The color and excitement of driven shoots for red-leg partridge, once reserved exclusively for the Spanish gentry, are now open to foreign guns willing to pay $250 or more a day for exceptional sport in the grand manner. The evocative paintings on these pages depict a typical fall shoot offered by the Francisco Landaluce family of Madrid, which owns 75,000 acres of partridge-rich land and a luxurious hunting lodge 100 miles south of Madrid in the province of Ciudad Real, better known as La Mancha. It was through this hill country, lush in vineyards and olive groves, that Cervantes' Don Quixote traveled. Today sportsmen in Land-Rovers and beaters in a tractor-drawn cart pass through the tiny pueblo of Almedina under the curious gaze of the omnipresent Guardia Civil (top right) and then spread out in the foothills of the Sierra Morena (bottom right). On an average three-day La Mancha shoot, 12 guns hidden behind portable blinds of woven grass will often bag more than 1,000 partridge.
Beaters coming over the hill drive the partridges toward the hunters. A "cargador" carries the guns and portable blind, and a "secretario" keeps track of fallen birds and retrieves them after the drive.
The shooting continues, with the guns changing blinds on each new drive, until lunch—entremeses and sherry, paella and local wine, fruit and cognac—is served. Then the shooters have another go at the birds.