Now comes my favorite part of the trip. I loved everything about hunting for chamois. The location was incredible. Tall white rock peaks with lush green grass covering the hillsides. We stayed in a cozy hotel in a small town called San Emeliano. We met up with Julio, our chamois guide. He is young and a chamois hunting fool. He will hunt other species, but his true love is for chamois. He is very selective and will only kill the really big ones. The day we hunted was the opening day of the season, so it promised to be a good day of hunting. We had three days to hunt, but Julio was confident we would kill in the first day.
San Emeliano Lodging
We woke early and drove out to Julioís hunting land. As we drove higher in the mountains it became more and more beautiful with tall peaks and streams flowing in the bottom. There were meat horses and cows grazing, which oddly added to the beauty. Iím not usually a fan of cattle, but these were different and seemed to fit into their surroundings. After 30 minutes of hiking up the mountain we spotted our first chamois. Julio made quick work of his spotting scope and said there was a shooter in the group. We ran up the mountain a hundred yards to get into a better shooting position. The chamois was 200 yards facing up the mountain. I got comfortable, and still breathing hard took a shot. That was a mistake, he ran off and over the ridge into the National Preserve that we were not able to step foot onto. I felt horrible. Julio said it was a very nice ram (Iím not sure what the correct term is for the males, but the locals called them rams) that would be at least a bronze medal, possibly silver medal. I was discouraged and feared that I blew my chance for the day.
We decided to continue hiking higher up the mountain to a pass where the chamois cross over from the preserve. We continued on and after about an hour of hiking Julio spotted a lone chamois high in the rock cliffs. He observed it in the scope and got very excited. ďMas grande, mas grandeĒ He was bigger than the last one. To get to him we had to go down into a valley and up another mountain. We left Brayden and Marioís girlfriend to spot for us and booked it down as fast as we could. We started up the other side and slowed toward the top so we wouldnít spook the ram. Julio peeked around a rock and he was right above us about 150 yards. I crept around the rock and set up. The shot was at an aggressive angle and felt like I was aiming straight up. It took me a while to find him in my scope, I found him looking regal on the edge of a cliff, settled in, and shot. It was a clean miss . . . again! I couldnít believe it, and neither could Mario & Julio. Julio then explained to Mario that this ram was huge. Out of the 150+ chamois on his land, there are only one or two as big as that one. Wow, what a blow to my confidence. I couldnít figure out what was going on. The shots felt good. It was getting frustrating, and not just for me.
We hiked further up the mountain and stopped for lunch and a siesta. We glassed more chamois, but didnít find a mature ram. I moved to a different glassing location and spotted a lone chamois. I called Julio over and he said it was a shooter. I set up and really took my time to make a good shot. I shot and the chamois ran straight up. The chamois are one tough species. It was shot three times and finally went down. My first shot would have put it down, but better safe than sorry. After hiking to get to a better vantage point we saw the chamois and the tough sucker was still alive. After one more shot it was finally over. Walking up to the chamois I could tell that Julio was very excited. He said it was bigger than the other two I had shot at, and that it was a female which was remarkable. I got some teasing about being lucky to have the chamois be bigger each time. Julio asked if he could hang on to the horns for a little while so he could get a replica. There were a lot of high fives, hugs, pictures, and laughs over the mishaps of the day.
Here is a video of the chamois hunt including photos.