SPAIN: Return To Spain & The Gredos Mountains

Red Leg

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One of the things that works really well for the lovely Mrs. Red leg and me are European trips where we spend 10-days or so playing tourist and then three or four days hunting. We had so much fun doing that in Spain two years ago, that we decided an encore was in order.

We left for Madrid in mid-October, linking up in Charlotte with Nancy's brother and his spouse. We had a grand time in Madrid, Segovia, and Toledo. In Toledo (location of the most magnificent cathedral in Christendom) we said goodbye to in-laws as they headed back to Madrid and the airport. The next morning, we were picked up by our outfitter for the short drive to their ranch in the foothills of the Gredos mountains.

I had hunted two-years earlier with Ignacio Navasquez's great Spanish Hunts, and also had Nancy along on that adventure. While I was plodding up the mountains with Ignacio's competent assistant Felipe Diaz, she was in Ignacio's sister, Marta's, capable hands. It truly was greeting friends when both arrived in Toledo to take us to the ranch.

The ranch is a classic 19th century hacienda built around a large courtyard. Modernized over the last century, it still holds the country charm and muted grandeur of the landed Spanish of the 18th and 19th centuries. When not hosting hunters, the ranch is a weekend retreat for Ignacio's large extended family. We were quickly settled, and by 3:30 Felipe and I were on the road to a nearby ranch where a bait pile had been freshened over the previous couple days hoping to draw a large boar. Nancy and Marta went off to pillage one of the local villages.

At the gate, we were met by two game keepers/hands employed by the lease holder, and were soon hiking down a long ridge which would lead to a blind overlooking the bait site. We had walked less than a kilometer in the approaching twilight, when a group of pigs broke cover at the base of the hill. Felipe set the sticks just in case, and an enormous animal stopped about 100 yards away in an opening in the brush. The game scout whispered "Muy Bueno!" and I let fly. I hit him square on the shoulder and he dropped in his tracks. However, as we walked up, he was taking his time to expire so I put another round into him.

I was using the same Browning A-bolt in .300 Win Mag that I had used on my previous hunt. The ammunition was the standard Winchester 150 gr SP. In a cautionary tale, skinning the animal revealed the effect of too light a bullet, going too fast (close range), into too large an animal. The bullet had penetrated the left shoulder and then blown to pieces. The left lung was a mess, but nothing reached the right side. I assume a premium 150 would have done much better, but this was a classic example why I much prefer 180's in a fast .300.

The boar was exceptional - particularly for Spain. We had no means to weigh him, but he was considerably larger than the smaller boar black bear I took in British Columbia last May. And I hasten to add, that I am not sitting five-feet behind him trying to make him look big. I'll have the tusks done in the Spanish style, and the boar should make a great, hooves-on, rug - particularly with no exit wounds!

IMG_0772(1).JPG

Spanish Wild Boar

The next morning we were up before dawn for the drive up into the mountains to link up with the park game scouts. I was excited to be hunting with Carlos again. He is the most meticulous judge of animals that I have ever met, and like me, age is his driving criteria in determining an animal to take. Nancy and Marta were off across the mountains to visit the medieval city of Avila.

By dawn we were linked up and caught up, and as full daylight flooded the mountains we left the vehicles at the trail head and started the long hike up a drainage with a beautiful roaring stream through the middle. My I-phone later said said we did nearly six miles up the mountain and five down. Weather conditions, unlike two years previously, were perfect.


We were some two-hours into the climb when we began to see ibex. All were appearing on the south facing slope which was the first to begin to warm in the early morning sun. Other than a single nanny st the very top of the ridge, we would see nothing but rams. Over the next three hours we glassed at least a dozen, several of which were worth extended study with the spotting scope. I had purchased a permit to take a silver medal animal (Spanish measurement). We determined there were at least two shooters in our valley. One was an old animal that would score high gold - Carlos estimated he was likely a top-10 animal and well beyond my pay grade. The pending world record was taken recently by one of Ignacio's hunters. The other was an ancient animal sitting alone on a long ridge that would score high silver or low gold. He was, to my eyes at least, particularly beautiful because his horns were somewhat narrower than the typical Gredos Ibex.

Finally, as the sun struck his horns, bringing them into high definition, Carlos motioned me over to the spotting scope for a look and whispered in his heavily accented English, "Joe, this is your ibex!"

Getting into position for a shot was going to be tricky. As noted, he was on the opposite ridge some six-hundred yards away. In between was the stream which suddenly looked more like a river to this Texas flat-lander. We eased down the ridge and away from the ibex until reaching the stream. My companions jumped from rock-to-rock and were quickly across. I more closely resembled a drunken ballerina, but somehow made it to the other side with dry feet.

As we started up, the ibex stood and started up as well. The question was whether we could get to a shooting position before the curve of the mountain hid him or he topped out. We half ran, half stumbled uphill for a couple of hundred yards to a large boulder which would hide us completely. We could see the billy's horns moving as he walked up through a patch of thick brush. It appeared that he would cross a small clearing that might provide a shot. From where we stood, I lased the clearing center with my Zeiss Victory's at a bit under three-hundred yards. We moved up a few more feet to a smaller boulder which would give me a solid rest. The lyre-shaped horns were almost at the opening as I settled into the rifle.

As he cleared, he suddenly stopped and faced us. Based on the previous range estimate and where he now stood, I guessed the shot to be 225-275 yards relatively steeply uphill. There was no time for a second look. I was very steady, and worried that waiting for a broadside shot would leave me with a moving if not completely hidden target. Placing the aiming dot a little low on his chest, I squeezed off the shot followed by a gratifying "thwack" and the sight through the scope of the animal collapsing in his tracks. At that range and at that target, the little 150 gr bullet performed perfectly.


He was indeed a beautiful old ibex. Carlos aged him at 14 years which is about as old as they get. We scored him, and fortunately the middle horn circumference on the right side had to be taken in an area chipped from fighting. Those lost two points in scoring kept him in the silver classification. He would easily score SCI gold were I so inclined. Looking around, I was truly humbled as I realized one could hardly hope to take any animal in a more beautiful setting or with better people.

The only thing worse than hiking up a mountain is hiking back down. All of our knees and feet were barking by the time we finally reached the vehicles. Stopping at a small mountain restaurant, gave us the opportunity to finish paperwork and celebrate a perfect day with an ice-cold Spanish lager.

We will likely return to Spain again in a few years. We have much left to see and do. And I simply love hunting with these people. They are a direct, casual folk with none of the aloofness one can sometimes find in other corners of Europe. And in a land where bulls are still killed in the ring, PETA and its ilk are making very slow progress.

I can also highly recommend Great Spanish Hunts. http://www.greatspanishunts.com/en/ Ignacio and Felipe will be at both DSC and SCI. I have hunted with them twice and both experiences exceeded my expectations - and they were high. Drop by and see them.
 
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375 Ruger Fan

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@Red Leg : Another excellent report on another awesome adventure! This looks like a future trip I will need to do with my non-hunting wife.
 

PHOENIX PHIL

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Well done!
 

ActionBob

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Thanks for the excellent report Joe and congrats on two fantastic critters(y)

We are in the process of finding dates for Spain;)
 

Wheels

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Thanks for sharing another great trip with us.

The ibex and boar are both fantastic!
 

gillettehunter

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Great trophies. Thanks for sharing. Looks like a great hunt. Would be one that I would like to do sometime.
Bruce
 

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Nyati

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Congrats, those are very good trophies !

Glad you enjoyed your stay.
 

sierraone

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A great hunt in a short time frame and as always a great hunt report...Thanks!
 

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@Red Leg : Good shooting and nice report. The question is do I share this with Ms Edge?!?

We are thinking hard about taking a trip to Spain and possibly mixing in Romania or Poland for a dual sightseeing/hunting trip.

Well done!
 

Bullthrower338

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Great report and wonderful animals!

Cheers,
Cody
 

BRICKBURN

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Well done on a very civilized hunt. Great family itinerary.
Congratulations on two very nice trophies. That Boar is certainly a monster.
 

lwaters

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Great report. Spain looks like an interesting place to tour and hunt.
 

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Very nice! Congrats and thanks for sharing!
 

flatwater bill

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RL..........fine report, and some great trophies............I want to hunt Europe next year, so this is of particular interest to me. Quick question, you mentioned A bolt 300.......good gun......theirs or yours? Was wondering if you took a rifle, and of the difficulties. I was not allowed to bring a rifle into Spain about 8 years ago. Wondering what you did with rifle while touring ........again fine report..............FWB
 

Red Leg

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Hey Bill. Sorry I wasn’t clear. Yes, I borrowed the rifle. Bringing a rifle for a hunt is very doable. However, playing armed tourist is a bit tricky. Would really have liked to have my .275 on both of these animals.
 

cagkt3

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Congrats! Sounds like it was a great trip all around!
 

huntermn15

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What a great trip! Thank you for sharing.
 

One Day...

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Red Leg

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Wow !!! Real-world difference between .300 mag 180 gr and 150 gr...

Great report, great hunt and great shooting @Red Leg.

In regard to your comments re. 150 gr .300 mag, take a quick pick at the picture in my latest post at https://www.africahunting.com/threa...mes-or-tsx-bullets-be-30-lighter.45537/page-6 , I am absolutely floored by the real-world difference between 180 gr and 150 gr....................
Had a bad experience with a 150 gr SP from a 300 Wby once upon a long time ago. Cratered a shoulder. We found the poor animal, but it wasn't pretty. Like this boar or your steel plates, hardly a controlled experiment, but for me, that is now twice. I like .30 cal 180's on anything bigger than deer, and part of the allure, to me at least, of the .300 Win Mag and Wby is getting that sort of velocity out of a 180.
 

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