I went to Spain in Dec 2019 to hunt Ibex in the southeast part of Spain. This trip was organized by Spiritual Outdoor Adventures with Jimmy Sites (SOA) in conjunction with the outfitter Iberhunting in Spain. I went along as one of the hunters and my wife as an observer.
First of all, my ideal hunt would be a sheep/goat hunt in the Rocky Mountains or someplace equivalent. Why? Because the terrain is probably the most difficult possible so you have to be in excellent shape and willing to brave the elements, you have to be good at long-distance shots and just because the animal is within shooting range doesn’t mean you can take the shot if you expect to retrieve it. Unfortunately, my ability to pursue this kind of hunt is gone. However, I was invited to go on an Ibex hunt with Spiritual Outdoor Adventures with Jimmy Sites in southeast Spain. Before I replied, I spent some time on Google checking out the hunting area and saw that it appeared to be more like rolling hills than the rocky crags of the Rocky Mountains, so maybe I can do this. I still had my doubts though, I’ve hunted with the SOA people before so I know that good Christian hunter that follow the teachings of Jesus will be on the hunt and it is a pleasure to be around them and that they will be supportive, so I decided I’d give it a try, even though it would be close to my limits. After all, pushing one’s capabilities is part of the hunt.
The people that went on this hunt were from all over the US. From California to Florida and Texas to Tennessee. We all met in Madrid, well, at least the people did. Some of the baggage decided to take a different trip. Iberhunting met us at the airport and collected what luggage we did have and headed south to the hotel for a rest prior to hunting the next day. They stopped at a store so those of us needing some additional clothing could purchase some. I’d met some of the people on previous trips and some were new to me, so we spent the time getting reacquainted and discussing the upcoming hunt. That night after dinner Antonio (owner of Iberhunting) explained to us how the hunt would be managed, which animals we would be going after, and how it would work if we wanted an animal different than what we’d contracted for. It was very comprehensive so there were not many questions. We were asked what we wanted for breakfast in the morning and we headed off to bed.
First-day ibex hunt
The next morning we ate breakfast and headed out to hunt as 3 groups of 2×1. My group found several Ibex on a rocky outcropping fairly soon and I had my partner go first. One-shot at 200 meters and he had his first Ibex. This hunt was to be for a male and female Ibex and a small game hunt (rabbits, partridges, fox) on the 3rd day. Since he’d gotten his ram, we focused on a ram for me. We left that area since the Ibex had disappeared and went to another area. We looked and looked, and no Ibex. After lunch, the plan was to continue looking for an Ibex for me. We’d met with another group for lunch that had already been successful and my partner needed to work on a business report so that left me on a 1×1 hunt.
We (my guide, a ranger, and myself) set off up the “hill” to the ridge looking for ibex. In the picture, we parked just above the town on the left and hiked up to the top and along the ridgeline.
The hills turned out not to be as smooth and gentle as they appeared and they were covered with loose rocks. Nevertheless, my guide found 3 Ibex, I saw two of them as they ran around the hill off to the left. The third was just down the hill. My guide set up a shooting position, but I just could not get into a position to shoot and I could not locate the ram. We moved a little way down the slope and set up again. This time the ram moved off to the right around the hill. That’s ok, he’s taking a long way around and we’ll just move over the ridge and cut him off. So, who do you think got there first? It wasn’t me. The ram kept going and we tried to catch up, but I’m over 70 and tire easily. I can go a long time on level ground but at a slow pace. There wasn’t anything level here and it was getting to where my steps were getting shorter and shorter and I wasn’t raising my feet as high to step over things, but I was bound and determined that I was going to complete this! I have no idea how far we hiked, seemed like 10 miles, maybe only 1, maybe somewhere in-between. My guide noticed I was tiring, but was very polite and diplomatic and pointed out that the ram got away and we weren’t seeing any others so maybe we should head back to the car and go to a different area. It took a while to get back there thru the ravines and over the ridges. He looked after me the entire way. (On a previous hunt in a different country I had a guide focused solely on the animal that he lost track of where I was.) We did go to different areas and glassed the hillsides looking for animals, but didn’t see any. Finally ran out of the day and headed back to the hotel. That was an awesome day, even tho I did not shoot an Ibex that day, the trek into the hills and being in the Ibexs’ environment and stalking them on their terms was awesome. To me, that’s a major part of what a hunt is about.
On the second day, we headed out looking for animals. The only ones we saw were ewes and too far away for a shot. I think we checked every hunting area there was in the area, but the animals were just not out and about. Towards the end of the day, we were back in the same area where we started the 1st day. No animals there either. I’d pretty much decided that at 5 pm (6 pm was the end of legal time) I was going to call a halt and head back.
Well, God tells us to be patient. At 5 ‘til 5, a couple of rams show up. 350 meters away, too far for a shot so we head down the hill to cross the valley to get closer. Then we get a call that there’s a nicer one on the other side of the hill. So, we head back up the hill. Get another call “They’re headed your way”. So, back down the hill to get set up and wait for them. Two rams and two ewes. They’re 250 meters (~275 yards) away. I’m set up on a tree branch partly squatted so it’s not terribly comfortable, but I can see the ram clearly and I’m thinking ‘I can do this’. My guide and I talk back and forth to be sure we’re on the same animal, we confirmed we are. He gives me the go-ahead to shoot whenever I’m ready. I’ve got him lined up in the scope and squeeze the trigger. The shot echoes up and down the valley, and the ram turns and moseys over the ridge and disappears as though nothing happened. I obviously missed and don’t understand why. Normally, when I miss I know it and can tell you what I did wrong, but not this time.
The previous night at supper Antonio was talking to us about how he believed that each ram was intended for a specific person and no one else would be able to shoot it. He gave an example of one hunt where the animal had been shot 4 times and everyone missed. Then another hunter came along and killed it with a single shot.
Now we get a call that the ram is heading back over the ridge again toward us so I get ready to shoot again. Again my guide and I make sure we are on the same animal and he gives me the ok to shoot. Again I squeeze the trigger and the sound echoes up and down the valley. It was at that time that I finally figured out that that ram was not meant for me as he sauntered down the hill and into the brush and disappeared. Again I thought about Antonio’s story, but I also thought about how it matched what God says when he says “I know the plan I have for you…” in Jeremiah 29:11.
It’s getting late
Well, maybe tomorrow. It’s getting late, we only have about 15 minutes left so maybe time to head in. That’s when the ranger points out another ram up the valley, on the far side, about halfway up the hill.
We discuss this for a while. The range is the same, ~275 yards. I’ve missed twice already at this range and it’s beginning to get dark. The guide suggests that I take the shot, if I miss, nothing is different and we’ll try again the next day. So I set up, get comfortable in the prone position, get him set up in the scope, and verify the animal with the guide. He gives me the ok to shoot and I squeeze the trigger. I shoot and the sound again travels up and down the valley. All my hunting and shooting so far has been on fairly flat open areas. This is the first time I’ve actually shot in the mountains and the way the sound of the shot echoes and reverberates is truly amazing. When I fired the recoil caused me to lose track of the ram and I had trouble finding it again and the guide was telling me to shoot again.
The guide had filmed the shot and what the animal did was quite amazing. Afterward when I reviewed the video, when I shot, the ram was obviously hit and he jumped straight up what seemed like 10’ then fell down the mountain. He was still moving so I needed another shot and I couldn’t see him but my guide could so I let the guide take the shot. He got into position and, … and, … and he couldn’t see the ram either. So, pick everything up and run up the hill and set up. Well, I live down around 400’ elevation with a gradually sloping 40’ elevation change in my place so it’s nothing like 6000’ and long steep hillsides. I’ve already been up and down the hillside a couple of times so I was done running and climbing. The guide took the shot and the ram quite moving.
Then a ewe showed up. The hunt was for one ram and one ewe. We checked the time to see if we were still within the legal hunting time. We had 3 minutes remaining, but we decided not to try. It was getting dark rapidly and we still had to retrieve the ram.
The shot was 275 yards, but it was a lot longer than that to retrieve him. I knew I would not be able to make the climb down and up to get to the ram in a “reasonable” time, let alone repeat the trip back so I let the guide go get him. It was obvious to me with how quickly he got to the ram just how much he was watching over me the day before. He is an amazing person and I feel fortunate to have had him as my guide. I really feel like God is teaching me something every time I go on a hunt. He was watching over me the whole time and was teaching me a lesson in patience, perseverance, and trust that God’s plan for me is for my benefit.
An Ibex, that we encountered on the first day, but not the one I shot. One of the other hunters got this one.
It was dark when my ram made it back to the truck.
I’d set off on this trip wondering if I could actually do this. It was a personal test both in hiking the hills and in the 200+ yard shots. I consider the trip as wildly successful, but I also know it doesn’t come close to those of you who hunt sheep/goat in the Rocky Mountains, but it gave me a taste of what it’s like. I thoroughly enjoyed the hunt and I’m sure I put a lot of pressure on my guide and he never let it show and was a very pleasant, professional, and all-around good guy the entire time.
On the 3rd day, we went to a completely different area to hunt red leg partridges. Something I’ve never done before. I’ve never hunted with a shotgun and never hunted birds. So completely new to me and before the hunt started we all got together and discussed safety, when to shoot and when not to shoot, fields of fire, etc. The partridge hunt was fun. We bagged 36 birds. In this picture, half are hunters and the other half are the guides. The gal in the blue came along as an observer to see what this was all about, but I neglected to tell her the high vis color was orange instead of blue, but it all worked out. The gal with the camera is a professional photographer and this picture will probably end up on one of the Spiritual Outdoor Adventures with Jimmy Sites episodes.
Tourism in Madrid
I really enjoyed the hunt with Iberhunting and I couldn’t ask for a better guide. In retrospect, I think he made the hunt. He made the hike and stalk on that first day very special and one that I will remember every time I look at my Ibex.
The next day we said our goodbyes to the Iberhunting team and they took us to Madrid where we spent a couple of days sightseeing before flying home. The first day we did the sightseeing on our own, but on the 2nd day, we hired a guide to give us a walking tour of the old town. We asked the hotel concierge to recommend someone and they called Esther Benito Herranz. She met us at the hotel to lead us on the walk. She also explained some of the hazards (I.e. pickpockets) and what to watch for and how to prevent problems. On the walk, she told us about the history of Madrid and how it was founded. It was originally a watchtower and became a place where royalty hunted bears with a royal palace finally being built. Madrid’s emblem is a tree and a bear to reflect the hunting roots of the city.
She pointed out one of the gates of the city, the marker at the post office where everything originates, and explained that the current buildings are built on top of rubble and the original wall can still be seen in the basement of one of the buildings.
This was a really great trip and I thank everyone involved. Mercedes with Iberhunting needs to be mentioned as well. She is the one I emailed with questions prior to coming over for the hunt to be sure I had everything. But, more importantly, she coordinated and conducted the trips for the ladies. My wife tells me she had a great time and will let me go hunting again as long as I take her along with me.