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Hunting Story: Mária’s first Buck

My name is Mária Jurova, I come from Slovakia, in Eastern Europe and English is my second language. In this part of the world, hunting is still a male-dominated sport and some make sure they let me know it, by their comments; ‘sorry, but a pregnant goat and a woman do not belong to the forest.’ However, hunting is my passion and also my job, as I work in a large gun shop, so I’m determined to succeed!

I was invited to hunt Roe buck in Hungary last year, and as I’d never shot one before, I was really excited. The thing about hunting in Europe is the kill is always a part of the game management plan. Therefore, we are choosing older deer that have reached their full potential and hopefully fathered a few good future generations to further the species. If we harvest a younger buck, it’s usually a weak one that has little breeding potential. I was looking forward to the hunt and spent a lot of time learning about Roe buck from books. However, my real education would be from the gamekeepers I would be hunting with!

Fox hunter or deer hunter?

I have my own rifle, a Brno ZH321 combination in 12-bore and 7x57 rimmed, with a Bushnell 3-10x50 scope on top. This was given to me by a great friend, who wanted me to have at least something, before I buy my own guns, which will fit me properly. The butt is too long for me and it’s heavy, but beggars can’t be choosers, as you English say! For the hunt, I borrowed the guide’s CZ527 in 223 Remington, which is allowed for Roe deer. I had just bought my first bolt-action a Brno 537 chambered in 30-06 Springfield, which was made a year before I was born. It’s quite light and the length of stock suits me perfectly and I have a Meopta Artemis 2000 3-12x50 scope on top. I am just working it up and want to use Norma Vulcan ammunition and can’t wait to take it hunting! I don’t believe in the opinion that women should hunt with 6,5x55 Swedish or 308Win. The only time I don’t like recoil, is when I shoot shotguns, because that’s a lot of shooting, so a 20-bore would suit me better. But in normal European conditions, we really don’t need more than a 30-06!

We were using Hornady ammunition and after testing and check zeroing the rifle, we headed out into the hunting ground to start a summer evening stalk, but it was a bit early! We were waiting in a corner of a big field, when suddenly a fox appeared. I’d never shot one before and had always wanted to. I tried to react quickly and calmly; I took the safety off, aimed and fired and it went down – yes! Very pleased, I was happy to carry my first fox. Frank, the guide said: “I’m guiding hunters for a long time, but I’ve never seen anybody so excited for shooting a fox.“

An hour passed by and as we got to the end of a corn field, overlooking a valley, we spotted a doe and a buck. Andras, another guide and expert on the area, was watching it for a couple of minutes and I was told to shoot. I put the rifle on the sticks, got steady and concentrating on the cross hair, slowly pulled the trigger. Bang; the deer wobbled and fell down.

Frank looked at me saying: “so you are a deer hunter too?“ and congratulated me. Andras said that the range was 220m; I didn’t even realise the distance. It was a good buck, near red in the late sunshine. We looked at the antlers and teeth to determine the age, which was around 5-years. I was very happy with my first Roe buck, but was also feeling humble at the same time. I gutted him with instructions from Andras.

Night of two

The next day we headed out again and Frank asked me, if I would like to go to a seat, which is right on a field where we‘d seen two foxes an evening before. So we were dropped off there as I was looking forward to a peaceful time in a stand, just waiting for things to happen. We had a clean field of fire in front of us and corn on the left and another crop on the right and waited for about an hour and a half. Suddenly, sounds in the corn field and a Roe doe and small fawn entered. I took a few pictures and then kept waiting for something more to happen.

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It other 45 minutes, a buck came from the corn field. He was really careful and appeared silently, just like a ghost! I was looking him over in my binos and so was Frank. He told me it’s definatelly old enough and I could see from his reaction, it is a good one too.

I slowly put my rifle up. The buck was about 50 yards down hill from us and could spot a movement easily. Now I was aiming at him, still reading the size of his body and antlers. I was not making any sounds, but he kept staring right at me, for a long time and I could not take a safety off. To be looking into my prey‘s eyes for such a long time, was raising my level of adrenaline, but I was able to handle it and was not shaking. Instead, I kept focused and the second he put the head down to feed again, I took off the safety. Unfortunatelly it clicked loudly and he turned and started walking back into the corn. I was aiming right at his vitals, the whole time he was walking and I whistled and he stopped just a step before the corn and I pulled the trigger. The shot broke the silence and he fell down and I started to shake. I could finally let the adrenaline go.

Second fox

We still had about 30 minutes to dark. Frank asked me, if we should go down to get the buck, or we should wait for the fox? No question we definatelly have to try get a fox if we can! So we sat and kept waiting. I was looking at my buck laying down and was very happy. That evening made my whole summer and I couldn’t wait to show my harvest to Don and Andras. I kept watching the edges of the field through my binos and I was hoping, something will come out and I will see it.

I looked to the right and there was a fox, still covered by crops, with only its head out, looking over the field. It started making its way across the clean field. Frank whispered: ‘‘wait until it starts hunting mice”. However, it did not stop walking, so I decided to shoot it on the move, aiming a bit in front of its chest as it moved, I swung with it and pulled the trigger! Another fox down and Frank could not help, but laugh at my dedication to hunt foxes.

Happy, we climbed down from the stand and first approached the buck. It was a beautiful example with good antlers. He was 6-years old in full maturity and the trophy finally weighed out at 380 grams. Then we walked down again, to get my fox; so I carried that one too! This one had a thicker tail than the first and I didn’t think I could be any happier. This is what happens to hunters sometimes when everything goes perfectly.

Small horns are trophies too!

The last buck I was after was a yearling, which we first thought was a doe. We were approaching the field, where he might be in the evening. As we were slowly making our way through the corn, I suddenly spotted a flash of red fur, it was our buck! We were on a steep hill about 20 meters above him. I put the rifle on sticks and tried to get steady, but it was really difficult, as there was almost no space for my feet. I was standing in a ditch with my toes down, when I finally felt confindent in taking a shot and fired.

He was hit right on the shoulder and though small, my third Roe. We draged him out and it was one year old with no potential at all and I feel like I did a right thing. Frank said: “You are my hunting buddy. We always get what we are after!“

The trip to Hunagry was far more, then I expected. I hunted two species for the first time, gained more knowledge about the Roe deer and I met two great hunters Frank and Andras, who invited me back to hunt boar on a driven hunt in November. I wish them both good luck in the future. I’m still not sure about pregnant goats but this woman certainly is happy in the forest!

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