We climbed to the top of the range and glassed, searching for an ibex the right age and size. We didn’t see any all morning, and after lunch decided that we needed to go farther. The ibex may have moved to another area of the mountains. My spirits were high, but my hopes were faltering, as this was the last day of the hunt. I was starting to mentally prepare myself for the possibility of going home empty-handed, though that wouldn’t be the end of the world. The experience of the hunt—whether I got a trophy or not—was something I would always treasure.
As the afternoon was nearing its meld into evening, my field of vision was abruptly filled with Ignacio’s backpack, and it was nothing short of a miracle that I managed to avoid crashing into him.
“What—” I started.
Ignacio was frozen, and I knew what that meant. My dad and I froze, too, and I started to count the seconds in my head, staring intently at the fabric of his backpack. After several Mississippi’s, he ducked behind a nearby bush and we followed. As he peaked through his binoculars, I pulled off a few tiny dried leaves from the bush and crumbled them in my hand, then released them. They drifted to our right, towards the bottom the mountain—not ideal but not terrible.
There were three of them, one youngin’ and two older ones. From where they were grazing on the mountain, we would have to sneak past them from much lower, and then circle back and try to get above them from the other direction, praying they were still there. We retreated until out of sight, and then started our approach. When we had gotten far enough in front of them, we decided that my dad should stay back and film the stalk from afar. In close range stalks, the less people the better. He’d be able to get better footage from staying back anyway. We found a small spring flowing parallel to the top of the range and quietly followed it, its soft trickle muffling our steps as adrenaline pulsed into every one of our molecules. In what seemed like ages later, we came to the patch where they had been grazing.
“Quick! Get in front of me!” Ignacio whispered. He reached behind and pulled me around him. Miraculously, my clunky boots didn’t stumble off the tiny ledge, death-by-rocks all the way to the bottom on the left. I noted a small shift in wind direction when the brilliant yellow wildflowers amidst the rocky slope paused in their fluttering, only for a second, and then started up again in a delicately different direction, but enough to matter. It was blowing our scent right to them now.
TO BE CONTINUED…
By Staffer: Caroline Pruitt