BOWHUNTING THE RED DEER RUT by Jose Rico

September and October, depending on the weather, and mostly on the rain and cold, is a special time for ungulate hunters. It´s time of rut! Both red and  fallow deer, one after the other, begin their efforts to be  the most “chulo” (word for aggressive and challenging male) and get as many females as posible. It´s a characteristic of males (humans too), we have to be, or at least to appear to be, the best of the species.

And this is freat for us, hunters, as all the bulls come crazy and begin a battle of roarings, barkings, buglings and all kind of gutural sounds. Same as humans when, after some cups, will cry… (sing?) as crazy deers.

The “Sierra de la Madera” mountains, as part of the Serranía de Cuenca mountains is a paradise by itself. Thousands of acres of one of the very best places of free range hunting in Spain. At least for red deer and  fallow deer.

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As part of the hunting offers that can be encountered in this little piece of heaven, there is one specially oriented for bowhunters. The profesional hunters that lead this outfitting are Juancho and Pablo. Good mates and good professionals! We hunt with them since a long time and depending on the time of year we go to one part of the hunting area for roebuck deer or to another for pigs. Besides, they have access to some other properties if bowhunting for mouflon sheep is in your list.

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Th Sierrra de la Madera mountains can be a hard place to bowhunt with steep slopes and deep canyons, but if you are a hard core bowhunter, is a place to come and enjoy. This autumm , my friend Aitor and me (sorry for Alberto and Jorge) went to Cuenca for a red and fallow deer on the second week od September. It was supposed that the rut should be on the way. Our idea was hunting on bike, so we prepared our aluminum horses and there we went. As we bowhunt with recurves and compounds, we took both guns just in case…

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It was the first time that I hunted with bike for deers, having done it for pigs and roe bucks. When we arrived to the huntig area, we soon found out that the rut was still far of being hot, and the deer were silent, although eventually one decided to cry and we tried to locate it and go with the bikes in a crazy run by the bush.

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As usual, the use of GPS and navigation knowledges were of great help, not having to worry about where had you left the bike or where were you after 3 hours of up and down hunting. This is the way we like to hunt, free and alone.

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Nevertheless, and, although we hunted very hard and saw lots af animals, the females always were on alert and destroyed all our efforts to connect with any animal. The rut was low and sometimes you could hear a voice but not enough time to locate the animal to go for him. Besides, it´s forbidden to call the animals, which is a good way to hunt in other countries.

We were allowed to hunt for wild boars, red and fallow male deers, not for females. That will be open in October and then with the great numbers of females, will be another story.

Bike hunting is a great way of hunting, not only for going and coming from the treestans, but also to quickly go to places where a bull is bugling as fas as posible befor he get silent.I am a firmly believer that if you get to the bush silently, the animals will be quieter, and the sound of a motor roaring is no good sign for any animal.

So, getting in the hunting area by bike is a good way to begin your hunting day. Those last 1-2-3 last  Kilometers can be the difference between getting to al alert animal or to a quiet one. Of course you will have to check your bike to be whisper silent, but that should be part of your equipment usual checking, same as the bow.

And if you are worried about how to carry your gun, pack or other gadgets, there are lots of products on the market to fit you and your bike to your needs.

I use to ride a lot near my home, so my legs are used to long rides. I firmly advise to train before going to bowhunt with your aluminum horse, not only because you will enjoy more the hunt but because being trained you will be able to accurately shoot an animal after a one kilometer ride and your heart will not explode, and so your shooting. As an example, one day, after having been huntig for four hours, I was riding by a track , not far from the meeting point with Aitor. The bike rode easy and silently when suddenly a pack of wild boars appeared in the middle of the track. At 30 meters they didn´t noticed me, so I parked the bike and went for them!. I saw two pigs on my right and went for them but was so studid that I didn´t noticed seven more on my left and I passed besides them. When I was coming back to the bike, the bush exploded as off they went when noticed me.

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The Sierra de la Madera is a wonderful place to hunt with bike, depending on the season you can bowhunt for red deer, fallow, wild boar, roabuck. You can stand hunt or stalk.

We will be back at the end of October at the annual traditional bowhunters meeting in Tragacete, where will try to harvest one or more of the animal that roam this magnificient place.