Ken Barnes for the 27th

Pictured are Vint Varner, left, and past recipient of Kern County Sportsman of the Year, Brad Peters, with the results of a terrific morning duck hunt in Argentina.

As a teenager growing up here in Bakersfield, I remember often reading numerous stories about bird hunting in South America.

Especially about dove hunting in Argentina. I dreamed that some day I might be able to take a journey to this wondrous country where the shooting was absolutely endless. And, there were other game birds in abundance, also, including geese, ducks, wild pigeon, quail, and an upland bird called perdiz, that was similar to a small, hen pheasant.

Many other countries on that continent had the same birds, but it seemed like Argentina was the one that was most popular. So, let's put these birds on a check list and discover why hunters are drawn there.

DOVES: Numbering in the millions, doves are considered a national pest, and are treated as such by farmers. The dollar loss to these ranches is tremendous, so they welcome any game-hunters with open arms.

There is no limit to the number of birds that can be bagged daily. The unofficial record for one hunter, one day, that I have heard about is over 7,000! That's a lot shells being fired from daylight to dark.

Most gunners use 20 gauge ammo so they do not get beat to death from the recoil. The doves swarm into harvested grain fields in bunches numbering into the hundreds. It is just non-stop shooting. This is by far the most popular game bird taken in Argentina, as well as other countries in South America.

WILD PIGEONS: Though they number less than the doves, pigeons are an extremely hated bird throughout the country. There are usually limits on these fast flying wing beaters.

Keep in mind, we are not talking about barn pigeons like you might see here in the states all around the cities. The wild pigeons are like large doves and are great eating.

I was lucky enough to go to Argentina, finally, a few years ago with some local hunters. It was a four day shoot for ducks-pigeons-ducks-pigeons. The limit for the pigeons was 300 per day per man, and the guys bagged 1800 on each of the pigeon shoot days. I managed, as you can imagine, some great video.

I finally made it to Argentina and never fired a shot. Who 'woulda' thought.

WATERFOWL: Some of the most beautiful waterfowl in the world can be found in Argentina. The most popular species are the silver teal, whistling tree ducks, white and yellow billed pintail, chiloe widgeon, and the rosey-billed pochard.

During my trip there, the guys were shooting a huge, flooded marsh area. There were so many tree stumps in the water that the boats we rode out into the lake on were towed by horses.

The limit was 30 per day, and it didn't take long for the six boys to bag 180 birds. Most of the activity was pass shooting, and the majority of the ducks did not work decoys like they do here in the U.S.

If you were hunting small ponds in pasture land, you would be more apt to get circling birds. Again, I got some great film. Especially of my old pal Steve Merlo who was really on that day.

Most of the goose shooting is in the lower part of the country, with the most popular species being Magellan and Ashey-Headed geese.

PERDIZ: This upland game bird is very popular throughout Argentina. The word "perdiz" is Spanish for red legged partridge. They are actually a species of tinamou, and are very similar to the Hungarian partridge bagged here in the U.S.

They are usually hunted after an early morning duck shoot. Limits vary, but are normally between 10 and 20 per day. They hold well for dogs and are great table fare.

I hope this information has been useful to you in some small way. If you can make a journey there, it will be the trip of a lifetime. Guaranteed.

One last note to remember: all of these hundreds of birds that are bagged daily are never wasted. Most are given away to local families to be enjoyed for meals, with the hunters keeping some prepared by the outfitter for dinner, also.

BASIC FIREARMS & HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE: Next course offered: Aug. 11-12, two day course. Aug. 13 is an internet follow-up course. This is sponsored by Kern Shooting Sports and Jay Busby. For more information call (661) 871-9025.

Ken Barnes is a record setting shooter and longtime outdoorsman from Kern County. Email him at with comments or column ideas.

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