Not many hunters from the U.S. ever venture outside of the United States,If your one of those you are missing out! As Americans we have been blessed with a country that offers a multitude of hunting opportunities in some of the most scenic places in the world. But the one thing we do lack is history for example hunting in Europe where the hunting traditions date back hundreds if not thousands of years. Imagine arriving in Madrid Spain driving from the airport past churches, monuments, and buildings of all types five hundred to over eight hundred years old. Your drive through the countryside with a castle off in the distance then a fortress on a hill with a village built around it all hundreds of years old and still fully functional with people living there. It gets better as you head to the mountains the scenery and architecture take you back in time traveling along old cobblestone roads passing old stone homes with moss covered slate roofs and even a few old Roman ruins.You arrive at your lodging a beautiful six-hundred-year-old fully restored home high in the Gredos mountains the scenery lush and amazing. Your host Fran Cortina of Corju Hunting greets you with what else Spain’s beverage of choice a glass of wine. This is quickly followed by a wonderful meal including many of the local dishes which always include thinly sliced pork aged for months, a variety of cheese, and never without an assortment of delicious breads and of course wine.
The lodging and meal you are still processing, and Fran informs us to pack three days of clothing and gear into our packs and we were off on the next leg of the journey. An hour and half four-wheel drive trip high into the mountains to yet another adventure horses! Horses loaded with supplies and saddles on others for us oh boy. This leg is approximately an hour and the scenery eye popping with a river below, Red Stag running off in the distance and our first glimpse of our quarry the Gredos Ibex. What an amazing animal to see in the wild,like our Big Horn sheep here in the states they prefer the high mountains and steep cliffs and terrain.
We arrive at another fully restored house hundreds of years old high in the Gredos mountains surrounded by steep mountains, cliffs, rivers, and waterfalls all around us. The horses are unpacked, and we are shown to our room with only a few minutes to get ready and within an hour of arrival my bow is in hand and we are headed up the mountain no time wasted here. Within thirty minutes we have spotted our first Ibex this is where the fun starts in Spain you hunt with Game keepers.
Game keepers stay in the mountains all year round watching and guarding these animals from poachers, they know every animal on the mountain. In Spain as it is in most of Europe there are no public lands it has all been held by families for many years in many cases hundreds of years. As one might expect the Game keepers only speak Spanish and myself only English which was fun and frustrating at the same time. You will always have a translator with but when hunting you are not always able to stay together, this is where sign language is handy. Deciding which animal to plan a stalk on can be a difficult discussion with a language barrier. Most outfitters in Europe charge based on medal categories, Gold, Silver, Bronze and this seems simple enough but for the uneducated this can be very costly. You may book a hunt for a Bronze Medal Ibex and most will give you a score based on SCI’s scoring system, Bronze medal scoring SCI 69 to 72. In most cases if it scores higher you will be charged $360 and up per centimeter, andthat costs goes up for each medal class.There are many horror stories of hunters getting a bill after the hunt for more than $20,000 because of this.
For me to be able to judge a couple centimeters on animals I am familiar with would be extremely difficult let alone an animal I have never seen before. So, you rely heavily on the Game Keepers and your guides expertise, they are very good at scoring these animals. Fortunately, when hunting with Fran and Corju Hunting he really simplifies the process. When you book with Corju if you want to upgrade to Silver Medal or Gold Medal he gives you a flat price upfront and he is very fair if they misjudge an animal which is very seldom. His prices are very reasonable compared to most others and his knowledge of the animals and the areas is very impressive.
The first evening of hunting was spent learning to judge the animals which proved difficult even at the end of the hunt for me. Several trophy class Ibex were spotted but it was to early for me to end the hunt so that evening ended with sore legs and exhaustion with no time spent adjusting to the nine-hour time difference. The dinner they prepared that night was amazing and of course served with wine, the Spanish wine is very good! Bright and early the next morning we were headed up the canyon again and like the evening before it wasn’t long before we spotted Ibex. Since I was hunting with a bow I was very selective of which animal I was going to stalk, so much time was spent judging and communicating or attempting to. I myself was confused and unsure if I shot one of the monsters I was looking at if I would be getting a monster bill. Unfortunately, Fran was on another mountain top nearby with a hunter and my interpreter was his wife Carmen, so it wasn’t until afterword I found out I could have upgraded to gold for a set price. I would have gladly paid the more than fair upcharge to gold for the opportunity to harvest one of the giant Ibex I had seen. In the U.S. we would be looking for that elusive 400” Bull or 200” Buck, here the difference between Bronze and Gold is 10 centimeters, yes centimeters!
After passing on several Gold Medal Ibex we found what was an exceptional trophy I was willing to harvest. The stalk was just over an hour with the Ibex appearing only ten yards in front of me on the rocks above. My shot was well placed, and Macho was down immediately. It was surreal after planning the trip for a year, two days of travel, the afternoon of the second day the hunt was over. I held a magnificent Gredos Ibex in my hands sitting in one of the most beautiful canyons I have ever seen. I gave thanks to the Lord above for my blessings and we started our trek out of the mountains.
If I were in the states hunting, we would be off sight seeing or headed home but that is one of the many benefits of hunting abroad. Since the properties are privately held you can hunt more than one species or if one wanted several of the same. There are four different Ibex in Spain, Gredos, Beceite, Ronda, and the South Eastern. In addition to Ibex youcan hunt Roe deer, Mouflon sheep, Chamois, Red Stag, Fallow Deer, Balearian Goat, Barbary Sheep (Aoudad), Arrui, Wild Boar, Iberian Wolf, and of course several species of bird hunting.In this case we were off to France for more hunting adventures but that is another story.
With the hunt a success Fran made sure we took in the sights in the area visiting villages and tasting the foods and wines before taking us back to Madrid for our flight to France. That evening we spent with Fran and Carmen on a quick tour of Madrid and more food and wine, they were amazing hosts.
Fran and Corju Hunting have a very good reputation for a reason he really cares that you enjoy not only your hunt but your time in Spain. I have hunted with many outfitters around the world andI would recommend several, but without hesitation refer anyone to Corju Hunting because there is no doubt he will take care of them. Corju has great areas for all the animals listed above, with his knowledge of the areas and different species there is no reason to go to anyone else.
Spain is a beautiful country with so much to see and do. The ocean borders over half of Spain and from the north to the south the variation and culture are vast adding to its beauty. Most of the people speak English as a second language in the cities but out in the countryside Spanish is predominant. The food and wine are worth the visit alone but add in a hunting adventure with all of this and you have a trip of a life time, Spain is a must see!
Corju Hunting Corju.com
Fran Cortina firstname.lastname@example.org Phone +35 659 48 02 67
Guy Bennallack Vice President SCI Las Vegas Chapter Guy@trclv.com