I’m in love with Argentina… and admittedly I just can’t get enough of that part of the world. The fishing and wing shooting is wonderful, the people are great, and the food and wine are off the charts.
I’ve hosted several duck and perdiz hunts in Argentina over the decades and one of my favorite places to visit is Estancia Santa Rita.
Remotely located in the middle of the pampas and a solid five-hour drive from the international airport in Buenos Aires, Estancia Santa Rita is in a different world. Even though it’s a small concern by Argentine standards, it once employed 400 workers; essentially a small city contained within its boundaries with its own general store, butcher shop, school, church, and cemetery. Hidden in a grove of ancient eucalyptus trees, lies the big house, where we stay. Even though the ranch is a shadow of what it once was, the formal home is immaculate, and it’s still easy to imagine weekend polo matches, formal dinners, and live pigeon shoots. It’s like visiting a wonderful museum.
The reason we’ve come so far is for the duck and perdiz hunting… and we’re not disappointed. We begin our days in the expansive complex of marshes hunting ducks over decoys from comfortable blinds…
While the hunters are in the blind, watching the sky, I set up my easel and paint box and get to work on a small plein air painting.
At the end of the morning shoot, the hunters are surprised with a painting of the marsh!
High-fives all around. It’s a short drive back to the lodge for a glass of wine and lunch.
After lunch, I work in the study while the hunters take a short and well-deserved nap. Rested from their siesta, it’s time to go out for the afternoon; more ducks… or shall we follow a setter across the pampas in search of perdiz?
Perdiz it is! Meet our English setter “Dario” and his trainer, Noel.
We find the birds feeding in last year’s sunflower fields.
As the afternoon progresses we shift into the grass fields where the perdiz like to roost.
We finish the day with memories of wonderful dog work, some good shooting, and two limits of birds.
Another day, and another spectacular lunch. Today, we’re treated to an asado, which begins with empanadas… but not just any empanadas. We’ll enjoy duck empanadas!
Then, it’s off to the quincho for the asado!
The next day is wet. While overcast skies and mist may be perfect for hunting ducks, it makes painting in the field impossible. I’ll stay back at the lodge and paint a still life, arranged with a few of yesterday’s ducks.
A still life is a more complicated composition and this one requires several days of work. It’s finished when the hunters return from the marsh the next day.
The days repeat, one after another, until our last evening hunt leaves us with yet another lasting memory.