My brother (Neil) organised a family bowhunt that he, my dad (Roger), my sister’s boyfriend (Jonathan) and I would attend. This would be Jonathan’s first bowhunting trip. Jonathan came out to South Africa at the end of 2010 and followed Andy and I as we bowhunted, which got him hooked. After that trip he was dead set on getting himself into bowhunting. That same trip he picked up a rifle for the first time and shot his first animal. Since then, he’s been practicing and preparing for what would hopefully be a great bowhunting trip for him.
We went out to Hungary with Wonderhart Hunting, which is owned by Tamas Takacs. We would be hunting for 6 days.
Zoltan Szoke (who became known as “Zoltan the first” as we would go on to meet 3 Zoltans this trip) was our “host” and translator. Zoltan the first would be organising the accommodation, transport to and from the airport in Hungary and would oversee all of the arrangements. He was a really fun guy. Great entertainer. Very considerate and was always striving to make sure we were OK and that the hunting was what we wanted and what we were expecting.
Tamas had an arrangement with the land owner (also a Zoltan) for us to hunt on a private property they called “The Garden”. We were then introduced to a “chief hunter”, also called Zoltan (who would become known as “Zoltan the wild”) who would be organising the hunting. Zoltan the wild was a genuine mountain man. He had a huge beard and had a passion for the mountains and forests that was contagious. I have not met someone that had a genuine love for the forest, animals, outdoors, hunting and photography like this guy. He was the real deal. His goal for this trip was to make sure that we hunted the way we wanted to hunt and achieved what we wanted to achieve, and to that end he did an outstanding job! (Note: Zoltan carried a rifle during the hunts for protection against any charging, wounded boar.)
I have quite a few hunts lined up this year, so my focus for this trip was to spend some quality time in the bush with my family and try to get Jonathan onto his first bow kill.
All my hunting gear packed. When you travel internationally for hunting, often a big expense can be extra luggage/weight, depending on who you’re flying with. I’ve got to the stage that for MOST of my hunts, I can fit all the gear I need into my bow case and hand luggage, including my Big Agnes sleeping bag.
Hunting walk & stalk at this time of the year can be tricky in these Oak forests. Leaves were very noisy and there is almost no cover, apart from the trees. This coupled with inconsistent wind meant that the walk & stalk hunting was challenging!
There were plenty of animals on the property, but getting opportunities was challenging. My dad and Neil managed to make good on two opportunities, taking a pig each (a young boar and a sow) for the pot. I love hunting with my dad and brother and seeing their success. It was special for me this trip when Zoltan the wild said, through a translator to my dad, that my dad should be proud that he gets the opportunity to hunt with both his sons and and now his daughter’s boyfriend, to which my dad agreed. It got me thinking of how often our great way of life and passion is so often not passed through generations. Zoltan the wild, who had three sons, was sad that none of his sons hunted with him and continued his passion for the outdoors.
Every evening at the end of the day we’d re-group around a fire to warm up and recount of stories from that day, following which we’d head to the restaurant for some outstanding food. One thing you can say about this trip is that WE ATE WELL!
We finished up having had a great time together on this hunt. Although not as successful as far as animals on the ground is concerned, the camaraderie and kinship that’s shared on a family hunt like this was great!
Notice Zoltan the wild holding a little dog called “Bogi” in the photo below. He hunted with her all the time. She stays to heel the entire hunt – even when you’re 30m from a boar. An incredible little dog! Apparently we weren’t the first group of hunters that had mentioned to Zoltan the wild that if he ever needed to move or couldn’t keep Bogi that we would make him an offer.
Questions and Answers
Q: Can you hunt Hungary on a tight budget?
A: Yes. It is possible as many of the land owners will need to take off smaller game (e.g. yearlings) for population control reasons. Often they offer them at a good price, however one of the challenges that you face is that pricing on most animals is done on a size basis, as is done in many European countries. It can be difficult to judge the size of the trophy, especially on boar as often the tusks are covered by hair on their face. For this reason, if you were in a tree stand on your own or stalking on your own, you could shoot a boar that you think is a small to medium size, only to find out that it’s a 25cm boar that will set you back over $2,000.
Q: Is there non-fenced hunting in Hungary?
A: Yes, however access to these properties is quite difficult to come by. Also, maintenance and management on these properties is sometimes not very good. One of the causes of this is that after the communist regime in Hungary was dropped, “public” land was distributed to many of the communist party leaders and is therefore privately owned now. The property we hunted on was owned by the forestry commission and leased to Zoltan.
Q: What was the weather like?
A: Weather was fairly mild for our trip, but can be unpredictable at this time of the year. It often dropped to below freezing overnight, but during the day was comfortable about 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). We didn’t experience bad weather, apart from the last day when it was very misty and raining. At this time of the year it’s important to take clothing that is suitable for cold weather incase the weather changes. The week after we left they had 60cm (2 feet) of snow.
Q: What special preparation did you do?
A: The most important preparation that I did for this trip was shooting with the clothing that you would be hunting with, especially when you wear more in the tree stands (e.g. gloves, hats, scarf). It’s important to make sure your clothing is suitable to shoot with and that you get used to shooting with it.