Shootin Enterprise LTD - Seven Hundred Years of Hunting Tradition

Big Rams of the Czech Republic By Matt Warner

This story began in 2012 when I booked a hunt with Hawaii Safaris for Mouflon Rams on the Island of Lanai for September 2013.   After months of planning and being told that I would be issued with a non resident hunting permit, I received an email only three weeks prior to the hunt informing me that local law had recently changed and they were no longer issuing non resident permits for Lanai.  This meant that I needed to do a three day course in Honolulu to get a full Hawaii hunting Licence or apply for exemption.  Upon contacting the Hawaii Hunter Education Department I learned that there were no courses available before my hunt. I then began the process of applying for exemption by sending the Department copies of my Victorian Firearms licence and Deer Stalking Permit along with a supporting letter from my District Firearms Officer.   The process was slow and despite my constant probing, only three days before our scheduled flight to Honolulu I received an email from the Hawaii Hunter Education Department denying me exemption as they don’t recognise any documents or licences from Australia.  After a phone conversation with my outfitter, I was told that on arrival I needed to find my way from Lanai to Maui (by sea ferry) and attempt to buy a hunting licence over the counter at a fishing tackle store before returning back to Lanai that same evening and letting him know if I was successful   (All after flying from Melbourne to Honolulu that same day!!)   To make a long story short, I was unsuccessful in purchasing a licence and the hunt did not take place.   The following day my wife and I got some maps, hired a 4WD and went on our own adventure (with no rifle).   That afternoon after parking the 4WD and sidling around a ridgeline, I glassed a mob of Mouflon including an impressive Ram in full rut at no more than 150 yards.   After taking some video we had no choice but to put this behind us and get on with our trip which had now become a non hunting holiday.   The week to follow was spent enjoying the beautiful beaches and surrounds that Hawaii has to offer.  I will add that I did receive a full refund from Hawaii Safaris.

Upon arriving home in Melbourne, I wasted no time in researching where and how I could hunt these beautiful Rams.   After emails to various outfitters in Texas and Europe I finally decided to hunt in Europe.   After all, they are European Mouflon Sheep.   My chosen outfitter for the hunt was Jan Urban, director of Shooting Enterprise LTD based in Prague, Czech Republic.   After discussing my hunting options and pricing schedule with Jan we agreed that my wife Barb and I would arrive in Prague on September 15th 2014 and begin our hunt the following day.   (Trophy fees in Europe are usually paid for on a sliding scale.   The Game Keepers / Guides are excellent at judging trophy size and generally get you very close to what you’ve paid for).   I told Jan that I was after a Ram in the 215 to 220 CIC class which is a very good gold medal trophy.   After finalising arrangements for the hunt, Barb and I booked a coach tour with Trafalgar Tours that would begin in Frankfurt, Germany the day after completing the hunt and take us through various parts of central and east Europe before returning to Prague two weeks later. This would allow time for my Capes to be salted and the Skulls to be boiled enabling me to bring them with me on my return flights home.

The 14th of September had arrived and our first flight departed Melbourne at 22:30 and arrived some 13 hours later in Abu Dhabi.   We then flew to Amsterdam before boarding a connecting flight to Prague.   Barb and I arrived at our hotel room late evening on the 15th of September.   The following morning we had an amazing buffet breakfast at the Marriott Airport hotel before Jan picked us up at 11:00am for the 45 minute drive out to Lany Hunting Estate.   (The hunting estate of the Czech President).   No sooner we had unpacked and we were sitting down to a three course lunch that our cook Zdenka had prepared comprising a variety of traditional Czech cuisine.  

The weather that afternoon was warm and sunny, about 22 degrees – It was the end of summer, with autumn due to start in a couple of days.   As Barb and I were continuing to travel through Europe after the hunt, I had decided not to bring my own rifle and instead I was using my guides’ Remington 30-06 topped with a Ziess Scope. Our Game Keeper / Guide, Lubos, arrived at the Hunting Lodge in his Hilux at 15:30 and with Jan accompanying us as our interpreter for the entire hunt we set out in pursuit of the Big Mouflon Rams that inhabit this large mainly forested hunting estate.   I must add that once we drove through the front entrance gate of Lany Estate, I did not see another fence for the entire hunt!   The game here is plentiful but definitely free range. After parking the 4WD at the bottom of a hill, we stalked our way up a game trail through the Oak forest and it wasn’t long before Lubos glassed a mature Ram with two Ewes.  A closer look determined the Ram wasn’t in the class that I was after and within seconds they caught our scent and disappeared.   We continued on covering considerable ground that afternoon, stalking our way through oak and pine forests and occasionally sneaking up on open fields that usually had one or two strategically placed traditional timber high seats.  With about one hour of daylight remaining we glassed a band of seven Rams that had just entered one of the open fields.   Lubos had just finished glassing and was explaining to Jan in Czech that two off the Rams were close to what we were after when once again our presence was detected and they bolted for the tree line.   I will never forget the sight of those Rams when I first saw them through my 10x42’s.   Their large horns seemed out of proportion to their small bodies!   It was nearly dark when we arrived back at the Hilux and after a warm afternoons stalking I was ready to sample the local Czech Beer.   Although we had not yet taken a Ram, we did see some big Fallow Bucks, a couple of Sika Stags, a European Wild Boar and Red Stags were rutting all around us.   Upon arriving back at the lodge another three course traditional Czech meal that Zdenka prepared was waiting for us.   It was clear that I wasn’t going to loose weight on this hunt.

The morning of day two and my alarm went off at 5am.   As I walked into the dining room I was surprised to see a platter of shaved meats, cheeses and other Czech delicacies awaiting me.   It wasn’t long before Jan and Lubos arrived and we were in the Hilux and on our way to another part of Lany Estate.   That morning was surreal.   My mates will probably laugh at me for saying this but with the canopy of bright green Oak leaves above us and rays of morning sunlight filtering through them, a soft mist on the ground and the occasional red Mushroom on the forest floor, it felt like I was walking through an enchanted forest from a children’s story book!!   Game was plentiful but the Mouflon were proving a real challenge.   They are very wary animals with excellent eye sight and smell and the moment they detect your presence they are gone.   While driving back to the lodge at about 09:30am we spotted a group of about 12 Mouflon running from an open field to the safety of the forest.   We had just enough time to glass them and see that there were some big Rams amongst them before they disappeared into the forest.

After another big lunch, Barb and Zdenka took her two dogs for a walk while I rested before our afternoon hunt.   Over the period of our hunt, Barb and Zdenka became good friends.   To watch them communicate was extraordinary. Barb cannot speak a word of Czech and Zdenka can’t speak a word of English but with the aid of an ipad translating for them they laughed and joked like they had known each other for years!   Lubos arrived at the lodge to pick us up for the afternoon hunt at around 4pm.   The plan was that Barb would sit in a high seat with Jan not far from where we saw the big Rams that morning to take some video and photos while Lubos and I would sit in a high seat on the edge of the exact field that the Rams were feeding in that morning.   As luck would have it, we had only been in our stand for about 45 minutes when we received an SMS from Jan saying the Big Rams were directly in front of their stand at no more than 50 yards and they were taking photos!!   Lubos and I got out of our stand and quickly made our way through the forest towards the field where the Rams were.  As we approached some 20 minutes later we were disappointed to see they had gone.  Jan said that not long after their SMS the Rams spooked and ran for cover.   While Jan and Barb stayed in the stand, Lubos and I made a plan to hunt the area of forest which the Mouflon had gone to.   As darkness approached we arrived back at the original clearing where Lubos and I had sat in the high seat earlier that afternoon.   There were Deer everywhere, (Red Stags roaring, two nice Fallow Bucks and a lone Boar).   While glassing, I spotted a group of Mouflon on the far side of the clearing.   Lubos was quick to confirm in sign language that I didn’t fully understand that the big Rams were there.   After a painfully slow and careful 30 minute stalk we were within 100 yards of them.  It was now nearly dark and as Lubos raised the shooting sticks and pointed to shoot the one on the far right I knew the light was marginal.   I could only see the dark shape of the Ram through the scope and the white saddle patch on his back stood out.   With no time to spare I took aim at where I thought the shoulder would be and fired.   The muzzle flash was bright as the shot echoed through the forest.   As the recoil settled I could see dark shapes running flat out towards the tree line.  Lubos said he was certain the Ram was hit.  

We waited for a few minutes before slowly walking to where the Mouflon had been.   The grass was knee high in places and after nearly an hour of searching with torches there was no sign of my Ram - Not even a drop of blood.   We decided to head back to the lodge and continue the search in the morning with better light.   It was late by the time we arrived back at the lodge and to say I was disappointed would be an understatement.  I didn’t sleep more than an hour that night.

Lubos and Jan arrived at first light and after a quick breakfast we were on our way back to the spot where the Ram was last seen.   The landscape looked totally different in the morning sunlight but unfortunately after nearly two hours of searching the result was the same as the night before – Not even a drop of blood.   I had only ever had this happen to me once before on a hunt in Zimbabwe (2008) when I shot a large Waterbuck on last light before recovering him around 2pm the following day.   I was now kicking myself for taking the shot at the Ram as I knew from the time I looked through the Scope that the light was marginal.   After concluding that I had clean missed, we began driving to an area where we could check the rifle in case the scope had been knocked.   We had only been in the Hilux for a couple of minutes when we spotted some Mouflon in the forest no more than 100 meters off the track.   Upon glassing them it was clear that these were the same Rams Lubos and I had stalked the evening before and the big Ram that I shot at was still with them and unharmed.  We were all relieved that he was not wounded but relief suddenly turned into desperation as we simultaneously realised that this was a golden opportunity to end the hunt.   We quickly drove on for another 100 yards before parking on the side of the track.   Lubos and I quickly set up, leaving Jan at the Hilux and slowly headed into the forest.   After about ten minutes of stalking, we suddenly saw movement about 150 yards ahead.   It was them!   We got down low and crawled our way to a large Oak tree that concealed us from the Mouflon.   Lubos set up the shooting sticks for me and continued to glass while whispering instructions to me in Czech.   We both then turned and looked at each other in frustration at the language barrier.   As I watched the Sheep through my scope I could see Lubos out the corner of my eye giving me hand signals but I had no time to look.   There were about a dozen Mouflon in the group and they were about to run.   I found a large Ram in my cross hairs to the far left of the group that offered a shot quartering slightly towards me and my decision was made.   As my shot echoed through the forest the group of Mouflon broke into full flight except for one Ram that seemed confused and ran off in his own direction. Within a few minutes Jan was by our side and after a short translated conversation we made our way to the area where we had last seen the Ram.  As we arrived at the spot I was overcome with emotion and relief to see him down no more than 100 yards further on from where we stood.  I had finally taken a Mouflon Ram.   The adventure that began in Hawaii had ended on the other side of the World in the Czech Republic.   He was a mature 8 year old Ram that officially scored 215CIC points, a big gold medal trophy.  As it turned out, Lubos had tried to signal for me to shoot the Ram on the right which he said would have scored around 220CIC.  (The same Ram I missed the evening before!)  It didn’t matter, this Ram was more than I hoped for and after following Czech tradition by placing Oak leaves in the Rams mouth to signal his last meal and dipping a small branch in his blood to place in my hat we took some photos and began the task of caping for a life size mount.   The rest of the day was spent celebrating back at the lodge.

The following morning Jan picked Barb and I up after Breakfast and drove us into Prague where we took the cape, skull and horns to a local taxidermist to be prepared for the flight home in two weeks time.   Jan then offered to spend the day with us in Prague sight seeing, before meeting up with his wife, Suzan at a café that evening.   After spending our final night at the hunting lodge, Jan picked us up the following morning and took us to the Airport where we departed for Frankfurt to begin our Trafalgar Tour.  Over the following 14 days we travelled to Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, Budapest and Vienna before returning back to Prague where Jan delivered my trophies to the Diplomat hotel where we were staying.   Our final evening was spent with Jan and Suzan at a local Czech Pub, drinking pints of Beer and sampling more traditional Czech food, including Tatarak which is a spiced raw meat that you spread onto fresh bread. If you’re ever in Prague be sure to try it!!

I can honestly say this was one of the most enjoyable hunts I have done.   From the time we arrived to the time we departed, we were treated like royalty.   Nothing was too much trouble.  Jan and his team delivered exactly what he said they would and more at a very reasonable price that was less expensive than quotes from other outfitters.

Shooting Enterprise offers hunts in Czech Republic and Slovakia for Mouflon Rams, Red Deer, Roe Deer, Fallow Deer, Dybowski Sika, Japanese Sika, driven or walk up European Boar, Bear, Wolf, Small Game, Wing Shooting and Fly Fishing along with sight seeing tours and other non hunting activities.   Non hunters and Spouses are very welcome.   Jan Urban was born and raised in former Czechoslovakia.   He has a university business degree in Accounting that he completed in the UK and speaks four languages fluently.   Jan grew up hunting in Czechoslovakia and has extensive experience in Estate management in both the UK and Czech Republic.   Jan lives in Prague with his wife Suzan, their daughter Eliska and Weimaraner hunting Dog Milo.

For more information check out the web site   www.shootingenterprise.com

Jan Urban Email:        jan@shootingenterprise.com

Matt Warner Email:    wehunt2@bigpond.com or Mobile Ph:   0400800515

 

26. Mar. 2015

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