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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.

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Shot Show 2010 Recap

Posted on 28 January 2010 by Cork Graham

It has been 12 years since I last attended ShotShow. It was big enough then, this year its size, along with the new digs where it was held, were almost insurmountable! Still, it was good to see old friends and new.

 

There was so much there, I didn’t even get to the first floor! On an introspective level, I noticed that in the time that I was away, there was a stark increase in the percentage of tactical to traditional hunting equipment. In my search I found those highlights that can be used not only in straight tactical events, but in hunting, too:

 

Visiting our friends at Nightforce Optics, Brian Gearhart gave us a talk through on the new Velocity Reticle.

 

A stop at TAPCO gave us an opportunity to talk with Kevin Miller about aftermarket products to make your Ruger 10/22 rifle that much more comfortable to shoot.

 

Jim Gianladis offered a great walk through on the new products coming out in the next two months from Caldwell, Tipton under the Battenfeld Technologies, Inc. umbrella.

Ed Schoppman talks about EOTech, Inc’s holographic sight system that really takes your  CQB (Close Quarter Battle) turkey hunt to a faster and much more accurate sight picture.

Last, but definitely not least is clothing, which when you pick the wrong type can get you killed in the field. Here’s Blackhawk!’s innovative 3-Layer system.

NEXT

1. Sighting in with Nightforce Optics

2. Small game hunting with .22 cal pellet guns

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Welcome!

Posted on 10 March 2009 by Cork Graham

In the coming weeks and months we’ll bring you all types of episodes on proactive conservation, whether hunting, fishing, or field management and agriculture. We’ll also release shows on cooking and field medicine and other techniques related to hunting and fishing, both on land, and in the water–yes, spearfishing and abalone diving will be included.

And for you photo and video buffs who want to know how to do we what we do, we’ll even be bringing you how-tos on that too, so that you can record your own conservation efforts!

Cork with snows and specks

Cork with snows and specks

Our first episode was a goose calling one that we shot at the end of the 2008-2009 California waterfowl season. We were hunting with one of the better goose callers out there: Blake Bunnell.

His operation is run out of Northern California, near the Sacramento and Delevan Wildlife Refuges, and well worth a call. He can be reached at www.goosehuntingnortherncaliforniaguide.com. That episode is available for viewing hereNEW YEAR’S SNOWS. Check out the related cooking episode, too!

In the next month we’ll focus on wild boar, trout and steelhead, with perhaps an abalone dive thrown in for good measure.  We’ll also be sure to key you on on new equipment and technique developments so that your own experiences in the wild will be that much richer!

Good Adventuring!

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