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Hunting Story: Swan Song

Hunting Story: Swan Song

The last time I want to Hungary was with Swarovski in 2008 and was also the first time I shot a boar. Six years later I’m back as the guest of Tomo Svetic (Artemis Hunting) for what I would term a mixed bag event and also Tomo’s swan song. Though retaining Artemis he and by the time you read this will be working for the Blaser and Mauser’s UK distributors Blaser Sporting Ltd. He loves the UK gun industry and wants to get more involved and working for these two top European brands will prove both challenging and doubtless rewarding.

For all those who know and enjoyed his hunts do not worry as Artemis is in good hands and will continue with his right hand man Dean, who will be the guy on the ground. Doubtless Tomo will still be keeping an eye out. I met up with Dean on this trip and he seems squared away to me. But it will seem strange not seeing Tomo’s grinning face and hearing his booming voice! So it was a pleasure to be there. All driven, the game species included boar, roe and red, but just the females.

BIG PARTY

I was tagging along with a group of Artemis regulars about 20 including one lady Suzi, always a pleasure to see the fairer sex getting involved. We flew into Ljubljana and two hours later were at the hotel - the Abbazia Country Club in Nemensnep. Good digs and facilities on tap like sauna and massage. This is the beauty of the off season as quality accommodation works out cheap as it’s lying dormant.

The next day we were fed, suited and booted by 07.30 for the brief at the local hunting club. Plus the hunting ground was just 10 minutes away so no long journeys back after a hard day. The weather was cold and windy and we picked our pegs from a hat and were driven to them. Plenty of snow on the ground, but melting and the fields were muddy; my seat was 800 yards across a boggy field. There was a mix of high seats and ground stands and it was the luck of the draw as to what you got; fairest way!

Speaking to Suzi on the previous night indicated she is already a hunter and shoots a 308 along with a 223 and a 22 LR, and has shot all sorts of deer but never wild boar so she was hoping to get lucky.

MIXED BLESSINGS

With my trusty Mauser M03 in 8.5x63 on my back I climbed up the rickety high seat, I am always worried by these local wooden seats as they never seem to get maintained. At the briefing Tomo told us that he did not expect much boar as the last winter had been hard and killed a lot of piglets. My seat was on the corner of a copse overlooking a massive stubble field with clear ground out to 800 yards. The wind was a bastard probably gusting head on at 25 MPH+. I was rather wishing I had brought something with a bit more range and flatter trajectory like my 270 WSM X-Bolt!

30 minutes later the deer started running with a hind and some roe does - game on! She was a long way out but I had a pop and missed but on driven game you have to just get stuck in. If you wait for them to stop don’t hold your breath! Next a regular regiment of roe does and one buck, again fast and far away and no luck. Some of the roe stopped in the field about 400 yards out, too far for the x5 mag on my Zeiss 1.2-5x36 Duralyt scope, which is really for driven use only. I also had with me my Swarovski EL Range 10x42 laser range finding binos.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED

Well that’s it I thought and settled down to get out of the wind but try and keep an eye out JIC. You know how it is time passes and you feel your done for the day, especially when it’s cold and despite my good Browning XPO blaze orange parka, loden trousers and Hell’s Canyon gloves the cold was started to seep in

Suddenly a pod of about eight pigs burst out to my left about 100 yards out heading across. I was bombed up (5+1) and like two angels on my shoulders I recalled advice from both Tomo and my friend Andrew Johnson: “shoot peter, just shoot” and: “keep the gun moving Mr Moore”, so I did! I’ve been using my M03 for eight years and am pretty fast with it as I rolled off the rounds into what was just black mass of pounding legs, steam and snouts. At about 120 yards they turned back doubtless under the weight of fire and I could see three were hard hit and I knew I had made contact!

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I swung on to the leader and click; empty! Shit I tore off my right glove with my teeth and was glad I had dumped spare ammo into my pocket. I also praised the Mauser’s massive ejection port as I dropped the 230-grain Norma Oryx reload in and closed the bolt and swung into #3 and finished it. One and two were gone but I reckoned they would be down. Minutes later I heard the baying of dogs and that distinctive pissed off shrieking of a boar that has been put to ground. The beaters came along and finished it off and that was that. Feeling very pleased with myself I forgot about the practical joke department.

IT’S KARMA MATE…

You know what I said about that high seat, we’ll it proved to be, I was two rungs down from the top when the top rung came off in my hand followed by the second one, shit time to; crack the right hand ladder shaft broke in two and I crashed 10 ft to the deck; rifle pack and all. I was winded and trying to get my breath and waiting for that sudden pain that indicates something was broken. Lucky enough not but I had smacked in back and left side first and felt bad. Getting up I dug my rifle out of the grass with the muzzle brake full of mud. I had hit so hard that both my CENS digital ear defenders had popped out and were lost. That’ll teach me getting them in a camo finish!

Battered and doubtless soon to be bruised and with painful breathing I walked the 800 yards back to the pickup point. Back at the club I told my tail to everyone’s amusement and discovered we had shot seven pigs one fox and about 25 roe, so a good mornings work. After lunch and feeling frail I was in a wood and sat there all afternoon seeing nothing, but the guns were popping and at close of play we had a bag of now 11 pigs and I think 40 roe and a hind or two; pretty good for day one. So some good shooting all round!

WE DON’T EAT HORSES

I sat out the next day as I did not feel too good, but with some pain killers I got back into it on Sunday, though avoided a very dodgy looking and double tall high seat. My triple on the pigs was my only success as that morning I saw a few roe but well past effective range and on the last drive in the afternoon I stood on a ride and it rained for near three hours. It was so wet the scope was unusable so I removed it and just relied on irons, believe me for close-in work in limited visibility the ability to go ‘iron sights’ is a blessing!

I am used to driven hunting be it on deer or boar and draw no distinction between species; if it’s allowed I’ll have a pop! However, some felt that it was OK to shoot pigs on the run but not deer, which did seem strange to me. I liken it to the fact that we Brits in general see horses as things to ride on and not eat; personally I’ll eat horse! It’s obviously a mindset thing!

However, most in the party felt like me and one gentleman (James) took a very long shot on a red at 400 yards. It was trotting across the field and he gave it some Kentucky windage and elevation and dropped it with his 300 Win Mag with one shot; respect! The animals are there to be shot and quotas need to be met and this ain’t the UK so either get into the fight, or get away!

ICING-COATED FOXES

Overall and my acrobatics aside it was a great weekend of hunting. In the end the head count was 7 foxes (always a result), 27-pigs, 66 roe and 8 hinds as I recall. Sadly Suzi never got her first boar, but that’s hunting. Being Europe all the game was laid out in order of priority fox, boar, roe and red and we had a ceremony, which I always find moving. By the time we did this it had been snowing and all the animals looked like they had been dusted in icing sugar, which was surreal.

The trip was a fitting end to Tomo’s previous life as he now has a proper job, but as I said Artemis will go on and doubtless he will be back from time to time. As always I leaned a few more things as I do from every hunt. First check your high seat – VIP. However, the different game species and the variable engagement ranges would make me re-think both optics and calibre. The 8.5x63mm is a real thumper but not a long range cartridge, nor is the little Zeiss 1.2-5x36, though both have seen me well on driven boar.

Were to I re-run this trip then a 24”, 300 Win Mag barrel for the M03 and my Swarovski 1.7-10x42 Z6i would be the equipment of choice. Both giving me the best of short and longer range ability. Just keep shooting and the gun moving and nothing else matters!

Good Hunting

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