Ibex Hunting in Spain
A couple of weeks ago while hunting Barbary sheep in Spain with Iberhunting, I met the owner, Antonio Teruel, and we quickly became friends. When it was time for me to return to Sweden, where I run a small hunting lodge, primarily for wild boar with eight blinds and baited areas, Antonio mentioned he had received a cancellation to a hunt for Gredos Ibex scheduled for April 26-30. He asked if I was interested. I only had to pay 2/3 of the price, since this was the third time this hunter had cancelled and would now loose his deposit.
After pondering the pros and cons, I regretfully had to decline his offer. I had my own company to run, dogs that had to be taken care of and I already had three hunters scheduled for a wild boar hunt on that weekend.
As fate would have it, my brother had taken a few vacation days during this time and he offered to take care of the dogs. I called Antonio in Spain and asked if we could possibly move the dates from April 26 to April 28? That was OK with Antonio. Next I called the three hunters who were booked for the wild boar hunt with me and asked if they minded me taking off Sunday night. Luckily, they did not object.
Things were starting to fall into place. I arranged for tickets and soon I was sitting in Copenhagen Airport waiting for my flight to Madrid.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this was a hunt I initially had to decline because of previously arranged schedules and time constraints. However, with lots of help and cooperation from everybody, I now sit here one day later, at 10:31 AM Monday morning, and I have just shot a trophy Gredos Ibex. Here is how the hunt unfolded.
On Sunday April 28 I land in Madrid, where Antonio picks me up. Spring has not yet arrived here and he tells me we can expect a snowstorm overnight. The drive to Gredos, Southwest of Madrid, takes roughly two hours through the beautiful La Sierra de Gredos mountain range with snow capped peaks reaching 6000 feet.
After getting settled at a hotel, I am invited to a six course lunch at a Michelin restaurant. I did not think this was possible in such a small town with a population of only 400 people. However, the food and service are superb.
After a well deserved rest in my hotel room, it is time for dinner at the hotel, which also sports a Michelin restaurant. Two Michelin restaurants in this little town? I am astonished. After another six course dinner, with all the accompanying trimmings and wine, it is time for some more sleep.
The room I have been assigned comes with a large double bed and I ask my host in jest if he has arranged additional benefits for me, but alas, I get to sleep alone.
Monday morning at 0730 I get up to a snow covered landscape. Two inches of snow has fallen during the night.
After a quick shower, I go down for breakfast. I eat heartily, because I do not know when I will return to the hotel. After breakfast, I meet with two local guides from the reserve, by law compulsory in Spain, who will guide me on the hunt.
I borrow a rifle for the hunt, a Blaser R8 in .270 Weatherby Magnum with a Zeiss Diarange 3-12x56mm scope. I use Weatherby factory ammunition with a 140 grain Nosler bullet.
The trip takes us up and down along narrow gravel roads and the car is rocking back and forth. I am quietly hoping my breakfast stays down. Arriving at a turn around down in the valley, we dismount and it is time to suit up. I have bought a GoPro camera to film the day's adventure.
Off we go along narrow rocky trails. Approximately 500 yards from the car we make contact with the first Ibex, huge gold class rams, but not within my budget. They cost between $20,000 and $30,000. Man, I would love to shoot one of these monster trophy rams. Ah well, maybe next time.
We move on and find a herd with trophies more suited to my bank account,. They are no more than 90 yards away, which I find strange. Normally, game would have run off, so in a quiet voice I ask why the animals have not fled.
The answer is low hunting pressure. Only one Ibex has been shot here this year, measuring 282 CIC points. It cost $40,000 and was shot by an American hunter with bow and arrow.
The animals get restless and start moving down towards the river. We follow, not crouching, but walking normally. Incredible, but true.
We make contact again 100 yards further down and I get into position. I place my knapsack on a boulder for a shooting rest, put the rifle on top and get ready to shoot.
The animals pass in front of us about 90 yards away, but mine is not among them. They have separated! The herd in front of us is heading towards the mountains on our right and the rest have gone down to the riverbed. Quickly, I put all my gear on again and get ready for a stalk.
We are walking along the edge of the mountain facing the riverbed and see where the animals have turned toward the river. They are now only 25 yards below us. While the guides are discussing a plan of action, the animals emerge some 50 yards in front of us, but mine is not among this group, either. These are all gold class rams and not what I have in mind.
We wonder where the ram I seek has disappeared to, when another herd of animals appear on the far side of the river. The guides look for a suitable ram and I must say they know their stuff. They can judge an animal at 100 yards to within +/- 5 points. The problem, though, is these are all either too big or too small.
Out of nowhere walks my dream ram. He stops and begins to graze. The guides are debating his size, because it has now started snowing and visibility is diminished. They judge it to be in the upper part of silver class and give me permission to shoot.
I get into a prone position, put the rifle on top of the knapsack, take a quick peek back to make sure everything is 100% okay. Push the safety forward, take a deep breath and touch the trigger.
The ram signals a solid hit and lurches forward. I choose to fire once more and the ram runs 15 yards before falling behind a large tree, out of sight.
The guides choose to bring the rifle with them across the river to search for the downed ram. Minutes pass and the wait is killing me. I want to know if everything is alright, when I see one of the guides wave to confirm the animal is there, dead.
Now the hard part begins, to get the animal back across the river. With combined effort and some rope, we manage to bring it over.
The guides are pondering the size thinking it may be on the wrong side of gold, but after some recalculating they arrive at 223.75 CIC points. The ram is skinned, in case I want a full mount, and we leave for the trip back to the hotel for a champagne lunch.
My, what a lunch! Six courses with champagne, wine and cognac. Later, we drive back to Madrid where my host, Antonio, will try and get tickets for the soccer game tomorrow between Real Madrid and Dortmund.
Facts and references
The hunt was arranged by Iberhunting (www.iberhunting.com), a full service outfitter. They also arranged for my Ibex to be mounted in Spain and then shipped to Sweden.
A good set of binoculars are invaluable for glassing the mountain slopes. I used a pair of Swarovski 10x50mm with built in rangefinder. I bought a pair of Meindl comfort fit hunting boots for the trip and have not regretted it.
Spain is probably not at the top of your list when it comes to hunting, but the opportunities are endless at reasonable prices. There are four types of Ibex in Spain: Gredos Ibex, Ronda-Tejeda Ibex, Sierra Nevada Ibex and Beceite Ibex. The supply of all four is plentiful.
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