Hunting in Slovenia
The Balkans are the region of southeastern Europe that lies between western Europe and the Middle East. It is composed of Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, and various republics of former Yugoslavia and Albania. The Balkans are famous for their rich hunting grounds and wild, sparsely populated mountains. Endowed with several mountain ranges, beautiful coastlines, and lush river valleys, these countries boast a long list of European species. They offer excellent trophy quality red stags, Alpine chamois, Alpine ibex, Balkan chamois, mouflon, fallow deer, roe deer, and wild boar, as well as rarer species such as the European brown bear, wolf, and lynx. Macedonia is also the only country that can offer hunting for the coveted Kri Kri ibex.
First of the new republics to break away from former Yugoslavia, Slovenia made a rapid transition to a market economy, largely without damage or disruption. It is now a member of the European Union and of NATO. This small mountain country, about the size of Vermont, is home to the Julian Alps, with remote green valleys, sprinkled with charming little villages, much like neighboring Austria. Here the traditions of the mountaineering folk and their hunting heritage are as strong as ever.
Tourism is one of Slovenia’s major industries and the friendly people of this country welcome thousands of visitors every year. The infrastructure is excellent and there are comfortable guest houses and hunting lodges scattered throughout the mountains.
The primary species hunted here are free-ranging Alpine ibex, Alpine chamois, as well as roe deer, wild boar, and some red deer.
Slovenia is a country with 2 million residents, 23 thousand of whom are hunters. Most hunters are members of the so-called hunting clubs, which have 50-150 members, depending on the size of the hunting grounds. Moreover, there are national hunting grounds, which mostly deal with hunting tourism. Tourist guides in national hunting grounds are professional hunters with more than 30 years of experience, who know their districts like the back of their hand. Although the difficulty of the terrain might sometimes cause problems for some hunters, professional guides have it all covered.
Slovenia Game Animals
Chamois is a smaller bovid that is about 75 cm high at the shoulders. In summer, the fur has a rich brown color which turns light grey in winter. Winter fur is much thicker, therefore chamois appear robust and stout in winter and slender in summer. Distinct characteristics are a white face with pronounced black stripes below the eyes (called reins), a white rump, and a black stripe along the back. Both males and females have short, black, straightish horns which are hooked backward near the tip. Males, which are one-tenth bigger than females, have stronger and more hooked horns, which start growing at birth and are basically a highly vascular spongy tissue covered in a skin called velvet. Older chamois have horns covered in resin, probably as a result of rubbing against spruce and larch bark or dwarf pine. A fully grown chamois weighs between 20 and 30 kilograms.
The ideal time for the chamois game is August, while the animal still has its summer fur, although some hunters claim real chamois hunting should be done in winter. Simultaneously with chamois hunting, you can also go hunt roebuck and vice versa. Another ideal time is during the rut in November, although it is physically more demanding. The stronger males protect their packs of mated females and engage in fierce battles for the attention of unmated ones. The level of difficulty is a bit higher in the Triglav National Park, due to higher mountains and more difficult terrain, but the selection of hunting trophies is much wider. When hunting chamois the hunter is left with some afternoon time to go fly-fishing or for a trip around Slovenia.
Males, females, kids: August1-December 31
The Roe Deer is a relatively small deer, with a shoulder height of 63–67 cm and a weight of around 25kg. It has rather short, erect antlers and a reddish body with a grey face. Its firm hide is golden-red in summer, darkening to brown in winter, with lighter undersides and a white rump patch; the tail is very short and barely visible. The fawns are sand brown with white spots, which start becoming less visible at the age of 6 weeks and completely disappear after the hides change in October. Males have short rough antlers on their foreheads. The first and second sets of antlers are unbranched and short while older bucks in good condition develop antlers with two or three, rarely even four, points.
Fawns grow their first set of antlers in November or December and lose them in February. The adult roebucks get their set of antlers in December, which fully develop by the end of March or April. They lose them again in September or November. Older females can infrequently grow a set of smaller antlers.
Roebuck hunting is usually done early in the morning or in the evening, so it only takes 6-8 hours. The rest of the day can be spent fly-fishing or going on a trip. Roebuck hunting is physically not demanding, although there can sometimes be some weather-related trouble. However, rainfall is always welcome, since deer tend to come out before and after the rain.
Roe DeerOpen seasons
Males, young males, and females. May 5-October 31
Females, male and female fawns: September 1-December 31
Alpine Red Deer
Alpine red deer is Slovenia’s biggest deer, with a shoulder height of 1.5 meters. It generally has lithe, compact bodies and long, powerful legs suited for rugged woodland terrain. It has a long head with big, pointed ears. Its fur is long and brittle, red-brown in summer and grey-brown in winter. The tail is around 15 cm long. Males have longer hair at the back of their neck (a mane) and a white rump. Fawns have spots that may, especially on the back, remain visible throughout their life. All male deer have antlers, whereas the females do not.
Young male deer start growing antlers at 12-14 months, which are unbranched at first. They lose their first set of antlers in April when a new stronger, branched set starts growing. They reach their full size in 10 years and consist of 2 branches, each of which has up to 7 spikes, which together form a crown. Branches can grow up to 120 cm and are more or less symmetrical. Antlers grow as highly-vascular spongy tissue covered in a skin called velvet. Before the beginning of a species’ mating season, the antlers calcify under the velvet and become hard bone. The velvet is then rubbed off leaving dead bone which forms the hard antlers. After the mating season, the pedicle and the antler base are separated by a layer of softer tissue, and the antler falls off. Males weigh up to 250 kg whereas females weigh around 150 kg.
One can go deer hunting in two ways, be it by stalking or from a lookout. Hunting itself is most exciting during the rut, between September 15 and October 10. Going deer hunting, there is always an option of staying in one of the hunting cabins at the center of the hunting grounds, which is itself also densely populated with chamois, which share their habitat with deer.
Open season for hunting Alpine Red Deer in Slovenia
Males: August 8-December 31
Females and fawns: September 1-December 31
Younger males and females: June 1-December 31
Alpine Ibex is a strong, thickset, and shapely animal. The heavy body (1.5 m in length) is supported by short, sturdy legs. They have short tails and white rumps. In summer, the coat is grey with dashes of red which turns yellowy grey in winter. Both male and female Alpine Ibex have large, backward-curving, horns with numerous ridges along their length. Horns on bucks grow up to 100 cm long and have small bumps on the outer curve. The much thinner, shorter horns of females are smooth, and grow up to 35 cm. Males weigh from 67 to 117 kilograms, whereas females weigh from 17 to 32 kilograms. Alpine Ibex live in groups, but the old males roam solitarily. They rest throughout the day and search for food in the evening. They subsist on a diet of grasses, hay, woody plants, and leaves. Alpine Ibex are known to be excellent climbers and do not fear steep slopes; they can jump as high as 4 meters. The males and females breed in the late fall, from the end of December until January. After 20-22 weeks of gestation period the female gives birth to 1-2, sometimes even 3 kids. In the wild, if they can avoid predators, Alpine Ibex have a lifespan of 17-19 years. Their predators include bears, wolves, foxes, golden eagles, and humans, but are not threatened by any predators in Slovenia.
Alpine Ibex typically inhabit open, rocky habitats at high altitudes, above the tree line at an altitude of 1600-3200 m. They migrate seasonally to different altitudes, spending the harsher winter months at medium elevations.
Alpine Ibex Open Seasons
Male, female, kids: 1.8. – 31.12.
Mouflon are thickset and strongly built with strong legs, which make them good runners. The males have horns curved in almost one full revolution (up to 1 m). Some females are horned while others lack horns. Males are a bit bigger than females. Their habitat is steep, sunny, mountainous slopes near the tree line, whereas they tend to avoid moist and soft grounds since that causes their hooves to wear.
Mouflon hunting in Slovenia can be very demanding since they are very shy and live in herds led by cautious experienced females. A suitable time to go mouflon hunting is before the first snow, when forest grounds are soft and soggy, which enables the hunter to approach them easily. November till February is the best time to hunt them when mouflon are hunted from higher altitudes. In winter mouflon are mostly active at dusk and at dawn, therefore it is recommended to combine mouflon and chamois hunting.
Mouflon Open Seasons
Males, young males, and females. August 8-February 28
Females: August 1-December 31