Bolivia Dove Hunting – Kevin Gehm’s Field Journal
| Sep. 29, 2014
As many of you know, April-October is prime time for high volume dove shooting in Bolivia. Given that, late June was a perfect time for me to etch out a week and get down to visit Trek shooters, as well as spend a little time with two of Trek’s favorite outfitters, Jorge Molina and Carlos Olano. Each of these gentlemen has carved out their own successful wing shooting program in this dove hot spot. You “long timers” (sounds better than old timers, right ?) recall that both Jorge and Carlos hail from Colombia, one of the very first high volume dove programs Trek ever operated. Due to the well documented circumstances in Colombia, all of our associates there had to pull up stakes about 15 years ago and relocate and in essence “re-create” themselves in a brand new country. As you might imagine, this would be quite a daunting task as all the networks that they were once familiar with were now gone. For those of you who’ve traveled to our Central and South American hunting programs, you can imagine the hoops that these guys have had to jump through to get the finished product to you.
From them getting permits to even run a hunting operation, to getting building supplies into remote areas, to staffing the lodge and on to keeping the pantry (and bar of course) stocked to importing shells and guns and pulling the necessary strings, as a foreigner, to get the permitting done to allow another foreigner aka…gringo, the necessary paperwork to bring in your own firearms and to shoot legally. Trust me, you are not in Kansas anymore and the efforts that these two guys have gone through are nothing short of monumental. The beauty of it all is that both of them make it look effortless and when you arrive, it is all just there for you, from quality firearms and shells to Jack Daniels, filet mignon and everything, like WiFi, in between.
Upon arrival into Santa Cruz, Carlos Olano’s transfer folks met me and we are on our way to his lodge, La Leyenda. Already at the lodge were long time Trek shooters Ron Bowen and his buddies Bill and Andres from the northeast. Paired up with them was David McCord andhis son Cory, from the Carolinas. Cory graduated high school this year and for the break between high school and college, David arranged for a little father/ son time. I arrived just before lunch and the guys were on the back porch rehashing the mornings dove shoot, so I stashed my bags and grabbed a seat to get up to speed. After a delicious lunch, we loaded up for the afternoon shoot, this hunt was set up on the edge of a huge roost and while the guys were banging away, Carlos and I wandered through the roost itself and might still be
wandering around in there, were it not for hearing the direction of the shotguns to find our way out. This was one of the several monstrous roosts that are within 30 minutes of the lodge, talk about a dove shooting slam dunk for every afternoon shoot. Evening meals are always enjoyable as you it down as a family with Carlos, his lovely wife Olga and in this case, their visiting, 24 year old son Carlos, affectionately nicknamed “Gordo”, which is interesting as he is as lean as a fence post. I imagine he might have been a pudgy youngster, but that is way in the past and now it is just a nick name that he’s stuck with. The next morning, Ron and his crew were on their way back to Santa Cruz for their flight home while David and Cory headed out to shoot. I said my goodbyes and made my way to Jorge Molina’s Las Palomas Lodge where Trek client Hunter Hackney and his extended family were enjoying a trip to celebrate his father Hugh’s birthday. A portion of this group had visited Bolivia in the past and had been “chatting” it up with the other members since that time, so talk about a group chomping at the bit.
Most every member of this group are involved professionally with businesses internationally, so they are very worldly and being so, are very much in touch with the most popular sport in the world, soccer. This trip coincided with the opening ceremonies and first round of the World Cup, so all down time was filled with viewing live and taped matches. I am guilty of being late to the party in terms of getting on board with the World Cup and soccer in general, but by the end of the second day, I was ready to go out and buy my own Lionel Messi #10 jersey. The guys in this group have lived in cities all over the world so have become involved with all of the major soccer leagues and know all the backstories for the players involved. Sort of like the soccer equivalent of the NASCAR fan who can watch the Daytona 500 and not need a program to know who all the drivers are and who they drive for. Also, with Carlos Olano, Jorge Molina and their entire respective families originally from Colombia, there was quite a bit of national pride being displayed, great fun to experience
As you probably know, Bolivia is south of the Equator, so while we are sweltering in Florida ,Texas and most of U.S., it is wintertime down south. We were down just ahead of a winter front, so you know what that means, rain, wind and cooler temps. We did get all of that, but the crew at both lodges never missed a beat and were able to get all shooters into productive fields, position them properly and, to a man, everyone had great shooting. Now, I am not saying that we did not get a little mud on the tires, but the shooting was good and mud washes off.
While at Jorge’s I also had the opportunity to do a bit of a walk through on his newest and (to date) largest undertaking, a brand new ultra deluxe lodge. I will get details to you down the road, but for now I will just tell you that “WOW” is a major understatement. Without a doubt, this will be the most deluxe lodge in Bolivia and most likely in the closest 3-4 neighboring countries. Stay tuned for details and photos in the near future.
Until next time,
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