Subscriber James Kelly and friends traveled to Bolivia in mid-July (see Report 10925) for a pigeon shoot with Wingshooting Safaris de Bolivia Amazonica (www.pigeonbolivia.com) and booked through Trek International Safaris (904-273-7800; www.treksafaris.com).
Kelly’s group flew into Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia’s largest city, and was driven 250 miles to the lodge, which has 10 small private bedrooms, plus a dining room, living room and bar. None of the staff at the lodge spoke English but an interpreter was always available.
Kelly’s group hunted for three days, going out in the morning, coming back to the lodge for lunch, and going back out again in the afternoon. He reports seeing “millions” of wood pigeons, locally called torcaz. A common complaint with South American bird shooting is that travel to hunting areas can take a significant chunk out of shooting time. With this in mind, Kelly made sure that travel time at this lodge was short. Though it varied daily, they drove no more than an hour from the lodge to shooting fields.
In a follow-up interview Kelly told us that the hunting area was surrounded by Mennonite farms and there were no motor vehicles on the roads, only horse-drawn buggies. The corn, sorghum, soybean and sunflower crops grown on the farms are what concentrate birds and, without hunting, farmers could expect up to 40% crop damage. Because the birds are wary, decoys are deployed and outings are rotated among fields to keep the shooting good and the birds on the move.
Some of the group took their own guns and others borrowed shotguns from the outfitter. Clearing customs with firearms was not a problem. Kelly shot his own 20 gauge. Shells were not included in the basic price of the hunt but were provided by the outfitter for $15 per box.
Kelly reports a hunting cost of $3,500, plus van transport ($140 each) to and from the lodge and $160 for a Bolivian visa that is good for 10 years.
As we were preparing this issue for press, we heard from Kevin Gehm who runs the Bolivia program for Trek International Safaris, which is based in Jacksonville, FL, and had been impacted by Hurricane Irma. He told us they have worked with two lodges in Bolivia for many years: “Los Guaduales and Las Palomas Lodges are high-volume dove shoots with at least one pigeon shoot thrown in. The season for these lodges is just about the same, April-through October.
“The Pigeon Palace is, as the name implies, an all-pigeon shoot. We began working with them this year. We have found that the shooting early and late in the season can be impacted by weather, making the flights harder to predict. There are times when the sky is literally black with pigeons, but not always. The best shooting at Pigeon Palace tends to be May through early September, so those are the times we send our clients.”
They have openings available for the 2018 season. If you hunted birds in South America this season, please file a report.