As some of my closer SD oppo's will know, work takes me to some interesting places.. whenever i go to these odd places, i generally try and get out shooting or fishing if able..
So when work told me that i was on a 2 week detachment, week 1 in Czech Republic and week 2 in Poland, you can imagine my dismay!
Ive never visited the CZ republic before so was unsure what to expect, i thought it would probably be similar to the baltic states and imagined hunting to be pretty commonplace.
I was half right, there is a lot of hunting here but its far nicer (IMO) than the baltics.. Were based at Caslav AB and are staying in Kutna Hora, architecturally a very nice place, friendly people and good food and drink. Our CZ representative was asked about hunting opportunities and a few days later told us to meet in a small village outside the AB for a tour of a hunting park.
Kutna Hora with its architecture and weather
When we arrived, we were met by three guys, on CZ guy who spoke pretty good english, one english guy who spoke german and one german who spoke only german.. It turned out that this hunting park was bought by an austrian count a few years ago and the park is famous for its white deer.. I had seen them while working a few days earlier but had ID'd them as probably fallow, being white. When on the tour, i actually found out they were reds, so a new one to me. Aparently, woburn used to have a few but they have long since gone, theres a few in Essen, Germany and thats about it for the western world.. very interesting to see them as well as some feral wild boar in the park which seem to love eating cigarette ends!
Anyways, i asked about the opportunity to hunt roe bucks, which i was told were prevalent in the area. Milos, the 'bird keeper' was assigned to liase with me and get me out for a buck.
I met him on Friday evening, Milos was dressed in full traditional tweed dress and his colleague, Petr was at hand with some local plum liqueur, which we had to have 2 shots, one for each leg!! Milos produced a sauer 202 8x57 with a swaro 1.5-8x50 (or similar..) I had a look at it and dry fired it, he was content to let me loose with it!
We stalked friday evening in around 1500Ha of mixed woodland, full of mozzies and saw around 20 roe deer, either females or too small (i wasnt looking for a trophy, but he insisted we looked for an older one..) We stalked a few deer to within 20yds and overall i really enjoyed the experience.. very similar in all respects to UK woodland stalking, although big slots from boar were everywhere!
I set my alarm for 0300 on Saturday morning to be at Milos' by 0400, it was getting light and he wanted to revisit a small glade in the woodland where we had seen 3 bucks, one of which we didnt get a great look at but he seemed to think it was big enough to shoot. We stalked into this area and waited as it got light, we were graced with the presence of a young doe, who happily fed to within 10yds of us before getting the wind and moving off barking. It was torture as she was so close and the mozzies were digging deep into my forehead with nothing i could do about it!! The bucks never surfaced on that area, so we checked wood edges and other glades, finding a few more small bucks but nothing he would let me shoot!
At the end of the stalk, i said that i had a great time and thanked him, to which he replied, you cant go home yet, we have to stalk again this evening! Being from Yorkshire i now thought this a good time to ask him about the cost of all of these stalks.. I was pleasantly surprised when he said ''no shoot, no pay!'' I snapped his hand off for a 3rd stalk on the saturday night!! Anyways, out again, mozzies really taking chunks out of us, Milos, the stalker wore full traditional tweeds on Friday and Saturday AM but decided to wear a lighter summer outfit as he was sweating profusely in the tweed.. dont blame the guy, i had my harkila jacket on with a light shirt underneath, unfortunately my shirt was too bright so i had to keep the jacket on which was slightly overkill considering the temperature!!
One area which we had bumped a buck on the previous night was approached from a different direction, where Milos spotted an ear and an antler sticking out above a small fir tree on the restock. It turned out to be a silvery faced old buck dozing in the sun, with his pretty doe feeding nearby. The buck only had spikes but looked like an old boy, so Milos said i should have a go at him.. He was about 100yds away and a short move to a fir tree provided a rest (no sticks provided..) Anyways after a while, the lazy buck got up to follow his missus, had a stretch and was wandering off, when he paused long enough for me to send the 8mm on its way. He dropped on the spot, stood back up and dropped again.
Milos insisted on having a cigarette before wandering up, which at least kept the mozzies at bay for a few minutes! When we got there, a quick feel in the bucks mouth showed he was an old character and Milos showed me the traditions after shooting. A fir frond was placed in his mouth, another rubbed on the exit wound and produced for me to feather my hat with, he then congratulated me and we took some photos.
He called his colleague, Petr on the drive back and upon arrival, Petr had donned his full traditional hunting tweeds and met me to congratulate me. We laid the deer on the grass and Petr then bugled a tune for the deer, one for me and one to end the hunt. More local liquer was produced and the table was laid with the bucks head at one end, also local smoked pork, gherkins and cheese as well as more liqueur and beer..
I had a great few hours talking about stalking and hunting with them, using pigeon german and Milos' english, we were shown several nice rifles including drillings, shotguns and full stock rifles, all of which were european calibres that i hadn't seen before.
I have to say that the stalking itself was the same as the UK, but it was great to see new ground in a new country and see their traditions, as well as meet guys who are from a different culture but share the same passion. It was humbling to see the respect they have for their quarry and i think that its a shame that we in the UK dont have the same ingrained traditions, even Petr's daughter and son (probably 10 or 11) came out and congratulated me, then joined us for a celebratory drink afterwards.
So, no trophy bucks shot, but what a great way to spend your days off from work when away from home.