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Roe Deer Czech Republic 2007

Roe Deer Czech Republic 2007

HUNT ONE

In August of 2007 I spent 4days hunting in the Czech Republic, South West of Prague by about an hour and half (Region of Bohemia in a village called Tabor).

This trip was essentially a family trip with my partner Elisa, and Mum and Dad (who live in Rome, Italy) as a finishing touch to our 5week trip through Europe which is about to end in two days :-[ but anyway, with a bit of networking on Dad's part and with one of his work collegues, we managed to arrange a bit of hunting aswell :) - in the form of a swap hunt with the Secretary General for Hunting and Wildlife Conservation (named Jaroslav) of the Czech Republic. In return for me shooting a roe buck (or two - as you will see - plus a wild pig) Jaroslav wanted to come to N.Z and shoot a red stag, chamois and possibly a bull tahr with me next year..

Anyhow, we set off early saturday morning and climbed into a high stand to wait until light - this was a new experience for me, but one for which I was very interested in partaking. For years I have thought the idea of sitting and waiting in a high seat or tree stand wasnt what I called "hunting", but for me it wasnt so much about the hunting itself, but rather seeing how other cultures did it. After all, I was just as interested in the cultural aspects as i was the wildlife! Later I would find how much culture is practiced while hunting in the Czech Republic (will explain and show photos of what i mean later).

The sun came up and no deer were seen from the tree stand - I wasn't sure what to expect, so asked Jaroslav if we could stalk some game if there continued to be no visible game... The view from the stand was about 300m from left to right, with forest behind, and a paddock of corn bordering lucern and grass. In the distance were a few open patches in the forest, and Iwas using a pair of Jaroslavs binoculars to glass for game in those openings.. After about an hour in the high seat (photo below) I was quite eager to stretch some legs and poke around some new country

We did just that, and began our stalk towards some other lucern paddocks which bordered another paddock of corn, with forest bordering half of the lucern paddock. Here I spotted a good roe buck about 140m away, followed by Jaroslav picking up another 4 or 5 scattered beyond. Among the group was a massive buck, which Jaroslav claimed to be one of the biggest he has seen in this hunting area, so I got set up against a tree branch (he had lent me a Remington Model 710 with a tasco scope in 30.06 calibre :-/ ) and I took aim and tugged off a terrible shot (I am going to blame those remington triggers ;D ) and missed. The buck stood around for a bit (but I didnt reload, as I thought he was hit). He started trotting off and I wasnt confident that I would hit such a small body in almost knee height lucern on the run (these roe deer are tiny - like a red fawn after 2-3months growth) so I watched as a roe buck of a life time made its way to the forest.

Just when I thought I had stuffed up everything, the other bucks which were in the background started bolting towards us??? and one descent size buck (not as big as the one I missed though) ended up stopping right in front of me, about 80m!! Excited as hell, I took aim, squeezing another average shot off and missed again ;D man now i was shaking with adrenaline, nervs, excitement, anguish, disgust.. it was like shooting my first deer all over again (but without the deer), and I had another crack at the buck on the run but it was just a joke!! ;D I missed two great opportunities

All the deer in the lucern paddock vacated and there I was standing in front of Jaroslav with nothing but a smurk that bordered on tears.. Convinced it wasn't going to end like this, we pressed on and Jaroslav showed me some more areas where I was likely to get a buck. We walked about 20minutes and came into a small gully where I spotted a doe moving through some brush with her kid.. Jaroslav pointed out that it was mating season and so pulled out a caller and gave a wee whistle - just like you would with sika, we waited and waited for about 20mins.. after watching and waiting Jaroslav decided we should press on - so we did. About 5 steps later I caught a glimpse of something moving in the middle of the brush about 60m in front of us!! DEsperate to wave down Jaroslav from moving any further forward, I whispered out "OI" and pointed. A quick glimpse through the scope identified it as being another buck, and so I took aim and put one to the bucks chest. This time was a direct hit :) and I had a grin like a split melon!!

As part of tradition, you are supposed to leave the animal for 10minutes before approaching it as a sign of respect to let the animal die peacefully and its spirit move on without interruption. You then grab some foliage which is eventually placed in the animals mouth.

The next bit iswhere I realised the depth of their hunting traditions. The animal must be moved onto its right hand side where the animal is given its last meal by the hunter as a sign of respect and appreciation for its life.. Jaroslav broke off two pieces of foliage

One piece is placed it in the bucks mouth - symbolising the animals last meal, while the second is wiped on the animals blood and handed to me in ceremony.

The ceremony takes place over the carcass of the animal, and I have to stand on the top side of the animal (above the spine as its lying). At this point, Jaroslav hands me a piece of foliage with his hat, and congradulates me (while shaking me right hand) on my first animal and my success as a hunter. I take the hat with the piece of foliage and place the foliage on the right handside of the hat.. Now I am allowed to wear that hat all day, as it symbolises that I have shot an animal.

Next we are allowed to take photos with the animal..

 

There is even a process of gutting the animal - first you remove the testicles and pizle, then proceed to remove the bowels, lungs, heart etc.. and then cut up the length of the neck to remove the windpipe. The heart, and liver are kept

 

After this we go back to get the vehicle and drive it within 50m of the animal..

We then take the animal home to hang and let set before butchering (as you would in NZ)..

 

HUNT TWO

The region had a few mouflon, but it wasnt especially known for it.. Here were a few pics of some mouflon - but they were pretty flighty and eventually bolted into the forest. Iwas of the opinion that mouflon were strictly alpine ungulates, but they are also found in some of the rolling country in central Czech. They fetch for a few thousand Euro each (+ - $5000 NZD). Photos were all I could afford ;D

Anyhow, this particular evening I was able to borrow another one of Jaroslavs rifles as I wasn't all that eager on using the model 710 with tasco scope again (no offence to those of you that have this packaged - just personally not suited for me :) ) The other rifle for offer was a Remington 700 .338 Lapua Remginton Magnum with a 26inch barrell fitted with a Leupold VX III 3 - 10 scope :) I knew the trigger would be the same, but at least the optics were really good and instantly I felt more confident with it when I picked it up being a much heavier, sturdier rifle.

We drove to our hunting spot, the same place where I missed the huge buck in the morning, and as we jumped out of the vehicle, 7 roe deer were spotted grazing on the lucern paddocks 300m across the patch. Two were bucks, but only one had a grey face, and a definitive set of horns moving above. Quite eager to stalk in on them (being the kiwi way) Jaroslav offered a different strategy to climb into a high stand 500-600m away and watch and wait.

We climbed into the high stand, which was equipped with a car seat and four windows, looking out in each direction of the box on stilts. What an awesome experience observing, watching and waiting... I could have sat up there for days if I had a spotting scope, watching those animals. Quite a different style to our rip-shit-and-bust way of getting things done. As I mentioned in the first part of the post, I was always anti high-stands because I thought they were a lazy form of hunting - but after trying it and seeing hunting from a slightly different perspective, I am far more accepting of it. I guess I have to be, otherwise I'm calling the kettle black ;D no but seriously, I actually enjoyed it. Its not a technique that I would choose to use, but after having tried it out I am less willing to pre-judge other hunting techniques

Anyhow, we waited and watched for about 40minutes while the shadows of the high stand stretched across the lucern paddock. Our group of roe deer had split into three groups, and weren't coming any closer. While I was filming them I caught movement out to my bottom right where the 4wd track was - it was another hunter coming in for an evenings hunt wanting to use our high stand. Jaroslav spoke to him in Czech and soon he moved on towards another high stand which we used in the morning (posted in the first story)..

No more than 2mins after the other hunter left, three roe deer popped out of the forest directly in front of us onto the edge of the lucern paddock about 150m and began feeding away. We soon identified them to be a doe, kid, and a buck.. Jaroslav had a better idea of size than me, so I waited for him to decide whether it was takable or not - and after a convincing grin and nod, I propped the rifle on the window seil of the high stand and loaded the .338 cannon! Bearing in mind that I hadn't fired one of these ever before, I braced myself for the kick and begun creeping the trigger back.. BOOOMFA and the animal was SLAPPED over in a cloud of hair and dust.. My ears were ringing like hell after the terrible noise in such a confined space ;D and I found myself shaking again!! I don't normally get buck fever (exception to a crazy roaring stag) but I certainly was this day ;D Maybe it was the pressure of coming all the way from NZ?? but it was refreshing to know that the game was cleanly killed after such poor performance in the morning!

Can you see the high-stand in this picture? Its in the background to the right hand side.

     

 

According to Jaroslav the buck was 7-8years old and was at the right stage in its life to be harvested. The Czech hunters have an unbelievably stringent hunting culture that discourages hunters from shooting promising young bucks as they are supposed to be for breeding. once the bucks have passed their prime they can be harvested. The buck in the morning was considered to be a breeding buck (approx 4 years old)- which in the hindsight, should have been left. 

After carrying out the cultural traditions for the second time that day, we grabbed some snap shots and prepared the animal for carrying back to the vechile (some 800m away). With time to spare, Jaroslav asked if I was keen on checking out a spot for wild pigs - need I say more ;D We parked the vehicle on fading light and stalked our way towards another high stand (the 3rd one that I would use for the day) and on arriving at the tree stand was a wild pig feeding about 15m away from the high stand ladder. I dropped it on the spot and soon we had another animal for the day :) With similar traditions carried out for the 3rd time that day, I felt like a very privaledged hunter

   

Some pics of the roe bucks for comparison - left is the first buck, right is second. Left is 4years old, right is 7years

Younger 4 year old

 

Older 7year old

Older front, Younger back

The End

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