BIG GAME ARGENTINA by Craig Boddington [Book&DVD Review/Radio Interview]

Posted on 26 March 2010 by Cork Graham

Craig Boddington, and his guide Cano St. Antonin, with a fine red stag taken on the Huemul Peninsula.

Craig Boddington, and his guide, Cano St. Antonin, with a fine red stag taken on the Huemul Peninsula.

Argentina conjures a variety of images for those who’ve never been there. There’re the gauchos, the Pampas, and tango. For the angler there are the monster-sized trout and salmon in rivers that seem untouched because of the stretch of land that fills the borders of the country as well as its meager population that centers around Buenos Aires. For the hunter, there are the photos and images of ducks and big-game that have graced magazines, and as of late, those through the onslaught of 24-hour outdoors satellite programming.

It wasn’t always like this. Yes, there were the trout, back in the 1970s when South American was truly only a blip on the salmonid fanatic’s radar; but when I first saw the images of red deer antlers grace the pages of hunting magazines in the late 70s and early 80s, they were nowhere near the size and impressiveness they are now.

Much of this has to do with how well they’ve managed the herds that were previously left to roam without any real predation-like bluegills in a pond, they quickly overpopulated and their rack size dwindled in response to the lack of food and nutrients.

Because of the new land and wildlife management practices implemented in Argentina during the last 20 years, Argentina is really giving New Zealand’s Utopian red stag hunting a run for the money. Culling the scrawny genetics, and managing for quality instead of quantity, has created a balance between feed and minerals: showing how good management practices benefit not just game animals but non-game peripherals, adding to the grand beauty of the land  and hospitality for which Argentina has always been known.

What better way to cook meat than in a traditional parrillada?

What better way to cook meat than in a traditional parrillada?

Big Game Argentina records the results of this improved bounty for the outdoors enthusiast wanting to travel Argentina and is the latest offering from Gen. Craig Boddington USMC (ret.). An outdoor writer, book author, show host I’ve admired and respected for years, a man who offered me words to live by back in 1994 as an newbie outdoor writer for The Times of San Mateo County, Boddington’s credentials speak for themselves with over 30 years in what is one of the harder and becoming more and more the hardest writing profession to create longevity.

In his book and DVD collection about hunting in Argentina, Big Game Argentina, Boddington and the photographer, Guillermo Zorraquin, deliver a plethora of what’s available in striking detail (what we in the business call “NGC”, National Geographic Color). From the province of Patagonia, north to Chaco and Santiago Del Estero, west to La Pampa and finally east to the province of Buenos Aires, Boddington and the publishers John John Reynal  and Juan Pablo Reynal took on an enviable, yet sobering project that took two years to complete.

In the offering, they delivered what I consider the most informative and beautifully illustrated book in years on Argentina and hunting red stag, white-lipped javelina (peccary), ducks, doves, water buffalo, puma, blackbuck, capybara, brocket deer, and feral sheep, goats and hogs.

Boddington's fine example of a white-lipped peccary

Boddington’s fine example of a white-lipped peccary

In a world in which text is not enough, and as a result traditional printed magazines are going the way of the dinosaurs, and multimedia is king (explaining why Cork’s Outdoors gets 11,000 hits a day) Big Game Argentina is nicely matched with a DVD that fills in the dialogue and action that can’t really be captured in text, and yet video doesn’t try to replace the informative quality of text delivered by Boddington’s honed skills as a writer.

A quick mention of the charcoal artwork by Esteban Diaz Mathé must be made: the work is superb and really adds to the quality of those images not captured in photographs, making the book anyone would be proud to have sitting on their coffee table for friends to enjoy.

Often, many of those traveling think that hunting Argentina only involves staying at estancias and hunting open Pampas. Big Game Argentina lays that stereotype to rest with text and photos covering with dramatic flare the many options of hunting Argentina: like French Alps-like mountains and New Zealand’s Fjordland-like lake and sea area to the south on horseback, or the low brush options further north, reminiscent of eastern Colorado, and the flat brush of Texas, to name a few.

A sampling of the dramatic views the hunting lands of Argentina offer

A sampling of the dramatic views the hunting lands of Argentina offer

As for capturing the adventure and drama a place like Argentina on the DVD, one of the most striking scenes is one in which Boddington, while on stand, waiting for dogs to drive out a collared peccary, sees a brocket deer break from the brushline. Swinging on the brocket with a shotgun, he dramatically takes a nice deer that reminds me of the dik-dik of Africa. In another scene he makes an amazing shot on a capybara, also on a full run. Kudos to the videographer for his skill catching all the action over Boddington’s shoulder.

In contrast to the native species, and aside from the more famous red deer, there are the fallow deer, feral hogs and water buffalo. Raised in Southeast Asia, I was always amazed that the animal I always saw as a child pulling a plow across a rice field had become such a prized game animal in places such as a Australia and Argentina. While the ones from Australia have a much larger sweep and are originally from the wild strain. The ones in South America descend from the farmed water buffalo that were originally brought to what would become Italy by the Ancient Romans, for their milk and the best mozzarella resulting from that water buffalo milk.

Through centuries of genetic selection, much in the same way Herefords are these days chosen over the original Spanish Texas Longhorn as cattle type, the farmed water buffalo has a much smaller horn, with a much less ominous wide curve of its originally wild cousin in Southeast Asia and Australia, which ironically makes it look more African cape buffalo and trophy in its own right in the feral and very wild form covered in Big Game Argentina.

If you’re planning on hunting or even just traveling or Argentina, or prefer the armchair traveler’s voyage to South America, I’d highly recommend adding the book and DVD pairing of Big Game Argentina by Craig Boddington to your collection.

Books are available through www.craigboddington.com

Book and DVD are available through www.patagoniapublishing.com

For your daily commute on your MP3 player – Download and Enjoy Craig Boddington’s interview on Cork’s Outdoors Radio:

 Topics: Hunting Argentina, helpful advice for neophyte outdoor writers, hunting Africa and Boddington’s two shows broadcast on The Sportman’s Channel and Outdoor Channel, and finally what’s new with Boddington’s writing and adventures in the coming weeks and months.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. T.W. Warr Says:

    This certainly does sound like an interesting read. The scenery in the pictures are outstanding as well. I have never had the opportunity to travel to this location before but it looks like an exciting adventure.

  2. Dan Says:

    Was watching television this morning and came across your show Big Game Hunting Argentina, was sickened by your actions of killing that Puma in the tree. Defenseless, scared, trying to protect itself by climbing a tree and you without any hesitation adn happily I might add,shoot and kill it.

    I understand Hunting is suppose to be a sport/game hunting but what I witnessed was in no way a game or sport. It took zero skill for you to track that animal, your dogs and guide did that just fine. I’d truly would like to witness how you’d handle a Puma tracking and hunting you so you could understand that they to have emotions just like any other living thing. Putting this kind of thing on television and exploiting the defenseless animal I believe is the beginning of the end for people like you, from my perspective it’s created one more anti hunting person.

    I will from now on teach my children and hopefully their children that killing a defenseless animal for sport in barbarick!

    Thank you for teaching me this, I am greatful to you for showing me how disgusting hunting is to the planet and its creatures.

    Dan

  3. Cork Graham Says:

    Hi, Dan –

    Thanks for the comments, though it’s actually directed toward my friend, Craig Boddington, who wrote the book well-prepared “Big Game Hunting Argentina”…You evidently don’t like hunting.

    That begs the next question: when was the last time you spent your own hard-earned money to improve wildlife habitat (not just for huntable creatures, but for all wildlife), put your own time into reading the actual information collected by biologists and wildlife conservationists on the importance of hunting, and how it’s very effective in controlling an overpopulation that can’t be supported by the food source and environment encroached by an ever-increasing population of humans (that’s you and me, Dan: so unless you’re willing to commit suicide to save the animals, you’re really just blowing smoke, with your carbon footprint and house or apartment that is on land best used by other wildlife), you’re actually coming off as a hypocrite.

    Now, if you were a hunter, a large percentage of your money spent on hunting expenses would be paid through taxes directly into to keeping all wildlife healthy, as an example all wildlife refuges are supported solely by the funds collected through taxes and donations by such hunter-organized associations like Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Dallas Safari Club, Safari Club and Ducks Unlimited.

    …Now if you’re a member of the Human Society of the United States (HSUS) and PETA, all your money is going toward advertising and the fat pockets of Wayne Pacelle and Ingrid Newkirk: it’s expensive to live in a nice apartment in NYC, you know–and non-profit definitely doesn’t mean scraping by with them. Let’s not forget how many animals these groups have killed on their own: http://www.petakillsanimals.com/

    Animals die, it’s just a matter of the cycle of life. The question is are you part of the group that believes in killing them in secret, like PETA/HSUS, where the bodies are just tossed in a hole and it ends there. Or are you in support of wildlife conservation/practices that have been practiced effectively for thousands of years and provide non-drug, healthy organic foods to people who respect where their food comes from?

    As for the puma in Argentina, the money collected from that hunt was added to the revenues the ranch makes that enables the owner to pay the employees who actually go out and protect the other mountain lions from poachers, and make sure the puma has a healthy herd of red deer from which to feed. If you really want to come off as educated and not just a easily manipulated simpleton, try stretching past your boundaries and read about the reasons the elephant populations in Africa have exploded, how it was the result of pay-to-hunt hunting in such nations as Namibia and Tanzania. Oh, and read about why in those countries, like Kenya, that has had a moratorium on all types of hunting, poaching is rampant and the elephant herds are dwindling…you’ll actually educate yourself instead of seeming like another PETA/HSUS zombie walking around, searching, searching…for “Brains!….Brains!….You need…”Brains!”

    Thanks again for bringing up a subject so close to my heart: an opportunity offered by those of your ilk, to help educate those others who really want to help wildlife, instead of simply “appear” to be helping wildlife…

    Good Luck,
    Cork

  4. Frank Biggs Says:

    Cork,

    First off well spoken with the pen! You are right on the money and I am going to forward this to many in my hunting group that spend a great deal of money to hunt and fish. Yet their involvement goes past just that with belonging to such organizations such as Rocky Mt., and even the Boone & Crockett Club, plus the volunteer work they do for wildlife habitat.
    Cork’s Outdoor is superb and will come to often in the future as it will become a link on my own website…. tks frank

    p.s. As for Ret. Gen. Craig Boddington is a leader and always has been in the field and in writing. I have had corresponded with the General many years ago in my writings.

    God Bless America! Bwana Bubba

  5. Craig Boddington Says:

    Dan, I don’t think I ever claimed any level of expertise in the removal of that puma, which, unfortunately, had taken to killing livestock. Also unfortunately, in that type of terrain the only method for hunting a large predator such as the puma–and certainly the only means of making sure the animal taken is actually the animal doing the livestock depredation, is tracking with hounds. This hunting technique is unpopular with many today, but it has been used for thousands of years, and in this type of situation it is the only option. It is a simple fact that large predators that kill livestock will be removed; maintaining them as game animals and placing value on them ensures the survival of the majority. The puma is actually extremely common in Argentina, with stock depredation a significant issue. This makes it even more important to maintain their status as game animals.
    I do appreciate your viewpoint, and hope you can appreciate mine.
    Regards, Craig Boddington

  6. Andy P Says:

    Craig Boddington,

    You’re my freakin’ hero! Thank you for your service to America, wildlife conservation, and the outdoor community.

    Andy P

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