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SPORTSMAN’S QUEST: Luxury hunting in Spain

There are hunts and there are tough hunts with tents and freeze-dried food on the campfire; all are adventures. Then there’s Spain. It’s a tough, luxurious hunting adventure, as my friends Commissioner Debra Strickland and husband Larry discovered on their latest adventure. They signed up for a coveted Spanish Ibex hunt at a Safari Club International Convention in Las Vegas with Salva Monforte of Spain Hunting Ibex.

They were prepared. Larry holds a world title and Debra holds a national title in Cowboy Action Shooters using pistols and long guns. They have both hunted in Africa several times as well as in Australia and Argentina, also with pistols and long guns. These are two of my serious hunter heroes.

Their hunt began in Madrid where they were met and transported to their hunting lodge in the beautiful mountains east of the Pyrenees. The next morning, after a rest at the comfortably impressive lodge, the hunting started on horseback for Larry’s Gredos Ibex. They left the horses at a spike camp and began the tough climb to where the Ibex could be found.

They found them, but passed on several nice animals, then spotted the one Larry had dreamed of. It was old with heavy horns and they began their stalk to within 300 yards. A single shot from Larry’s Sako 300 Win. Mag. insured his success. A long heavy pack-out, and celebration with fine food and drink, brought the day to an end.

Then they were off on a long drive to the main hunting lodge for Beceite Ibex. Upon arriving they offered to help retrieve a trophy for a pair of archers, as is the custom of hunters to help fellow adventurers.

While in the process of retrieving the archer’s game they found in the distance another fine old Beceite and the hunt was on. Closing the distance to 315 yards, the Sako spoke again and Larry had his second Ibex, both hard-earned. Another traditional European celebration with food and wine concluded his hunt.

The next day it was Debra’s turn in a new area for Mouflon sheep. They found several groups while Larry spotted from the back of the truck through the cold rain, like the true spotter he is, but passed on dozens of rams, waiting for the right one. They spotted it.

At first she could see only three heads of the sheep quartering away. As they topped the hill she found the one she had dreamt of for many years.

The timing was right, the shot was right and the animal was as they had hoped. One perfect, quick-moving shot that she knew so well from her training, took it down. Then the work of retrieving it began.

Returning to the lodge it was more food, wine and stories all around with her fellow hunters who were amazed at Debra’s marksmanship. They were also amazed, as am I, at stories of her previous hunts with a pistol for water buffalo in Australia and other game. The celebration was enjoyed by all.

That’s what hunting is all about, not just the killing of an animal. It’s about food of the harvest, travel, adventure and making new friends.

You heard about celebration with fine food, wine and a historic lodge. That’s Spain, and a tough, luxurious hunt I trust is also in your and my future.

But, it wasn’t over. They were on their way to Barcelona to enjoy its legendary architecture, museums and yes, more fine food. That’s another day’s story.

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