Thoughts and comments from a hunter’s wife – Day 5/5
This day began at 4 am with a very different kind of off road spot and stalk for some extraordinary roebucks and turned into a hilarious study of the Slovakian language. They woke us up after nearly two and a half hour of sleep and we found out that after gutting and cutting the wild boars, they had gone hunting for more wild boars , but without any success, and hadn’t been sleeping at all.
So four of us took off after coffee and a waffle/candy bar for breakfast, heading for another part of the hunting area. Our host (Martin Zahumensky) would drive slowly into the hills, sometimes stop the car and the guys would role down the windows and have a thorough look through their binoculars for any moving wildlife. And we saw plenty! At least 5-6 bucks and just as many females, plus a group of wild boars from the dim morning light till after sunrise. The rain had stopped half an hour before we woke up, which more likely would make the animals come out from their hiding into the open fields. Sometimes Martin would grab the camera instead to take a picture of the buck to see if it was “shootable”. And I could tell by Michael’s reaction that “shootable” means well above Danish average for the size of a trophy. I like the way they didn’t just shoot anything that moved but knew what kind of regulation is needed to keep the population of roe deers healthy and thriving.
They spotted a very fine buck and decided to stop the car and go after it to se if they could close enough for Michael to make a good shot with the riffle. The view of this hilly terrain was stunningly beautiful with a little morning fog before sunrise. While Michael was stalking the buck, a wild sow with piglets passed us at 30 meters escaping into the field of soybeans.
But the buck was accompanied by a female. It appears to be a universal issue that females worry too much and see danger everywhere… Well this one time she was right. And sure enough, she alerted the buck and they disappeared. Returning to the car the guys were smiling and referred to this as “the female problem”.
Another cause of a couple of good laughs was the fact that most of the dirt roads were nothing more than rather steep tire tracks and in addition also pretty slippery after the rain. Our host turned out to be a very skillful driver that definitely had tried it before! Sometimes I had to close my window not to be covered in mud that was flying in as we almost went sideways with the back end of the car halfway off the tracks! Amazingly we made it every time! It definitely didn’t make it less fun to know that it wasn’t my car or my insurance that was at stake. Afterwards they shared the secret to knowing the limitations of the car and road conditions was a couple of times throughout the years having to call for a tractor to pull the car. I guess that is the essence of learning by doing.
The only real chance of bringing home a trophy came when they were looking for a buck they spotted on the right side of the hill. The car slowly and securely, but not quietly, brought us to the top to get closer. When the buck didn’t show they started to look around and saw two bucks in the valley to our left. A young one and a fine one! They got really focused and pointed out to Michael which one to aim for. He rested his rifle on the shooting stick (Viper-Flex) he brought and were ready. To everybody’s surprise a local civilian came walking right into the scene and suddenly he started running and scared the buck. It came fast uphill and Erik quickly instructed Michael to wait. At 150 meters further to our left, and away from the civilian, Erik made a loud call for the buck to stop. But it didn’t pause long enough for Michael to secure his aim and pull the trigger before it was gone behind the hill. Their frustration over the guy that happened to be in the very wrong place at the wrong time was obvious! I noticed that especially one Slovakian word was repeated a lot…
That was the last shootable buck we saw that morning. The sun was up and as it is getting warmer the bucks tend to lie down or stay in the shadows of the bushes which makes them hard to be seen. So after checking out a few other places we returned to base camp where the three remaining guys were waking up and making coffee. Without being able to know for sure it sounded like they were sharing the story of the guy that messed up the hunting. And again I noticed that one word and asked what it meant. They started laughing and translated. As I figured it wasn’t a nice word. Let’s just say that in one word it described the man and what they felt about him…!
At the contrary it is hard to describe the characters of these guys in words. In the same condition with no sleep I know I would have been some kind of a monster. Even though they were living and hunting hard, not wasting their time on sleeping they were generous, patient, kind and humorous.
We returned to the first hunting area in time for a nap and one final hunt from my favorite tree stand. This was our last shot – figuratively speaking, hoping it would be literally. But it didn’t. It was a really quiet night, where we watched a couple of female roe deer chase each other and both managed to fall asleep in each of our tree stands without falling down. On this our final day of hunting in Slovakia as we were saying goodbye to all these amazing people, they kept saying things like “next time you come” or “when you come back in October” and maybe we will! Because at the bottom line everything about this trip has been… What’s the word?…Dobre! – Good!
A 16 hour drive back to Denmark gives you plenty of time to think, and I was reminded of the first day, on our way to Slovakia I read a Facebook post quoting a 85 year old lady pondering how she would live her life differently if she had the chance, and another post saying that you are supposed to do at least one crazy thing a day! As newlyweds we rode a motorcycle. Actually Michael was joking about that I was required to take the drivers license if I wanted to marry him. So I did. (And he would probably say if asked that he wasn’t joking). I know that sometimes there is only a thin line between crazy and irresponsible. But sometimes being responsible can suck out the fun of life.
I guess hunting is a non hazardous (at least for the hunter) way of intense living. To restrain someone’s or your own passion in life will be a slow but certain way of suffocating the soul. Maybe the lesson I was meant to learn from this trip is that I need to find a way to live more and exercise the inbuilt craziness I was created with before I grew responsible.