By Josh Ward
A wise man recently shared some words of wisdom with me regarding how to pack whenever it’s time to hunt internationally.
“Get all of the clothes you plan to take and lay them out on the bed,” he instructed me. “Now cut that pile in half and double the amount of money you planned to take. You’ll be alright.”
Admittedly, I’m not a good packer when it comes time to break out the passport and the Form 4457. In trying to anticipate every conceivable weather pattern I wind up with too much stuff. But I plan to try this technique this upcoming hunting season and see if he’s right.
In the interim, I’ve got another packing hack to share, one that I know works: When there are multiple species on the menu, don’t take several firearms that each do a single thing. Instead, take a single firearm that can do several things. If the excursion calls for a shotgun then it’s going to be a Benelli Super Black Eagle 3 for me – one shotgun to do it all.
You never know what’s going to be on menu in Argentina. But you can safely assume that whatever it is there will be a lot of it. When I called some friends to see if they would like to be part of an authentic South American wing shooting expedition (no bait piles, no butlers to keep your drinks cold and guns wiped down while you’re in the hide, no staying in a 5-star hotel masquerading as a hunting lodge), we anticipated just truly wild ducks and maybe some doves.
Ultimately, we added pigeons, pigs, capybara and nutria – a diverse array of species that requires a versatile shotgun. As it turned out, changing quarry turned out to be as easy as changing out the shot shell loads. From dove loads to slugs, the SBE3 gobbled them all. Shooting animals on the fly is what the SBE3 is built to do. It points like a dream, swings with aplomb and buffers a tremendous amount of the felt recoil regardless of the load. But nutria hunts can sometimes resemble a gentleman’s upland hunt. Walking the banks of rivers in search of this rodent (one that’s surprisingly tasty), I was glad to have a shotgun that tips the scales at just seven pounds. I’ve toted much heavier shotguns through the scrub and back in search of quail and am never happy about it. To me, a seven-pound shotgun that doesn’t beat me like a prize fighter is a luxury I’ll not soon relinquish.
(A quick aside: When you stalk amphibious creatures, you are undoubtedly going to encounter mud. Between the slippery river banks and the long walks to the duck blind through reed-clogged marshes, my SBE3 took some mud baths. After unloading the shotgun and checking the barrel for obstructions, I simply wiped it off with a gloved hand or shirt sleeve and went back to the task at hand. By the end of the hunt, it was the dirtiest shotgun I had ever seen that still ran.)
Chambered for 2 3/4-, 3- and 3 1/2-inch shells, the SBE3 delivers international hunters the ability to upsize their ammunition when needed – like wild pigs and trophy-sized capybara. In addition to thousands of birds taken by the group, our Benelli shotguns kept the camp flush with bush meat for a week with nary a failure.
Benelli shotguns are long known by outfitters as the only brand that will reliably cycle the dirty and inconsistent shotgun shells sold in South America and elsewhere around the world. That’s no small feat when you’re shooting a case of shells or more every day. At the risk of underselling it, we literally fired thousands of not-so-great rounds through these shotguns over the course of five days. A dirty gun is one thing but to be that dirty and still be able to run that hard means the performance of an SBE3 is something you can trust a bucket-list hunt to.
But its value to the international hunter doesn’t end with cooperating with sub-standard ammo because if it can handle thousands of sketchy shot shells over a five-day period, it can handle whatever environment or critter you through at it.
The next time I pack for one of these adventures, I am going to employ my friend’s advice about cutting in half my clothing and doubling my money. At least it will be less to schlep through the airport. And from now on I’ll be insisting on a shotgun that does it all and makes it look easy while making me look like a decent wing shooter.
Editor’s Note: This story came courtesy of Blue Heron Communications and was recently featured on the company’s blog at www.blueheroncomm.com.