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Hunting in Macedonia

Wolf

Macedonia is one of the few places in the world where a wolf trophy can be guaranteed within a couple of days. The secret is their number nowadays – about 1800 in total – and the perfect hunting organization.

Wild Goat/Chamois

Macedonia's high mountains host the highest populations of Balkan chamois. In Karadzica and on the mountains Sara and Mavrovo there are 3,500 chamois of the Balkan subspecies.

The Mavrovo National Park with an area of 73.088 hectares is located in the south-western part of the Balkans, near the Macedonian border with Albania and Kosovo.

The Park was founded in the year 1949 to protect the outstanding beauty of the environment. This is the only place where we can guarantee to shoot a Balkan chamois within a couple of days. Trophies are mostly medals.

Turtle-Doves

The turtle-dove’s passage begins at 7:30 AM and ends at 11:00, at the places where it feeds (sunflower fields), that is why the hunters have to be at the hunting grounds by 7:00 AM. Due to the fact that birds of the dove species use the same air corridors when flying, it is advised that the hunting guides research the hunting spots a day or two in advance.

The spots where the cover will be set to stalk the birds are decided on the basis of the collected information. After 11:00 AM if we’re not satisfied with the results, we can stalk the birds by their watering places (by rivers, swamps, overflows etc.), on the condition that there are trees, dried tree trunks, electrical posts and wires.

The use of retriever dogs is common practice. The dog must be very disciplined and adept at carrying out commands. It should obey the commands: stay, lay down, fetch. An experienced dog has the ability to track the moving birds before the hunter and upon shooting to bring back the bird quickly and energetically, well remembering the shot bird’s exact spot. It must sit down in front of the hunter and give back the animal.

During a group hunt (in groups of 4-8 hunters), it’s advisable they cover all corridors of the passing birds, forcing them to keep flying in the air and giving the hunters a chance to continue shooting. The turtle-dove flies at speeds of 70 to 90 km/h and must be anticipated properly.

Thrushes

Thrushes are plump, soft-plumaged, small to medium-sized birds which inhabit wooded areas. They often feed on the ground or eat small fruit. Most species are gray or brown in color, often with speckled underparts. Even if the adults do not have these speckles, the juveniles often will. They are insectivorous, but most species also eat worms, snails, and fruit. Thrushes build cup-shaped nests, sometimes lining them with mud. They lay two to five speckled eggs, sometimes laying two or more clutches per year. Both parents help in raising the young. The songs of some species are considered to be among the most beautiful in the avian world.

Snipes

Snipes are rarely the target of Bulgarian hunters, but there is quite the interest from foreign hunters.

This hunt doesn’t require the hunters to get up early and can continue the entire day. Snipes are most commonly hunted in the so called overflows (fields that retain water, rice fields, spots where rivers have overflown and shallow lakes).

This is a bird that makes one of the longest migratory flights in the world. There is evidence that some specimens travel from Japan to Bulgaria. The hunt is very emotional and puts the hunter’s marksmanship skills to the test.

On liftoff snipes let out a cry which guides the hunter to the target. The problem is the bird makes sudden and sharp turns to either side and after the 30th meter straightens out its trajectory.

Missing the target is quite common. Out of the three types of snipes (small, common and large) the common snipe is allowed to be hunted in Bulgaria. Retriever dogs, which cope well with watery terrains, can be used.

The dogs must work very close to the hunter, at a distance no greater than 20-25 m. because the snipe lifts off at the 20th meter (the bird doesn’t allow the hunter to get close to it; the terrain doesn’t allow stealthy movement) and does so very quickly, making it quite difficult to hit.

English Setters have established themselves as the best dogs for this hunt. They have a good, firm stance and an exceptional sense of smell. Their fur protects them from the moisture and they can work all day.

Snipe hunting is allowed in the period from the beginning of August to the end of February. The best time to hunt them is in December and January when most water basins freeze.

Rock Partridges

The Rock Partridge hunting. The Rock Partridge is extremely beautiful and its hunting is very attractive for hunters in Macedonia.

They live in small flocks. This bird often resides in rocky areas and those with low vegetation. It is distinguished from similar birds by its sharp and noisy sounds.

The hunting grounds in Macedonia are especially beautiful, in the areas of Mt. Shara, Mt. Suva Gora, the national park of Mavrovo, Mt. Bistra and Mt. Stogovo.

Quails

Quail hunting in Bulgaria. Quail hunting is carried out primarily in the early hours of the day. It’s recommended you be at the hunting grounds by 6:00 AM.

In August, the beginning of the season, it is best you hunt until 10:00 AM and from 16:00 to 19:00 in the afternoon because of the high temperatures which impede the dogs work. During that period, it’s advisable you choose hunting grounds that are at greater altitudes. Practice shows us that quails prefer higher mountainous regions when the temperatures start to rise. They are most commonly encountered in meadows where different sorts of millet grow, in flat fields of harvested grain crops or the so called stubble fields where weeds are dominant.

The use of dogs of English breed (Pointer, Setter, etc.) is recommended. Hunting quails in passages is the most intense and successful method, when groups of 1000 to 3000 birds are formed. The hunting period is from the 1st of September to the 1st of October. During this period, temperatures are lower and it’s possible to hunt throughout the course of the entire day. A single hunter can shoot more than 100 birds during this type of hunt.

If the dogs are well trained, it is possible to shoot around 15-30 quails in about 2-4 hours. Our advice is to only shoot when the dog is in its pointing stance. That way there is equality between the hunter and the prey, and the hunt itself is pleasant. The dog has to be well trained, have a firm pointing stance and be a good retriever.

Young dogs can be brought along on this hunt, because they gain qualities and experience, making them better helpers when hunting other types of birds. The dog must work hard to find the game and, after the shot, bring it back to the hunter. If it learns to find quails then it will be able to find all other types of birds with ease. The recommended shooting distance is 20 to 30 meters. When the dog is standing still but there is nothing in front of it, it should be allowed to pick up the scent of the fleeing animal.

During group hunts the participants have to walk slowly and stop every 10-15 paces for about 30 seconds. That way the birds that press themselves down to the ground are forced to leave their cover and the dogs are given a chance to pick up their scents. When hunting in a group (4-5 hunters) we must always know the position of our fellow hunters. Whenever a person from the group fires their gun in an attempt to shoot down a bird, the others are compelled to wait for him and then fire. Usually a region is searched with the group forming a line, complying with the safety measures.

The quails are completely wild; the populations are not mixed with birds raised in captivity. The best hunting period starts on the 1st of September and ends on the 1st of October. The hunting terrains are mountainous, hilly and farmlands.

Partridges

The hunt for partridges begins at around 9:00 AM, because the gallinaceous birds do not require the hunter to get up and be at the hunting grounds very early. The hunt can take place in flatlands and regions with small, rolling hills.

Partridges found in Macedonia are wild, and they reside in uncultivated lands and fields of weeds. In these places partridges can easily hide and breed. Some flocks consist of more than 50 birds. It is possible to see 10 to 20 families a day. Partridges are stalked with pointing dogs, the Pointer and Setter being the breeds most commonly used. They scour bigger areas quickly and have a good firm stance.

Some Pointers can smell flocks from 100m away. You can hunt individually or in a group. Nervous dogs are to be avoided (dogs that can’t hold their stance or are easily provoked by the moving birds in front of them, which in turn impedes the hunters’ advance). Partridges, when in danger, fly 300-600m from where they were standing and land again. That is why their flight path needs to be tracked.

We need to have good control over the dog so as to be able to regulate the search distance, especially when we know where the birds are. The families have a strong scent which makes them easy to find. It’s advisable, when hunting partridges, to try and break up the flock. Then they press to the ground longer and we can observe beautiful stances from the dogs.

This particular hunt can last all day with a lot of ground covered with high tempo. That is why the hunter needs to be in good health.