"It's very simple. When we stop shooting for the day, the hunter goes to the spot where he marked his flesh shot," Jos� explained. "He looks for blood. Then he follows the trail of blood, no matter how slight, as far as it goes. Eventually it will lead to a dead animal, if the animal was later shot. When the hunter finds the dead game, he goes to the post from which he believes the death shot was fired. When he reaches the post, he says in his most polite and pleasant manner to the hunter inside: 'My friend, I believe you did me the service of killing an animal which I had previously blooded.' The hunter in the post then replies, 'Good day, my friend. And what animal is that to which you refer?' The first hunter points to the animal he has just tracked and with great pride proclaims it his own.
"At this point," Jos� continued, "the second hunter generally bows deeply and surpasses the first in courtesy. 'I am certainly pleased, my good friend,' he will say, 'to have the privilege of showing you my prize trophy. But what makes you think that it was first blooded by you? It would please me indeed to know that such a fine animal was yours, but I am afraid that you are mistaken.'
"Thereupon much conversation ensues." Jos� lit a cigaret. "After perhaps an hour or two of debate, all very polite and pleasant, you understand, the two hunters walk to the place where the dead animal rests and the first hunter points out the tiny trail of blood. Usually they retrace the steps of the first hunter back to the original point before one or the other concedes defeat."
"In other words," I laughed, "the situation isn't really very different here than in any part of the world."
"Not really, except that in Spain it takes about three times as long to settle the question."
"Se�or," Antonio broke into our conversation. "Venado."
Some 80 yards across, halfway down the side of the opposite mountain, a form moved slowly between the bushes. I raised the Holland & Holland to be ready when the game was clearly revealed. The animal moved cautiously, unaware of the post ahead. Seconds passed like hours as the form approached. Antonio's eyes and ears, as always, were accurate. As the shape moved closer, we could see the antler points of its giant head.
STRAIGHT FOR THE POST
Suddenly a roar tumbled across the distance between post and animal. I jumped, startled at the unexpected noise. The spot in the sights disappeared. Leaping many feet ahead, the buck galloped in terror before the dog which had charged around the mountain after it. Next to me there was a shot. The buck continued to lunge forward. A second shot. The animal crashed toward the post, seemingly unharmed. It was too close to fire again. Then it dropped with an audible thud, less than 20 feet from where we were stationed.
Jos� leveled his Winchester at the fallen animal and waited. I could feel my heart beating. The single dog, still barking, charged the dropped buck. Antonio shouted and the dog turned and trotted slowly back in the direction from which it had come. Jos� lowered the Winchester.