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AIRGUN HUNTING IN PATAGONIA

by Mountainsport Airgun Magazine & Claudio Flores


Patagonia is a sparsely populated region located at the southern end of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile. The region comprises the southern section of the Andes mountains, as well as the deserts, steppes and grasslands East of this Southern portion of the Andes. The weather in the Patagonia is very extreme and unpredictable with generally lots of wind and very cold temperatures. The Patagonian landscape is breathtaking with its vast rolling hills that head into the more rugged mountain peaks.

patagonia

Patagonia is one of the most extreme places to hunt in the world and offers a wide variety of game such as llama, Fox, Hare, Rabbit and Beaver to name a few. The best time to go hunting here is in summer, the wind is not so strong, the temperature is not as extreme and they have daylight until about 12:00 at night unlike the winter, when it gets dark at 4:00 pm. For the people that live in Patagonia, hunting is life and becoming very popular for Airgunners such as Claudio Flores.

Claudio Flores

Claudio is a 35 year old native to Chile that has enjoyed hunting with Airguns for over 15 years. He is what you may call an extreme hunter and one that doesn’t let a cold, windy day keep him from the thrill of the hunt. Claudio hunts a variety of animals, one of which is the giant Beaver that can reach weights up over 60 pounds.

Claudio Flores hunting

 In 1946, the Argentinian government imported fifty beavers from Canada, which were to be released in several lakes with the intention of creating a commercial fur trading industry. Though a viable industry ultimately failed to materialize, the introduction of the beavers into the region has had far-reaching consequences. Tierra del Fuego National Park in Argentina is especially threatened, as the beavers are destroying long-protected trees. The animals have spread beyond Tierra del Fuego itself into the Brunswick Peninsula of Chile, and the government fears further penetration into continental South America. The beavers already threaten around sixteen million hectares of indigenous forest. Unlike many trees in North America, trees in South America often do not regenerate, ultimately destroying the forest. As well as falling trees, beavers create dams that flood certain areas and thus drown other trees and vegetation. Flooding from beaver dams also damages roads and cattle-grazing pastures.

patagonia roads

Claudio hunts all year long but generally hunts Beavers during the warmer months as it makes reaching these areas much easier. As you can see (below) the areas are vast and offer many places that offer great habitat.

beaver hunting

These Beavers can be very difficult to hunt due to the fact they are very skittish animals and sometimes are very hard to spot, sometimes having to wait hours for one to show itself. Claudio has taken quite a few of them over the years and has found the Airrifle is a great tool for hunting them. Here is one that was taken with a .25 FX Impact at 76 yards(below)

beaver hunt

Patagonia has many other animals to hunt and some of Claudios favorites include rabbits and hares. This landscape offers excellent habitat to sustain very large populations and too make for some great eating. Over the past several months I have become very close to Claudio as more than just a team member, but a good friend. When Claudio was asked to become a team member of American Air Arms it was truly a blessing for us both. American Air Arms went a step above and sent Claudio a very special gun for him to use on his hunting adventures and to document them through video and photographs. Claudio and his son Dan make some great videos along with mind blowing photographs that I hope the world can enjoy. Here is his .357 Slayer

.357 Slayer

Generally Claudio does a review of all his rifles and makes it public on his YouTube channel “Chile Patagonia Airguns” where he gets to let the world know what he does with these guns in Patagonia.  Hunting is his passion in life as well as working hard as he can to enjoy it.  Weekends are always reserved to go practice with his 13 year old son Dan and to show him a little about extreme hunting.

patagonia hunting

Claudio and his son hunt together often as well as Dan helping with the excellent film and photographic footage they have achieved in the past. The American Air Arms .357 Slayer arrived to Claudio after a long 15 day hold in customs, from there it made it’s way to his home where it was fitted with a Schmidt&Bender scope and Accu-Tac SR-5 bipod.

claudio .357 slayer

After spending a day with the gun and getting it zeroed in, he was ready to take the .357 Slayer on its first adventure into the Patagonia wilderness. Claudio and Dan spent some time driving around until they found a good location that had a good population of rabbits, hares and Fox. Most of these are far within reach of a gun such as the .357 Slayer that was slinging 129 grain Aeromagnum hollowpoints at near 960 fps. Claudio was sad for the night before his cousin had a Fox kill two of his beautiful cats and 12 chickens, so he set out in trying to finding it. In Patagonia the foxes are very harmful, the problem is when they get into the village and start being a threat to the integrity of the family you have to make the decision and control them. Dan was the first to spot a rabbit at 202 yards, this was correctly measured with the Bushnell Elite rangefinder. Claudio had the slayer zeroed at 50 yards and had to correct the turret 8.5 mills according to his table of measures, while Dan was looking through his Steiner binoculars telling his dad to stay focused. After several moments Claudio took a deep breath and fired. They looked at each other for a span of 4 seconds and then it was a scream that you could imagine was heard throughout the city. 

.357 slayer jackrabbit kill

Claudio has had many of the best high end Airguns Airguns and is now a firm believer in the true power of a big bore Airrifle when it comes to long range. He has stated that when you shoot a big-bore, everything else seems small such as the .22 and .25 as he’s used to hunting with.
Over the rest of the day Claudio was able to bag several rabbits at 75,95,125 and 202 yards.

rabbit kills with .357 slayer

Patagonia is one of the most beautiful and unforgiving locations in the world that does too offer many unique hunting opportunities for Airgunners. I hope to visit very soon and to meet up with Claudio and Dan, joining them on one of their many adventures that at the least can be brought to you here.

 

 

 

 

 

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SLAYERS MEET THE HIGH DESERT

Hey guys, I had another great weekend with the American Air Arms Slayer. SteveO was finally able to get loose for a few hours Saturday morning to do some hunting with me. We started our drive to the desert at 5:00 am and arrived at sometime after 6:15 to a new spot that I had previously scouted several days before. I had brought two .357 bull-pups with one being the titanium tube long version with the shorter one being the more compact tactical version.

.357 slayer

SteveO was happy to be able to get out and do some filming and to do some shooting with the Slayer. We filled the guns and loaded the mags with some 125 grain pellets that I personally love in the gun, they are accurate and move fast at over 1000 fps. SteveO and I walked several miles into the sunrise looking for the amber ears and possibly some coyotes as well.

hunting with the slayer

The area was slow but did offer a few shots on some running jacks at over 150 or so yards. We soon spotted some small golden mantel ground squirrels that in the wind offered quite the challenge. We shot a few of them capturing the overkill on video, should be fun to see once its edited. By this time it was near 8:30 am as we moved back to the truck for a break and to refill the guns with air and pellets that had been provided by John from Pelletgarden.com. SteveO took quite a few shots with his gun that was equipped with a Leapers Accushot and an offset mounted dot sight that proved to be a pretty cool setup for long and short ranges.

.357 slayer

His reaction to the gun is that it felt similar to shooting an AR-15 but without the noise. He also couldn’t believe how FAST the pellet can get out to 100+yards. We continued the same loop as before, walking slowly and stopping frequently looking for any movement. As we were talking a Jackrabbit sprung up from a bush several feet away from me, by the time I raised my gun as he was at full sprint at 60 yards, lined up less than a foot in front of him and THWACK….He flung down and tumbled to a stop. The entry was through his buttox and most likely made its way through most of the body.

.357 slayer jackrabbit kill

Cant wait till the video is done to see again in slow motion, taking a running shot with an air rifle is something I would not attempt with many guns. The Slayer performs like a dream and the more I shoot it the more I love it. The problem is the gun may have ruined it for me, after shooting it, everything else seems like a cap gun. SteveO and I made our way back to the truck and moved to a different location, this area provided more long range view. We hiked to the high point of an area that offers great line of sight and more of an open area to spot movement. We soon spotted another Jackrabbit hopping at 150 yards, lead the shot ahead of him and fired…..THUNK…missed by what looked like not much with a huge plume of dust kicked up…That gun truly is a powerhouse, amazing how quick that pellet gets to the target after trigger is pulled. The day had ended and certainly didn’t leave us without any excitement. We will be doing some more hunts very soon along with something a bit different. Here is a link to SteveOs YouTube channel dreamhobbies where you can find the video of our hunt.