The day starts with a traditional Monteria breakfast named 'Migas', a mixture of fried breadcrumbs with garlic, onions and pepperoni topped with fried eggs, a furness of carbs to keep you warm during the 5 hour hunt, all washed down with coffee and Rioja.
Once fed, Diego gives a thorough safety talk, 17 rifles out in the field together requires everyone to abide by a strict set of rules to ensure the safety of every member of both the shooting line and dog handling/game driving line.
Following the safety talk, prayers are held for the success of the hunt and for hunters, especially for those who have passed. A loud 'Viva Espana' follows the prayers and then the draw for 'posts' is held, the post being the number of your stand for the day, there are normally a series of lines of guns covering the estate. A card or envelope is selected by the individual guns from the pile on the table and the organisers will record your position in the draw.
The map of the estate showing the lines of guns. My post was El Buho 1. The dark blue arrows show the direction and starting point for the teams of dogs.
After breakfast a moment to compare hardware before the hunt. The Westley Richards 300 win mag in Carbine format in the left hand received much praise and envy!
El Buho 1, my post for the day occupied by Jose Maria Pascual who has guided me for the past few years. A competent and enthusiastic 'Secretario' is for me, essential for an enjoyable day. I have never been able to concentrate on a shot and select from 6 running animals which is the better or correct target, the quiet and confident '3rd from front' sort of call, is for me, essential. You can see from this shot that the area which you cover with your rifle is about 200 yards long, in this case to the north with a width of about 50 yards. Animals will both cross the open area and run down it.
The southerly view from my post.
At 11am with everyone safe on their post, the dog handlers release their dogs and proceed to walk the estate driving or moving the game, it takes about 4 hours for the handlers to walk their section of the estate and return to where they started. During this time game will suddenly appear so the rifles need to be in a constant state of readiness, sit down and it's a given a boar or stag will race past, you won't have time for a shot having gathered yourself up. Each day will have a quota for each gun to shoot, this day each gun had the opportunity to shoot 2 fallow deer, 1 stag and 6 boar. If we liked we could swop one fallow for another boar. The Monteria is in essence an estate cull, the keeper and owner will decide what needs to be taken off the land that year and this will be sold and taken by the group of hunters, a balance of providing income for the estate and managing the herd. This is not trophy hunting and the estate need the cull also to work efficiently. Every estate will give a different quota according to their requirement, it could be 2 stag and 4 hinds if the numbers dictate that. In Spain Red Stag, Fallow, Boar and Mouflon are the main species encountered on Monteria.
The hunting dogs are a fearsome and motley bunch. They work hard, often to the point of exhaustion.
I was fortunate to take 5 boar and 2 Fallow deer from my quota this day. This shot of a Fallow shows the distance to the post where Jose is sitting, across the ride.
The finest 'big tusker' boar of the day. My host Sheikh Sultan Al Thani took a very fine gold medal Fallow outclassing my mere possible bronze! The days bag was 77 boar, 10 Fallow and 12 stags.
The Monteria is a very fine and exciting hunt, bathed in tradition it is an experience I can recommend very highly and one which I return to enjoy year after year.
For details on hunting please speak to Diego Satrustegui at Espacaza in Madrid, I am quite certain he will look after you!
vancedaigle on December 3, 2015 at 7:02 am
What a grand story, it sounds like such a wonderful hunt. Thank you very much for sharing this story, as an ole hunter I love the format that is used on this type of hunt. No only a very enjoyable couple of days steeped in tradition, but it also keeps the herds of wildlife in check, it's not just random thinning of a herd. What a grand tradition it is...
Many thanks for the Story, without your blog I would have perhaps never heard of such hunts, Thank you....
Larry on December 3, 2015 at 7:49 am
I've always wanted to go fallow hunting! Thanks for the story! What was the largesst fallow taken?
Simon Clode on December 3, 2015 at 12:22 pm
A Gold Medal Fallow!
Neill Clark on December 4, 2015 at 1:03 pm
My god, those dogs scare me! Still, looks like they did what was needed. I loved your "3rd from the front" comment, it reminded me of the first Partridge I shot back in the 80's. A covey flew over, and down came the last bird to my gun. Thing was, I was aiming at the leading bird! Never let on though.
Dr. Paul A. Draghi on December 9, 2015 at 11:40 am
Thank you for a blog posting that so graphically portrays the essence of a great hunt as an exquisite, primal and collegial experience, as it has been from the beginning of time! The photos of the hounds are riveting.
Herminio García-Baquero on October 14, 2016 at 1:58 pm
I have just read your impressive, and wonderful article and see your nice pictures. And believe me that it is just tomorrow when we are having another "monteria" in "an other year". Reading alll your detailed descriptions makes me feel that all the effort that we put in organising this meeting and this special spanish art of hunting is well appreciated at least for you and some special people. I will be thinking of you tomorrow while having the "migas"
All best and kind regards.
Herminio, Torrejon de Modua state owner.