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March 20: John O'Dell & Dave Reisner

“Bucket List”

John harvested his first stag on 3/20/13 and his second stag on 3/21/13, Dave harvested his stag on 3/21 and his fallow buck on 3/22/13

Well it seems like forever that Dave and I had been waiting for this hunt to finally arrive! For over a year we had been planning a hunt with Algar Safaris in Patagonia Argentina for free ranging Red Stag with our PSE bows. On March 17th Dave and I met in Atlanta and then flew to Buenos Aires and the adventure had officially begun! After we arrived in Buenos Aires, Algar Safaris had us picked up by a car service which transported us to another airport and then we flew to the beautiful city of San Carlos de Bariloche where we met Mariano Fernandez GM with Algar Safaris (guide of the guide as we now call him). He helped us load our gear and then drove us to Algar Ranch.

The scenery along the way was truly breathtaking! The ranch is incredible as well with amazing views of the mountains and valleys. Our rooms were the best we have ever stayed in and we would find out during the course of the week that the meals and our super guide Juan were equally fantastic!

Day 1 of the hunt started out fast and furious. The Roar was just kicking in and we could hear several stags roaring up and down the creek in our drainage that we were hunting. Juan said that we would just get the wind in our face and work up the creek until we spotted the right stag to pursue with our PSE bows. Well it didn’t take long and we found a stag that met all of our criteria? When I looked at him though my Nikon binoculars he looked huge. Juan said that he had 15 points and he immediately was named the “Big 15”. I did not know it yet but the BIG 15 and I were in for a roller coaster ride of a hunt during the course of the week. We worked in close on the Big 15 to less than 30 yards with him roaring and tearing up trees. Talk about an adrenaline rush! Then when Dave and I were trying to get into position to get video of the big boy another stag spotted us and the gig was up. Ugh so close. We finished up day one with some great food and great stalks but no more close calls besides one young stag that I was literally underneath in the creek bottom. Wow was that cool!

Day 2 of the hunt started much like day 1 with stags roaring all up and down the same drainage that we started hunting in during day one of our adventure. Well this time Juan put us right on a good stag and when we first saw him he was at the edge of my effective bow range for my new PSE Dream Season DNA. Dave and I quickly got into position and when the nice 12 point offered me a broadside shot at 68 yards I took it. Well luckily for me my PSE Bow Madness arrow found it’s mark. My new RAGE Hypodermic broad head did its job well and after a brief waiting game and tracking job the 12 point was mine. It is hard to describe how I felt at that moment. I was elated for sure to be able to harvest a free range Red Stag spot and stalk with my bow with good friends in some of the most amazing country I have ever visited! The great thing is the hunt was just getting started. Right after I shot my first stag guess who showed up. That’s right the big 15 was at 85 yards but with no shot.

On the afternoon of day 2 Dave was up to bat so after an incredible lunch we were back at it and it didn’t take long for the action to heat up. Juan took us to the “honey hole” as he called it and boy was it ever a hot spot. There was tall lush grass and lots of red deer. The first encounter was with, you guessed it the Big 15 but we could not get him in bow range. I did film him tearing up a pine tree and 2 other stags sparing but no dice on the Big 15. After a short walk Juan spotted a big 19 point stag and the stalk was on. The wind had picked up quite a bit and so with aid of the wind and tall grass we were within bow range in no time. The problem was the tall grass also covered up the big stags vitals. Now it was time for Murphy’s law to kick in and believe me when I tell you that Murphy was in full effect. You’ll have to tune into Bow Madness to see what happened but let’s just say that after many close calls and lots of bad luck Dave was not able to get an arrow in the 19 point. Dinner each night at Algar is something you definitely look forward to. The food is top notch and ridiculous good and can make even a tough day of hunting seem not so bad.

Day 3 Juan decided to go back to the well once again and we returned to the honey hole and guess who we found. This time lady luck was on Dave’s side and when the 19 point offered him a 40 yard shot he made the most of it with his PSE Evo. Dave was ecstatic to get his first stag and to get some redemption with the 19 point. His smile said it all when we walked up on the gorgeous animal. Now I was up to bat again. We went to a different part of the 60,000 acre ranch and Murphy’s law decided to pay me a visit. To make a long story short I had 2 big stags in bow range that afternoon but no shots. On one the wind changed when we were at 40 yards. The other stag got lucky as Dave suggested that I should get 10 yards closer for a 45-50 yard shot and one of the stags girlfriends that I did not see in the creek below me caught me moving and the gig was up. So I was dejected and really feeling low when Juan decided to drive near the area where we kept having encounters of the unfortunate kind with the Big 15. As were driving and looking with our Nikon’s Juan tapped my shoulder and said there he is. Sure enough the big boy was in a ravine with 3 other stags and we had the wind and topography in our favor for once. Dave and I quickly formulated a plan and the hunt was on. This time when we popped up out of the creek the big boy was in easy bow range. My Nikon Range finder said 45 yards and so I took careful aim and let it rip with my PSE DNA. My Nocturnal lighted nock lit up the sky and confirmed that my arrow found its mark. Let the celebration begin!!! The Big 15 was mine and I have to admit that of all the stags (which was a lot) I had seen with Algar during the week, I desperately wanted the Big 15 most by far! Later we found out that Dave’s camera was fried from too much ash and dust. It was a bad combination due to a volcano eruption 2 years prior and record drought conditions. Fortunately we have the last few seconds before the shot and the arrow impact on tape. We definitely enjoyed dinner and had a big celebration that evening!

Day 4 was to be our final day of hunting for our 5 day hunt. We went to a new ranch Calcatre Lodge where we met Javier Ranch Manager and our new guide Pablo. Dave had hoped to harvest his first ever Fallow buck on this trip if we had time and luckily for him we still had 2 days left to hunt. This ranch is 25,000 acres and also has amazing views and lots of great animals. Pablo took us to an old homestead that has been there for over 100 years. It makes a perfect bow blind as the area in front of the blind is irrigated and provides some of the best forage on the ranch. As we drove we saw many animals along the creek so we felt like if we were patient the right animal would eventually show up and hopefully be in bow range. Well after about an hour Pablo indicated that there were some good animals coming and sure enough there were 2 nice spotted fallow bucks and a giant white (blanco) fallow buck. Before Dave could get a good broadside shot several Pierre David deer also showed up on the scene (Algar has the largest population of free ranging Pierre David deer in the world). Finally the bigger spotted fallow buck offered Dave a shot and he made the most of it with his PSE Evo. We all watched his buck drop on video and then it was all high fives and handshakes. There was much celebration in the 100 plus year old homestead. Dave was so pumped to harvest his first ever Red Stag and his first ever Fallow Buck.

Algar is truly a word class experience with the best hunting, people, food, and accommodations that you could ever imagine! I can’t thank Algar Safaris enough! A huge thank you goes out to Mariano, Juan, Eugenia, Javier, Ximena, Pablo, and everyone else we met for making our trip the bucket list adventure of a lifetime!

The only problem is that we already can’t wait to do it again!

Good Hunting!
John and Dave