OUTFITTER REVIEW ON:
Part 1:THE HUNT
Hunting The Wintering Grounds
For Ducks South Of the Border
By Dan Wennerlind
Shoot! Shoot! Shoot! Our bird boy Jorge cried out across the marsh as another flock of Black Bellied Whistling Ducks banked overhead. My partner Pete and I both pulled up and emptied our 12 gauge Benelli’s on the flock of 15 and another 5 birds splashed down into the Mexican coastal marsh.
As we watched these beautiful birds plummet from the sky and hit the water all around us, I was immediately reminded why I made the long trek back to Ole Mexico for Round 2 of a World Class caliber duck and dove combo hunt with Solimar Hunting Safaris- located on the north side of the Sea Of Cortez, inside the Baha Penninsula.
I was now recalling a recent conversation that I had with one of the key members of our hunting group- Dave Ciani owner of High Prairie Lodge and Outfitters in South Dakota, about the potential dangers of traveling south of the border on this hunting trip. I was so thankful that we did not give in to all of the over dramatized media hype that everyone has been hearing recently on the news, and followed through with our trip to Mexico.
Although there were several serious incidents in the region a while back, it was a decision that was well researched and discussed prior to jumping on a plane headed south. After discussing any potential dangers with outfitter Ernesto Zaragoza, as well as several well informed US winter residents and hunters in the Mazatlan area, I was well assured that we had nothing to be concerned about on this trip.
Upon arrival to the Mazatlan International Airport we were greeted by camp manager Sergio Esparza. Our group of 6 hunters consisted of Dave from South Dakota and his son-in-law Matt from Minnesota, Denny and his son Louie from California and Pete from Colorado. From there we were promptly escorted by a caravan of Solimar Staff members to the private, gated Solimar Hunting Resort and marsh located just south of the town of Guasave, Mexico along the Gulf Coast.
The 5am door knock the next morning could not have come soon enough as I
|was pretty much wide awake already, in anticipation of our first day’s hunt on the marsh. Within a half hour, the three big airboats tied up to the dock started up and we all headed out of the breakfast vista, just 20 feet from the dock. From there we were divided up into 3 groups of 2 hunters per boat, each group accompanied by a season bird boy and just like that we were off!|
Fast forward back to the hunt. Our bird boy Jorge was now wading across the marsh picking up our downed “Pychawheelas” as they refer to the Black Bellied Whistling Ducks south of the border, while Pete and I reloaded our 12 gauge Benelli’s. Another great aspect of this hunt- gun rental is included in the hunt package so there is no reason to bring your firearms across the border.
We now had about a dozen of these crazy long legged ducks in hand with more flocks heading our way from across the 1,800 acre private marsh. I was quickly picking up the “whistling cadence” of the birds and joined in with Jorge in calling the birds over to our end of the bay on the marsh. Each flock was very receptive and we were able to coax them over our blind two or three times, each time a little bit lower, before calling the shot.
The next flock that came in was a six pack that swung to my immediate left and three shots later I had my first triple of the trip. Pete added a fourth shot as the remaining birds slid past me and we had four more birds down! We were already up to 17 of the Black Bellied Whistlers in hand and it wasn’t even 8am on the first day. An amazing start to what would turn out to be a truly World Class caliber wing shooting adventure!
|Due to the fact that most of the waterfowl species on the massive, private coastal marsh were segmented up by species, Jorge elected to call in for a|
quick move to another area of the marsh where we would have an opportunity to expand our species bag. We were now gearing up for the big late season Pintails and all three species of Teal, all in full plumage. By the time the airboat got there to pick us up we had another 7 birds down. And with further inspection we noticed that one of the birds was a Fulvous Whistling Tree Duck- WOW!
For our next stop Pete and I elected to split up and each man one of the many permanent stilt blinds set up on the marsh, for the last 2 hours of the morning hunt. This gave us the best opportunity at knocking off a couple more trophies on each of our bucket lists.
Not more than 15 minutes later I had a fully plumaged drake Shoveler and a magnificent drake Cinnamon teal in hand. What more could a guy ask for!!! Over the next hour, across the radio I heard that Pete had several Mexican Mallards down, along with two beautiful drake Pintails and a drake Widgeon in hand.
Author Dan Wennerlind With A Beautiful Full Plumaged Drake Shoveler
By the end of the first morning’s hunt we had a total of 55 ducks between the two of us. Which was still well short of the daily bag limit of 45 ducks per person. Back at camp we met up with the rest of our crew and found that they had similar results. Everyone was full of smiles as we eagerly shared our stories and took some photos from the first morning’s hunt.
After a fantastic home-made Mexican brunch prepared by chef Roberto we had just enough time for a 2 hour siesta before heading out to the cactus fields for our afternoon dove hunt.
This was a part of the hunt that I remembered the most from my first experience with Solimar Hunting Safaris. The dove hunting here has got to be the most challenging shooting I have ever experienced. The little birds seem to appear out of nowhere and dart in between the cactus way too fast. I recall it took me until the third day on the last trip to consistently hit the fast moving targets. I was hoping this would be like riding a bike and I would pick it up a little faster this time.
However after my first three boxes of shells were gone and having only 17 doves in hand, I remembered why this sport was so difficult. If they would just fly in a straight path I thought, but nope- back and forth, side to side, up and down all at once. It was incredible that I actually hit any.
As humbling as it was, I did knock down a total of 35 of the little buggers before the sun hit the horizon. I thought I had actually done fairly well for myself until I met up with Pete and found that he had hit his daily limit of 60 doves. Then I ran into Dave and he had 45 in hand. At least Denny and Louie were more on par with my shooting skills. We all jeered each other and joked and laughed all the way back to the resort.
Being that all 6 of us were die hard duck hunters I was pleased to see that everyone had just as much fun with the dove hunting as they did on the morning duck hunt. Day 1 came to an end after another delicious home-made Mexican meal from chef Roberto and we all went off to bed with bellies full and dreams of ducks and doves in our heads.
The second morning on the marsh was just as fast and furious as the first. We ended the morning’s hunt with what they call the Ruddy round-up. After the early morning start, all six of us were strategically relocated into blinds surrounding one end of the bay of the marsh where hundreds and hundreds of little Ruddy ducks choose to spend their day. Once the shooting started the birds were up and it was Game On! We bang balled the little buggers back and forth for close to an hour. After all the smoke finally cleared we had over 50 of the little butterballs in hand.
Not having an opportunity to hunt these little Ruddy ducks anywhere else, I was truly amazed at how fast they actually were. They sped across the top of the water at Mach 1 speed. But once you connect with one, watch out! They tumbled head over heels, over and over again until finally coming to a halt belly up with legs kicking, it was a little comical.
After having similar success in the dove field that afternoon as with the day before, we were all licked as the hot sun had taken its toll on us over the past 2 days. But being from the northland and coming from sub-freezing temps, the hot 75 degree temps in early February were a much welcomed blessing, at least for four of us.
A FEW SHOTS OF THE SOLIMAR HUNTING SAFARIS RESORT
On the third and final day of our adventure, camp manager Sergio Esparza elected to switch it up and hunt the feeding flocks of doves in the morning and save the Grand Finally duck hunt for the very end.
This turned out to be a very smart strategy as the doves were as thick as ever in the cactus fields early in the morning and we had both mourning doves and white winged doves bombarding us throughout the hunt. By the end we all went through an entire case of shells and had a full limit of 60 doves per person…with the exception one of us who still took a solid 35 birds. As with my previous trip, it took me until day three to consistently hit these little buggers again. We had a pile totaling close to 300 doves at the end of the hunt. As action packed and exciting as it was, I was very thankful that the staff at Solimar was very proactive about making sure that each and every bird was cleaned properly and distributed to the villagers in the immediate area, so that none of the meat- doves or ducks, went to waste.
After a hearty lunch at the resort it was time to gear up for the final hunt of the trip. I finally had a chance to team up with my good friend Dave Ciani on this hunt. On our way out to the blind I was even fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to drive the airboat. What a thrill!
Dave and I started out in a little teal hole. It didn’t take long until we had piled up a nice little stack of about 15 Blue wing and Green wing teal. Then from across the horizon we saw a big flock of about 20 Black Bellied Whistlers heading our way, back from the fields. They were still pretty high up when they got close to us but we hit the whistles and called them right down to about 25 yards. When they were directly overhead we called the shot! Dave and I both opened up and 5 more birds hit the water!
From there we took turns at the Pintails and Cinnamon teal that swung through the decs before we picked up for the final move and ultimately the final hunt of the trip.
Since we had so much fun with the Ruddy round-up the day before, we elected to end the trip with one more go at the little butterballs. After getting relocated and in position, we had a scattered flock of Ruddys come screaming across the water, I took out a pair before Dave was even set up. The next bunch that came by and Dave and I tag teamed a pair and watched them tumble across the water to a screeching halt. From there it was every man for himself as flock after flock of the little Ruddys came banking around the corner of the point we were set up on and it was as fast as you could reload and get ready again.
When the sun finally hit the horizon we heard the airboat headed in our direction and we both knew our incredible adventure was about to come to an end. We each had grins from ear to ear as we looked over the water and saw little white bellies with black feet sticking up all over across the bay. After a quick “High 5” we climbed back into the boat, picked up our birds and headed back to the resort to meet up with our compadres.
Spirits were high in camp that night as we all enjoyed a few celebratory cocktails and picked through the best birds to take home for the wall. With one more amazing five course home-made Mexican dinner under our belts it was time to call it a night and get packed up for the long trek home in the morning.
This was truly a World Class waterfowl hunting adventure on one of the most beautiful coastal marshes on the continent. With over 20,000 ducks on the marsh and countless shore birds and Flamingos all around us, there was never a dull moment. This was one of those experiences to tell the Grandkids about many years from now, that was for sure!
Part 2: THE REVIEW
|OUTFITTER KNOWLEDGE / PERSONALITY: ||Score||5 / 5 |
What really made this trip, let alone the hunt so special is the attention to detail that the entire staff at Solimar Hunting Safaris puts in to make sure every hunter is having a wonderful experience. Each afternoon Sergio asks each hunter how they are doing and what species of birds they would like to go after the next day. In addition to that, outfitter Ernesto Zaragoza and camp manager Sergio Esparza do an excellent job of managing their private marsh to make sure they do not over pressure the birds. Everything about the staff and the camp was outstanding! 5 / 5!
|QUALITY OF |
|Score||4 / 5|
Overall the equipment used at the camp and throughout the hunt was in good condition. The 3 on-site airboats were in excellent condition. The permanent blinds on the marsh were all well placed and in good condition. We were able to hunt out of tennis shoes and not get wet. The firearms supplied on site were all Benellis and Berettas. We did not experience many gun malfunctions during our trip. And if there was a problem there were back up guns available during each hunt. All of the guns were right handed, so the lefties in the group had to adjust. They have both 20 gauge and 12 gauges available. The only down side we noticed was with the decoys. Although we had many, many opportunities to harvest ample amount of game during the hunt, the decoy spreads were not in great shape and they do not pu a lot of importance on putting out a large decoy spread. Although again we had plenty of close range shooting throughout the trip.
|Score||5 / 5|
The opportunity to harvest game during every hunt we were on was unprecedented. With the very liberal bag limits of 45 ducks per day and 60 doves per day, per hunter, the number of birds we saw and the amount of ammo we went through each day spoke for itself. In addition, the fact that there were no other hunters or hunting camps in existence from what we could tell made sure that the birds would not be overhunted and over pressured for the next group, all season long. A+++ in this category!
|QUALITY OF MEALS |
5 / 5
The quality of the meals and lodging were also excellent. With on-site Chef Roberto’s handmade meals daily, to the staff waiting on our every need. This was an All Inclusive experience. From the cervezas to the margaritas and bottled water. There were no hidden surprises in this area. In addition each hunter had his own bed and there were only 1 -2 hunters per room. There was plenty of room to spread out and there really wasn’t much of a need to bring anything with except some light camo clothing. Everything else was taken care of.
HUNT PACKAGES AND
|Score||5 / 5|
The overall package was as follows. A 3 day, 4 night All Inclusive hunt. This includes 3 - half day duck hunts and 3 - half day dove hunts. For groups of 6 – 10 hunters this includes airport pick up and return. All meals, beverages and lodging are included. The package also includes your hunting license, pre-purchased and waiting for you at the camp. The standard rate is $2,700 per hunter but If You Mention HuntTheNorth.com at the time of booking you will receive FREE Gun Rental to assure there are no hassels at the border. The only additional fees for the entire trip are your airfare into Mexico, your license and ammunition, which is supplied on site and the gratuity for the staff at the end of the hunt.
|OVERALL QUALITY |
OF THE TRIP:
|Score||5 / 5 |
The overall experience, from top to bottom was excellent. Many hunters have a concern about traveling to Mexico these days, however I am confident that there is no reason for concern when booking a hunt with Solimar Hunting Safaris. Every detail was taken care of and at no time did we feel at risk. The resort is gated and the camp is managed well. All of the staff and bird boys are hard-working and very respectful. And best of all, the 1,800 acre private marsh is well managed and full of birds all winter long! This is truly a World Class waterfowl hunting adventure, and is priced similar to a standard, All Inclusive Mexican vacation, with an added bonus of getting to hunt while you are there! This is truly a trip that all avid waterfowl hunters must experience at least once in their lives!
Overall Solimar Hunting Adventures Scored 29 Out Of 30 Giving Them An "A" Rating. We Would Not Hesitate To Refer Them For Their Fantastic Mexico Duck And Dove Hunts!
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Part 3: Booking Information
|Contact Information For: Solimar Hunting Adventures|
Outfitter: Ernesto & Raquel Zaragoza
Address: Apartado Postal (P.O. Box)
41 Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico
| more photos from the hunt...|
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