I previously wrote about planning for success in hunting. I started off this blog with the title “a successful hunt requires a little luck”; but found myself changing to “what defines a successful hunt”.

We departed around noon from Ljubljana for Delibratska Pescara in the East of Serbia (near the border with Romania) and arrived shortly after 9 pm.  A few wrong directions near our destination:)

Border crossings in Croatia with firearms requires a European gun license and ID card; but for Serbia (not part of Eu) we needed approval papers in advance followed by a border inspection and the payment of about Euro 30 for each gun and declared ammunition. This process added 45 minutes to the trip time.

We were welcomed at the hunting lodge with dinner. The wife of the caretaker of the hunting area cooked all our meals. It sounds corny to say but honestly it was the best food (no seafood) I ever ate. The portions and variety were more fitting a king than us mere mortals.

The rut had started, the roaring of stags sounded like lions roaring. We woke every morning at 4.30 am and headed out into the woods by 5 am. We travelled in Lada 4×4 jeeps, stopping every now and then to locate the roaring.  After deciding which area to pursue we would park about 1 km away and quietly walk to the forest opening. The guide would use a thermal device to spot game when still dark.

It was unusually warm for this time of the year; too hot for ideal hunting conditions. Typically the morning hunt was over by 7.30 am by which time the Red Deer would be headed back into the shade and hiding of the forests. In the openings it was the female species on the lookout because the testosterone levels of the stags made them largely oblivious to danger.

Breakfast was at about 8 am and then we had free time until a meal was served at 4 pm, before our late afternoon hunting. In this free time we travelled into surrounding villages and over indulged in alcohol at restaurants such as this restaurant overlooking the Danube.

On one of the days between morning and evening hunting we joined the caretaker on his rounds to feed the pigs. The management of game is a vital part of their work, something most anti-hunting activists don’t see and don’t understand (or they don’t want to).

Loading corn.

Offloading corn for pigs.

The hunting area is spectacular. The Deliblato Sands is a large sand area covering around 300 sq km of ground situated alongside the Danube river in the province of Vojvodina province of Serbia. It felt strange riding at “speeds” on narrow roads in darkness but when you finally digest that there are no rocks you get comfortable. The area is mostly flat with undulating bumps.

Easy walking

Our sleeping lodge was comfortable although sleeping time was never more than 5 hours a night. This lodge is across the road from the hunters residence (and additional lodge accommodation).

The hunters residence where we had our home cooked meals.

Getting into position in the afternoon meant some time to catch up on much needed rest before the Red Deer roaring started.

Hunting Red Deer during the rut is the only time when walk and stalk is possible (in my opinion the best). During the winter months many hunts would be driven hunts when hunters take up positions in a formation so deer are seen when crossing “lines”. In the picture below is a hide used by single hunters outside of the rut period.

Hunting expeditions in different European countries is a full experience (food / people / places /hunting practices). This is why I question the definition of a successful hunt. The nearby villages have not changed in 50 years and are unlikely to change in another half century. Prices were less than half of prices in Slovenia.

Enjoying a beer outside a village shop.

A Serbian tradition of honouring the deceased by placing notices on trees. Our vehicle in picture.

The close proximity of Romania means some mix of the population. Below are Gypsy’s with horsepower.

The last morning of hunting was spectacular. It was colder from some rain the day before. The cover of fog allowed us to get to the middle of an opening (shooting distances now max 150 m). We took cover in thorn brush. A stag appeared out from the mist 50 meters in front of us.  4-5 years old with the perfect crown, an awesome future prospect. The stag noticed “us”, but not sure he advanced another 10 meters, roaring every few meters. This moment is ingrained in my memory.

I was on point and Spendal on camera. He might be the worlds best gun-maker but his photography preparation was lacking. Not able to switch his flash off he was prevented from capturing “aiming” moments.  

We then moved into different areas because the stags were roaring till well past 8 am. We came onto 2 fighting young stags, the one breaking its horn in the encounter and later we walked onto another stag of about 6 years old. I had decided on an older stag hence I will need to return; but I will return not because of a stag but to relive the incredible experiences of this hunting trip.

Above is our farewell photograph; except for Micky taking the picture. Micky made the hunt expedition happen, he is considered part of the family here. Spending time with Micky it is easy to understand why he is liked and respected at the best hunting locations in central and eastern Europe. Below, outgoing Micky joined a fisherman on the Danube.