When we finished lunch it was time to head on to El Monte. Our driver, Pablo, arrived in somewhat a smaller car than either of us had been expecting! I don’t think the transfer company were made aware how much kit we normally travel with. On top of our clothes and shooting kit we also had numerous cameras, tripods, laptops and a small power station to run it all. We just managed to squeeze ourselves under various bags into the car; this was set to be a comfortable three hours with my face squashed against the window!
Our journey ended at El Monte Lodge in the quaint village of Yacanto located in the foothills between Cordoba and San Luis. As we pulled into the drive way our hosts Juan and Maria were on standby to welcome us. Out hosts welcomed us into their lovely lodge for a very enjoyable three days of excellent dove and pigeon shooting. El Monte is a breath of fresh air in a typically male- dominated arena; it’s a family-run, family-oriented shooting lodge.
The El Monte lodge dates back to the 1900s when it was built by English railroad engineers. The lodge has retained its classical characteristics providing up to ten guests with a very warm and welcoming place to relax at the end of the day. The lodge is laid out across two buildings surrounded by a wide veranda. The veranda overlooks the mature gardens which were just starting to show the first colours of autumn during our visit. In the first building there are 4 en-suite bedrooms located around a central hallway. The second building encompasses a further two en-suite bedrooms and the living/dinning area which acts as the social hub. It was here that we met the two families from Texas that we would be sharing the lodge with for the duration of our stay. More about them later.
The next morning saw us up, breakfasted and loaded up into the trucks before the sun was peaking over the skyline. Our shooting field that morning saw us all scattered out around a waterhole. The doves started to move not long after we got settled. It did not take long for a new sound to get introduced to the mix, the Texan “YEE-HAW”. There is one thing you can’t fault the Americans for and that is their raw enthusiasm for whatever sport they are taking part in.
The mornings shoot carried on with intermittent hollering from our neighbors which was becoming increasingly infectious. I did catch myself shouting out a couple of HO-RAH’s and YEE-HAW’s, had to keep them on their toes! One thing that became clear the dove shooting here is not as intense as the main roosts else where, but there is still plenty of activity to keep the guests smiling. The main difference is perhaps a lull in the middle of the day, but let’s be clear, we had more than enough shooting and it was almost a pleasure to have a natural rather than self-enforced break.
The next day we did a full days pigeon shooting which is in a league of its own. We spent the morning on the flight path between their roost and a dairy farm, shooting at sky-high birds, which were extremely challenging. After a very pleasant lunch with some more of the most delicious empanadas, followed up by quick siesta we started the afternoon shoot. The pigeons will decoy more readily in the afternoon and we noticed the difference fairly quickly. It did not take long before the pigeons and doves were dropping in on the decoys set over young soya plants from all directions. At the close of play we had both shot our 200 pigeon daily limit and had moved onto the doves.
At El Monte finding activities for the non-shooting partners is equally as important as ensuring the shooting guests have a great time. Maria takes care of this and the options are numerous, from tasting the local wines to horse back rides into the nearby hills. El Monte is the perfect location for individuals, groups of friends, couples or families looking to enjoy a shooting trip together.