|Alfred A. Benitz||Page last modified:
At the time of this hunt, Alfred was living at “Los Palmares”, his estancia west of Calchaquí (Santa Fé province), between the Salado and Calchaquí rivers. He and John Todd traveled by train from Calchaquí to Reconquista then by coach to Fortín Arenales. (We can’t find it on any map, old or new, but Fortín Arenales was a half-day coach ride from Reconquista, most likey about 4 leagues to its north.) The place names have changed, but it appears their hunting trip took them north up the east coast of the Arroyo del Rey, east across to the Arroyo Las Garzas (where the hunting was better), and back (south) along the west coast of Las Garzas to Fortín Arenales. Their most northern point was on Las Garzas, about 15 leagues north of Reconquista and 3-4 leagues west of today’s Villa Ocampo. Alfred provided distances in leagues, a league is 5 km. or 3 miles.
It is noteworthy how far north wildlife such as deer and puma had been pushed back in 20 years. In 1881, when Alfred first arrived at Laguna Yacaré east of Calchaquí, wildlife was plentiful and he and his crew lived off what they hunted; at that time they were on the edges of civilization. This hunt took place in 1901, 20 years later, and 125-175 km. to the north of Calchaquí. The area was not so remote anymore (railroads, fences, gates) nor the wildlife as plentiful as it once had been.
Transcription notes: We have transribed the diary as written: verbatim, we did not correct his grammar nor his spelling. That said, it was written / scribbled in pencil and some words we guessed relying on our familiarity with his handwriting. For words that are totally undecipherable, we have inserted our best guess followed by [?]. Our comments are within [square brackets and italics] or in side-notes. We emphasized the dates for presentation and clarity on the web. (Transcribed by P. Benitz.)
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Estancia Los Palmares
Hunting trip up Cañada del Rey. Alfred and Todd left Palmares in trap to Calchaquí at 4.50 a.m. & reached Calchaqui 9.30 am. Took train to Reconquista & sleep at Hotel Frey.- Elias, Roque, & Tomas Almada went with 25 horses & 3 pack mules on afternnoon of the 13th to Fortin Arenales to meet us there. Weather had rained in Calchaqui as far Las Cañas & up to Reconquista yesterday, but not a drop at Los Palmares.
Sunday. Made purchases of grub etc at Navaros last night & this morning. Went in coach to J Moore to see about a vaqueano. Also saw Croti to take us about going out tomorrow to Arenales. Visited Mrs Griller. Heard band play in Plaza fine day [barely legible, could be: telagram 484. ]
Left in Cortis trap for Arenales with stores etc Don Feliciano Ramirez met on road & came with us.- Coach $15.00. Elias & peones turned up in afternoon. Sleep at Arenales.. Fine day. Muddy.-
Left Arenales at 1 P.M. and marched about 2½ leagues n to last gate of Taboadas & camped. Fine camp Muddy. Brought an asado along. Ramirez came as far as Taboadas noria. Fine day muddy.
Left gate in heavy fog & marched - passed 3 isletas to Carlos Diaz [above line: 2½ hours] 9.30am — who was not at home. Portero came part of road $2.00 & showed us the way. Stopped at Carlos Diaz until 1 PM & marchd about a league to the cañada Fortín Geavalio [?]. & hunted in monte Killed 4 jaratas. The vaquiano Bucancio Contrera found us in the evening. Fine day.
Fine day N Wind. Marched about a league to opening of Picado Orlandini & camped. Hunted in forenoon but killed 1 pavo del monte. Plenty of tracks.— Todd shot a gato onza saw 2 cierbas. Plenty of tracks.-
Puerto Picado [Piseado ?]
Hunted all forenoon; found nothing saw 2 cierbos. Plenty of tracks.- Moved in afternoon thro picado and about 2 leagues up cañada Zanjon Dulce. Very pajoso and poor feed for horses. No game and very few tracks.
Rondared horses last night on account of poor feed. Marched about a league south of picado to Cuevo del Tigre an ideal camping place. Good water & splendid feed. Plenty of tracks. Carpincho, Yacare etc in Rey. Shot a pavo Real, jarata and a cierba. Hot day, look stormy tonight. bag 1 cierbo (Tomas)
Cueva del Tigre - Sunday.
Hunted all about but found nothing. bag 1 Charata (a) - Rained some last night and a thundering warm sort of a day. Put tent up.-
Moved camp to east mouth of picado Orlandini again. Near west opening of Picado a tigre had killed torito so set rifle as a trap. Shot a pavo. Very foggy & cloudy day S wind & cleared up in evening - Found horses late.
Campo Puerto Pesado Very foggy & cloudy day
Looked for tigre in morning. He had come and eaten a lot of meat but did not set gun off.- Todd shot 4 pavos Tomas a guasuncho
Elias & vaqueano left to visit formers brother at arroyo Garzas. Alfreds horse cleared as he was after a cierbo. No bag.- Fine day.
A in morning shot 2 pavos. Stormy N wind Elias & vaqueano came back in afternoon from J. Ledesmas with news of a good hunting ground further north west of Ocampo. Warm fine day.- Tomas shot a lobo del monte
Marched from day break to 1.25 PM to arroyo Las Garzas end of Ocampo R.R.- Elias went by his brothers house. Road through picado very bad. Strong N wind & looks stormy. Elias & brother turned up in afternoon. Put up tent.- 6.53 sun rose shot 2 pavos
Weather cleared up nicely in night and no rain.- Found horses very late and marched back thro picado to cañada & then up & back to arroyo or cañada Garzas & camped after about a 2 league march. Juan Ledesma came along. Snake bit the saino buey.- In afternoon hunted about but no bag. Tomas saw 2 ciervo
Sunday.- Horse died from snake bite. Found horses late, and moved up cañada about a league & a quarter & camped. Hunted about. lots of track A killed an aguara. Elias an ant bear & caught the young one.- Strong N wind & hot.- Killed 2 snakes in camp.
Juan Ledesma left in morning. Elias & Todd went along & came back at night, saw no game. A killed an Aguara, Tomas a guasuncho and a pavo. Strong n wind & hot
A & Elia hunted north & killed a ciervo. Burned off camp. Stormy day but no rain.
Weather changed to cold south wind but no rain. Hunted south & Todd killed a big cierbo.-
Hunted north & N East and Todd had shot at macho cierbo. Met an old hunter who came to camp with us. Frost but wind changed again to N.E.-
Decided to get a vaqueano & try an estero permanente to the west, & Elias left to look him up & we moved camp down Garzas cañada close to alambrado. Hot day. Rested & washed up in afternoon. Strong south wind began to blow in evening
Hunted about a monte in forenoon whilst awaiting Rivas. in afternoon Roque shot 4 charatas. 2 cierbos seen today. - Fine day. S.Wind
Sunday.- Hard frost. A killed a macho cierbo. Todd a Guasuncho. Elias came back bringing sugar, yerba, galletas, and no hope of finding more cierbo.-
Broke up camp on march back home after a happy hunting expedition passed bridge where bullock trains pass. Shot 8 yacares in morning. & unsaddled at Juan Ledesmas. Cold morning frost In afternoon marched southward about 2½ leagues to a rincon in a camp. Sagers camp near a gate.- & camped for night.
Marched at 5.20 a.m. and passed Las Garzas at Vicenti Alonso's camp. and unsaddled at Isleta in 3 Isletas camp. & marched again to Taboadas camp estero south of Villanuevas & camped for night Mosquitos last night and hot north wind - Feast day —
Marched from 6.35 to 8 am. to Fortín Arenales. Benancio went to Reconquista & takes message to
cochero to come out tomorrow.- Hunt ended as Elias & men [above between lines: Tomas & Roque]
go straight on to Palmares & Todd & A. go by train. —
In afternoon fished & hunted in monte - 2 javalla - 2 palometo 1 ostrich
Hot day N wind.
Don Feliciano not at home
[28 blank pages]
[Last page, notes written vertically:]
Sr Calambrioh Reconquista
Sirvase mandar la segunda[?]
Telegrama a Hateneck Hnos & Cia
Ruega avisa a Los Palmares que manda coche
para Viernes el Doce
[Notes on inside of back cover:]
1 gato onza
1 pato real
1 lobo del monte
2 ant bear
2 ciervos escaped badly wounded
1 of Roques
© Peter Benitz (Benitz Family)