Why do we hunt? Maybe it has something to do with the desire to be close to nature. Several hundreds of years ago all humans lived with a strong connection to nature; today however, in the concrete jungle, nature seems distant. Humans are part of nature nonetheless, and desire its proximity. Some head out to take pictures, others hike and others hunt.
The Hungarian countryside has been popular among hunters both domestic and foreign for centuries. Its abundance in red, roe and fallow dear, pheasants, wild boar and small game have lured the rich and famous to test their hunting skills since times begun, and today’s well-established hunting infrastructure coupled with affordable prices will provide for a quintessentially Hungarian hunting experience for those of more modest means too.
One of the most essential elements of hunting is experiencing the beauty, the quiet and the adventure that is nature. It is not a crazy killing spree, as many think. Just as one of Hungary’s famous writers (and passionate hunters), Count Zsigmond Széchenyi once said,
“Hunting is game-chasing and forest-humming. But more forest-humming.”
The killing of game is just a short moment, the emphasis is on the events taking place before and after that. According to hunters, nothing compares to the excitement of finding and waiting for the game, just as the adrenalin rush when the animal actually arrives. A true hunter respects its prey – the animal has to be shot precisely, without inflicting any unnecessary pain or suffering. It’s all part of the hunters’ ethics.
Because of its particularly rich stock of game, Hungary is one of the most attractive destinations for hunters. Red deer, fallow deer, wild boar, mouflon and roe can all be found (and hunted) here, just as the European hare, the pheasant, the grey partridge, the bean goose, the greater white-fronted goose, mallard, Eurasian teal and the Eurasian woodcock.
The red deer is Hungary’s biggest herbivore –with males weighing up to 200 kg. Its habitat is in the combination of forests and agricultural territories, mostly to be found in Transdanubia and the northern central range. The beautiful dotted fallow deer loves the continental climate. Due to colonisation campaigns the deer can be found throughout the country, but if you want to play safe, head to Gyulaj, Gyula, Guth or the area between the Danube and the Tisza. Mouflon were introduced to Hungary from Corsica and Sardinia. Today you can find some populations in the North Hungarian Mountains but their number still remains far below that of other big game, so this probably won’t be your easiest trophy. The wild boar on the other hand is one of the most popular targets of hunters in Hungary as it can be found nearly everywhere in the country. The greatest adventure of all, the fast-paced drive with beaters and specially trained dogs isa hunt of a particularly challenging nature for even the most skilled shooters. The roe buck is another favourite target of hunters as it presents all over the country in huge numbers. And how enormous they are – there are two Hungarian trophies among the first three on the world record list.
Is small game your game? The Hungarian countryside has plenty. First and foremost the pheasant, present in almost every corner of the country. The pheasant hunt has a rich tradition in Hungary and according to many the Hungarians are beginning to set new standards of excellence in the dynamic sport of driven pheasant shooting. Where else would you give it a try?
Hunting is no thoughtless act of killing. Knowing your hunting seasons is of particular importance as these animals are protected.. Hunting is thus allowed outside reproductive seasons only. Note however, that even during hunting season you cannot shoot just any animal – a professional attendant takes care that only those animals that are killed are from stock in abundant numbers. The compulsory hunters’ exam serves the protection of the animals as well.
Hunting Lodges are often good places to get information on local conditions and game. Here is a countrywide list. Put on your boots and load your rifle – let the hunt begin!