Longbow Hunting Ibex in Madrid: Stalking Mountain Game
Posted on June 14, 2013
In a recent post you read all about longbow hunting in the mountains of Madrid and how to prepare for unknown territory. Now find out about getting primed for the hunt!
Once in the mountains, we were constantly glassing for goats, and I vividly remember spotting my first Gredos ibex. He was a spectacular billy, black on his back and sides, with a white belly, neck and cheeks. The wide-flaring horns, chipped and worn from a rugged life lived in this inhospitable country, were awesome, and I instantly wanted to see them up close. The billy, on the other hand, looking straight down on us from his lofty perch in the rocks, already had us pinned from 500 yards, and he was quite obviously uninterested in my getting a closer look. Thus, the hunt was on, and I realized this wasn’t going to be easy, as these beasts were most assuredly wide awake!
We saw quite a few billies over the course of the hunt, but we were looking for something exceptional, and eventually we found him about half way up a wide box canyon. He was feeding, and unaware of us, but he was in a tough spot to approach.
Stalking Mountain Game
In my experience, stalking mountain game is an exercise rewarded with success far more often when attempted from above the quarry. Or at least from an angle coming in from the side, assuming a cooperating wind. In this case, however, the only option available was from below. Oh well, it was time to earn my keep!
Leaving Giuseppe and the head gamekeeper hunkered down behind some brush, up the canyon I went, mostly on my belly. It was slow going, and when I had finally closed the distance to about 100 yards, the geography of the canyon hid me from the goat’s line of sight. Taking a short breather, I heard rustling from below me. I glanced in that direction, mortified that I had inadvertently crawled into an unseen ibex!
To my relief, if not confusion, I saw Carlos crawling up the hill toward me. When he got next to me, though my Spanish is edgy at best, I sensed from his words and demeanor that he wanted in on the deal. Later, I found out it was bad form to exclude the head guy from the end game. So, a little concerned about the two of us trying to get close enough to this magnificent billy for a longbow shot, off we went.
Taking the Shot
Twenty-five minutes later, after creeping ever upward on belly and knees through the broken rock and thick brush, I was in range. That didn’t mean that I had a shot. The feeding ibex would present a momentary opportunity, only to casually move through what were almost tunnels in the thick, chest-high cover to another tasty bit of forage. It was terribly frustrating. We had done a good job to this point, but I was convinced that with two men crawling through these brushy tunnels, and being within 25 yards or so, we were gonna get busted. My experience told me it was just a matter of time…
It was November, and there was snow on the ground just a few hundred yards above us, but this particular day was unseasonably warm. I was dressed for colder weather, wearing a one piece “union suit” long underwear, and now I was sweating hard. Continuing to crawl, sweat dripping in my eyes, I knew we had to make something happen or the whole exercise was going to be in vain. Though I could hear him moving and feeding, I had lost sight of him.
But then suddenly I caught movement above me, just to my right front, and there he was! My adrenaline surged, and while nocking an arrow, I began the familiar exercise of calming myself for the immanent shot. Moving just a yard or two to get into a position where the limbs of my 66-inch longbow would not be impeded, I confidently drew, anchored and released at the quartered-away billy.
Stay tuned to find out what happens next!
By Lew Webb