From north to south and east to west, Spain offers hunting species and methods for all tastes. In Spain, the general hunting season starts in early October and ends at the beginning of February, although there are no common dates for the whole country, because the powers and functions regarding hunting lie with the regions, which regulate the hunting activity in their territories. This situation makes things much more complicated for hunters, but I will write about this issue on another occasion.
The hunting season starts for partridge, rabbit, hare, migratory birds and, of course, also big game hunting starts in October. Hunting with hounds is starting, with the main species being wild boar and red deer, although it is sometimes possible to hunt mouflon and fallow deer. For those who are not familiar with the Spanish montería (hunting with hounds), let me explain briefly what is involved. Naturally, there are all kinds of varieties, depending on the species hunted, the relief of the terrain, the kind of surface, etc..., but it basically consists of a group of hunters surrounding a particular section of land. Once they are in position the dogs are let loose, and they move the game towards the hunters. The groups of dogs are called rehalas and each one consists of around 25 dogs. Each group is guided by a perrero (dog warden) who leads the dogs to the area allocated to them. It is not unusual for more than 10 groups to take part, so we can sometimes end up with no less than 250 dogs.
It is very exciting to be in the hide and hear how the dogs bark when chasing its quarry, which runs towards you very fast. You have to shoot quickly: in just a few seconds you have to check that it is an authorised game, and if it is, shoot. Thanks to this type of hunting, we Spaniards are very used to shooting on the move.
I still remember the case of a hunter friend of my husband who we invited to one of these monterías. As it was the first time he was taking part in one, we chose a good spot for him where he would likely have some opportunities to shoot. We were just next to him. Several red deer and wild boar passed by us and the spot where our friend was standing as well, and we were able to shoot a nice red deer and a wild boar. We could see where our friend was, and we were surprised not to hear any shots being fired. At the end of the hunt we asked him what had happened, thinking that maybe he had a problem with his rifle. He said that many animals came by him but none of them stopped, so he was not able to shoot. We told him that is unlikely that a deer or boar will stop while it is being chased by dogs, but he kept saying he was not used to shooting at moving animals. We invited him back the following year and he did start shooting – and with great success – because he got a good wild boar and two red deer.
Forecasts for this season
It is difficult to put out figures when talking about hunting, but the forecasts seem to indicate that we will hunt around 200,000 wild boar, 120,000 red deer, and 15,000 fallow deer and mouflons in Spain this season. As for small game, around 5,000,000 partridges, almost 6,000,000 rabbits, 3,000,000 hares and other species will be hunted.
The 2010/2011 season will be good for big game, because it has rained a lot and there was a lot of food available in the spring. As for small game, it will be a normal season, with a reasonable number of partridges. We had many quail in August, and although no official figures have been released yet more than one and a half million specimens were hunted.
The economic downturn has also affected hunting, and the prices of monterias and driven partridge hunts have dropped quite considerably. It is also a good time to contract a Spanish ibex hunt at much lower prices than in previous years. If you can do it, do not let the opportunity go by.
In later articles I will keep you updated on the hunting situation in Spain. I wish you all a good hunting season, and if anyone is interested in coming to Spain, do not hesitate to contact me… I am sure we will be able to find you an interesting hunting programme!