A Free Range Stag!

After a few days in Buenos Aires, it was time for my last Big Game adventure of the season. This time I have been very lucky to met a great family from Florida, the Doyles!

After a few days in Buenos Aires, it was time for my last Big Game adventure of the season. This time I have been very lucky to met a great family from Florida. They first came to Cordoba for big volume birds and after 4 days they took a private flight to Chillen Lodge. A very beautiful free range Lodge situated in La Pampa province. I left Buenos Aires very early in the morning so I could join them in their first afternoon hunt. And so it was, I arrived 3.10 p.m. after 6 or 7 hours driving. When I got there the guys were having the desert. They arrived just 40 minutes before me. I skipped lunch, but I got myself a beer and joined the guys. 

It was time to leave for our first hunt now, Ryan wasn’t feeling that good, so he stayed and rested at the Lodge. Mateo, the Lodge manager introduced the guys to their personal guides, they did some target shooting and by 5 p.m. we all splitted out and went hunting. I decided to go with Shane and his guide; Marcelo. Shane is the third of four brothers. The family is made up of dad Pat  mom Lee Ann, and the children Ryan, Caylin, Shane and Kevin. 

The afternoon was beautiful, sunny and not windy. We walked like for about 70 minutes where we saw 3 different males. Nice males, but we didn’t have a clear shot. We were going back in the direction the truck was going. We crossed a small fence and then everything happened too quickly. We walked like about only 50-75 yards and suddenly Marcelo turned round, got on his knees and pointed Shane to where a big male was standing behind some trees (there were trees everywhere). Shane loaded the gun, got on his knees as well and used Marcelo’s shoulder to set the riffle. I tried to do some video recording but again, everything happened so quickly that I didn’t have time to do a good footage. I suddenly listened the gun explosion and we all could see how the stag made a big jump and made a quick kick. Because of the sound and the way the stag reacted we all knew it was a great shot. We were waiting for the stag to go down but he never stopped running. I checked my camera and showed it to the guys. Perfect shot said Marcelo, it should go down!  We never found him.

 Once at the lodge, we had a great appetizer and drinks next to the fire pit at the edge of the lake (there is a very nice artificial lake at the Lodge).

The following morning, I went out with Kevin. We got at the field very early, I still remember that beautiful sunrise before we got out from the truck. 

- Remember that sunrise Kevin, you are gonna love it when you are older!

He laughed and we started walking. He is only 14 years old. Nobody gets amazed by a sunrise when is that young. Me, on the other hand, I took a few photos with my phone and thought: It made my day and it's only 7:30 am.

We started walking north-east against the wind towards where the roaring was coming. That morning we saw three different males. One was very nice but we never had a clear shot. We kept on walking and 20 minutes later we saw a very beautiful male. We needed to get, at least, 70 yards closer. The only issue was that the females were very alert. We waited for about 10 minutes when Pablo (Kevin’s guide) told us to follow him. We started crawling and we got like 40/50 yards closer. They haven’t seen us yet. It was a good signal. We stayed quiet for another 5-10 minutes and once we were able to use a tree that was 20 yards in away from, we started crawling again. It was a beautiful moment, even breathing was too loud at this point. 

We finally reached the spot and Kevin set the riffle waiting the stag to appear one more time (the females were there and the male was coming and going). A few minutes later there he was! He was walking very slowly from right to left. I thought he was gonna take a shot there, but he was very patient and waited for his perfect moment. Now the stag was walking from left to right and he suddenly stop. That gave Kevin a short open window and he took the shot. Another great shot (like Shane’s the day before). The stag jumped and started running.

We checked the camera and once again, because of the sound and from how the stag reacted after the shot, we knew he was wounded. The only thing with this male was that he was facing us and at very short distance from us when Kevin shot him. So there were high probabilities that he had broken some bones but the bullet never touched any organ. We started walking around the area. It was by far more open than the one where we hunted the previous day. We walked up to a small hill and there we saw him. He was limping on his front left leg. We tried for a few yards-miles but the adrenaline makes the stags to do an extra effort and they can be walking for a few hours as if nothing happened. Another dead stag that we couldn’t find. 

Once at the lodge we joined the rest of the crew, we relaxed ourselves, took a nap after a great lunch and got ready for the afternoon hunt. That morning Shane and Marcelo looked for their wounded stag but they saw only a few Caranchos (scavenger’s birds), no signs of a stag. 

In the afternoon, Kevin stayed at the lodge resting, Shane went for a wild pig and I joined Pat on his chase for a Stag. We didn’t see many and the ones we saw where very scary and we never had the chance to take a shot. I remember going back to the truck and to admire Pat’s attitude, second day without shooting and he still was the same cool and funny guy I met the first day. Once at the Lodge we all took a shower, we changed our clothes and we met again at the fire pit for some drinks before dinner. Shane showed us pictures of his cool and big wild boar he shot that afternoon. 

One more time I was at the field with Pat and Germán (the guide). It was about 8 a.m. in the morning and we only walked for 20 minutes when we heard a strong roar from our left. We were all very surprised since the roaring was coming from a very open area. They usually like to be in closed areas where they feel more protected. We walked only 20-30 yards until we got to a small fence. Germán told us to wait for him, because he was going to check first. He only walked a few steps and jump down to the ground and started crawling to us: 

-He is there! With a few females. 

He got near us, and pointed like 150 yards in front of us and a little to the right: 

- That’s where they are! He murmured. Big male! 

 We started walking always beside the small fence. German told us that he believed they would jump the fence and got into the woods (he explained us later that they usually go to open areas to sleep and first time in the morning they go back to the woods. And so it was! After we walked like 40 yards beside the fence we suddenly saw like 10 stags: one male with all his females). 

Pat set the riffle on top of it and 2 seconds later he shot. Everything was going too fast! The shot was a little high. The male got scared and started running to the right but realized the woods where on the other side, so he turned round and started running against the fence. I have never seen a stag jumping a fence so easily. Pat tried a freehand shot now but the bullet hitted a tree. The stag was running very fast and it was really a very difficult shot to make. 

Once the adrenaline went down we started walking and searching again until we realized it was lunchtime. We still had 2 more days at that point, so we decided to go back. Once at the lodge, I told the guys that the idea was to stay at the lodge and when the guys called us go and do some photos and videos with the trophy. I was afraid that while I was with Pat, Ryan got his stag or the other way: If I went with Ryan, Pat would get his stag and I wouldn’t have the opportunity to do some photos. And it was a good call, because that afternoon they both killed their stag and I was able to be with both of them.

Once at the lodge, that night we had another great dinner with drinks, jokes and lots of sharing memories. That night we had Shane’s wild board for dinner. It was delicious. On the last day Pat got a Fallow Deer and Kevin went, one more time, for another stag. And he got the biggest one. Us the guys said, a 200 yards shoot after sunset almost at night time. I was so happy for him and the entire family. 

These are great friends from Florida that I know they are lifetime friends now!  

You should be the next one! 

Juan Aguiló

Pointer Outfitters

Edited by Carolina Diez 

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