Controversy: Beware Continuing to Hunt After “Wounding and Losing” an Animal

May 2018 Issue – By Barbara Crown, Editor-in-Chief

A scam to have hunters unintentionally pay for more than one ibex trophy in Spain has come to the attention of The Hunting Report, and we want to pass on a warning to hunters heading over there. We first learned of this from a Spanish operator who described the scenario and predicted we would be hearing about it from hunters reporting on hunts and completely unaware that they had been taken for a ride. We mentally filed the information and watched. Now a booking agent and two hunters have described exactly the scenario the Spanish operator told us about.

Here’s how it works: The hunter shoots at an ibex in perhaps less than ideal circumstances, sometimes at the encouragement of his guide. The guide says the ibex was hit. Either there is no sign when the party begins tracking, or the guide tells the hunter to stay where he is while he goes to investigate, and the hunter never sees the sign. The party proceeds to look for the injured ibex but turns up empty-handed. The guide allows the hunter to shoot another ibex, which they do recover. Much later, the first ibex is found, and the hunter must now pay for two ibex trophies. Sometimes the animal is found while the hunter is still in camp; other times the hunter has left, and he is sent photos of the animal. The operator refuses to ship the second animal until both are paid for in full.

Granted, if you hunt long enough you are bound to experience the consequences of a bad shot or the heartache of losing an animal. Most hunting operators will tell you up front, if you wound an animal you pay for it and/or your hunt is over. In the scenario above, the hunter is always hit with a double bill after the fact. Also, the first animal always shows up after the second one is in the salt.

This is what happened to the client of a booking agent who contacted us. We also heard the same scenario from two different Hunting Report subscribers, neither of whom is prepared to file a hunt report at this time. One report is a solitary incident. Two reports get our attention. Three is a pattern and warrants a warning to our readers.

Technically, this scam can happen anywhere, and we have heard of a similar scenario in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan with Marco Polo sheep. So, here is our advice:

  • Be sure of your shooting and what you are shooting at. If the shot opportunity is unclear or iffy in any way, it is outside your competent shooting distance, or you simply are uncomfortable with it for any reason, don’t take the shot. Doing so will only set you up for failure or risk.
  • If something looks unnatural or just plain wrong, it probably is. Listen to your gut.
  • Insist on seeing fresh sign, whether blood, lung or intestinal matter, and always go with the guide or tracker to inspect the scene. In the verbal reports we received, the hunter was told to sit tight while the guide went to the site of impact, or the guide saw the animal running away with signs of injury but the client never did.
  • If your guide or outfitter says you can continue hunting, ask for clarification on the cost of doing that. Get exact information on what will happen if the “wounded” animal turns up, then be prepared to pay for it when it does.

Could these incidents simply be the result of unclear communications between the guide and the hunter and not an instance of fraud? Yup. And following the four steps outlined above will prevent that too.