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Argentina Dove and Pigeon Hunting: Lessons Learned

We’re leaving the La Zenaida lodge on our way to the pigeon lodge. Joe and Kate left to hunt today and go back to the US tonight. They said their goodbyes and we are making great time to the lodge.

It seems that all are going to return next year with more and more friends to shoot doves and pigeons. What a trip.

Lessons Learned

1. Put your screw chokes in with a wrench and check them often.

Kate had a new Garenni Syren 12-gauge with an Isis pad on it to shoot on this hunt. On the first hunt, the choke blew out of the top barrel. I supposed that since they had no wrench slots and could only be finger-tightened, the choke backed out of the top barrel. Eventually, it got far enough out that the gas got behind the skirt of the choke where the gas seal is. It just blew it out and split the top barrel on the bottom part.

So if you have a gun with screw chokes, put your chokes in with a wrench and periodically check them for tightness. I’ll keep you apprised of the outcome of Kate’s gun.

2. Prepare for the trip by shooting 200 easy targets at a time without rest.

Build up your muscles while getting reacquainted with the gun move and mount.

3. Begin with skeet and/or IC and then move to modified.

On the first hunt, use skeet or IC and shoot closer birds. Get into a rhythm. And whatever you do, don’t count. Make each situation you find yourself in a learning situation.

4. The wind is a great factor in the birds’ difficulty.

And the wind will blow on at least one day of your hunt. On this trip to the dove lodge, we had at least two hunts where the wind was blowing. And man, was it obvious what an advantage it gave the birds. But it wasn’t nearly as obvious as on the next hunt when there was no wind.

Leave your expectations from the last hunt behind and make each one a learning situation. When you approach a tough hunt this way, you accept the conditions and, through a process of elimination, begin to find something that works.

This is how you get better! You’re not going to get better by shooting the chip shots over and over. You are either missing and learning or not. We try to push ourselves beyond what we are comfortable with every time we get to Argentina because of the opportunities that so many targets bring.

The wind makes the advantage swing to the doves. Not so much the pigeons, but definitely the doves. Now, add to that there are typically three different sizes of doves in any one shoot and you have a formula for some real perplexing situations.

Nowhere else but Argentina. Hope to see you there.

“It is not what you know that makes you better; it’s what you are willing to learn!”
-Vicki Ash

5. Taking the birds out farther in front of you will make the shots easier and you more consistent.

The birds know when and where to shuck and jive. They’re alive because of that. When you can put in a modified choke and take the birds farther out, you will have a better and more consistent result.

Most shooters are looking too close to themselves and the birds are beginning to do their dance when the shooter sees them for the first time. Hunt farther out and you will do better.

Begin to take shots farther and farther out in front on crossers to begin to get more familiar with putting the gun farther out in front. It doesn’t matter if you understand what “farther out in front” really means and looks like. Your ability to do it is limited to how many times you have done it.

What better environments to learn to shoot 40 and 50-yard birds than in Argentina? Sure, you’re going to miss some birds. But on the other side of the issues, there’s a new horizon where almost every shotgun shooter wants to but is afraid to go.

Go there. To heck with the percentage you shoot. Learn, learn, learn.

More Advice for Wingshooting in Argentina


  • Perazzi barrel selector, when left in the middle, allows for both barrels to go off at the same time.


    • It was not pretty for Joe, as he was shooting 36-gram pigeon loads. His side-by-side doubled in him and slammed into his middle knuckle. Ouch!


  • If you are going to shoot 12-gauge, be sure you let everyone know you want some 28-gram loads, not 36-gram pigeon loads.
  • Bring Imodium, sting aid swabs for insect bites, and Benadryl spray for the same.
  • Ask about laundry service. Bring four changes of clothes and have them laundered while you are there. I layer with light Under Armour and a polo shirt over it. I bring a full Goretex camo rain suit for layering for warmth if needed.
  • If you shoot with the Jamaicans, stay away from dat rum, mon. We had an incredible time with Margarette, Mark, and Andrew, the Jamaican scouts. They wanted to see if Gil and Vicki do exist and know their stuff. We’ll let history conclude. “Welcome To Jamaica…Day!”

    See the Movie and Mount Consistently

  • Joel Piefer said, “That same speed at the end stuff really works!” And Chantel Piefer said, “I gotta stop looking at the snapshot and see the movie!”

    Well, we could not agree more. People who are looking for a snapshot of lead are destined for frustration. By the time they see the snapshot, they have taken their eyes off the bird to see it. It is really a movie. And how it comes together is more important than the size of the lead.

    This is what we see as the most difficult thing about coaching wingshooting. The preconceived notion of lead and how big it needs to be is not nearly as important as how it comes together with the target coming to you, matching the speed, and taking the shot.

  • Joel also said, “If you can’t mount the gun consistently, you just can’t shoot it… period!

    We couldn’t agree more. He went on to say that toward the end of the dove hunts, he began to be able to correct the lead.

    I said, “As soon as the move and mount have been done enough to be turned over to the automaticity part of the brain, you can be so much more aware of the other things that happen in the shot, like the lead or missing under or over.” Said another way, you will never be able to self-correct if you have to think about what you’re doing with the gun!

    What you do with the gun must be controlled in the automaticity part of the brain, leaving the anticipation part of the brain to control the insertion, lead, and timing of the shot when the speed is matched.