Argentina Goose Hunting Updates

Update: Argentina Goose Hunting Prohibition

April 2009.  Many hunters still request information about Argentina's fabled goose hunting.  Some hunters are even told that goose hunting is as good as ever.  Unfortunately, this is not the case.  Much of this malicious information comes from agents or outfitters that dismiss regulations for personal profits.

We wish to inform hunters that a wide-reaching prohibition on Argentina goose hunting remains firmly in affect.  Most of the old hot-spot areas are included in these conservation regulations.  The prohibition is declared on the provinces of Rio Negro, Buenos Aires, Chubut and Santa Cruz.  These provinces encompass the migrational corridor extending from the mountainous through the Atlantic zones.  There is no forseeable ending date due to the prohibition's origin.

There are four species of geese endemic to South America inlands.  One of these species, the "red cauquen", or Ruddy-headed Goose (Chloephaga rubidiceps), is endangered, and its population is estimated at only about 1,000 individuals. The Ruddy-headed Goose is protected by national and provincial laws.  However, the difficulty in distinguishing Ruddy-headed Geese from the female of the other goose species with which it becomes intermingled during migration, poses serious threat to its continued existence.

Many long-time Argentine operators say that the goose hunts of yesteryear are over, at least for now.  Hunters that hear of Argentina goose hunts that rival the good old days are advised to excerice care in booking their hunts.  Ask questions: specific hunt areas, commuting times, specific legalities including licensing and transportation, estimated bag limits.  Most, if not all, of the professional operators that historically delivered these magnificent Argentina goose hunts no longer offer them.  Recent promotions come from non-reliable sources.

The geese of Argentina are doubtlessly the best decoying waterfowl on the face of earth, and to experience it first-hand is certainly among a waterfowl hunter's most memorable achievements.  We at GetDucks.com hope that an adequate regulatory framework to ensure the sustainable use of the Argentina's migratory geese is forthcoming and that we travelling sportsmen are soon able to experience these thrilling hunts again.  We we'll be sure to keep you posted of further developments in these regards.

Note: the justification for Argentina's goose hunting prohibition is further described in the following report entitled Harvest of migratory geese Chloephaga spp. in Argentina: an overview of the present situation (2006)

Update.  July 2010.  Argentina goose hunting is still closed.  There are a number of outfitters that continue to hunt guests "under the radar", but it remains illegal throughout the majority of areas historically hunted.  An interesting story told by a group that was goose hunting east of Colonel Pringle in 2009: about mid-morning, a squadron of crop dusters "stretched from horizon to the next" swept the wheat fields clean of geese and herded them offshore until they became exhausted.  Once the geese landed on the water they drank salt water and perished and later washed ashore in the thousands.  No way to verify this story, but it was again repeated by an Argentine outfitter this year.  We receive several inquiries regarding Argentina goose hunting.  If it were legal, our outfitting affiliates would again be hunting the tradition areas and, rest assured, we'd be right there with them.

Update August 2012.  The Buenos Aires Province declared magellan goose a nuisance species and issued licenses to outfitter - but only during about a 6-8 week period that with was being contested with the federal government that insisted it remained closed.

Update August 2014.  Argentina goose hunting remains closed.  So insistent on the federal government that farmers are unable to protect their fragile crops by hazing or even chasing off geese. If the rumor mill is to be believed, it appears that the Queen of Netherlands, an Argentine, is friends with Christina, the president of Argentina, and has "gifted" significant sums of money to ensue that the Argentina goose hunting season remains closed.  This would be absurd were it not for the fact that Netherlands goose hunting, much to their derision, has remained close for a decade due to fervent anti-hunting sentiment in that country.

Update April 2016.  Argentina has elected a new president and we are hopeful that the unjustified closure of the Argentina Goose Hunting season will be repealed in upcoming years.

Ramsey Russell's GetDucks.com


The Best Was Last

Mallards and pintail galore.  Within days of Mississippi duck season’s closure  there were lots of ducks at Willow Break.  Mississippi’s post-season Youth Day provided a solid crack at them.

Not that duck season was uneventful.  It was a great season – a record-setter for Willow Break – but weird.  In the year they started naming winter’s cold fronts, repeated clippers brought ducks but not the massive waves of ducks expected; not mallards and pintails.  Not this far south. It was the day after Christmas that I saw my first flock of shovelers, colloquially referred to as “Ramzillas” for good reason, or even the first sizeable flock of green-wings.   But where there's duck hunting, there's always hope.


"Only a Mallard"

duck hunting trip
I get it: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  But having grown up hunting in the Deep South and despite an exotic waterfowl species totaling about 100 huntable species world-wide, the splendor of decoying greenheads remains one of the most fundamental beauties in waterfowling - a heart-thumper every time. 
A couple of guests from the island-nation of Malta brought fresh perspective to things we might otherwise take for granted.  Malta, for those like me that can't place it on a map without googling, is a small island-nation situated in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.  Twenty-one by 14 miles in size, its population is nearly a half-million.  Some of the oldest remains of human civilization, pre-dating Stone Henge, are there.  Through time it’s been occupied by nearly everyone in that part of the world.  Land, let alone hunting property, is scarce.  Barbeque ribs, southern baked beans, fried chicken and corn on the cob, I learned, are completely non-existent.  But I’ve never met more zealous wildfowlers, more competent hunters or better shots.

Hunters and bird collectors, GetDucks.com arranged their trip from the middle of the Mediterranean Sea to the middle of the Bering Sea to hunt King Eiders.  They’re the first from their country to have hunted them.  An invitation to join us in Mississippi was quickly accepted because it’s right here in Mississippi that their most-prized species would be hunted.


Travel hunting with a retriever

Duck and goose hunting without a retriever is as enjoyable as honeymooning without a bride. What's the point?  My policy is bring them.  For man and beast alike, travel duck hunting is a way to add days to the cumulative hunting season, to develop as a better hunter that the experiences of different hunting conditions provides.

Foremost considerations are airline policies (if flying) and health certification.  Having commercially flown with retrievers for the last 20 years, I've not once experienced anything to be concerned about.  To the contrary, most US airlines take especially good care of pets.  Food and water must be provided, forms signed, and extra fees paid.  For what you pay to fly your dog, they should be provided a seat up top, and given a milk bone when the beverage cart comes by.

Each airline has their own pet policies and some don't allow pet travel at all.  Most policies stipulate that pets may be transported only when the outside temperature is 45 to 85 degrees F, and most airlines will not fly retrievers.  Outside of this range requires a veterinarian statement that you per is acclimated to these extremes.  Some airlines will not fly pets as a matter of policy between mid-June and mid-September, so plan your trip to Canada accordingly.  These temperature ranges generally preclude bringing retrievers to the Southern Hemisphere. 

It may be winter there, but it's usually to hot here in the States during June and July - and vice versa depending on hunt timing.  Fortunately, there is excellent Argentina duck hunting to be had March-May.  Consider that such travel will require Fido spend 18 or so hours crated.

Mexico and Canada provide the perfect opportunities to travel with your retriever.  Most outfitters encourage client retrievers (it's the client's hunt after all) but ask first.  During a great trip to Canada or an average duck hunt in Mexico, your dog may likely fetch as waterfowl as do many retrievers during an entire season here in the US.  Marking and handling distances over dry barley or pea fields is a great experience, but when flocks of honkers are pounding the spread in quick intervals, it's usually more effective for hunters to quickly sweep up dead birds.

Be sure to bring some dog boots while Mexico brant hunting.  Shell reefs will cut dog pads and there's no sense in Fido limping around on injury reserve during the trip of a lifetime.

Health certificates must be completed by a veterinarian within 14 days of pet travel. Consult your veterinarian about any special concerns for the country you'll be hunting.

Keep a leash in your pocket.  You'll be required to removed your dog from the crate by TSA, and surely they'll be ready to stretch and do their business soon after departure.

During the past 20 years, it's been a joy hunting with retrievers throughout 5 Canadian Provinces, all 4 US flyways and Western Mexico.  One of the most memorable events didn't involve retrieves at all.  After Memphis TSA had checked her kennel crack-of-dawn early one morning, I instructed Cooper to "kennel."  Much to everyone's surprise, she leapt onto the ticket counter, grinning and in full-mode spin cycle like only a young lab can, and swept the counter void of everything and then some.  Off to a great start, the following week duck hunting in Manitoba was equally spectacular.

Ramsey Russell, GetDucks.com 


Time flies in the duck blind

It now seems as long ago as my own childhood.  I started taking my sons hunting when they were practically babies.  Exposing them to hunting and camp life at an early enough age, I hoped, would moderate later distractions that seem inevitable in this technologically-addled and virtually-enabled world. 

There’s no wirelessly connecting youth to nature. They have to get their waders muddy in a swamp, get their hands bloody at a skinning rack, get their stomachs full around a camp dinner table.
Not just hunting but an entire experience:  mud wrestling while building duck blinds, catching snakes while spreading Japanese millet, netting crawdads while pulling boards from water control structures.  And always duck hunting.


New Zealand duck hunt was far from home, yet close

New Zealand 17 hours into the future from New Orleans.  It's takes 14 hours in the air from San Francisco. That's plenty of time to get a full night's sleep and watch a half-dozen in-flight movies.

New Zealand is the size of California.  Comprised of two islands, the population is about 4 million people.  North Island is predominately pasture, to include livestock-beneficial and clover-chicory crops.  Sheep and gates that confine them are countless.   Forests cover remaining areas and are either lush stands of native species or highly-productive plantations of radiata pine, that are native to California's central coast.

New Zealand red stag huntingHunting in New Zealand is widely accepted, because of the country's mostly rural, farm-connected lifestyle.  The carefully cultivated habitat teems with trophy game animals originating elsewhere in the world: red deer, fallow deer, rusa deer, sambar, elk, white-tail deer; tahr and chamois.  As in the US, big game are the rock-stars of New Zealand hunting.

New Zealand duck hunting opportunities are plentiful, too.  There are native paradise shelducks ("parries"), Pacific black ducks ("gray ducks"), Australian shovelers ("spoonies") and self-introduced black swans.  Introduced mallards are proliferate in the absence of natural predators, to the increasing derision of native black ducks.  Canada geese are too.  Upland bird hunting species consists of native pukekkos ("blue pheasants"), introduced ring-necked pheasants, Gamble's quail, Merriam's wild turkeys and peafowl.

Without fox or coyote predation, turkeys are as likely to roost on a fence post, or in quail-like covies on the ground, as in a tree.  Paradise shelducks are keen to spend the entire night on the farmer's crops.  A remote, geographically-isolated island nation, there aren't waterfowl migrations in New Zealand; there isn't a push of new, dumb ducks and local ducks quickly learn the tricks of the trade.  Duck hunting customs reflect these differences.  There are the usual duck hunting accoutrements - decoys, calls, and oftentimes elaborate duck blinds ("maimais"), but there's also legalized baiting, unplugged firearms and shooting hours well past black dark. 

New Zealand duck hunting
While duck hunting in New Zealand is popular, many only hunt the opening day or weekend.  Then there are the true duck hunters, that like us, are in it until the end. Like that afternoon in a light, steady, bone-soaking rain.  We started off hunting the paradise shelducks. It was something to do until the main event that evening.  Capitalizing on the few parries that presented themselves over the decoys, we took no prisoners. Karl swore the borrowed 870 fit him poorly but then quintupled in an impressive feat that I witnessed from across the field.

Our farmer-host arrived at 5:15 pm.  We shooters then strung ourselves loosely down a sliver of spring-fed habitat he'd recently constructed.  With our backs against a high, wet-rock bank and a wind hitting our faces, we watched the landforms melt into blackness. The quickly-fading sky that continued to empty.  Abruptly from behind, a quartet of mallard arrived low, on whistling wings and chattering feverishly.  Fire blazed from gun barrel and the water's surface flashed like lightning, then rippled where fallen mallards had splashed.  In came another pair, then another. More: faint shadows against a nearly dark sky, more shooting.  It was over by 5:45.

New Zealand duck hunting
Afterwards, a young yellow lab, Willow, ferreted fallen ducks from the water.  Soaked from rain, we hunters visited in the glow of rain-infused headlight beams. Hand-shakes and introductions followed quickly by laughs about the hits and misses, by discussions of places and ducks hunted and of politics here, there and abroad.  A cheerful banter of Queen's and Southern-English, like we'd known each other for longer than the moments we shared a quick duck hunt in New Zealand.  It's one of those universal truths in duck hunting - only duck hunters stand around in the rain talking about duck hunting.  New Zealand was far from home, yet close.
Learn more: New Zealand Duck Hunting

View photo gallery: New Zealand Duck Hunt (North Island)

Ready to pull the trigger?  Ramsey Russell ‘s GetDucks.com is a full-time, full-service agency specializing in wing shooting with major emphasis on trophy duck species and duck hunting adventures. It's duck season somewhere. Your trip of a lifetime deserves – and receives – our full attention. 


Argentina duck hunting these days - laughs are just seconds away

The other day, the outside thermometer could be seen plainly reading in the high-90s.  The heat index was 103.  Good old Mississippi summertime: growing tomatoes, mowing lawns, planning outside to-dos for mornings and late-afternoons.   Mid-day walks to the mailbox cause for breaking a sweat if you piddle.  So I was thankful to be working in the air condition with plenty to keep me busy.  Then the phone chirped with an incoming message from clients duck hunting in Argentina.