SPAIN - October 2015 trip report. Full Report
I've been very fortunate to have hunted Spain a few times over the last few years and have always enjoyed the experience. The climate, terrain, people, food and mountain game have always been first class.
As such it was with a great deal of excitement that I landed at Murcia on Saturday night to meet a good friend Alfonso. Alfonso and I were introduced to each other a couple of years ago and despite not knowing a huge amount of each other's languages we immediately hit if off. We've hunted with each other in our respective countries several times now.
On this occasion I was to be hunting Arrui (Barbary Sheep/Auodad) and boar with him. As I was boarding my flight to Murcia a picture of some boar damaged fields arrived via whatsapp...
After meeting him and having a light supper (of a what seemed like a whole roasted leg of boar) and a few beers it was time for bed.
5am saw us having a coffee in a garage which as well as serving fuel doubled as the local coffee house and pub. A short drive later we were in the mountains and awaiting day break. As the sun made it's lazy progress over the lower peaks the heavens opened and we were treated to a full day of rain. This altered our plan considerably, we had originally intended to walk the lower slopes of the rolling mountain range but Barbary sheep don't like the wet. They are a desert sheep that was introduced from North Africa in the mid 1970's. As such any rain drives them into heavy cover in the ravines.
We resorted to hiking the hills and trying to bust the sheep out of the ravines. After hiking for 10hrs we had seen one small male and a female. We were specifically targeting a mature male and we just hadn't seen one. Still I had two more days to go and was loving the experience. As dusk fell the rain was still pounding down and we decided to see if we could get something going into a bait pile. Now I had no interest in shooting an arrui over bait, but a boar on the other hand was interesting. Well by 10.30pm I was I must admit bored! Boar have fantastic hearing and apparently would detect any movement. Sitting still for 5hrs having been on my feet all day was pretty hard work. The boredom was soon alleviated by a moonlight descent off the mountain whilst nursing a sore knee.
Day two was an even bigger day of climbing in the rain then the first. The granite boulders are horrendous on your joints. All I could focus on was the improvement to the weather promised for the third and final day as despite the mountains being covered in sheep droppings we just hadn't seen many.
That night saw a return to sitting out for a pig but despite hearing one seemingly demolish a nearby feeder we had nothing come to the bait. A change of tactics was required and we went moonlight stalking in the nut and olive plantations. For an addicted munty stalker this was a pleasure and I was fortunate to take a good boar off the sticks at night. Despite it being a textbook shot, the boar still ran hard and required a second shot to drop it. My friend was over the moon for me as was I with my first tusker! 90 kg is apparently a damn good wild boar. A shoulder mount beckons...
Having skinned out the pig, returned to his house and had a shower to get rid of the smell it was time for a celebratory beer and bed.
I'm sure I had only just clambered into bed when it was time to go again. Day three saw us in an area where we had not been able to go before due to the low lying cloud cover. We were in an area where the sheep were to be found at over 1350m elevation. For a fen lander thats a long way up!
Anyway we drove the mountain pass and stopped at convenient glassing points. After a half hour we saw a herd at about 1km distance and what looked like a dark chocolate ram. Now Barbary sheep rams get darker as they age. The color we could see indicated that this would be a sheep worth hunting. Looking at the way we could approach this herd of sheep we were pleased to see that it wasn't going to be easy - we would have to work for it. Descending and then ascending the tree covered slopes we managed to get within 240m of the herd of sheep, but they were a good angle up hill from us. A quick calculation of actual range and an adjustment to the target turrets and we would be ready to go. However, the only sheep we could see were ewe's; damn it. We lay on the cold granite for what felt like an age, carefully glassing and re-glassing the slope. The sheep began to get agitated and began to slowly move. Now i've shot two ibex in the past but these sheep seem to be more alert then ibex. First one ewe and then another drifted out of sight.. still no ram. The last ewe passed and just as I was turning to swear at our bad luck, Alfonso whispered shoot, shoot. There stood the ram and at the shot he fell. The 338wm had done a good job of stopping him. We gave him time to expire (not that I thought he would need it but, we had lost sight of him) and slowly climbed up to retrieve my prize). Photos in the sun were taken and then after skinning it was time to begin the long slow procession back to the truck and a celebratory brandy.
I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable hunts i've been fortunate enough to do, and one I will definitely be repeating