that it was a fine old 5x6 with lots of mass. Finally, it gave us a brief window at just under 200 yards. The opening was such that I had to bend over significantly on shortened sticks to get under the intervening branches. The grass was too tall for a sitting shot. All in all, it made for a fairly unstable shooting position, and my panting probably didn't improve my form. In any case, I promptly put the bullet over the bull's shoulder. I spent the rest of the day alternatively kicking myself for missing, and then thanking providence that I had not wounded the magnificent animal.

Wednesday turned into Thursday which all too soon became lunchtime on Friday. We continued to see bulls, but nothing that approached the two animals of the first day or the one I had missed. We had that evening and the next morning. During the same time frame, my son had taken a wonderful old bull that was likely actually starting to regress, and a truly huge black buck. That afternoon, Rocket and I decided to try an area we had vacated during a late evening rain storm earlier in the week.

Pedro with my son's old stag. It has great mass for a free range animal.
Argentine Red Stag


Upon arrival, we faintly heard a deep roar far in the distance. Rocket was confident in the direction the animals were headed, and we set off at a forced march pace to intercept them. As twilight began to deepen, the occasional roaring was getting very close. A hind and calf appeared a couple of hundred yards to our front moving right to left. We both froze, and then Rocket silently set the sticks. Fortunately, no unnatural shooting positions would be required for this opportunity.

With yet another roar, the stag paced out of the brush on the trail of the fast disappearing hind. I swung with him and touched off the shot with the crosshairs just behind the shoulders. He staggered forward, and I quickly broke his neck with a second shot ensuring no late night heroics would be needed to locate him. Not nearly as old or massive as my son's bull, it was a fine representative animal - particularly on the last evening of the hunt.

Argentine Red Stag


With one final morning, Pedro decided to join us while my son had the good sense to sleep in. During the night the wind had come up, and it was practically howling under dark skies. We were hunting an area of particularly heavy brush, but also the sort of cover animals would seek in such conditions. As dawn tried to penetrate the gloom, a heavy, deep roar sounded even further into the brush. For the better part of an hour we crept from clump to tree trunk to shrub line closing on the small herd.

Finally Pedro eased onto his knees and slowly pointed to his left shoulder. Rocket lay against a tree with his binoculars carefully trained on the deeper brush ahead. Easing into a kneeling position behind Pedro with the rifle across his shoulder, I quickly picked up a patch of dark umber perhaps seventy yards away through the tangle of limbs. A female stared suspiciously in our general direction from just beyond what I assumed was the bull. I frankly never saw the antlers, instead concentrating on shooting position and a small window just ahead of the patch of red.

An interminable two or three minutes crawled past, and I was just becoming aware of some discomfort in my left leg when the patch of red disappeared and the bull began to flow through the opening I was covering. As the shoulder momentarily cleared, the rifle almost fired itself. It was a good hit low in the chest that centered the heart. He went perhaps thirty yards before collapsing.

Rocket and me with the last morning bull.
arg10.jpg


He was indeed the sort of animal one flies to another continent to hunt. But, more importantly, it was the sort of hunt during which friendships are renewed and strengthened. Indeed, it was the best of all weeks. My son and I had an ever rarer opportunity to be abroad together, and we were hunting with two of the finest professional hunters that I know. More importantly, they are men that I am privileged to call friends.

I am already working on a hunting partner here in Texas who has yet to hunt ducks in Argentina ........
 
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Pushed until the end to get the job done.
You guys got two nice bulls. Congratulations.
 
Two mighty fine stags yall connected on. Well done and outstanding report as always.
 
Great report on another fine hunt! Thank you. Your second bull is quite impressive.
 
Congratulations and thanks for report. Did you see other game species during your hunt? Any buffalo or other deer species?
 
Great write up as always. And two excellent stags.
 
Congratulations and thanks for report. Did you see other game species during your hunt? Any buffalo or other deer species?
At the time we were there a large herd of buffalo was on the neighboring property. We got a good look at them one morning and the herd bull was huge. The week before we arrived, a hunter had taken a big bull from yet another nearby ranch. Yes, MG is happy to set up a buffalo hunt. They are endemic to the region.

If hunting in La Pampas, fallow, axis, and blackbuck are available on a large neighboring high fence estate. So are some truly gigantic red stag.
 
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Congratulations all around, thanks for posting your report. Definitely thinking this may be my next trip.
 
Congratulations on some great Stags and thank you for sharing your hunt with us!
 
Very nice! Your patience really paid off!

Did you bring your own rifles on this trip? What calibers did you use?
 
Awesome hunt, congrats!
 
Another great hunting report! Congratulations to you and your son on some great animals.
 
That is a stud of a free range stag Joe! My experience a few years back was similar. Group of unrelated hunters. Included in our group were a couple annual repeat clients including a doctor who had hunted with Marcel 20 plus years and was looking for a 13 point. You last morning stag is just what he wanted;)

Congratulations on a great hunt with your son!
 
Easter to the red deer rut, that was always a dream of mine.
If only Argentina would not be so far from Europe.....
Waidmannsheil to your stags
Especially to your strong one.The stalk on a stag in the rut, in a free range area is the crown of hunting for me.
Very nice article about a hunt on noble game.
.Thank you for sharing.
Invites to dream.
Best wishes
Foxi
 
One of the great by-products of hunting internationally, are the friendships one builds within the international hunting community. Some seventeen years ago, I took my son and brother-in-law to Argentina to hunt doves in Cordoba. My choice in outfitter was MG Hunting founded by Marcel Gil. A gifted wing and competitive shooter, smart businessman, and remarkable musician, Marcel built MG Hunting into an Argentine-wide success story offering some of the finest wing and big game hunting found in the hemisphere. The company is now very ably run by his three sons - Manuel, Pedro, and "Austin." On that first trip, our little group was taken under the wing of Fernando, or as he is better known, "Rocket." A respected hunter and guide, Rocket had joined Marcel's company not long before our arrival. As sometimes happens, we quickly hit it off, and have remained in contact since.

A subsequent trip to hunt ducks, doves, and perdiz in Buenos Aires Provence had been equally spectacular. On that trip, I had the opportunity to get to know Pedro well, and we often sat up evenings talking birds, waterfowl, and big game. Before departing, I worked dates with Manuel for a return trip with my son for red stag in the La Pampas.


That hunt, like so many others, was postponed by the pandemic. However, late March finally found us crammed into a packed and masked American Airways flight to Buenos Aires. Thanks to MG, we had a seamless transfer to the domestic airport downtown (think Dulles to Washington National), and were soon on our way to Santa Rosa. Disembarking at a tiny airport with a single flight in and out each day argues well for the likely remoteness of the hunt. We were not to be disappointed.

Manuel and Rocket were waiting for our group which included five other hunters from all over the US. We spent some time getting to know one another on the drive to the ranch. The hunting area is enormous and easily accommodated seven hunters. Two, a husband and wife, were hunting together.

The lodge is very comfortable, and was built as a hunting camp. Therefore, all sleeping areas are large with private showers and facilities. All the unaccompanied hunters had a private room - as did my son to his great relief (it is rumored that I snore). The common area is very comfortable, and a wall of free range stags acts as a real motivator for the next day's hunt. Meals were superb, always featuring an Argentine twist. Manuel manned the outdoor grill doing wonderful things with beef and pork. A grand Malbec was always standing by ready to be uncorked.

View attachment 464508
View attachment 464509

One of the joys of hunting South America is the absence of jet lag. Yes, we were tired from a restless overnight flight from Miami, but we at least started the next morning with our internal clocks more or less properly regulated. One hunter and guide set off on foot from the lodge, the rest of us piled into vehicles to head off to separate areas of the vast property. Pedro would guide my son, and Rocket and I were paired for the week. As we loaded into the trucks, the pre-dawn air was filled with the mournful roars of rutting stags.

La Pampas is cattle country. Vast rolling pastures were punctuated by motes and bands of scrub brush and trees. Upon exiting the truck, Rocket moved crosswind toward one of those areas of brush from which a particularly deep roar occasionally sounded. Over the next three hours, we maneuvered from one bit of cover to the next as we were treated to the sight of dozens of red deer and eight or nine different bulls. Two were very old five x five stags that were shooters on any other day. But, we exercised first morning discipline and passed on each of them - a decision that seemed ever less wise as the week progressed.

View attachment 464511

My previous red stag hunting had taken place in Germany and Austria. In most of those densely forested areas, the bulls would tend to be quite territorial, defending a rutting area as much as their harem. In La Pampas, it was quite different. Except for brief mid-day bedding, the herds were constantly on the move. Often approaches turned into kilometers long pursuits as we tried to close into at least judging range if not good shooting range. Finally, mid-Wednesday morning, everything seem to come together.

We had trailed a bull and its herd of females for a couple of miles. Early on we had seen that it was a fine old 5x6 with lots of mass. Finally, it gave us a brief window at just under 200 yards. The opening was such that I had to bend over significantly on shortened sticks to get under the intervening branches. The grass was too tall for a sitting shot. All in all, it made for a fairly unstable shooting position, and my panting probably didn't improve my form. In any case, I promptly put the bullet over the bull's shoulder. I spent the rest of the day alternatively kicking myself for missing, and then thanking providence that I had not wounded the magnificent animal.

Wednesday turned into Thursday which all too soon became lunchtime on Friday. We continued to see bulls, but nothing that approached the two animals of the first day or the one I had missed. We had that evening and the next morning. During the same time frame, my son had taken a wonderful old bull that was likely actually starting to regress, and a truly huge black buck. That afternoon, Rocket and I decided to try an area we had vacated during a late evening rain storm earlier in the week.

Pedro with my son's old stag. It has great mass for a free range animal.
Argentine Red Stag


Upon arrival, we faintly heard a deep roar far in the distance. Rocket was confident in the direction the animals were headed, and we set off at a forced march pace to intercept them. As twilight began to deepen, the occasional roaring was getting very close. A hind and calf appeared a couple of hundred yards to our front moving right to left. We both froze, and then Rocket silently set the sticks. Fortunately, no unnatural shooting positions would be required for this opportunity.

With yet another roar, the stag paced out of the brush on the trail of the fast disappearing hind. I swung with him and touched off the shot with the crosshairs just behind the shoulders. He staggered forward, and I quickly broke his neck with a second shot ensuring no late night heroics would be needed to locate him. Not nearly as old or massive as my son's bull, it was a fine representative animal - particularly on the last evening of the hunt.

Argentine Red Stag


With one final morning, Pedro decided to join us while my son had the good sense to sleep in. During the night the wind had come up, and it was practically howling under dark skies. We were hunting an area of particularly heavy brush, but also the sort of cover animals would seek in such conditions. As dawn tried to penetrate the gloom, a heavy, deep roar sounded even further into the brush. For the better part of an hour we crept from clump to tree trunk to shrub line closing on the small herd.

Finally Pedro eased onto his knees and slowly pointed to his left shoulder. Rocket lay against a tree with his binoculars carefully trained on the deeper brush ahead. Easing into a kneeling position behind Pedro with the rifle across his shoulder, I quickly picked up a patch of dark umber perhaps seventy yards away through the tangle of limbs. A female stared suspiciously in our general direction from just beyond what I assumed was the bull. I frankly never saw the antlers, instead concentrating on shooting position and a small window just ahead of the patch of red.

An interminable two or three minutes crawled past, and I was just becoming aware of some discomfort in my left leg when the patch of red disappeared and the bull began to flow through the opening I was covering. As the shoulder momentarily cleared, the rifle almost fired itself. It was a good hit low in the chest that centered the heart. He went perhaps thirty yards before collapsing.

Rocket and me with the last morning bull.
View attachment 464519

He was indeed the sort of animal one flies to another continent to hunt. But, more importantly, it was the sort of hunt during which friendships are renewed and strengthened. Indeed, it was the best of all weeks. My son and I had an ever rarer opportunity to be abroad together, and we were hunting with two of the finest professional hunters that I know. More importantly, they are men that I am privileged to call friends.

I am already working on a hunting partner here in Texas who has yet to hunt ducks in Argentina ........
Dear REDLEG,

Many thanks for your report and a great story of your Hunt.
I´m glad that you and Stanton had a Good experience with us. You are both really great hunters and Friends, hope to see you again down here or in USA.

Best regards,
Manuel Gil .-
 
Great report @Red Leg !

We're headed back to Argentina in November and trying to decide whether to add some big game onto our planned dove hunt now... Also looking into some things to do in BA for a couple of days on the back end of the trip.. .

I love that part of the world.. great people.. great food.. and great hunting.. all co-located..
 
Not sure what to advise on big game in November, but in BA you can't go wrong with a Tango show and a several hours on Florida street looking for bargains.
 
Waidmannsheil @Red Leg ! Three (?) big stags and a blackbuck makes for a formidable result between you and your son :)
Thanks a lot for sharing this hunt!
 
Two excellent stags, congrats !
 

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