I recently visited Chacu lodge in Salta, Argentina and got to know a most interesting Argentine, his name is Floro Lavalle. He probably knows as much about the history of Argentina bird hunting as any lodge owner, manager or guide currently working in the industry. Additionally, he is a two handicap golfer and personal friends with former Masters Champion, Craig Stadler. I invited him to share some time with us here at shootingexpeditions.com and I think you will enjoy the short interview he did with me.
Floro, you were born and raised in Argentina, tell us where you were raised and about your childhood and how you got interested in hunting?
I was born in BA many moons ago. I studied here and went to college to study economics and worked many years in the banking industry. I started hunting with my father at the age of 10 for ducks on our ranch in the SE section of the state of Buenos Aires, in Sierra de la Ventana, where we have a ranch. I got my BB gun at 11 and my first 22 at 14. I fired millions of rounds in the winter and summer holidays hunting for ducks, doves, pigeons, all small game and anything I could reach. I started big game hunting around 15 and got my first deer that same year. Went to Africa many times as well and to Spain for the red leg partridge. Love to hunt and love to be on a hunt. That is why I am doing this and not in a office running a company.
I understand you spent 15 or so years on Cordoba with an outstanding outfitter, tell us about that experience and what you learned that has helped you with your new group in Salta?
I work many years with the Hayes brothers in Cordoba, in their first lodge Sierra Verde and later in the others. I learn a lot from them as they had an excellent organization and I have been able to apply my knowledge to the operation in Salta and improve on what I learned from them. I also worked with another outfitter there too. We had great hunts and very happy clients for many years.
At the early 2000′s, I start to see that Cordoba was getting very crowded with many small outfitters and too many hunters and I didn’t like that, so I started to look for other places and found the Salta area in late 2000. We worked a few years there with a small lodge and in late 2006 we purchased the first 4000 hectares(about 9000 acres) and start to built Chacu lodge and ended in 2007 having our first group there. We built the place only for hunters, with big rooms and nice areas of relax for wine, cigars, massage, sauna and etc. I was determined to deliver an extremely high class service and we work to deliver that every day.
How would you describe the main differences between the Cordoba scene for doves and Salta?
The main difference is that in Salta has 600,000 hectares of irrigation fields that bring constant food and water to the birds. They are all year round there and in large numbers. They don’t migrate, they stay in the same areas all the time. The other big difference is the weather, at Salta there is no rain (100% sure) from April to December, no cold weather, no wind and tremendous blue skies giving this 100 % success. BUT, the most important advantage is that we are alone there, we are the only outfitter there with legal approval from the government to hunt the Doves. Salta is beautiful and wild, no people and no crowds, that makes a huge difference. I love the smell of Salta in the morning, smell like victory!.
Other than the enormous amount of birds near Salta, why should hunters look to book here to Salta?
Salta is a very important tourist destination in the country for the natural beauty of the land, the famous wine country, in both Salta and Cafayate, providing high quality high altitude wines. There is a distinct cultural history from the Spanish colonization and the Inca influence on Salta and the surrounding cities. All this has been very well protected and has remained almost the same giving a very nice ambiance for the tourist.
On my recent visit, I was very impressed with the quality and professionalism of your staff how did you put together this great team at Chacu lodge in Salta?
It took years and good commanders. We started from nothing but with a good background with more than 20 years in the hunting and fishing industry.
Can you tell my readers how you discovered this area of Argentina for doves and how your three lodge system got started?
I got a rumor about the doves in Salta. I was invited there by the former governor to check the area. We spent a week there and never saw one dove. The last day I was ready to leave and I was watching with my binoculars and I saw some groups of birds flying far away, we began to get closer and closer, and in few hours we found our first roost. Still the same, is 25 kmts long by 10 kmts wide. Amazing place that holds by many estimates nearly 100 million birds(quite a bit more than Cordoba). We went there in the evening, the ground was grey with birds and we fire a round to check, my 20 years of experience did not prepare me for what I saw that afternoon. The sound was like a jet taking of and the sky get dark by millions of birds taking flight. At that moment, I knew we had found the new best dove location in Argentina. Developing the infrastructure, team and logistics just took a little more time.
In addition to the fantastic dove hunting, you have incredible pigeon hunting and Dorado fishing too, tell us more about these opportunities at your lodge?
Salta is also famous by the Dorado fishing in the mountain rivers and in the big Juramento river. It is a paradise of the high end fisherman. Fishing clear mountain streams with 15 pounds of the most challenging and beautiful fish of South America. We purchased another 4 ranches in the area and one is San Fernando which has 3 rivers and the famous Dorado are inside our land. We built a small fishing lodge there to spend nights next to the river.
What type of guns and fishing equipment do you have on offer for the hunters and fisherman?
We run an inventory of 100 guns, most are Berettas Urika 391 in 20 gauge. We also have some Benellis and some O/U. We also have a complete inventory of fishing equipment for fly or spinning rods.
What other activities are there for the hunter/adventure traveler to take advantage of in the Salta region?
We have the oldest thermal water resort at 1 1/2 hours away. We go for the day for many different thermal waters and mud baths. We do also great trekking in the mountains, rafting at the rio Juramento and horse rides. We do tours to the wine country and to different Inca towns.
I understand you are a 2 handicap golfer and friend of Craig Stadler(Former Masters Champion), how did you get hooked up with him and how often does he come to visit and hunt?
I used to have 2 handicap. Now with the age and the wine and still play low handicap ones in a while. Our friend Craig Stadler comes to visit us more than 6 times a year. I met him many years ago when I was invited to play at the Centel classic in Tallahassee.
Additionally, you have a very nice duck lodge in the Buenos Aires province, tell us about the lodge and duck hunting there.
Our duck lodge is located in the Eastern section of the province of Buenos Aires, near the town of Pehuajo. Is the corn belt area of the country plus loaded with dairies. Now is flooded and will remain like this for few years. Imagine the combination corn+cow food+water = Millions of ducks. It is so easy the hunts there in our dry blinds that is something hard to believe if you don’t see it.
Thanks for your time Floro, is there anything else you want hunters to know about adventure travel in Argentina?
Argentina is a friendly country with vast farming land. There are millions of hunting opportunities and great outfitters that will work hard for you to have a great time. If you are a hunter or want to be one, Argentina has to be on your list of destinations!
Visit our website at www.wingshootingcordoba.com or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for details on booking your dream wing shooting adventure to Argentina, Uruguay or South Africa. Wing Shooting Cordoba represents 9 luxury lodges and four outstanding guide services for dove, duck, pigeon and perdiz in both Argentina and Uruguay and over 18 species on offer in South Africa. Also, I have fly fishing adventures along with Red Stag, Wild Boar and Quail hunting opportunities in Argentina.
SPECIAL FALL PRICING: September, October, November and December at Chacu lodge. Fall Special Pricing: Minimum 6 hunters in Group.
4 Nights, 3 full days shooting………………………………….$1,440.00, includes hunting license @ $65.00 per day.
Gun Rental per day…………………………………………………….$50.00
Shells 20/12………………………………………………………………$11.90 per box
Includes all ground transportation including ground transfers in Buenos Aires to change airports.
This is only $360.00 per night. A great bargain for this level of quality, service, food and staff. You can add a day of very good Dorado fishing as well for an extra cost.
See link to Chacu lodge photos here: http://wingshootingcordoba.com/chacu-photos.htm
Lodge link here: http://wingshootingcordoba.com/chacu.htm
My web page is www.wingshootingcordoba.com
This is 4 nights in an incredible lodge located in one of the most beautiful areas of Argentina with no competition for any other outfitters for the next 5 years.
I have shot many areas in Argentina and I have never seen the quantity of birds like this before, a normal day would be 2000 birds here. Additionally, call me for other specific details that you will find exciting about this lodge and location.
I have hunted all over Cordoba many times and I lived in Argentina for almost 2 years and I can honestly say, this is the absolute best lodge and dove hunting you can find. The professionalism of the staff, food, wine and hunting is astounding.
This is one great offer, call me for details on travel to this lodge and available dates, contact me for details at email@example.com
Wing Shooting Cordoba