Pursuit of the Southeastern Ibex Day One

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For the third time in three years, my wife Jan and I returned to the beautiful

mountains of Spain to hunt ibex with our good friend and owner of Caza Hispanica,

Vicente Gil. The nine-hour flight on Thursday, March 12 from Dallas to Madrid

tempered our excitement a bit, but the anticipation to hunt elevated once again on the

comfortably short flight from Madrid to Almeria located on the southeastern coast on the

Mediterranean Sea and our temporary residence for the next five nights. A mid-day

arrival following check-in at the Marriott located in the middle of the impeccably clean

and colorful city provided Jan with a target-rich shopping environment within walking

distance of our hotel. By 7 on our first evening, we relaxed while dining in one of the

ubiquitous tapas bars located throughout the city.

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Our second day, Sunday, began with Mass just a stone’s throw from our room

followed by lunch and a casual walk along the Mediterranean shoreline, followed by a

visit to the historic Moorish fortress, Alcazaba, providing us a glimpse of life in Almeria

10 centuries ago.

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On Monday morning Vicente Gil and our interpreter Ionela Scoarta picked us up

at the hotel, and we made the hour-long drive west to Velefique, a tiny village situated in

the second largest mountain range in Europe, the Sierra de los Filabres Mountains.

Following breakfast at a quaint yet busy little restaurant with our second guide, Gasper,

we drove the narrow, winding road to the top of the 7,000-feet tall mountain. The steep,

verdant slopes, littered with rocky outcrops, were home to the southeastern species of

ibex, one of four subspecies that occur in Spain and smaller horned than the gredos and

beceite ibex which I have taken over the previous two years.

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A sunny, clear morning, we drove to several ideal observation points, glassed for

rams, and enjoyed little luck, but were rewarded with panoramic views of white

flowering almond trees sprinkled over the vibrant green landscape. Just before noon we

hiked along the top of one of the many ridges peering downward in an attempt to locate

ibex bedding down amongst the boulders during the warmer part of the day. Negotiating

our way through one of the many pine stands, we spotted a group of rams on an opposing

rocky slope, but upon our approach, Vicente felt they were not what we were after, so we

continued to investigate other rocky portions visible from the
mountainside we traversed.

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A second hike was initiated later in the afternoon when Gaspar and I negotiated

our way along a boulder-ridden mountainside for almost a mile before we spotted a

single ram of average horn size feeding below us. Since the rams consolidate at this time

of year, we remained in position hoping others would join the single animal, but as we

did, clouds from below began to encroach on the area and before I knew it, the entire

mountainside was inundated by clouds, eliminating our visibility. Hoping the wind

would clear out the cloud cover, we remained for almost an hour, and as the clouds

dissipated to a degree, we spotted nine more rams working their way down the opposing

mountainside as well as the single ram we saw earlier, but before we could critique horn

size of the additional rams, the clouds returned and my first day of hunting was over.


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