The great hardness of the land and the inclemency of the weather require the hunter to be in a good state of form to face a difficult challenge in which the work of the dog takes on special importance.
Then, through anecdotes and lived experiences, the author offers us some guidelines and advice to face this unique challenge after the most elusive wild red rockets.
My director suggests that I write an article about partridges, without even letting me release this year. The truth is that right now I can not think of anything other than that my kidneys are raw.
I have a puppy in custody at home until I send it to a friend in the Pyrenees and he has had to ‘lend me’ some flea. You have to see the war dogs give sometimes. Do I write about how harmful are the releases of farm partridge?
The truth is that I have not thought about it for a long time, I think we have to resign ourselves, and we can give ourselves with a song in the teeth if at least it is done with the minimum guarantees of sanity and genetic purity.
A little more can aspire. I know that it is a subject that is already boring, but the truth is that it is, in one way or other, inevitable. The way of hunting in our days is in line with the industrial society in which we live, and motivations such as profitability and urgency, which are present in any activity, are also in the hunt.
While I scratch my back like a bear against the back of the chair, I think of the parallels between the partridge breeding and the chain production of the factories, and I remember a phrase from Karl Marx, in which he warned of the negative consequences of the industrial revolution, which said: “the production of too many useful things leads to too many useless people”.
Leaving aside if the hunting industrialization has caused the hunters to be clumsier today, what I do believe is that we are generally more dissatisfied. Right now I do not remember any hunter who confesses that he likes to hunt partridges of farm rather than wild, but fortunately, complaining or not, 90% is mainly dedicated to “boat.”
The truth is that to hunt wild partridges you have to be willing to overcome obstacles such as the price, the scarcity of hunting grounds and birds, even, some concerning your own conscience, and those of us who decide to do it must be clear that we must take measures to continue enjoying natural hunting.
It is essential to know how to differentiate clearly from each other. The maids are like clones, impersonal beings like out of a computer game, while each wild partridge is a treasure and not a number, they are different from each other, and their hunting has nothing virtual.
Individualize them I think it helps to give them the value they deserve. Studying their natural environment and their customs serves to know them better and respect them, besides enriching the naturalist that every hunter has inside.
To continue thinking that collecting a partridge is an event worthy of pride, I need to meet a series of requirements: The wild partridges are, because they were born and lived in a wild environment, so the terrain imposes some limits I think it is also necessary to enjoy hunting.
Also, that there is not a lot of bird density so as not to become saturated with too many sets and be able to appreciate each one. I need to have time before and after them; In this way, besides enjoying them more, I notice that I hunt much finer.
That they are worked, and the fruit of the effort is another important factor. It does not matter if all this implies not charging anything; I remember days of unrepeatable hunting in which I have charged, as he said, one or none.
In the large cereal areas of Tierra de Campos or La Mancha, the apparent bonanza of the hunt is compensated by the kilometers traveled hunting.
Here, to get close to one of those brave partridges of plain, it is better to change the sample dog, and its fleas for a greyhound and the legs for those of Abebe Bikila, but where the terrain really imposes some limits is in the high mountain northern hunting grounds.
Hunting in the High Mountain and the Dog
I, as the other Marx, would say, Groucho: “I must confess that I was born at a very early age,” I have assimilated over the years that where I feel most comfortable is hunting in the high mountains, at least for now.
One of the great attractions of hunting on the peaks is that you enjoy the dog like nowhere else. Their collaboration is not limited to collecting any partridge wing, and without them, the lifting of the sides is really difficult.
The broken orography, the thickness of the mountain and the large extensions make their work essential. Whoever hunted in more conventional hunting sites knows how desperate it is for the dog, its own or someone else’s, to lengthen and raise the partridges out of range or just before a leap, leaving us with the feeling that dogs are a hindrance.
On the contrary, in the mountain, this is usually a blessing. See a flying partridge, even at 200 meters, is an “assault” won, points, but won. At least with that, the hunter knows that there is at least one in the vicinity and that he has flown in a certain direction.
Something that in other circumstances may lack relevance, in the high mountains is usually decisive. The traces, either due to the low density of birds, vegetation or humidity, seem to be more obvious for the dog and follows them more easily, both when charging and raising the hunt.
The partridges under cover of the bushes better tolerate their closeness, and the samples are more frequent. Here, in high mountain, they would be forgiven until the fleas. The inclement weather is another factor to overcome.
A radiant day can change in minutes and turn a hard mountain hunt into “epic.” The rain, the cold and the wind, as in the Kurosawa films, bring drama to the experience.
A succinct hand of two or three hunters is ideal. The difficulties are accentuated when hunting alone, and the merit of collecting a partridge can be greater, but being able to share those moments with a friend is priceless.
In addition, in the case of suffering a mishap, something that can never be ruled out in this area, it is better to have someone next to you.
The Identity of the Mountain Paraphyses
There are two autochthonous subspecies of a red partridge in Spain: the Alectoris rufa intercedens, in the east and south peninsular, and the Alectoris rufa hispanica, typical of the north and west.
Due to the isolation of many populations in the high mountains, it is not uncommon to find physical characteristics of the birds typical of the different areas.
I believe that I am not mistaken if I say that in general, the mountain ones are smaller than their plain equivalents. I remember the ones we hunted on the heights of the Sierra de Velilla, in Muelas de Los Caballeros, which were little lean-tos with very red legs and soft, reddish plumage, very thick, I would say “hairy,” like Platero.
I think that if I came across one of them in the Carpathians, I would not doubt its Zamora origin. Also those of the Segovian slope of the Sierra de Guadarrama, partridges of height, I have charged some 2,000 meters, which, like the rabbits and lambs of the area, came to be famous in the crew for its tenderness and flavor.
Or the little black-and-white perdicillas of the peeled Cantabrian peaks, when in addition then the perch could be decorated with some wood.
I remember with special nostalgia the first mountain partridges that I came across as a hunters beast: it was in the late 70’s in the mountains of Abuelita hunting with my father, my friend Jorge Bernard, my cousin and my uncle, Manolo.
Partridge hard as I have rarely seen, that to take the opposite were like big fighting cocks, or at least it seemed to me comparing them with my size then or with the sparrows, which was what used to hunt.
The last ones I have dealt with have been in the Cabrera Leonesa. Last year I went out a couple of times myself with my dog after hunting the boar. The first day, after an exhausting ascent to the stop, we raised a couple that was next to some rocks in the same rope, without it could throw them.
A couple of weeks later, I went one afternoon to a pasture where I had seen a group of six or seven. After another painful climb with the wind cutting my face, I reached its surroundings.
We crowned the stop just as the air stopped and I tried to stop and take a breath, but Melba, my drahthaar, was stung, accelerating my pulsations even more. He took me with his heart in his mouth along the edge of the panel, tenser than the string of a violin, stopping every bit, until it was stuck.
After a few seconds, five partridges broke the deafening silence as they tore my right out of range. The dog did not amend the sample until the last straggler came closest to us.
I aimed cross, at pleasure, I took the two shots and marre. I followed it with my eyes until I lost it in the shadows that already hid the basses of Valdelauz. Simply, apotheosis.
Hunting Mountain Pardes
Highland grasslands: Partridges spend a lot of time in the pastures. They are areas where they find food and can be sun-kissed. In addition, the absence of scrub and its location in the small plains of the high ones allows them to notice the danger and to fly or to fly comfortably.
The peeks: Although of course, you have to be careful in the lenses, are not as decisive as in middle or low mountain.
The valleys: In the mountain, the partridges usually prefer the high ones, although with bad weather they can look for refuge there. Some side can be established in the bottom of the valleys if it finds available food.
The flight: The most frequent thing is that the partridges when taking off the flight are directed hillside ahead or even more frequently down the valley. The wind can also modify the differences and cause the partridge to climb the slope, even if it turns on the hunter.
The dog: The dog in this field is indispensable, and his collaboration in hunting is not limited to the collection. Its most important role is probably to raise the hunt and to run and move a lot of ground is appreciated. As opposed to other hunting grounds, it does not matter if it lengthens, better if it does so since there will be more chances to find the partridges. Once lifted, the hunter may try to shoot down on a second flight. The lower density of birds and the type of vegetation make the traces clearer for the dog, and the samples and tracking of traces are frequent. In places like this is where the hunter really enjoys all the capabilities of his collaborator.
Hot spots These would be places to register: Highlands with not very closed pastures of the mount, with brooms in the environs and bordered by a way. To rub your hands.
Brooms: The brooms or brooms are also usually querencias for the partridge, at least more than heath, the other thicket predominant in these payments. Its lighter soil is more of the taste of the partridge.
Tracks and paths: It is very common to see the partridges as a pawn on the roads. Unless they are threatened, the partridges roam in clean areas of the forest rather than the closed and feel comfortable on the roads.
The wind: Here also, whenever it is convenient to hunt against the wind, on the one hand, the partridges hold more and on the other, the dog hunts better. At the time of flying, the partridge tends to do when it can downwind
The preferences: The partridges are very faithful to their desires and where they are raised one day can be found in the future. Even in the years to come.
The view: It is important to sharpen your eyesight when a side stands up. The flights of the partridges are long, and if the hunter manages to see even if it is approximately where the partridges are given after flying, he will have a lot of livestock. Arriving at the outskirts, the dog may find a recent trace.
A pawn: Partridges, after a flight or when warned, tend to ape up.
Brezales The heather zones are in principle fewer querencia, the feet of the bushes so tight they prevent the partridge to appear. Also, if it is a bit high, it prevents light and heat from reaching the ground and food is scarce.
Although, on the other hand, its thickness makes it ideal for the partridge to seek refuge after a flight. This changes completely when it comes to burned heathland.
The new shoots are an excellent food, not only for the partridge; for all wildlife. The fire clarifies the mountain and regenerates it. Heather controlled burns are conducted in many parts of northern Europe aimed at improving partridge habitat.