Chamois hunt presented physical, global challenges

Hermiston outdoorsman Graham Derbyshire poses with the Cantabrian chamois he harvested Oct. 26 in northwestern Spain. He was able to take down the animal on the first day of his hunt. If you've got a trophy animal to show off, e-mail the picture and info to bgates@hermistonherald.com.

Most hunters in Oregon have never hunted any of the goats found worldwide.  Hunting goats will test your physical and mental well-being more than any other animal. There will be times when you will ask yourself, “What am I doing up here?” 

 These animals live in the most rugged, mountainous areas of the planet.  There is no easy way to reach them; you have to climb thousands of vertical feet to their level, and then have them either gone or standing on some rock formation where an ethical shot is out of the question.    

Goats are classified in the Linnaeus system under the genus Capra.  If my calculations are correct, there are close to 40 species of goats found worldwide. 

There are hunters who have harvested all the world’s goats. I am only after 12 of them. When harvested and documented, this is called the Capra World Slam, very similar to the Grand Slam of North American Sheep which includes the four sheep species of North America, Dall, Stone, Rocky Mountain or Californiam and the Desert.  With only one single species of goat found in North America, the hunter has to go to other continents to harvest the rest.  I have harvested and documented seven species of goats, six species of ibex and one species of tahr.

Last year at the SCI Hunter’s Convention in January, I won the bid on a Ronda ibex hunt in southern Spain.  I then decided to add another goat called the Cantabrian chamois found in the Cantabrian Mountains of northwestern Spain.  I had not hunted chamois before and was looking forward to hunting this very unique and challenging animal.  They weight between 45-75 pounds and have horns that come straight up from the animal’s head and then curve backwards like a upside down J. This species of chamois is the smallest of all the world’s species of chamois.

I booked this hunt for late October with Alvaro Villegas of Euro Hunts. 

While hunting chamois, my wife would be doing some sightseeing in Madrid and Toledo escorted by Alvaro’s girlfriend, Elisa.  

By footing the total cost of the hunt for her and myself, I’m hoping on the next hunting adventure that she might fork over some money to help pay for future hunts. If this happens, it will be a first. 

I might fall over dead and not be able to make the next episode in my quest for another goat if that happens.

I planned to rent a 270 WSM for my hunt.  This was my first time traveling outside of the country where I would not be using my dependable 7-300 Weatherby rifle. With the hassles of permits and customs, I didn’t want to mess with it.

The next morning at breakfast we met Pedro Madrigal, the mayor of the small village and gamekeeper for this unit.  We were also joined by a 74-year-old gentleman named Orencio, who knew the Cantabrian mountains like the back of his hand.

In less than a hour, we stopped and spotted six female and one male chamois high up on the mountain. After watching them for about fifteen minutes, my companions made a plan of attack.  We would drive near the top, and then walk down the peak of the ridge and hunt them from above. The plan almost worked — for the females were there but the male was gone. 

As we walked back to the vehicle we spotted eight females and one male on another mountain.  We decided to eat luch and watch them. Our next plan was to walk up this mountain and hunt them again from the top.  As we got into position for a shot, they busted us and ran under the outcropping we were on and then proceeded to run out of sight. Again, no shots fired. 

My hunting party decided to call it a day. But, as we were driving down the road to the hotel, Alvaro spotted a male chamois all by himself feeding on some vegetation about 900 yards up on the side of the mountain.  We stopped and decided that three of us would try and move upward from the road and get into a position to make a shot.  We finally got within 330 yards of the feeding chamois and, by luck, there was a large boulder  I could use for a rest for my rifle. 

I took careful aim, for I had an audience of three watching me. As I made the shot, the chamois showed signs of being hit and laid down on the side of the mountain. We decided to see if we could get closer and if he decided to stand up, I would try another shot and finish the deal. When we closed the distance to 270 yards, he stood up and again I had another large boulder to rest my gun on and take aim. This time the shot went through both front shoulders and down the hill he rolled, eventually being stopped by some large boulders.

I would like to thank Alvaro, Pedro and Orencio for this great hunting adventure in their beautiful country.  Without their help, my dream of hunting goats would not have been accomplished.

Now, on to south Spain for to hunt Ronda ibex.

The Outdoor Journal is a reader-written feature detailing local people enjoying nature and the great outdoors. Anything that deals with the outdoors is welcome. E-mail Billy Gates at the Hermiston Herald, bgates@hermistonherald.com

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