We departed Ljubljana 3 am and arrived in Pakrac (150 km south of Zagreb) well ahead of our 7 am schedule. This gave us time to enjoy a cheese Burek at a local bakery which is eaten in combination with a yogurt to help digest the cheese Burek (oily). Maybe my age but I find one Burek enough to last me a few months. The picture below is the main building of the hunting family we were hunting with.
A driven hunt in Autumn is unusual, hot for beaters and dogs and the forests still dense with leaves. We were asked to help cull pigs because the hunting family was incurring escalating farmer damages. The hunt was planned for 16 of us from Slovenia with each of us contributing Euro 100 to the hunting family.
Typically the area where pigs hold up in is thicker bush areas, often separated by a dust road and more open forest on the other side of the road. When I first hunted pigs I was too slow, distracted by the amount of trees in your field of view as the pigs ran. The right advice I got was “there is more open space than trees so follow and shoot”.
Knowing that visibility in the forests would be far worse than in winter I gave greater care to my own visibility. Blaze orange or reflective green are compulsory for visibility but I found the green much less suitable given the summer conditions of leaves. At times it was hot, forcing us to take jackets and hats off and placing them on high branches to increase visibility.
The success of our hunt was impacted by many locals searching mushrooms in nearby forest areas. After weeks of rain the conditions were perfect for mushrooms and the locals were having a “feast” of a time.
The hunt for the day consisted of 3 driven hunts, meaning we would travel to 3 separate areas and each time we were set-up in a line with beaters and hunters driving the pigs out. There is a lot of luck involved because pigs group and if they are not in the hunted block then that drive yields no pigs.
Waking up at 2 am was fair reason for a nap in the forest, but keeping your visibility never compromised.
The hunt yielded fewer pigs than normally. I never saw a pig but that did not distract from my enjoyment of the nature and the camaraderie. The wealth and fame of Zagreb is only a 90 minute drive north yet many villages such as Pakrac are poorer. There are reminders everywhere of the fierce fighting between Croats and Serbs 18 years ago; houses remain with bullet holes and many homes owned by Serbs are still abandoned. A stark reminder that there are no winners in war.
After every hunt it is customary to meet back at the hunting family premises where shot animals are laid out and various thanks expressed. The tradition here is that every hunter who shot a boar buys a case of beer; the reason that you see the beer placed in front of each boar. Hanging up and out of picture was another big boar shot earlier in the morning.
A contrast I find hunting in Croatia is that there is ZERO woman involvement. I believe differently, but then who am I to express a view on other nations cultures and practices; suffice to say that in my opinion and in order for responsible and ethical hunting to prosper we must be open to positive influences and change. I do believe that woman are fundamental to the future of hunting and shooting.
You only have to live in Shanghai to witness how a male dominated culture is now being reversed by a new generation of woman and China will be much better for that.
The hunt for the day ends with the local hunting family members serving a spicy meat soup and cooked wild boar. The locals of Pakrac are incredibly hospitable; this was my highlight of the day and making 7 hours of driving worthwhile.
In every collective hunt there is bound to be some incident that creates tensions. This day it was about a hunter accused of moving forward of his line thereby encroaching on the shooting area of hunters on his flanks. I notice that hunters familiar with the territory get themselves into the most favorable positions; something I consider selfish and not sporting.