Tell us a bit about yourself?
My passion for hunting stems from a family tradition that has endured for generations. This family bond and my close relationship with the countryside have shaped my character as a hunter and a lover of wildlife and nature. I grew up and live surrounded by a family of avid hunters and monteros (hunters who participate in monterías, a traditional Spanish driven hunt), who have diligently and delicately taught me everything related to the hunting activity.
Following in the footsteps of my maternal grandmother, Doña Ana Mª Benítez Cañuelo, a pioneer among women hunters in the 1950s, and later those of my mother and aunts, I continued the lineage of women hunters in the family.
Due to my love for hunting and nature, in 2014, I decided to start the "Cupo Libre" blog. In this blog, I cover various topics, including game meat gastronomy, rural accommodations, hunting fashion, and issues related to hunting and nature in general. I aim to communicate beyond our community about the role of hunting, emphasizing its importance for the thousands of families who depend on it and its crucial role in nature conservation. This is something I modestly try to convey through Cupo Libre. Additionally, I am part of a generation of young women hunters who share their hunting experiences through social media and other platforms.
When did you first hear about NORMA?
NORMA is a brand that has been present in my life for a long time. In my family, all hunters are familiar with and trust this brand of ammunition, which we have used in our hunting outings over the years. I remember how, as a child, I accompanied my uncles on my early hunting experiences and picked up the spent NORMA bullet casings from the cleanly taken game during driven hunts. More than two decades later, we continue to use the same ammunition on our hunts. Now it's me who keeps them updated on the new additions to NORMA's product line, such as the Strike family, which several of my uncles and cousins already trust.
What is your favorite caliber and why?
My favorite caliber is the .270 Win due to its versatility. This caliber adapts to the different types of hunts I frequently participate in across Spain, whether it's driven hunts or stalking. Additionally, its low recoil makes it especially comfortable for me. Species like deer, wild boar, and even chamois and mountain goats have been successfully taken with this popular caliber.
What is your favorite NORMA product and why?
As I mentioned before, I have been using NORMA ammunition since my early days of hunting. In those early years, I used a .30-06 Sprf rifle from my uncle Rafa with PPDC Plastic Tip bullets, which are perfect for driven hunts. Over the years, I had the opportunity to delve deeper into the world of hunting and firearms, so I sought equipment that better suited my preferences. This is when I combined the .270 Win with the Tipstrike bullet. I have been using this bullet for several seasons now during driven hunts, and its performance couldn't be better. It's a versatile bullet that I also use for stalking. The cartridge/bullet combination is perfect for me.
Can you share your most memorable hunting experience?
I will never forget my first hunting experience. It was during a driven hunt, the quintessential hunting method in Spain. I was on my grandmother's estate, along with my uncles Rafael and Narci, enjoying a sunny autumn day while watching the hunting dogs in action. Suddenly, we heard a barking and spotted three deer running toward us. In that moment, I began to tremble because I knew it was my turn. My uncle quickly assessed the deer, handed me the rifle, and instructed me to hurry and aim at the third deer, which was the oldest. I acted swiftly, shouldered the rifle, and aimed slightly ahead of the shoulder blade. When I had the deer in the crosshairs of the scope, I took a precise shot, bringing down a beautiful thirteen-point buck. It was a spectacular hunt, something that every hunter is passionate about, culminating with an accurate shot to finish the great work of the hunting dogs.
That day, hunting as a family became an unforgettable memory that I cherish dearly, especially on the estate to which I have a deep attachment.
What is your dream hunt?
An incredibly exciting challenge for me would be to hunt the "Big Five." These five magnificent animals, including the elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhinoceros, are considered the most coveted and iconic trophies in the world of big-game hunting. Pursuing these magnificent animals is not only a physical and technical challenge but also an opportunity to immerse oneself in the beauty of nature and understand the importance of conserving these species. Hunting the "Big Five" is a dream that represents a profound respect for wildlife and a commitment to the sustainability of hunting, a dream shared by many adventurous hunters worldwide.
What is your favorite cut of meat from any animal, and why is it your favorite?
I'm fortunate to enjoy all types of game meat, but if I had to choose one, it would be roe deer meat. This meat is widely appreciated for its high nutritional value, as it is rich in high-quality protein, phosphorus, heme iron, zinc, vitamin B12, and B6. What truly distinguishes it, is its tenderness and exceptional flavor. Among its cuts, I value the loin and tenderloins the most because of their tenderness and delicate flavor. The meat's lightness and lack of dominant flavors make it extremely versatile in the kitchen, allowing other flavors and spices to shine in every preparation. It's a meat I truly enjoy for its quality and versatility in cooking. One of the dishes I have recently learned to make with these cuts is red wine venison loins. An exquisite dish I learned from my friend Pablo Ortega.
What is the best part of hunting in Spain?
Hunting in Spain offers a wide variety of attractions that make it an exciting and enriching activity, providing a unique experience for Spanish and international hunters alike.
- Variety of species: Spain is known for its diverse range of game species, including roe deer, wild boar, red deer, mouflon, fallow deer, as well as partridges, quails, thrushes, rabbits, foxes, and both large and small game birds.
- Tradition and culture: Hunting has a long history in Spain and is an integral part of the culture. Many Spanish regions have deep-rooted hunting traditions, such as the traditional Spanish montería.
- Diverse landscapes: Spain boasts varied geography, including mountains, plains, forests, and coastal areas. Hunters can enjoy a wide range of landscapes and natural settings, adding a scenic beauty element to the hunting experience.
- Pleasant climate: Many regions in Spain have a Mediterranean climate, allowing hunting for a large part of the year. This makes it an attractive destination for hunters from colder climates seeking to escape the weather.
- Hunting in Spain is a necessary activity linked to the conservation of protected natural spaces and other species, contributing to rural development and social cohesion.
What are your goals in hunting and shooting?
One of my main goals is to hunt ethically, responsibly, and sustainably. This involves shooting accurately to minimize the animal's suffering. To achieve this, I constantly seek to improve my skills in both shooting and hunting techniques.
Additionally, it is vital to respect hunting laws and established hunting seasons, as this ensures the conservation of wildlife populations. Hunters play a crucial role as conservationists and have a duty to be custodians of nature.
For me, the connection with nature is as fundamental as the act of hunting itself. The opportunity to enjoy the countryside and its surroundings makes each hunting day truly wonderful.
Lastly, I have a great passion for sharing my hunting and shooting experiences with other hunters, and I have a deep interest in traveling to other countries to learn and understand hunting culture outside of Spain. Experiencing new hunting adventures in different parts of the world is extremely enriching for me.
Have you encountered gender barriers in hunting?
In my case, I haven't encountered any gender barriers in the years I've been hunting. Everyone has been delighted to see a female hunter, and I have been treated in the field as one of the group. My fellow hunters have always been willing to help me and ready to lend a hand when needed, and I appreciate that. When I've attended hunting events or joined other hunting groups, including international hunts, I haven't received any differential or discriminatory treatment because I'm a female hunter. Quite the opposite, I've been warmly welcomed and felt like a part of the group.
How do you assess the role of women in the hunting world?
Perhaps recently, the regular and active presence of women in hunting has given a more "sensitive" appearance to a traditionally male-dominated world, but this is not the case for me. I come from a family of hunters; my grandmother was a hunter, and my aunts are hunters, so being a female hunter is something normal in my home. Therefore, I don't believe that we have a different or more to prove role as women in the hunting world. This is a hobby, a way of life, and not a competition.
Do you think the number of female hunters will increase in the coming years?
Certainly, there is a rising trend in women's interest in hunting, and more and more young women are getting involved in this activity. Thanks to the openness of social media and hunting documentaries showcasing women's participation, there is growing engagement from the female sector. Female hunters are already a reality. These profiles and documentaries inspire many young women who were uncertain about becoming hunters, encouraging them to follow in their footsteps. Moreover, many parents and grandparents, upon seeing other young women in hunting parties, decide to take their daughters and granddaughters and introduce them to this activity.
Where do you think hunting is heading?
Currently, hunting is not in a good state. If hunters cannot give it the necessary dimension, by providing the respect and value that each of our game animals deserves, or to the simple hunting days we enjoy with our fellow hunters, we will not be on the right path. Cohesion and a firm defense of all the entities that exist in our country are fundamental for this. Many ignorant individuals, with a complete lack of understanding of what hunting entails in our rural and natural environment, want to put an end to an ancestral activity that has been crucial in conserving the remarkable ecosystem and biodiversity we have in Spain.
How do you see the future of hunting in the medium term?
In the short term, hunting needs a united, strong willing to defend it with determination. However, we must not forget about the education and awareness of hunters themselves, taking care of the image we project of the development of the activity, both on social media and in mainstream media. It is essential to communicate and express, beyond our immediate circle, the role of hunting, emphasizing its importance for the thousands of families who rely on it and its crucial function in nature conservation. This is something I modestly try to convey through Cupo Libre.
Pilar Escribano, NORMA Ambassador Spain