In springtime young hunters’ thoughts turn toward love — of turkey hunting. Unless they lust for an elk hunt, in which case Argentina’s red stags will do nicely.
Red stags (red deer) are the ancient forerunners of our elk. This genus diversified across Asia, Europe, and India before feeding its way via the Bering Land Bridge into North America, where it slowly changed into our elk. Red deer ended up in Argentina because sportsmen shipped them over and turned them lose. So now you can “elk hunt” in spring.
The only significant differences are they roar instead of bugle and aren’t as hefty. Otherwise, man, you’re elk hunting.
I went last year, booking through Doug Smith at Worldwide Outfitting and hunting with TS Buenos Aires, an outfitter in the famous Pampas state, a rolling grassland reminiscent of some parts of New Mexico or Texas. Grass, wheat, and milo fields, farmstead tree plantings, and lots of mesquite-like trees. Perfect hiding cover for thousands of roaring red stags which, it turns out, don’t like Steyr Scout rifles, Zeiss Conquest scopes, or Hornady’s .308 Winchester Full Boar ammo topped with 165-grain GMX bullets.
Or me, for that matter. I shot two of them. And one feral hog.
I’d heard some weak reports on the GMX, another of those monolithic copper alloy bullets with a hollow nose that is supposed to peel back on impact, so I was looking forward to trying them. I’m also not a fan of scout rifles or the .308 Winchester cartridge, so this was to be a challenge — more for the gear than me.
I’ll detail the entire hunt in an upcoming issue of Sporting Classics. Right here I want to be a spoiler so I can clear up any lingering doubts about the GMX bullet.
It worked great. One shot, one bull stag dead in its tracks. Two shots and a hog down. One last shot and a cull stag collapsed as if unplugged. It’s only fair to confess I parked those bullets in the necks of the stags, easily done because the Steyr shot so accurately. Each bullet broke its stag’s spine and kept going.
The pig took the first hit south to north, the second east to west as it raced toward the woods before piling up behind the first small tree. That second GMX plowed right through, raising dust beyond, but the first one passed from a ham forward to lodge against the hide of the lower neck. It is pictured here. It weighed 163 grains on the reloading scale back home.
Three shots are insufficient to cement a legacy, but they’re enough to inspire further testing. I’m willing and planning to undertake it, and if I have to return to Argentina to do it, I’ll suck it up and go. Especially if its with TS Buenos Aires, where the dining is as good as the hunting.
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