This week on The Huntsman we are embarking
on a fantastic trip across Europe to the Czech Rep. Our good friend Owen Beardsmore and his
son Tom are taking part in a driven wild boar hunt and we’re along for the ride. The Czech
Rep is a favoured hunting ground of Team Wild TV. Our very own Ian Harford has spent plenty
of time in this beautiful Central European country helping with animal management. Last
year Ian was invited over to Prague to attend several driven wild boar hunts in the company
of Count Leonhard Colloredo-Mansfeld. Each year Leonhard and his close friends meet to
help cull wild boar and the various deer species in his vast forests. This land has been passed
down through generations of the Colloredo family, from the Bohemian dynasty to the modern
day. And now Leonhard takes care of the land and animal management with the help of his
Jagermeister, Milan. This year we shall be following Owen Beardsmore of Cervus UK and
his eldest son, Tom. The father and son pair are to partake in the fantastic traditions
also passed down through generations in this part of the world. The guys have loaded up
the Huntsman truck and head south in the early morning sun. – At Folkestone they board the
Eurotunnel, ready to cross the channel. And in no time at all they are on the European
mainland. From Calais they head across the continent through France, Belgium and Germany.
The Huntsman eats up the tarmac on the mighty autobahns and the guys clock up plenty of
miles. The guys have a quick stop off in the beautiful city of Frankfurt, with it’s classic
German architecture along side the Main River. Back on the autobahns and the truck continues
east to the Czech border and into what was once the historical territory of Bohemia.
The guys finally reach the beautiful city of Prague after 1500km on the road, but the
truck hasnt skipped a beat. Crossing the Vlatva River and heading through the historical centre
of this wonderful city it’s steeped in history and wonderful tradition. Just as the hunting
is in this part of the world. The traditions common in the Czech Republic originate from
German hunting in the late 18th and early 19 centuries. The breaking of a branch and
taking three leaves is very important in these parts. One of the branches is placed in the
mouth of the fallen animal to represent it’s last meal. A second is dabbed in the blood
from the wound and given to the hunter. The third is placed on the wound.These traditions
have been observed by Team Wild across the continent and are common in not just the Czech
Republic and Germany, but also in Hungary. Owen, Tom and the rest of the group gather
at the Boatel to share a few tall hunting tales. Leonhard welcomes the group and lays
out the rules for the trip. So we will get off the quick as quick as possible, there
will be arrows on the trees, just follow the arrows, and go to your seats, at the end of
the drive, everybody will have a time, there is no more shooting after that, that is the
deadline. Shooting, your only allowed to shoot at the very sick animals, half dispatched,
20 metres maximum, pleasure do not shoot at any other animals. – The guys also pick their
pegs for the drives. A set of tags are thrown into a champagne bucket and each hunter pulls
out a number. The number drawn for each will be their respective peg for the up coming
hunt. As the sun rises over the city Owen and Tom load their rifles into the Huntsman,
and get ready for the short trip out to Leonhard’s estate in Dobris. Owen introduced Tom to hunting
from a young age. From father to son he’s has passed down the many hunting traditions
that Owen has observed from across Europe. The group gather for their morning brief and
welcome ceremony with Leonhard and Milan. Another fantastic part of the tradition in
the Czech Republic is the blowing of the horn at the beginning of the day. Both the beaters
and hunters show respect for the game to be taken that day. Everyone jumps aboard the
tractors and trailers to be dropped off at their pegs in the woods. So it is the first
day of our hunt here in the Czech Republic in late November, we have just been dropped
off, picked our pegs and my seat is over here. I’m quite optimistic, but if you look down
here, last night there ha been some pigs feeding along here, and you can see where they have
turned the ground over as they have been feeding. So i’m going to go get myself up the seat,
get myself ready. Owen gets into his seat and loads his rifle, as always the drive begins
slowly. As the beaters gently move the game Owen waits for something to cross his path.
As gun shots ring out Owen knows that something is on the move nearby. A wild boar runs across
Owen’s path and he fires twice, but doesn’t connect. Moments later a wild boar runs passed
Tom and is heading towards Owen. But, the youngster is quickest and the pig drops on
the spot.It looks like the old man has taught his son well. On Owen’s peg it’s still all
quiet. A deer makes it’s way through the forest across Owen’s path. He exercises his better
judgement and holds fire. Couldn’t shoot that it was a roe buck, and I will be in trouble.
– Roe are not fair game on this drive. Only species of which the numbers are plentiful
are taken. This ensures numbers are kept manageable, but also sustainable. There’s more movement,
but the game is too far and in thicker cover. Without a safe shot Owen holds fire again.
As the drive comes to an end Owen catches up with Tom to look at his wild boar. Wow,
look at the well done son, thank you. Fantastic! Right on the engine room! Great shot look!
Wonderful, perfect. Good side over loper. Wild boar are a problem animal in these parts,
and taking them out of these forests helps to ensure there’s plenty of food for the deer
and sheep. So my son Tom has just taken his first boar. Tom shot a young boar which is
perfect for us to shoot, weighing in at about 40 kilos, which is part of our management
hunt, absolutely fantastic, and part of the principles of this now is Tom has got to mark
it that he is the guy that shot it, so we are going to put a marker on it, with his
number on it, so when it goes back onto the trailer, we know who has shot what. So as
in tradition, we give him his last feed, wipe a bit of blood on it, put it on the hat, say
congratulations Tom. Thank you very much. Well done. Put that in your hat.The beaters
collect the guys and count the animals taken so they can be collected. The group gathers
for a spot of lunch and to recount the mornings activity. All the game is gathered and added
to the tableau. Tom heads to his seat for the afternoon’s drive and hopes that the mornings
luck will continue. So we have just been dropped off by the trailer, just got up the seat,
in a really nice position, nice open area, and just 20 metres away from the main track.
Hopefully we can, get a chance of a pig running across the track, this is the second drive
of the day, first drive, was a good drive, luckily I was successful and managed to get
an uberlafer, about 30 kilograms, which was what we were looking for, so hopefully this
will be the same. A deer bolts across the front of Tom and is gone before he has a chance
to find his shot. Vigilance can be key when on a driven hunt. All is quiet and still.
Then a good sow makes its way through the light brush in front of Tom. He makes a good
shot and it drops on the spot. Tom finds his sow and tags it’s ear. The beaters arrive
to collect it and observe the tradition of the three leaves. Yeah I have had a really
good day, just finished the second drive, luckily I was successful again, two pigs today!
So yes, we are on a driven hunt in the Czech Republic, just outside Prague, it is very
different than the hunting we do back in England, when we are doing out deer management. When
we are in England shooting deer, were up a a seat or we are out stalking, I after fallow
deer and roe deer, but this is about 40 or 50 hunters, in a massive, massive block of
woodland all situated in different areas of seats, and basically we have about 20 beaters
with dogs trying to flush out the wild boar and bring them to us basically, there is a
lot of wild boar in this area, and with each sow, producing 8 piglets at a time, means
there are a lot of pigs about, and we have seen a lot of them today, usually your shooting
animals on the run really, your shooting pigs that could be running fast, there could be
big groups. You have to try and determine which pig to take, you can’t just shoot anything,
you need to be taking the right one, we don’t want to be shooting the big sows, we want
to be shooting the younger ones. It is not just about the shooting, it is about the whole
experience really, and doing it professionally and doing it right, because you can easily
shoot everything you see, but you need to get it right. My dad has taught me how to
shoot, and he has taught me the safety, and how to do things right really. If your not
safe and your not shooting right, and your not respecting your gun and the people around
you, mistakes are made. Owen has passed down these hunting values to Tom and he’s taken
them on board. Ensuring safe and ethical hunting is key to a successful hunting trip such as
this. With beaters, other hunters, dogs and some species not fair game all moving through
these woods it’s vital that those shooting have great judgement. Passing on these values
and traditions to the next generation ensures that beautiful hunting areas such as this
are respected, the game is respected and hunting is ensured for generations to come. As the
game is all gathered into the tableau the group come together for the end of day ceremony.
Every animal is respected and the traditional horn rings out once more.