Buddies, boars and beers. Part 1

My friendship with Steen goes approximately 25 years back, so the challenge was taken very seriously when his wife asked me to arrange a hunting trip as his birthday present.

Instead of going through the established hunting travel agencies, I wrote to Martin as I met on another trip to Slovakia this summer and it resulted in an authentic Slovak hunting experience, which we in no way could even have planned from home.

The blacksmith doesn’t complain.

Steen and I have shared several good hunting experiences through the years, but the prospect of several days together and even abroad was a major upgrade. After a little writing back and forth with Martin, the plan was three days of free hunting for wild boar, but also red stag and fallow deer game, with regulation of female and calves at a good, fixed price. In addition, it was agreed that Martin’s Danish business associate Lars was coming too, so we were three to share the transport expenses and the driving. The well over 16-hour drive to Slovakia was an excellent opportunity to get to know each other and share hunting stories. Acute back pain from a few days before, however, was a challenge Steen could have been without. But with an overnight stay and some good breaks he made it. And a blacksmith doesn’t complain…


The smell of the good old days

We were meeting Martin after work. We were a little early and chose the smaller mountain roads instead of the highway. Slovakia is a truly beautiful country worth the trip itself! Mountainous terrain with very varied forests that do not bear the mark of forestry, interrupted by wetlands and agricultural land filled with traces of the many wild boar. Our first destination was a restaurant where we really got the feeling of “a boy’s night out”. After dinner it was allowed to find cigarettes and pipes that could be enjoyed in the reclining chesterfield furniture. An extinct Danish tradition that is probably remembered with mixed feelings, but for us it smelled a bit like the late nights on a bachelor’s room, if you closed your eyes and imagined a worn-out couch instead.


Martin præsenterede os for en mulig, men valgfri ændring i planerne. Hans far havde inviteret venner og bekendte til en større drivjagt i anledning af sin fødselsdag, og vi var mere end velkomne til at deltage. Vi greb det generøse tilbud uden at vide helt, hvad vi kunne forvente.

Den første nat overnattede vi i familiens overdådigt velindrettede jagthytte i det sydvestlige Slovakiet med mange og flotte trofæer, som sendte tankerne på langfart.

No guaranties in nature

Next morning, we went out on the first hunt for female deer and calf. Martin offered a single fallow stag, as part of the agreed price. We pulled straws, Steen won a pürsch, while Lars and I was each assigned a stand but with no less action.


My shooting tower was almost a little hunting lodge on high legs. Not necessarily my favorite way to hunt since I love the contact with nature and the unpredictable parts the hunt. It turned out to be a good combination of pürsch and sitting in a stand, because I could often hear animals moving around the tower. Suddenly, a female deer and two calves came out into the open and stopped as they crossed my scent. I knew I only had a few seconds before they would take the flight. They stood close together and gave no option for a shot. But when she started running, one of the calves became isolated and I made a successful shot.

It was different for Steen. He only got a single chance of a big fallow stag, passing at full speed at 100m, but chose to let it go because of the risk of only wounding it. Hunting in nature gives a lot of possibilities, a few chances, but no guaranties.

The Bear-seat

We continued to a mountain area in central Slovakia on 3,500 hectares for our evening of hunting wild boar, female deer and calf, and were each given a stand. My tower was called “bear-bait” …! Bear and wolf can be hunted on license in this area, and I hoped to just get a brief view of some real European big game. With my place followed explicit instructions under no circumstances to go down before I was retrieved. Not even to step down on nature’s behalf. Fortunately, I did not need creative solutions to that problem.


The view from the tower was fascinating!

On the right down the slope was the forest cut down, a breathtaking view of several mountain passes on the other side of the valley and to the left and behind the tower there was close forest, with the bear feeding place which gave the place its name. Contrary to Danish rules hunting after sunset in Slovakia is allowed from two days before full moon up to two days after, so the twilight was a new and slightly unfamiliar challenge. The advantage of my electronic in-ear hearing protection from Audiovox is that the weak sounds of motion in the forest floor are enhanced, and it makes it easier to determine from which direction they come, so I was already prepared before the animal emerged from the edge of the forest.

Roebuck and reddeer

This time it was a nice buck that came at 50m, and I let him go. Besides that, there were no real chances for me, but I fully enjoyed the sight of a flock of red stags in the moonlight.

Lars shot a red stag that turned out to be slightly greater than the economic considerations he had made beforehand. A risk that often goes along with paying for the hunt. Steen was, for the second time watching the rear end of a nice trophy disappearing out of shooting rage. This time a 200 kg male boar.

That night we stayed in a small, charming lodge with no electricity and water, only wood burning stove, candlelight, a small generator and a toilet shed behind with good “ventilation” between the planks so you could enjoy the view of the forest while doing your business. We laughed about the idea that you could not be surprised by a wolf outside when you can see it through the closed door.

Wolf howling

Early next morning we loaded the cars joined by Martins to comrades, who were supposed to take part in the birthday hunt. We all stopped at the sound of wolves howling. It was fascinating to observe the three local people listening and whispering trying to figure out where it came from. It gives an extra element to the hunt, and I must admit that I had goose bumps by the thought of not necessarily being in the top of the food chain.

We drove an hour southeast to the sheep farm, which was the starting point for the hunt of the day. The same area where I had been on wild game hunting in the summer. The first thing we saw when we arrived were two big old military trucks that were passenger transport for the approximately 50 hunters, some with spouses, while beaters drove by themselves. Their tradition of having the company of wife or girlfriend on a hunt, just few of them as hunters, brought a super nice atmosphere.


The driven hunt

After the obligatory handshake and a nice reunion with another three friends from this summer’s hunt, breakfast was served, while everyone was registered with the weapon number and caliber, as well as the hunting license number. Hunting instructions were given in a, for me, new way. We were not in a horseshoe formed line, as you often do in Denmark, but instead, you stand in lines from each side of a square area, with the hunt leader in front and the beaters in similar rows at the base of the area. Cut off branches marked where the rows should stand. We would receive the instructions in English on the way to the place, so we just nodded and smiled while the parole was held in Slovak. There was no doubt that the hunt was well-organized, focusing on security despite the friendly forms.

Steen, Martin and Lars


A well deserved rest for the beaters and their dogs 

 They drove us in the old military trucks. Often on really narrow and poor paths, where the branches scratched off the wagon’s sides. Impressive how they managed to pass through even the smallest places in the forest.

Read more in part two…

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