The Essence of Life

The Essence of Life

Monday, May 13, 2013

Of Pigeons and Doves

Patagionas picazuro & Zenaida auriculata

By now any "regular reader" of this blog should know that I am passionate about bird hunting, and that in order to manage this passion, since it is impossible to quench it, I try to travel at least once every year since 2008 to Uruguay, a bird hunter's Mecca.

The primary goal of every expedition (it just sounds more enticing than trip, as I do too much of the later on business) is the fantastically sporting perdiz (Nothura maculosa) which is properly hunted following some outstanding dog work, either by aristocratic English Pointers (the aging Alteza is my all time favorite) or feisty Epagneul Bretons.

But when your legs tire or if you want to pretend that you are attending some high dollar high flying driven bird either in the United Kingdom or the "Old Continent" for basically the cost of your shotguns shells, Uruguay offers high volume dove shooting that is second to none, even if Argentina gets a lot more publicity.

The most prevalent of the nine Columbidae that are endemic to Uruguay is the small and acrobatic Eared Dove (Zenaida auriculata) that fly almost all day long from their metropole-like roosts to their feeding grounds where they do their best to deplete the Uruguayan agriculture output. Many sportsmen travel every year to Uruguay to match themselves and punish their shoulders while they face drove after drove of eared doves that change direction with the sound of every shot and the sight of each hunter.

But among the apparent endless eared doves fly a rarer and to me precious target, the Picazuro Pigeon (Patagioenas picazuro). The picazuro pigeon is several times the size of the eared dove (as is clearly shown in the photo above, taken last year in Uruguay), and although highly maneuverable, it has an additional tool that ensures that its greater size does not make the hunter's life easier, speed. While the doves keep zig-zagging, the picazuros just turn on their after-burners to get out of dodge. Blink and they are gone.

I've been shooting picazuro pigeons for thirty five years, and while I admit to love bird hunting I must confess that I have a real infatuation with pigeon shooting. So, the next time that I will be on an expedition to Uruguay after perdiz, it would be safe to bet that my eyes will be scanning the sky for stealthy pigeons.

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