Hunting in Spain
The Spanish are as passionate about hunting as they are about bullfighting. The country is littered with thousands of hunting grounds where the prey ranges from starlings and stags to wood pigeons and wild wolves.
As with bullfighting, hunting is largely the preserve of Spanish males. Celt-Iberian cave dwellers hunted wild animals to survive and in medieval times the Spanish aristocracy transformed hunting into the sport of Kings. In the 21st century, hunting remains one of the country’s most popular past times with a much broader appeal among the masses than in countries such as the UK where the sport is still largely associated with affluence and the aristocracy.
In rural towns and villages throughout Spain you’ll see the local huntsmen setting out either on foot or in cars towing trailers containing their hunting dogs (usually the greyhound-like Podencos). And it’s not uncommon to find them in the bars later with several rabbits strapped to their belts after a successful day’s hunting!
What do the Spanish hunt?
Red-legged partridge (patiroja or perdiz brava) and quail (cordoniz) are among the most popular prey of small game hunters. The hard-flying perdiz brava (meaning brave or wild partridge) is naturally reared and provides a challenge for the most expert marksmen. Wherever there’s a major hunting reserve in Spain you’ll find local restaurants serving up seasonal dishes of partridge, quail, deer and wild boar.
Wild boar are still relatively common in mountainous areas throughout Spain and along with other exotic prey including wolves and the highly prized Spanish Ibex they attract big game hunters from all over Europe and the USA. It’s legal to shoot all these creatures within various national and regional regulations governing when and where they can be hunted. But certain highly endangered animals including the few remaining brown bears which still roam the mountains of northern Spain and the virtually extinct Spanish Lynx are fiercely protected and the hunting of them incurs severe penalties.
Hunting licences are issued by each of Spain’s 17 autonomous communities which publish their own hunting season calendars showing the specific times, species and areas where hunting is permitted. These controls, together with regulations imposed by the local hunting associations, are designed to protect the hunted species from becoming dangerously depleted. Weapon permits are issued by local police stations.
If you’re planning to bring your own gun into Spain from abroad you’ll need to have an international extension to the weapon permit which applies in your own country. You’ll also need a special export permit if you want to take a hunting trophy home with you.
Specialist tour operators offer gun hire and all the necessary permits and licences for the benefit of foreigners visiting Spain for tailor-made hunting holidays.
Some of the country’s best hunting grounds are to be found in Andalucia (particularly Cazorla, Ronda and Sierra Nevada), the Sierra de Gredos to the South East of Madrid and in the Cantabrian mountains and Pyrenees in northern Spain.
The wild goats which roam the spectacular Tamuntana Mountain Range in the north eastern corner of the Balearic island of Mallorca are an elusive but popular prey for huntsmen from across the globe.