November is my favourite hunting month. The sleeves draw a magical landscape: intense yellows, squeaky oranges, ocher, dark greens and white sparks from the morning dew. As the nights are quite cold, the game tends to look for refugee at the milder bottom of the valleys. It’s the autumn’s apogee, the optimal timing for the Monteria season.
Monteria hunting stances are categorized depending on the location inside the hunting area. Low closing stances (sopié) are located at the lower limits of the hunting area and often get a lot of hind and young stags opportunities. High closure stances (cuerda) are located at the top limits if the hunting area and can be very successful on old deers and large boars. At the center of the hunting action, the stances are located side by side along firewalls or wider paths. These stances usually get most of the action and require a lot of attention and skill as the game literally flies when crossing open ground while being chased by the dogs.
This last Saturday we were hunting in the mountains near the beautiful and centenary city of Ávila. It is one of the coldest and windiest areas of central Spain, rich in roe deer and big boars with an increasing population of wolves. We drew the stances the night before the hunting day and I got a high closing stance. A bit in the middle of nowhere – cold and quite windy. We woke up with -1º degrees and threatening dark grey clouds building up in the distance. At the morning meeting we were warned by the estate guard about the high stances as those would be really cold this morning.
As we climbed through the icy estate paths, the landscape shifted from bright autumn colours to dark greens though a thick pinewood and finally to a windy and snowy bare rockrose mountain top. As we left the cars behind, the icy wind was stinging my face. I had been told that my stance had a quite short shooting area and I had decided to carry my 30.06 equipped with my Leica Tempus ASPH. I have to say, it was a relief to carry such a light equipment as the constant descent and climbing along the mountain top profile was exhausting.
My stance was located at the top of the rock and I was completely exposed to the wind. It was going to be a tough day. When I thought it was bad enough, the low clouds were pushed by the constant wind and a few minutes after positioning myself, I was surrounded by this cold and humid mist. I could not hear anything due to the strong wind and that made my stance almost impossible to get a proper shot as in this narrow stances, any noise gives you heads up to get a successful shot.
The dogs must have been released around 10:30 a.m. as I could see some of them scattered at the bottom of the valley when the mist allowed it. My first visitor was a beautiful female roe deer, scared by the dogs at the bottom of the valley. She passed just a couple of meters away from me with a few elegant and harmonic jumps. My hands were stiff due to the cold weather and I decided to put them to some cover in my coat pockets. That is not recommendable in monterias as the opportunities are few and require fast action. Almost like in an slow motion picture, I saw in the corner of my eyes, two mid sized boars crossing the path a few meters way from me. Even though I am quite used to adopt the shooting position fast, I was definitively not fast enough and those two sneaked into the hunting area. I cursed silently for not being fast enough and thought that I blew my chance for today.
Luckily, these two had showed me their crossing path and I was now focused on that area. As the minutes go by, I see my stance neighbour getting ready to shoot and I do the same. A large boar crosses the path alone and as it is closer to me, I wait for it to cross the safe shooting line and take the shot. It falls on the spot, what an easy shot! I admit the red dot sight makes these shots so easy. The adrenaline runs though my veins and the stiffness disappears. An hour goes by and sometimes we hear isolated shots in the distance.
Suddenly, I hear my neighbour taking a shot and I look towards him. He points at the area between his stance and mine. The vegetation is quite thick, and I can’t hear anything due to the strong wind. I get ready when at least a dozen boars start crossing the path. I quickly locate the biggest and eldest one and even get the chance to see its massive tusks. I aim and place the red dot just a few centimetres ahead of its eye and take the shot. It collapses on the spot without any drama, while I load another 30.06 bullet. I still have the chance to get a younger, 3-year-old boar. I take aim and fire. Again, another successful shot.
Being able to shoot with both eyes open, an incredibly quick target acquisition… I admit I have always been quite traditional on rifles and optical equipment, but the combination of a straight pull bolt action rifle and the Leica Tempus ASPH. makes the perfect driven hunt combination.
Leica Tempus ASPH.