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Wolf, Lynx, Fox & Hare

Hare (Lepus europaeus)

The hare has a narrow body, large rear legs and long ears. Interestingly the testicles are pushed into the bottom of stomach when out of rut season. Feet are covered with wide “anti slippery” hairs, which allow them to make sudden and fast turns, when running away from an enemy. Population is spread out all round the country. Most population density is around agricultural fields.

Typically the hare has ground coloring - with yellowish and black mix. The sides changes into ginger and bottom of the stomach is off white, and back of tights is grey. The tops of the ears are black, and as mentioned earlier they are very long, which hare uses to let some heat out of its body. Its coat changes in Spring and Autumn. An average weight of an adult hare is around 4 Kg, but sometimes can reach even up to 6,5 – 7Kg.

Habitat

Hare thrive on agricultural land.

Lifestyle & Reproduction

The hare is seen as a solitary animal, but it is not completely true. Hares lead relationships too, and even control group territories for themselves. Hares feel most comfortable at night, but if left undisturbed, they will feed during the day as well. At a slow gallop and lope, their track can show that the rear feet end in front of the front feet. When in danger, say, if a predator is coming upon a hare, they starts to zigzag and change directions very quickly. Thanks to a flexible body and especially supple back, the hare is a real master at this. Coat colors also help very much in hiding. They use their acute hearing and sense of smell to their advantage. Vision is weaker, even though their eyeballs are positioned on either side of the head, which helps in peripheral vision. Their vision is attuned to detecting moving objects.

Hares mate year-round, except for the months of October, November, and December. The female hare is pregnant 3-4 times a year. The number of young varies, from 1-4 and on average the hare gives birth to around 10 young a year, but only 15-20% survive. Gestation takes 42-43 days. The young are born furry, and can see from birth.

Food

Hare lives on vegetation food meadows and agricultural land. Most of the time it gets its water from dew in early morning grass and other vegetation.

Predators

Hares are hunted by most predators, from weasels to wolf, but mostly foxes. Birds such as owls, hawk and the like can also attack hares.

Importance of Hare hunting

The maximum hares were hunted in 1973-74 when the population reached around 340,000. Now days around 8,000 are taken yearly. Farmers are planning to use fewer chemicals and that should bring the numbers up again.

Hare meat is also very good for cooking. It is a great hunting experience, as it involves a lot of concentration on the hunter’s side, excellent gun handling and targeting. In the past hares were placed amongst pheasants to distract predators, which helped pheasants to survive.

Wolf (Canis lupus)

Wolf is in Slovakia our biggest dog-like wild beast, weighing 35-60Kg. It looks similar to a German Sheppard. The primary difference from the domestic house pet, though, is in the angular eyes, the usually drooping tail, shorter and less spiky ears, but stronger teeth and bones, and more hairy neckline. The color of the coat is fairly gray, with the ends of the ears and back being dark or blackish, the sides of the body, thighs and neck closer to ginger and the bottom of the body lighter.

The wolf can be found mainly in the forests of eastern Slovakia. Wolf can easily adapt to other habitats.

Lifestyle

The wolf has a very similar ethnology and social order as the domestic dog. It leads a territorial life, where the territory belongs to the parents or in some cases to the mother-in-law. Wolves mate towards to the end of winter, and keep their mate for life. The female wolf is pregnant for 9 weeks, and gives birth to around 4-6 pups. The mother keeps its newborns safe in rocky alcoves, or even in hollow tree trunks. She stays with them and feeds them with milk and the father brings meat to them all. Pups start to consume meat from the 4th week. When the young are bigger both parents go out hunting, and slowly teaching the young ones to hunt too.

Food

Wolfs are meat eaters but sometimes consume fruit too. They hunt mostly live animals from the size of a mouse up to elk, but will also eat carrion. When wolves attack a whole herd, they select the oldest or weakest animal, and thus make their job easier. With this selective process they provide a service to animal populations. Wolves mainly hunt deer, roe deer, and wild boar. They’ll also take smaller predators such as foxes and stray dogs. Wolves account for the worst damage to sheep herds.

Hunting Importance of wolves in Slovakia

If we take into account that the wolf consumes 500-800Kg of meat every year, it’s evident that today’s numbers need to be at a manageable level. This year 150 wolves were allocated for hunting. So far, our largest trophy reached 45.04 CIC points. Wolf fur is understandably also very much sought after.

Fox (Vulpes vulpes)

Fox are small, weighing 9-14Kg. The fur color is a ginger-yellow mix, with a silvery sheen. The breast, stomach, and the end of the tail are white. The back of the ears and legs are black. Fox tails are very long and grow up to 35cm.

Habitat

Fox can be found all around Czech and Slovakia. The most populated places are hills where woods are mixed with agricultural land.

Lifestyle

Foxes preferably dig their dens in the south sides of hills. A den has two or more side ‘rooms’ for both living and storing at the same time. Also, it normally has two or more exits. Foxes go hunting at dusk and in the dark. They have keen senses of smell and hearing, and also good eyesight. They’re strong swimmers and can climb a diagonal tree, provided there is enough rough bark left on it. The main food supply for the fox is mouse, but it will try for land animals up to the size of a roe deer calf and birds to the size of a pheasant. It eats all sorts of insects, and even fruit. Foxes are known for their affinity for small rabbits, pheasants (especially the eggs), and wild ducks, and of course, domestic chickens and other animals.

Foxes mate in January and February. Before the gestation, which last 51-54 days, is over, the vixen prepares its den by pulling fur from its stomach area to use as a lining for the den. The number of new born is usually five or six, and weighs only 100-150g each. Male foxes generally outnumber vixen. Yearly newborn numbers are very high, around 130-240% of the population, and the threat of overpopulation is the main reason why fox hunting needs to be well managed.

Predators

The fox’s natural enemies are the wolf and lynx. A fox can be also attacked by an eagle or large owl.

Hunting Importance

At the beginning of the 20th century 5000 foxes were hunted yearly. Nowadays this number is 12,000 in Slovakia alone. Its winter coat is beautiful, valuable, and great for making lady’s coats, hats, and scarves. Its scalp and teeth are also considered trophies,

Lynx (Lynx lynx)

Lynx fur is a mixture of colors such as ginger, gray, yellow, with reddish-brown spots. An adult lynx can reach a weight of up to 36Kg, but normal specimens come in at 25Kg.

Environment

Lynx inhabit the higher forest lands in the south and east of Slovakia. There were years when we had allocated over 100 lynx to hunt, but nowadays the numbers are slightly lower. In the past, large numbers of lynx were given to neighboring countries to help spread its habitat.

Life style

Lynx are very territorial loners and they mark their territory with urine. They sharpen their claws regularly on trees. This helps to mark their territory as well.

When lynx meet each other they greet by banging their foreheads.

The female lynx are pregnant 70-74 days and have 2 to 3 kittens. When the kittens become adults, after around 30 months of age, the family splits up and the young are forced to find their own territory.

Food

The main food for lynx is mostly roebuck. But they also hunt weak deers and wild boars. Lynx also kill fallow deer and mouflon if they are found on its territory. Lynx will hunt foxes, hares, sheep, and goats.

When a lynx hunts, he uses his great sight, hearing and sense of smell. They keep to their usual haunts, which on the other hand helps hunters to track them down.

The lynx is a great jumper, and can swim and climb trees.

Predators

Besides the wolf, the lynx main concern is bear.

Hunting Importance

Lynx contribute to nature by thinning herds, but we need to regulate the numbers of lynx to protect the numbers of bucks.

Lynx trophy is a great reward to a hunter, especially given the way we prepare the fur. The biggest trophy came in with 161.10CIC points in 1985.

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