In densely settled Central Europe, the hunt is more indispensible than ever. Crop damage in agricultural monocultures as well as the widespread policy of ‘woods before game’ often clouds the joy of hunting on one’s own ground to a great extent. What a joy it then becomes to hunt in a country like Hungary, a place where these problems hardly seem to exist.
A heavenly quiet of the sort that is almost never seen anymore in old Germany pervades the hilly landscape of extensive and primeval mixed woodlands that are a paradise not only for red deer but for boar and roe deer as well.
Naturally, this is only half of the truth. Even in Hungary intensive agriculture stresses the landscape, and the timber industry is becoming increasingly critical of rising red deer populations. Still, with a population density that is much less than half that of Germany, large swathes of Hungary have remained quite primeval. Little wonder then that nature-loving hunters love to hunt in these regions that are reminiscent of what hunting was like more than a century ago. Regions where game is not only seen as vermin but, more importantly, the timber industry views hunting as a welcome means of increasing production.
The beautifully secluded Szentpeterfölde hunting lodge lies on the shore of a small lake in the middle of the forest.
If nothing else, the public servants that staff the 22 large state-run forestry offices have developed an extraordinary professionalism in the administration of the hunting areas and the practice of game conservation to include the use of working dogs. Experienced bloodhounds and seasoned dog handlers are available in sufficient quantities in each of the large hunting areas. It is astounding how many Hungarian hunting guides have mastered the German language. Whether in the tree stand or during evenings at the lodge, it is very comforting to be able to have extensive conversations with the Hungarian guides. There is always an opportunity to learn something! Speaking of lodges, the Hungarian hunting areas have plenty to offer in terms of lodging.
The Szentpeterfölde hunting area in the Zalaerdő forestry management district. This quaint but romantic sign points the way to a hunter’s paradise. When driving through the small, widely scattered hamlets, one feels as if he has been sent back to another time
From simple, practically furnished houses in the modern style to luxuriously appointed hunting lodges with a romantic flair to tastefully renovated palaces. One may discover a few reminders of a typical eastern European past here and there, but these only serve to impart a special charm of their own today!
Russian offroad vehicles or even the iconic Trabant are hardly ever seen in Hungary any more. Modern pickups are standard now, and not just in Szentpeterfölde.
In Hungary, the hunt itself is just as varied. Roebuck hunting begins in the middle of April with the last culls of antlerless deer and weak red stags taking place at the end of January. The hunt for old, heavy stags in rut is practically legendary. The red stag rut begins at the beginning of September, much earlier than in Alpine regions. Whilst capital stags are, as a rule, taken during the main rut from 10 to 20 September, there is still a good chance of taking a lesser stag that someone with a normal income can afford to shoot later on in the season. But the hunting experience is not the lesser for it.
One gets a lot for his money in Hungary in comparison to other venues! Even if it is not a hunt for the stag of a lifetime, the hunter and nature-lover would be hard-pressed to imagine a better, more carefree holiday. Even the trip over in your own automobile carrying your own rifle is totally uncomplicated. One of the most welcome features of a hunting trip to Hungary is the citizens’ proverbial hospitality. More than in most Hungarian tourist destinations, one feels that he is a most welcome guest at every step. Now we would like to share a secret: Roebuck may be stalked here, especially in the more heavily forested areas!