“Bowhunting spanish ibex its one of the most fun hunts you can do, if you add a group of friends around it, the result can not be more amazing. I was a great experience to spend a week with the guys from Greenatur and a very special guest, Adam Foss. Memories will last for ever”
Text by Adam Foss
Pedro and I first met in person at the IWA Show in Germany last year, but we’d long been in communication about our common passion of hunting. We hit it off instantly, and it didn’t take long to realize that we were living in symmetry on different continents; Pedro in Spain and myself in North America. We are both 26, have been fortunate to bowhunt in some wild places our entire lives and were brought into the sport by our fathers. We’d kept in touch regularly for the past year, and dreamt of hunting together. When it came time to plan this year’s IWA show, Pedro offered the opportunity to hunt in his home country and it was game on!
The mountains near Teruel, Spain would set a spectacular stage for an incredible hunt. Pedro had hunted the area several times with his friends, Daniel and Julian. He told me it was a special place and it did not disappoint. Rolling agricultural land, etched with centuries-old terraces butted up to steep mountains, lined with cliffs, rocky outcroppings and patches of thick forest. It was a bowhunter’s paradise.
Beceite Ibex, one of the four Ibex in Spain, are of the Capra (goat) genus. The Mediterranean Mountains, which are a semi-coastal mid-height range, are relatively navigable for hunters. Typical of spring, groups of male billies are found in easier terrain. They have incredibly impressive horns, especially for their stocky and compact body size. Their keen eyesight and the fact that they are used to being hunted make them a tricky animal to take with archery tackle.
Right off the bat on the first morning of the hunt, we had two large groups of billies in the glass. The group was feeding on the open knob above Pedro. We waited for the group to bed then drew up a game plan to close the distance.
We were able to get on top of the knob and get above the band. After a couple of attempts, we side-stepped and circled around to get close to the large billy. Pedro has an uncanny sense for anticipating what an animal is going to do next. We figured we’d be in his wheelhouse if we got beneath a large pine we’d picked out, but were shocked at that the distance the Geovid read was only 20 meters. The billy was bedded, we could just see his horns and head peeking above the tall grass on the left side of the photo. We inched into position and laid in wait.
After several minutes, Pedro sensed the billy was getting antsy and he whispered for me to ‘get ready.’ Seconds later, he stood and I sent the arrow on a deadly mission. When the ibex tipped over within sight, we celebrated with the rare, but sweet, emotion only felt after good fortune in the hunting hills. We’d talked before about about how there are few hunting partners that are as, or even more, excited as you are when you have success. After just one morning of hunting together, it was clear that Pedro is one of those guys beyond being an incredibly skilled hunter. Sharing an astounding moment like that was something I’ll never forget and I was truly thankful to have such luck.
After a thrilling first day, we hoped to keep the lucky streak going, so we got back behind the glass to try and turn up some ibex. Typically on a mountain hunt, we would carry a set of Geovid HD-B 8×42, Ultravid 12×50 and a Televid 65 or 82mm. Mounting the Ultravids on a tripod gives you the ability to systematically pick apart country, while the Televid lets you get in tight for trophy evaluation. The Geovids are particularly handy for the bowhunter as you can identify an animal and get an instant range all at the same time and in an 8×42 package you can easily handhold them with one hand. Dani and Julien of Greenatur would never be found without their 10×42 Geovids and Televid and made some incredible spots on the hunt. These guys are absolute experts at ibex hunting and have as good of eyes as I’ve ever seen.
There are plenty of great hunting areas and great hunting guides around, but finding the two together is rare. That’s why Greenatur, who owns and operates 85,000 hectares of the best Beceite Ibex habitat in Teruel, is something truly special you don’t find many places around the world. Daniel Herranz and Julien Serena are the definition of bowhunting specialists and their understanding of the animal, habits and terrain was astounding. Besides being the best at what they do, they were a pleasure to spend time with in the mountains. The duo’s practical jokes, tall hunting tales and young-at-heart mentality easily made their company the most memorable part of the trip. What was especially unique about Dani and Julien’s relationship with Pedro is that they are more than acquaintances who’ve hunted together in the past, they’re very close friends and regular hunting partners for various species all year round. It was pretty cool to be welcomed into that kind of brotherhood.
Any hunter will tell you that taking an animal with a bow offers great difficulty. But choosing to hunt ibex with a recurve takes this challenge to a new level. It was Pedro’s goal to give it a try and it was fun to try stalks in recurve-friendly situations (if there is such a thing!). Throwing another wrench into the plan was the weather. Hunting on a different continent always brings unexpected outcomes, but the variable weather of the Mediterranean Mountains was something I didn’t anticipate. From fog, to rain, to snow, then brilliant sunshine, we had it all… sometimes even in the same day! All these factors only add to the challenge and make it that much more enjoyable if and when we overcame them.
The third day of the hunt started with finding a huge group of billies hanging together. There were a couple shooters in the bunch and the group presented an opportunity to slip within bow range, though, with that many eyes, it was time to get give it a go with the compound. We decided the setup was too good to squander and we took off up the mountain while Dani and Julien filmed through a digiscoping adapter for the Televid.
The stalk was on and we were able to circle around and get above the majority of the billies. In this photo, you can see us on the left eying up the billies below us just out of bow range. On the top right of the photo there are two billies feeding. The excitement of being within 100 meters of wild animals is something that never gets old. We just had to wait for the right time to make our move and sneak into the middle of the group to shoot the ibex we were looking for, having ibex walking by us several times. In such situations, it’s a must to have a partner that you do not even notice is walking behind you, the synchronization of movements must be perfect to avoid blowing the stalk. It was just like Adam and I had been hunting together forever. The role of Adam with the rangemaster was crucial for what happened next… a result of an unreal teamwork of friends working together, together as wolfpack.
There were so many incredible memories on this trip, it’s difficult to limit the photos of story to just a handful. Here are a few of the light-hearted moments. I hope you enjoy them almost as much as we enjoyed creating them.
After waiting four hours for an opportunity, there was nothing better than seeing the ibex coming straight to us. Pedro had the bow at full draw was waiting for the right moment for making the shot, while I was readingthe measurements as the ibex got closer. When you’re bowhunting with someone and your in close, it’s just as exciting to be running the rangefinder as the bow and I was glad I was there to experience it. What a surreal moment! Another unique aspect of European style hunting is the use of dogs for tracking. Pedro had trained his dog, Ram, as his hunting companion since a pup. Ram had the fantastic billy found within minutes. It was awesome to see him work and lay our hands on the fruits of our collective efforts.
But by far, the most memorable part of this trip will be the time spent with great people in beautiful country and the new lifelong friendships forged. I can’t thank Daniel and Julien enough for a trip of a lifetime and Pedro for opening up his world to me. It’s rare that you find generosity to this high a level and I look forward to the day that I can host Pedro on a trip in North America… I just hope I can show him as great of a time as he showed me. The bar has been set exceptionally high!
Pictures by Adam Foss, Frankie Pirolo and Pedro Ampuero.