Hunting in Extremadura is fashionable and not only among royalty. It actually moves up to 70,000 licenses for fans of all walks of life that choose to enjoy their favorite sport among oaks, cork trees or thickets and in the middle of fields, on wild mountains or stunning plains. Because that’s exactly what makes the difference, the huge variety of ecosystems in Extremadura, where the hunter comes into contact with nature in a ceremony that ends up being a social gathering from the early start of the day to the late food groups, after hours of hiking the fields where time seems to stop.
This is the unique feeling as described by fans and which fills Extremadura towns. It begins in late September when the season starts with rabbits until early January, when the time comes for small game. Also, from October to February, hunting is allowed for major hunt. This is an important claim that contributes to adjust seasonal tourism. And also, mainly enjoyed by people on short weekend breaks or taking advantage of longer weekends, it moves around 400 million Euros per year, representing 2.5 percent of the regional GDP, according to estimates of the Extremadura Hunting Federation.
Extremadura is a region in Spain, which is just west of Madrid and extends to the borders with neighboring Portugal. In addition to an excellent road system the region benefits from all kinds of public transportation.
From the modest amateur to the the Royal Whim
Available data give us a picture of the power of a sector that attracts more and more foreign tourism. Historically the Portuguese are at the head, as they are more interested in small game. But also the English, increasingly attracted to the put up hunting of partridges not existent in the United Kingdom. As well as the French and the Germans, who love the hunting grounds, which are unique in Spain. From royals, as princess Caroline of Monaco or the princes of Belgium, who choose Extremadura for their hunting parties, to general public, where it is estimated that annually around 1,800 hunting events are set-up with a variety of characteristics, according to estimates by the newly created “Asociación de Turismo Cinegético”(Tuciex) (Asociation of Hunting Tourism), who pioneer the integration of all the economic sectors associated with hunting. They are fully aware of the engine of economic development represented by this group.
The variety of landscapes is a comparative advantage for hunting in Extremadura
It is estimated that hunting generates over 90,000 seasonal wages in a highly professional sector. Hunting enthusiasts are pampered, for drives that range from 150 Euros to more than 3,000 Euros, thus available for all budgets. Fans can choose from hunting in large open areas known as the Siberia of the Extremadura, the plains of the Sierra de San Pedro and Tajo river International plains or places as emblematic and lush, to the surprise of not a few travelers, as “Ibores” and “Jara Villuercas”, “Monfragüe” or at neighboring Gredos, which has goats, that are unique in its kind.
There is a wide range of businesses related to hunting, from insurance companies to hotel accommodations and restaurants together with other type of enterprises that benefit from this sector such as game meat exports companies like Cárnicas Dibe that export to the entire European continent from El Gordo. Some parts of the animals even go to Asia used for medicines. These companies hire up to 130 seasonal workers during the campaign and hire over 100 permanents workers.
Gastronomy hunting “made in Extremadura” and trade shows
While local gastronomy in Extremadura adds attractiveness to hunting tourism with menus that feature partridges, quails or hares and deer and sausages made from wild game. Dishes made in the traditional style or with a gourmet seal can also be enjoyed at fairs like the three that are held, annually, in 17 days from mid-September: the oldest, in Badajoz, is the “Hispano-Portuguesa de la Caza, Pesca y Naturaleza Iberica” that already has XXVI editions; the 10th Fair of “Turismo de Caza y Pesca de Helechosa de los Montes” and the “I Feria Gastrocinegética de Malpartida de Plasencia”. Without detracting from other fairs in small towns such as Ahigal, where the “Feria del Perro y la Caza” is held. Which comes as an advance to small game hunting season. These are Trade shows promoted by the “Direccción General de Turismo” with their plans to increase and better position the hunting tourism in Extremadura.
Original article by Merche Rey
Translated by Susana Windt
Published in September, 2016