NEWS & REPORTS
Lifetime Hunting Adventure - Part II
David: Fernando, what’s that? Fernando: “Mate”, a local drink. David: Is it like tea? Fernando: Yeah, kind of… but it is served several times and everyone drinks from the same straw. Do you want to try? David: Hmm…maybe later.
After finishing my second cup of coffee, I thanked the ladies of the kitchen staff and went to round up my gear. It was very early so I double checked everything was there: cameras, batteries and lenses. David inspected his rifle and made sure he had ample bullets and his binouclars. While heading to the field I asked Fernando:
-Jota: So Fer…what’s the idea for this morning? (this was our third day; the fourth time in the field still searching for the perfect Red Stag).
-Fernando: I want to go to the same hole we dug yesterday and wait for dawn, I will bet my money they are close to that area.
-Jota: Sounds like a good place to start! But we don’t want your money Fer, let’s just bet your pride!
-Fernando: Haha…after 3 empty handed days I would say I have far more money than pride.
-Jota: Haha, don’t be so hard on yourself buddy. This is the great thing about the Big Game: It’s not just to go and pull the trigger; It is to be hunting.
We unloaded from the pickup and began walking for several minutes when Fernando turned round and whispered:
-Ok, we are close. We only need to move 70 more yards…. GET DOWN!! (Fernando ordered us while he was throwing himself on the floor).
One second later we all were lying down in the ground. It was full of “Rosetas” everywhere, but the adrenaline was so big we didn’t feel them at first (Rosetas are like small balls with 5 or 6 thorns each). We all heard that big roaring while Fernando told us to stay down on the ground.
I still remember this moment as if it happened this morning. It was pitch dark, I was lying in the ground, camera in hand, and could not even see Troy, who was only ten feet away from me. Hearing the roars of the bull stags was amazing, but when I started hearing the noise of antlers knocking against each other…o man, I felt so lucky for being there at that moment. There were two big males fighting only seventy yards from where we were and there was not enough light to see them. (You are not gonna lose your pride this morning Fernando, I thought. I don’t care if a bull is taken or not, this is so great). It was amazing. I will never forget this surreal moment.
Finally, the sun provided us with enough light to make out the silhouettes of the bulls. Now they were five hundred yards away—they had moved!
-We should get in the hole now, suggested Fernando. It’s only 60 or 70 yards from here.
The four of us were now in the hole. Those trees from the day before were far away in the distance. There was no way Troy and I could get there without being exposed. Fer and David were in the middle of the hole, Troy was on the edge at David's right and I was a few feet behind them. There was not room for me in the hole so I covered myself with some big branches that we carried to this location the day before. What happened shortly after we settled into our inconspicuous hiding spot was completely unexpected. All the females started walking away from us but not the big bull. A beautiful big male looked in our direction. He then decided to stray from the females and headed straight towards us. I could not believe what I was watching. The stag was getting closer and closer moving left to right in a zigzagged pattern. When well within shooting distance he froze, turned round and kept WALKING STRAIGHT TO OUR SPOT!
We were dumbfounded. Now he was only 80 yards from us, Fernando told David that it was time to take the shoot, because if he sees us there will be only 2 options: He will see us and run away or soon be standing right in our laps. Neither of these are good.
PUM!!! It only took a few seconds for David to set up the rifle and put his cross hairs on his vitals. Only one bullet was needed with David’s shooting skills. The stag fell down in the grass immediately and remained motionless after only a few seconds. After this golden opportunity, smiles were carved across our faces and we reminisced on how unimaginable this morning and the days prior had been. Three hard fought days chasing the illustrious Red Stag but, as Fernando said, “it’s incredible how a hunt can go from bad to good in seconds”. That is exactly what happened with this Stag, now Troy's Stag.
After a few minutes of rest and joy it was time to leave David’s stag behind and continue on another quest for Troy’s trophy. We did this for a few hours. Fatigue set in and we decided it was time for some food, rest, and relaxation. While enjoying our short break, we decided to return to the field at 5 PM.
-Fernando: Okay, let’s do this. There is a small lagoon at the other side of that hill where we will setup. Let's all go there and I will go fetch the truck after our waiting session.
-Jota: Sure? We can do the walking with you if you would like us to Fernando.
-Fernando: I Know you can. But it’s almost and hour of walking and I prefer that Troy does not ware himself out.
-Jota: Right, let's go all together to the lagoon and then you go after the Pickup truck.
“It’s incredible how a hunt can go from good to bad in seconds”.
We were at the lagoon and Fer was about to head back to retrieve the truck. At that moment, Troy saw, 300 yards from us, a very nice male Red Stag at the top of a small hill.
-What? You have to be kidding me!! Jota…David; stay here guys. I will go with Troy for a closer view.
The Stag turned around and started going down the hill away from us. David and I lost contact, but we were able to see the guys at the top of the hills, about 300 yards west from the last spot we had seen the Stag. A few seconds later Troy and Fer were now out of sight. We decided not to go after them in case something happened. You don’t want to be the one that spoils a hunt.
15 minutes later we heard a shot and the noise the bullet and the deep thump it makes when it hits something from a close range (less than 150 yards).
-Jota: He got it! we should hear a second shot if not, right? (I was very excited).
-David: It sounds like they did. But you never know when it comes to hunting.
David was so right. We climbed up the hill to Troy and Fernando’s location. The stag was wounded but still walking and I realized why Troy never took a second shot. The rifle had jammed… “First time ever” cried Fernando, “this never happens”.
Fernando picked up the “handy” and started calling for the closer guide and 20 minutes later “El Galo” came with a second rifle and gave it to Fernando. So after about 40 minutes chasing the wounded Stag, Troy put three more bullets into the relentless Stag, and BUM, the trophy was down.
I had the opportunity to document and photograph ten unforgettable Big Game hunting days in San Luis with Fernando and various hunters. At first it was with John & Neil and as soon as they left us, Troy & David Joined us. Incredible hunting, and even better people!!
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