red stag hunting

Distant cousins that have not seen each other for millennia, the North American elk, or “wapiti,” and the European red stag were once the same animal before the supercontinent Pangaea broke up over 200 million years ago. As the smaller land masses drifted apart, becoming the continents we know today, the animal became genetically isolated and evolved into two distinct species. The red stag, or “red deer,” still remarkably resembles the elk. While the wapiti can reach weights of over 1,000 pounds, many hunters feel the somewhat smaller red deer’s antlers with their spiky crowns are a much grander sight.

While red stags are not native to the country, evolving on the European continent, they are now Argentina’s most sought-after big game trophy. The regal animals were introduced into the Caldén woodlands of La Pampa in 1906 and were subsequently transplanted to other areas of Argentina. Today there are wild populations of red stags in Buenos Aires and Chubut provinces, with the largest concentrations being found in the provinces of La Pampa, San Luis, and Neuquen, where the deer have flourished. Here private “estancias,” or ranches, offer hundreds of thousands of acres for luxury hunting tours for red stag with true fair-chase hunts.

red stag hunting

While La Pampa and San Luis offer a more brushy environment, the Neuquen populations are found mainly in more wooded areas in the beautifully rugged mountains of Northern Patagonia. Being in the southern hemisphere, the red stag hunting season is opposite of North America’s. Here the red stag “roar,” or rut, runs from mid-March through April and is appropriately named as the stag makes a blood-curdling roar that sounds like a water buffalo swallowed a lion. Like their North American relatives, the red stag collects and defends a harem of females during the rut.

La Pampa Province

Set in central Argentina with a combination of vast grasslands, rolling hills, and woodlands where estancias dot the fertile landscape, La Pampa Province offers some great opportunities for hunting free-range red stag in Argentina. The area has much more level terrain than the mountain region of Patagonia, with fewer obstacles that make it easier for hunters to approach areas of prime habitat. While the area had received years of heavy hunting pressure, most hunting ranches have instituted a management plan and adopted a more conservation-minded hunting model.

The reduced hunting pressure has produced improved opportunities for red stag hunting in Argentina. The area typically sees cooler temperatures during the hunting season that attract a large stag population along with the brushy landscape. The eastern and southern regions typically see less precipitation, making for a more comfortable hunting experience. The area also has an abundance of other game species, such as fallow and axis deer, water buffalo, antelope, and mouflon. The provincial capital of Santa Rosa offers old-world culture with museums, parks, and nature gardens.

San Luis Province

San Luis Province is world renowned for some of the best red stag hunting, with some of the highest stag populations in the country. Located in west-central Argentina near the headwaters of the Andes Mountains, San Luis Province is near the country’s geographical center and is marked by a mild climate with dry grasslands and rugged hills. The varied terrain is suited to all levels of archery and firearm hunters.

The northwest region holds Sierra de las Quijadas National Park where ochre-colored sandstone forms numerous canyons and the immense Potrero de la Aguada valley. The ranches here offer some of Argentina’s largest populations of red stags due to the conservation-minded practices the estancias have adopted. Several record book deer have come from San Luis Province, and the area also holds good populations of fallow deer, water buffalo, black buck, axis deer, and wild boar. The provincial seat of San Luis has a number of points of interest that includes the Dora Ochoa De Masramón Provincial Museum and numerous examples of colonial architecture, including a neoclassical cathedral.

Neuquen Province

Holding the finest red stag hunting in all of Argentina, Neuquen Province is set in the breathtaking mountain scenery of the northwest Patagonia region. This area encompasses a large section of the Andes Mountains on the Chilean border, with 90 percent of Patagonia being located in Argentina territory. The province holds numerous streams, rivers, and lakes spread over a vast territory filled with large populations of game that includes the highest concentration of free-range red stag in the country. The wooded topography of the foothills and mountains provides perfect cover for stalking close to game, and the rich soil produced by the Lanin Volcano grows lush vegetation that supports the diverse wildlife. Precipitation is seasonal in the northwest, and while the mountainous terrain can make stalking challenging, the cool, dry climate creates prime habitat for red deer. The area is home to some of the most historic estancias in Argentina, located in high-country settings, as well as the awe-inspiring Arrayanes forest of Los Arrayanes National Park. The capital city of Neuquen, located in the east of the province, is the largest city in Patagonia.

red stag hunting in argentina

El Refugio Quillen Lodge

It should come as no surprise that one of the best hunting areas in Argentina offers some of the best luxury hunting tours for red stag. Originally a cattle and sheep ranch founded in 1903 by the Ochoa family, the 5,000-acre Quillen Ranch began welcoming sportspeople from all over the world for hunting and fishing adventures. Along with some of the best fly fishing in Patagonia, the El Refugio Quillen Lodge, set on the Quillen River, provides sportsmen with some of the best fair-chase red deer and wild boar hunting anywhere on the South American continent.

Juan and Mariano, fifth-generation brothers of the Ochoa family, have lived and worked their entire lives on the ranch their family has owned for 100 years. The pair has an intimate knowledge of the land, the fish, and the game and ensures every guest has an experience that will always be remembered. The hills and valleys comprising the estancia are prime hunting habitats where only fully mature bulls are harvested, and a large herd of resident stag makes the ranch home.

The charming and cozy lodge, constructed from oak and local timber, provides stunning views of the Quillen River valley. The lodge offers the client a cozy rustic feel with the family members all taking part in the daily activities from guided hunting, to cooking to sampling the homemade charcuterie prepared by the father Jose Maria Ocha.

luxury hunting tours

With breathtaking scenery, well-managed ranches, and plentiful game, Argentina offers some of the best red deer hunting anywhere on Earth. If you would like to experience hunting the country for yourself, Wildside Adventures books red stag hunting in Argentina as well as luxury hunting tours all over the world. Wildside Adventures Travel Service owner and operator “Wildside” Joe Rossi hosted “Joe’s Wildside Adventures” outdoor adventure TV show for ten years that aired on FOX, ROOT Sports, and the Sportsman Channel. Email or call Joe at 412-352-8703 or visit for more information. You can also see some of Joe’s escapades on his YouTube channel.