Editor Pete Carr heads out to Portugal for his first experience at hunting driven hoofed game Iberian style
Last year I enjoyed a hunt with a difference in a country I hadn’t visited before. The destination was Portugal, and the quarry species would be red deer and wild boar. Both are particular favourites of mine, and as they would be driven they would be all the more exciting. I have enjoyed many a driven hoofed game hunt in Germany and Scandinavia, so I was very much looking forward to the Portuguese counterpart. It was a media hunt organised in collaboration between Merkel, Kahles and RWS to showcase their products in the field to selected European hunting journalists, so I felt very honoured to receive the invite.
Driven hunts are always a social affair, they are a time to renew acquaintances and make new ones. It was good to see a number of like-minded journalists who I often meet on the sporting circuit, and as you can imagine there was a lot of good humoured rivalry. Being the only Brit among them, I gained my share of attention directed towards my imperialist roots, all damn good fun.
I’d flown straight in to Portugal from Germany after a successful boar hunt and went from 2°C to 20°C, a change that was most welcome. A good afternoon on the range gave me oodles of confidence in the RX Helix + Kahles Helia 5 + RWS Silver Selection combo I would be using during the hunt. I retired early after dinner and as always struggled to sleep due to the excitement of what was to come.
The new dawn teased me from my broken slumber, as a Mars red sun began to haemorrhage its ochre light across the eastern horizon, banishing the shadows from salubrious apartments. There was no doubt about it, one hell of a fine day was on the cards and I soon showered, dressed, breakfasted and climbed on the coach waiting to depart, with the rest of the eager crew. We were soon winding our way through the Portuguese countryside, and along a well maintained dirt road that finished at a pristine shooting lodge, laid out in a traditional Californian-Hispanic style – indeed, all it needed was Zorro. However hunting leader Paulo Fairnha Pereira, made a fine substitute, and his subtle blend of seriousness and humour during his delivery of the rules of engagement and safety requirements filled everybody with confidence and heightened our expectations.
“Turning round I soon saw the object of his concern. A hefty looking wild boar was headed right for us in full flight”
After drawing numbers each hunter was paired up with a local guide and four cavalcades of 4x4s set of in four different directions. The numbers dwindled as vehicle after vehicle peeled off the dirt road and pulled up close to the required shooting stand. My guide was called Pedro and he was the fifth son of the ranch owner and fresh back home from an extended stay in Mozambique. He reiterated what Paulo had said and stressed the safety aspects and what to shoot (red deer and boar) and not to shoot (the beaters and himself). After that I stoked up the Helix with 170gn Silver Selection rounds, wound the magnification of the scope and studied my safe arcs of fire. Situated in the clearing of a cork oak grove, I had a good open area to my left and an unobstructed view into the trees that featured a wide glade to my right. We were also on top of a small rise that overlooked another open area. Behind me was a short but steep drop to more cork oak trees.