Last week I traveled to Portugal for a monteria, a traditional European driven hunt. Writers from all over Europe joined me to shoot red deer, fallow deer, and wild boar with the latest and greatest from Merkel, Kahles, Norma, and Dentler. My invitation to the hunt billed the monteria as one of the most challenging hunting experiences on the European continent and promised a fabulous time of camaraderie with the group of hunters. It delivered on both counts.
I left Columbia, South Carolina, November 18 and flew north to Newark for a transatlantic flight. With time zones and travel time factored in, I arrived in Lisbon around 6 a.m. the next day and spent a few days sightseeing before the other hunters got into town November 22.
When the rest of the group arrived and we had all gotten acquainted, we set out for a retrofitted Portuguese army base/munitions factory that now serves as the shooting range for local firearm and air rifle shooters. Situated across the Tagus River from Lisbon, it offers a number of outdoor berms for firearm use and rows of indoor lanes for Olympic-style airguns.
For this hunt, we would be shooting the Merkel RX Helix topped with a Dentler interchangeable scope base and a Kahles Helia 5 scope. Ammo was provided by Norma. (More on these products in future posts.) To save time—there were some 20 writers present—the manufacturers had zeroed the guns before we arrived. All that was left for us to do was check behind them and get the feel for our guns.
We started out at 50 yards and worked our way to 100. The guns were a varied lot of .338 Winchester Magnums, .30-06s, and .308 Winchesters, my version being a .30-06 topped with a Helia 5 1-5×24 scope. After making sure the gun was shooting properly, I turned on the scope’s illuminated reticle and shot again at 100 yards.
The guns were perfectly set up, so we moved on to the second stage to practice our offhand shooting. We were faced with four targets scattered from one side of the berm to another. The goal was was to hit each as accurately and as quickly as possible, representing the sort of surprising, fast-paced shooting we’d be faced with on the following days.
We, of course, made it into a competition. I can’t say that I center-punched each and every target, but I managed to do surprisingly well and felt much better going into the next morning’s hunt.
Check back tomorrow for more from the Portuguese monteria.