Hunting in Slovenia
Slovenia is a country with over two million residents. It’s bordered by Italy to the southwest, Austria to the north, Hungary to the northeast, and Croatia to the southeast. Its terrain is mostly mountainous, and the climate is seasonal. Over half of the country is heavily forested. The country has 75 mammal species, among them marmots, Alpine ibex, and chamois. There are numerous hogs, deer, roe deer, bears, and a small number of wolves.
Of its population, 24,000 are hunters, most of who belong to hunting clubs. The club members number between 50 to 150 hunters depending on the size of their hunting grounds. There are also national hunting grounds which deal with hunters from other countries. National hunting guides are all Professional Hunters, some with more than 30 years of experience.
The limestone mountains of the Julian Alps are one of the top destinations for the Alpine chamois and Alpine ibex. Traveling through the country will take the hunter through towns straight out of the 18th Century.
Slovenia has seven different species of animals to hunt: chamois, roe deer, Alpine red deer, Alpine ibex, wild boar, bear, and mouflon sheep. There is some hunting in Slovenia for marmots, which are just overgrown squirrels, but they would only be taken if seen on a hunt for larger animals.
Chamois are a type of mountain goat. The male weighs anywhere from 65 pounds to 130 pounds; the female 15% less. They are excellent game to hunt, but be prepared to climb to get to them. They are found by glassing and stalking. They use the high, rocky terrain for defense from predators while they graze on the local grasses.
The best approach to hunt Alpine chamois in Slovenia is to climb above the tree line early in the morning, then glass the surrounding area. A good set of binoculars or a spotting scope will be necessary in order to differentiate between a pile of brown rocks and a slow-moving brown chamois at ranges exceeding 1,000 yards. The hunter must be very aware of the terrain, as it is possible to shoot a chamois only to have it drop into an unreachable chasm. The shot must be spot on and drop the animal in its tracks. Chamois are totally at home in the mountains which can make for a challenging long range shot, but that’s what makes chamois hunting so rewarding.
Roe deer are small animals weighing between 35 and 80 pounds. They stand 35 inches at the shoulder. They are fairly silent in their movements, and combined with their coloration, this can make them very hard to stalk. There are three methods of hunting roe deer in Slovenia; stalking, bow hunting, or hunting from a blind. The roe deer can be found in open fields, or in forests. The best times to hunt them are the early morning or late afternoons when activity levels are higher. Some roe deer hunts use a high blind 15-20 feet off the ground. These elevated blinds are commonly referred to as high stands. This enables the hunter to see a larger area and to better see animal movement.
Roe deer season for males, young males, and females runs from May 5 to October 31. Females and fauns of either sex can be taken from September 1 to December 31.
Normally roe buck hunting is done in the early morning, or in the evening, leaving the balance of the day for other activities like fishing. Hunting them is not physically demanding, but sometimes inclement weather can cause problems.
The red deer is the fourth largest deer species behind moose, elk, and sambar deer. Slovenian red deer have a relatively longer tail compared to their Asian or North American relatives. Their large antlers make for a very impressive trophy.
Hunting is done by stalking, hunting from a blind, high stand, and sometimes on a driven big game hunt. Red deer react quickly to movement, and their sense of smell, hearing, and eyesight are excellent. When hunting, work into the wind, quietly, and make use of cover.
Red deer hunting can be most exciting during the rut, between September 15 and October 10. Going deer hunting, there is always the option of staying in a nearby hunting cabin at the hunting grounds.
Male red deer season runs from August 8 to December 31.
Females and fauns – September 1 to December 31,
Younger males and females – June 1 to December 31
Because ibex are suited for all types of terrain, completely capable of running rugged mountainsides at high elevations, the hunter needs to be in excellent physical condition. Most of the hunt will revolve around either climbing or descending some pretty hostile areas. Spend some serious money on the best hunting boots, and wear them before the hunt until they feel like part of your body. Be aware that the small ledge the ibex is standing on can be composed of loose scree and rock. The ibex is perfectly comfortable, but you might take one step and slide down the mountain face. You want to be completely sure of your target, and make a one-shot kill.
Not only are ibex great climbers, but they can jump over 12 feet. Both sexes have horns, with the male’s much larger than the female’s. The horns grow throughout their lives, and can reach some pretty impressive lengths. The Slovenia ibex has no predators, unlike ibex in other countries. Alpine ibex can be found at altitudes above the tree line, between 6,000 feet and 10,000 feet. The Alpine season in Slovenia runs from January 8 to December 31 for both sexes.
Mouflon are thickset and heavily built. The males have horns that can extend in almost one full curl. They weigh up to 110 pounds and stand 36 inches at the shoulder. Females may or may not have horns. They inhabit steep, sunny slopes near the tree line. They tend to stay away from soft ground, preferring the rocky hillsides.
Mouflon sheep travel in herds led by an experienced female. They are a challenge to hunt as there are many pairs of eyes on the lookout for danger. The best time to hunt mouflon sheep in Slovenia is before the first snow, when the ground is soggy, and the sheep are easier to approach. This is usually from November to February. They are most active at dawn or dusk, which would make a mouflon/chamois combination hunt possible. Males, young males, and females can be hunted from August 8 to February 28. Females – August 1 to December 31.
Boars are the largest member of the pig species. Due to their great speed, strong stature and aggressive attitude, they are a much sought-after trophy. They are constantly moving, looking for food, foraging, uprooting the forest, or generally rooting for something good to eat. They can be a hard target, and more than one hunter will swear they are bulletproof. This writer isn’t sure about that, but did see a 180-grain bullet simply skin a patch off an old tusker’s skull. The trick to a one-shot hog kill is to wait for a side shot if possible. If the only shot available is the head shot, hit them square on the snout.
Shooting too early and wounding the animal can make matters a bit dodgy. They won’t necessarily aim for you in a charge, but they can, and sometimes will, head in a straight line. And you just might be on the other end of the straight line. Normally they will run away, but a wounded boar can be tough to track.
Boars are nocturnal, sleeping all day, and only up and about at night. The best time to hunt a wild boar is in the early evening when they begin to forage.
European Brown Bear
Hunting a European brown bear in Slovenia can be relatively expensive. A guest hunter can pay as much as $7,500, while a roe deer can be had for $450. Plus, there are daily fees, and travel fees above and beyond the trophy fee. There are only 900 to 1,000 brown bears in Slovenia, most of which are found in the forest of Kocevje, Bela Krajina, and Notranjska regions. According to the government, only 90 brown bears and 8 wolves can be taken each year, and local hunters and hunting clubs kill most of them.
Brown bear hunting is usually done from a blind in a tree near a bait station that deposits corn on the ground.
Today there is increasing pressure from groups like EuroNatur to impose a ban on all bear hunting in Slovenia. Because Slovenia forms a natural link between the Dinaric Mountains and the Alps, reducing the bear population could cause the gradual population reduction in the Italian and Austrian Alps.
Bears are hunted in the spring or fall seasons. Night hunting under the full moon is the most common method. Either a stand or a blind will be used. Range is usually less than 100 yards.