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Guide to hunting in Translyvania

PUBLISHED: 16:13 13 April 2019

red stag hunting area

red stag hunting area

Archant

Tony Jackson presents his guide to the hunting opportunities offered by Korsholm outfitters in Translyvania, a land of mountains, forests and meadows

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Transylvania, one of Eastern Europe’s most captivating regions, boasts not only a beautiful countryside amidst the Carpathian mountain regions, with hardwood forests, lush pastures and wildflower meadows, but also some of the best hunting to be found in Europe. This is a region, in the heart of Romania, which time has passed by, a landscape of historic towns and castles, and impelling legends of vampires, wolves and Dracula.

Much of the countryside in Transylvania consists of small grass and crop fields, with large woodland areas intersected by numerous rivers and streams. In the summer, shepherds can be seen herding sheep, cows and goats, while much of the farming is undertaken with small machinery, wagons and horses. This is Europe as it was decades ago.

Brian Madsen, who speaks perfect English, is a sporting agent and works for the renowned Danish hunting and outdoor sports company Korsholm. He is often asked where in Europe can be found the most beautiful countryside and the best hunting – and his answer is always Transylvania. Here, he claims, a wide range of game species can be encountered in a little-known but lovely countryside.

There is, he says, outstanding roe deer stalking with quality heads, especially in the valley of the Mures river, while the red stags in the Carpathian hills and mountainous regions often produce medal-class heads. In the western part of Transylvania, close to the Hungarian border, there is also a large population of excellent fallow deer, and if you are looking for a chamois, head for the highest mountain ranges in Transylvania where you’ll find the Carpathian chamois, the largest of all the chamois species.

Wild boar can be encountered countrywide and are mostly hunted during the winter months by driving, though the really big male keilers are hunted from high seats or by stalking.

Romania and Transylvania also have the largest population of European brown bears and many wolves. However, both species are totally protected and no licences are issued. Nevertheless, it adds a certain zest to a hunting outing to know that both species are in the area and may be seen on a dawn or evening stalk.

CARPATHIAN RED STAG

This is the biggest and heaviest of the European red deer species with a mature stag weighing around 200kg to 250kg. However, the heads do not normally carry as many points as do red stags from Poland, Hungary or Denmark, although they are longer and wider. In Transylvania, stags are normally hunted in the hills and deep forests by walking and stalking, so hunters need to be reasonably fit and in good shape.

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Normal trophy heads are 12 to 14 pointers with a weight of 7-9kg. Stags with heads estimated to weigh less than 7kg are not hunted. Each year, a few stags with heads weighing around 10kg are shot and usually one or two animals will exceed 11kg. The biggest stag shot in 2017 weighed 12.6kg and the heaviest last year came in at 11.8kg.

The best time to stalk the red deer is during the rut, which normally takes place from 16 September to around the beginning of October. This usually involves five nights’ accommodation in a small pension/local hotel and four days hunting, morning and evening on a one-to-one basis. Shooting will usually be from sticks at distances from 60-300m. In terms of calibre, .30-06 is recommended; calibres smaller than this are not considered suitable.

FALLOW DEER

Transylvanian fallow are genetically the same as those found in Hungary and, indeed, the best hunting areas are to be found close to the Hungarian border. This is a very flat region with grass fields and extensive woodland. During the rut, between 10 and 25 October, fallow cross the border into Transylvania and more than 1,000 may be seen in an area known as the Fallow Paradise.

Every year, Korsholm have some licences to hunt for trophy-quality bucks in the Ludus area. Trophy heads usually weigh 3kg to 3.7kg. On a three day hunt with four nights’ accommodation, a hunter will usually take one buck a day, stalking and using a high seat. Recommended calibres are .308 Win, .30-06 and .300 Win Mag.

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ROE BUCKS

These deer are found countrywide with mature bucks weighing 20kg to 26kg. In parts of the Ludus region, bucks may be shot with heads weighing between 500g and 600g, and a few of 700g to 750g are taken annually. In the valley of the river Mures, heads will weigh 300g to 425g.

On a three-day hunt, with four nights’ accommodation, six stalks will take place. Rifle calibres are normally 6.5x55, .270 Win, .308 Win or .30-06. Hunts are walk and stalk. As the areas are large, a hunter is normally driven around in a 4x4 until a buck is spotted and then the stalk begins.

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CARPATHIAN CHAMOIS

The largest of all the chamois species, a mature buck can be 80-90cm at the shoulder and weigh 40-50kg. This is a tough walk and stalk. You will stay in a hotel close to the hunting area and leave in the dark to drive as high as possible and then ascend the mountain to arrive at the summit mid-day, looking for a chamois until mid-afternoon when you will descend before dark. This is the routine for three days.

Clients usually take two to three days before taking a chamois. The wind is a major factor, as is the weather. The mountains are 2,200m to 2,450m high. Stalkers must be prepared for every type of weather, from sunshine to snow in a short period. Shooting distance is usually 100m to 300m. Rifle calibres should be .270 Win, .30-06 or .300 Win Mag. This is a three-day hunt with four nights’ accommodation and on a one-to-one basis.

The best time to go is in the middle of October to the second week of November, although early snow in November can present an extra challenge. Two to four hunters can be taken at the same time for a chamois hunt.

WILD BOAR

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Wild boar are found throughout Romania and Transylvania and are hunted by driving, stalking or from a high seat. The open season is from October to February and the best time is in the depth of winter under a full moon and from a high seat close to a feeding ground.

Only big wild keilers are hunted and usually two will be shot over three nights. A normal hunt is three days’ and four days’ accommodation with full board. Keilers range up to 200kg bodyweight with tusks 16cm to 24cm. A very big boar may weigh 250kg.

Driven hunts require a minimum of 10 hunters. There are usually three drives a day with lunch in the wood. A typical bag will be one to two wild boar a day per hunter. Hunts are usually over two days in open areas and one day where fenced. Fenced areas are 600-1,000ha and clients should ask if they wish to hunt in such an area. Recommended calibres are between .30-06 and 9.3x62.

Hunting rights

In Romania, all hunting rights belong to the state, but hunting grounds are rented by local clubs who each receive a hunting plan for their area from the government. In order to help pay rent, a number of game animals are sold to Korsholm Hunting Agency each year, providing the hunting clubs with the income to hunt for themselves. There are no private hunting grounds in Romania.

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Rifles

Rifles can be brought into Romania/Transylvania on an EU passport. However, it is illegal to use a silencer in Romania. You can rent a suitable rifle from Korsholm, such as a Blaser, Tikka or Kongsberg, all with excellent scopes and this is the easiest option.

Currency

The currency is the lei at the rate of 5.45 lei to pound sterling. Cash machines can normally be found in airports and towns. Credit cards are accepted in towns and at fuel stations, but in the countryside, small shops and B&Bs deal only in cash.

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Communication

Note that there are the inevitable mobile phone signal black spots while hunting, and in the mountains there is no signal. However, most hotels and local B&Bs normally have wifi.

Language

While most people speak Romanian, a mixture of Hungarian and Transylvanian is often spoken in Transylvania. Korsholm’s hunting clients always have an English-speaking guide accompanying them.

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Flights

There are flights to the three Transylvanian airports, Sibiu, Targu-Mures and Cluj-Napoca, from most major UK airports, and from these airports Korsholm’s hunting areas are about a two- to four-hour drive. An English-speaking guide will be at the chosen airport to meet clients and look after them. He will then be with the hunter or group during the entire trip and is usually the driver. Local guides do not speak English.

Accommodation

Full-board accommodation is normally in a small hotel 15 to 30 minutes’ drive from the hunting area. Soft drinks and alcohol are extra. A typical mix of traditional Romanian and Hungarian food is normal, but it is possible to order special dishes. Wild boar, pork, chicken and fish are usually on the menu. Local wine and beer is available.

Clothing/weather

The spring and summer are normally hot with little rain so light jackets/trousers in camo or green are suitable, and similar for the roe rut in August. For red deer and fallow in September and October, light clothing in the afternoons is fine, although the mornings can be quite cold.

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Good boots are needed for hill walking and also a light rainproof jacket. For driven wild boar hunting, warm waterproof clothing is required as the weather changes constantly. Lightweight wind and waterproof clothing is essential for chamois.

Camouflage clothing is fine and a small backpack is needed in the mountains for dry socks, a t-shirt, water and food. Good binoculars, a rangefinder, a knife and walking stick for chamois are required. A guide will carry shooting sticks.

YOU CAN HUNT HERE!

Korsholm in Denmark was founded in 1912 and is today owned by a fourth generation of the Korsholm family. The company has an extremely large 5,000m2 outdoor sports company which, besides its hunting tours agency, contains departments for hunting, fishing, a shooting arena and a weapons workshop. There is a vast selection of outdoor clothing, footwear and accessories available and the company also carries rifles, shotguns, binoculars and, indeed, everything required for hunting and shooting. There is also a wide selection of fishing tackle and, in every department, experts to advise and inspire.

To hunt in Transylvania and to obtain full details, available dates and costs, contact Brian Madsen on +45 2537 0036 or at brian@korsiolm.dk.

Korsholm office +45 9680 2048.

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