by Brad Fitzpatrick - Saturday, December 23, 2017
From our position on the top of the ridge in Spain’s Iberian Mountain Range, guide Vicente Gil and I watched a band of ibex nannies and kids feeding on the edge of a limestone cliff several hundred feet high. The sheer rock wall was far too steep for any two or four-legged predators, which was likely the reason that the ibex had chosen that location, and we waited and watched to see if a billy would appear. It was December and the ibex rut was in full swing, and from our position on the slope, Vicente and I could see more than two-dozen ibex. None of them, however, were the type of animal we were after. I laid back in a patch of sweet-smelling wild rosemary and waited for more animals to emerge from the dark forests below. I could have easily fallen asleep, but Vicente motioned for me to follow him. There was another river valley on the opposite side of the ridge that he wanted to glass.
When we reached the crest Vicente dropped down and motioned me to the peak of the ridge. Squatting in the shade of a fir tree, we looked down into the opposite canyon at a mature ibex feeding on the bare slope.
“Is he a good one?” I asked in terribly disjointed and broken Spanish, and Vicente indicated that the ibex was indeed a shooter. Good enough. I raised the magnification on the Swarovski scope and used a crumbling pile of limestone boulders as a rest. I ranged the ibex at 204 yards, which should have made for an easy shot, but I was dealing with a brisk wind. Holding just ahead of the billy’s shoulder, I pressed the trigger and heard the bullet strike.
“Another,” Vicente said, but I was already working on it. The ibex was headed straight up the hill toward the crest of the ridge, and heaven only knew what kind of terrain lay on the other side. A second shot stopped the ibex, and a third anchored him for good.
That was my first experience hunting ibex, but it certainly won’t be my last. The thrill of chasing these animals in Spain’s beautiful central mountains is something that I hope every hunter gets to experience at least once. If Spanish hunting isn’t on your bucket list, here are six reasons why it should be—and three things you need to know before you go.
Reasons to Hunt Spain
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